When the ekklesia gathers together holding fast to Jesus as Head, fellowshipping both with Him and His body by putting into practice the one anothers, Christ’s participation in our fellowship is the giving of gifts to each member through the work of His Spirit.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Rom 12:4-8 ESV)
When the ekklesia gathers together, each member is to put into practice his or her spiritual gifting. Paul lists prophesying, serving, teaching, exhorting, contributing, leading, performing acts of mercy (giving aid to the afflicted). This list is not exhaustive, for Paul’s listings of gifts in various passages are not identical. Paul is expressing a variety of functions that members of the ekklesia can perform while holding fast to Jesus as head, fellowshipping with one another.
Paul also writes to the Corinthians about the gifts of the Spirit:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. … All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1Co 12:4-7, 11 ESV)
Paul’s list of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 includes wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation. This list is very different from his list in Romans 12. The list in Romans 12 seems to be much more functional in the big picture of daily living; Paul’s writing to the Corinthians appears to be more focused on specific aspects of their meetings.
Christ gives gifts to men to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up His body:
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” … And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (Eph 4:7-8, 11 ESV)
These three passages (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph.4) are the primary passages in the New Testament regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit. All three of these passages have something else in common. The context for all three of these passages is body unity!
Use of the term ‘body’ is in reference to its having a head. ‘Unity’ describes relationships that abide in oneness. ‘Body unity’ is a conglomeration of headship, fellowship, and one anothering.
BODY = keeping Jesus as Head
UNITY = in fellowship with one another
Observe the structure of the following passages, how spiritual gifts, body unity, and one anothering are interconnected:
|Romans 12:4-5||Body unity|
|Romans 12:6-8||Spiritual gifts|
|Romans 12:9-13||One anothering|
|1 Corinthians 12:4-11||Spiritual gifts|
|1 Corinthians 12:12-27||Body unity|
|1 Corinthians 12:28-31||Spiritual gifts|
|1 Corinthians 13||One anothering (love)|
|1 Corinthians 14||Spiritual gifts|
|Ephesians 4:1-6||Body unity|
|Ephesians 4:7-11||Spiritual gifts|
|Ephesians 4:12-16||Body growth as a result of the gifts|
|Ephesians 4:17-24||(putting off the old)|
|Ephesians 4:25-5:1||One anothering (amidst other instructions & warnings|
Each of the three passages regarding the giving of spiritual gifts are within the context of body unity, how each member functions differently but all members function together for unity and growth of the whole body.
Unity and growth of the body result from gathering together keeping Jesus as head, functioning with one another according to how each member has been gifted, and in so doing we have fellowship with one another which is an extension of our fellowship with God.
Peter also briefly mentions gifts, and even in that concise two-verse passage he draws out the need to use our gifting for the benefit of “one another”:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1Pe 4:10-11a ESV)
May we seek the fellowship that is found by holding fast to Jesus as our head, who fills us in Him, uniting us as His body, and allows each member to utilize his or her gifting by the Spirit so that we may serve one another and glorify God.