Summary: A look at the difference between manifestations, ministries and offices’ of a certain gift, and whether we should desire and focus on certain gifts (as we are often encouraged to do)

Gifts of the Spirit 8: Gifts, ministries, offices and “greater gifts” 1 Cor 12:27-31 WBC 3/10/4pm


Paul has spoken about

- not wanting them to be ignorant of ‘spiritual things’, the ‘spiritual dynamic’ and ‘what makes a person spiritual’ (v1)

- He’s spoken about the kind of things that happen when the Lord shows up and manifests Himself. V7 (‘manifestations of the Spirit’).

o How things, spontaneously, start happening

He then moves on to talking about PEOPLE

- the body of Christ. It’s diversity

- the roles & ministries of PEOPLE.

- How people can so regularly have certain manifestations that they are said to have the office of ‘helps’, ‘apostle’, prophet etc

A good understanding of this is important as many of us get confused or intimidated by thinking of ourselves or someone as ‘prophet’ or ‘apostle’

- clam up and don’t exercise the manifestation, thinking ‘I’m certainly not a prophet, so I’d better shut up’

- poo poo someone saying ‘they’re not a healer’. ‘I didn’t get healed’

So- Paul draws up another short-list and teaches us from it

- it contains some manifestations mentioned earlier

- plus some newies: helps, apostle etc

Aim: to give some examples and show the diversity of roles people have

He puts them in some kind of order:

- either order of priority or time. Amounts to much the same.

o It’s very possible he’s correcting the hierarchy the Corinthian church had established ( of elevating the zappy ones)

- So he’s saying: ‘look, churches are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20)

o Apostles go in and start them. Prophets come in and speak the word of God to them. Explain the prophecies of the past and bring God’s alive word, now

- Then teachers come and build them up. Then God does stuff among them in healings and miracles..

- Then people help… administrate….

Illustr: Pastor Elijah in Sheregesh. “I’ll go. We’ll proclaim God’s word on the streets. Some will get healed. Then we’ll start a church and people will get involved in that”

So- the order is not so much an order of importance (as he’s just taken 27 verses to explain they are all equal and necessary!)

- it’s the order and priority to ‘get the job done’

Now: here’s the thing. We can look at this list and it can make us cynical or freeze up. “I know no prophets”. “That’s not me”

- truth is: these are probably not any of us! Well-maybe some administrators or helpers

o but none of us are Apostles or Prophets with a capital A & P

- most of us are still in the v7-11 experience

o we have occasional manifestations of these things and are growing in them

o but not to the point where we hold the ‘office’ of Prophet

Gosh- doesn’t this set your mind at ease: I’m not a prophet, yet- so I’m gonna make mistakes, and have to step out in faith… and nobody’s gonna stone me if I get it wrong!

You see: there are different levels of operating in these things:

- the occasional spontaneous manifestation, given by God

o (IT has YOU)

- regular manifestations of God’s Spirit in a certain way to the point where OTHERS may say of you: “you’re developing a ministry, there”

- high maturity and development to the point where others may say “They’re a prophet, apostle, healer’ etc. “They hold the OFFICE”

And it’s the ‘office’ that’s being spoken of, here

- so, relax. We’re not in this realm!


So-Paul speaks of the office of Apostle:

- those who saw the risen Jesus (Paul: 1 Cor 9:1). Who did miracles with regularity (2 Cor 12:12).

- Who were ‘sent’ by Jesus and the early church to establish churches (Cf Paul & Barnabas? Acts 13)

o That’s what ‘apostle’ means, lit

- Those whose words were of equal authority to OT and wrote NT

o (1 Cor 14:36. Paul’s word were on a par with scripture)

And there are no more Apostles in that sense

- no more scripture to be written

But there are still people to be sent, churches to be planted, people with regional ministries

- ie those who exercise apostolic MINISTRIES

o restoration movement has sought to restore these to the ch. (all ministries of Eph 4)


There aren’t any more prophets like the OT

- so: no laying starkers on your side for ages like Ezekiel did. Or cooking your food over poo. Or marrying a prostitute as an enacted parable

- but also: no stoning if you get it wrong!

o That kind of accuracy was for the prophets and apostles (ipsisima verba, exact words)

o Now: prophecy is released generally to all: sons and daughters. And it’s ‘ipsisima vox, exact sense’

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