Rom 12: 4-6 Serving in the Body

Jan 10, 2021 // By:Dave // No Comment

this humble (servant oriented) perspective of ourselves sets the stage for the following verses and dovetails nicely with verse 4

4 For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function,

5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.

To offset the danger of individualistic thinking with its resulting danger of pride, Paul refers to the human body—an illustration familiar from its earlier use in 1 Corinthians 12:12

Three truths are set forth: 

  1. unity of the body; 
  2. diversity of its members, with corresponding diversity in function; 
  3. mutuality of the various members—“each member belongs to all the others.”

The third item calls attention to the need of the various parts of the body for each other. They cannot work independently. Furthermore, each member profits from what the other members contribute to the whole. Reflection on these truths reduces preoccupation with one’s own gift and makes room for appreciation of other people and the gifts they exercise.

they overlap, they offer differences

(their interpretation and expression has been a source of difference)


I am not a cessasionist

(I see nothing in scripture to indicate any of the gifts of God have stopped in this dispensation)

a commonly quoted verse to support cessationalism is 1 Cor 13:

  1. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
  2. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
  3. but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

Paul is writing this after Christ has already come, died and resurrected 

(rapture has not occurred yet)


balance is a key to approaching these gifts

balance is an essential to experiencing and expressing these gifts

most understand the idea of personal balance 

(fewer understand balance in the body)

remember the context of the use of these gifts in within (for the benefit) of the body

(use metaphor of strings out of tune on guitar)

gifts (78x)  G5486 (21x)

[NIV Greek]

5922   [5486]   χάρισμα, charisma, n.  [5897]. gracious gift; see also 5921

What is significant about the idea of gift giving in the NT is the sudden and jolting reversal of the flow. Gifts are no longer presents offered by an inferior to a superior. God, the ultimate superior in the universe, is seen giving gifts to humanity. His gifts are freely and spontaneously offered, without reference to the merit of the one who receives and without the intention of later profiting from the transaction. The impact of the NT revelation is its demand that we see God in a new light: God is one who is suddenly presented to us as given.

The teaching of the NT makes it clear that the ultimate gift of God is Jesus himself. All other gifts come to us through the Son. Accepting Jesus, we step into the relationship with God that Paul describes in Ro 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

1Cor. 12:1 ¶ Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be unaware.

πνευματικῶν=pneumaticos = of the Spirit

1Cor. 12:2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.

1Cor. 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

1Cor. 12:4 ¶ Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.

αρισμάτων=charismaton = free gift

1Cor. 12:5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.

διακονιῶν=diakonion = serve

1Cor. 12:6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.

νεργημάτων=energamoton = working, activity (note who does the work)

1Cor. 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

φανέρωσις=phanerosis = disclosure, revelation

Warren Weirsby

“Gifts are tools to build with. Not toys to play with or weapons to fight with”

Signs and wonders followed Christians (the Christians did not follow after signs and wonders)

We are to  seek the giver of the gifts 

(Not the gifts more than the giver)

Gifts vs talents 

Gift cluster like grapes

(Dominant gift, non- dominant)

3 major passages dealing with gifts of the Spirit in the NT

Rom 12

  • exhortation
  • giving
  • leadership
  • mercy
  • prophecy
  • service
  • teaching

1 Cor 12

  • administration
  • apostle
  • discernment
  • faith
  • healings
  • helps
  • knowledge
  • miracles
  • prophecy
  • teaching
  • tongues
  • tongues interpretation
  • wisdom

Eph 4

  • apostle
  • evangelism
  • pastor
  • prophecy
  • teaching

Other gifts from Misc passages:

CELIBACY: 1 Cor. 7:7,8

HOSPITALITY: 1 Pet. 4:9,10

MARTYRDOM: 1 Cor. 13:3

MISSIONARY: Eph. 3:6-8



6 However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith;

prophecy (21x)  G4394 (19x)

[NIV Greek]

4735   [4394]   προφητεία, prophēteia, n.  an inspired message, 

[Bible Words]


We often associate the biblical prophet with sweeping visions of the distant future. But to fasten only on this feature of biblical prophecy is to miss much of the message that biblical prophecy has for us today.

OT 1. The Hebrew terms

2. The role of the prophet in Israel

3. Predictive prophecy

NT 4. The Greek terms

5. The role of the prophet in the NT church

6. Predictive prophecy in the NT

7. Conclusions

OT — 1. The Hebrew terms.  The basic word for “prophet” in the OT is nabi‘, which means “spokesman” or “speaker.” Essentially a prophet is a person authorized to speak for another, as Moses (Ex 7:1-2; Nu 12:1-8) and the OT prophets were authorized to speak for God. Two other words to designate OT prophets are hozeh and  ro‘eh (both meaning “seer”). In fact, Gad is called both nabi‘ and hozeh (2 Sa 24:15). At times, prophets are called messengers ( mal‘ak, also translated “angel”) and men of God. The message of the prophet may be called a prophecy (nebu‘ah), but it may also be called a vision, oracle, burden, or simply “the word of the LORD.”

Each of these OT terms invites us to look at an important aspect of OT faith and life and the unique gift of the prophetic office that God gave to his people.

2. The role of the prophet in Israel.  Moses is the prime OT prophet. He was called by God to lead Israel from Egypt and as God’s spokesman to communicate the law that was to govern Israel’s lifestyle. God warned Israel not to turn to the occult sources consulted by pagan nations (Dt 18:9-13). He promised to send his own spokesmen to Israel, spokesmen who would meet certain tests. Each prophet (1) would be an Israelite (Dt 18:15), (2) would speak in the name of the Lord (vv. 20-22), (3) would be authenticated by predictions that came true (v. 22), and (4) would deliver a message in harmony with written revelation (Dt 13:1-5). Anyone claiming to have a message from God but not meeting these tests was a false prophet and could be safely ignored (Dt 18:22).

There is a critical thought in this passage. God promised to provide through his prophets the supernatural guidance his people would need. The prophetic movement was significant in Israel’s history until the end of OT revelation (about 400 B.C.).

Women (Ex 15:20; Jdg 4:4; 2 Ki 22:14; 2 Ch 34:22; Ne 6:14) as well as men might serve as God’s spokespersons. But this role, unlike kingship and priesthood, was not hereditary. Instead, God called individuals from every walk of life to bring his message to his people. Nor was the message of the prophets primarily predictive. God’s messengers spoke whatever word was needed by the Lord’s people at their moment in history. Often the message of the prophets was moral—a call to Israel to return to the holy ways established in God’s law. But a prophet might deliver a simple message, even one concerning the location of lost donkeys (1 Sa 9:6-10). Most often the prophets ministered to the spiritual and political leaders of God’s people, but they also preached powerfully to the citizenry. Thus, the prophets were a voice offering guidance and calling Israel to live more in line with God’s Word.

While Israel seldom heeded the prophetic word, references to “sons of the prophets” may suggest that some prophets attracted followers or trained others to carry on their work.

3. Predictive prophecy.  The primary ministry of the OT prophet was to the people of his own time. The predictive gift was used to declare what would happen in the near future and thus to authenticate a prophet’s claim to speak in the name of the Lord (e.g., Isa 38:4-8; Jer 28:1-17).

But the prophets whose written works are found in the OT also looked beyond their contemporary situation to deliver messages that unveiled God’s yet-future purposes—often those of the distant future. Through Isaiah, God made these sweeping assertions: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isa 46:9-10).

God alone not only knows the future but is all-powerful, able to bring to pass what he announces beforehand. Thus, he says, “What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do” (Isa 46:11).

These and other passages link predictive prophecy (making known “the end from the beginning”) with the divine purpose. We need to note several features of those predictions that outline beforehand what God purposes to bring to pass.

Interpreting predictive prophecy.  A number of features make interpretation of predictive prophecy difficult. First, prophecy is often rich in figurative language. The images used may make it difficult to provide a literal interpretation. Second, prophecy is often fragmentary. Some details are given, but the complete situation is not sketched. Thus, relating details to one another without a future-history context may lead to differences in interpretation. Third, prophecy may have multiple references. That is, instead of focusing on a single event, a prophetic passage may focus on a series of events or on several events culminating in an end-time repetition.

These, plus other features of prophecy, such as its sometimes conditional nature, make it difficult to order chronologically the future that the OT unveils. Major elements in God’s plan are clear, but the details and timing often escape us.

Examining fulfilled prophecy.  Despite the difficulties one may face in interpreting yet-unfulfilled prophecy, we have fulfilled prophecy as a model. The most striking feature of fulfilled prophecy is its concrete, literal nature. Fulfilled prophecy may cover sweeping historical events, as do the prophecies of Daniel. Or it may be detailed, as are many prophecies about Jesus. Hundreds of years in advance, the OT foretold Jesus’ birth from David’s line (Isa 9:6-7; 11:1), the virgin birth (Isa 7:14) in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), and the early years in Galilee at Nazareth (Isa 9:1-2; 11:1). Many prophecies focus on Jesus’ death. He died with criminals (Isa 53:9,12) but was buried with the rich (Isa 53:9). He was offered vinegar on the cross (Ps 69:21) while soldiers gambled for his clothing (Ps 22:18). His dying words are prerecorded (Ps 22:1; 31:5); and Scripture clearly stated that though his side would be pierced (Zec 12:10), none of his bones would be broken (Ps 34:20).

As we look back on the events of Christ’s life and death, we are stunned by the accuracy of these scattered prophecies. But no one looking ahead could have known with certainty how what was foretold would fit together.

The great array of fulfilled Bible prophecies fills us with confidence that God surely will bring all that he has announced to pass. All will be fulfilled—literally. But to understand yet-unfulfilled prophecy we must await history’s unfolding.

The future portrayed in unfulfilled prophecy.  While details remain uncertain, there are multiple passages that attest the future the OT prophets announced. Briefly, that future includes (1) world-wide tribulation, including a great conflict, and (2) the establishment of a glorious kingdom by God’s intervention—a kingdom established on the new earth and marked by righteousness and peace. According to the premillennial view, it also includes a final gathering of Israel to her land at history’s end.

We may be uncertain as to how God will order history to accomplish his announced purposes. But these themes are so often repeated in the OT that, on the basis of the model of fulfilled prophecy, we must believe that these things will happen.

NT — 4. The Greek terms.  The Greek word  prophetes (“prophet”) is the only word the NT uses to translate the Hebrew nabi‘. Related NT words are propheteuo (“to prophesy”), prophetis  (“prophetess”), and propheteia (“prophetic saying, gift, or activity”).

In the NT, the appellation “prophet” is applied to OT prophets, to John the Baptist, to Jesus, and also to Christian prophets in the early church. Our primary difficulty in interpretation focuses on the meaning of “prophet” when applied to persons in the early church. John is clearly in the tradition of the OT’s great spokesmen for God, as he warns Israel and calls for moral and spiritual reformation. Jesus served this same function when he announced previously hidden truth about God’s purposes. But we are uncertain about the prophets of Acts and the Epistles.

5. The role of the prophet in the NT church.  Many hold that prophecy in the early church is parallel to that in the OT. Individuals moved by the Spirit delivered special messages to God’s people. Agabus warned Paul what would happen to him when he reached Jerusalem (Ac 21:10-11). The same man, with other prophets, foretold a famine, leading foreign churches to raise funds for believers in Jerusalem (Ac 11:27-30). Prophets who were church leaders set Paul and Barnabas apart for missionary service (Ac 13:1-3). Clearly these individuals were channels through whom the Holy Spirit spoke, and the validity of their message was recognized by the young Christian community.

Prophets are gifted individuals within the church (1 Co 12), and 1 Co 14:29-39 sets down principles for the exercise of the prophetic gift in church meetings. The nature of the prophetic utterance of 1 Co 14 is disputed. Some believe it is a continuation of the OT prophetic ministry. Others see it as proclamation—as an individual stood to teach some passage of Scripture. It is believed by some that, with the completion of the canon of Scripture, special prophetic messages ceased in the church. The Holy Spirit continues to guide, but not by means of prophets. Yet certainly in the church of the first century the prophet, however his ministry should be understood, did have a significant role (1 Co 12,14; Eph 4:11). Certainly the problem of false prophets (e.g., 2 Pe 2:1; 1 Jn 4:1) testifies to the reliance of early Christians on persons claiming this gift or office.

6. Predictive prophecy in the NT.  The Gospels and the Epistles contain portraits of the future. NT predictions about the future bear the general characteristics of OT predictions. They are incomplete, being indefinite concerning times and sequences. Major features of NT predictive prophecy include warnings of a time of tribulation (Mt 24) and promises of Jesus’ personal return to earth (1 Th 4), his rule over the earth (Rev 20:1-6), and a new creation (2 Pe 3; Rev 21) after final judgment. There is no essential conflict between NT and OT visions of the future, though how the details fit together is debated by students of prophecy.

7. Conclusions.  Prophets, both those of the OT and the NT, were spokesmen for God to their own generation. Today, they minister to us in two ways. First, they call us to that same holy and righteous life to which they called their contemporaries. Second, they portray a future determined by God’s plans and purposes. We can be sure that history is not careening out of control. History marches toward a divine denouement, an ending that will give all that has happened meaning and purpose.

The question of whether or not there are modern-day prophets is a debatable one. But one thing is sure: God does not leave us without guidance. We have his Word, his Spirit, and his people to show us his way. With or without prophets, God directs us when we commit our lives to him. (See Lead/Guide)

I have found myself speaking on God’s behalf to someone more than once in the past (rather like relaying a message)

It’s not teaching a verse, we have a word for that called teaching

It’s a message from God for a person or group of persons

Ever find yourself speaking and discover then or later that it wasn’t fully you who was speaking (or perhaps it was like “what did I say?”)

Perhaps writing a letter to someone to life them up and encourage them and the letter takes on a life of its own and it feels like you are merely taking dictation)


  1. unity of the body;
  2. diversity of its members, with corresponding diversity in function;
  3. mutuality of the various members—“each member belongs to all the others.”

if a “gift” is not being used according to scripture, stop.

if a “gift” is being used for self glorification, stop.


if you would like to take a spiritual gifts survey to see what gifts God might want to use in you, click here.
(remember, He gives gifts to every one of us so that we can bless the body of Christ with His power)


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