Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT


vers 1.
Spiritual gifts. The charismata, or special endowments of supernatural energy, such as prophecy and speaking with tongues.

"Before this consciousness of a higher power than their own, the ordinary and natural faculties of the human mind seemed to retire, to make way for loftier aspirations, more immediate intimations of the divine will, more visible manifestations of the divine power.... It resembled in some degree the inspiration of the Jewish judges, psalmists, and prophets; it may be illustrated by the ecstasies and visions of prophets in all religions; but in its energy and universality it was peculiar to the christian society of the apostolic age" (Stanley).

vers 2.
Ye were carried away (apagomenoi). Blindly hurried. Rev., led.

Dumb idols. Compare Psalm cxv. 5, 7. And Milton:

"The oracles are dumb, No voice or hideous hum Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving." "Hymn on the Nativity"

The contrast is implied with the living vocal spirit, which dwells and works in Christ's people, and responds to their prayers.

Even as ye were led (wv an hgesqe). Rev., howsoever ye might be led. Better, Ellicott: "As from time to time ye might be led. The imperfect tense with the indefinite particle signifies habitually, whenever the occasion might arise. Compare Greek of Mark vi. 56. "Now the fatal storm carried the blinded gentile, with a whole procession, to the temple of Jupiter; again it was to the altars of Mars or Venus, always to give them over to one or other of their deified passions" (Godet).

vers 3.
Calleth Jesus accursed (legei Anaqema Ihsouv). Lit., saith Anathema Jesus. Rev., preserving the formula, saith Jesus is Anathema. Compare Acts xviii. 6, and see on offerings, Luke xxi. 5. Paul uses only the form ajnaqema, and always in the sense of accursed.

vers 4.
Diversities (diaireseiv). Only here in the New Testament. It may also be rendered distributions. There is no objection to combining both meanings, a distribution of gifts implying a diversity. Ver. 11, however, seems to favor distributions.

Gifts (carismatwn). See on Rom. i. 11.

Administrations (diakoniwn). Rev., better, ministrations. Compare Eph. iv. 12. In the New Testament commonly of spiritual service of an official character. See Acts i. 25; vi. 4; xx. 24; Rom. xi. 13; 1 Timothy i. 12; and on minister, Matt. xx. 26.

vers 6.
Operations (energhmata). Rev., workings. Outward manifestations and results of spiritual gifts. The kindred word ejnergeia energy is used only by Paul: and only of superhuman good or evil. Compare Ephesians i. 19; iii. 7; Col. ii. 12. See on Mark vi. 14.

Worketh (energwn). Etymologically akin to operations. See on Mark vi. 14; Jas. v. 16.

All (ta panta). Or them all. The article shows that they are regarded collectively.

vers 9.
Faith. Not saving faith in general, which is the common endowment of all Christians, but wonder-working faith.

vers 10.
Prophecy. Not mere foretelling of the future. Quite probably very little of this element is contemplated; but utterance under immediate divine inspiration: delivering inspired exhortations, instructions, or warnings. See on prophet, Luke vii. 26. The fact of direct inspiration distinguished prophecy from "teaching."

Discerning of spirits. Rev., correctly, discernings. Distinguishing between the different prophetic utterances, whether they proceed from true or false spirits. See 1 Tim. iv. 1; 1 John iv. 1, 2.

Divers kinds of tongues (genh glwsswn).

I. PASSAGES RELATING TO THE GIFT OF TONGUES. Mark xvi. 17; Acts ii. 3-21; x. 46; xix. 6; 1 Cor. xii. 10, 28; xiii. 1; 14. Possibly Eph. v. 18; 1 Pet. iv. 11.

II. TERMS EMPLOYED. New tongues (Mark xvi. 17): other or different tongues (eterai, Acts ii. 4): kinds (genh) of tongues (1 Corinthians xii. 10): simply tongues or tongue (glwssai glwssa, 1 Corinthians 14.): to speak with tongues or a tongue (glwssaiv or glwssh lalein, Acts ii. 4; x. 46; xix. 6; 1 Cor. xiv. 2, 4, 13, 14, 19, 27): to pray in a tongue (proseucesqai glwssh, 1 Cor. xiv. 14, 15), equivalent to praying in the spirit as distinguished from praying with the understanding: tongues of men and angels (1 Corinthians xiii. 1).


(1.) The first recorded bestowment of the gift was at Pentecost (Acts 2.). The question arises whether the speakers were miraculously endowed to speak with other tongues, or whether the Spirit interpreted the apostle's words to each in his own tongue.

Probably the latter was the case, since there is no subsequent notice of the apostles preaching in foreign tongues; there is no allusion to foreign tongues by Peter, nor by Joel, whom he quotes. This fact, moreover, would go to explain the opposite effects on the hearers.

(2.) Under the power of the Spirit, the company addressed by Peter in the house of Cornelius at Caesarea spake with tongues. Acts x. 44-46.

(3.) Certain disciples at Ephesus, who received the Holy Spirit in the laying on of Paul's hands, spake with tongues and prophesied, Acts xix. 6.

IV. MEANING OF THE TERM "TONGUE." The various explanations are: the tongue alone, inarticulately: rare, provincial, poetic, or archaic words: language or dialect. The last is the correct definition. It does not necessarily mean any of the known languages of men, but may mean the speaker's own tongue, shaped in a peculiar manner by the Spirit's influence; or an entirely new spiritual language.


(1.) The gift itself was identical with that at Pentecost, at Caesarea, and at Ephesus, but differed in its manifestations, in that it required an interpreter. 1 Cor. xii. 10, 30; xiv. 5, 13, 26, 27. (2.) It was closely connected with prophesying: 1 Cor. xiv. 1-6, 22, 25; Acts ii. 16-18; xix. 6. Compare 1 Thess. v. 19, 20. It was distinguished from prophesying as an inferior gift, 1 Corinthians xiv. 4, 5; and as consisting in expressions of praise or devotion rather than of exhortation, warning, or prediction, 1 Corinthians xiv. 14-16.

(3.) It was an ecstatic utterance, unintelligible to the hearers, and requiring interpretation, or a corresponding ecstatic condition on the part of the hearer in order to understand it. It was not for the edification of the hearer but of the speaker, and even the speaker did not always understand it, 1 Cor. xiv. 2, 19. It therefore impressed unchristian bystanders as a barbarous utterance, the effect of madness or drunkenness, Acts ii. 13, 15; 1 Corinthians xiv. 11, 23. Hence it is distinguished from the utterance of the understanding, 1 Cor. xiv. 4, 14-16, 19, 27.

VI. PAULíS ESTIMATE OF THE GIFT. He himself was a master of the gift (1 Cor. xiv. 18), but he assigned it an inferior position (1 Corinthians xiv. 4, 5), and distinctly gave prophesying and speaking with the understanding the preference (1 Cor. xiv. 2, 3, 5, 19, 22).VII. RESULTS AND PERMANENCE. Being recognized distinctly as a gift of the Spirit, it must be inferred that it contributed in some way to the edification of the Church; but it led to occasional disorderly outbreaks (1 Cor. xiv. 9, 11, 17, 20-23, 26-28, 33, 40). As a fact it soon passed away from the Church. It is not mentioned in the Catholic or Pastoral Epistles. A few allusions to it occur in the writings of the fathers of the second century. Ecstatic conditions and manifestations marked the Montanists at the close of the second century, and an account of such a case, in which a woman was the subject, is given by Tertullian. Similar phenomena have emerged at intervals in various sects, at times of great religious excitement, as among the Camisards in France, the early Quakers and Methodists, and especially the Irvingites.121

vers 13.
Made to drink (epotisqhmen). The verb means originally to give to drink, from which comes the sense of to water or irrigate. The former is invariably the sense in the gospels and Revelation; the latter in 1 Corinthians iii. 6-8, and by some here. The reference is to the reception of the Spirit in baptism. Omit into before one Spirit.

vers 14.
The body. The student will naturally recall the fable of the body and the members uttered by Menenius Agrippa, and related by Livy, ii., 32; but the illustration seems to have been a favorite one, and occurs in Seneca, Marcus Antoninus, and others.122

vers 18.
Set (eqeto). See on John xv. 16, where the same word is used by Christ of appointing His followers.

vers 22.
Seem to be (dokounta - uparcein). The allusion is probably to those which seem to be weaker in their original structure, naturally. This may be indicated by the use of uJparcein to be (see on Jas. ii. 15); compare einai to be, in ver. 23. Others explain of those which on occasion seem to be weaker, as when a member is diseased.

vers 23.
We bestow (peritiqemen). Elsewhere in the New Testament the word is used, without exception, of encircling with something; either putting on clothing, as Matt. xxvii. 28; or surrounding with a fence, as Matt. xxi. 33; or of the sponge placed round the reed, as Mark xv. 36; John xix. 29. So evidently here. Rev., in margin, put on. The more abundant honor is shown by the care in clothing.

Uncomely - comeliness (aschmona - euschmosunhn). See on honorable, Mark xv. 43; shame, Apoc. xvi. 15. Compare ajschmonein behaveth uncomely, ch. vii. 36. The comeliness is outward, as is shown by the verb we put on, and by the compounds of ochma fashion. See on transfigured, Matt. xvii. 2.

vers 24.
Tempered together (sunekrasen). Only here and Heb. iv. 2. Lit., mixed together. Here the idea of mutual adjustment is added to that of mingling. Compare Plato on God's creating the soul and body. "He made her out of the following elements, and on this manner. Of the unchangeable and indivisible, and also of the divisible and corporeal He made (xunekerasato compounded) a third sort of intermediate essence, partaking of the same and of the other, or diverse" (see the whole passage, "Timaeus," 35).

vers 26.
Suffer with it. Compare Plutarch of Solon's Laws: "If any one was beaten or maimed or suffered any violence, any man that would and was able might prosecute the wrongdoer; intending by this to accustom the citizens, like members of the same body, to resent and be sensible of one another's injuries" (Solon). And Plato: "As in the body, when but a finger is hurt, the whole frame, drawn towards the soul and forming one realm under the ruling power therein, feels the hurt and sympathizes all together with the part affected" ("Republic," v., 462).

Is honored (doxazetai). Or glorified. Receives anything which contributes to its soundness or comeliness. So Chrysostom: "The head is crowned, and all the members have a share in the honor; the eyes laugh when the mouth speaks."

vers 27.
In particular (ek merouv). Rev., better, severally. Each according to his own place and function. See on part, Rom. xi. 25.

vers 28.
Hath set (eqeto). See on ver. 18. The middle voice implies for His own use.

Miracles. Note the change from endowed persons to abstract gifts, and compare the reverse order, Rom. xii. 6-8.

Helps (antilhmyeiv). Rendered to the poor and sick as by the deacons. See on hath holpen, Luke i. 54.

Governments (kubernhseiv). Only here in the New Testament. From kubernaw to steer. The kindred kubernhthv shipmaster or steersman, occurs Acts xxvii. 11; Apoc. xviii. 17. Referring probably to administrators of church government, as presbyters. The marginal wise counsels (Rev.) is based on Septuagint usage, as Prov. i. 5; xx. 21. Compare Proverbs xi. 14; xxiv. 6. Ignatius, in his letter to Polycarp says: "The occasion demands thee, as pilots (kubernhtai) the winds." The reading is disputed, but the sense seems to be that the crisis demands Polycarp as a pilot. Lightfoot says that this is the earliest example of a simile which was afterward used largely by christian writers - the comparison of the Church to a ship. Hippolytus represents the mast as the cross; the two rudders the two covenants; the undergirding ropes the love of Christ. The ship is one of the ornaments which Clement of Alexandria allows a Christian to wear ("Apostolic Fathers," Part ii., Ignatius to Polycarp, 2.).

vers 31.
The best (ta kreittona). The correct reading is ta meizona the greater. So Rev.

Yet (eti). Some construe with more excellent, rendering yet more excellent. So Rev. Others render moreover, and give the succeeding words a superlative force: "and moreover a most excellent way," etc. See on with excellency, ch. ii. 1.

Way. To attain the higher gifts. The way of love as described in ch. 13. "Love is the fairest and best in himself, and the cause of what is fairest and best in all other things" (Plato, "Symposium," 197).

- Main Index

Home | About LW | Site Map | LW Publications | Search
Developed by © Levend Water All rights reserved