Chapter 12 starts a three-chapter discussion of gifts. The “Love Chapter” is sandwiched between gifts and offices and an explanation of prophecy and tongues. Verses 1-3 have puzzled me in this study, it is amazing how you can read something and not think about it. Paul clearly states why he is writing this section, “so we are not ignorant of spiritual gifts”. He then discusses idols and what the Spirit will and won’t do. I realized verse 2 and 3 are there because people claiming to have gifts from the Spirit were trying to make much of idols and cursing Jesus while claiming they have a spiritual gift. They could have also been giving credit to an idol while claiming it was from God. The test of Spiritual things is very simple – can/will/do the people proclaim Jesus as Lord! Some will not be able to say the words, others will not live the words.
Verses 4 – 6 seem to be an outline for what is coming and gives you a clear look at what the Spirit, Jesus, and Father God do for the Church. The repeating of the word “same” might alert us to what those people in 2 +3 were doing and saying.
We like to make list and when we make those lists it seems that the reason for making the list is the first thing on it. If we take time to edit our list how does the order change? Do we go most important to least important or the other way around? It always seems to me that Christians tend to take the first thing in Paul’s list as the most important and then diminish everything after that as less important. (See Things Paul Wrote About). Since I have done that also I can’t/won’t “throw rocks”. But, verses 12 – 26, the part done by the Lord Jesus should give us a different perspective. One part of the body is not more important than another, all are parts of the Body. (We should honor those who labor among us and verse 28 does show an order when God choose workers. But does that make them more important?) So, when verse 29 + 30 ask “are all” it is possible in response to “people choosing” what they “wanted to be” so they could be more important. Those offices will show themselves from “doing” the work, not from self-proclamation.
Why Did I?
- The reason I put Jesus with the Body part (v.12-26) which is labeled “service” is our service is to the Body.
- I called chapters 12 -14 a unit of thought because of chapter 12 starting with “Now”. Even though there are other “now’s” before chapter 15, at fifteen the thought changes and Paul reminds them of the Gospel he preached to them.
For other references to gifts see (Passover to Pentecost – Gifts from the Spirit) and Isaiah 11:1.
The first thing that caught my attention in this study of slaves was that the KJV only used the term once, in the Book of Revelation. Some research I did revealed that King James’ England was a land with slaves that would have qualified as doulos. Were the writers of James’ Bible trying to downplay slavery? I cannot answer that question but it does show that you need to study the things you read, especially the Bible.
The second thing that stood out was that our paradigm of slavery was not condemned and denounced. Paul clearly spoke against the slave traders but not owners. The instructions to both the owner and the slave were to do right by the other. Paul did encourage slaves to gain their freedom, if possible. Slavery was a complex part of that society. In the Greco-Roman world it is clear that there were levels of slavery. In Israel, by Law, you could own foreign slaves and you could have Jewish slaves. The Jewish slaves were to be freed every seven years, that may not have been obeyed as it is one of the things that brought about the downfall of Judah in the Book of Jeremiah. To add to this thought a Jew could choose to stay the property of someone by having his ear pierced on the owner’s door frame.
The third thing that is challenging my thoughts is the terms lord and master. Those terms are easy to throw around, but in calling Jesus Lord and Master we are identifying ourselves as His. We are His doulos and need to look to Him as the one who controls ALL aspects of our life. That is a very deep thought and one that is very easy to downplay. (see Slaves to Righteousness)
In this study the version of the Bible is a factor when you are looking for slave, servant, or bond servant; KJV renders doulos as servant while more modern translations use slave. (See the post – Slaves) Paul used the term doulosmost of the time even when referring to his relationship with God. But, Paul used several other terms that are translated servant/slave: 3610 – oiketesin Romans 14: 4 and once in Philemon; 1248 – diakoniain Romans 16: 1. He also used 3000– latreuo(to serve for hire, minister, worship) in Romans 1:9 and 1 Timothy 1:3; 1398 – douleuoin Romans 6:6, 7:6, 7:25, 9:12, 16:18; Galatians 5:13; Colossians 3:24; 1 Thessalonians 1:9. ( See Slaves, these are from a Strong’s Concordance KJV and the italic numbers are the New Testament references.)
Paul wrote to believers who were gentiles in a Greek and Roman world. Many of churches had slaves or slave holders, so in a sense some of what he was writing would have been very unusually to them.
Being aware of human trafficking and slavery you would want to find a clear answer to the problem/question in the Bible. But in Paul’s writings and the rest of the Bible, it seems to send a mixed message! Paul does not condemn slavery nor does he promote it. In Exodus 21 there are guidelines for when Israelites sold themselves into slavery (bond servant). Many of Paul’s letters mention slaves and masters, and how they are to view and treat each other:
slaves to master– Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, 1 Timothy 6:1,2a, Titus 2:9
master to slaves– Ephesians 6:9 Colossians 4:1; 1 Timothy 6:2b
So how should slavery be viewed? The answer is one of the basic teachings of Christianity and is found in many places in Scripture: Luke 6:31 – do to others as you would have them do to you; Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14 – Love your neighbor as yourself. Slavery is wrong because no one wants to be treated and used as slaves!
Just as intense as being a slave to sin, we can be slaves to righteousness! The more we “sell” ourselves to Jesus the more of Him we will want. And just as we gave into sin, we have to put ourselves into submitted relationship with Jesus.
Jesus will be as gentile as sin was harsh. He values us just as much as sin could care less about us. He will use us for good as sin would use us for evil.
The verses below are my attempts at paraphrasing.
Romans 6:18– Because we are slaves to righteousness we are set free from sin. (16) If we are slaves being obedient to God it leads to righteousness. (22) Now that we are slaves to God we are free from sin and can have the benefits of holiness that lead to eternal life.
Romans 7:25– Because of Jesus my Lord, God delivered me, so I choose to have my mind focused on God’s Law.
Romans 8:15– The Spirit of God does not bring fear but reminds us that we are children of the Father and can call on Him.
Galatians 4:7+8– God made us heirs because He made us His children, so we are no longer slaves to things that are not gods. (5:1) We need to stand against being tied up by sin, because Christ made us free from things that use to have us all tied up.
1 Corinthians 9:19– Paul choose (sold himself) to be a slave of God, to serve people, so he could win as many as possible to Jesus. (27) Paul choose to make himself a slave to righteousness and deny himself so he would not disqualify himself from the good things of God.