These small group studies of 1 Corinthians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Inductive Bible Study and Discussion Questions
Outline: Spiritual Gifts
- The problem manifested in the Corinthian church (1-3)
- a)Ignorance (1)
- b)Deceived (2)
- c)Blasphemy (3)
- Teaching on the gifts (4-7)
- a)Many gifts; One Giver (4)
- b)Many areas to serve; One Master (5)
- c)Many outlets for the gifts; One God (6)
- d)Many people; One goal (7)
III. Specific gifts (8-11)
- a)Word of wisdom (8a)
- b)Word of knowledge (8b)
- c)Special faith (9a)
- d)Healing (9b)
- e)Miracles (10a)
- f)Prophecy (10b)
- g)Distinguishing spirits (10c)
- h)Tongues (10d)
- i)Interpretation of tongues (10e)
- j)One Spirit who is the Giver and the one to receive the glory (11)
Why did Paul write to the Corinthian church about spiritual gifts?
What seemed to be their problem?
What are spiritual gifts? Are they special talents and skills? Can anything be included like fixing computer skill or good singing ability skill?
Where do the gifts come from? Why is this fact so important?
Who receives them?
What is the purpose of these gifts? What are we to use them for?
Is it important to try to find out your gift? Should we try to discover our gift? If we don’t, how will we know we are using it?
What should you do to ensure that you are actually using your gift for the building up of the body?
If you think you know your gift, what should you do?
What is the “word of wisdom”? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
What is the “word of knowledge”? How is it different than “word of wisdom”? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
What is the “faith”? Doesn’t every believer have faith? What is the difference? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
What is the “gifts of healing”? What kind of healing? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
What is the “effecting of miracles”? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
What is the “prophecy”? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
What is the “distinguishing of spirits”? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
What is the “various kinds of tongues”? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
What is the “interpretation of tongues? How would one use this gift? Is it still alive today?
Romans 12:3-8 – Gifts passage.
Ephesians 4:11-16 – Gifts passage.
1 John 4:1-3 – Method of distinguishing true spirits from false ones. If one says Jesus is from God, true. If not, false.
Matthew 16:16-17 – Peter accepted Jesus as Lord because the Father revealed it to Him.
Galatians 1:8-9 – Let the one preaching a false gospel be eternally condemned.
1 Peter 4:10-11 – Be a good steward of the gifts God has given.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 – Gifts mentioned again.
Philippians 2:13 – God works in us for His good pleasure.
Acts 6:10- The wisdom of Stephen.
2 Peter 3:15 – The wisdom of Paul.
Proverbs 2:6 – The Lord gives wisdom. Wisdom mentioned 156 times in Proverbs.
Colossians 2:2-3 – Wisdom and knowledge. Knowing the mysteries of God.
Matthew 17:20 – Faith that can move mountains.
Luke 7:1-9 – The centurion exercised a great and special faith.
2 Corinthians 12:12 – Healings were a special gift belonging to the apostles to prove them.
Philippians 2:27, 1 Timothy 5:23, 2 Timothy 4:20 – Examples that even at that time healings were not always performed.
Hebrews 11:1-2 – God has spoken in different times and in different ways, but now speaks through His Son.
John 2:11- Miracle done to manifest Christ’s glory.
Acts 2:22 – The miracles Jesus did attested to the fact that He was from God.
1 Corinthians 14:3 – Prophecy to edify and exhort.
Acts 2:5-12 – The real gift of tongues, real languages.
Verse by Verse Commentary:
In that day there were a lot of counterfeit gifts going around from the occult. Satan has always been one to mimic the real thing, twisting it and abusing it for his own purposes. The two most common of these included ecstasy and enthusiasm. Ecstasy was a kind of almost hypnotic frenzy where through sensuous and frenzied hypnotic chants one thought he was communicating with the divine. It was deemed a super spiritual practice and often confused with tongues. This has its roots in false religion and demonic activity. Enthusiasm involved dreams, visions, etc. The basic problem was that in the church many accepted anything that appeared to be a miracle or supernatural as automatically good and worthy to try. But they were ignorant and didn’t know they should test the things that were going on or how to test them.
From the beginning of the book we remember that they lacked no spiritual gift. They were gifted spiritually, but they were abusing their gifts. The first problem was that they were ignorant. Satan is prowling around like a roaring like seeking someone to devour. If someone is ignorant of the truth, they are in danger. Imagine a deer who cannot recognize a lion. Bye bye deer. If the Corinthians did not even know the truth about spiritual gifts, then they wouldn’t know how to use them correctly. This was one of the first epistles, so though I’m sure Paul had taught them something, they didn’t have the benefit of a complete Bible yet. They may have had some excuse for being unaware. But we have absolutely none. We need to know the truth so that we can properly serve God. In Timothy we know that we need to rightly divide the Word.
Their second problem was that they seemed to be easily deceived. When they were unbelievers they had been led aside to idol worship and the occult and pagan practices that were so prevalent in that area. Unfortunately after they believed, a number of these practices carried over to church practice, though some in different forms. We see throughout the book that a big problem for the Corinthian church was imitating the world around them and getting sucked into it instead of truly being set apart. In chapter 14 we learn of some of their abuses of the practice of tongues and it is pretty clear that counterfeit gifts were creeping into the church and leading many astray. Today it happens too. There are countless stories of fake healings, fake tongues, as well as rolling in the aisles, acting like dogs and cats, etc. How can we prevent being led astray?
- Know the truth.
- Evaluate everything by the Scripture. Don’t just accept something because a church teaches it or is practicing it or it is common.
Verse 3: The abuse of the gifts was to such an extent that in moments of ecstasy people were actually blaspheming the Lord. It was clear that demons were responsible and using these moments of ecstasy as a way to mislead church members and wreak havoc spiritually. See cross-references in 1 John. The truth is always a measure of what is right and wrong. If things appear good and seem to work, but are untrue, they are not good. What areas could this be applied to today? Preachers. No matter how smooth and polished they are, if they don’t teach the word we should not listen to them.
In this section we learn about the source of gifts and purpose of gifts. The source is not people and certainly not demons. The source is the Holy Spirit, Jesus, God the Father. In short, the Trinity. If He is the source they are also for Him and always to be conducted in accordance with His will and in His way. These gifts are supernaturally bestowed on believers. There are three general categories of gifts, verbal, serving, and sign gifts. The verbal gifts are for the purpose of speaking to edify the church such as teaching, preaching, prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, etc. Serving gifts include things such as leadership, giving, mercy, faith, and discernment. The sign gifts included miracles, healing, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. So there all kinds of gifts and perhaps even combinations of gifts, but the same God gave all of them. Therefore there is no basis for pride that one’s gift is better than another person’s. Later in the chapter it shows that every gift and every believer is vital and has a distinct and important role to fill.
Although there are many gifts, the purpose of all the gifts is the same. That is the common good. They are for the building up of the body so that the body can better glorify the Lord and reach the world for Him. Review questions and cross-references.
This is a good reminder for all of us.
- We need to be unified.
- We have the same goal and need to be working for it.
- You have a special gift from the Lord.
- You should be using your special gift by actively serving others.
Are you using your gift? Are you actively serving others? Are you concerned about the common good?
What phrase repeats again and again.
In focusing on each spiritual gift and what it is, I almost looked over this repeated phrase. The fact that it is repeated again and again shows that it is very important and perhaps the main theme for this whole section. It is “Spirit” or “same Spirit”. The point is that The Spirit is the source of all spiritual gifts. It is a reminder of our unity in the Spirit, but also our diversity. Not everyone will do exactly what you do in the church. Not everyone will have this gift. Not everyone will have this calling. Not everyone has to do what you are doing to follow the Lord. As teachers, evangelists, disicplers, we have a tendency to think everyone should be doing this. But from Scripture, it is clear, not everyone has this gift or calling. God has different tasks for different people and we need to understand and accept that. We need to recognize the value of others’ contributions and not think we are doing the only thing valuable. It’s like marriage. The husband and wife have different roles, but they are both valuable and important.
Word of wisdom – Ability to understand God’s Word and His will, and to skillfully apply that understanding to life.
Word of knowledge – Ability to understand and speak God’s truth, with insight into mysteries of His Word.
Knowledge majors on grasping the meaning of truth, while wisdom majors on applying that to practical real-life situations in the proper way.
Faith – This would not be a saving faith or a persevering faith as every believer has that. But rather it is a kind of especially strong faith that places complete confidence in God no matter what the circumstance. Very likely guys like Hudson Taylor and George Muller had this gift.
Gifts of healing – Check cross-references. This was a gift of healing specially given mostly to the apostles for a certain time and stage in the church’s development. If a person with this gift touched a sick person, they could be immediately healed no matter what sickness they had.
Because the message was new, God gave so-called sign gifts to confirm His apostle’s authority so that people could easily recognize they came from God and were teaching truth. Once the church was established and the Bible was complete, the use for this and other sign gifts faded. Even later New Testament books don’t mention the sign gifts. Like Jesus’ miracles, they were for a specific purpose. If you look through the whole Old Testament, miracles by prophets were relatively seldom and far less than the amount of teaching they did. Having said that, there is no clear passage you can turn to in Scripture that emphatically shows the sign gifts have ended. This belief comes mostly from logic about the purpose of the sign gifts, their absence in later Scriptures, and their fading from the mainstream of church history. My position is that sign gifts are no longer normative for the church around the world. It is mostly established already.
However, I would not go so far as to say they are completely eradicated. It is possible that in some areas where the gospel is just now reaching and the church is not established or mature, God may still make use of sign gifts in order to confirm those who go with the gospel message and attest to its truth. Certainly a number of accounts exist, especially in these new areas, about healings and various miracles. Each one of these would also need to be evaluated according to the truth of God’s Word and not automatically accepted just because it appears good. There are many many fraudulent claims to the sign gifts just as there were in the Corinthian church.
Having said that, God still heals people and God still does miracles. It is foolish to tie God’s hand and dismiss miraculous events as just coincidence or lies. God is the same God and He is still involved in the world. So what should you do if you hear or see sign gifts? Evaluate by Scripture. See if the person is using them in the right way and truth is being taught and lived.
Gift of miracles – Includes such things as casting out demons, the jars of oil, etc. This is a demonstration of supernatural power (God’s power) in some way that is abnormal in the natural world. Again, the purpose is to show God’s power so that the beholders will believe.
Gift of prophecy – Nowadays most people consider this gift to be a telling of the future. But it actually only means “speaking forth” or “proclaiming publicly”. The connotation of telling the future only entered in to the word during the Middle Ages. God may have used this also as a way to confirm His truth, but since the completion of the Scriptures it is no longer bringing new revelation. God’s revelation is complete. Those with the gift of prophecy now have the ability to exposit and explain the Scriptures and edify others with them. See 1 Corinthians 14:3. It’s quite similar to the gift of teaching or other speaking gifts.
Distinguishing of spirits- Christians with this gift have the ability to recognize lying spirits and to identify deceptive and erroneous doctrine. It is exercising discernment to distinguish between the lies of Satan, his counterfeits, and the truth of God, the real thing. Those with this gift can act as guardians of the church to protect it from false doctrines and infiltration of the world’s ideas. They seem to be able to look deeper than the average person to see the true moral issues/problems at stake and identify root problems in ideas. These are in a sense stewards of right doctrine and practice. This is also a so-called gift on gifts as it enables those with this gift to unmask whether the other gifts being shown and used in the church are real or counterfeit.
Gift of tongues – From Acts, we see that this gift involved speaking a real foreign tongue without knowing it through study. Basically, it is a rolling back of the tower of Babel to allow believers to communicate with those of other tongues and dialects. It both reaches people believers would have difficulty reaching without it and is another sign gift showing the power of God so that unbelievers will believe. This gift and its abuses will be covered in detail in chapter 14.
Gift of interpretation of tongues – This is like reverse engineering. Those with this gift can listen and understand those foreign tongues and then translate it back to their own language. The counterfeit often included lots of ecstatic gibberish unintelligible. It seemed very spiritual, but had no real value.
Verse 11 is yet another reminder that all of these gifts are from the same Spirit. All the praise and recognition for these gifts goes to Him. They are distributed not according to our desires, but according to the will of the Spirit. They are for His master plan of the church. We need to serve Him as He wills not as we will. Go where we are needed instead of where we want to go or feel comfortable.
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