the weblog of Alan Knox

Not the gifts themselves

Posted by on Dec 9, 2009 in books, gathering, spiritual gifts | 6 comments

Here’s an interesting excerpt from Ben Witherington III (Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995):

The flow of the arguments in chs. 12-14 [of 1 Corinthians] is from the general to the more specific. Ch. 14 now focuses on two spiritual gifts in particular: prophecy and tongues. We learn how disorder and division was created not by the gifts themselves, but by the way in which they were used. Not wishing to quench the Corinthians’ zeal for spiritual gifts and expression, Paul tries to concentrate their focus on the speech gift that, because it uses intelligible language, has the greater potential to unify the congregation: prophecy (274-275)

How can the way we use spiritual gifts today (not the gifts themselves) cause disorder or division in a church meeting?


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  1. 12-9-2009

    When the person using the gift becomes the center of attention and actually becomes more important than the gift. That creates a division.

    The gift is a gift and no extra honor should be bestowed upon the bearer of the gift. I have seen this happen way too many times. Should I receive honor or notice because I used a gift that was given to me by the Lord to bless someone. I think not.

    That is why gifts of the spirit have such a bad name, and there are some denominations that deny that spiritual gifts even exist.

  2. 12-9-2009


    How about this one: When one person exercising his spiritual gifts become more important than other people exercising their spiritual gifts?


  3. 12-10-2009

    I have always had a problem with people who deny the gifts or suppress them. I think the 1 Corinthian 12-14 dissertation is pretty clear. Do it, do it in love, defer to one another, all should, do it in order and don’t get all cranked up about it.

    I wonder how the Devil managed to quench this out of the wider Body of Christ.

    I have been a tongue talking prophesying charismatic for thirty years. Don’t get the issue.

    I guess if you want to NOT be involved you don’t have to be. But why? Do you just tear those three chapters out of the Bible?

    OK, rant done. But it’s an absolute puzzle to me. I don’t see the abuses, I don’t see the problem. And I live in this world.

    Maybe there have been, I haven’t met them or seen it.

    LOVE is the test. Without Love it’s all clanging cymbals.

  4. 12-10-2009


    I agree with your statement and have seen that happen many times.


    I don’t get it either, however, I have seen and experienced the abuses many times. Spent 15 years in charismatic/word of faith circles. I was a pilot for some of the most high profile charismaniacs.

    Like Alan said about the one person becoming more important because of their gift. It happens all the time and is pretty much the signature of most charismatic ministries. After reading a book recently called “Post Charismatic”, I readily identified with the book.

    I’ve seen too much evidence in the Word and in real life to throw out the gifts. We shouldn’t elevate or worship the gift or the one who exercises the gift, but the ONE who is the giver of the gifts.


  5. 12-10-2009

    Gene and Jack,

    Thanks for continuing this conversation! Your comments are a good reminder to me that exercising my spiritual gifts should not be as important to me as allowing others opportunities to serve through using their gifts.


  6. 12-10-2009

    To be very simple whenever, the gift itself is elevated above the Gift giver. Whatever that gift may be, from teaching, to prophesying to languages, to interpretations, discernments, giving….. Whenever the church meets to excercise gifts and forget about Christ I think there it will cause division. I think that is what Paul is conveying in 1 Cor 12.