The three chapters of 1 Cor 12, 13, and 14 are instruction to the church concerning that which is of the Spirit. The word “gifts” in 1 Cor 12:1 is not in the Greek. Much that is in these chapters deal with gifts of the Spirit, but that is only a portion of Paul’s topic. The greater topic is that which is of the Spirit.
These three chapters form a chiastic structure, and seeing it outlined will help make the big picture topic more clear:
1 Cor 12:1-14:40
1A: 1 Cor 12:1-3, Not being ignorant concerning that which is of the Spirit;
1B: 1 Cor 12:4-31, The manifestation of the Spirit: not for self- exaltation but edification of all; not for competition but cooperation;
CENTRAL AXIS: 1 Cor 13, – Love, the heart of that which is of the Spirit;
2B: 1 Cor 14:1-35, The operation of the Spirit: not in showboating but edification; not in dishonor but in order, decency, and peace;
2A: 1 Cor 14:36-40, Not being ignorant concerning that which is of the Spirit.
Each section of this structure, analyzed individually and in detail, reveals mini- chiastic structures and much truth concerning those who are spiritual. A whole book could be written about these three chapters, there is so much revealed in them.
For example, idolatry leads to ignorance of spiritual things (1 Cor 12:1-2). Of course this would be true, because the greatest truth of the spiritual world is that YHVH is God, He alone is God, and beside Him there is no other. The person who denies this fact does even know the easiest, most basic fundamental of that which is spiritual – he is completely and wholly ignorant.
The deception is that those who are pursuing spiritual “realities” other than YHVH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are spiritual. Nothing could be further from the truth! Doesn’t the world make much of the Dalai Lama, or earth worship, etc.? Doesn’t the world elevate those “paths” as enlightened? And yet, those who are spiritual recognize the commandments of YHVH (1 Cor 14:37)! The greatest of which, is that YHVH alone is God, and we who are created, are to love Him with all that we are (Mat 22:34-40)!
The second part of the deception of idolatry is that only those involved in another religion are practicing idolatry – that everyone in the Body is exempt and can gloss over these warnings and assume that they must be spiritual then. Nothing could be further from the truth! Even the antichrist is going to come out from among the Body (1 Joh 2:18-19)! Any number of things can be elevated in the heart above YHVH: the lusts of the flesh; the love of money; reputation or fame or power; talent; fear of man; seeking to be approved of in the eyes of ones peers or the world; children or family; the list could go on and on. There are many famous ministers who have remained faithful to the Lord, and some that we have all heard of, who allowed the love of other things to crowd out the love of YHVH in their hearts. And when they were found out, their hypocrisy was splashed all over the world news.
So do not be awed by the things that the world is awed by. Do not be deceived into thinking that just because someone is doing or saying something that looks spiritual, that they are spiritual. The Holy Spirit does not mix with unholy spirits, and the distinction between them is crystal clear – for those who are submitted to YHVH as God, and who recognize that as God, He has the right to speak commandment, and be obeyed!
Another aspect of the Spirit that comes out in these chapters, is the recurring theme of edification. God doesn’t just show off His power because we want to see something amazing, like going to the circus. Or because we hope that if the word gets out that miracles are happening at such and such a church, crowds will come, which means more money in offerings.
Edification is the purpose of the manifestation and operation of the Spirit. “Edify” comes from the same root as “edifice”. An edifice is a building, a large or massive structure. The Greek word translated edify or edification, means to build up (as a building). The root of the word in Greek and Hebrew means “the inhabited home.” Thus, The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands (Pro 14:1). To edify means to establish, to make firm or stable, to cause to grow or multiply, to put in a favorable position.
Guess what? If an outpouring of the manifestation of the Spirit will cause the people in a church or the church itself to destabilize, because perhaps their maturity isn’t such yet that fame and crowds will profit them, then that church will not have an outpouring of the Spirit, no matter how much time the prayer team spends praying for one. The Spirit will not do that which does not edify or profit the Body.
But, it is clear from Paul’s letter, that the gifts of the Spirit have been given to edify the Body. The ekklesia is to earnestly desire them (1 Cor 14:1)! Pray for them, but then receive all the Spirit gives with joy and thanksgiving! The Spirit gives miraculous gifts – tongues, healings, and miracles – and also what the human mind tends to think of as more mundane gifts – leadership, teaching, exhortation, and helps (Rom 12:4-8) – to the Body!
One problem has been, that some of the Church who excel in the traditional things of the Spirit (like teaching) reject the charismatic things of the Spirit (like tongues); likewise, some of the Church who excel in the charismatic de- emphasize the traditional. They are ALL of the Spirit! Let the Lord determine what gift, ministry, and activity of the Spirit is needful at each season, for He gives to each as HE wills (1 Cor 12:11), and let us not be disappointed if it is not one of the showy ones, nor puffed up if it is!