Chapters 12-14 • 12: Spiritual gifts (Paul lays the foundation for practical applications) • 13: Love is the way to use your gifts • 14: Spiritual gifts (practical applications based on chapters 12 and 13)
1 Corinthians 12:1-31a • The Corinthians were selfishly misusing their gifts. What truth does Paul point out in verses 4-6 that makes such selfishness an obvious sin against the Lord? • The Lord, the triune God, has given all these gifts. Why be selfish with gifts from God? • What great purpose are spiritual gifts to serve? • They are to serve the common good. (7) That is, they are not to be used selfishly but to edify and benefit others.
1 Corinthians 12:1-31a • Why do you think Paul brings up the concept of unity in verses 12 and 13? • God has given gifts to his people to build up the church. The church is not many organizations, but one. Selfishness divides. If the church is a unit, bound together in Christ by the Spirit through one baptism into one body, then selfishness must cease.
1 Corinthians 12:1-31a • What does the comparison of the church with the human body illustrate? • (12-20) The uniquely gifted members of the church form a united body that works together, as does the human body.
1 Corinthians 12:1-31a • In verses 21-26, Paul extends the picture of the body. He reminds us that we treat the different parts of the body in different ways, creating an equality of honor among the various parts. What point does Paul want to make here? • God has created a certain equality of honor among the parts of the church. The more important parts are not treated with as much honor as some of the less important parts. That way, everyone is content with his position and there are no divisions.
1 Corinthians 12:1-31a • Can we today expect to be given all the spiritual gifts Paul lists? • While the almighty God can do anything, he has not promised to bestow miraculous gifts to every Christian of every age in history. The sign gifts (tongues and miracles, for example) were especially important in the early church when the Word of God (not yet written down and widespread) needed to be verified.
1 Corinthians 12:1-31a • How does a zealous use of our spiritual gifts help our congregations and synod? • Much more gets accomplished when people use their spiritual gifts for the common good. God is glorified, the church is blessed, and the Christian who uses his or her gifts is blessed also.
1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13 • What is the connection between this chapter and the previous chapter on spiritual gifts? (verses 1-3) • Spiritual gifts lose their importance and effectiveness unless those possessing the gifts use them in selfless love. (motivating factor in the use of all these spiritual gifts)
1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13 • In what ways is Paul’s definition of Christian love (verses 4-7) both humbling and comforting? • By examining ourselves in the light of God’s holy law, we will be led to confess that we have not always displayed this kind of love. On the other hand, we will recognize from the gospel that Jesus Christ showed this perfect love during his earthly life. As people joined to Christ, our vine, we can begin to show true love in our lives.
1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13 • When will the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge not be needed? • When Jesus brings this age to an end, then perfection will reign in his Church and the spiritual gifts that Christians used to build God’s kingdom will be unnecessary.
1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13 • At the end of verse 13, Paul says that the greatest quality in our Christian lives is love. Use verses 8-12 to explain why love is the greatest quality we can have. • Everything but love pertains only to our lives here and now. Faith and hope are given to us so we can know Christ and can “see” to some extent the glory of God and the blessings he will give us. Only in heaven, however, will we see God face-to-face, and faith and hope will no longer be needed. But love—God’s love for us and our love for him—will continue throughout all eternity.
1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13 • What is the difference between faith and hope? • Faith is trust and reliance in God and his gospel of grace and forgiveness. Hope is the confident expectation that God will fulfill all his promises.
1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13 • Paul mentions the many activities and attitudes Christian love produces. People in the world often try to copy these qualities. Apart from Christ, however, what are the only motivations left for showing such “love”? • Possible answers: work righteousness; civic righteousness; an attitude that says, “Life is so short, let’s just all get along”; and the desire to be treated by others in a similar way.
1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13 • How does Christian love bless congregational life? • Christian love will lead members to think of others first and seek their good. Christian love will lead members to use their time and resources to God’s glory.