First Corinthians, Chapter 12, Part 3: The Corinthian’s Spiritual Gifts vis a vis the Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding Available to Believers Since Then:Volume 5, Number 49
Created Date: December 5, 2022
Posted Date: December 5, 2022
Our last Faith Study described 9 Spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit gave the Corinthians in– 11: (1) the word of wisdom; (2) the word of knowledge; (3) faith; (4) gifts of healing; (5) working of miracles; (6) prophecy; (7) discerning of spirits; (8) tongues; (9) interpretation of tongues. These gifts were necessary because Paul’s epistles were not complete at that time, that is, the Word of God to Members of the Body of Christ was not complete, thus the Corinthians could minister Truth to others. Note that Paul also wrote: “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:” – 7. However, despite the fact they were blessed with all Spiritual gifts, their walk (manner of life) was lacking: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” – 3. The Corinthians demonstrate what – 20 teaches about the Spiritual and carnal entities that co-exist in all true believers.
The gifts of “knowledge,” “tongues” and “prophesies” were done away with upon Paul’s completion of God’s Word,, but with its completion, believers have found wisdom, knowledge and understanding available in a different method. We see this in Paul’s prayer in – 18; (verse 15) “Wherefore I (Paul) also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” To understand how these blessings are more complete and better than the gifts the Corinthians possessed, we will examine the meaning of the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; understanding and what it is to know the hope of His calling.
“Wisdom” in verse 17 is the Greek “sophia” (G4678), the same word for wisdom the Holy Spirit gave the Corinthians, except the wisdom they received was “The Word of Wisdom,” 1 Corinthians 12:8. Paul prays inbelievers have available “the spirit of wisdom.” So, whereas the gift given the Corinthians by the Holy Spirit enabled them to speak the “word or utterance (Greek logos) of wisdom,” after God’s Word was complete with all the epistles of Paul, believers can have “the spirit of wisdom.” The word “spirit” here is in lower case and does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to “the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides, the soul.” The true believer gains this when he/she grows to mature hood through study of God’s Word as Paul exhorts us to study to show ourselves approved of God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, . Such study results in the believer having “the spirit of wisdom,” which is “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight; common sense; good judgement” in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as with “wisdom,” so also is “knowledge” different than the gift given to the Corinthians. They were given the “word of knowledge” by the Holy Spirit, that is, they were given the “word or utterance (Greek logos) of knowledge.” However, since completion of God’s Word, believers have access to the “revelation in the knowledge of Him (the Lord Jesus Christ)” by studying His Word. The word “revelation” is the Greek “apokalupsis” (G602) meaning a “disclosure of truth, manifestation, laying bear;” it is the same word that opens the book of Revelation, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…,”a.” It occurs 18 times in the NT and is used most frequently by Paul. But note especially that the word “knowledge” available to believers today is different than the knowledge with which the Holy Spirit blessed the Corinthians. Theirs was the Greek “gnosis” (G1108) meaning “the act of knowing; general intelligence, understanding, etc.,” whereas the “knowledge” available to believers today is from the Greek “epignosis” (G1922) meaning “recognition, full discernment, acknowledgement, precise and correct knowledge.” Epignosis occurs 20 times in the NT, 16 of which are in Paul’s epistles and 4 in 2 Peter. Members of Christ’s Body today can have “epi” “knowledge,” that is over and above, i.e., full discernment, precise and correct,” which, like wisdom, comes from study of God’s completed Word.
The first 3 times “epignosis” is used by Paul are in Romans. It first refers to the fact the people living in the period prior to Noah’s worldwide flood, possessed “epi-knowledge,” that is they had full recognition, full discernment of God, never-the-less they did not like to keep God in their minds and so God gave them over to a reprobate mind, Roman 1:28. The second occasion in Romans teaches that the Law of Moses reveals the “epi-knowledge,” that is, the full recognition, full discernment of sin,. And the third occasion is where Paul reveals that his countrymen, i.e., Israel, “have a zeal of God, but not according to (epi) knowledge, (full recognition, full discernment),” . “Epignosis” is not found in either of the 2 epistles to the Corinthians nor in Galatians as these books deal with believers who were immature and wayward respectively. When the full Word of God was completed as in Ephesians, the pinnacle of truth for believers, we have available “epignosis, (full recognition, full discernment) of our Lord Jesus Christ;” “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, (Our Lord Jesus Christ) which is the head of all principality and power:” – 10, see also – 15.
“Understanding” in the phrase “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened” inis from the Greek “dianoia” (G1271) used 13 times in the NT, translated “mind” 9 times; “understanding” 3 times and “imagination” once. It means “deep thought, by implication its exercise; the mind as a faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring.” “Enlightened” is from the Greek “photizo” (G5461) found 11 times in the NT translated variously in the KJV “give light, bring to light, lighten, enlighten, light, illuminate and make to see.” It means “to shed rays, that is, to shine (transitively) to brighten up (literally or figuratively); enlighten, illuminate, bring to light or give light; make to see.”
Thus, there is no need, nor should there be a desire, to go back to the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to the Corinthians because Members of Christ’s Body today have access to the complete knowledge and deep understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ “… as He has chosen us before the foundation of the world …”; “… Who (He) created all things in heaven and earth …” , including mankind, ; He came to earth born a Man to live a perfect life of faith, ; ; ; He died for the sins of all mankind, ; after purging sins He sat down at the Right Hand of God, and will sometime in the future call all believers home to be with Him for eternity in heaven, : “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge (epignosis) of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” . “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement (epignosis) of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;” .
Whereas many believers today have carnal characteristics like the Corinthians, all believers since their time have been and are just as they were “… waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:”b.