1 Corinthians 12-14: Gifts of the Spirit

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 123–124


When asked by a president of the United States what made our religion unique from others, the Prophet Joseph Smith explained that it was the gift of the Holy Ghost (see History of the Church, 4:42). Through the Holy Ghost, God bestows upon His children special blessings known as gifts of the Spirit so we can know the truth and bless one another. As you read 1 Corinthians 12–14, look for the gifts of the Spirit that you have been blessed with.

Understanding the Scriptures

1 Corinthians 12

Diversities, divers (vv. 4, 6, 10)Many different 
Diversities of operations (v. 6)Different ways these gifts work 
Body is not one member (v. 14)The Church is one organization with many different members 
Schism (v. 25)Division 

1 Corinthians 12:21–28—Why Is Every Member of the Church Important?

Joseph B. Wirthlin

Each individual is important and brings special gifts and talents to the Church. The Church needs every one of its members. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, an Apostle, said: “No matter who we are—no matter our talents, abilities, financial resources, education, or experience—we all can serve in the kingdom. He who calls us will qualify us for the work if we will serve with humility, prayer, diligence, and faith. Perhaps we feel inadequate. Maybe we doubt ourselves, thinking that what we have to offer the Lord personally is too slight to even be noticed. The Lord is well aware of our mortality. He knows our weaknesses. He understands the challenges of our everyday lives” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 46; or Ensign, May 1996, 34).

1 Corinthians 13

Charity (v. 1)“The pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47) 
Vaunteth not itself (v. 4)Does not brag or boast 
Provoked (v. 5)Bothered, made angry 
That which is in part (v. 10)Imperfections 
See through a glass, darkly (v. 12)See an obscure reflection in a mirror 

1 Corinthians 14

Edification (v. 3)Spiritual improvement 
Exhortation (v. 3)Encouragement 
Signification (v. 10)Meaning 
Course (v. 27)In an orderly manner 

1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 13–14, 19, 27—“An Unknown Tongue”

Each time the phrase “an unknown tongue” is used in 1 Corinthians 14, the Joseph Smith Translation changes it to “another tongue.”

1 Corinthians 14:4–11, 19—When Should We Seek the Gift of Tongues?

President Joseph F. Smith said: “I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit unto men, but I do not want the gift of tongues, except when I need it. I needed the gift of tongues once, and the Lord gave it to me. I was in a foreign land, sent to preach the gospel to a people whose language I could not understand. … There was a purpose in it. There was something in it to strengthen my faith, to encourage me and to help me in my ministry. If you have need of this gift of tongues, seek for it and God will help you in it” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 251).

1 Corinthians 14:34–35—Can Women Speak in Church?

The Joseph Smith Translation changes speak to rule. It is certainly acceptable for women to speak in church.

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–D) as you study 1 Corinthians 12–14.

Activity A iconWrite an Encyclopedia Entry

Paul taught that there are many different gifts of the Spirit and then gave several examples. Read 1 Corinthians 12:4–11 and write an entry for an encyclopedia that explains the perspective of the Church on the gifts of the Spirit. The encyclopedia has space limitations, so limit your comments to one paragraph of fifty words or less.

Activity B iconCharity

Draw two columns and label one Charity Is and the other Charity Is Not. As you read 1 Corinthians 13:1–7, 13, list each phrase under the appropriate heading. Conclude by describing a time when someone showed charity toward you.

Activity C iconWhy Do I Have to Grow Up?

Read 1 Corinthians 13:9–12 and describe what you think it teaches about maturing spiritually. Suggest several qualities of people your age that show they still have a few childish ways. Then identify other qualities of people your age that demonstrate their increasing maturity in the gospel.

Activity D iconOrder in the Church

Paul wanted to teach the Saints about the importance of order in the Church (see 1 Corinthians 14:26–40). For each statement below, write how you think it relates to order in the Church:

  1. 1.

    “Let all things be done unto edifying” (1 Corinthians 14:26).

  2. 2.

    “Prophesy one by one, that all may learn” (v. 31).

  3. 3.

    “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (v. 33).

  4. 4.

    “It is not permitted unto them [women] to rule” (JST, v. 34).

  5. 5.

    “Let all things be done decently and in order” (v. 40).