King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

1 Corinthians > New Testament > Home

1 Corinthians 12

The variety of use of spiritual gifts are shown. (1-11) In the human body every member has its place and use. (12-26) This is applied to the church of Christ. (27-30) And there is something more excellent than spiritual gifts. (31)

1 Corinthians 12 Audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The variety of use of spiritual gifts are shown

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

In the human body every member has its place and use

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

This is applied to the church of Christ

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

And there is something more excellent than spiritual gifts

31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Concerning spiritual things. In the apostle’s time, the Christians in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, many times received those graces and gifts of the Holy Ghost, by which some of them prophesied, others wrought miracles, and cured diseases, others spoke tongues, and different languages: now some among the Corinthians made not a right use of these gifts, especially they who had the gift of tongues, and made use of it through vanity, rather than for the profit of others. Wi.

Ver. 2. You went to dumb idols. He speaks to the Gentiles before their conversion, to put them in mind, how much happier they are by receiving the faith of Christ, and such graces and favours from God. Wi.

Ver. 3. No man, speaking by the Spirit of God, &c. He tells them, if they see a person moved in an extraordinary manner, and say anathema, curse, or speak ill of Jesus, such an one cannot be moved by a good spirit. And no man can say, the Lord Jesus, that is, praise Christ as he ought, but by a good spirit. Wi.

Ver. 4-7. There are diversities of graces. Lit. divisions of graces; but all from the same spirit, from the same Lord, from the same God: and all these gifts are designed, and to be made use of for the profit of the faithful. Wi. — S. Justin Mar. S. Irenæus, and Origen bear testimony, that these special gifts of the Holy Ghost were not unusual in their time. S. Paul, in order to curb the vanity of such as seemed to be a little puffed up with the gifts they had received, and likewise to comfort those who had received no such spiritual and extraordinary favours, wishes to teach both parties, that the same Holy Spirit distributes these graces according as they are more conducive to the welfare of his Church, and the glory of God. Calmet.

Ver. 8, &c. Word of wisdom, which differs from that of knowledge, inasmuch as wisdom is a more eminent and sublime knowledge. These are numbered among the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Isaias, c. xi. — To another faith, by which, says S. Chrys.,[1] is not here meant a belief of revealed truths, but an humble confidence of working miracles, grounded on faith, and on the power and goodness of God. — The same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will; by which words, they that valued themselves on the gifts of prophesying, and speaking tongues, are put in mind, that all these were purely the gifts of God, to whom alone the honour is due. Wi.

Ver. 12. &c. As the body is one, &c. From this comparison of the mystical body of Christ, that is, of his Church, to a man’s natural body, he brings excellent instructions. 1. That as all members and parts, make up the same body, so also is Christ; that is, so it is in the Church of Christ, which is his mystical body. 2. As all the parts of man’s body are enlivened by the same soul, so all in the Church have their life from the same Spirit of God in baptism, and in the sacraments instituted by our Saviour, Christ; in which we are made to drink of the same spirit. 3. As all the members, that have such different offices and functions, do but constitute one complete body, so is it in the Church of Christ. 4. As those that seem the less considerable parts of the human body, are no less necessary for the subsistence and harmony of the whole, and stand in need of one another, (for example, the head stands in need of the feet) so in the Church, &c. 5. He takes notice, that in a natural body, the less honourable, the baser, and as they are called, the uncomely parts, are clothed with greater care and decency, Lit. have a more abundant honour bestowed upon them, so in the mystical body, no less, but even a greater care is to be taken of the weaker, and more infirm members, of the poor, the weak, the ignorant; and in the spirit of charity and love, that there may be no divisions or schisms, but a brotherly union: that if one suffer, another compassionate and assist him, &c. Wi.

Ver. 15. If the foot, &c. By this comparison S. Paul teaches the Corinthians, that as all cannot exercise the same functions in the Church, so no one should be envious of his brother; but that by their mutual charity, co-operation, union of hearts, and faith, they should compose one body, of which Christ is the head. Calmet.

Ver. 24. Cicero, in his 1st liber de Off. speaking of the human body, says, Natura quæ formam nostram atque figuram, in qua esset species honesta, eam posuit in promptu; quæ partes autem corporis ad naturæ necessitatem datæ, aspectum essent deformem habituræ atque turpem, eas contexit atque abdidit. Calmet.

Ver. 27. Members of member.[2] The sense seems to be, you are members of the particular Church of Corinth, which is only a part or member of the whole body of the Christian Catholic Church. This is agreeable to the common reading in the Greek, where it is said, you are members of a part. See S. Chrys. hom. xxxii. Wi.

Ver. 28. First apostles, &c. Here he sets down these gifts or graces in their order of dignity. 1. The apostles, blessed above others with all kinds of graces. 2. Prophets, who had the gift of interpreting of prophecies, and of knowing things to come. 3. Doctors, or teachers of the gospel, preferred before those who had the gift of miracles, or of healing the infirm, and before the gifts of tongues, which they valued and esteemed so much, which he reckons in a manner in the last place, except that of interpreting, which is wanting in the present Greek copies. But as interpreting is found in all the Greek MSS. (v. 30.) we have reason to prefer the reading of the Latin Vulgate. Wi.

Ver. 31. Be zealous for the better gifts: which are to be more or less esteemed, as they are accompanied with charity, as he is going to shew in the next chapter. Wi.


[1] V. 9. Fides, pistis, upon which word S. Chrys. om. kth. p. 433. pistin ou tauten legon, ten ton dogmaton, alla ten semeion.

[2] V. 27. Et membra de membro. Some Greek copies, kai mele ek melous, but in most Greek MSS. kai mele ek merous. S. Chrys. om. kb. p. 448. e ekklesia e par emin, meros esti tes pantachou keimenes ekklesias.