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Spiritual Gifts and the Gathered Church

Posted by on Feb 13, 2009 in books, community, gathering, spiritual gifts | 22 comments

Two years ago, I wrote a post called “Spiritual Gifts and the Gathered Church“. The post was triggered by my thoughts when reading Robert Banks’ book Paul’s Idea of Community. If you haven’t read this, I would highly recommend it! God has gifted all of his children, and the church needs all of those people to function (through their gifts) in order for the church to grow in maturity. I think its fairly obvious that this is not happening; and it is fairly obvious that the church is not maturing.

[UPDATE: Thanks to my friend, Joe, for pointing out that my last statement above is too broad. I agree with him. Instead, I should have said this: In many cases (perhaps most?) this is not happening in the context of the church gathering; and this affects the maturity of the church in those cases.]


Spiritual Gifts and the Gathered Church

One of the most interesting books that I have read in the last few years is Paul’s Idea of Community (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994) by Robert Banks. In one part of this book, Banks discusses the purpose of Spiritual gifts for believers, especially when believers are gathered together:

We have seen how gifts were distributed to every member of the community by the Spirit and that through their mutual sharing these were exercised amongst them. Guidance on matters affecting the community’s life was principally granted to members when they met together to discern what God required of them. They received this guidance from the Spirit through their exercise of gifts of knowledge, revelation, wisdom, and so on. In all this Paul never tires of insisting that every member of the community has the responsibility to impart the particular insights they have been given…

Thus, the most characteristic setting in which the community received guidance was when Christians assembled to share and evaluate the gifts given to them. Here, in a variety of complementary ways, the guidance was conveyed through each to all and through all to each.

Both nurture and discipline within the congregation, then, should arise spontaneously from the concern of every member for the quality of its life and the involvement of every member in decisions affecting the whole. (137-138)

Banks describes exactly what Paul writes about in 1 Cor. 12:7: Spiritual gifts are given for the benefit of others, not for our own benefit. Perhaps, Acts 13 includes the best biblical example of the Spirit communicating to the community through the gifts of those within the community:

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 13:1-4 ESV)

Notice that it was in the context of exercising spiritual gifts (i.e. to the benefit of other people – 1 Cor. 12:7) that the men were serving the Lord. (Now, I know that the ESV says the men were “worshiping”, but the word is probably better translated “serving”.) While they were serving people and the Lord, the Spirit communicated both to the men being sent, and also to the church. The men listened, and the church listened. The Spirit spoke. The people responded. Interesting, this passage says that both the church “sent” the men and that also the Spirit “sent” the men.

Scripture only gives two requirements for someone to exercise their gift when the church is assembled: whatever they do must be motivated by love (1 Cor. 13) and must edify the church (1 Cor. 14:26). No gifts should be refused, and no gifts should be elevated above the others – as long as the gifts are used to edify other people. Similarly, the people should be given the opportunity to use their gifts when the church is assembled, and they should be reminded that God holds them responsible for this. In other words, if someone is in charge of the meeting time, that person should make sure that others are given opportunity to edify the church. And, the people gathered should be reminded that God wants them to participate and expects them to participate in building up the body.

Do you expect God to communicate to you through the Spiritual gifts of the entire body, or just through the gifts of a few leaders within the body? Do you expect God to communicate to the church through the Spiritual gifts that he gives you? Are you obedient to God in building up his church and allowing others (with different gifts perhaps) to have the same opportunity?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-13-2009

    “The people should be given the opportunity to use their gifts when the church is assembled, and they should be reminded that God holds them responsible for this. In other words, if someone is in charge of the meeting time, that person should make sure that others are given opportunity to edify the church. And, the people gathered should be reminded that God wants them to participate and expects them to participate in building up the body.”

    Honestly, I have never seen this happen. Perhaps you or those who reads this blog have stories about such groups. I’d love to hear them.

  2. 2-13-2009

    What Alan describes has happened at most every church I have been in through my life. Like the early church, it is not perfect and people fail sometimes and some churches were stronger than others, but amazingly I find that God’s Holy Spirit does work among His people if one takes the time to watch and listen. I must admit that sometimes I did not see the Spirit at work, but when I look back I realize that it was my own immaturity that kept me from seeing the beauty of God’s church and my own immaturity that kept me focused on the negative all the time.

    You wrote, “I think its fairly obvious that this is not happening; and it is fairly obvious that the church is not maturing.”

    You know I love you brother, but wow, that is a pretty bold and blanket statement.

    Your statement does leave me wondering about a few things my friend.

    First, does your assertion of “obvious” fact that THE church is NOT maturing include your local church as well, or just everyone outside your church? If your church is not maturing, why is that?

    Second, does your judgement that the church is not maturing refer only to the church in America, or are you passing this judgement on the entire church around the world and in every country? I had not realized you were so well traveled that you could make this kind of first hand observation about the entire Church…

    Finally, how do you feel about Paul’s assessment when he writes, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”?

    In your estimation Alan, does this promise that Christ will continually work to perfect His church only apply to the church at Philippi? Clearly you believe the church today is not being perfected and the work which God began is not being fulfilled in the church. Why do you think Christ is powerless to do today what he did 2,000 years ago?

    Thanks in advance Alan.

  3. 2-13-2009

    Usher: Deak, J.R. is pretty adamant here that Alan is wrong. How is it that his opinion seems to be across the entire church, but he accuses Alan of only commenting on his limited information?

    Deacon: All humans seem to think that their experience is legitimate and others is suspect. Crazy, but very true. Part of why there are so many sets of bylaws (they call them denominations) and cliques and niches and arguments.

    Usher: I think what Alan is saying refers to the Western church. If what J.R. says were true about all the churches, including the Western church, then why does everything in the Western church focus on a small set of individuals being pastor/elders/deacons and all direction and all that is spoken from this group is sacrosanct and everything that comes from a “Plebe” is suspect…

  4. 2-13-2009


    1. That funny that you say what you wrote. You have a book on your front page called “Church in Crisis” is this everyone elses church or just yours? Did you write this book for me to read or just members in your Church? When you say “Church” in Crisis are you saying America only or have you been traveling abroad? Given the preface of what the book is about, you know what, let me just post it here and let me see you respond:

    “The Church in America is in crisis. Far too many have abandoned God’s design for church in favor of a faith that is just as self-centered as the consumerist systems they left. Before we can deal with trends such as Mega-Churches, Video Venues, Emerging Theology, House Churches, etc.. we need to understand our past. This book examines Charles G. Finney’s methods of evangelism and their detriment to today’s Church and for the spiritual formation of each Christian.”

    2. Next let me ask you. Given the medieval years. Do you think the church was “having a good work completed”? Given by the fact that the sword was used to coerce individuals into faith, indulgences were paid, and if anyone did not agree with “the church” they were worthy of death? If so Luther didn’t agree with you and neither did Wycliffe and a few other thousand who were murdered. Not to mention we have few religous wars under out belt.

    3. Given the fact that 8 out of 10 Christians I meet have no clue what their saved to do, I would agree with Alan’s quote. Not to mention 8 out of 10 have no clue how the church should function. I am not talkling location, organic/simple, paticaptory/non-paticaptory, but the simple fact that MOST or better yet THE MAJORITY of Christians I know have a consumption mentality when they go to “worship service”. They have no plans to give anything other than money so that they can consume again next Sunday. They would rather pay a man to visit the sick than visit the sick themselves, they would rather send someone to special counseler than counsel themselves. They have no idea that they have a spiritual gift to build up the body of Christ not the structure we call the church. Not to mention 5 out of 10 believers (or at least from the Barna poll) don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to God and just as many can’t articulate the Gospel in any meaningful way.

    Finally what I have read about a good portion of the Church in Africa, Europe, Russia and Canada seems to be struggling quite a bit also. Mostly because they are an extension of the American church. The church in China, India and the Middle East seem to be thriving under persecuction but still need a lot of theological training (which could be bad, given the fact that theology can sometimes cripple and becomes an in of itself instead of who theology testifies about).

    Thanks in advance for your response Joe.

  5. 2-13-2009

    We all presumably have different experiences, and I was hoping for some stories with specifics. Perhaps the Spirit is working among His people, but how does the rest of the body know unless all are not only allowed, but encouraged to participate?

    At the last IC we were part of, meetings were tightly scripted, literally down to one minute increments. ( No kidding – I frequently saw the “platform version” of the “order of service”, which included a time frame for every item, such as 3 minutes for prayer, 4 minutes for offering, etc.) If anyone had felt led by the Spirit to share a word, a song or whatever, it would not have been possible. The pastor even allowed a specific number of minutes for his sermon each day.

    Perhaps that was the most tightly scripted church meeting I have seen, but not by much. Every meeting I have seen in the IC scripts who may speak, lead singing or whatever, and when they may do it. It’s a performance, and everyone else is the audience.

    I want to see the Spirit at work. Tell me about it. Show me. Making everyone shut up except a few people on the platform does not do this. Having a college president shaking hands at the front door and saying “Good morning” as people enter does not do this. Let these people use their gifts to build up the church.

    I want to hear where others saw God working this week. I want to hear others tell what they hear God saying to them, and me, today. I even want to hear those who are struggling and need a hand. I need to hear the fresh stories of that week, of that day.

    Perhaps someone’s gift is cooking, and God is helping them use that gift to bless the poor, their neighbors or their brothers. I really need to hear that, today. Perhaps someone’s gift is helping poor, desperate people and last night they found a family living in a car in freezing winter temperatures. I need to hear that, today, and what the assembly might do to help those people.

    Is this not what the church does? If it does not, please make a case for me as to how the group is anything other than a religious organization that puts on religiously-oriented “programs”.

  6. 2-13-2009

    Sam said, “I want to hear where others saw God working this week. I want to hear others tell what they hear God saying to them, and me, today. I even want to hear those who are struggling and need a hand. I need to hear the fresh stories of that week, of that day.”

    Although one of our elders usually shares a longer message from Scripture, there is always as much time as needed for others in the body to share what God is teaching them, as well as needs and praises. Needs are prayed for when they are shared. Someone shares weekly updates from the missionary families we have sent out; others lead in song or read scripture. Different men lead in the Lord’s Supper when that is shared as part of the worship service. Once a month, one or two families prepare a fellowship lunch or supper for the rest.

    Throughout the week, a number of people provide care for the elderly mother of a Christian family and transport her to dialysis. Some mentor and encourage others. I have a cookie ministry to encourage families who are going through difficulties. Not all on Sundays, but it all works.

    I am also writing curriculum to use as Bible lessons for children. This morning I read in Luke 4 that Jesus told His neighbors in Nazareth that “no prophet is accepted in his own country.”

    God has called us all to serve and has given us the gifts we need to do it. Having the mindset that only the professionals are qualified to serve has, IMO, robbed people of the motivation and confidence they need to live as God intended. And we also need to accept the prophet who may be sitting in the pew next to us. God intends for us to edify each other when we allow His Holy Spirit to speak.

  7. 2-13-2009

    Kat, you have the idea! Thank you for sharing. This sounds like the church to me.

    I want to hear more. The idea is not to copy what you are doing, but to hear it. Perhaps the Spirit will speak to some of us and give us ideas through your stories.

    For me, this is like the way I cook. I read recipes, get ideas, then make something perhaps similar, or perhaps very different. The muffins I took to our small group last night were like that. I read other muffin recipes, then came up with my own, and they were very good and kind of healthy. Now I need to write down what I did while I still remember.

  8. 2-13-2009

    Alan, I think your observation is right on. I have seen very little, if any functionally mature churches. That does not mean there are not mature believers out there. Generally speaking they come to maturity outside the local churches.

    I do not attribute any of my spiritual growth to the church attendance. It has come from spending time in His word, studying, and fellowshipping with believers outside the four walls of the “church”.

    I really yearn to be part of a body where all of the members have a place, and not just their favorite pew, but a spiritual place where their giftings are necessary and required for the body to grow.

    If you read 1 Cor 12, how can anyone argue for the current system of church structure that dominates christianity.

    Yes, I want God to communicate to me through the body by their giftings. Like we have discussed before here on this blog, there has got to major paradigm shifts in church stucture, and the purpose of the gathering of the saints, before His Bride is going to come into full maturity.

    Keep on challenging us Alan. Blessings!!

  9. 2-13-2009

    I suggest some medications for the split personality 🙂 Seriously, yes I disagree with Alan’s comment based on my perception of what he is saying and also based on the wording of what he says. Rooted in my disagreement, I asked a series of questions that will help illustrate one of several things. One, maybe I am wrong in my understanding. Two, maybe Alan is wrong and posted something that could have been better worded. Three, maybe some combination of both.

    It is a shame that both of your personalities use sarcasm to shut down conversation. From reading your site, I expected better. too bad.

    Please learn the difference between accusations and questions. I asked questions of my friend Alan based on my perception of his comments. I am expressing disagreement and asking questions to promote understanding. It is what mature Christians do.

    If we want to explore why some individuals and some local congregations never grow in maturity, it is because we are afraid to disagree, ask questions, and learn.

    Brother, the difference between my questions to Alan and yours is that mine is based on reading ALL of what Alan wrote in its full context. Your questions are based on reading my book title and making gross generalizations and faulty assumption. Rather than respond to your errant assumptions, I suggest you read the book first and then if you still have questions and can offer a thoughtful and informed criticism, I we can talk. 🙂

    A lot happens every week in our Family… far to much to write about. But you can at least read this post I wrote a while back that shows one way our church tries to accomplish what Alan is talking about.

    Tl all concerned,
    One of the reasons I enjoy Alan’s site is that he allows me to ask tough questions and he gives intelligent responses without reading into my words emotions or intent that does not exist. Sometimes, Alan is able to persuade me that he is right on and I have missed something and sometimes I still disagree, but have still grown in my faith from the interaction. That is one of the joys I find in this site..

    thanks Alan for providing an honest platform for meaningful debate that is not rooted in fear or ignorance. I look forward to your response.

  10. 2-13-2009


    Actually your statment was on about as much information (the introduction paragraph) as I had in the summary of your book, unless the summary doesn’t mean what it says. Read the summary, I asked questions based on it, is the summary misleading? If so, maybe you should change it :o)’

    Much love bro! LOL!

  11. 2-13-2009

    You said your questions were based on my one paragraph book summary which gives you, in your estimation, the complete context for making conclusions about the content of the book. Okay, lets roll with that.

    Question one:
    You are witty enough to copy each of my questions to Alan and ask them back, so here we go.

    Regarding my title, “church in crisis”…
    You asked, “is this everyone elses church or just yours” This is many churches, but not all churches who are in crisis. I said in the paragraph you quoted, “far too many church…” Notice Lionel that I did not say all churches?

    No, my church does not suffer, as a whole, from the crisis issues I bring up in the book, but that is because I planted the church after learning the lessons of Finney. Do we still have lessons to learn and do we still need to mature, yep! You bet! But the issues in my book are not the areas we struggle with.

    You asked, “Did you write this book for me to read or just members in your Church?”
    Well, the one paragraph description which you claim to have read says, “we” need to learn from “our” past to deal with “our” present, so I would submit that this inclusive terminology would include, you, me, and the folks in my church.

    You asked, “Is this just the church in America”
    Again, you seem to have trouble comprehending the intro paragraph you copied and pasted Lionel. The very first words you copied read, “The Church in America…” That would seem to be fairly clear Lionel that the book is addressing the church in America and not outside America. Are you still confused about that?

    Question 2: You asked me about the Medieval years of the church.

    Hmm… the one paragraph you quoted, and which you say is the basis for your questions, talks about Charles Finney and his influence on the church in America. I suppose your confusion comes from thinking Finney lived in the Medieval times, but just to clarify Finney lived in the 1800’s and so it is quite difficult for him to have influenced the Medievil church in Europe. So unlike your assertion, your question has no bearing on my book and I am unable to address your concern.

    Question 3:Actually, there is no question in your third part, just a speech so I can’t answer that one either 🙂

    Fair enough Brother Lionel?

    Let me ask you, why does it bother you that I asked Alan to clarify his remarks? What was your motive for asking about my book? Are you somehow suggesting I am a hypocrite Lionel for disagreeing with Alan?

  12. 2-13-2009


    You’ve given me a good idea for a blog post. I’m going to use your comment next week. Thank you!

    Joe (JR),

    I don’t know if you saw my update from this morning, but I agree with you. My final sentence in the opening paragraphs was too broad.

    By the way, I’ve enjoyed the dialog between you and Lionel.


    You’re correct. I was primarily referring to the Western Church, and primarily to the ones that I have been a part of, the ones that I know about, or the ones that I read about. However, like I said to Joe, he was correct in that my statement was too broad. There are some churches that are giving all believers opportunities to use their gifts to build up the church.


    See the comments above, plus, like I told Joe, I’ve enjoyed your dialog.


    Thank you for the example! I hope to use it in my post next week – the post that I mentioned to Sam above.


    I think your comment stated my point better than I did. Thank you!


  13. 2-14-2009

    thanks for your clarification and I that is a statement I can fully agree with brother!

  14. 2-14-2009

    Like Sam I have found it rare to see any church operate as described. Most American churches (and many around the world that were planted by Americans) operate with an American-business style – often a CEO-style. As such, the congregation is generally just listening to pontification and writing checks (at least the church hopes). There is little opportunity for real discipleship, service, or growth. Yes, people can volunteer for service – ushering, teaching, other activities – but everything generally flows from the top (CEO/Pastor or Elders/Board of Directors) down.

  15. 2-16-2009

    Hi Alan,
    Some months ago we corresponded on a question about tongues. Since then, I have read two articles by one, Robert (Bob) Zerhusen, on the subject. They are very informative, though his general position was
    not one I had ever been familiar with. He concludes that tongues in Acts 2 and 1 Cor. 12-14 were not miracle languages, though he allows that the miraculous WAS evident in certain other gifts in the Corinthian church. I think if you google Bob’s name and “tongues” you will find his two articles very compelling, and in line with lexical, and historical evidence.

  16. 2-16-2009


    Top down leadership is a problem in the church. Jesus seemed to teach bottom up leadership – leading by serving.


    I agree that “tongues” in Scripture seems to be real human languages that were unknown to the speaker. However, 1 Cor 13 seems to open the door to the possibility of “angelic language”. Interesting, in 1 Cor 14, Paul isn’t interested in whether the languages were human languages or not. Instead, he was concerned with whether or not the Corinthians could understand what was said. If they could not understand it, then it had to be interpreted. If it was not interpreted, then it should not be spoken.


  17. 2-18-2009

    Hello, Alan,
    (caps for italics) Sorry – From your comment I suspect I was unclear in relating Zerhusen’s position. He argues that the tongues were NOT unknown to the SPEAKERS. This position is radically different from anything I was familiar with. I’m aware of what kind of objections most of us would have in approaching his articles (I had many such objections myself). Still, I found his arguments totally Scriptural, thorough, lexically and historically accurate, and compelling to boot. I think you personally would be especially interested in his comments about Paul approaching his subject in 1 Cor. 12-14 from a DYADIC perspective, which Zerhusen defines as the thinking of one’s self essentially in terms of one’s relation to the group, rather than to one’s own self as an individual. Just googling “Robert Zerhusen” “tongues” will get you to the one article, near the top of which is a link to his other article. I think you’ll find the articles worth a look.
    In Christ,

  18. 2-19-2009


    I haven’t read Zerhusen’s article, although I am interested. But, there seems to be the possibility of the tongues speaker not understanding the language that he or she is speaking, otherwise interpretation would not be necessary.


  19. 2-20-2009

    Yes – exactly; this is the type of question Robert Zerhusen addresses. You might also remember how you and I agreed some months ago that the speaker (in tongues) in 1 Corinthians did not appear to understand what he himself was saying. However, Zerhusen’s approach is an alternative to this view, and I have since found it helpful, so I now pass it along. Of course, my interest in all this is that the church should have as accurate a view of the gifts as possible, which I think Paul himself would approve, since the apostle himself spends considerable time on the subject of gifts, and particularly on tongues.

    I won’t pretend to be able to adequately give you all of Zerhusen’s arguments in a few paragraphs, or perhaps even to represent it completely accurately; but I believe a brief sketch might be helpful in relation to your observation that interpretation of tongues was required. Again, this is a point which, I think, is tied to our previous discussion about whether a speaker himself knew what he was saying, since 1 Cor. indicates the (tongue’s) speaker’s mind was “unfruitful” apart from interpretation. (Incidentally, to allay any concerns you might have about any particular reader’s zealous concern over a particular aside issue on your website, I won’t write long on this subject again.)

    In brief, then, Zerhusen DOES see a distinction in Acts 2 and 1 Cor. 12-14, believing, in regards to the Corinthian church, that interpretation of a speaker’s mother tongue into the Greek familiar to all the church (including the speaker) WAS needed. (More on that later.) However, he argues that all the languages represented by the Jews present in Acts 2, which involved some 15 places besides Jerusalem and Judea, essentially represented ONLY Greek (in the case of the western Diaspora) OR Aramaic (in the case of the Eastern Diaspora), but in either case not languages UNKNOWN to the apostles and Jews in Palestine. (Zerhusen reminds us that Palestinian Jews were generally conversant with 3 languages: Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek.) Therefore Zerhusen claims that the mention of astonishment or of drunkenness by the hearers in Acts 2 stemmed not from any fact of miracle languages, but from the fact that Hebrew was the exclusive language used in all important Jewish religious convocations, even by those Jews of the Diaspora whose most natural language (“mother,” or “native” language) was either Greek or Aramaic. For the Jews the use of Hebrew remained the language of worship chiefly because of its use by God in the Old Testament, and because it served as a unifying cultural and ethnic feature for Jews across their geographical boundaries. (I read another essay where Zerhusen claims that all archaeological, lexical, and historical evidence, e.g. Jewish ossuaries (but also much other evidence), shows that the native (or mother) language was ONLY Greek or Aramaic, never a more local language, such as Demotic Egyptian or Lycaonian. This fact is something we today find hard to understand, since presently there are Spanish Jews, French Jews, German Jews, etc., all of whose mother or native language is the respective LOCAL language.) Thus Zerhusen claims that the astonishment in Acts 2 (or even the ridicule about drunkenness) was owing to the Jews no longer hearing the “Higher” language of their worship but the “other tongues” i.e., “Lower” (their common, everyday, mother, native) languages of Greek and Aramaic, neither of which they used in their religious, diasporic settings. The miracle in Acts 2, then, according to Zerhusen, was not miracle languages, but the bold proclamation of the Spirit by ordinary “sons and daughters,” as Joel foretold. I don’t think Zerhusen is arguing that God could NOT have performed a miracle of languages, but simply that miracle languages is not scripturally or historically supportable in Acts 2 and 1 Cor. 12-14. (When I emailed Zerhusen for his opinion about Babel, trying to see his general attitude toward the miraculous and languages, he replied (in effect) that he believed Babel was a divine, miraculous intervention, something I agree with.)

    But regarding the Corinthian church, Zerhusen points out that its cultural setting was that of a crossroads seaport, and church members did NOT always understand one another’s mother (or native) language. This is because the group in the Corinthian church, unlike the group in Acts 2, was essentially comprised of Jews AND Gentiles. Hence, the church gathering could not be edified if someone wished to speak in a language alien to all or many of the rest. While a speaker in a non-Greek, native language would be most fluent in his own tongue, and therefore able to express most succinctly his thoughts in the language most familiar to himself, it would be fruitless to the gathering for him to speak if an interpreter (translator) was not present. (Zerhusen equates “interpretation” with “translation.”) Further, the fact that all worshipers were at least crudely (or RELATIVELY) conversant in Greek did not mean that a speaker really understood the nuance needed for the kind of effective translation that truly equated with his speech, and therefore someone with the (especial) gift of translation (“interpretation”) was often needed. As for the statement about the speaker’s mind not being fruitful, Zerhusen explains, based on his understanding of Greek in the context of Paul’s discussion, that this can mean that the speaker’s mind, or thoughts, were (Gr. lit.) “barren” (“fruitless”), by which Zerhusen understands that the thoughts of the speaker were fruitless to the GROUP’S benefit, not, of course, to the benefit of the speaker himself. Hence, Paul’s dyadic perspective comes into play, in which the apostle shows that he is more concerned with the Body’s experience than with the experience of any particular member.

    Hope this info helps, Alan, and continues to pique your interest. I haven’t included any of Zerhusen’s many arguments against the idea that “tongues” should be understood as “ecstatic utterances,” because you and I already agree that “tongues” does not have this meaning.


  20. 2-20-2009


    Thank you for continuing the dialog. I don’t mind the long comment.

    I’m still not convinced that there was something special about what the people spoke in Acts 2, or what the Corinthians were speaking in 1 Cor 12-14 (or what Cornelius and his family spoke in Acts 10 or what the Ephesians spoke in Acts 19).

    I find it interesting that while Paul does talk alot about tongues and prophecy in 1 Cor 12-14, he does not define either gift. In fact, I don’t think any of the gifts are ever defined in Scripture.


  21. 2-21-2009

    In your reply, did you really mean to state without qualification that none of the gifts are ever defined in Scripture? It seems to me that to take this position without qualification would mean the overthrow of all historical and lexical use (both Scriptural and extra-biblical)of such words as “teachers,” “prophets,” etc., i.e. to essentially overthrow the meaning of language itself. Of course I wouldn’t agree with such a position, but I’ll let your next thought be the last one presented here.

  22. 2-21-2009


    Yes, I meant what I said. Notice, I said, “He (meaning Paul) does not define either gift. In fact, I don’t think any of the gifts are ever defined in Scripture.” Can we make some assumptions based on the words used (i.e. teacher/teach). Of course. This is not the same as Scripture defining the gift though.