Gifts, Ministries and Operations in the Body of Christ

By: Larry Groenewald

(All Scriptures quoted are from the King James translation of the Bible, except where otherwise stated)


1Co 12:12-14 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. 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. For the body is not one member, but many.

Christians, in general, have attached various meanings to the concept of “the body of Christ”. These meanings range from Jesus’ physical body while He was on earth, to the bread that is eaten at ‘the Lord’s supper’ as Paul describes in 1Corinthians 11:20-29. Some refer to their local congregation as the body of Christ. But for those with spiritual eyes to see there is more than meets the physical (eye):

1Co 12:13 “For by (Greek: “en”= IN) 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.

Those who drink of the ‘one spirit’ are part of the ‘one body’. The ‘one spirit’ to ‘drink of’ is this:

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

The Word of God (‘written’ in the books from Genesis to Revelation – ref. 1Co 4:6) is ‘the one spirit’ and that is the ‘one mind’ of Christ:

Rom 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The numerical “one” refers to the same mind (thinking, speaking, acting) being formed in all. This one mind of Christ is the only qualification to enter the body of Christ. The Body of Christ is the spiritual body which is the one undivided church, because there is no schism (divisions) in this body, whether in doctrine (teachings) or because of its scattered nature in physical space and time:

1Co 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

The Greek word translated as “body” (Strong’s #G4983) used in these verses is “soma” and it has a root in this Greek word “sozo” (Strong’s # G4982) which has the following meaning: “to save, that is, deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): – heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole” (Ref.  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).

This is really important to see. The body is like the Head – saviours, kings and priests: The body is known by the same ‘name(s)’ – that is referring to doctrine(s) – and functions as the Head:

Oba 1:21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.

1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The reason for the body analogy

God is organized in what He does. The human body is one of the best analogies to show order and is therefore an excellent metaphor of the church under the Headship of Christ. The body is not an organization (dead human creation) but an organism (a living thing). A person one day remarked concerning order: you get “graveyard-order” and “maternity ward-order”. The first is marked with deadness and silence; the latter is marked with new life, love, a lot of noise (almost chaotic with cries and laughter), very bloody (though very clean and hygienic). I think all people prefer the latter type of order because new life is experienced there. God’s “maternity ward” is Jesus Christ and His body. The new spiritual life is what ‘the Lord and His Christ’ desires above all and that is the driving force to ‘be built up a spiritual house’ with the other members of that body as we ‘present our bodies a living sacrifice’ until we are all released from this physical body – ‘the redemption of the purchased possession’– (ref. Rom 8:19-39; Rom 12:1; 1Pe 2:5; Eph 1:14);

The proper functioning of each member of that spiritual body becomes extremely important to the rest of the body. Each member of the body is unique, yet closely connected to the ones next to it and gets nourishment through that connection to the one Head. The body respects the uniqueness of each member, but one mind (the mind of the Head) controls all the members in that body. Each member finds its unique function only as the Head determines:

1Co 12:12 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. 1Co 12:13 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.

Like the natural body’s parts are happy with their designated positions and functions, so the members of the spiritual body of Christ are happy with what place and role they play to make the body function orderly.

Lists and descriptions of the body’s functions

There are numerous lists in the New Testament whereby the different functions in the body of Christ are described. Here are the main lists:

To the church in Rome:

Rom 12:6-8 Then having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, if prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, in the ministry; or he who teaches, in the teaching; or he who exhorts, in the encouragement; or he who shares, in simplicity; or he who takes the lead, in diligence; or he who shows mercy, in cheerfulness.

To the church in Corinth:

1Co 12:8-10 For through the Spirit is given to one a word of wisdom; and to another a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; and to another faith by the same Spirit; and to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; and to another workings of powers, to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; and to another kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues.

1Co 12:28 And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

To the church at Ephesus:

Eph 4:11-12 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

There are similarities and differences in the abovementioned lists. How do we deal with that? To the natural mind this proves a conflict or a contradiction, but to the spirit mind it all adds up. The one list adds to the others and brings a fuller picture to the spiritual discerning reader (Psa 119:160). Paul is not emphasizing lists or gifts, but he has a much bigger concern. Paul’s purpose is also the purpose of this study: the interest of building the body of Christ through each member’s place and participation in it!

These above mentioned lists concerning the body of Christ also do not cover all the different functions that are mentioned in Scriptures that are necessary for a healthy spiritual body. However, the focus of this study will comprise chapters 12 to14 in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians. These chapters will be used as a base to further stimulate a discourse between like-minded believers and to get to know more of how the body of Christ should show to the world that we are one. Although we have different functions, we are His disciples indeed when we speak and act from one mind:

1Co 12:4-6 Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same Godwhich works all in all.

Three interlinking categories by which the body of Christ functions can be seen here and these will be used in this study. Here are the three categories:

1. Gifts (Greek=charisma=from the root charis=grace),
2. Administrations or ministries (Greek=diakonia=attending to),
3. Operations or workings (Greek=energe¯ma=effective).

Let us take a closer look at these three categories individually although it must be emphasized here again that these three are interrelated because of their common origin: ‘the same Lord’ has ‘the same spirit’ as ‘the same God,’ the Father.

The two letters by Paul to the church at Corinth were written to them as a response to letters they wrote to him for advice or to communicate to him what is happening in this congregation (ref. 1Co 1:11; 7:1). Paul was not happy with what he read in the letters as expressed by concerned brothers and sisters (‘which are of the house of Chloe’ amongst others).

Paul referred to the Corinthians as babies in the faith and he compliments them initially, but also gives admonishments and advice to these brothers and sisters. They (like all of us at our appointed times) were going through a carnal and physical stage in the church. After showing them their carnality, he shows them how the spiritual application of these gifts should be desired much more and that he would not “have them ignorant” of that all-important spiritual application:

1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

1Co 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.

In both quoted verses in the King James translation the word “gifts” was added in English which may cause confusion as if Paul is focussing only on the gifts or “charisma” in 1Co 12:4. But he was actually showing them that all the functions in the body are concerned with a higher application than mere physical manifestations. He was putting all the categories under one heading: they are all spiritual and they are spiritually connected and interrelated. The one function or category does not stand in isolation from the rest. All the gifts, ministries and operations are necessary for a healthy spiritual body.

The three categories will now be discussed briefly, namely:

A: Gifts
B: Ministries
C: Operations

A: Gifts: (Greek=charisma=from the root charis=grace)

We know that all things written are ‘for our teaching’ – those on whom ‘the last days (of carnality) have come’:

1Co 10:11 (BBE) Now these things were done as an example; and were put down in writing for our teaching, on whom the last days have come.

The carnal Corinthian babes (ref. 1Co 3:1-4) applied all the gifts carnally and in a selfish puffed up way (highlighting the users rather than the purpose of the gift). Although God is the giver of all gifts, to Paul it is important throughout these letters to emphasize their spiritual (non-carnal) purpose in the body (the church):

1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

Any gift is something that is undeserved, but given without ‘variableness’ (no change) nor ‘shadow of turning’ (recalling the gift). God knows the end from the beginning (ref. Isa 46:10), and he has planned every minute detail of our lives so nothing we do can change his mind about the gift he has given us.

God knows that the emphasis is not on the receiver’s abilities or lack thereof, but for the objectives the gift will achieve as determined by God alone. The end goal of everything is to reveal the glory of God. God does not change His mind.

Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Spiritual gifts are given to produce the fruit of unity (the one mind of Christ) in the body. No gift (or ministry or operation) works in isolation of the one spiritual body and selfish ambitions will not be tolerated in the body. The natural body will reject all foreign things and the spiritual body is no different. Take note that the word “fruit” is always in the singular as these few Scriptures verify:

1Pe 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Php 4:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit (singular outcome) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Like the fruit works one mind, so the nine gifts work one mind. The nine gifts that are:

1Co 12:8-10 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healingby the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to anotherdiscerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

All these gifts are necessary in the one body and link with the ministries and operations to cause the body to function properly, ‘decently and in order’ according to the ‘one mind’. Let’s list the nine gifts and give a short explanation of each:

1. The Word of wisdom

This is the first spiritual gift mentioned in the list and can be seen as to be coveted above all as it is mentioned first in this particular list – ‘but covet earnestly the best gifts’ (1Co 12:31). There is good reason why this gift stands on top. This gift is primarily given to preach (or teach) the Word (the gospel in particular).Jesus never preached anything ‘of Himself’ but the Words (works) of the Father:

Joh 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

His words are His works – that is everything about Him we need to know. Jesus never got upset when people interrupted and stopped him. He allowed people to ask questions, advice or help. His preaching and teaching (and those of the apostles) also included to listen to others and to have discussions or interaction.Preaching, however, does not only have a verbal side, but also has to do with our daily dealings with people (family, friends, colleagues, etc.).This links beautifully with the next point here under this gift of the Word of wisdom.The root for the word “wisdom” in the original Greek means to be clear, considerate, meek, discreet and thoughtful in the way we live in relation to what we preach and teach. James wrote these truths:

Jas 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

The Word (of wisdom) affects our daily lives for others to witness – it is the ‘demonstration’ of God’s Word (‘of the spirit and of power’) when it is backed by our lifestyle:

1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but indemonstration of the Spirit and of power:

The Word of wisdom displays a powerful spiritual witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ in the ‘matured’:

Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

2. The Word of knowledge

The root for “knowledge” in the Greek is “gnosis” and it has to do with “getting a clear view”, and it is more to do with understanding something. This refers to very intimate understanding – like a husband and wife ‘knowing’ each other in this sense:

Gen 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

The Word (of knowledge) impregnates understanding and new life comes from it. It is when two (or more) people share one mind like the Father has with His Son and the body in the way that they understand each other deeply. Knowledge of ‘the only true God and Jesus Christ’ is the ‘seed’ that impregnates the elect with the ‘life eternal.’ Without this ‘incorruptible seed’ no one can enter the kingdom of God.

Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

There is however, knowledge that puffs up (looks and sounds real), but produce no understanding or new life in the person (a false spiritual pregnancy). No one benefits from that knowledge except the “puffed up” one:

1Co 4:6 (YLT) And these things, brethren, I did transfer to myself and to Apollos because of you, that in us ye may learn not to think above that which hath been written, that ye may not be puffed up one for one against the other,

Revelation knowledge (a clear understanding of the one mind of Christ) comes only from the Father:

Mat 16:17 Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, butmy Father which is in heaven.

Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

3. Faith

We know from the second witness in Eph 2:8-9 that faith is indeed an underserved gift coming from God. There is also a measure of faith for each individual and that should not be measured ‘among you’ (comparisons and competition are spiritually fruitless exercises):

Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealtto every man the measure of faith.

Sober thinking is to have respect for others’ faith because there is only one Lord over each one’s faith:

2Co 1:24 (YLT) not that we are lords over your faith, but we are workers together with your joy, for by the faith ye stand.

If others are given less or more faith, the mature ones show respect to God who gives to each one according to His decision.

4. The gifts of healing

As already alluded to, Paul is emphasising the spiritual. The spiritual healing of the heart (from ‘stone’ to ‘flesh’) is God’s focus:

Luk 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

To the maturing elect this is clear to see: Jesus spoke about inward spiritual applications of ‘poor,’ ‘broken hearted,’ ‘captives,’ ‘blind,’ ‘bruised’ – even ‘the acceptable year of the Lord’ which is the spiritual age to come that is in down payment now in His maturing elect (ref. Eph 1:13-14; Rom 8:23-25).This is the ‘greater’ (spiritual) works Jesus referred to when He said this:

Joh 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

5. Workings of powers (this gift refers to miracles)

This spiritual gift gives the ability to go beyond our carnal or natural mind to believe the impossible:

Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Naturally we are limited by our natural mind’s abilities as it process inputs from the five senses and influenced by our thoughts and emotions. This gift of the spirit surpasses all these natural limitation as God gives us faith to see beyond our carnal mind.To believe in the resurrection from the dead, for example, is one of those gifts that falls under ‘workings of powers.’ It is beyond the carnal mind to believe God can actually resurrect deadpeople. The carnal mind needs a heretical “immortal soul” to travel or continue after death. All carnal minds ‘also believe’, but tremble at the possibility that God is really going to be ‘all in all’ (amongst others). The devils (Greek: “demons”) also believe that there is a God like all religions do, but the religious demons believe only their followers will be saved and others will be rejected forever. They cannot accept Jesus is the Saviour of all humanity:

Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

6. Prophecy

1Co 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

All prophecy in the Old Testament pointed to a coming Messiah which was fulfilled in Jesus and is being fulfilled in His body. From that perspective, prophecy looks forward (is futuristic). But when Jesus is revealed in us, this gift of prophecy helps the church to see Jesus from more than one perspective:

Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

The gift of prophecy for the body of Christ is this revelation ‘unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort’ because it shows that ‘the sum of the Word’ shall never pass away, but it is the only solid foundation of absolute truth of His testimony in us:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Psa 119:160 ASV. The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.

7. Discerning of spirits

Joh 6:63 It is the Spirit that makes alive, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life.

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

There is no other way which God ordained that we can be able to discern spirits, except through theone absolute spirit of truth – ‘the words that I speak’ (written down in the Bible). This spiritual gift is very important if the body wants to function properly. There are many spirits (words and thoughts) that we are exposed to from an early age naturally, but they all must be weighed against the one true spirit – the Word of God. That is why it is extremely important to see whether what people say (if they claim spiritual insight) is found in ‘the sum’ of the Word of God (two or three witnesses at least Mat 18:16) – then we are like the Bereans ‘more noble’:

Act 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

8. Kinds of tongues (languages)

Languages are made up of symbols (called words) which the speakers of a language can comprehend.The first time the gift of languages operated was in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. The languages spoken on that occasion were known languages – not unknown. On this occasion the 120 disciples who were filled with the spirit were all ‘Galilaeans’ and they were caused (by the one spirit of God) to speak in other known languages they never learned naturally. These languages were familiar to the other unbelieving Jews (‘multitude’) from ‘every nation under heaven’ who heard the noise:

Act 2:5-6 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded,because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

The Scriptures actually give us the names of the places from where these other Jews originated:

Act 2:7-12 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue [language],wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues [language] the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

This was done for one purpose: to speak ‘the wonderful works of God’ and this was the ‘sign’ to ‘them that believe not’:

1Co 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Any other motivation for speaking in other languages/symbols when no one understands the language/symbol is not profitable to anyone because nobody can hear ‘the wonderful works of God.’ All scripture is written in another language (the spiritual behind ‘the letter’) that few will understand. By interpreting the “language” or symbols in scripture, we speak clarity and declare the ‘wonderful works of God’ as ‘a sign’ for the unbelievers (and immature spiritual baby). In the mature the Word causes edification, admonition and comfort and that is exactly what the gift of prophecy achieves. That is why Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 encourages prophecy when the body meets. Without prophecy (or interpretation) the speaker of another language is just interested in self-edification:

1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesiethedifieth the church.

Should we be zealous to speak in the spiritual language of Scripture? Yes!

1Co 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

But when the body assembles?

1Co 14:19 (Darby) but in the assembly I desire to speak five words with my understanding, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

9. The interpretation of tongues

There is only one way to interpret truth because God is not a God of confusion. If a language/symbol is not understood at first, then the Scripture allows for ‘two or at most three’ other witnesses to explain the one meaning:

1Co 14:27-28 (MKJV) If one speaks in a language, let it be by two, or at the most three, and in succession. And let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him be silent in a church; and let him speak to himself and to God.

2Co 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

If the person is not clear after this, then the mature should accept (‘soberly’) the measure of faith that God has given to that person for that specific time (ref. Rom 12:3) and show patience.

B: Ministries: (Greek: “diakonia” = attending to others)

Ministries are given to ‘some’ for the perfecting (maturing) of the saints and for the edifying of the body:

Eph 4:11-12 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

1Co 12:28 MKJV. And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

A ministry is given to those who ‘endure afflictions’:

2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

All the lists where ministries are given were written by the apostle Paul. Although they vary, Paul’s purpose, as indicated in the introduction above, was not to focus on lists (or the person who was given the ministry), but onthe interest and health of the spiritual body of Christ and its members.

1Co 12:28 (MKJV) And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages.

The list in 1 Corinthians 12 (verse 28 in this case) will be used again as a base to see how the interest and health of the body is achieved through these ministries. Paul gives a specific order, especially to the first three ministries. Although some view this order only in the historic relevance of God setting up the church in the first century after Christ, this view however cannot fulfil the “is, was and will be” application of God’s Word. All these ministries are very relevant and as important today as they were 2000 years ago. This order rather refers to God setting up an order by which we receive the revelation of Jesus in our lives.

1. Apostles (and prophets) ‘built upon the foundation’ of the gospel of Jesus Christ

Apostles (Greek: “apostolos” = ‘sent one’) are always sent by God to lay the foundational principles for the spiritual household of God in us and joining us with the ‘fellow citizens’ of that household of God:

Eph 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

This foundation is the preaching of the gospel on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ:

Rom 15:19-20 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

There is no other foundation than Jesus Christ:

1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The number 12 (number of the first apostles of Jesus) is also used as the number for foundations, and in this case the foundation for our spiritual life in the resurrected Christ.

2. Prophets

As with the ministry of the apostle, the prophet is also used to lay the foundations of truth in our lives. Prophecy reveals the secrets of our natural hearts as ‘hard’,‘deceitful’ and ‘desperately wicked’:

1Co 14:24-25 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

Initially the heart (of ‘stone’) is evil from birth:

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Through edification, exhortation and comfort of the written Word the prophet speaks to us and reveal the condition of our carnal mind(heart) – the abomination sitting in the temple of God:

1Co 14:3 But he that prophesiethspeaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

A prophet shows us that the things written are all the spiritual commandments of the Lord:

1Co 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

3. Teachers

Teachers are our instructors of the truth of God’s Word. There are some who think that ‘no man can teach you’ negates the teacher as an important ministry in the body. The spiritually blind cannot see that the word ‘man’ refers to carnal men who want to ‘have dominion over’ our faith:

1Jn 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

2Co 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

God gives teachers along with the other ministry roles ‘for the perfecting (maturing) of the saints’, for their work in the ministry to others in the body:

Eph 4:11-12 And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

4. Helps

The Greek word here is “antilepsis” which means “to relief” in this sense:

Rom 16:3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

Aquila and his wife Priscilla are mentioned by Paul as his ‘helpers in Christ Jesus’ and the following passage shed more light on how this couple was ‘helpers in Christ Jesus’:

Act 18:24-28 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man,and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews,and that publicly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

5. Governments

This ministry has to do with steering away from danger (false doctrines) by giving spiritual advice and to provide leadership and guidance. The Greek word in 1 Corinthians 12:28 for governments is “kubernesis” and this is the meaning according to Dr. Strong: “Latin origin, to steer; pilotage, that is (figuratively) directorship (in the church)”. This is where the ministries of elders and deaconsapply:

Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Act 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

6. Works of power, healings and kinds of languages

Although these three were mentioned under the gifts, here it is also included as a ministry.

7. Evangelist

Act 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

This ministry is not in the list of 1 Corinthians 12:28 but appears in the list of Ephesians 4:11. This refers to a person being gifted to proclaim and make clear what the gospel (good tidings) of Jesus Christ is:

1Ti 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1Ti 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

Jesus will save ‘all men’ in their ‘own order’.

1Co 15:22-24 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end (the rest)…

C: Operations: (Greek=energe¯ma=effective)

Note this: before Paul introduces the operations he makes an important point that is missed by many. He asks certain questions of these Corinthian carnal babies concerning the gifts and ministries:

1Co 12:29-31 Are (Greek=“ me¯”) all apostles? Are (“me¯”) all prophets? Are (“me¯”) all teachers? Are (“me¯”) all workers of miracles? Have (“me¯”) all the gifts of healing? do (“me¯”) all speak with tongues? Do (“me¯”) all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Seven consecutive questions starting with the Greek “me¯”. When this word “me¯” is used to introduce a question, it always indicates that a negative answer follows:

Strong’s number G3361µ?´ (me¯) may: A primary particle of qualified negation (whereas G3756 expresses an absolute denial); (adverbially) not, (conjugationally) lest; also (as interrogative implying a negative answer.

One reason for this is that Paul is telling the body that no one individual can possess all of the gifts/ministries. God has placed different members in the body to show all members/people are needed, and God placed the gifts/ministries in different people to force people to come together regularly to get nourishment from one another.

But the other reason why Paul introduces these questions knowing a “no” is the only answer, is because he wanted these babies to concentrate on a ‘more excellent way’. This excellent way is the driving force behind all the gifts and all the ministries:

1Co 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

The following ‘diversities of operations’ of the spirit ‘works all in all’ in the body and that differs from the gifts and the operation which works in ‘one’ or ‘another’ or ‘some’ as pointed out previously:

1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

In Chapter 13 of the first epistle to Corinthians, Paul introduces us to that ‘more excellent way’ and this helps us to understand the‘diversities of operations’ of God’s spirit in the body:

1Co 13:13 (ASV) But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

God works the ‘operations’ according to levels of faith, hope and love in all in the body. The only one that will outdo all is the operation of love in us, because God is love. The body will be perfect and without blemish when it has fulfilled love for God, Jesus and His body by keeping His commandments:

1Co 15:25-28 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in al.

And this is the definition and fulfilment of love:

1Jn 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Love is how the body of Christ is identified (it is the identification document/passport to save the world) and how it is witnessed by the world:

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.1Jn 4:16-17 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

In Conclusion

An important question for members is how to find what your gift/ministry is in the body. You will know when you avail yourself and desire to serve. Others who are longer than you in the faith (‘the presbytery’/elders) will confirm that ‘with the laying on of hands’ to pull you into the body. They will ask you to serve the body in a particular way after they have noticed the gift/ministry God ‘operates’ in and through you ‘by works’, because ‘by works was faith made perfect’:

1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Jas 2:22 Do you see how faith worked with his works, and from the works faith was made complete?

If God has anointed you for a particular role in the body, the evidence will be seen by others. The important aim of this all is the health and the growth of the body of Christ which is each member’s participation in it as the Head, Jesus, and His head, the Father, decide. The body is being perfected to be conformed to be like the Head (to produce the fruit of the Father):

Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The apostle Paul summarizes the purpose for this study about the gifts, ministries and operationsof the spiritual body of Christ in this passage of Scripture:

Rom 12:5-21 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.