Gifts, Ministries and Operations in the body of Christ


The purpose of this study: the interest of building the body of Christ through each member’s place and participation in it!

1Co 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

The focus is Jesus Christ, the Head, and how He organised His multifaceted body to function with one mind now, and in the age to come, to fulfill the Father’s purposes for this creation.

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 divers meanings in Christendom 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. But for those with spiritual eyes to see there is more than meets the physical (eye).

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.

It states clearly here in 1Corinthians that the ONE body is known by the ONE spirit of the Father. Those who drink “into one spirit” of the Father are part of the “one body” of Christ. The one spirit to drink into is the Word and doctrine of Christ:

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 given to His church who is joined in this age by 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.

2Co 13:11  Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Php 1:27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

Php 2:2  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

1Pe 3:8  Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.

The Body of Christ is the spiritual body which is the one undivided church, because there is no schism (divisions) in this body:

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

This is really important to see. The body is known by the same name(s) as that by which the Head is known. The concept of “name” in Scripture relates to doctrine(s), character and functions, to which these verses also allude:

Joh 17:6  I have manifested thy name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

Mat 1:20-21 But while he [Joseph] thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Mat 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Rev 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Rev 17:5-6 And upon her forehead was a name [Greek: “onoma” = authority, character, knowledge, function] written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.  6  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

Here are a few examples of how the character and functions of the Head, Jesus, are also carried through to the body of Christ:

– Jesus is the Saviour/Judge of the world and so is the body prepared for those functions…

1Ti 4:9-10  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.  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.

Act 10:42  And he [Jesus] commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

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.

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.

– Jesus is placed as the high priest over God’s house, and that house is the house of priests, which is His body…

Heb 10:19-21  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,  20  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;  21  And having an high priest over the house of God.

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.

The reason for the body analogy

1Co 12:12-14  For as the body [Greek “soma”] is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body [Greek “soma”], being many, are one body [Greek “soma”]: so also is Christ.  13  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body [Greek “soma”], whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  14  For the body [Greek “soma”] is not one member, but many.

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 word was carefully chosen by the spirit of God when He chose to describe those whom the Father drags to Christ. It is a purpose-filled dragging, not just to belong to a type of social organization. Those dragged to Christ will know that they will serve a function in God’s plan and His order, according to the one doctrine of Christ. God is not of confusion, and the body of Christ reflects God’s order, even as the physical body demonstrates.

1Co 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Jas 3:16 For where envying and strife are, there is confusion and every foul deed.

God is purposeful and organized in what He does. The human body is one of the best analogies to show unity and order and is therefore an excellent metaphor of the church under the Headship of Christ. The body is not an organization (a human creation), but an organism (it is a living thing which produces life) which is orderly organized by the Head. Unity of doctrine and order is of utmost importance. If there is no unity and order, there is confusion, which is not what those in the true church of Christ want to see. This is also why the apostle Paul rebuked the unruly one in the church of Corinth:

2Co 12:20  For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults [confusion].

A person one day remarked concerning order: you get “graveyard-order” and “maternity ward-order”. The first is marked with deadness and silence; the “maternity ward-order” is marked with a lot of noise (almost chaotic with cries and laughter), and very bloody (though very clean and hygienic). The latter type of order is where new life is experienced. God’s “maternity ward” is Jesus Christ and His body. The new spiritual life is what the Lord and His church desire above all. That is the driving force to “built up a spiritual house” as we “present our bodies a living sacrifice” until we are all released from this physical body at the time of “the redemption of the purchased possession” – at the first resurrection when the redeemed of the Lord will receive the fullness of their spiritual inheritance to be the kings and priests of God on this earth (ref. Rom 8:19-39; Rom 12:1; 1Pe 2:5; Eph 1:14).

Rev 20:4-6  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.  5  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.  6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

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) unites all the members in that body. Each member finds its unique function only as the Head determines:

1Co 12:12-13 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. 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.

As 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 character and functions

There are numerous lists in the New Testament whereby the character and different functions in the body of Christ are described. To the church in Rome the apostle Paul gave the following directives, as the spirit of God inspired him to write:

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 Paul said this…

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.

Paul wrote these inspired words to the church at Ephesus from which we can learn so much in terms of the leadership functions in the church and how every member can contribute to that ultimate purpose:

Eph 4:11-16  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

There are similarities and differences in the above mentioned lists. How do we deal with that? To the natural mind this proves a conflict or a contradiction, but the spirit-mind of Christ helps us to add all together. The one list adds to the others and brings a fuller picture to the spiritually discerning reader – “line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there al little”:

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

Isa 28:9-10  Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.  10  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.

These above mentioned lists concerning the body of Christ also do not cover all the different functions that are mentioned in Scriptures which are necessary for a healthy spiritual body.

Functioning in the body of Christ by word or deed

There are many ways in which we serve others – by word and by deed:

1Pe 4:10-11 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister/serve, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

These functions of the spirit of God in the church of Christ have three dimensions which are distinguished in these words:

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 God which works all in all.

These three dimensions are interrelated because of their common origin: they are from the same Lord (the Head, Jesus Christ) who has the same spirit of God, the Father. 

1Co 8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

We know that the spiritual application of God’s Word is of higher and eternal value (John 6:63), but we do not despise the physical application, as it is through the natural that we can enter and then, God willing, grow to the deeper spiritual applications.

Rom 1:20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Paul referred to the disorderly Corinthians as spiritual babies in Christ. They (like all of us at our appointed times) were going through a carnal and physical stage in their spiritual development in the church, and they did not value the spiritual order and growth in faith. After showing them their carnality, Paul shows them how the spiritual application of these functions in the body of Christ should be desired much more. He would not “have them ignorant” of that all-important “more excellent” spiritual application:

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

1Co 12:31 But zealously strive after the better gifts. And yet I show to you a more excellent way.

These gifts and ministries can only fully function when the “more excellent way” of love is adhered to. We are all to “follow after charity (love)”.

1Co 14:1 Follow after charity [love], and desire spiritual [gifts]…

This is how the scriptures define love:

1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

The operation of love makes the body function properly as love is the important ingredient of the gifts and ministries of the spirit of God, which enable the body of Christ to function properly and become a healthy spiritual body.

[Please read the others sections of this study at these links:


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Want let op julle roeping, broeders: julle is nie baie wyse na die vlees nie, nie baie magtiges, nie baie edeles nie; maar wat dwaas is by die wêreld, het God uitverkies om die wyse te beskaam; en wat swak is by die wêreld, het God uitverkies om wat sterk is, te beskaam; en wat onedel is by die wêreld en wat verag is, het God uitverkies, en wat niks is nie, om wat iets is, tot niet te maak, sodat geen vlees voor Hom sou roem nie. (1Kor 1:26-29)
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