The Criterion (12:1–3)
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12 1 1 Corinthians 12:1-3 The Criterion Now concerning spiritual gifts,1 brothers, I would not have you ignorant. 2/ You know that. while you were still paganshow you were drawn to dumb idols and carried away.2 3 I Therefore I inform you that no one who speaks in the Spirit of God says: '.'Jesus is accursed!" and that no one can say: "Jesus is Lordi" except in the Holy Spirit. Community, Divine Service, and the Spirit, Chapters 12-14 • 1 The new topic, 3 once again introduced in the style of an answer to questions (7rEpL, "concerning"), embraces chaps. 12-14. They provide a richer insight into community life than any other passage in the New Testament , and especially into the busy life ofdivine worship in Corinth. They confirm the picture that can be gathered from other parts of the epistle, the picture of the enthusiasm4 prevailing there, and they provide impressive evidence, on the other hand, of the thoroughgoing uniformity of the theological criticism of Paul, who here, too, practices his eschatological proviso (see above all the ecstatic phenomena really are expressions of the Spirit. The designation of them as 1riiEVJ.LaTLKIL is not criticized, 7 though it is certainly theologically transcended and thereby corrected. The Spirit is for him, too, a supernatural power that gives rise to "un-normal" effects. In the conception ofthe Spirit they are at one. The point at issue is the theological existence of believers, their concrete determination by the Spirit. Paul raises the discussion to the level of theology. With the acclamation ofthe KVpLos, "Lord," the objective event ofsalvation and the community are both taken into the criteria. 8 With a powerful touch ofstyle, in chiastically modified parallelism, Paul sets the possibility wrought by the Spirit, the possibility ofcalling upon the Lord, over against the Spirit-less impossibility: the Spirit (who of course is the "Spirit ofthe Lord," 2 Cor 3: 17) cannot contradict himself. He cannot curse Jesus. ava8EJ.La9 'l'17uovs, "Jesus is accursed," is an ad hoc construction on Paul's part to form an antithesis to KVpLOS 'l'17uovs, on chap. 13), without yet making eschatology his explicit theme. The precise content of the enquiry from Corinth is unknown to us. 5 The genitive 1riiEVJ.LaTLKWII, "spiritual," is to be taken in a neuter, not in a masculine sense ("spiritual gifts," not "spiritual people"); this is clear from 14:1 and from the interchange with xapLUJ.LaTa. 6 Paul is in agreement with the Corinthians on the point that 204 2 3 4 5 6 7 In itself, the translation "spiritual people," "men of the Spirit," is also possible, cf. 2: 15; 3:1; 14:37. Yet despite 14:37 the theme is not types of men but gifts. Ifwe read ws c'iv ~'YECTIIE, then it is best (with Lietzmann ) to take ws, "how," as a repetition of on, "that" (Heinrici: "incorrect, but forceful"). The interpretation of thews-clause as an intermediate clause is not so good: "that, even as you were always drawn to dumb idols, you were carried away," taking the auxiliary ~TE with a:tra-yop.EPOt. WS iiv: augmented tenses of the indicative with iiv in an iterative sense is Hellenistic usage; Blass-Debrunner §367. Another possibility is to read ws aP~'YECTIIE (Weiss). Literature: Bauer, s.vv. 71'PEVJ.L«TtKOS, xaptcrp.a. This consists not in the emergence of ecstasy, but in the way it is pursued and turned into self-edification and freedom demonstrations. Did it refer to the order of precedence among the phenomena, more particularly between speaking with tongues and prophecy? Sec on chap. 14. Neuter: 9:11; 15:46. On the contrary, it would have been from Paul that the Corinthians learned this designation for the ecstatic phenomena, as indeed it was presumably he, too, who kindled the whole pneumatism: 14:18; 1 Thcss 5: 19f. 8 In keeping with this is the introduction in the sequel of the word xaptcrp.a, and of the aspect ofolKOOOJ.L~, "upbuilding" (which in chap. 14 determines the scale of values), as also the fact that "profane" acts of service for the community arc taken up into the gifts of the Spirit. 9 avalltp.a (classical avall,p.a), "oblation," serves in the LXX to render C"'JIJ, that which is "delivered up to God," consecrated or accursed. In the negative sense, Num 21:3, etc. The only cxtrabiblical example for this meaning is on an imprecation...