Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 12:4

King James Version (KJV)
Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Now there are diversities of gifts - There are different endowments conferred on Christians. For the meaning of the word “gifts,” see the note at Romans 1:11; compare Romans 5:15-16; Romans 6:23; Romans 11:29; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 7:7.

But the same Spirit - Produced by the same Spirit - the Holy Spirit. What those diversities of gifts are, the apostle enumerates in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. The design for which he refers to these various endowments is evidently to show those whom he addressed, that since they are all produced by the same Holy Spirit, have all the same divine origin, and are all intended to answer some important purpose and end in the Christian church, that, therefore, none are to be despised; nor is one man to regard himself as authorized to treat another with contempt. The Spirit has divided and conferred those gifts according to his sovereign will; and his arrangements should be regarded with submission, and the favors which he confers should be received with thankfulness. That the Holy Spirit - the third person of the adorable Trinity - is here intended by the word “Spirit,” seems to be manifest on the face of the passage, and has been the received interpretation of the church until it was called in question by some recent German commentators, at the head of whom was Eichhorn. It is not the design of these notes to go into an examination of questions of criticism, such as an inquiry like this would involve. Nor is it necessary. Some of the arguments by which the common interpretation is defended are the following:

(1) It is the obvious interpretation. It is that which occurs to the great mass of readers, as the true and correct exposition.

(2) it accords with the usual meaning of the word Spirit. No other intelligible sense can be given to the word here. To say, with Eichhorn, that it means “nature,” that there are the same natural endowments, though cultivated in various measures by art and education, makes manifest nonsense, and is contrary to the whole structure and scope of the passage.

(3) it accords with all the other statements in the New Testament, where the endowments here referred to “wisdom,” “knowledge,” “faith,” “working of miracles,” etc., are traced to the Holy Spirit, and are regarded as his gift.

(4) the harmony, the concinnity of the passage is destroyed by supposing that it refers to anything else than the Holy Spirit. In this verse the agency of the Spirit is recognized, and his operations on the mind referred to; in the next verse the agency of the Son of God (see the note on the verse) is referred to; and in the following verse, the agency of God - evidently the Father - is brought into view; and thus the entire passage 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 presents a connected view of the operations performed by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work of redemption. To deny that this verse refers to the Holy Spirit is to break up the harmony of the whole passage, and to render it in no small degree unmeaning. But if this refers to the Holy Spirit, then it is an unanswerable argument for his personality, and for his being on an equality with the Father and the Son.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Spiritual gifts were extraordinary powers bestowed in the first ages, to convince unbelievers, and to spread the gospel. Gifts and graces greatly differ. Both were freely given of God. But where grace is given, it is for the salvation of those who have it. Gifts are for the advantage and salvation of others; and there may be great gifts where there is no grace. The extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were chiefly exercised in the public assemblies, where the Corinthians seem to have made displays of them, wanting in the spirit of piety, and of Christian love. While heathens, they had not been influenced by the Spirit of Christ. No man can call Christ Lord, with believing dependence upon him, unless that faith is wrought by the Holy Ghost. No man could believe with his heart, or prove by a miracle, that Jesus was Christ, unless by the Holy Ghost. There are various gifts, and various offices to perform, but all proceed from one God, one Lord, one Spirit; that is, from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the origin of all spiritual blessings. No man has them merely for himself. The more he profits others, the more will they turn to his own account. The gifts mentioned appear to mean exact understanding, and uttering the doctrines of the Christian religion; the knowledge of mysteries, and skill to give advice and counsel. Also the gift of healing the sick, the working of miracles, and to explain Scripture by a peculiar gift of the Spirit, and ability to speak and interpret languages. If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any power to make it known, we must give all the glory of God. The greater the gifts are, the more the possessor is exposed to temptations, and the larger is the measure of grace needed to keep him humble and spiritual; and he will meet with more painful experiences and humbling dispensations. We have little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise those who have them not.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

There are diversities of gifts - Χαρισματων· Gracious endowments, leading to miraculous results; such as the gift of prophecy, speaking different tongues, etc. And these all came by the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit.

Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 262.3

It is by the Lord's orders that His servants have varied gifts. It is by His appointment that men of varied minds are brought into the church, to be laborers together with Him. We have many different minds to meet, and different gifts are needed. God's servants are to work in perfect harmony. I thank the Lord that we are not all exactly the same, while we are all to have the same spirit—the spirit that dwelt in Christ. The apostle John was not the same as the apostle Peter. Each was to subdue his peculiarities and soften his temperament, that they might help each other, through belief in and sanctification of the truth. TDG 262.3

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 286.2

The Lord desires His chosen servants to learn how to blend together. A decided influence for good is to be brought to bear on the inhabitants of the world. However diverse the talents of His workers, these workers are to labor in unity, all revealing kindness and love. By different gifts the truth is to be proclaimed, all the gifts controlled by the same Spirit.... UL 286.2

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 345.6

All, whether entrusted with few or with many talents, are to blend together in unity. We need more of the spirit of the Saviour that we may help those who have been restricted and hindered. How much we may help them in their efforts to rise will never be known till it is made manifest in the judgment. We should have a word of encouragement to speak to all, remembering that there are a diversity of gifts.—Letter 260, December 2, 1903, to Dr. George A. Hare, who was invited to connect with the sanitarium to be established in Washington, D.C. TDG 345.6

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