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1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 But zealously pursue these most useful and excellent charisma gifts.

 

1 Corinthians 12:31 can be difficult to understand. Here, the verses preceding it have indicated that the Holy Spirit is the One Who decides which gifts each member has and that they are given in such a way that they create unity. Then this verse almost seems to indicate that you should get competitive and want the best gifts for yourself, as if you are the one who gets to select which gifts you have.

Here is a very literal translation with a little more context that may help:

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 But zealously pursue these most useful and excellent charisma gifts. I'll show you an even more excellent way: If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have agape love, I have become as loud brass gong or a clanging cymbal. Even if I have the gift of prophecy and can see all hidden things and know all things, and though I have all supernatural belief and trust so that I could remove mountains but don't have agape love, I am no one. Even if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, even if I give my body to be burned, but don't have agape love, it isn't useful.

Sometimes, a brother or a sister will be prayed and prophesied over by the presbytery with the laying on of hands and will receive charisma gifts of the Spirit, but then they will fail to stir up and use the gift. This is what is warned against when the Holy Spirit is saying to us: "But zealously pursue these most useful and excellent charisma gifts."

Sometimes, a brother or a sister will be prayed and prophesied over by the presbytery with the laying on of hands and will receive charisma gifts of the Spirit, but then they will try to exercise the gift without the flow of the Anointing and the Love of God flowing through them and directing the gift. This is what is warned against when the Holy Spirit is saying to us: "If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have agape love, I have become as loud brass gong or a clanging cymbal. Even if I have the gift of prophecy and can see all hidden things and know all things, and though I have all supernatural belief and trust so that I could remove mountains but don't have agape love, I am no one. Even if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, even if I give my body to be burned, but don't have agape love, it isn't useful."
 
The problem of translation with 1 Corinthians 12:31 comes up in just about every translation out there.
 
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts
So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts
But earnestly desire the higher gifts
But earnestly desire the greater gifts
But earnestly desire the greater gifts
But covet earnestly the best gifts
But desire the greater gifts
Keep on desiring the better gifts
But you should be eager for the greater gifts
But earnestly pursue the best gifts
But desire earnestly the greater gifts
But be zealous for the better gifts
But desire earnestly the greater gifts
But covet earnestly the best gifts
But always seek to excel in the greater gifts
But earnestly desire the best gifts
and desire earnestly the better gifts

All of these translations have inserted that word, "the" when referring to these better gifts. This word is not in the original text, but the translators added it to make the language flow more smoothly. By adding "the" the meaning is that we are comparing the gifts to each other, that one gift is better or more important than another. This is not true. That's like saying, "Go into my tool box and give me my best tool." Which would it be? I may have a wonderful saw, but I'm trying to pound in a nail.

In this In the SeekFind.net Bible Study Tool, we compare the spiritual gifts to something else--perhaps natural gifts such as singing or speaking talent. Every one of the charisma gifts of the Spirit is far superior to any natural gift.

Some translations make more sense:
But if you are zealous for great gifts, I again shall show you a better way. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
You [only] want the better gifts, but I will show you the best thing to do. (GOD'S WORD® Translation)

These two translations have translated this in a way that is both accurate and in line with what the Spirit is saying. Here, this is a warning against competitiveness. So God is able to speak to us in both ways.



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Last updated: Nov, 2013
 
 




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1 Corinthians 12:2-3 God Speaks Through His People.

1 Corinthians 12:3 God speaks through His people

1 Corinthians 12:4-10 The Nine Gifts Of The Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:10 The Gift of Prophecy

1 Corinthians 12:11-30 Designed For Unity And Not Division. None Has Preeminence.

1 Corinthians 12:11-31 Every Member Having And Being A Ministry In The Body Of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:12 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.

1 Corinthians 12:28-30, God Hath Set Some In The Church, First Apostles, Secondarily Prophets,

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 But zealously pursue these most useful and excellent charisma gifts.


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