Friday, 10 January 2014

One Spirit

The theme of spiritual gifts is frequently noted in 1 Corinthians 12. The types of gifts and their hierarchy are noted. Yet Paul refutes any idea that those with prominent gifts are more valuable in God's sight. It can be seen that God gives gifts as he sees fit.

However what struck me some time back was the apologetic against polytheism.
Now concerning spiritual gifts [things], brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans [Gentiles] you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12)
Here Paul addresses a question from the Corinthians. They had probably asked about spiritual issues and Paul states, "Concerning [the] spiritual" and then he reminds them of their previous life as idolaters. Paul is contrasting the Spirit they received with the spiritual realm they previously were a part of. While within paganism their are many demons (1 Corinthians 10) there is one Holy Spirit. And it is the fact there is one Spirit and not several which shapes he subsequent response.
  • The Spirit cannot say Jesus is accursed
  • The lordship of Jesus is affirmed by the same Spirit
Note the repeating theme during the listing of the gifts,
  • There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit
  • There are varieties of service, but the same Lord
  • There are varieties of activities, but it is the same God
  • To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
  • For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom
  • To another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit
  • To another faith by the same Spirit
  • To another gifts of healing by the one Spirit
  • To another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit.
Note also the Trinitarian allusion in verses 4–6: same Spirit, same Lord, same God.

Then Paul goes on to discuss the unity of the church by analogy to the body because,
in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Sure, we can learn about the types of gifts but this seems secondary to the emphasis on the Spirit being one. Paganism may acknowledge and worship many spirits but for Christians there is only one and the same Spirit. The Holy Spirit may manifest in a variety of ways, but he always testifies to Jesus and can never deny him.

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