1 Corinthians 12:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 12:3, NIV: Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus be cursed,' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3, ESV: Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3, KJV: Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 12:3, NASB: 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.

1 Corinthians 12:3, NLT: So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3, CSB: Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

What does 1 Corinthians 12:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Bible scholars disagree about what is going on in verses 2 and 3. Is Paul talking about "utterances" provoked by spirits or the Holy Spirit? Is he arming the Corinthians against false teachers? Perhaps the best explanation is that Paul is showing that every Christian is "spiritual." In this context, that means every Christian is occupied by the Holy Spirit. Paul may have been countering a misunderstanding among his readers: that only those with the most obvious spiritual gifts were spiritual Christians.

If that's the case, then Paul showed in the previous verse that idol worshipers are the ones who are not spiritual, since an idol has no spirit. It is mute, something made by human hands. Now he shows that those who say "Jesus is accursed!" are also not spiritual, perhaps referring to religious Jews who denied Jesus' deity and saw Him only as a criminal who was hanged on a "tree" (Galatians 3:13).

On the other hand, every single person who says "Jesus is Lord" is a spiritual person. In this context, that means something more than simply mouthing certain words. The idea is someone who says "Jesus is Lord" as the sincere expression of their belief. Nobody can say that—in truth and sincerity—unless they do so in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul's larger point will be that those with the more visible spiritual gifts, such as tongues and teaching, are not more spiritual as Christians than those with the less public gifts. Every Christian is a spiritual person, even those who aren't gifted with obvious or ostentatious talents.