1Co 12:1-3 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 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.”
Paul has spent a great deal of time speaking to the Corinthian church (and to us) about their behavior. They have been soundly rebuked concerning the division among them. He has counseled them in their attitude towards one another as brothers and sisters, as husbands and wives, and as the body of Christ collectively.
He now calls attention to gifts of a divine or religious nature (see Strong’s). Again, he emphasizes his feeling of family towards them by addressing them as brethren. Paul had no desire to appear to just be venting at them. His whole purpose in this letter was to assure them of his continuing love for them, and that his counsel to them was born out of this love.
As he begins to speak about these spiritual (diviine/religious) gifts, he tells them he would not have them to be ignorant. Since Paul spent eighteen months with them preaching and affirming the gospel of Jesus Christ, it seems out of character that he would have left them in a state of “not knowing” about spiritual gifts (preaching, faith, prayer, understanding, etc. – see verses 8-10). The Greek word translated as “ignorant” has a second meaning which is “to ignore.” In the light of the things he has already addressed, this would seem to be the more applicable definition.
It is dangerous for us to spiritually ignore the truth of God’s word and the evidence of His presence in our lives. Even though there was a time when we “were Gentiles,” we are not strangers to God’s covenant any more. Paul emphasizes to the brethren who were at one time led to worship idols that they “were” Gentiles. At that time they were carried away (led) unto gods that could not speak to them.
Paul’s point to them (and to us) is that even though we were once led to things that are not God, once we have been given the understanding of the truth we ignore it to our own chastisement (1Co 11:32). He then emphatically calls their attention to the only way anyone can confess that Jesus is Lord. I say emphatically because Paul’s language (“I give you to understand”) carries the notion of the same sentiment as when we say to someone “I’ll have you know…” There was no wiggle-room in what Paul was telling them.
Before Paul came to Corinth, it seems likely that the only thing the Gentiles there would have known about Jesus is what they heard from the Jews. What they would have heard from the majority of the Jews, before God sent Paul to preach the truth, was that this man Jesus was a fake and an evil man. He was outside the Jews religion: He was (to them) accursed. Paul was not about to let them ignore (be ignorant) of the fact that no man speaking with the authority of the Spirit would say such a thing.
Verse three concludes with a thought that should have cheered the hearts of the brethren, both then and now. Are we able to bring word that Jesus is the Christ? If so, we bear proof that we are led by the Holy Ghost. We cannot ignore the truth of this spiritual gift, for indeed, to know that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God is a wondrous gift.
May God help us to never appear ignorant of the gifts of the Holy Ghost that allows us to testify before all men that Jesus is the Christ!