Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. This lesson can be found at: <URL:>

INTRODUCTION:  This week we begin the first of three lessons on

spiritual gifts. Let’s dig in!


     A. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. Do you think that the Corinthians had asked Paul his opinion about spiritual gifts? (Sure looks like it. “Now about spiritual gifts,” sounds like the beginning of 1 Corinthians 8: “Now about food sacrificed to idols….” This is yet another topic in a series of Paul’s answers.)

     B. Does Paul seem surprised that these Corinthians used to worship idols? (Yes. In verse 2 he says, “Somehow or other.” He also mentions the idols were “mute,” to add to the logical oddity that something that could not speak had influence over them.)

     C. Note that v.3 starts with, “Therefore.” How does the message of v.3 follow from the first two verses?  In v.1 he says “don’t be ignorant,” in v.2 he says, “you were led astray by idols.” THEREFORE, v.3….?? (It was difficult at first to understand this. He seems to be making a contrast. Even mute idols had their influence. Now, the power of the living Spirit of God influences them as Christians.  Since that influence must be present in every Christian, you can tell if it is present by what the person says.)

          1. Verse three tells us that a Spirit-led Christian will not say, “Jesus be cursed.”  The Greek word is “anathema,” which is now part of our English vocabulary. What does anathema mean? (Something that is detestable to you is “anathema.”)

          2. The Greek word for “Lord” is “Kurios” which, according to Barclay, is the word used to describe the Roman Emperor!  With this sense of the word, what kind of an attitude would a Christian have who said, (v.3), “Jesus is Lord?” (That Jesus was the supreme authority!)

          3. Are all who say, “Jesus is Lord,” led by the Holy Spirit?  Is Paul saying these words tell us the person has the right spiritual credentials? (I don’t think so. Look at verses 2 and 3 together. An idol worshipper is influenced by the idol. Christians are influenced by the Spirit.  Therefore you can look at a person’s attitude and get a good idea of whether he or she is Spirit led. If you detest Jesus, you are not Spirit led. If your attitude is that Jesus is the supreme authority in your life, then you are Spirit led. He is saying that the attitude creates the words, rather than the words demonstrate the attitude.)


     A. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.  Young people like to be different. I like to be different. One of the struggles of Christian life is to determine which differences are acceptable and which are not. What does Paul say can be different in these verses? (Gifts, service, working.)

          1. What will always be the same? (Same Spirit, Lord and God.)

          2. Do you see any logical link between this “sameness” and v.3? (Paul stresses that the “common denominator” in spiritual gifts is our Lord.  If the person claiming to have the “gift” has an attitude that Jesus is anathema, you can be sure that the source of this gift is not God.)

a. I think v.7 tells us that something else will be “the same?” What do you see in v.7 that is the same? (EACH ONE is given a “manifestation” of the Holy Spirit! This manifestation, that everyone has, works for the common good.)

          3. Let’s go back to what is different for a minute. Paul states that our gifts, service and working can be different. What do you think he means when he refers to:

a. Different kinds of “working?” (v.6) (What is “produced” can be different. The “method” can be different.)

(1) Can you give me a specific example? (Different worship styles. Different approaches to evangelism. Different Christian music.)

b. Different kinds of “service?” (v.5) (The Greek word for service is the one from which we get “deacon.” Our work, our jobs can be different.)

(1) Can you give me a specific example? (Some teach, some sing, etc.)

c. Different kinds of “gifts?” (v.4) (Spiritual gifts. We are going to discuss this next.)


     A. Have you ever seen these contests where they tell someone that they can be in a store for 15 minutes with a shopping cart and anything they can load into the cart in those 15 minutes they can have?

          1. What would be your strategy if someone offered this to you? (Get the best stuff, in the least amount of time, right?)
  a. What if you had this “liberty” for a whole lifetime?  Every time you walked in the store you could take whatever you wanted? Would you like that?

          2. I look at this next area like that. We are about to see a whole “storehouse” of different gifts that may be given to us. Let’s find out how this happens so we can form a “strategy!”

     B. Read 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. Does this sound like the “store giveaway” I was talking about a few moments ago?  Would you like one of these gifts that Paul mentions?

          1. How do you get these gifts? Do you just pull off the self the one you like the best? (No. The picture is not of us “grabbing.” Rather, it looks like we are given a specific gift. Instead of being let loose in the store, the parallel that comes to mind is Santa handing out specific gifts to specific people.)

a. Who does v.11 says determines who gets what gift? (The Spirit!)

     C. We need to rethink our “strategy!”  When we were pulling the best stuff off the shelves we knew what we were getting. When the Spirit hands you a gift, how do you know what gift you are given? Is it obvious? (The Pastor would beat me if I failed to mention his “Discovery” class.  He has a very smart and interesting plan. Our church has all sorts of “jobs” that need to be done and we are, according to Paul, all running around with at least one spiritual gift. The Pastor’s Discovery class helps you to determine your spiritual gift. He then plugs you and your gift into the church job that best fits.)

     D. Let’s skip down and read 1 Corinthians 12:28-31. Read. Does our will have anything to do with the gift that we are given according to these verses? (Notice v.31: “But eagerly desire the “greater gift.” This leaves little doubt that our desires can have a role in what gift we are given.)

          1. Will someone read 2 Timothy 1:5-7?  What added information does this suggest about how we acquire gifts? (1. That some gifts may tend to be “inherited;” 2. That other individuals may help spark the gift in us: and, 3. That we need to take an active role in “fan[ning] into flame [our] gift….”)

          2. What does Paul mean when he refers in 1 Corinthians 12:31 to the “greater gifts?”  Why does Paul rank these gifts? (The “Teacher Comments” section of the lesson (p.105) says, “When Paul lists spiritual gifts, as he does in several places, he does not have a fixed order in the listing. This shows us that it is wrong to regard some gifts as more important than others.” This comment is inaccurate. Paul generally does have an “order” to his listing of the gifts. See, Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28-31.  Paul’s general discussion of gifts in Romans 12:6-8 is not a “ranking.”)


     A. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. How does this long discourse “fit in” to Paul’s mention of the “greater gifts?”

          1. When, in vv.22-24 Paul speaks of “special honor” and “special treatment” to those body parts that are “weaker” or “less honorable” what do you think he means?

          2. In that sameline of thinking, what do you think he means in v.24when he says that “presentable parts need no special treatment?”

     B. How does the discussion of “special treatment” for certain “parts” and Paul’s statement that some gifts are “greater” (v.31) paint a picture that all the parts are equal?

          1. Does 1 Corinthians 12:18 & 25 help answer this problem? (It seems that Paul is weaving together a picture of cooperation. First, some gifts are “greater,” and we should desire to increase our work by having greater gifts. Second, this cannot be a matter of pride because “God arranged the parts” (v.18), not us. We cannot claim credit for having a “greater gift.” Third, every gift is necessary for the body to operate.  In that sense all are “equal” in an operational sense. Last, human nature being what it is, the idea of “greater gifts” will always be a potential problem. Therefore, we should strive to be sure that those who have gifts that may be considered to be “lesser” are honored and encouraged n those gifts. People naturally compliment those “limelight” gifts. We need to have “concern” (v.25) for all parts equally so that the “background” gifts also get praised and not neglected.)

     C. Is your church a “coordinated body?”  Are some people obviously ill-fitted for their “job?”  How can the church ensure that everyone is using his or her gift to the best effect so that the “body” of the church is strong?

V. NEXT WEEK: “HIGH PRAISE FOR LOVE,” 1 Corinthians 13. Study! dinated body?”  Are some people obviously ill-fitted for their “job?”  How can the church ensure that everyone is using his or her gift to the best effect so that the “body” of the church is strong?

V. NEXT WEEK: “HIGH PRAISE FOR LOVE,” 1 Corinthians 13. Study!