Lesson 109: 1 Corinthians 12

“Lesson 109: 1 Corinthians 12,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 109,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 109

1 Corinthians 12


Paul wrote about the many gifts of the Spirit. He compared the Church to a physical body and explained that just as the body needs every part to function properly, each Church member can use the gifts of the Spirit to contribute to and strengthen the Church.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Corinthians 12:1–11

Paul teaches about spiritual gifts

Display a picture of the following stone:


Invite a student to read aloud the inscription at the top of the stone. Explain that while President David O. McKay was serving a mission in Scotland, he saw this stone above the door of a building near Stirling Castle and was inspired by its message (see Francis M. Gibbons, David O. McKay: Apostle to the World, Prophet of God [1986], 45).

Explain that each symbol in the nine squares of this stone represents a numerical value. Ask students to identify the numerical value of each shape. (From left to right, the symbols represent 5, 10, and 3 in the top row; 4, 6, and 8 in the middle row; and 9, 2, and 7 in the bottom row.)

  • What is the sum of the three numbers represented in the top row? the middle row? the bottom row?

Explain that the numbers represented in any given row, column, or diagonal line on this stone add up to 18. One reason these shapes may have been included with the phrase “What-E’er Thou Art Act Well Thy Part” is that if any of these shapes were rearranged or if their values changed, the rows and columns on the stone would no longer add up to 18 in every direction.

Invite students as they study 1 Corinthians 12 to consider how we as members of the Church are like the shapes on the stone.

Summarize 1 Corinthians 12:1–2 by explaining that Paul wanted to teach the Church members in Corinth about spiritual gifts, which many of the Saints had misunderstood. Paul reminded them that before their conversion, they had been led astray by idolatry.

Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 12:3 aloud, and ask the class to look for how we can know for ourselves that Jesus is the Lord and Savior. Explain that Joseph Smith taught that the word say in verse 3 should be understood as know (in History of the Church, 4:602–3).

  • According to 1 Corinthians 12:3, how can we obtain a personal testimony of Jesus Christ? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Only through the Holy Ghost can we obtain a personal testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior. You might want to explain that the same principle applies to obtaining a personal testimony of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon).

To help students better understand this truth, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:

Uchtdorf, Dieter F.

“A testimony is a most precious possession because it is not acquired by logic or reason alone, it cannot be purchased with earthly possessions, and it cannot be given as a present or inherited from our ancestors. We cannot depend on the testimonies of other people. We need to know for ourselves. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, ‘Every Latter-day Saint has the responsibility to know for himself or herself with a certainty beyond doubt that Jesus is the resurrected, living Son of the living God’ (‘Fear Not to Do Good,’ Ensign, May 1983, 80). …

“We receive this testimony when the Holy Spirit speaks to the spirit within us. We will receive a calm and unwavering certainty that will be the source of our testimony and conviction” (“The Power of a Personal Testimony,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 38).

  • Why is it important to understand that a testimony of Jesus Christ comes only through the Holy Ghost?

  • What can we do to invite the Holy Ghost into our lives?

Explain that as recorded in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6, Paul taught that there are a variety of spiritual gifts that operate in different ways but that all come from God through the Holy Ghost. You may want to explain that gifts of the Spirit are blessings or abilities given through the Holy Ghost and that God gives at least one gift to every member of the Church (see D&C 46:11).

Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 12:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why gifts of the Spirit are given to us. (If necessary, explain that “to profit withal” means for the common good of all Saints.)

  • What truth can we learn from Paul about why gifts of the Spirit are given to Heavenly Father’s children? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: Gifts of the Spirit are given to benefit all of Heavenly Father’s children. Write this truth on the board.)

To help students understand this truth, copy the following chart on the board and ask students to copy it into their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

Spiritual Gifts

How These Spiritual Gifts Benefit God’s Children

Divide the class into groups of two or three. Invite each group to study 1 Corinthians 12:8–11 and to follow the accompanying instructions. You may want to list these instructions on the board or provide them on a handout.

  1. In the first column of your chart, list each spiritual gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8–11.

  2. Discuss the meaning or give an example of each spiritual gift.

Invite each group to report the spiritual gifts they discovered and the meaning of each gift. As needed, explain that “the word of wisdom” (verse 8) refers to good judgment and the appropriate application of knowledge; the “word of knowledge” (verse 8) refers to a knowledge of God and his laws; “discerning of spirits” (verse 10) refers to recognizing truth and untruth and perceiving the good and evil in others; and “divers kinds of tongues” (verse 10) refers to the ability to speak in foreign or unknown languages.

Ask each group to pick two spiritual gifts mentioned in verses 8–10 and to write in the second column of the chart how those gifts can benefit God’s children. After sufficient time, invite a few students to explain one of their answers from the second column to the class.

Point out that the spiritual gifts mentioned specifically in the scriptures are only a few of the numerous gifts we can receive through the Spirit.

  • What other gifts could come to us through the Holy Ghost?

  • What spiritual gifts have you noticed in your family members, friends, and classmates?

  • What can we do to discover our spiritual gifts? (Ask Heavenly Father about them in prayer and receive and study our patriarchal blessings.)

Invite students to ponder the spiritual gifts they have been given and how they can benefit from them and use them to benefit others.

1 Corinthians 12:12–31

The gifts of the Spirit are given to bless the entire membership of the Church

Ask four students to come to the board. Without letting the rest of the class hear, assign each of these students one of the following words: foot, hand, ear, and eye. Instruct each student to draw a picture of his or her word on the board, and ask the class to guess what each student is drawing. After the class correctly identifies each drawing, invite the students to return to their seats. Ask the class to consider how the feet, hands, ears, and eyes contribute to the work the body does.

  • Have you ever injured a minor body part, such as a finger, tooth, or toe? How did this minor injury affect even simple daily tasks?

Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 12:12–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul compared the body and its parts to.

  • What did Paul compare the body and its parts to? (The Church of Jesus Christ and its members.)

Write the following scripture reference and question on the board:

1 Corinthians 12:15–22, 25–30

In what ways did Paul compare the body to the Church?

Divide students into the same groups as before. Ask each group to read 1 Corinthians 12:15–22, 25–30 aloud together, looking for ways in which Paul compared members of the Church to parts of the body. You may want to suggest that students look for what Paul taught about the body and its parts before identifying how he likened parts of the body to Church members. After sufficient time, ask students to report what they found.

  • Why do you think Paul discussed the roles of individual Church members right after he wrote about spiritual gifts?

  • What concerns might Church members today have that could be resolved by Paul’s teachings about Church members being like parts of the body?

  • What principle can we learn from Paul’s comparison of Church members to parts of the body? (Make sure students identify the following principle: As we use our unique spiritual gifts to serve others, we can strengthen the Church. Write this principle on the board.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Consider giving each student a copy of the statement.

Hinckley, Gordon B.

“We are all in this great endeavor together. We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence. All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others” (“This Is the Work of the Master,” Ensign, May 1995, 71).

  • How is the Church blessed because of the different spiritual gifts and callings of individual members?

  • How have you seen your family, a seminary class, or a ward or branch strengthened by the spiritual gifts of its members?

Ask students to ponder how they can use their spiritual gifts to strengthen the Church and bless the lives of others.

Invite students to read 1 Corinthians 12:31 silently, looking for what Paul counseled the Corinthian Saints to do.

  • What did Paul counsel the Saints to do? (Explain that covet in this verse means to “seek earnestly” [verse 31, footnote a].)

  • What can we do to earnestly seek “the best gifts” of the Spirit (see also D&C 46:8–9)?

Express your testimony and gratitude for spiritual gifts, and encourage students to earnestly seek for and use spiritual gifts to serve others and strengthen the Church.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Corinthians 12:3. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what we can do to receive a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost:

“Real testimony of … precious truths comes as a witness by the Holy Ghost after sincere and dedicated effort, including teaching in the home, prayer, scripture study, service to others, and diligent obedience to Heavenly Father’s commandments. To gain and forever hold on to a testimony of gospel truths is worth whatever price in spiritual preparation we may be required to pay” (“Pure Testimony,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 40).

1 Corinthians 12:4–10. Gifts of the Spirit

The gifts of the Spirit are so important to the Lord that they are taught about in three of our four standard works (see 1 Corinthians 12, Moroni 10, and Doctrine and Covenants 46).

Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about spiritual gifts not listed specifically in the scriptures:

“Taken at random, let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. …

“Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost” (“There Are Many Gifts,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 20).

1 Corinthians 12:7. How can I know what spiritual gifts I have?

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how we can discover what spiritual gifts have been given to us:

“To find the gifts we have been given, we must pray and fast. Often patriarchal blessings tell us the gifts we have received and declare the promise of gifts we can receive if we seek after them. I urge you each to discover your gifts and to seek after those that will bring direction to your life’s work and that will further the work of heaven” (“Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb. 2002, 16).

1 Corinthians 12:22. “Those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught:

“You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason. There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch. Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way” (“Lift Where You Stand,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 56).