1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 78
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|Everyone has a spiritual gift through which God wants to minister to others and to give an effect that is eternal. Everyone has a gift. Don’t think for a second that God left you out.|
1 Corinthians 12:79
To Each His Own
1 Corinthians 12:79
We are entering into the arena of those spiritual gifts now. But there are three words that I want us to look at to make sure we have an understanding of them before we get into these gifts. The first word has already appeared in verse 7. It is the word hekastos. It is the word that means to each one.
It says in verse 7, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” In other words, if you are worried about whether or not God ever gave you a gift, yes, you have a gift. You are included. Just think, God allows us to be in on what He is up to. That just overwhelms or should overwhelm all of us. Whether we have a small piece of the pie or whether we have a big piece of the pie, thank God you have got a piece of the pie. That is just grace. It is God’s mercy that we are even involved. So each one of us has a gift.
Everyone has a spiritual gift through which God wants to minister to others and to give an effect that is eternal. Everyone has a gift. Don’t think for a second that God left you out. You may have grown up in a family that is very poor, and you didn’t have anything. You have this mentality that since you are that way, you are nobody in the kingdom of God. Oh, yes. There are no big “I’s” or little “you’s” in the family of God. Everyone is gifted.
Paul uses the analogy of the body in Romans 12, and he talks about the members of the body. I have arms and legs and feet and a head and ears and a brain somewhere. There is my liver and my lungs and my heart, but there is no such thing as a selfish organ in a healthy body.
That is the very same thing he is talking about right here. So hekastos means each one, each and every one receives a gift.
In verse 8 we see the first of the other two words come up. It says in verse 8, “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit.” Now, that word is the little word allos. Now the word can be used, and many times is, as just simply a numerical “another.” Give that one to this one and give that one to another. We have only one word in English, but they have two. That is why many times it was spoken in Aramaic, but it was documented in Greek because you can’t miss it. When both words are used, there is another understanding of that word that we must grasp. Allos means another of the same kind, especially with the word heteros, as we are going to see in just a moment, which means another of a different kind.
Now that is very significant and you will see it come up in the text. Let me give an example of that. In John 15:17 Jesus said, “Love one another,” another of the same kind. Who is He speaking to? He is speaking to believers, those who are following Him. He says, “You love one another.” Does that mean that they shouldn’t love the world? No, certainly they should love the world, but that is not his context right there. You can identify the group that He is speaking to.
A better one even than that is in John 14:16. If you want to make allos a numerical another, then you mess up here big time. It has to mean another of the very same kind. John 14:16 reads, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” Now what is happening here? Jesus is explaining that He must go back to the Father. Why? So that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, can come to be, not with you but in you. That is the great promise of John 14 and 16. But when He says “another will come” He is saying “another just exactly like Me. It will be My Spirit that is coming.” If you just mean another, well, that could be anything could come. But another exactly like Me.
Now let me put this in the context. Every believer in the body of Christ could be referred to with this word allos. Why? Because we are all of the same faith, of a like faith. The same thing that saved you, saved me. Everybody comes in the way of the cross. We are born again by the Spirit of God. We are placed into the body of Christ. At our salvation, the Spirit of God comes to live in us. We are all allos in that sense of the word. But in the midst of being the same, we have many, many differences. Brothers in Christ, sisters in Christ, but yet we have differences among us.
So the next word that we need to look at is the word heteros, which means another of a different kind. Can you have both words referring to the same group? Certainly you can. We are allos, of the same kind in the sense that we are all born of the Spirit, but at the same time there are differences among us.
The word heteros is found in verse 9, and he changes a category here. He says, “to another faith by the same Spirit.” That word “another” there is heteros. Now what word do we get from that? We get the word “heterosexual” from it. In other words, we are all of the same species, human beings, but here is male and here is female. And so we are alike and we are the same, but we are different.
You are beginning to see, hopefully, the meanings of the two words. Now what makes us different in the body of Christ are many things. Personalities make us different. I guarantee you they do. I mean, there are differences amongst us. We have temperaments that make us different. Intelligence makes us different.
But now listen to me. In 1 Corinthians 12, what makes us different even though we are the same? His point is, gifts. It is going to be the gifts that are given that is going to put us into different categories. Now that is his whole context. That is how allos and heteros can be used together. We are the same. We are of the same family, born of the same Spirit. However, we are different. But the thing that makes us different, in 1 Corinthians 12, is the gifts or gift that God has given to us.
When we put that in that context, it spills over even into ministries. Our ministries will be different. The effects will be different. You can’t compare. So there are differences even in the body of Christ. All of the gifts and the ministries and the effects play their own role in setting us into different categories because of the gifts that are given.
So, in verse 8, “to another” would be another of the same kind. Then in verse 9, “to another” would be heteros, to another of a different kind. The difference of two people in the family of God can be their personality, their temperament, or their intelligence, but here in 1 Corinthians 12, it is the gift or gifts that God has given to them. God never throws away our individuality.
I can’t really put my finger on it or prove it, but God does not throw away our talents and abilities, even though they are natural and what we had before we got saved. I believe God just infuses Himself into us. He does not throw that individuality away. Gifts many times are tailored to the very individual that He chooses to use. But that puts us into different categories because of those gifts. God does not throw away our individuality. He just simply puts Himself in the middle of it and then people see us, but they see God in us.
My point is that if you take the word allos or heteros and you say, “That is just the individual. It has nothing to do with the gift,” you have missed the whole point of what Paul is saying. Because what makes this one different from this one over here is the giftedness that God has given to him and the ministry, not only what He has given to him but when in history He chose to give it to him. That is just as important to the text as anything else. So, as we walk through this, understand those three words: hekastos—to each one; allos—of the same kind; and heteros—of a different category, of a different kind. These three words hopefully will help us.
The critical truth about gifts
Well, let’s pull our boots on and begin to wade into the list of the gifts. The first thing I want you to see is the critical truth about gifts. Sometimes it is overlooked, but I want to make sure we start once again on the Giver and not the gift. Unless you are surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ, then your gift is useless. The Corinthian church was not surrendered to Christ, and this is something that Paul is dealing with.
Now listen to me. When you study gifts out of 1 Corinthians, you have got to understand the context and the culture and the church to whom he is writing. You can’t take Romans and cram it into 1 Corinthians 12. You can’t take Ephesians 4 and cram it into 1 Corinthians 12. Paul is not teaching a complete teaching on gifts here. He is trying to show something. The manifestations are the whole key to the passage. He says the manifestations are given. This is what was causing the Corinthian believers to be confused. Is this of God or is this not of God? He is trying to explain some things to them. But it is very important to realize, and they didn’t realize it, that the gift is only useable when you are living surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot command your gift to work. You cannot do it.
This automatically pops the bubble of some people’s thinking. You say, “How do you know that?” Alright, look with me. It says in verse 8, “For to one is given.” The tense of “is given” there is the most interesting part of that verse. I guarantee if I asked you what tense that is, you would say that is aorist tense—at a specific point in time that gift was given. We already know that we have been given a gift. That is what you would say. But I hate to tell you, it is in the present tense, and it is in a passive voice. Passive voice means it is not you acting upon your gift, it is God acting upon you through your gift.
Do you know what he is saying here? You say, “Well, that contradicts what we have already learned then. If He is consistently giving to that one this gift, then we don’t get it when we get saved.” No, that is not the emphasis of the apostle Paul. As a matter of fact, look over in 1 Peter 4:10 and I’ll show you that you got this gift when you got saved. Go ahead and look over there. I need you to see this because the tenses change. Why? Because of what he is trying to say to the Corinthian church. In 1 Peter 4:10 Peter says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Now that word “received” is in the aorist tense, as each one at a certain point in time in the past has received a special gift. You already received that gift.
Look over in Romans 12:6. Paul says almost identically the same thing, to making sure that you catch the whole picture of what he is saying here. He is saying something a little different in Corinthians than he is in Romans or than Peter was in 1 Peter 4. Romans 12:6 says, “And since we have gifts,” and he is talking about the same thing, just like Peter was, “that differ,” and they do differ, “according to the grace given to us,” aorist tense.
Now, wait a minute. How come it says then in 1 Corinthians 12, “is being given” when in Romans and 1 Peter 4 he says, “has already been given.” Let me ask you this before I even get into that, have you been saved? “Yes, sir, I have been saved.” Well, are you being saved? “Oh, it goes on?” Yes, sir, you are being saved. Are you going to be saved? That is right, you are going to be saved, so be real careful. Even though you have received the gift, the one who gave it must continually energize it. That is the key. Your focus shifts again. He has the prerogative of the gift that He gives.
Folks, I want to tell you something, when you get enamored by a gift that you have and you become airheaded and arrogant like the Corinthians had done, and you begin to become a braggart about what God has given you in ministry or effect, you are a fool because only God can make that gift work and He continuously gives and energizes that gift. It is not something that just happens once, it is something that continues on. Yes, you have it, but only to the measure of your surrender to Christ is it useful to others.
This is a critical thing to be understood, because you see, gifts came be faked. I wish we could see this. You can fake the gifts, you can fake the ministry and you can fake effects. That is why it is so important to understand this before you even think about talking about spiritual gifts. Is your life surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you want only what He wants, as the apostle Paul lived that way? This is the norm for all believers. And if we are not living that way, let’s close our Bibles and go home. You will never understand spiritual gifts. He is the only one who can use it. He is the only one who can energize it. He is the only one who can give effect through it, which makes it back on our part. Man, I had better be surrendered to the One who gave it.
The great speaker for the Gideons, years ago, got up to speak in a meeting. They had a package there wrapped beautifully. He walked up to the pulpit thinking that the package was for him, a great gift by the people who appreciated his speaking. He opened up the package, took the top of the box off and inside was a bunch of filthy, dirty, smelly rags and a little note that said, “We are not here to hear from you. We are here to hear from God.” And he said, “If I could have found a hole to crawl into on that stage, I would have crawled into it, because it made me realize one more time what I am not and who He is.”
I tell you what, to those of us who have had a little bit more exposure to people—and this is the warning God puts in front of me every day—that if you ever start thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think, then you are going to stand before the God one day, who gave those gifts, and you will answer to Him for what you called ministry that had nothing to do with the divine effect of what God was doing through your life. We had better get this truth down. Not only did He give it, He continues to give it and only at His bidding and only to the measure of our willingness to surrender wholeheartedly to Him and to His will in our life. That is the critical truth of understanding gifts. How many ways have we got to say it before we understand it?
The categories of those who have received gifts
The second thing we want to look at are the categories of those who have received God’s gift. And I want to say it one more time. You’ve got to back away and ask yourself, “What is going on in Corinth?” What did we identify in verses 1, 2 and 3? People were standing up and speaking and saying they were under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God.
Guess where the apostle Paul starts? He starts with the speaking gifts. Why would he do that in Corinth? Why would he do that? He didn’t do that in other places, so why did he do it at Corinth? You have got to take all that into consideration. You can’t just back off and say, “Okay, there is the word “gift” and there is the word “gift,” so let’s just put them all together and make some sense out of them.” You have to look at it in its context.
The speaking gifts – equipping
Now, the first group of gifted people are the ones with speaking gifts; I call them the equipping gifts. There was a real need for the Corinthians to understand this. So he says in verse 8, “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit.” Now if we weren’t talking about spiritual gifts, this could be confusing, because everyone can have knowledge as the Holy Spirit imparts that. Everyone can have wisdom. God is very liberal in giving wisdom to those who are willing to admit they don’t have it. But since he is talking about spiritual gifts, it takes a little bit different dimension. Let’s look at it phrase by phrase.
He first of all says, “For to one is given.” You say, “Big deal.” No, no, no. It’s not to one and then one and then one and then one. No, the word means “that one right there”. It is almost like when a coach picks a player. I used to sit on the bench a lot when I was playing basketball. The coach would come down the bench to see who he was going to pick. I just kept waiting. The coach would say, “That one right there, I want you right there.”
That is what that word means, that one right there, as if amongst many, that one right there, to that one is being given. Immediately you have to trust the character of the Giver because some of the people God chooses to have certain gifts, ministries, and effects just blow us away, doesn’t it? But God just does it, and it doesn’t have a thing to do with what we think. He didn’t ask me. He just did it. God is not going to ask you. He just does it. To that one is given.
The tense of “given” is present tense. The word is didomi, which means as an act of good will towards somebody. When you give a gift, there is an act of good will or intention towards them.
Oh, you think God doesn’t love you or me today? He says, “I love you so much I died for you. I love you so much I want you to be a part of what I am doing. It is an act of my good will towards you. I am going to give you a little slice of this pie. I want you to be a part of what I am doing. I am going to give you this gift right here.”
I’ll say it again, the focus is again upon the Giver and not on the gift. I am telling you, you cannot miss this as you study through it. You can have a gift or plenty of gifts, but it is Him who drew you into it. It is not you who went looking for it. It is Him who gave it to you to let you be a part of what He is up to.
Now Paul says, “For to that one is given [as an act of my good will towards him] the word of wisdom through the Spirit.” What is the “word of wisdom?” The word for “word” is logos, which means understandable, intelligent word of God. Since it is used here, it most likely identifies, as I understand it, a speaking gift.
The word “wisdom” is sophia which is the word having to do with the application of biblical truth, scriptural truth. It’s the ability to take God’s word and to practically apply it to life’s situations. This kind of wisdom is not a human acquisition, but it is something God imparts to an individual as He speaks it for the benefit of all believers.
We must identify the fact that there are two kinds of wisdom. Why would Paul be bringing this up in Corinth? Remember, he has already had to deal with them. They were enamored with all the wisdom of men. That is why he is trying to show you something. When God’s man, and he is gifted, stands up to speak the word of God, God will gift him with wisdom of how to take that word and apply it to everyday life. God’s wisdom will stand in stark contrast to man’s wisdom.
In verse 20 of chapter 1 he says, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God [they couldn’t have figured Him out], God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Now what you see immediately surface there is the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man. He says in 2:5 that he did not want their faith to rest upon the wisdom of men. So there are two kinds of wisdom. Paul is saying the person who has the word of wisdom has the spiritual speaking gift of being able to take God’s Word and bring it down and apply it to the practical areas of living because that is what wisdom is all about. Many people can understand the truth in the head, but they are never able to take it out and put it to use in their personal life.
Have you ever been in a counseling sessions and somebody says, “Yeah, but the Word of God doesn’t say anything to my problems today.” Oh, yes, it does. But you have to have wisdom to be able to apply it. That is what God has to give to you. It doesn’t come from man, it comes from above. It is peaceful and gentle, as James talks about it. So it is a picture here of a man being gifted to speak concerning scripture and put it down on the level of all believers into practical application where they can utilize it in their everyday life. To be wise with God’s wisdom.
One of the greatest examples of how man does not have wisdom and how desperate we are for it is in James 1:5: “But if anyone lacks wisdom.” I guarantee you, put a man into a trial and it doesn’t take him long to figure how he lacks wisdom. The wisdom of God stands starkly against the wisdom of the world. That is what he is saying.
Do you think we are not desperate for wisdom in these days? To walk when the stock market crashes and still honor Christ? To stand for Christ and stand for truth no matter if it costs us our salaries next week? We are desperate for wisdom and only God can give it. And He energizes certain ones—that one, that one, that one—to speak the word of God that brings application to this kind of thing so that people can then begin to associate that God does have something to say about what we are experiencing. There are those in the body of Christ who are different from others. I can see God saying, “I want that man right there. I want him to have a gift of taking the Word of God and speaking it to all My people. And when he is living surrendered to me, I am going to energize that gift and there is going to be a ministry and it will take on its own effect, which will be for all of eternity.”
The speaking gifts – communicating
In that speaking gift category of the equipping gifts comes another speaking gift. It could be any time a person communicates it to the body could be wrapped into this, whether he writes it, speaks it, whatever. Look at what he says in verse 8, “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit.”
Notice what Paul does. He says “to another” here. Here he goes. Strap your seat belts on. What word is that? It is the word allos. In this category there is another of the same kind as this one. He speaks or writes or communicates to the body and he has the word of knowledge. So that is another gift that distinguishes these two gifts in a category by themselves.
The word for “word” again is referring to a speaking gift. Then the word “knowledge” is very, very important. There are two words for knowledge. There is the word eido, which has the idea of intuitive knowledge. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need learned knowledge. But there are certain intuitive things that people know. Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good.” That is eido. We intuitively know that. All we have to do is get in the presence of God and we know it. We don’t have to go to school to get it. We don’t have to learn that from a classroom. That is one kind of knowledge. That is intuitive knowledge. Sometimes you ask your wife, “How do you know everything?” She always says, “I don’t know. I just know.” That is intuitive knowledge. Now, that is the kind of knowledge again that God just gives believers because the Holy Spirit of God lives within them.
But there is another word for “knowledge,” and that is the word gnosis. My son has two degrees from college, and he is still studying. Now, if he has applied himself during all those years in college, then he will know something. That is gnosis. It is acquired knowledge. It is knowledge that comes from experience. It is knowledge that comes from study. It is knowledge that has diligence behind it. It is not like eido, which is something intuitive that you already know. You don’t have to have anybody teach you.
But gnosis is something you acquire. It is being able to get in and take the deep spiritual truths from your brain and bring them down and make them accessible to the whole body of Christ.
The word of knowledge means you have the ability to get into God’s Word and dig out the deep spiritual truths and to put them up here on a plate and serve them to the body of Christ. You think Dr. Strong who put out Strong’s Concordance didn’t have that gift? Do you think Spiros Zodhiates doesn’t have that gift? Do you think the people who have put together all the study helps don’t have that gift? We start digging out a passage and we don’t know where to turn. We thank God for people who have been gifted in the body of Christ to take knowledge and bring it down and put it on a plate and serve it to you. Oh, listen, this is a giftedness that God has given to the body.
Why would he bring up the gift of knowledge anyway, because in Corinth there were all kinds of people standing up imparting knowledge? As a matter of fact, they were going to the Oracle of Delphi to try to get knowledge from the divine. Paul is trying to say, “I have got a category of people who, when they stand up and speak, have the speaking gifts of imparting wisdom and imparting knowledge so that the whole body of Christ can be benefited, not with the wisdom and knowledge of men, but with the wisdom and knowledge of God.”
But you say, “I thought the focus was the giver. You have kind of lost that, haven’t you?” No, I haven’t. Hang on. Look in verse 8. Look at the end of each phrase, “For to one is given the word of wisdom [How? It is continuously given] through the Spirit.” That is the little word dia. It means by the means of the Spirit of God. And then it says, “and to another [of the same kind] the word of knowledge [How?] according to the same Spirit.”
Do you know what the word “according” is? Kata, which is different than ek, which means out of. Kata means according to. If I had a million dollars and I wanted to give you a gift, I guarantee you, you would not want me to give it out of my wealth, ek. You would want me to give it to you according to my wealth, kata. I guarantee it. If I gave it out of my wealth, I would give you $10. But if I give according to my wealth, then my gift has got to reflect the measure of what I have. So he says it is according to. In other words, as the Spirit wills and to the extent He gives, it comes right back to the giver again. It is not how I want to extend it, it is not how I want it to be. It is how He decides it will be used, not how we decide it will be used.
We are all one in the body of Christ, in Christ. We are the same, of the same faith, born of the same Holy Spirit. There are no big “I’s” or little “you’s.” However, when it comes to the disbursing of the gifts, he gives certain gifts to this category of people over here. I personally think it has to do with their temperament. It has to do with a lot of things about them that they had naturally before they ever got saved. And he gives to this one the gift of wisdom, or the word of wisdom. He gives to this one the word of knowledge. He says, “To that one and to that one and to that one, I want to have the word of knowledge. I want them to be able to serve it out on a platter to the body of Christ. And to that one and to that one and to that one I want them to have the word of wisdom so they can take the beautiful knowledge and the understanding of scripture and bring it down and make it practical to the body of Christ.”
If it doesn’t benefit the body of Christ, remember, then don’t qualify it as a gift. So in other words, when a preacher stands up and has the speaking gift, whether it be the word of wisdom or knowledge and he begins to use this for his own gain, he just shut down the whole usefulness for his gift. He can never use it for his own self. It is not given for him, it is given so that it can be ministered to others. There will be many that will fall into the category of the equipping gifts. This will make them different than others in the body of Christ. It will make them different.
I tell you what God has had to do with me. He has had to humble me to make sure I am willing to admit when I am wrong. Are you willing to admit when you are wrong? I tell you what, if you are not related to the Giver and teachable, this is what is going to bring division. But if you are surrendered to the Giver, just let it fall where it falls. Don’t try to make it say what you have always heard it say. Don’t go get your books on spiritual gifts and compare what we are saying here and what you have read. Just let the Bible be its own commentary. I guarantee you, we will come through these three chapters and we will love one another and we will go right on until the Lord Jesus comes for His church.
The extraordinary gifts
Well, we are about to get into another category. Let me just introduce it to you. I am not going to start it in this study. I am going to wait until the next study to do that. Look at verse 9. He starts it off and says something real interesting. He says, “to another.” What word is he using now? The last word was allos. Which is this one? It is heteros. He is shifting categories. What in the world are these? I call them the extraordinary gifts. Now you can call them what you want to, that is just my term. I want to tell you something before we get into it. It is not the fact that the gift has been given, but it is when it was given and for what it was given that has got to be taken into consideration to understand these right here.
Look at what he does here in verse 9. He says, “to another [heteros] faith by the same Spirit [watch now, watch, watch, watch], and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit.” That is allos, of the same kind. Is there a gift of healing? No. No such thing. It is in the plural, not singular.
Then he says in verse 10, “and to another [that is also allos—he is grouping them] the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy [same group, allos], and to another [allos] the distinguishing of spirits.”
But now watch in the last part of verse 10: “to another,” that is heteros. Let’s change categories and move over here. Some people have said that I say I don’t believe that there is a gift of tongues. I didn’t say that. As a matter of fact, you don’t know what I am going to say about tongues because it doesn’t come up until verse 10. So just relax. We haven’t gotten there yet. All I am saying is, make sure whatever you believe about it fits with the context, fits with what we have been studying with Corinth and that you understand that the focus is the Giver and never the gift.
Boy, I tell you what, it just keeps you going back to the cross and bowing before Him, doesn’t it? Because even though I have been gifted, that doesn’t mean that gift is useable for you unless I am useful to Him. Then the gift can be useable to you. And so it comes back to each of us to live surrendered to only what God wants, only what God wants. Anything other than that is missing the mark and He calls that sin in the New Testament. That is why the gifts are not useable or at our command. They are His not ours.