Why does Paul deal with the gifts immediately after speaking about the Lord’s supper? Apparently there is no connection between the Lord’s supper and the gifts. Many readers of the Bible have found it difficult to understand why Paul deals first with the Lord’s supper and then with the gifts. If we would understand the connection between these two matters, we must see that they are related to God’s administration. The divine administration is the secret to the five problems covered in the last six chapters of 1 Corinthians. Therefore, if we see that this section of the book is concerned with things in the realm of the divine administration, we shall have the key to understanding these chapters.
The first matter covered in this section is head covering, which is related to headship. Headship is the first item in God’s administration. Just as head covering is related to the headship, so the Lord’s supper is related to the Body. The Body is the means by which God carries out His administration. Without the Body, the Head cannot accomplish anything on earth for the carrying out of God’s administration.
Now we must go on to see that with the Body there is the need of the different functions. If my physical body did not have any functions, the body would not be able to do anything. However, in every member of my body there is a function. The function comes out of the gift of each member. The finger, the hand, the arm, and the shoulder all have their gifts. Every member of our body, no matter how small or unimportant it may seem, has a gift. As long as it is a member of the body, it has a gift, and with the gift, there is the function. By means of the functions of all the members of the body, the body is able to work. The totality of the functions of the gifts of all the members in the body is the work of the body. When I speak, every member of my body is involved. Every part of my body, every muscle, even the nose and the ears, are functioning.
God is administrating the entire universe for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. Christ, the Head, needs the Body, the church. This is the reason Satan hates the church. We are opposed today simply because we are standing for the church. There are Christian bookstores that carry all the books by Brother Nee except his books on the church. Certain missionaries in Taiwan admitted that our work there was excellent, but they regarded the matter of the church practice as a “dead fly in the ointment.”
Satan hates the Body and opposes it. If the church were only an assembly of believers coming together for fellowship, Satan would not hate the church so much. However, for us, the church is not merely an assembly; it is the Body for the carrying out of God’s administration. In order to be such a church, we all need to function. Suppose, however, we have a church in which only a few members function and the rest sit in the meetings without functioning. A church in that situation may be opposed by the enemy, but not nearly as much as those who stand for the Body, the instrument of the Head for carrying out the divine administration.
The Body has many members, and every member has a gift. This is the reason that after the headship and the Body, Paul comes to the matter of the spiritual gifts. The spiritual gifts are for the functions of the members of the Body. Hence, chapter twelve is the direct continuation of chapter eleven. After discerning the Body, we need to see the importance of all the gifts of the members of the Body. In 12:4-11 Paul mentions nine gifts. This does not mean that there are only nine spiritual gifts. Paul lists nine gifts as an illustration.
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