1 Corinthians 12:28 "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues."
28And God has appointed these in the church:
Paul listed some kinds of gifts in verse 28 that are different than he listed in verses eight through 10. This is a selective, not an exhaustive, list.
God “appointed” these gifts in the church. The idea is that He placed or set these gifts officially in the church.
Notice the ranking of these gifts with the words “first,” “second,” “third,” and “after that.” The point is not that some gifts have more vital functions to execute than others but that some gifts are more important in terms of leadership. The first three gifts are ranked, and “after that” are gifts without rank.
The word “apostle” means to send out. This is by far the most important gift to the church and carries the most authority of any gift. The apostle had the authority to found the church and write Scripture (the New Testament). Apostles demonstrated their authority by “signs and wonders” (2 Co 12:12).
2 Co 12: 12Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.
The gift of apostleship passed with the writing of the New Testament for apostles must witness the resurrected person of Christ (Mark 3:13; Acts 1:22-24). Paul witnessed the resurrected Christ (Ro 1:1; Ga 1:15-17; chapter 2). We have missionaries who break frontiers for the gospel but they are not technically apostles. There is no record of the term “apostle” after Acts 16:4. Nor is there any New Testament record of an apostle replaced by another apostle when he died. The New Testament uses “apostle” in a less technical sense for Barnabas (Ac 14:4), Silas and Timothy (1 Th 2:6), and others (Ro 16:7; 2 Co 8:23; Ph 2:25).
“Prophets” were spokesmen and spokeswomen of God. They were conduits of revelation from God to man. God gave some of them the right to write the Bible. Some merely expounded Scripture. They were forth-tellers rather than fore-tellers. They were second in rank to an apostle. Apostles judged their message (1 Co 14:37). This office in its official sense ceased with the writing of the New Testament. Once God laid the foundation of the church, there was no need for a prophet. God established the church on apostles and prophets:
Ep 2: 20 …having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
“Teachers” expounded the Bible. This gift may be broader than the gift of pastor/teacher (Ac 13:1; Ep 4:11). This is the third ranked gift and the highest ranked gift extant today and carries with it great authority.
after that miracles,
The person with the gift of “miracles” gave spectacular evidence that God’s message was true. The gift of miracles is a sign gift.
then gifts of healings,
The “gifts of healings” is sign gift. A sign gift pointed to the authenticity of a message. Once God authenticated the message, the gift passed from the scene.
The gift of “helps” was a supernatural capacity to assist or support others in ministry. It may be the same gift of “serving” in Romans 12:7. The word “helps” means to take the burden off others and place it on self. This is not a showy but an essential gift for the church. It does not function in the limelight but in the background.
The gift of “administrations” directed and managed people within the local church. The word “administrations” is a naval metaphor and literally means to steer, pilot a ship (Acts 27:11). This person keeps the ship of the church on its course.
varieties of tongues.
The gift of “tongues” is the ability to speak in foreign languages without studying for them. This was especially helpful in reaching those who did not speak Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. This gift was also a sign gift.
PRINCIPLE: God designed all gifts for all Christians to serve others.
APPLICATION: Someone may say, “I am an inactive Christian.” There is no such thing. That is like saying, “I am an honest thief” or “I am a godly prostitute.” An inactive Christian is a paradox in terms. No Christian is without a special, supernatural gift from God. Inactive Christians are about as good as a bump on a pickle. There is no such animal as an inactive Christian biblically.