Diversities of Operations

by Scarlett Stough

 

Below are some of the different ways I Corinthians 12:4-6 have been translated into the English language. These are not the only versions, just a sampling. Alternative translations to The King James translations of the words “administrations” and “operations” are italicized. Finding the perfect English word to convey the meaning of many of the Greek words can be difficult. In reading a variety of translations we can sometimes get a better grasp of how to understand certain passages. The previous issues of Women in Christ have covered “gifts” and “administrations” or “service.” This issue will focus on “diversities of operations (KJV)” or “different kinds of working” as it is translated in the NIV.

Translators have translated the Greek word “energema”(an effect; what is wrought)* in even the same version with a variety of words, depending on its context. The word also has some grammatical variations: “energeia,” energy, efficiency; “energeo,” to be active, efficient; “energes,” active, operative: effectual, powerful.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
King James Version

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
New American Standard Version

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
New International Version

There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit.
There are different ways to serve but the same Lord to serve.
And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God.
God works in all of us in everything we do.
New Century Version

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
And there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;
And there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
English Standard Version

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit.
There are different ministries, but the same Lord.
And there are different activities, but the same God is active in everyone and everything.
Holman Christian Standard Version

I would like to offer my own paraphrase of this passage as I understand it to mean:

Each Christian in whom dwells the Holy Spirit, is given at least one ability, according to God’s choice, to use in service by the Holy Spirit. Christians, individually, in teams or in groups, do serve in different ways, but we all serve the same Lord. Even though the assignments or type of work might be different, God is the one who provides the power, the energy, and produces the results. We are to work to help one another in doing what God wants done. The credit, glory and praise belong to God, not people.

Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to “continue to work out (katergazomia, work fully or effect by toil)* your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works (energeo, to be active, efficient)* in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV.)”

He is not saying we “earn” salvation by what we do. He is saying that we do have work to do while God is active within us transforming us so we can live according to the purpose of God. Fear and trembling mean exactly what it says. The fear of God is the beginning of the knowledge of God (Proverbs 1:7). He won’t be ignored forever. He won’t let sin and suffering go on forever. He is going to deal with it. Trembling is a reaction to the anxiety of “distrusting one’s own ability”* which is a good thing when it comes to salvation.

In Philippians 1:6, we are assured:

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work (ergon, toil)* in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God “toils;” He exerts “energy;” He “works” to transform each one of us into the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior. Only through the Holy Spirit can this work be accomplished (Zechariah 4:6; Romans 8:1-17.)

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: God Works.

*The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.


Volume 10 Issue 8 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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