1 Corinthians 12
J.B. Phillips New Testament
The Holy Spirit inspires men’s faith and imparts spiritual gifts
12 Now I want to give you some further information in some spiritual matters.
2-3 You have not forgotten that you were Gentiles, following dumb idols just as you had been taught. Now I want you to understand, as Christians, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God could call Jesus accursed, and no one could say that he is the Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.
4-7 Men have different gifts, but it is the same Spirit who gives them. There are different ways of serving God, but it is the same Lord who is served. God works through different men in different ways, but it is the same God who achieves his purposes through them all. Each man is given his gift by the Spirit that he may make the most of it.
8-11 One man’s gift by the Spirit is to speak with wisdom, another’s to speak with knowledge. The same Spirit gives to another man faith, to another the ability to heal, to another the power to do great deeds. The same Spirit gives to another man the gift of preaching the word of God, to another the ability to discriminate in spiritual matters, to another speech in different tongues. Behind all these gifts is the operation of the same Spirit, who distributes to each individual man, as he wills.
The human body is an example of organic unity
12-13 As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, so it is with the body of Christ. For we were all baptised by the Spirit into one body, whether we were Jews, Gentiles, slaves or free men, and we have all had experience of the same Spirit.
14-26 Now the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I don’t belong to the body,” does that alter the fact that the foot is a part of the body? Of if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I don’t belong to the body,” does that mean that the ear really is no part of the body? After all, if the body were all one eye, for example, where would be the sense of hearing? Or if it were all one ear, where would be the sense of smell? But God has arranged all the parts in the one body according to his design. For if everything were concentrated in one part, how could there be a body at all? The fact is there are many parts, but only one body. So that the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” nor, again, can the head say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body which have no obvious function are the more essential to health: and to those parts of the body which seem to us to be less deserving of notice we have to allow the highest honour of function. The parts which do not look beautiful have a deeper beauty in the work they do, while the parts which look beautiful may not be at all essential to life! But God has harmonised the whole body by giving importance of function to the parts which lack apparent importance, that the body should work together as a whole with all the members in sympathetic relationship with one another. So it happens that if one member suffers all the other members suffer with it, and if one member is honoured all the members share a common joy.
27-28 Now you are together the body of Christ, and individually you are members of him. And in his Church God has appointed first some to be his messengers, secondly, some to be preachers of power, thirdly teachers. After them he has appointed workers of spiritual power, men with the gift of healing, helpers, organisers and those with the gift of speaking in “tongues”.
29-30 As we look at the body of Christ do we find all are his messengers, all are preachers, or all teachers? Do we find all wielders of spiritual power, all able to heal, all able to speak with tongues, or all able to interpret the tongues? No, we find God’s distribution of gifts is on the same principles of harmony that he has shown in the human body.
31 You should set your hearts on the highest spiritual gifts, but I will show you what is the highest way of all.