(ii) SECTION TWO: The Picture of the Body (12:12-31)

Map of Corinth / Map of Corinth's Location / Picture of the Temple of Apollo / Outline Chart/ Read The Letter

1 Cor 12:12-31

12For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

13For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

14For in fact the body is not one member but many.

15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?

16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?

17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?

18But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

19And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

21And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."

22No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.

23And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,

24but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,

25that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

28And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

30Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

31But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.


Verses 12-14: Paul now uses a common analogy from the ancient world to stress the point of DIVERSITY WITHIN UNITY that was made by showing all the different gifts come from the same Spirit.

Verses 15- 20: Because the Corinthians had only been using one main gift (that of Tongues) there is a need to show them that all gifts are needed. Just like an ear has a unique function (hearing) and cannot try to be any other part of the body, so too each gift has a unique function and the one it is given to must not hide it and try to be gifted with what he does not have!

Paul is saying that by concentrating on only one gift the Body of Christ (The Church) is acting as if it only has one part and has become a deformed body. Each person must start moving in their God-given gifts which will always be a healthy variety in any congregation.

Verses 21-27: Paul also shows that, as all parts of the body are interdependent on each other, so each member of the congregation needs the others and their unique giftings to complete the work God has for them to do. By cutting out certain members (maybe those who didn't speak tongues in this case or the poorer members of the congregation) the congregation is actually going against the purposes of God and missing it's God-given purpose to be a united body demonstrating His love to the world. If it cannot demonstrate love and care within the body than it will not do it in the community at large.

Verses 28-30 : God has appointed (tithemi) each person to have a different gift-mix. The list here looks more at ministerial and motivational giftings but also list a few phanerosis gifts (healings, miracles, tongues). See the chart again to see how the gifts are divided.

It is not within the scope of this material to look at each gift in detail (this is done in my teaching on the Big Picture : http://www.timshen.truepath.com/teaching.html) but we will look at how Paul uses the mention of these gifts to make his point. The point is that the Corinthians should stop their focus on the gift of Tongues in their congregational services and start releasing each member to move in the diversity of gifts. It is important to see that the Tongues mentioned here is that used in the congregational setting and always goes hand-in-hand with Interpretation of Tongues. It is not talking about the believer's private tongues spoken during a believer's quiet time with the Lord (which Paul says he uses more than all the Corinthians). We will develop this train of thought further when we look at chapter 14.

In conclusion, Paul is basically saying that, just as the body needs its various parts to function properly, the church needs all its members to contribute with their giftings. To function as the Body of Christ and move in our God-given mission there needs to be a proper ordering and functioning of members.

What the Corinthians were doing was emphasizing solely on ONE gift, the Gift of Tongues, and not allowing the members to express variety in the service. This is important today, that one gift is NOT given more importance over all the others all the time. A gift is only the MOST IMPORTANT when it is the one NEEDED to do God's will at a specific time.

Is your church demonstrating a healthy balance of gifts or raising one above all the others ? Think on this.

In verse 31 Paul is building up for his fantastic chapter on the true nature of Love. He states that we are to be zealous for the best gifts at any particular time and allow all members to release their gifts. However, all that Paul has been saying should be demonstrated in Church gatherings is useless without the 'more excellent way'. The word 'excellent' is 'huperbole' which literally means 'to throw beyond the mark' - the target Paul has shown so far is that of the body functioning perfectly together in order. However, this is not enough, we must excel beyond this by adding one vital ingredient. What is it ? Click here to find out.

Now you are ready to go to (iii) SECTION THREE: The Most Excellent Way (13:1-13).

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