VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
1 CORINTHIANS 12
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
"Before this consciousness of a higher power than their own, the ordinary and natural faculties of the human mind seemed to retire, to make way for loftier aspirations, more immediate intimations of the divine will, more visible manifestations of the divine power.... It resembled in some degree the inspiration of the Jewish judges, psalmists, and prophets; it may be illustrated by the ecstasies and visions of prophets in all religions; but in its energy and universality it was peculiar to the christian society of the apostolic age" (Stanley).
Dumb idols. Compare Psalm cxv. 5, 7. And Milton:
"The oracles are dumb, No voice or hideous hum Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving." "Hymn on the Nativity"
The contrast is implied with the living vocal spirit, which dwells and works in Christ's people, and responds to their prayers.
Even as ye were led (wv an hgesqe). Rev., howsoever ye might be led. Better, Ellicott: "As from time to time ye might be led. The imperfect tense with the indefinite particle signifies habitually, whenever the occasion might arise. Compare Greek of Mark vi. 56. "Now the fatal storm carried the blinded gentile, with a whole procession, to the temple of Jupiter; again it was to the altars of Mars or Venus, always to give them over to one or other of their deified passions" (Godet).
Gifts (carismatwn). See on Rom. i. 11.
Administrations (diakoniwn). Rev., better, ministrations. Compare Eph. iv. 12. In the New Testament commonly of spiritual service of an official character. See Acts i. 25; vi. 4; xx. 24; Rom. xi. 13; 1 Timothy i. 12; and on minister, Matt. xx. 26.
Worketh (energwn). Etymologically akin to operations. See on Mark vi. 14; Jas. v. 16.
All (ta panta). Or them all. The article shows that they are regarded collectively.
Discerning of spirits. Rev., correctly, discernings. Distinguishing between the different prophetic utterances, whether they proceed from true or false spirits. See 1 Tim. iv. 1; 1 John iv. 1, 2.
Divers kinds of tongues (genh glwsswn).
I. PASSAGES RELATING TO THE GIFT OF TONGUES. Mark xvi. 17; Acts ii. 3-21; x. 46; xix. 6; 1 Cor. xii. 10, 28; xiii. 1; 14. Possibly Eph. v. 18; 1 Pet. iv. 11.
II. TERMS EMPLOYED. New tongues (Mark xvi. 17): other or different tongues (eterai, Acts ii. 4): kinds (genh) of tongues (1 Corinthians xii. 10): simply tongues or tongue (glwssai glwssa, 1 Corinthians 14.): to speak with tongues or a tongue (glwssaiv or glwssh lalein, Acts ii. 4; x. 46; xix. 6; 1 Cor. xiv. 2, 4, 13, 14, 19, 27): to pray in a tongue (proseucesqai glwssh, 1 Cor. xiv. 14, 15), equivalent to praying in the spirit as distinguished from praying with the understanding: tongues of men and angels (1 Corinthians xiii. 1).
III. RECORDED FACTS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
(1.) The first recorded bestowment of the gift was at Pentecost (Acts 2.). The question arises whether the speakers were miraculously endowed to speak with other tongues, or whether the Spirit interpreted the apostle's words to each in his own tongue.
Probably the latter was the case, since there is no subsequent notice of the apostles preaching in foreign tongues; there is no allusion to foreign tongues by Peter, nor by Joel, whom he quotes. This fact, moreover, would go to explain the opposite effects on the hearers.
(2.) Under the power of the Spirit, the company addressed by Peter in the house of Cornelius at Caesarea spake with tongues. Acts x. 44-46.
(3.) Certain disciples at Ephesus, who received the Holy Spirit in the laying on of Paul's hands, spake with tongues and prophesied, Acts xix. 6.
IV. MEANING OF THE TERM "TONGUE." The various explanations are: the tongue alone, inarticulately: rare, provincial, poetic, or archaic words: language or dialect. The last is the correct definition. It does not necessarily mean any of the known languages of men, but may mean the speaker's own tongue, shaped in a peculiar manner by the Spirit's influence; or an entirely new spiritual language.
V. NATURE OF THE GIFT IN THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH.
(1.) The gift itself was identical with that at Pentecost, at Caesarea, and at Ephesus, but differed in its manifestations, in that it required an interpreter. 1 Cor. xii. 10, 30; xiv. 5, 13, 26, 27. (2.) It was closely connected with prophesying: 1 Cor. xiv. 1-6, 22, 25; Acts ii. 16-18; xix. 6. Compare 1 Thess. v. 19, 20. It was distinguished from prophesying as an inferior gift, 1 Corinthians xiv. 4, 5; and as consisting in expressions of praise or devotion rather than of exhortation, warning, or prediction, 1 Corinthians xiv. 14-16.
(3.) It was an ecstatic utterance, unintelligible to the hearers, and requiring interpretation, or a corresponding ecstatic condition on the part of the hearer in order to understand it. It was not for the edification of the hearer but of the speaker, and even the speaker did not always understand it, 1 Cor. xiv. 2, 19. It therefore impressed unchristian bystanders as a barbarous utterance, the effect of madness or drunkenness, Acts ii. 13, 15; 1 Corinthians xiv. 11, 23. Hence it is distinguished from the utterance of the understanding, 1 Cor. xiv. 4, 14-16, 19, 27.
VI. PAULíS ESTIMATE OF THE GIFT. He himself was a master of the gift (1 Cor. xiv. 18), but he assigned it an inferior position (1 Corinthians xiv. 4, 5), and distinctly gave prophesying and speaking with the understanding the preference (1 Cor. xiv. 2, 3, 5, 19, 22).VII. RESULTS AND PERMANENCE. Being recognized distinctly as a gift of the Spirit, it must be inferred that it contributed in some way to the edification of the Church; but it led to occasional disorderly outbreaks (1 Cor. xiv. 9, 11, 17, 20-23, 26-28, 33, 40). As a fact it soon passed away from the Church. It is not mentioned in the Catholic or Pastoral Epistles. A few allusions to it occur in the writings of the fathers of the second century. Ecstatic conditions and manifestations marked the Montanists at the close of the second century, and an account of such a case, in which a woman was the subject, is given by Tertullian. Similar phenomena have emerged at intervals in various sects, at times of great religious excitement, as among the Camisards in France, the early Quakers and Methodists, and especially the Irvingites.121
Uncomely - comeliness (aschmona - euschmosunhn). See on honorable, Mark xv. 43; shame, Apoc. xvi. 15. Compare ajschmonein behaveth uncomely, ch. vii. 36. The comeliness is outward, as is shown by the verb we put on, and by the compounds of ochma fashion. See on transfigured, Matt. xvii. 2.
Is honored (doxazetai). Or glorified. Receives anything which contributes to its soundness or comeliness. So Chrysostom: "The head is crowned, and all the members have a share in the honor; the eyes laugh when the mouth speaks."
Miracles. Note the change from endowed persons to abstract gifts, and compare the reverse order, Rom. xii. 6-8.
Helps (antilhmyeiv). Rendered to the poor and sick as by the deacons. See on hath holpen, Luke i. 54.
Governments (kubernhseiv). Only here in the New Testament. From kubernaw to steer. The kindred kubernhthv shipmaster or steersman, occurs Acts xxvii. 11; Apoc. xviii. 17. Referring probably to administrators of church government, as presbyters. The marginal wise counsels (Rev.) is based on Septuagint usage, as Prov. i. 5; xx. 21. Compare Proverbs xi. 14; xxiv. 6. Ignatius, in his letter to Polycarp says: "The occasion demands thee, as pilots (kubernhtai) the winds." The reading is disputed, but the sense seems to be that the crisis demands Polycarp as a pilot. Lightfoot says that this is the earliest example of a simile which was afterward used largely by christian writers - the comparison of the Church to a ship. Hippolytus represents the mast as the cross; the two rudders the two covenants; the undergirding ropes the love of Christ. The ship is one of the ornaments which Clement of Alexandria allows a Christian to wear ("Apostolic Fathers," Part ii., Ignatius to Polycarp, 2.).
Yet (eti). Some construe with more excellent, rendering yet more excellent. So Rev. Others render moreover, and give the succeeding words a superlative force: "and moreover a most excellent way," etc. See on with excellency, ch. ii. 1.
Way. To attain the higher gifts. The way of love as described in ch. 13. "Love is the fairest and best in himself, and the cause of what is fairest and best in all other things" (Plato, "Symposium," 197).