Tuesday, June 4, 2013

1 Corinthians 12 - The Body and Maturity in Christ

LINK: 1 Corinthians 12 

BACKGROUND 

It's Bible Study TOOL TIME: Chapter Study


Here is an inductive study I lead when I do Spiritual Gifts workshops. Usually, I have to give the context of 1 Corinthians for my students, but you already know the context. Regardless, let's review it anyway! 


1 Corinthians 12 Context

Context is important for understanding why the authors of the epistles wrote what they did.  Let's review the verses that give context to 1 Corinthians 12.

1 Corinthians 1:10-12
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cafes,” and “I of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 3:1-4
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

What was happening in the Corinthian church from the contextual verses given above? 

Here is the diagram I gave you at the beginning of our reading of 1 Corinthians:


Now that you have reviewed the context, read through 1 Corinthians 12 three times:

First time:  Read meditatively and prayerfully. Ask God to speak to you.

Second time: Observe and mark key words/phrases:
God, Jesus (Lord), Holy Spirit, varieties, gifts, same, all, each one, one, another, body, members, many, division, all are not, list of gifts in text (Example: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, etc.) 
and any other key phrases you observe. 

Third time: Ask these inductive questions of the chapter and record your answers: 

What are the gifts? How are they described?
Who receives the gifts?
Why are gifts given?
When did the gifts start?
When do they cease? (Hint: the answer is in 1 Corinthians 13)
How are they given?
What illustration is used? What does it say about it?
Is there order to the gifts?
Are there any instructions or cautions? (Look for command verbs)
What gifts are listed?

Now, skim 1 Corinthians 13.  What is the topic?  Why does it follow Chapter 12?

An important part of inductive study is using cross-references to help in interpretation. You might want to go to the other passages about spiritual gifts and ask these kinds of questions of those passages. They are Romans 12:1-8, Ephesians 4:1-16, and 1 Peter 4:7-11. 

(©Carol Weaver)

Here is the slide I use to share how Paul's other epistles align together in explaining the spiritual gifts and the final goal!


Isn't this an amazing pattern that all ends with LOVE being the bi-product of maturity in Christ?


Copyright Carol Weaver
The alternative is this:

Copyright Carol Weaver
or this:

Copyright Carol Weaver
I believe this is why Paul starts out talking about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the unity and diversity within the Godhead at the beginning of the chapter. Did you notice that?

REFLECTION

I love 1 Corinthians 12 because it emphasizes that no gift is more important than any other gift. The gifts unseen are vital to the functioning of the Body of Christ like your internal organs are vital to the functioning of your physical body. I pray you find your gifts. 

APPLICATION

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren,
 I do not want you to be unaware (ignorant).
1 Corinthians 12:1

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which . . . lives in you . . . 
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame 
the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
 2 Timothy 1:5-6 (NIV)

I wholeheartedly believe that learning about and exercising your gifts is important for maturity in Christ!

Here is an online version of the test I give my students:

SPIRITUAL GIFTS SURVEY

Here is a two page summary you can give your friends to help them give you honest feedback about what they think your gifts are:


I also have studies for each of the gifts listed in the Spiritual Gifts Survey that are available upon request. Just leave a message in the comments section of this post. 

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for allowing us to share with You in Your wonderful work by giving us gifts of grace! We love You. Teach us to use these gifts to build up the Body of Christ and glorify YOU! Amen. 

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