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Why is First Corinthians so important?

The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians contains a frank discussion of

the church and the issues that impacted real people in the first century. The
Corinthian church was corroded with sin on a variety of fronts, so Paul
provided an important model for how the church should handle the problem
of sin in its midst. Rather than turn a blind eye toward relational division and
all kinds of immorality, he addressed the problems head on. In his bold call
to purity within the Corinthian church, Paul made it clear that he was willing
to risk the good opinion of some in order to help cleanse the sin that tainted
the church.
In this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul covered a number of different
issues related to both life and doctrine: divisions and quarrels, sexual
immorality, lawsuits among believers, marriage and singleness,
freedom in Christ, order in worship, the significance of the Lords
Supper, and the right use of spiritual gifts; he also included a profound
teaching on the resurrection.
Vv. 1-11 Spiritual Gifts
v.4 Different kind of gifts:
v. 8 word of wisdom / v. 8 word of knowledge
v. 9 faith / v. 9 gifts of healing
v. 10 working of miracles / v. 10 prophecy / v. 10 discerning of spirits
v. 10 speaking in different kinds of tongues /
v. 10 interpretation of tongues
v. 12-30 - One body, many parts
v. 31 desire the greatest gift: Love.... discussed thoroughly in the next
Selected Key Verses in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12:
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of
knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the
same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another
discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the
interpretation of tongues:
The people of Corinth have been abusing and have a terrible
misunderstanding of Spiritual gifts. The main gift that the people were
struggling to understand was tongues. So Paul wrote to the people of
Corinth to try and correct these misunderstandings. It was very crucial for
Paul to write the people of Corinth and correct these misunderstandings
and to educate the people of the importance of all the Spiritual gifts. The
people of Corinth were using this gift from the Holy Spirit to show off, for
personal status, instead of using it to glorify God. They would stand up in
group meetings and stand speaking in tongues to try and impress the other

Spiritual Manifestations as Gifts
Over in over in first Corinthians Paul emphasizes that the working of the
Holy Spirit in the church are gifts given by God. When we have the
understanding that these gifts are just talents we can fall into the cycle of
self pride. As a body we cannot have people that are full of themselves. We
need to realize that every good gift comes from God; and that we need to
use these gifts to benefit the whole community. We must exercise these
gifts in the church for the sake of the ministry for the whole community.
When people use their gifts for personal pleasure this is when a division
occurs within the community. Paul would not want us to spend our time
gazing into the mirror and asking what profile of gifts each of us has; he
would prefer that we simply be about the business of using our gifts in
service to the community.
There are similarities and differences between talents and spiritual gifts.
Both are gifts from God. Both grow in effectiveness with use. Both are
intended to be used on behalf of others, not for selfish purposes.
1 Corinthians 12:7 states that spiritual gifts are given to benefit others and
not ourselves.
But to whom and when talents and spiritual gifts are given differs. A person
(regardless of his belief in God or in Christ) is given a natural talent as a
result of a combination of genetics (some have natural ability in music, art,
or mathematics) and surroundings (growing up in a musical family will aid
one in developing a talent for music), or because God desired to endow
certain individuals with certain talents (for example, Bezaleel in Exodus
Spiritual gifts are given to all believers by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:3,6) at
the time they place their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.
At that moment, the Holy Spirit gives to the new believer the spiritual gift(s)
He desires the believer to have (1 Corinthians 12:11).

While one may develop his talents and later direct his profession or hobby
along those lines, spiritual gifts were given by the Holy Spirit for the building
up of Christ's church. In that, all Christians are to play an active part in the
furtherance of the gospel of Christ. All are called and equipped to be
involved in the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). All are gifted so that
they can contribute to the cause of Christ out of gratitude for all He has
done for them. In doing so, they also find fulfillment in life through their labor
for Christ. It is the job of the church leaders to help build up the saints so
they can be further equipped for the ministry to which God has called them.
The intended result of spiritual gifts is that the church as a whole can grow,
being strengthened by the combined supply of each member of Christ's

To summarize the differences between spiritual gifts and talents:
1) A talent is the result of genetics and/or training, while a spiritual gift is
the result of the power of the Holy Spirit.
2) A talent can be possessed by anyone, Christian or non-Christian, while
spiritual gifts are only possessed by Christians.
3) While both talents and spiritual gifts should be used for Gods glory and
to minister to others, spiritual gifts are focused on these tasks, while
talents can be used entirely for non-spiritual purposes.

"How does God distribute spiritual gifts?"

Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians chapter 12 make it clear that each
Christian is given spiritual gifts according to the Lords choice. Spiritual gifts
are given for the edification of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7,14:12).
The exact timing of the giving of these gifts is not specifically mentioned.
Most assume that spiritual gifts are given at the time of spiritual birth (the
moment of salvation).
However, there are some verses that may indicate God gives spiritual gifts
later as well. (1Tim 4:14 and 2 Tim 1:6).

We are also told in 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 and in 1 Corinthians 14:12-13
that it is God (not us) who chooses the gifts. These passages also indicate
that not everyone will have a particular gift. Paul tells the Corinthian
believers that if they are going to covet or long after spiritual gifts, they
should strive after the more edifying gifts, such as prophesying (speaking
forth the word of God for the building up of others). Now, why would Paul
tell them to strongly desire the greater gifts if they already had been given
all they would be given, and there was no further opportunity of gaining
these greater gifts? It may lead one to believe that even as Solomon sought
wisdom from God in order to be a good ruler over Gods people, so God will
grant to us those gifts we need in order to be of greater benefit to His

Having said this, it still remains that these gifts are distributed according to
Gods choosing, not our own. If every Corinthian strongly desired a
particular gift, such as prophesying, God would not give everyone that gift
simply because they strongly desired it. If He did, then who would serve in
all of the other functions of the body of Christ?

Are spiritual gifts given to us when we receive Christ, or are they cultivated
through our walk with God? The answer is both. Normally, spiritual gifts are
given at salvation, but also need to be cultivated through spiritual growth.
Can a desire in your heart be pursued and developed into your spiritual gift?
Can you seek after certain spiritual gifts? First Corinthians 12:31 seems to
indicate that this is possible: earnestly desire the best gifts. You can seek
a spiritual gift from God and be zealous after it by seeking to develop that
area. At the same time, if it is not Gods will, you will not receive a certain
spiritual gift no matter how strongly you seek after it. God is infinitely wise,
and He knows through which gifts you will be most productive for His

No matter how much we have been gifted with one gift or another, we are
all called upon to develop a number of areas mentioned in the lists of
spiritual gifts: to be hospitable, to show acts of mercy, to serve one another,
to evangelize, etc. As we seek to serve God out of love for the purpose of
building up others for His glory, He will bring glory to His name, grow His
church, and reward us (1 Corinthians 3:5-8,12:3114:1). God promises that
as we make Him our delight, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm
37:4-5). This would surely include preparing us to serve Him in a way that
will bring us purpose and satisfaction.
"How do I identify my spiritual gift?"

There is no magic formula or definitive test that can tell us exactly what our
spiritual gifts are. The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts as He determines
(1 Corinthians 12: 7-11). A common problem for Christians is the temptation
to get so caught up in our spiritual gift that we only seek to serve God in the
area in which we feel we have been gifted. That is not how the spiritual gifts
work. God calls us to obediently serve Him in all things. He will equip us
with whatever gift or gifts we need to accomplish the task He has called us

Identifying our spiritual giftedness can be accomplished in various ways.
Spiritual gift tests or inventories, while not to be fully relied upon, can
definitely help us understand where our gifting might be. Confirmation from
others also gives light to our spiritual giftedness. Other people who see us
serving the Lord can often identify a spiritual gift in use that we might take
for granted or not recognize. Prayer is also important. The one person who
knows exactly how we are spiritually gifted is the gift-giver Himselfthe
Holy Spirit. We can ask God to show us how we are gifted in order to better
use our spiritual gifts for His glory.

Yes, God calls some to be teachers and gives them the gift of teaching.
God calls some to be servants and blesses them with the gift of helps.
However, specifically knowing our spiritual gift does not excuse us from
serving God in areas outside our gifting. Is it beneficial to know what
spiritual gift(s) God has given us? Of course it is. Is it wrong to focus so
much on spiritual gifts that we miss other opportunities to serve God? Yes.
If we are dedicated to being used by God, He will equip us with the spiritual
gifts we need.
The Scripture makes clear that spiritual gifts are enablements by the Spirit
that are given to us:

1 Corinthians 12:7 - But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit
for the common good.

Romans 12:6 - Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given
us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the
proportion of faith.

1 Peter 4:10 - As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving
one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God

However, 1 Corinthians 14:1 says 'Pursue love, yet desire earnestly
spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
There is one thing that is abundantly clearGods command is Gods
enablement. If God commands us to do something (such as witness, love
the unlovely, disciple the nations, etc.), He will enable us to do it. Some may
not be as gifted at evangelism as others, but God commands all Christians
to witness and disciple (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). We are all called to
evangelize whether or not we have the spiritual gift of evangelism. A
determined Christian who strives to learn the Word and develop his
teaching ability may become a better teacher than one who may have the
spiritual gift of teaching, but who neglects the gift.
Isaiah 11:2, which says, The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him the
Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. This could possibly
explain the seven spirits of God: (1) Spirit of the LORD, (2) Spirit of wisdom,
(3) Spirit of understanding, (4) Spirit of counsel, (5) Spirit of power, (6) Spirit
of knowledge, (7) Spirit of the fear of the Lord. The Bible doesnt tell us
specifically who/what the seven spirits are, but the first interpretation, that
they are the Holy Spirit, seems the most likely.
An Overview of the Spiritual Gifts
1 Corinthians 12 Romans 12 Ephesians 4
Wisdom Evangelist
Faith (vision)
Prophecy Prophesying Prophet
Apostle Apostle
Teacher Teacher Pastor-teacher