1 Corinthians 12 : 3 - 7, 12 - 13 ( NRSV )

Therefore, I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.1(3) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;2(4) and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;(5) and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.(6) To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.(7)...,
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.(13) For in the one Spirit we are all baptised into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.3(13)


     Paul is addressing a community that is in deep tension (1 Co.1:10-17). The Christian community in Corinth was beset both by factions and by competition among different forms of leadership. The problem which most concerned Paul is the link between the one Spirit who gives gifts and many gifts that may not seem related to each other.
     For Paul the skills and gifts that exist in the Christian community are given for the service of God (1 Co.12:7). For that reason the community has priority over the individual person in the use of gifts. The initiative for the use of gifts belongs not to the individual but to the community to which the individual owes allegiance and is bound to respond. The Spirit gathers the Christian community to be united and engaged in a mutual sharing of the gifts (vv.12-13).
     Even early on the community of Jesus' disciples which we call "church" seemed plagued by the same tiredness and divisions - the same lack of communication that sometimes prevail today! But there was a moment and a memory that inspired the first disciples and those who heard their message. Communication of the message of Jesus' love transformed and enlivened the early Christian community. It is the communication of that same moment and memory we celebrate this Pentecost when we cry out, "Come, holy Spirit".

1 Corinthians 12:1 - 14:40 Ecstatic and charismatic activity were common in early Christian experience, as they were in other ancient religions. But the Corinthians seem to have developed a disproportionate esteem for certain phenomena, especially tongues, to the detriment of order in the liturgy. Paul's response to this development provides us with the fullest exposition we have of his theology of the charisms.
1. [ v.3 ] There is an experience of the Spirit and an understanding of ecstatic phenomena that are specifically Christian and that differ, despite apparent similarities, from those of the pagans. It is necessary to discern which spirit is leading one; ecstatic phenomena must be judged by their effect (1 Co.12:2). 1 Co.12:3 illustrates this by an example: power to confess Jesus as Lord can come only from the Spirit, and it is inconceivable that the Spirit would move anyone to curse the Lord.
2. [ vv.4-6 ] There are some features common to all charisms, despite their diversity: all are gifts (charismata), grace from outside ourselves; all are forms of service (diakoniai), an expression of their purpose and effect; and all are workings (energemata), in which God is at work. Paul associates each of these aspects with what later theology will call one of the persons of the Trinity, an early example of "appropriation."
3. [ vv.12ff ] The image of a body is introduced to explain Christ's relationship with believers (1 Co.12:12). 1 Co.12:13 applies this model to the church: by baptism all, despite diversity of ethnic or social origins, are integrated into one organism. 1 Co.12:14-26 then develop the need for diversity of function among the parts of a body without threat to its unity.


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