1 Corinthians 12:3
“Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”
Explanation and Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:3
If someone is filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she will not speak ill of Jesus but rather will praise Him.
In this verse, Paul addressed the issue of spiritual gifts to the church in Corinth. These spiritual gifts were wisdom, knowledge, faith, the gift of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). These gifts are unlike natural gifts such as singing which can be lost. Instead, they are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). The people of the Corinthian church had an abundance of these spiritual gifts but abused them instead of using them to glorify God. The gifts became a source of divisiveness among the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
It was common during the time of Paul’s writing for “vagabond Jews” or “exorcists” to travel around to various places and practice various types of magic, including the casting out of demons. When these vagabond Jews heard of the miracles the apostle Paul performed in the name of Jesus, they copied him and performed their magic in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:13-16). If the trick failed, these vagabond Jews would say that the name of Jesus was not as powerful as the other names they used.
Some people think this verse is guidance on how to uncover demonic possession (see also 1 John 4). But put into practice, testing whether people can recite these quotes reveals that both Christians and non-Christians alike are able to utter both quotes.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of 1 Corinthians 12:3
#1: “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed…”
Paul was telling the Corinthians that vagabond Jews were only pretending to have spiritual gifts, and could not be acting through the Holy Spirit. If they were truly filled with the Holy Spirit, they would not speak evil about Jesus when their magic failed.
#2: “…and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”
Only those that are filled with the Holy Spirit can live a Christian life and work miracles.
Expert Overview of 1 Corinthians
Biblical Translations of 1 Corinthians 12:3
Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
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.
Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.