Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Manifestations of the Spirit (not Spiritual Gifts Inventories)

Somewhere in California

Tonight, on Facebook Live, I'm answering the question "What Is the Gift of Prophesy?" Here are some things I believe about spiritual gifts. 

The early church did not hand out "Spiritual Gift Inventories," so people could find out what their spiritual gift is. I think that's a misunderstanding. The situation was more fluid and organic than that. 

In 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Paul writes:


Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.


Gordon Fee, in his brilliant commentary on First Corinthians, writes:


""Each one," standing in the emphatic first position as it does, is [Paul's[ way of stressing diversity; indeed, this is how that diversity will be emphasized throughout the rest of the paragraph. He does not intend to stress that every last person in the community has his or her own gift...  That is not Paul's concern. This pronoun is the distributive (stressing the individualized instances) of the immediately preceding collective ("in all people"), which emphasizes the many who make up the community as a whole." (589)


Fee writes that what "each one" was "given" was not a "gift,' but a "manifestation of the Spirit." "Thus each "gift" is a "manifestation," a disclosure of the Spirit's activity in their midst... [Paul's] urgency, as vv. 8-10 make clear, is not that each person is "gifted," but that the Spirit is manifested in a great variety of ways. His way of saying this is that, "to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit."" (Ib.)


This is about the Spirit manifesting himself within the Jesus-community, and not a statement about spiritual gifts being given to people once and for all. 


Desire the manifestations of the Spirit.