What does 1 Corinthians 12:28 mean?
ESV: And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.
NIV: And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.
NASB: And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, and various kinds of tongues.
CSB: And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, leading, various kinds of tongues.
NLT: Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.
KJV: And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Verse Commentary:
This verse begins to wrap up a section on the spiritual gifts and the body of Christ. Paul has made a general illustration about the body of Christ being like a human body into a very personal message. It is now about the church in Corinth, and how they should respond to the gifts given to them by God.

Paul repeats again that God is the one who assigns the gifts to specific people in specific churches. He has written previously that each gifted function in the church is worthy of honor. Even so, he has noted that some functions are more prestigious, or more public. Here he seems to explain those by listing off three specific gifts. In order, they are apostles, prophets, and teachers. Perhaps these are described first because it is through these gifts that God communicates truth to His people. Perhaps Paul emphasizes these three because he believes the Corinthians value them too little.

After these three leading/teaching gifts, Paul names a variety of others, including some he mentioned earlier in the chapter: miracles, healing, helping, administration, and speaking in various tongues. Once again, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the possible gifts given to people in the church. Nor is it explicitly meant to rank those gifts in order of importance or authority. Other gifts are found on other lists in the New Testament (Romans 12:6–8; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:10–11). In fact, the only gift mentioned on each list is teaching: the supernatural ability to make clear and applicable the Word of God.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 12:12–31 continues Paul's teaching on the spiritual gifts as they cooperate to empower God's will for the church. The Christian church is like a human body. It is one individual organism made up of many different parts that serve a wide variety of functions. All those functions matter. Nobody should decide they don't like their gift or their role in the church and try to quit. The body needs each member to do its part in order to work properly. We must respect and value each other for the vital roles we serve in the church.
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.
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