Next, Paul counsels the church members in Corinth against “ignorance” (vs. 1). This brings to mind C.S. Lewis’ statement in his book, Mere Christianity, where he reminds believers about the principle of prudence:
Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the “virtues.” In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are “good,” it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of “prudence” about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only “as harmless doves,” but also “as wise as serpents.” He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert. . . . Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened (pp. 77-78).
Thus spiritual gifts, as illustrated in this passage of Corinthians should lead to the Christian virtue of prudence and using good common sense.
Another important problem that was troubling these believers is that some claiming to be speaking by the Spirit of God were calling Jesus accursed, or who were cursing Jesus (v. 3). For many years I have wondered about the practical meaning of this text and Paul’s advice against such people . Theologian Bruce Winter has discovered at least 27 ancient “curse” tablets. Putting it in a more practical way, Paul was warning early Christian believers not to ask Jesus to curse a rival. Christian fellowship should lead to a closer unity, not spiritual abuse whereby church members use Jesus and Christian theology to harm one another.
Paul also reminds believers about the diversity of spiritual gifts that are made possible through the Holy Spirit (vs. 4-11). Together these lead to the famous passage comparing spiritual gifts to the human body (vs. 12-31). As a result “there should be no schism (divisions) in the body” because believers should care for each other (vs. 25). Recognizing that we each have unique spiritual gifts, along with our need to bring out the best in our fellow brothers and sisters, this is truly is “a more excellent way” (vs. 31). As a result we learn to become more “loving and lovable Christians” (Ministry of Healing, p. 470).
Michael W. Campbell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Historical/Theological Studies
Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies