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1 Corinthians 12:1--14:40

Context
Spiritual Gifts

12:1 With regard to spiritual gifts, 1  brothers and sisters, 2  I do not want you to be uninformed. 3  12:2 You know that when you were pagans you were often led astray by speechless idols, however you were led. 12:3 So I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

12:4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 12:5 And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. 12:6 And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. 12:7 To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. 12:8 For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 12:10 to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 12:11 It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things.

Different Members in One Body

12:12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves 4  or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 12:14 For in fact the body is not a single member, but many. 12:15 If the foot says, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. 12:16 And if the ear says, “Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing? If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell? 12:18 But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided. 12:19 If they were all the same member, where would the body be? 12:20 So now there are many members, but one body. 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor in turn can the head say to the foot, “I do not need you.” 12:22 On the contrary, those members that seem to be weaker are essential, 12:23 and those members we consider less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our unpresentable members are clothed with dignity, 5  12:24 but our presentable members do not need this. Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honor to the lesser member, 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another. 12:26 If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a 6  member is honored, all rejoice with it.

12:27 Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it. 12:28 And God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. 12:29 Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform miracles, do they? 12:30 Not all have gifts of healing, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all interpret, do they? 7  12:31 But you should be eager for the greater gifts.

And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison. 8 

The Way of Love

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 13:2 And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 13:3 If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, 9  but do not have love, I receive no benefit.

13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 13:6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

13:8 Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside. 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 13:10 but when what is perfect 10  comes, the partial will be set aside. 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, 11  I set aside childish ways. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror indirectly, 12  but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Prophecy and Tongues

14:1 Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 14:2 For the one speaking in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, for no one understands; he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit. 13  14:3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, 14  encouragement, and consolation. 14:4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, 15  but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 14:5 I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened.

14:6 Now, brothers and sisters, 16  if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I help you unless I speak to you with a revelation or with knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 14:7 It is similar for lifeless things that make a sound, like a flute or harp. Unless they make a distinction in the notes, how can what is played on the flute or harp be understood? 14:8 If, for example, the trumpet makes an unclear sound, who will get ready for battle? 14:9 It is the same for you. If you do not speak clearly with your tongue, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air. 14:10 There are probably many kinds of languages in the world, and none is without meaning. 14:11 If then I do not know the meaning of a language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 14:12 It is the same with you. Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, 17  seek to abound in order to strengthen the church.

14:13 So then, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14:14 If 18  I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive. 14:15 What should I do? 19  I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praises with my spirit, but I will also sing praises with my mind. 14:16 Otherwise, if you are praising God with your spirit, how can someone without the gift 20  say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 14:17 For you are certainly giving thanks well, but the other person is not strengthened. 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 14:19 but in the church I want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

14:20 Brothers and sisters, 21  do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 14:21 It is written in the law: “By people with strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, yet not even in this way will they listen to me,” 22  says the Lord. 14:22 So then, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 14:23 So if the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and unbelievers or uninformed people enter, will they not say that you have lost your minds? 14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person enters, he will be convicted by all, he will be called to account by all. 14:25 The secrets of his heart are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is really among you.”

Church Order

14:26 What should you do then, brothers and sisters? 23  When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church. 14:27 If someone speaks in a tongue, it should be two, or at the most three, one after the other, and someone must interpret. 14:28 But if there is no interpreter, he should be silent in the church. Let him speak to himself and to God. 14:29 Two or three prophets should speak and the others should evaluate what is said. 14:30 And if someone sitting down receives a revelation, the person who is speaking should conclude. 14:31 For you can all prophesy one after another, so all can learn and be encouraged. 14:32 Indeed, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, 14:33 for God is not characterized by disorder but by peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 24  14:34 the women 25  should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. 26  Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says. 14:35 If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church. 27  14:36 Did the word of God begin with you, 28  or did it come to you alone?

14:37 If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, he should acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lord’s command. 14:38 If someone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 14:39 So then, brothers and sisters, 29  be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues. 30  14:40 And do everything in a decent and orderly manner.

1 tn Grk “spiritual things.”

2 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

3 tn Grk “ignorant.”

4 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 7:21.

5 tn Grk “have greater propriety (or decorum, presentability).”

6 tc ‡ Before μέλος (melos, “member”) the great majority of witnesses read ἕν (Jen, “one”; א2 C D F G Ψ 0285 33 1881 Ï latt sy), while the most important of the Alexandrian mss omit it (Ì46 א* A B 1739). The addition of ἕν appears to be motivated by its presence earlier in the verse with μέλος and the parallel structure of the two conditional clauses in this verse, while little reason can be given for its absence (although accidental oversight is of course possible, it is not likely that all these witnesses should have overlooked it). NA27 has the word in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

7 sn The questions in vv. 29-30 all expect a negative response.

8 tn Grk “a still more excellent way.” In this context the phrase has an elative rather than a comparative sense, however.

9 tc The reading καυχήσωμαι (kauchswmai, “I might boast”) is well supported by Ì46 א A B 048 33 1739* pc co Hiermss. The competing reading, καυθήσομαι (kauqhsomai, “I will burn”), is found in C D F G L 81 1175 1881* al latt and a host of patristic writers. From this reading other variants were obviously derived: καυθήσωμαι (kauqhswmai), a future subjunctive (“I might burn”) read by the Byzantine text and a few others (Ψ 1739c 1881c Ï); and καυθῇ (kauqh, “it might be burned”) read by 1505 pc. On an external level, the Alexandrian reading is obviously superior, though the Western and Byzantine readings need to be accounted for. (The following discussion is derived largely from TCGNT 497-98). Internally, καυχήσωμαι is superior for the following reasons: (1) Once the Church started suffering persecution and martyrdom by fire, the v.l. naturally arose. Once there, it is difficult to see why any scribe would intentionally change it to καυχήσωμαι. (2) Involving as it does the change of just two letters (χ to θ [c to q], ω to ο [w to o]), this reading could be accomplished without much fanfare. Yet, it appears cumbersome in the context, both because of the passive voice and especially the retention of the first person (“If I give up my body that I may be burned”). A more logical word would have been the third person passive, καυθῇ, as read in 1505 (“If I give up my body that it may be burned”). (3) Although the connection between giving up one’s body and boasting is ambiguous, this very ambiguity has all the earmarks of being from Paul. It may have the force of giving up one’s body into slavery. In any event, it looks to be the harder reading. Incidentally, the Byzantine reading is impossible because the future subjunctive did not occur in Koine Greek. As the reading of the majority of Byzantine minuscules, its roots are clearly post-Koine and as such is a “grammatical monstrosity that cannot be attributed to Paul” (TCGNT 498). Cf. also the notes in BDF §28; MHT 2:219.

10 tn Or “when completion.”

11 tn The Greek term translated “adult” here is ἀνήρ (anhr), a term which ordinarily refers to males, husbands, etc. In this context Paul contrasts the states of childhood and adulthood, so the term has been translated “adult”; cf. BDAG 79 s.v. 1.b.

12 tn Grk “we are seeing through [= using] a mirror by means of a dark image.” Corinth was well known in the ancient world for producing some of the finest bronze mirrors available. Paul’s point in this analogy, then, is not that our current understanding and relationship with God is distorted (as if the mirror reflected poorly), but rather that it is “indirect,” (i.e., the nature of looking in a mirror) compared to the relationship we will enjoy with him in the future when we see him “face to face” (cf. G. D. Fee, First Corinthians [NICNT], 648). The word “indirectly” translates the Greek phrase ἐν αἰνίγματι (ejn ainigmati, “in an obscure image”) which itself may reflect an allusion to Num 12:8 (LXX οὐ δι᾿ αἰνιγμάτων), where God says that he speaks to Moses “mouth to mouth [= face to face]…and not in dark figures [of speech].” Though this allusion to the OT is not explicitly developed here, it probably did not go unnoticed by the Corinthians who were apparently familiar with OT traditions about Moses (cf. 1 Cor 10:2). Indeed, in 2 Cor 3:13-18 Paul had recourse with the Corinthians to contrast Moses’ ministry under the old covenant with the hope afforded through apostolic ministry and the new covenant. Further, it is in this context, specifically in 2 Cor 3:18, that the apostle invokes the use of the mirror analogy again in order to unfold the nature of the Christian’s progressive transformation by the Spirit.

13 tn Or “with the spirit”; cf. vv. 14-16.

14 tn Grk “edification.”

15 sn The Greek term builds (himself) up does not necessarily bear positive connotations in this context.

16 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

17 tn Grk “eager for spirits.” The plural is probably a shorthand for the Spirit’s gifts, especially in this context, tongues.

18 tc ‡ Most witnesses, including some important ones (א A Ds Ψ 048 Ï lat sy bo), have γάρ (gar, “for”) here, while an equally impressive array of witnesses lack the conjunction (Ì46 B F G 0243 1739 1881 sa). This conjunction was frequently added by scribes in epistolary literature as a clarifying word, making the connection with the preceding more explicit. As such, it has the earmarks of being a motivated reading and thus should be rejected. NA27 places the word in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.

19 tn Grk “what then is it?”

20 tn Grk “how can someone who fills the place of the unlearned say ‘Amen.’”

21 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

22 sn A quotation from Isa 28:11-12.

23 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

24 sn This phrase may be taken with v. 33a.

25 tn The word for “woman” and “wife” is the same in Greek. Because of the reference to husbands in v. 35, the word may be translated “wives” here. But in passages governing conduct in church meetings like this (cf. 11:2-16; 1 Tim 2:9-15) the general meaning “women” is more likely.

26 sn For they are not permitted to speak. In light of 11:2-16, which gives permission for women to pray or prophesy in the church meetings, the silence commanded here seems not to involve the absolute prohibition of a woman addressing the assembly. Therefore (1) some take be silent to mean not taking an authoritative teaching role as 1 Tim 2 indicates, but (2) the better suggestion is to relate it to the preceding regulations about evaluating the prophets (v. 29). Here Paul would be indicating that the women should not speak up during such an evaluation, since such questioning would be in violation of the submission to male leadership that the OT calls for (the law, e.g., Gen 2:18).

27 tc Some scholars have argued that vv. 34-35 should be excised from the text (principally G. D. Fee, First Corinthians [NICNT], 697-710; P. B. Payne, “Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus, and 1 Cor 14.34-5,” NTS 41 [1995]: 240-262). This is because the Western witnesses (D F G ar b vgms Ambst) have these verses after v. 40, while the rest of the tradition retains them here. There are no mss that omit the verses. Why, then, would some scholars wish to excise the verses? Because they believe that this best explains how they could end up in two different locations, that is to say, that the verses got into the text by way of a very early gloss added in the margin. Most scribes put the gloss after v. 33; others, not knowing where they should go, put them at the end of the chapter. Fee points out that “Those who wish to maintain the authenticity of these verses must at least offer an adequate answer as to how this arrangement came into existence if Paul wrote them originally as our vv. 34-35” (First Corinthians [NICNT], 700). In a footnote he adds, “The point is that if it were already in the text after v. 33, there is no reason for a copyist to make such a radical transposition.” Although it is not our intention to interact with proponents of the shorter text in any detail here, a couple of points ought to be made. (1) Since these verses occur in all witnesses to 1 Corinthians, to argue that they are not original means that they must have crept into the text at the earliest stage of transmission. How early? Earlier than when the pericope adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) made its way into the text (late 2nd, early 3rd century?), earlier than the longer ending of Mark (16:9-20) was produced (early 2nd century?), and earlier than even “in Ephesus” was added to Eph 1:1 (upon reception of the letter by the first church to which it came, the church at Ephesus) – because in these other, similar places, the earliest witnesses do not add the words. This text thus stands as remarkable, unique. Indeed, since all the witnesses have the words, the evidence points to them as having been inserted into the original document. Who would have done such a thing? And, further, why would scribes have regarded it as original since it was obviously added in the margin? This leads to our second point. (2) Following a suggestion made by E. E. Ellis (“The Silenced Wives of Corinth (I Cor. 14:34-5),” New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, 213-20 [the suggestion comes at the end of the article, almost as an afterthought]), it is likely that Paul himself added the words in the margin. Since it was so much material to add, Paul could have squelched any suspicions by indicating that the words were his (e.g., by adding his name or some other means [cf. 2 Thess 3:17]). This way no scribe would think that the material was inauthentic. (Incidentally, this is unlike the textual problem at Rom 5:1, for there only one letter was at stake; hence, scribes would easily have thought that the “text” reading was original. And Paul would hardly be expected to add his signature for one letter.) (3) What then is to account for the uniform Western tradition of having the verses at the end of the chapter? Our conjecture (and that is all it is) is that the scribe of the Western Vorlage could no longer read where the verses were to be added (any marginal arrows or other directional device could have been smudged), but, recognizing that this was part of the original text, felt compelled to put it somewhere. The least offensive place would have been at the end of the material on church conduct (end of chapter 14), before the instructions about the resurrection began. Although there were no chapter divisions in the earliest period of copying, scribes could still detect thought breaks (note the usage in the earliest papyri). (4) The very location of the verses in the Western tradition argues strongly that Paul both authored vv. 34-35 and that they were originally part of the margin of the text. Otherwise, one has a difficulty explaining why no scribe seemed to have hinted that these verses might be inauthentic (the scribal sigla of codex B, as noticed by Payne, can be interpreted otherwise than as an indication of inauthenticity [cf. J. E. Miller, “Some Observations on the Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35,” JSNT 26 [2003]: 217-36.). There are apparently no mss that have an asterisk or obelisk in the margin. Yet in other places in the NT where scribes doubted the authenticity of the clauses before them, they often noted their protest with an asterisk or obelisk. We are thus compelled to regard the words as original, and as belonging where they are in the text above.

28 tn Grk “Did the word of God go out from you.”

29 tcμου (mou, “my”) is found after ἀδελφοί (adelfoi) in a number of significant witnesses (א A B* D1 048 326 1175 2464 al), but lacking in most other witnesses (Ì46 B2 D* F G Ψ 0243 33 1739 1881 Ï lat). Every other time Paul says “So then, brothers (and sisters)” he adds “my” (ὥστε, ἀδελφοί μου; {wste, adelfoi mou). There is no good reason why scribes would intentionally omit “my” here but not elsewhere. Thus, the longer reading is in conformity with Paul’s general style and as such seems to be scribally motivated. NA27 has the word in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

30 tn Grk “speaking in tongues.” The words “anyone from” are supplied for the sake of clarity.



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