1 Corinthians 12:5-7

In 1 Corinthians 12:5-7 Paul continues his teaching on spiritual gifts. The gifts are diverse, the services are different, and the activities are diverse. But it is all the same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God doing the work through the gifts, the services or ministries, and the activities. “….and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” Ministries (or services) probably means different “gifted offices” in the church, such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers, as Paul described in Ephesians 4. But the key to remember is that all these services come from One God.

Next Paul moves to the variety of activities related to gifts. The Greek word for activities is energemata, where we get our words energy, energetic, and energize from. It is a word of active, miraculous power. It demonstrates that the gifts are not stagnant and held for self but are active and given to impact people. God displays and pours out His miraculous power in different ways, but it is always the same God doing the work. That is a key principle about spiritual gifts. While individually given, they come from one place – God Himself – and will ALWAYS be in unity with His purpose and plan for mankind.

What are the differences between gifts, services, and activities? All of these are gifts. Some gifts are ministries – standing offices or positions in the church. Some gifts are activities – miraculous events or outpourings at a particular time and place. Poole writes “Habits and powers, by which men performed holy offices in the church, or wrought miracles, are called gifts. The acts or exercise of these powers are called services and activities. These latter differ one from another, as the former signify standing and continuing acts in the church; activities, rather signify miraculous events, such as healing the sick without the application of miraculous means, speaking with diverse tongues, [and so forth].”

Paul reminds us that it is easy for us to focus on our own “little area” of gifts, services, or activities and believe that those who have other something different are not really walking or working with God. Yet our one God has a glorious diversity in the way He does things. We should never expect it to be according to our own emphasis and taste. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit is to benefit the whole church family, not just a particular individual. They are given for the common good, not to build up any particular individual. That is a principle about gifts that is always true.

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