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1 Corinthians 12:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Word of wisdom - In all these places I consider that the proper translation of λογος is doctrine, as in many other places of the New Testament. It is very difficult to say what is intended here by the different kinds of gifts mentioned by the apostle: they were probably all supernatural, and were necessary at that time only for the benefit of the Church. On the 8th, 9th, and 10th verses ( 1 Corinthians 12:8-10;), much may be seen in Lightfoot, Whitby, Pearce, and others.

  1. By doctrine of wisdom we may understand, as Bp. Pearce and Dr. Whitby observe, the mystery of our redemption, in which the wisdom of God was most eminently conspicuous: see 1 Corinthians 2:7, 1 Corinthians 2:10; and which is called the manifold wisdom of God, Ephesians 3:10. Christ, the great teacher of it, is called the wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24; and in him are said to be contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Colossians 2:3. The apostles to whom this doctrine was committed are called σοφοι, wise men; ( Matthew 23:34;); and they are said to teach this Gospel according to the wisdom given them, 2 Peter 3:15.
  • By the doctrine of knowledge we may understand either a knowledge of the types, etc., in the Old Testament; or what are termed mysteries; the calling of the Gentiles, the recalling of the Jews, the mystery of iniquity, of the beast, etc., and especially the mystical sense or meaning of the Old Testament, with all its types, rites, ceremonies, etc., etc.
  • By faith, 1 Corinthians 12:9, we are to understand that miraculous faith by which they could remove mountains, 1 Corinthians 13:2; or a peculiar impulse, as Dr: Whitby calls it, that came upon the apostles when any difficult matter was to be performed, which inwardly assured them that God's power would assist them in the performance of it. Others think that justifying faith, received by means of Gospel teaching, is what is intended.
  • Gifts of healing simply refers to the power which at particular times the apostles received from the Holy Spirit to cure diseases; a power which was not always resident in them; for Paul could not cure Timothy, nor remove his own thorn in the flesh; because it was given only on extraordinary occasions, though perhaps more generally than many others.
  • The working of miracles, ενεργηματα δυναμεων, 1 Corinthians 12:10. This seems to refer to the same class as the operations, ενεργηματων, 1 Corinthians 12:6, as the words are the same; and to signify those powers by which they were enabled at particular times to work miraculously on others; ejecting demons, inflicting punishments or judgments, as in the cases mentioned under 1 Corinthians 12:6. It is a hendyadis for mighty operations.
  • Prophecy. This seems to import two things:
  • 1st, the predicting future events, such as then particularly concerned the state of the Church and the apostles; as the dearth foretold by Agabus, Acts 11:28; and the binding of St. Paul, and delivering him to the Romans, Acts 21:10, etc.; and St. Paul's foretelling his own shipwreck on Malta, Acts 27:25, etc. And

    2ndly, as implying the faculty of teaching or expounding the Scriptures, which is also a common acceptation of the word.

  • Discerning of spirits. A gift by which the person so privileged could discern a false miracle from a true one; or a pretender to inspiration from him who was made really partaker of the Holy Ghost. It probably extended also to the discernment of false professors from true ones, as appears in Peter in the case of Ananias and his wife.
  • Divers kinds of tongues. Γενη γλωσσων, Different languages, which they had never learned, and which God gave them for the immediate instruction of people of different countries who attended their ministry.
  • 9. Interpretation of tongues. It was necessary that while one was speaking the deep things of God in a company where several were present who did not understand, though the majority did, there should be a person who could immediately interpret what was said to that part of the congregation that did not understand the language. This power to interpret was also an immediate gift of God's Spirit, and is classed here among the miracles.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    For to one is given - In order to show what endowments he refers to, the apostle here particularizes the various gifts which the Holy Spirit imparts in the church.

    By the Spirit - By the Holy Spirit; by his agency on the mind and heart.

    The word of wisdom - One he has endowed with wisdom, or has made distinguished for wise, and prudent, and comprehensive views of the scheme of redemption, and with a faculty of clearly explaining it to the apprehension of people. It is not certain that the apostle meant to say that this was the most important or most elevated endowment because he places it first in order. His design does not seem to be to observe the order of importance and value, but to state, as it occurred to him, the fact that these various endowments had been conferred on different people in the church. The sense is, that one man would be prominent and distinguished as a wise man - a prudent counsellor, instructor, and adviser.

    To another the word of knowledge - Another would be distinguished for knowledge. He would be learned; would have a clear view of the plan of salvation, and of the doctrines and duties of religion. The same variety is observed in the ministry at all times. One man is eminent as a wise man; another as a man of intelligence and knowledge; and both may be equally useful in their place in the church.

    By the same Spirit - All is to be traced to the same Spirit; all, therefore, may be really useful and necessary; and the one should not pride himself in his endowments above the other.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Spiritual gifts were extraordinary powers bestowed in the first ages, to convince unbelievers, and to spread the gospel. Gifts and graces greatly differ. Both were freely given of God. But where grace is given, it is for the salvation of those who have it. Gifts are for the advantage and salvation of others; and there may be great gifts where there is no grace. The extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were chiefly exercised in the public assemblies, where the Corinthians seem to have made displays of them, wanting in the spirit of piety, and of Christian love. While heathens, they had not been influenced by the Spirit of Christ. No man can call Christ Lord, with believing dependence upon him, unless that faith is wrought by the Holy Ghost. No man could believe with his heart, or prove by a miracle, that Jesus was Christ, unless by the Holy Ghost. There are various gifts, and various offices to perform, but all proceed from one God, one Lord, one Spirit; that is, from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the origin of all spiritual blessings. No man has them merely for himself. The more he profits others, the more will they turn to his own account. The gifts mentioned appear to mean exact understanding, and uttering the doctrines of the Christian religion; the knowledge of mysteries, and skill to give advice and counsel. Also the gift of healing the sick, the working of miracles, and to explain Scripture by a peculiar gift of the Spirit, and ability to speak and interpret languages. If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any power to make it known, we must give all the glory of God. The greater the gifts are, the more the possessor is exposed to temptations, and the larger is the measure of grace needed to keep him humble and spiritual; and he will meet with more painful experiences and humbling dispensations. We have little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise those who have them not.
    Ellen G. White
    Christ's Object Lessons, 327

    The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit. “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: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. All men do not receive the same gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the Spirit is promised. COL 327.1

    Before He left His disciples, Christ “breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” John 20:22. Again He said, “Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you.” Luke 24:49. But not until after the ascension was the gift received in its fullness. Not until through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered themselves fully for His working was the outpouring of the Spirit received. Then in a special sense the goods of heaven were committed to the followers of Christ. “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Ephesians 4:8. “Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ,” the Spirit “dividing to every man severally as He will.” Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God. COL 327.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 53.4

    Balance of Differing Minds Necessary—Here we are brought together—of different minds, different education, and different training—and we do not expect that every mind will run right in the same channel; but the question is, Are we, the several branches, grafted into the parent Vine? That is what we want to inquire, and we want to ask teachers as well as students. We want to understand whether we are really grafted into the parent Vine. If we are, we may have different manners, different tones, and different voices. You may view things from one standpoint, and we have ideas different from one another in regard to the Scriptures, not in opposition to the Scriptures, but our ideas may vary. My mind may run in the lines most familiar to it, and another may be thinking and taking a view according to his traits of character, and see a very deep interest in one side of it that others do not see.—Manuscript 14, 1894. 1MCP 53.4

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 29

    The same spirit led the management of the publishing house at Battle Creek to take every step within its power to gain control of the literary products it handled, and this resulted in cutting off a fair royalty income to authors of the books published by the house. In this way the income of the publishing house was enhanced. It was argued that those in positions of management in the publishing house were in a better position to understand the needs of the cause, and know how to use profits which came from literature, than were the individual authors. The authors, they felt, might fall short in proper stewardship of royalty incomes. In several communications, Ellen White, writing to those in positions of management, pointed out that selfishness motivated such plans. Counsel in this area is found in Testimonies for the Church 7:176-180. TM xxix.1

    The influence of selfish, grasping methods and the exercise of “kingly power,” as Ellen G. White termed it, were contagious. Elder Olsen, president of the General Conference, in his hope that he could stay the evil work of such influences, made available to the ministers of the church many of the messages of counsel which came to him and other leaders in Battle Creek during this critical period. These messages, published in pamphlet form, were sent out as special instruction to ministers and workers. They were often prefaced by an earnest statement signed by the president of the General Conference or by the Committee. In Elder Olsen's introduction to the second of these numbered pamphlets, written about 1892, he states: TM xxix.2

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