Understanding the Spiritual Gifts: A Few Translation Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:1–11

focusFirst Corinthians 12:1–11 is a glorious passage but also intensely debated. As I prepared to preach this passage on Sunday, I found that it is more than the theology that is challenging in these verses; it is also the translation of the text.

What follows are a few notes on what Paul is saying in these verses that help hone in on who he is speaking to and what God is doing. As we will consider this passage again next week, I will try to put up a few more translation notes as we consider this challening passage.

1. The ‘Spiritual Ones’ (v. 1)

The ESV, NASB, NIV, NRSV) all translate πνευματικῶν as “spiritual gifts” in 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1. Others (e.g., CSB), however, have recognized the ambiguity of Paul’s language. While 1 Corinthians 12–14 pertains to spiritual gifts (χάρισμα = 12:4, 9, 28, 30, 31), there is good reason for rendering πνευματικῶν as “spiritual things” or “spiritual persons.” Let’s see why. Continue reading

Bible Arc dot com, a Review and Infomercial

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It was a life-changing revelation to me when I discovered that Paul, for example, did not merely make a collection of divine pronouncements, but that he argued. This meant, for me, a whole new approach to Bible reading. No longer did I just read or memorize verses. I sought also to understand and memorize arguments. This involved finding the main point of each literary unit and then seeing how each proposition fit together to unfold and support the main point. (”Biblical Exegesis: Discovering the Meaning of Scriptural Texts,” pg. 18)

If you are familiar with John Piper’s preaching and method of exegesis, than you are probably familiar with his use of “arcing.”  Piper’s statement above reflects the way he reads the NT epistles, and the benefits of systematically interrogating the argument in each NT letter.  To that end, Pastor Piper has commended Daniel Fuller’s method of Biblical Arcing.  In short, it is an excellent means by which students of the Bible can hone in on the author’s intent.  I bring attention to this exegetical device, because recently, an online web site has been developed for the sole purpose of “arcing” New Testament passages.

Biblearc.com has many strengths.  For starters, it furnishes all the tools necessary to complete the arcing process.  It provides helpful sidebars with navigable widgets and buttons that provide great opportunity to use the arcing nomenclature — which is a little foreign for beginners.  It provides Greek, ESV, NASB, KJV translations, as well as the possibility of providing your own translation.  Moreover, it provides more than 2 hours worth of introduction and training.

Another interesting feature that is forthcoming will be the sharing feature, where completed “Arcs” will be posted, and discussion about their accuracy will be moderated on the website.  This could certainly provide some rich exegetical conversations.

While this method of Bible study is excellent in the dense theological material of Paul’s letters or other New Testament Epistles, it is probably less fruitful for NT narrative passages, or Old Testament literature.  In fact, currently this only works with the New Testament.  Though, even in gospel writing, a device like this still helps us microwave Christians to slow down and let the passage simmer in our minds.  Finally, the point-and-click arcing is more cumbersome than what you would do with paper and ink, but with all the tools in front of you, and with help just a few clicks away, this program looks to be very helpful for the novice “Arcer” (like me), not Archer (like Nimrod). 

In sum, the online capabilities of Bible Arc dot com are really quite impressive.  And for only ten dollars you can setup a yearly account that will save your work and come back to it at a later date.  Additionally, you can print your documents to a PDF file for your own record keeping, and with its note-taking possibilities, Bible Arc dot com provides a great platform for personal Bible study or sermon preparation.

Hats off to all those who created this web gem.  If you are serious about Bible studies, I encourage you to drop the ten bucks and avail yourself of this helpful resource.

(HT: Johnathon Bowers

Sola Deo Gloria, dss