Controversial Spiritual Gifts

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An exegetical study of 1 Corinthians 12-14.

Text of Controversial Spiritual Gifts

  • An Exegetical Study of

    1 Corinthians 12-14


    Dr. Larry A. Combs

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    An Exegetical Study of

    1 Corinthians 12-14


    Dr. Larry A. Combs


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    An Exegetical Outline of 1 Corinthians 12 14

    I. INTRODUCTION (12:1-3)

    A. Ignorance About Spirituals Depreciated (1)

    B. Spiritual Sources Contrasted (2-3)

    1. The Deception of Idolatry (2)

    2. The Enlightenment of the Spirit (3)


    A. Their Relation to the Trinity (4-6)

    1. Gifts and the Spirit (4)

    2. Ministries and the Son (5)

    3. Effects and the Father (6)

    B. Their Common Purpose (7)

    C. Their Distribution (8-10)

    1. Message Gifts (8)

    2. Miraculous Gifts (9-10a)

    3. Glossolalia (Tongues) (10b)

    D. Their Sovereign Bestowment (11)


    A. The Principle: Unity in Diversity (12:12-26)

    1. The Body Compared to Christ (12)

    2. Comparison to Christ Explained (13)

    a. Social Diversity

    b. Spiritual Unity

    3. Comparison of Body Explained (14-26)

    a. Statement of Diversity (14)

    b. Deduction (15-17)

    (1) An Unpossessed Function Does not Disqualify (15-16)

    (2) A Body of One Member is Absurd (17)

    c. Statement of Divine Placement (18)

    d. Absurdity of Equal Parts (19)

    e. Statement of Unity (20)

    f. Deduction (21-25)

    (1) No Part to be Excluded (21)

    (2) Every Part Necessary (22)

    (3) Every Part Valued (23-24a)

    g. Application (24b-25)

    (1) To Divine Order (24b)

    (2) To Divine Purpose (25)

    h. Results of Unity for Parts (26)

    B. The Application to Christian Unity (27)

    C. The Application to Christian Diversity (28-30)

    1. The Divine Order of Gifts (28)

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    2. The Evident Differentiation of Gifts (29-30)

    III. A SUPERIOR APPROACH (12:31 13:13) A. The Actual Concerns (12:31)

    1. Of the Corinthians

    2. Of the Apostle

    B. The Dangers of Lovelessness (13:1-3)

    1. In Glossolalia (1)

    2. In Prophecy, Knowledge and Faith (2)

    3. In Giving (3)

    C. The Character of Love (4-7)

    1. In its Behavior (4-7)

    2. In its Extent (7)

    D. The Superiority of Love over Gifts (8-13)

    1. The Endurance of Love (8a)

    2. The Temporality of Gifts (8b-12)

    a. Termination Predicted (8b)

    (1) Of Prophecies and Knowledge (8b)

    (2) Of Glossolalia (8b)

    b. Explanation of Partiality (9)

    c. A Principle Propounded (10)

    d. A Personal Illustration (11)

    e. A Further Explanation (12)

    3. The Conclusion (13)


    A. In General (1-12)

    1. A Command to Prefer Prophesying over Glossolalia (1)

    2. The Reason (2-3)

    a. Their Directions (2-3)

    b. Their Objects (4)

    c. Their Results (5)

    3. An Example (6-12)

    a. A Hypothetical Situation (6)

    b. A Comparison with Nature (7-9)

    (1) Sound in Nature (7-8)

    (a) In Music (7)

    (b) In War (8)

    (2) Glossolalia (9)

    c. An Application (10-12)

    (1) By Principle (10)

    (2) By Obvious Inference (11)

    (3) By Command (12)

    B. In Particular (13-36)

    1. For Tongue Speakers (13-25)

    a. The Employment of Glossolalia (13-19)

    (1) Command to Seek Interpretation (13)

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    (2) Explanation (14-15)

    (a) Example (14)

    (b) Conclusion (15)

    (3) Reason (16-17)

    (a) Example (16)

    (b) Explanation (17)

    (4) Personal Example (18-19)

    (a) Possessing the Gift (18)

    (b) Preferring Others (19)

    b. The Purpose of Glossolalia (20-25)

    (1) Command of Mature Thinking (20)

    (2) Old Testament Example (21)

    (3) Logical Deduction: Sign to Unfaithful Israel (22)

    (4) Application to the Church (23-25)

    (a) The Inferiority of Tongues (23)

    (b) The Superiority of Prophecy (24-25)

    2. For Public Worship (26-32)

    a. Diversity of Contributions (26)

    b. Limitations of Contributors (27-32)

    (1) On Tongue Speakers (27-28)

    (a) With an Interpreter (27)

    (b) Without an Interpreter (28)

    (2) On Prophets (29-32)

    (a) The Procedure (29-30)

    (b) The Purpose (31-32)

    (i) Common Ability (31)

    (ii) Self-Control (32)

    c. Rationale for Contributors: Gods Character (33a) 3. For Women (33b-36)

    a. Prohibition (33b-34)

    (1) The Standard (33b)

    (2) The Statement (34a)

    b. Explanation: An Interdict (34b)

    c. Directions for Education (35)

    (1) Their Sphere (35a)

    (2) The Reason (35b)

    VI. CONCLUSION (14:37-39)

    A. Authority of Scripture (27)

    B. Danger of Ignorance (38)

    C. Desirability of Prophesying and of Orderliness (39)

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    1 Corinthians 12-14

    There is probably no more ultimate question that we can discuss than that of a

    persons final authority for belief and action. It is basic to how he lives today and to what his destiny is for eternity. Now there are only four possibilities for final authority

    that people have chosen, and do choose, by which to run their life. Allow me to put

    them before you in summary form. Two of them are external and two are internal.

    The external sources of final authority are either an institution, i.e. the church, or a

    book, i.e. the Bible. The internal sources of authority are either reason or experience.

    Those that are external are by their very nature objective. Those that are internal are

    by their very nature subjective.

    Now lets illustrate these methods. One says, I cant accept the doctrine of hell. I dont understand how a loving God could have a hell. I dont know what the Bible may say about it, but I am just convinced that if God loves people He wont destroy people in hell eternally. That doesnt fit my particular feeling. So regardless of what the Bible says, they go by experience, by feelings, and deny a specific statement of

    Scripture in favor of this feeling. In that process, then, experience becomes final

    authority; feeling rather than Scripture becomes authoritative. Again, what about

    reason as final authority? Here is a man who says, I dont believe in the Biblical account of Creation. I do not believe that God spoke, and the world came into

    existence. But, I believe rather that things started with a sun spot, or something else,

    and gradually evolved into what we have today. Therefore, he denies the Biblical account of creation because he says, I have looked at the facts of science and they dont fit with the Biblical account. Consequently, he makes his reason the final authority. His rationalization is his final authority.

    On the other hand, there are those who look to an authority outside them, i.e.

    external authority. In the Roman Catholic faith, the church is final authority. When

    the Pope speaks ex cathedra, i.e. when he speaks from the papal chair that which he says is infallible, according to dogma. Therefore, in that particular group, the church is

    the final authority. Finally, in typical evangelical Protestantism, the Bible is set forth

    as final authority for faith and for practice. So that whenever a discussion of any

    subject occurs, we want to discipline ourselves to remember that it is not a subjective

    authority (feeling or reason) that is final authority. That does not mean that there is no

    validity in experience or that reason is entirely unreliable. But neither of these can be

    final authority because both of them are subjective and indeterminate. Final authority

    is external of oneself; it is the infallible and inerrant Word of God.

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    Now, having said that, lets cite a case in point. Several years ago we had the beginning of what is called Neo-Pentecostalism on the West Coast. Father Dennis

    Bennett, who was at that time a rector from Van Nuys, catapulted it into existence.

    Now he is the rector of the Saint Lukes Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington. He was speaking to the Full Gospel Business Mens Fellowship in Portland, Oregon, and he began his message by reading Ezekiel 37. It is the chapter having to do with the

    vision of the valley of dry bones, and it prophecies the restoration of Israel to he land.

    Most of us are aware of it from the song Dem bones, dem bones, gonna rise again. Some believe that the bones are coming together today. Now Dennis Bennett read

    Ezekiel 37, and then he said to the people, There is a vision of the rise of the gift of

    tongues in our day. But because the interpretation of Ezekiel 37 is so diversified

    between so many people, there is not agreement as to what Ezekiel 37 means. He said, I will, therefore, give you my experience, and then we will have something solid to base our thinking on. Now, those were his words. Because Ezekiel 37 is

    indeterminate, because of different interpretations of it, I will give you my

    EXPERIENCE, and then we will have something solid to base our thinking on.