Fee makes an interesting point in this respect, which I will seek to
summarize. The list in 12:28, is mixed in that it includes what could be
construed as persons or offices in the church (APOSTOLOUS, PROFHTAS,
DIDASKALOUS), ranking them accordingly. He opts for regarding them more as
ministries than offices because of the nature of the other items in the
list, and notes that Paul drops the ranking after DIDASKALOUS (even though
some would argue that EPEITA perpetuates this). Miracles and healings are
reversed with respect to the earlier list and two which are not in the list
are added, helps and administrations. Tongues appears last, not because
it is inferior necessarily, but because it appears to be the problem in the
church. Fee notes that Paul has included a much broader spectrum of
"gifts," which amounts a whole range of church ministies, and that this
Fee also notes that the list breaks down into three catagories;
ministries, charismata and deeds of service. My own take it that this is
curiously remeniscent of Paul ealier break down in 12:4-6. The upshot is
that the ranking of the ministries is probably deliberate but that no such
ranking is intended for the others in the list.
I personally think that when we move to chap. 14 and the "greater gift"
that sufficient groundwork has been laid in chap. 13 to see that it is not
inferiority that is measure but usefulness. Love ought to guide the use of
the gift, which after all are supernatural but under the "supervision" of
the user (a nice biblical paradox of the Spirit's svereignty and the agents
will) (14:32). That is, prophecy is more useful in the congregational
worship (the context for Paul remarks) because it is comprehensible. The
ongoing battle of tongues versus prophecy is not necessary when Paul's
entire reasoning is seen as a whole. He is arguing for function and
setting, not in absolutes. This would tend to confirm that the list you
mention is not strict ranking.
Paul F. Evans
Thunder Swamp Pentecostal Holiness Church
MT. Olive NC
"Endeavouring to make use of NT Greek in a real life ministry!"
PS. I am still inclined to see the term CHARISMATA as one of the terms
that should be applied to "gifts" and that due recognition should be
accorded to those other descriptive terms Paul uses, including PNEUMATIKA,
and even the little noticed and unsung hero FANEROSIS!
> There's one other thing that is plaguing me about this passage. What does
> Paul mean in 1 Cor 12:28 when he says PRWTON APOSTOLOUS, DEUTERON
> TRITON DIDASKALOUS, EPEITA DUNAMEIS, EPEITA CARISMATA IAMATWN,
> KUBERNHSEIS, GENH GLWSSWN.
> PRWTON, DEUTERON, TRITON...and the order does seem to go from greater
> authority in the church to lesser. In verse .29 he repeats the same
> MH PANTES APOSTOLOI? MY PANTES PROFHTAI? MH PANTES DIDASKALOI? ktl...
> More evidence for this view might be seen in chapter 14, where Paul seems
> be arguing that prophecy is a higher gift than speaking in tongues.