What does 1 Corinthians 12:2 mean?
ESV: You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.
NIV: You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
NASB: You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.
CSB: You know that when you were pagans, you used to be enticed and led astray by mute idols.
NLT: You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols.
KJV: Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
NKJV: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has clearly stated that he is about to address the issue of spiritual gifts in the life of the Corinthian church. He begins with an introduction which is difficult to fully interpret. Bible scholars differ widely on how best to explain what's going on in verses 2 and 3.

Some assume Paul's comments are about supernatural "utterances," or words spoken by spirits or the Holy Spirit through a human being. Others understand Paul to be describing a method: something by which Christians can avoid being led astray by false teachers in the church.

The best explanation seems to be that Paul is beginning to show that every believer is spiritual. This is meant in the sense that every believer is occupied by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, no Christian would be able to say that "Jesus is Lord," as Paul says in the following verse.

First, though, he reminds those converted from paganism that when they were led by others to worship idols, those idols were mute. They said nothing, and nobody said anything by the power of any idol. Paul's Christian readers have come to understand that idols have no power because they are not actually gods (1 Corinthians 8:4).

In the following verse, Paul may be referring to religious Jews who claimed that Jesus is accursed, as they would see any mere mortal who was hung on a "tree" (Galatians 3:13).
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 12:1–11 details Paul's specific teaching on what spiritual gifts are, who receives them, and why they are given. Every believer in Jesus is spiritual, because each Christian has God's Spirit with him or her. The Spirit gives one or more spiritual gifts to every believer for the common good, to be used in service to the church. Nobody acquires or earns their own gifts. The same Spirit gives them away, for free, as He sees fit, meaning that having one or the other gift does not make a Christian more important than another.
Chapter Summary:
Apparently in response to further questions from Corinth, Paul describes what spiritual gifts are, who receives them, and what they are for. His emphasis is that particular spiritual gifts do not make believers spiritual. Every believer is spiritual because every Christian has God's Spirit with him or her. In addition, the Spirit gives one or more spiritual gifts to each believer to be used to serve the church. The church is like a body, in which every part is needed, and all the parts exist to serve one another. Every believer must discover how they are gifted by the Spirit and value the function they serve in Christ's body.
Chapter Context:
After tackling the issues of head coverings for women and the Lord's Supper in the previous chapter, Paul moves to the issue of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Paul insists that the display of spiritual gifts does not make one believer more spiritual or important than another. Every believer in Jesus has the Spirit, and the Spirit gives to every believer one or more spiritual gifts. The gifts are given for the common good, and the church is like a human body. Each gifted function in the church represents a body part, and all the parts are essential. This sets up a description of love, as defined from a Christian viewpoint, and famously recorded in chapter 13.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 7/18/2024 10:01:56 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com