Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

There was a lot of life and also a lot of problems in the church at Corinth. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul has been addressing some of the problems. They include disunity, immorality and lack of discipline, the misuse of the Lord’s Supper, and misunderstandings about the resurrection of the dead. Not least of the issues was a wrong understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The word gift or gifts does not appear in the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 12:1. The original text is translated “the spirituals” [verse 1]. The Greek word used here is ‘pneumatikos’ which is always translated as “spiritual”, that is in the sense of being supernatural as opposed to natural.

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit” [verse 4]. Here the word ‘charisma’ [“gift of grace”] links the Holy Spirit to gifts. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each for the profit of all” [verse 7]. Paul mentions nine specific manifestations of the Holy Spirit in verses 8-10. These are supernatural gifts of grace given by the Holy Spirit.

The emphasis is not so much on what “gifts” a person possesses, but rather, does the person possess the Holy Spirit and can the Holy Spirit work through that person at any time He wishes to do so. I have sometimes been asked which gifts of the Holy Spirit I possess. The answer is not that I possess a gift or gifts of the Spirit but rather that I have the Holy Spirit. This means that He can work through me in any way that he wishes and whenever He wishes.

These manifestations or gifts of the Spirit are very different to other talents or ministry gifts given by God and referred to in various passages of the New Testament. Talents, or ministry gifts need to be used, developed, thought through and matured with use. Gifts of the Spirit bypass the normal human mental processes.

We see this particularly in the use of tongues, where Paul says quite clearly, when we pray with a tongue our understanding [mind] is unfruitful. We are literally praying with our spirit, through the Holy Spirit, and this bypasses the normal mental faculties. We also see this with the operation of the word of knowledge. Every time the king of Syria attacked Israel a prophet warned the king of Israel. This troubled the king of Syria who thought that there was a traitor in his court. One of his servants said, “Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom” [2 Kings 6:12]. You cannot gain this kind of knowledge by normal mental processes. The Holy Spirit imparts such knowledge supernaturally.


The question is not what gifts you have, but rather, are you open for the Holy Spirit to use you? Will you let Him work in and through you in any way He chooses? Are you open to the Holy Spirit in this way?

How important do you think it is that we experience the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit in churches and fellowships? What are the reasons for the answer that you have given to this question?