Reading for Today:
- Song of Solomon 3:1–4:16
- Psalm 104:10-23
- Proverbs 24:17-18
- 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Song of Solomon 3:5 As in 2:7, the beloved knows that the intensity of her love for Solomon cannot yet be experienced until the wedding, so she invites the daughters of Jerusalem to keep her accountable regarding sexual purity. Up to this point, the escalating desire of the Shulamite for Solomon has been expressed in veiled and delicate ways as compared to the explicit and open expressions which follow, as would be totally appropriate for a married couple (4:1ff.).
1 Corinthians 12:1 spiritual gifts. The NKJV translators italicized “gifts” to indicate that the word is not in the original but is implied by the context (vv. 4, 9, 28, 30, 31; 14:1). The Greek literally means “pertaining to the Spirit,” referring to that which has spiritual qualities or characteristics or is under some form of spiritual control. Spiritual gifts are divine enablements for ministry that the Holy Spirit gives in some measure to all believers and that are to be completely under His control and used for the building of the church to Christ’s glory (Rom. 12:4–8). These had to be distinguished from the mystical experiences called “ecstasy” (supernatural, sensuous communion with a deity) and “enthusiasm” (divination, dreams, revelations, visions) that were found in the pagan religions of Corinth.
1 Corinthians 12:2 Gentiles. That is, non-Christian pagans (1 Thess. 4:5; 1 Pet. 2:12). carried away. Incredibly, some church members were mimicking certain dramatic and bizarre practices of the mystery religions in which they had been formerly involved. The practice of ecstasy, considered to be the highest expression of religious experience, involved supposed supernatural interaction with a deity, induced through frenzied hypnotic chants and ceremonies. The practice frequently included drunkenness (Eph. 5:18) and sexual orgies, to which the devotees willfully yielded themselves to be led into gross sin.
1 Corinthians 12:3 accursed. This is the most severe kind of condemnation. Some of the Corinthians were fleshly and given over to ecstasies that were controlled by demons. In that condition, they actually claimed to be prophesying or teaching in the Spirit while demonically blaspheming the name of the Lord whom they were supposed to be worshiping. They had been judging the use of gifts on the basis of experience and not content. Satan always assaults the Person of Christ. It is possible that the curser of Christ was a Gentile claiming to be a Christian, but holding to a philosophy that all matter was evil, including the human Jesus (i.e., pregnosticism). They might have said that the Christ spirit left the human Jesus before His death, and therefore Jesus died a cursed death as a mere man. Jesus is Lord. The validity of any speaking exercise is determined by the truthfulness of it. If the speaker affirms the lordship of Jesus, it is the truth from the Holy Spirit. What a person believes and says about Jesus Christ is the test of whether he speaks from the Holy Spirit. He always leads people to Christ’s lordship (2:8–14; John 15:26; 1 John 5:6–8).
DAY 2: How does Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians help resolve the controversy over the sign gifts discussed in chapters 12–14?
Three chapters in this letter are devoted to the subject of spiritual gifts in the church. Paul knew that the subject was controversial but vital to a healthy church. The atmosphere of false religions that abounded in Corinth caused counterfeit spiritual manifestations that had to be confronted. Paul informed the church and challenged the believers in Corinth to regulate their behavior by the truth and the Spirit.
The categories of giftedness in these verses do not refer to natural talents, skills, or abilities. Believers and unbelievers alike possess such resources. No, these gifts are sovereignly and supernaturally bestowed by the Holy Spirit on all believers (12:7,11), enabling them to spiritually edify each other effectively and thus honor the Lord.
The varieties of spiritual gifts fall roughly into two general types: 1) speaking gifts, and 2) serving gifts (12:8–10; Rom. 12:6–8; 1 Pet. 4:10, 11). The speaking or verbal gifts (prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, teaching, and exhortation) and the serving, nonverbal gifts (leadership, helps, giving, mercy, faith, and discernment) are all permanent and will operate throughout the church age. Their purpose is to build up the church and glorify God. The list here and in Romans 12:3–8 is best seen as representative of categories of giftedness from which the Holy Spirit draws to give each believer whatever kind or combination of kinds He chooses (12:11). Some believers may be gifted in similar ways to others but are personally unique because the Spirit suits each grace gift to the individual.
A special category made up of miracles, healing, languages, and the interpretation of languages, served as a set of temporary sign gifts limited to the apostolic age and have, therefore, ceased. Their purpose was to authenticate the apostles and their message as the true word of God. Once God’s Word was complete and became self-authenticating, they were no longer required.
From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.