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John Wesley's notes on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11


1 Now concerning spiritual gifts - The abundance of these in the churches of Greece strongly refuted the idle learning of the Greek philosophers. But the Corinthians did not use them wisely, which occasioned St. Paul's writing concerning them. He describes, 

1. The unity of the body, 1Cor 12:1 - 27: 

2. The variety of members and offices, 1Cor 12:27 - 30: 

3. The way of exercising gifts rightly, namely, by love, 1Cor 12:31, 1Cor 13:1. throughout: and adds, 

4. A comparison of several gifts with each other, in the 1Cor 14:1. fourteenth chapter. 

2 Ye were heathens - Therefore, whatever gifts ye have received, it is from the free grace of God. Carried away - By a blind credulity. After dumb idols - The blind to the dumb; idols of wood and stone, unable to speak themselves, and much more to open your mouths, as God has done. As ye were led - By the subtlety of your priests. 

3 Therefore - Since the heathen idols cannot speak themselves, much less give spiritual gifts to others, these must necessarily be among Christians only. As no one speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed - That is, as none who does this, (which all the Jews and heathens did,) speaketh by the Spirit of God - Is actuated by that Spirit, so as to speak with tongues, heal diseases, or cast out devils. So no one can say, Jesus is the Lord - None can receive him as such; for, in the scripture language, to say, or to believe, implies an experimental assurance. But by the Holy Ghost - The sum is, None have the Holy Spirit but Christians: all Christians have this Spirit. 

4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit - Divers streams, but all from one fountain. This verse speaks of the Holy Ghost, the next of Christ, the sixth of God the Father. The apostle treats of the Spirit, 1Cor 12:7, &c.; of Christ, 1Cor 12:12, &c.; of God, 1Cor 12:28, &c. 

5 Administrations - Offices. But the same Lord appoints them all. 

6 Operations - Effects produced. This word is of a larger extent than either of the former. But it is the same God who worketh all these effects in all the persons concerned. 

7 The manifestation - The gift whereby the Spirit manifests itself. Is given to each - For the profit of the whole body. 

8 The word of wisdom - A power of understanding and explaining the manifold wisdom of God in the grand scheme of gospel salvation. The word of knowledge - Perhaps an extraordinary ability to understand and explain the Old Testament types and prophecies. 

9 Faith may here mean an extraordinary trust in God under the most difficult or dangerous circumstances. The gift of healing need not be wholly confined to the healing diseases with a word or a touch. It may exert itself also, though in a lower degree, where natural remedies are applied; and it may often be this, not superior skill, which makes some physicians more successful than others. And thus it may be with regard to other gifts likewise. As, after the golden shields were lost, the king of Judah put brazen in their place, so, after the pure gifts were lost, the power of God exerts itself in a more covert manner, under human studies and helps; and that the more plentifully, according as there is the more room given for it. 

10 The working of other miracles. Prophecy - Foretelling things to come. The discerning - Whether men be of an upright spirit or no; whether they have natural or supernatural gifts for offices in the church; and whether they who profess to speak by inspiration speak from a divine, a natural, or a diabolical spirit. 

11 As he willeth - The Greek word does not so much imply arbitrary pleasure, as a determination founded on wise counsel.