(Vs. 1.) The church at Corinth evidently abounded in special, God-given spiritual gifts, such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Some were discouraged because they did not have these gifts, others were elated and puffed up by their offices and abilities, and some abused and misused them. Paul writes concerning the Author of gifts, the excellency of them and the nature and true use of them, and says, "I don't want you to be misinformed about this matter."
(Vs. 2.) "None of you has any reason to be proud or lifted up with your knowledge and gifts. God found you in heathen idolatry; so that, if you are favoured with any spiritual wisdom or gift, it is owing to his grace, not to your merit (l Cor. 4:6, 7). Let us ascribe all to the free grace of God and be humble under a sense of unworthiness.
(Vs. 3.) Every believer has the Holy Spirit, who regenerated us, called us, sanctified us and who indwells us (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 2:12). Whether we have unusual gifts or not, we have the Spirit of God, evidenced by the fact that we acknowledge with our lips, hearts and lives that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. No man has this knowledge or confesses this truth except under the power and influence of the Spirit of God (John 16:13,15).
(Vs. 4.) There are different gifts; none have all, but all have some and, while we are not all alike, it is the same Holy Spirit who gives gifts and graces as he pleases (vv.11, 18). Let those who have much be humbled and let those who have little be thankful.
(Vs. 5.) There are different offices or ministries in the church. One ministers as pastor, another as elder, another as deacon, another in this or that capacity; but all serve the same great Lord of the church. It is his church, his vineyard and his will that we seek.
(Vs. 6.) There are different effects, workings, or accomplishments (2 Cor. 2:14-16), but it is the same God who uses us, when he will, where he will and in the way that he will.
(Vs. 7.) The gifts, offices and operations of the Spirit are not to make gain of (like Simon Magus), nor to encourage pride and envy, nor to cause division, but for the glory of God and the profit and good of the whole church.
(Vs. 8-10.) In these verses Paul identifies some of those spiritual gifts.
1. "The word of wisdom" a knowledge of the mysteries of the gospel and the ability to explain them. It might also mean good judgement in decisions.
2. "The word of knowledge" a universal knowledge of Scriptures wrapped up in the types, prophecies and doctrines of the Word (1 Cor. 2:12, 13).
3. "Faith" the faith of miracles, or faith in the divine power and promises, whereby they are enabled to work miracles.
4. "The gifts of healing" the healing of the sick, either by laying on of hands, or anointing with oil, or with a word.
5. "The working of miracles" power to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, or even to raise the dead.
6. "Prophecy" the ability to foretell future events or to explain Scripture.
7. "Discerning of spirits" power to distinguish between true and false prophets, or to discern what is of God and what is of Satan.
8. "Tongues" ability to speak the gospel in a language they had not learned.
9. "Interpretation of tongues" when a discourse was delivered in another language, some had the power to interpret it to the people.
(Vs. 11.) These gifts and abilities are given by the Holy Spirit, not to all believers, but one gift to this man, another gift to another man, as the Holy Spirit pleases. He is sovereign in the distribution of gifts and grace.
(Vs. 12.) The human body has many parts, such as hands, feet, ears and eyes. As numerous and different as these members are, they are, nevertheless, parts of the same body. They make up one body. So it is with the church, the body of Christ.
(Vs. 13.) Whether we be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, old or young, male or female, every believer has been baptized into the body of Jesus Christ. Christ is the Head and we are his body. We are all partakers of one Spirit, one life, and one goal the exaltation and glory of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:16-18; I Cor. 10:17).
(Vs. 14.) "The body is not one member", however important, such as the eye, the ear, or the arm. The body consists of many members, different but necessary to form a complete body. So the body of Christ is not one person nor one sort of person; but there are many members, some in a high station, some low; some of great gifts, some less; some Jew and some Gentile; but all are one in Christ and all are related to, and needful of the others.