<<As I stated in an earlier post, I think that we are often tripped up at the
term CHARISMATA because of its modern baggage (including prejudices for and
against). However, the list of nine gifts early in 1 Cor. 12 are surely
governed by the triad that Jonathan mentions:
> 1Cor 12:4 (GNT) DIAIRESEIS DE CARISMATWN EISIN, TO DE AUTO PNEUMA: >KAI
DIAIRESEIS DIAKONIWN EISIN, KAI hO AUTOS KURIOS: 6 KAI DIAIRESEIS
>ENERGHMATWN EISIN, hO DE AUTOS QEOS hO ENERGWN TA PANTA EN >PASIN. 7
EKASTW DE DIDOTAI hH FANERWSIS TOU PNEUMATOS PROS TO >SUMFERON...
...or am I missing something? These surely describe the mode of Spiritual
manifestations (H FANERWSIS TOU PNEUMATOS) with Paul's emphasis on the
variety but intrinsic unity? In other words, these manifestations are
gifts, they are service, they are outworkings, all of the same Holy Spirit.
We focus on the term CHARISMATA as an umbrella when probably it should be
PNEUMATIKWN. Fee says that more often than not in Paul this means what
pertains or has to do with the Spirit, as opposed to the western immaterial
vs material concept for "spiritual." Maybe we should see these as
primarily manifestation of the Holy Spirit, maybe even concrete
manifestations at that, but not "gifts" in the sense we now have in
Pent./Charism. world (permanent endowments, "possessable" and controlled by
individuals. In fact, Paul's argument seems to contradict that type of
attitude which prevailed in the Cor. church.
My earlier question was on how would this effect our understanding of 1
Cor. 12:31 and chap. 13. I believe that faith, hope, and love would then
be seen as the persistent (MENEI) environment in which these diversities
(DIAIRESEIS) of manifestations operate (if you catch the tension I am
trying to express between what is diverse and therefore somewhat
unpredicatable and what is abiding). This seems to be heightened by Paul's
assertion that the manifestations are in fact temporary, for this age only.
Carl's suggestion about the imperative would then make perfect sense, not
in the sense that love is set in opposition to the manifestations of the
Holy Spirit, so that is is an aklternative "gift," but would provide the
native environment for their operation as CHARISMATWN, DIAKNIWN AND
I think Paul is on the right track. There seem to be three questions that
need to be addressed: (1) In what sense is MEIZONA used? (2) What is the
meaning of ZHLOUTE IN 1 Cor 12:31; 14:1? (3) In what sense is AGAPH "the more
In response to the first, I don't think Paul is establishing a hierarchy of
gifts per se, but he may be indicating which gifts have a greater
contribution to the edification of the corporate assembly as a whole. This is
not to say some gifts do not edify or are not important. It is saying that
gifts like the apostle or prophecy can edify a wider range of people at any
given time. So MEIZONA CARISMATA refers to those gifts that have the most
potential for edifying a wide range of people, particularly in the corporate
As for the meaning of ZHLOUTE, there are at least two possible answers. If
the meaning is "seek" or " desire" then the 2nd per plural is important. It
may not mean "seek for oneself" but "seek or desire for the corporate
assembly as a whole." In other words, it is not a desire for "the greater
gifts" personally, but a desire that the greater gifts be manifested in the
assembly. It is a desire for the sake of the church, not for oneself.
However, I think the better answer is to see the meaning of ZHLOW as
something akin to "be enthusiastic about." Thus, Paul would be saying "Be
enthusiastic about [the use of your] spiritual gifts." It could be indicative
in 12:31, but I think it makes better sense as an imperative.
Third, Paul's discussion of love in this section is not meant to compare love
to spiritual gifts per se, but show the manner in which CARISMATA should be
manifested. It is not enough to be "enthusiastic about" spiritual gifts; they
must be used in love and for the benefit of others. The "more excellent way,"
then is the manner in which the gifts are to be used.
To summarize, Paul teaches the Corinthians to be enthusiastic about the use
of the spiritual gifts that have the greatest potential for the edification
of the corporate assembly as a whole (e.g., prophecy), but to do so in love,
thinking others, and not just oneself.
Dallas Theological Seminary