Reading First Corinthians chapters 12–14 can be a bit confusing. We read in the first verse of chapter twelve that Paul introduces us to “spiritual.” Some translations read “spiritual gifts.” If you’ll notice, the word “gift” is italicized indicating it was inserted by the translators for sentence structure and to help our understanding. Usually a good idea. In this case, though, I believe leaving it “spiritual” would be more helpful. Why? Because the next three chapters are dedicated to spiritual topics that are related but are separate.
The first thing Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says is don’t be ignorant of spiritual things. God doesn’t want us in the dark. He wants us to live a life of understanding. We are a spirit being, we have a soul, and we live in a body. God wants us to be less influenced by the physical world and more aware and influenced by Kingdom of God.
Paul then mentions that God works through the body of Christ with different gifts, different ministries, and in different ways. Though some gifts and callings may be the same, God’s a big God and He’s not limited on how He wants to use us individually.
Then the Holy Spirit, by the apostle, differentiates between the different manifestations (or gifts) of the Holy Spirit. This is the most concise and orderly list of how the Holy Spirit manifests Himself found in scripture. We will learn a lot from this list with the idea that we may be able to flow more harmoniously with what the Spirit wants to do.
Afterward, we continue in chapter twelve with the revelation that we are all members of one body, and that body is Christ. We all have our own place, each with varying gifts and functions, but we’re all equally important in the body.
In chapter thirteen, Paul writes to us about what keeps the body functioning correctly. He writes about the love of God and how much greater it is than any Holy Spirit manifestation.
Then we reach chapter fourteen. I must admit, this can be a challenging chapter, but if we understand what came previously, it becomes much clearer. Understanding what the gifts of the Spirit are, and what the different ministries and callings in the body of Christ are, makes understanding the fourteenth chapter much easier.
This study will take some time. There’s a lot to learn, but it will be helpful in our walk with Jesus and ministering to others.
Stay strong and prepared!