What Does 1 Corinthians 12:1 Mean?

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.

1 Corinthians 12:1(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

There were three things of which Paul did not want his Christian brethren to be ignorant. He did not want them to be uninformed about God's plan for Israel. He didn't want them to be unaware about the second coming of Christ and the eternal ages to come, and in this verse, we read, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant".

Paul did not want us to be ignorant of the spiritual gifts that the body of Christ receives from the Father. Spiritual gifts are one of the three issues, identified by the apostle, about which many in the Church, in general, are ignorant. We all should endeavour to come to a fuller understanding of Israel's role in God's plan, the return of Christ at the rapture of the Church, and the spiritual gifts with which we have been endowed.

Before the Lord Jesus was crucified, He spoke of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who was to be given to all believers. The permanently indwelling Spirit was sent by the Father at Pentecost. He is given to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Once we are saved, that same Spirit Who indwells us gives us other spiritual gifts and graces that are to be used for the edification of the entire Body of Christ.

Paul was writing to Christians in Corinth who were indwelled by the Spirit, but had become carnal in their Christian walk. Having chastened them for their fleshly ways, and reminded them that their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, he talked in this section about the qualities and characteristics that should be manifest in a "spiritual" man or woman; one who is walking in spirit and truth; one who is under the authority of the indwelling Spirit of God; one who is correctly manifesting the gift, or gifts they have received.

Spiritual gifts or spiritual abilities are given to all who have confessed Christ as Saviour and have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is the Spirit Himself, Who gives each one of us the spiritual gifts or abilities He has chosen for us. We do not select our preferred gift(s) and we do not all receive the same gift or gifts as others. The gifts of the Spirit differ according to the grace that is given to us.

Every believer is to exercise the spiritual gift(s) we have been given appropriately. We are to use our spiritual abilities, according to the proportion of our faith. We are to exercise them according to the work that God has prepared for us to do, and we are to exercise them through the power of the indwelling Spirit and not use them for our own, personal benefit.

As we read through the book of Corinthians, we discover that these Christians were endowed with a great many spiritual gifts. They were not lacking in any gift, but they were flaunting them. They were using them inappropriately and behaving in ungodly ways. There were dissensions among them, sexual immorality and other ungodly behaviour, and Paul warned that this was not the sort of conduct God desires from us.

Sadly, some of the errors we see in the Corinthian Christians can be identified in the Church of today, and so it is no wonder that Paul wrote, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant". These believers were spiritually gifted, BUT they were not spiritual. They may not have been lacking in any gift, but they were ignorant of spiritual gifts because they were not using them in the way they were meant to be used. 

Just as we are exhorted to learn from the mistakes of Israel, so we are to learn how to live a godly life from the mistakes of the early Church.  We are not to remain uninformed about God's plan for Israel, the second coming of Christ, and the eternal ages to come. Similarly, we are not to be ignorant of the spiritual gifts and graces bestowed on us by the Holy Spirit of God, or use them unwisely or inappropriately.

Throughout the entire book of 1st Corinthians, Paul is giving guidance on righteous living and using our spiritual gifts as God desires. We are all to be led by the Spirit. We are to walk in spirit and truth. We are to use our gifts for the benefit of the Body and we are to benefit from the giftings of others. We should remember that we are one body that is being built into a spiritual temple, and together we should grow in grace and in a knowledge of God.

We should recognise that individually, as well as collectively, our body is the Temple of God and our gifts should be used for His glory as well as the edification of the whole. May we so walk in the unity of the Spirit, that we use our gifts with wisdom, and demonstrate spiritual maturity that glorifies God. For we are the Body of Christ, who have been individually endowed with a unique gift, as the Holy Spirit has ordained.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to surrender my life to You and use the gifts and graces with which I have been blessed, with wisdom, and for Your greater glory. Thank You, that I am part of the wider Body of Christ. Thank You, that we are being fitted together as Your holy dwelling place. I pray that together we may learn to use our spiritual gifts for the benefit of the whole Body, and rejoice that we are One in Christ, through time and into eternity. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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