1 Corinthians 12:1–31: Orderly Public Worship: Part 2
In 1 Corinthians 12:1, Paul transitions to a new topic. Once again, Paul uses the phrase “now concerning” to introduce a topic that the Corinthians themselves have raised (cf. 1 Cor. 7:1, 25; 8:1; 16:1, 12). Although this new topic will lead Paul into a discussion of the various offices and gifts that God has appointed in the church, Paul opens this chapter with the main criteria for true worship: the confession that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). Then, Paul gives a theologically rich explanation of how each person of the Trinity works in a joint, coordinated effort to equip the church with gifts for the work of ministry. In the last half of the chapter, Paul shows how each of these gifts should work together as the various members of a body, serving various functions so that the whole church can operate as God designed it. In this remarkable chapter, Paul gives deep explanation and vivid imagery to show how God has arranged and honored every member in the body of Christ.
1. What role does the Holy Spirit play in leading us to confess that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3)? How did the Holy Spirit inspire the writers of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible? How does the Holy Spirit illuminate us as we read the Bible, so that we understand the message? How do we get it wrong apart from the Holy Spirit’s ministry? Do you pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes, ears, and heart so that you confess Jesus as Lord?
2. How do the “varieties of gifts” of the Holy Spirit equip us for ministry (1 Cor. 12:4)? How do the “varieties of service” serve the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 12:5)? How do the “varieties of activities” of the Father empower us for ministry (1 Cor. 12:6)? How do these distinct works of the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus, and the Father connect together? What do we mean when we say that the external works of the Trinity are indivisible and common? Why is this important?
3. Whose gifts do you most often envy (1 Cor. 12:15–19)? How does envy tempt you to demean and to devalue the gifts that God has given to you? Whose gifts do you most often despise (1 Cor. 12:20–21)? How does pride lead you to devalue the gifts of others? What would a healthy appreciation of your gifts look like, without moving into sinful pride? Who is one person you could encourage this week to use his or her gifts (1 Cor. 12:22–26)?
4. What gifts has God given to you to serve the church? What responsibilities has God given to you in the church? What abilities and resources has God entrusted to you for your stewardship? What relationships has God put you in, whether inside or outside the church? How has God equipped you to faithfully steward what he has entrusted to you? How can you be most useful to the church out of love (1 Cor. 12:31)?