1 Corinthians 12-14
Happy December everyone!!
Most everyone following this blog has probably read through these passages today… each chapter could have its own devotional! Within these we have the passage on Spiritual Gifts, we have the Love chapter, and we have one of the more argued and misinterpreted verses regarding women in the church – all in one day!
The not so crazy thing about all these chapters is how at the heart of each of them, there is one message that prevails: Love others and tell them about Jesus. Whether it is an outsider, a fellow believer, a spouse, or anyone you meet… we are told to show them love and tell them about Jesus.
When discussing the spiritual gifts Paul talks about the importance of each member of the body being placed exactly where God wants them (12:18) and remaining united within the Church (12:25). I have usually heard these verses used to showcase why everyone is equally important within the Church and that you should never compare yourself or your gifts to someone else’s. However, Paul gives a pecking order in verse 28: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, managing, various kinds of languages… At first this can seem a little harsh, especially if you’re a helper or someone who speaks another language! And it is harsh, if you stop reading there.
In chapter 14 Paul continues “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy.” Paul is telling everyone that the main goal is to spread the message of Jesus, and love others. He doesn’t say it’s bad to do any of the other tasks or fill other roles within the church, in fact in the previous chapter he describes at length why it is so important for everyone to be unique and do the work God intends for them. What he is also saying here is that it is everyone’s mission to tell others about Jesus and the fact that he is coming back. Just as every part of the body functions independently with the purpose of living daily, every part of the body of Christ must function independently with the message of the Kingdom coming.
This message continues even in chapter 14 verse 34, when Paul writes that the women of the church should be silent and submissive. In these verses it is important to remember the historical context in which Paul is writing. At this time, women did not hold places of leadership, and women did not *generally* have a role in proclaiming the message. Additionally, the church in Corinth had women who struggled to act as godly women, partially because their husbands and other leaders in the church also struggled to live righteous lives. I do not think that Paul is hating on the women, but rather explaining that when the church is struggling and in need of repair, the gossiping, adulterous, and unrighteous should not have a say in the direction of the church. He is describing the importance of church leaders to be focused on the mission.
The call to prophesy is not one to be taken lightly, and Paul wants to make sure that the church understands that. It is also one that the church is called to eagerly strive for, for the sake of the Kingdom. Chapter 14 verse 24 reads “But if all are prophesying and some unbeliever or uninformed person comes in, he is convicted by all. The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, ‘God is really among you.’”
Let that be our goal as the Church, that anyone who walks in will have no other inclination but to fall down in worship of our great God because of our focus on His mission!
-Sarah Blanchard Johnson
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Corinthians 12-14.
Come back tomorrow as we together finish 1 Corinthians with chapters 15 & 16.