1 Corinthians 12:1-6
1 Now concerning spiritual
gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when
you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have
been moved. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the
Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is
Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the
same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and
there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all
in every one.
709. – After discussing the three
sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony and the Eucharist, the Apostle begins to
talk about things pertaining to the [res] reality signified in the
sacraments. But this is twofold: one is signified and contained, namely,
grace, which is conferred at once by the sacrament; the other is signified
but not contained, namely, the glory of the resurrection, which is expected
at the end.
First, therefore, he deals with the gifts of graces; secondly, with the
glory of the resurrection (c. 15). In regard to the first he deals with the
charismatic graces; secondly, he prefers to all of these charity, which
pertains to sanctifying grace (c. 13); thirdly, he compares the charismatic
graces to one another (c. 14).
710. – In regard to the first he does two things: first, he principally
explains his intention, saying: I have said that “about other things,” which
pertain to the use of the sacraments, “I will give directions when I come.”
And this is what he says: Now concerning spiritual gifts, i.e., the gifts of
the graces which come from the Holy Spirit, I do not want you to ignorant,
“For it is the worst form of ingratitude to be ignorant of benefits
received,” as Seneca says in the book On Benefits. Therefore, in order that
man not be ungrateful to God, he should not be ignorant of spiritual gifts:
“We have received the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the
gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Cor 2:12); “Therefore, my people go into
exile for want of knowledge” (Is 5:13), i.e., of spiritual things.
711. – Secondly, when he says, You know that when you were heathen, he
follows out his intention: first, he shows the need for spiritual graces;
secondly, he presents the distribution of graces (v. 4). Now the need for a
thing is best known from its absence. Hence, in regard to the first he does
two things: first, he manifests the loss they suffered, before they received
grace; secondly, he concludes to the need for grace (v. 3).
712. – First, therefore, he says: You know by experience that when you were
heathen, i.e., living as heathen without having yet received grace through
Baptism: “We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners” (Gal 2:15); “The
Gentiles living in the futility of their minds” (Eph 4:17). You were led, as
though with a ready and constant mind, as Jer (8:6) says: “Everyone turns to
his own course, like a horse plunging into battle”; “Their feet run to evil”
(Pr 1:16). To dumb idols, namely, to adore and worship, as it says in Ps 114
(v. 5): “They have a mouth but do not speak.” Their lack of speech is
particularly stressed, because speech is the proper effect of knowledge.
Hence it is shown that idols do not understand and, as a consequence, they
have nothing divine, if they are mute.
And this, as you were led, i.e., without any resistance. For they were led,
either attracted by the beauty of the idols; hence it says in one of
Jerome’s letters: “You will see in Babylon gods of gold and silver; see that
fear does not overtake you in them.” Or even by the command of some prince,
as it says in Dan (3:1) that Nebuchadnezzar compelled men to adore a golden
statue. In 2 Macc it is stated that some were led to the sacrifice with
bitter necessity on the king’s birthday. Or even by the instigation of
demons, who aspire in a special way to have divine worship paid to them:
“All these things will I give you, if falling down you adore me” (Matt 4:9).
Therefore, they went to cultivate idols according as they were led without
resistance, as Pr (7:22) says of the silly youth: “All at once he follows
her as an ox is led to the slaughter.” This shows that before receiving
grace, man quickly runs into sin without resistance.
713. – He makes special mention of the sin of idolatry for three reasons:
first, because it is a very grave sin to introduce another God, just as one
would sin very gravely against a king by introducing another king into his
kingdom. Hence, it says in Jb (31:26): “If I have looked at the sun when it
shone, or the moon moving in splendor and my mouth has kissed my hand,”
namely, as a worshipper of the sun and moon, which is the greatest iniquity
and denial against God Most High. Secondly, because from the sin of idolatry
all other sins arise according to Wis (14:27): “For the worship of idols not
to be named is the beginning and cause and end of every evil.” Thirdly,
because this sin was common among the heathens and was not counted; hence it
says in Ps 96 (v. 5): “All the gods of the heathens are demons.”
714. – It should be noted that some have said that man existing in mortal
sin cannot without grace be freed from the sin he lies under, because the
remission of sins is brought about only by grace, as it says in Rom (3:24):
“They are justified by his grace”; but he can preserve himself from mortal
sin without grace, through free will. But this position does not seem to be
true. First, because one cannot preserve himself from mortal sin except by
observing all the precepts of the law, since no one sins mortally except by
transgressing some precept of the law. And so someone could observe all the
precepts without grace – which is the Pelagian heresy. Secondly, because no
one can without grace have charity, through which God is loved above all
things, as it says in Rom (5:5): “God’s love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” But no one can avoid
all sins, unless he loves God above all things: just as that is more
despised which is loved less.
Therefore, it could happen that for some time a person who lacks grace will
abstain from sin, until he encounters that for which he will despise God’s
precept, and by which he is led into sin. It is significant that the Apostle
says, as you were led.
715. – Then when he says, Therefore, he concludes to two effects of grace:
the first is that it makes one abstain from sin; the second is that it makes
one do good works (v. 3b).
716. – First, therefore, he says: From the fact that when you were without
grace, you ran after sin rapidly, I want you to understand that if you had
possessed grace, this would not have happened to you, for no one speaking by
the Spirit of God says ‘Jesus be cursed’ [anathema to Jesus], i.e.,
blasphemes Jesus: “Every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God”
(1 Jn. 4:3).
It should be noted that above he said that the gravest sin is blasphemy,
which is avoided through grace; hence the other lesser sins are avoided.
By saying, anathema to Jesus, any mortal sin can be understood. For
“anathema” signifies separation. It is derived from “ana,” which means
“above” and “thesis,” which is a “placing”; as it were, “placed above,”
because in olden times things separated from men’s use, were hung up in
temples or in public places. But every mortal sin separates from Jesus, as
it says in Is (59:2): “Your iniquities have made a separation between you
and your God.” Therefore, who ever sins mortally says in his heart or with
his mouth, anathema, i.e., separation from Jesus. Therefore, no one speaking
by the spirit of God says anathema to Jesus, because no one through the
spirit of God sins mortally because, as it says in Wis (1:5): “The holy
spirit of discipline will flee from deceit.”
717. – But according to this it seems that whoever had the Holy Spirit
cannot sin mortally; further, it says in 1 John (3:9): “No one born of God
commits sin, because God’s seed abides in him.”
The answer is that as far as the Spirit of God is concerned, man does not
commit sin but rather is drawn away from sin. But he can sin through a
defect of the human will which resists the Holy Spirit, as it says in Ac
(7:51): “You always resist the Holy Spirit.” For by the indwelling Holy
Spirit the ability to sin is not taken away totally from the free will in
this life. Therefore, it is significant that the Apostle did not say: “No
one having the Holy Spirit,” but no one speaking by the Spirit of God.
718. – Then when he says, and no one, he mentions the second effect of
grace, namely, that without it man cannot perform a good work. He says,
therefore: And no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. But
against this seems to be the fact that by the Holy Spirit man is introduced
to the kingdom of heaven, as it says in Ps 143 (v. 10): “Your good spirit
leads me along the right path.” The Lord, however, says: “Not everyone who
says, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 7:21). Therefore,
not everyone who says “Lord Jesus,” says it in the Holy Spirit.
The answer is that saying something in the Holy Spirit can be understood in
two ways: in one way in the Holy Spirit moving but not possessed. For the
Holy Spirit moves the hearts of certain men to speak, although He does not
dwell in them, as it says in John (11:49) that in predicting the utility of
the Lord’s death Caiaphas did not speak from himself but through the Spirit
of prophecy. Balaam also predicted many true things, but moved by the Holy
Spirit, as it says in Numbers (chaps. 23 & 24), although he did not possess
Him. According to this, therefore, it must be understood that no one can say
anything true, unless moved by the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of truth,
of Whom it is said in John (16:13): “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will
guide you into all the truth.” Hence Ambrose says in a Gloss: “Every truth
by whomsoever spoken is from the Holy Spirit.” This applies especially to
matters of faith, which are had by a special revelation of the Holy Spirit.
Among these is the fact that Jesus is Lord of them all. Hence it says in Ac
(2:36): “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made him
both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
In another way someone speaks in the Holy Spirit moving and possessed. And
according to this, what is said here can be verified, but in such a way that
“to speak” refers not only to the mouth but also to the heart and the deed.
For something is said by the heart as in Ps 14 (v. 1): “The fool says in his
heart, ‘There is no God.’” But something is said by deed, inasmuch as
someone by an external work manifests his thought. No one, therefore, except
by having the Holy Spirit can say: “Jesus is Lord,” is such a way that he
confesses this not only by the mouth but also with the heart reveres Him as
Lord and in work obeys Him as Lord.
719. – Therefore, from the foregoing words we can consider three things
about grace. First, that without it man cannot avoid sin, as it says in Ps
94 (v. 17): “If the Lord had not been my help, my soul soon would have dwelt
in hell.” Secondly, that through it sin is avoided, as it says in 1 John
(3:9): “No one born of God commits sin.” Thirdly, that without it a man
cannot do good, as it says in John (15:9): “Apart from me you can do
720. – Then when he says, There are varieties of gifts, he begins to
distinguish the charismatic graces: first, he distinguishes them in general;
secondly, he manifests each in particular (v. 7).
721. – In things conferred by the grace of the Holy Spirit three things must
be considered. First, indeed, men’s faculty to work; secondly, the
authority; thirdly, the execution of both. The faculty is had by the gift of
grace; for example, by prophecy or the power to work miracles or by
something of that sort. The authority is had through some ministry; for
example, by the apostolate or something of that sort. Execution pertains to
First, therefore, he distinguishes the graces; secondly, the ministries;
thirdly, the operations. In regard to the first, therefore, he shows the
need for grace which, nevertheless, does not come in its totality to all,
but only to Christ, to Whom the Spirit was given without measure, as it says
in John (3:34). But in regard to others there are divisions of graces,
because some abound in one and some in another. For as in a natural body the
head has all the senses, while the other members do not; so in the Church
Christ alone has all graces, which are divided in the other members. This is
signified in Gen (2:12) where it says that a river, namely, of graces,
flowed out to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers;
and in Matt (25:15) it says that “to one he gave five talents, to another
two, and to another one.”
And although the gifts of graces possessed by diverse persons are diverse,
they do not proceed from diverse authors, as the Gentiles believed, who
attributed wisdom to Minerva, speech to Mercury, and so on for other gifts.
To exclude this, he adds: but the same Spirit, namely, the Holy, Who is the
author of all graces: “One body and one Spirit” (Eph 4:4); “The Spirit is
one and manifold” (Wis 7:22): one in substance, manifold in graces.
722. – Then he mentions the distinctions of service, saying: And there are
varieties of service, i.e., diverse ministries and offices are required to
govern the Church. For the prelates of the Church are called servants, as
above (4:1): “One should regard us as servants of Christ.” But it pertains
to the beauty and perfection of the Church that in it there by diverse
ministries, which are signified by the orders of service, which the queen of
Sheba admired in Solomon’s house (1 Kg 3:5). Yet all serve one Lord; hence
he adds: but the same Lord. “For us there is one Lord Jesus Christ through
whom are all things (1 Cor 8:6).
723. – Then he mentions the distinctions of operations, saying: and there
are varieties of working, by which one works the good in himself as by
services to his neighbor; “Man goes forth to his work” (Ps 104:23), namely,
proper to himself: “He distinguished them and appointed their different
ways”, i.e., operations (Sir 33:11). All of which come from one source.
Hence he adds: But it is the same God who works all, as the first cause
creating all actions. But lest the other causes seem to be superfluous, he
adds: in every one, because the first cause works in secondary causes: “You
have worked all our works in us” (Is. 26:12).
It should be noted that the Apostle very fittingly attributes things to the
Spirit Who is love, because from love proceeds that someone is freely given
the ministry from the Lord, to Whom He ministers works to God, as to the
first movent cause.
And that he says, “spirit,” can be referred to the person of the Holy
Spirit, what he calls Lord to the person of the Son, what he calls God in
the person of the Father; or these three can be attributed to the Holy
Spirit, Who is the Lord God.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to
another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to
another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one
Spirit, 10 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. 11 All
these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one
individually as he wills.
724. – Having set forth in
general the distinction of graces, ministrations and operations, the Apostle
here manifests the things he had said in general. First, as to the division
of graces; secondly, as to the division of operation (v. 28). In regard to
the first he does two things: first, he presents the distinction of graces
in general; secondly, he applies a similitude (v. 12). In regard to the
first he does three things: first, he lays down the condition of charismatic
graces; secondly, he distinguishes them (v. 8); thirdly, he describes their
action (v. 11).
725. – First, therefore, he says: It has been stated that there are
divisions of graces, to each is given; in which is designated their subject.
For just as there is no member in the body, which does not partake in some
way of the sense and motion from the head, so no one is in the Church, who
does not participate in some grace of the Spirit, as it says in Matt
(25:15): “He gave to each according to his ability” and Eph (4:7): “Grace
was given to each of us according to the measure of God’s gifts.”
The manifestation of the Spirit, in which is designated the office of
charismatic graces. But it pertains to sanctifying grace that through it the
Holy Spirit indwells, which, indeed, does not pertain to charismatic graces,
but only that through them the Holy Spirit is manifested, as the interior
motion of the heart through the voice. Hence in John (3:8) it is said: “You
hear his voice” and in Ps 98 (v. 2): “The Lord has made known his victory.
The Holy Spirit is manifested in two ways by graces of this sort. In one way
as dwelling in the Church by teaching and sanctifying it, as when a sinner,
in whom the Holy Spirit does not dwell, works miracles to show that the
faith of the Church which he professes is true: “While God also bore witness
by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
In another way the Holy Spirit is manifested by such charismatic graces as
dwelling in the one to whom such graces are granted. Hence it says in Ac
(6:8) that Stephen, filled with grace, worked prodigies and many signs, whom
they chose filled with the Holy Spirit. In this way such graces are granted
to the saints.
726. – And lest such a manifestation seems futile, he adds: for the common
good. In this is designated the end of these gifts, and this either when the
true doctrine of the Church is proved or when someone’s holiness is proposed
as an example. Hence he says below (14:12): “Strive to excel in building up
the Church”; and above (10:33): “Not seeking my own advantage, but that of
many, that they may be saved.”
727. – Then when he says, To one is given, he presents the distinction of
graces which, indeed, as has been said, are given for the common good.
Therefore, it is required to take the distinction in the sense that by one
the salvation of others can be procured. Man, indeed, cannot do this by
working within, for this belongs to God, but only by persuading outwardly.
For this, three things are required: first, the faculty of persuading;
secondly, the faculty of confirming the persuasion; thirdly, the faculty of
proposing the persuasion intelligibly.
For the faculty of persuading it is required that man have skill in
conclusions and certitude of principles in regard to those matters in which
he ought to persuade. But in matters that pertain to salvation, some
conclusions are principal, namely, divine matters; and to this pertains
wisdom, which is the knowledge of divine things, as Augustine says in Book
13, On the Trinity. In regard to this it is said that to one is given
through the Spirit, namely, the Holy [Spirit], the utterance of wisdom, so
that he can persuade one in things pertaining to the knowledge of divine
things: “I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries
will be able to withstand” (Lk 21:15); “We speak wisdom among the perfect”
(1 Cor 2:6).
Secondary conclusions are those which pertain to the knowledge of creatures,
the knowledge of which is called scientific, according to Augustine. And in
regard to this he adds: and to another is given the utterance of knowledge
according to the same Spirit, in order, namely, that that might manifest
things of God through creatures. To this knowledge is attributed that by
which the holy faith is defended and strengthened, but not anything curious
found in human knowledge, as Augustine says. “He gave him knowledge of holy
things” (Wis 10:10); “The riches of salvation are wisdom and knowledge” (Is
Yet it should be noted that wisdom and knowledge are numbered among the
seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, as stated in Is (11:2). Hence it is
significant that the Apostle places in the charismatic graces not wisdom and
knowledge, but the utterance of wisdom and knowledge, which pertain to the
ability to persuade other by speech about matters pertaining to wisdom and
Now, the principles of the doctrine of salvation are the articles of faith,
and in regard to this he adds: to another is given faith by the same Spirit.
It is not taken there for the virtue of faith, because this is common to all
members of Christ, according to Heb (11:6): “Without faith it is impossible
to please God.” But it is taken for the utterance of faith in the sense that
a man is able rightly to propose manners of faith, or for the certainty of
faith someone has in an excellent way, as in Matt (15:28): “Woman, great is
728. – But matters pertaining to the teaching of salvation cannot be
confirmed or proved by reason, because they transcend human reason, as Sir
(3:23) says: “Matters too great for human wisdom have been shown.” They are
confirmed or proved by a divine sign; hence Moses, about to be sent to the
people of Israel, received a sign from God through which he could confirm
what he said on God’s part, as is clear in Ex (4:1-7), just as a royal sign
confirms that something is the command of a king.
But God’s sign is based in one way on something God alone can do, such as
miracle, which the Apostle here distinguishes into two kinds. For he says
first: to another is given the gift of healing, i.e., through which he can
heal someone’s infirmity, by one and the same Spirit. “Heal me, O Lord, and
I will be healed” (Jer 17:14). For by these, one is persuaded not only on
account of the greatness of the deed, but also on account of the benefit.
Secondly, he says: To another the working of miracles, by which a person is
persuaded solely by the greatness of the deed; for example, when the sea was
divided, as we read in Ex (14:21), or when the sun and moon stood still in
the heavens, as we read in Joshua (10:13). “Who has given you the Spirit and
works marvels among you?” (Gal 3:5).
In another way a divine sign is based on something God alone can know, i.e.,
the future contingent, as it says in Is (41:23): “Tell us what is to come
hereafter, that we may know that you are gods.” As to this he says: to
another is given prophecy, which is divine revelation declaring with
unchangeable truth among events: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Jl 2:28). Another is
knowledge of the human heart, as in Jer (17:9): “The heart is deceitful
above all things and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? I, the
Lord, search the mind and try the heart.” In regard to this he says: To
another the ability to distinguish between spirits, namely, in order that a
man be able to discern by what spirit someone is moved to speak or work; for
example, whether by the spirit of charity or by the spirit of envy: “Do not
believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God”
(1 Jn. 4:1).
729. – But the faculty of speaking persuasively consists in being able to
speak intelligibly to others. This can be prevented in two ways: in one way
by a diversity of dialects. Against this is applied the remedy signified by
what he says: to another is given various kinds of tongues, namely, in order
that he be able to speak in diverse languages, so that he will be understood
by all, as it says of the apostles in Ac (2:4) that they spoke in various
In another way by the obscurity of a scripture to be quoted. Against this is
given the remedy he mentions: to another the interpretations of speeches,
i.e., of difficult scriptures: “I have heard that you can give
interpretations of obscure things” (Dan 5:16); “Do no interpretations belong
to God?” (Gen 40:8).
730. – Then when he says, all these, he identifies the author of these
graces. In regard to this he excludes three errors. The first is that of the
Gentiles attributing different gifts to different gods. Against this he
says: All these are accomplished by one and the same Spirit: “One body and
one spirit” (Eph 4:4).
Secondly, the error of those who attributed to God only a general providence
and assigned the distinctions of particular things to second causes alone.
Against his he adds: apportioning to each one individually as he wills: “In
the fullness of his knowledge the Lord separated them” (Sir 33:11).
Thirdly, he excludes the error of those who attributed the diversity among
graces to fate, or to human merit, and not solely to the divine will, as the
Macedonians, who said that the Holy Spirit is the servant of the Father and
of the Son. And he excludes this by saying: as he wills: “The spirit
breathes where he wills” (Jn. 3:8).