There is no doubt that the greatest gift is The holy spirit and his burning love(1), but leading up to his teaching about love as the most excellent way, Paul wrote:
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
1 Cor 12:31
What does he refer to?
First of all, I must admit that I think it is a little bit strange if there is a kind of hierarchy of spiritual gifts.
Because a ‘greater gift’ will be the one that I most of all need in a given situation. However, it becomes very clear what Paul had in mind when he had finished his wonderful teaching about love (2), because he continues in this way:
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
1 Cor 14:1
…and he explains that the reason for this is that “the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort” (3).
For an observant Bible reader, it should not be a surprise that Paul considers prophecy as a ‘greater gift’. Paul was a scholar. In regard to the law, he was a Pharisee (4), and he had studied under Gamaliel (5). When Paul met Jesus in the vision on the road to Damascus he became blind and had to be led into the city. There Ananias visited him and prophesied over him, and event that confirmed Paul’s calling and ministry.
Paul could relate all that happened to him to the prophecies of the Old Testament and he used these prophecies as important part of his teaching and preaching. Paul experienced frequently that people prophesied over him (6), and he also used this gift in his own ministry (7).
I will write more on the subject of ‘eagerly desiring the greater gifts’ in the next couple of blogs.
‘Manna’ for today:
God always speaks! (8)
(1) See: “Go for ‘the gifts’ in an excellent way!”
(2) 1 Corinthians 13
(3) 1 Corinthians 14:3
(4) Philippians 3:5
(5) Acts 22:3
(6) Acts 21:10-11
(7) Acts 27:21-26
(8) The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets. Psalm 50:1