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1Co 12:28 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.

Although by position apostleship is first, does this mean it is also the most important of the gifts...

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closed as not constructive by Jas 3.1, fredsbend, Greg, El'endia Starman Apr 11 '13 at 2:33

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Searching for what exactly apostles do would be a good start. –  Sȱɳɨȼ Ʈħe ǶḝÐɠḝħȱɠ Apr 8 '13 at 19:56
    
Apostles, "sent ones," are commissioned to spread the Gospel. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Apr 8 '13 at 20:13
    
I'm +1'ing this question because it is a common question - but (and I mean no disrespect) it is fundamentally one that misunderstands the faith. –  Affable Geek Apr 8 '13 at 21:36
    
VTC: Truth question. –  Jas 3.1 Apr 10 '13 at 17:34
    
This also has the same issues as the previous one I commented on. A good question, but it needs to be specific in the kind of answers desired. –  fredsbend Apr 10 '13 at 19:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Answer: No.

The whole point of 1 Corinthians 12 is very simple and very straight forward - you should not boast about your Spiritual gift, because gifts don't make anyone special.

Indeed, if one is arguing about which gifts are "better", then you are missing the point of - get this - the gift. A gift is not dependent on the work of the recipient, but rather of the giver. Theologians have long held that the Corinthian church - oft beset by division and discord - were arguing precisely over such silly questions as "which is the most important gift," using their gift as evidence of "their" importance.

1 Corinthians 11:17-19 lays the problem out plainly:

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval.

In this situation, Paul unequivocally says - "KNOCK IT OFF! Your gifts are all equally important in God's sight!" And how do we know that this is the case? Just about every word in chapter 12 is an admonition or an explanation that says - Your gifts don't make you any better than anybody else!

  1. All gifts are from the same source

    There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

  2. All gifts are gifts to be used to the same end in love for others

    Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good

  3. All gifts are to be used together in concert - like as in the body

    Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized byc one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

    15Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body

  4. Finally, and most importantly, If you have to pick a "greatest gift" - it's love

    Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tonguesd ? Do all interpret? 31Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

    Whereupon we get the famous 1 Corinthians 13 - the hymn to love.

    If I speak in the tonguesa of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

In the context in which Paul lays out these gifts, he goes to extarordinary lengths to make it clear - the gifts are not what is special, but rather the giver. As Christians, the gift is just that - a gift which is supposed to be used for building up the body. The moment it becomes a point of pride - an idol - it ceases to be that.

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Yes, there does appear to be "greater gifts":

But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31 NASB

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. 1 Corinthians 14:1 NASB

Paul here emphasizes that prophecy edifies the church and places it as a superior gift than tongues--at least when tongues are not interpreted. Paul expounds on this throughout chapter 14.

But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? 7 Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? 8 For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

13 Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 16 Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. 18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. 1 Corinthians 14:6-19 NASB

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I think you are answering is there any gift that is greater than another, but the OP was asking about apostles specifically. It's fair enough to answer the title, and you are right that love is the greatest "gift" but I'd like to think I was answering the OP's question. (W reference to 1 cor 13, btw ;) –  Affable Geek Apr 8 '13 at 22:29

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