On to 1 Cor 12:12-31
We need to have G-d’s perspective on things. It’s only when we see things from His vantage point (how He sees things and how He wants things to be) that we can participate properly with what He’s up to. In the end His will is going to be accomplished. G-d loves us, but that does not mean that He is always pleased with our actions. If we are wise, we will want to be exceedingly well pleasing to Him. Paul writes in Roms 12:1 that we should be a living sacrifice. A sacrifice is always conformed, always made, in light of the One that it’s being sacrificed to. We need to conform to G-d’s desires, His purpose and His will so that we can be well pleasing to Him.
If we’re going to carry out the things of G-d we’re not going to be able to do so alone. G-d brings people together for His purpose and each individual is called to serve in a different way and for the common good of the entire body – that the body might fulfil G-d’s will.
v12: One: Biblically the number ‘one’ has to do with G-d (G-d is one). By saying that we are one body it is placing us under the authority of G-d.
- Many members: A body is made up of many different parts/organs (eyes, hands, ears, lungs etc). They all function together to make the body complete. Paul uses this analogy of the physical body to teach us about Messiah’s body on earth (ie the groups of believers). Messiah has given us His Spirit, and through Him we are equipped individually but for a common good – to carry on His work and to reveal His identity to others.
v13: Baptised: Paul is not speaking about water baptism but about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as well as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. All believers receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we believe [He teaches us all things (John 14:26) and causes us to become new creations in Messiah]. Some people receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (a separate ‘event’ to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit). An aspect of baptism is that it is preparation for service. Baptism is also, in a sense, an initiation into this service that’s called the body of believers.
- Drink into one Spirit: We drink to satisfy our thirst. It is through the Holy Spirit that we find spiritual satisfaction. When a plant drinks (is watered) it becomes fruitful and is able to produce fruit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we will be able to produce fruit (Gal 5:22-25).
v14: This is speaking of the fact that a body is made up of many parts – feet, hands etc. When we speak about a person’s body we see it as one whole, but that one whole has a lot of different looking and differently functioning parts attached to it.
v15-16: A foot (ear etc) cannot be detached and moved to another part of the body because it is unhappy with where it is. A foot has to remain where it has been placed (This reminds me of what we read the other day in 1 Cor 7:20 and 24). An ‘unhappy’ foot can cause problems for the entire body. Just as a foot cannot separate itself from the body so neither can we function if we separate ourselves from our connection to the church – the body of Messiah.
v17: For the well-being of the body each individual part needs to submit to its specific role. If we all fulfilled the same function nothing would be accomplished. We need to be content with where G-d has placed us within His body, doing the things He has called us to do and not covet the positions, gifts etc that He has given to other people in order to fulfil their specific calls.
v18: In the same way that G-d arranged a physical body to function optimally so too has He arranged us into a functional spiritual body that is able to bring Him glory. Through the Holy Spirit we are given a call for the betterment, the well-being and the purpose of the body collectively, generally speaking. If we don’t submit to that it is going to have an adverse effect on all of the body.
v19: If the entire body was a hand it would cease to be a body.
v20: G-d has equipped the body with everything it needs to be a body. Not only are all the parts there, but G-d has also placed them in all their right locations (the hand is not where the ankle should be). G-d has ordered everything (everyone) according to how He wants the body to function.
v21: An important takeaway from this verse is that we are mutually dependent on one another. A head without feet would never move. It would be confined to one place. Each part of the body is dependent on other parts of the body in order to function and carry out its purpose. The same is true for the body of believers. When one of us doesn’t function properly it adversely affects the rest of the believing community.
v22: Some parts of the body, especially those which are more visible (more attractive, more acceptable), have very clear and easy to understand functions. Other parts of the body are granted less honour – we don’t want to expose them, they may not be pleasant to look at etc. Some parts of the body are hidden, some parts are exposed. Some parts are given greater honour, and some are given less honour. All of these things have a common-sense application to the body of believers. The problem is that we know this about our physical bodies and so we give it grace, but then when it comes to the body of Messiah we speak unkindly about this believer, or we think we don’t need that individual etc. Our grace often fails to extend to the spiritual body that we have been placed into.
- Those members…which seem to be weaker are necessary: We need to be careful not to say offensive or hurtful things regarding fellow believers. If they are difficult people (like a wounded foot) we may need to sometimes compensate, help or assist them, put up with them – sometimes we are the ones that others have to put up with (a sore/wounded foot is guarded and very specifically cared for until it heals). We need to consciously care for those parts of the body that are weaker, that lack strength, that have less function than other body parts. Weak does not mean insignificant. Every part – even an eyelash – has a purpose and function.
v23: Less honourable: Those parts that (who) aren’t visible to the public eye.
- We bestow greater honour: Eg If we are doing an activity that could damage our eyes we put goggles on to protect them. We take special care of them. In the same way there are times when we need to protect other people/cover them up so to speak. We may need to minister to them, or encourage them, accept them into the group, etc.
v24: Our presentable parts: Some people within the body don’t need to be cared for with kid gloves. They are strong and robust and able to take anything in their stride.
- G-d composed the body: Every part of the body – the presentable and the unpresentable, the social butterflies and the socially awkward – has a purpose.
v25: Schism: Disagreement, separation, disunity
- The same care for one another: If we realised how important every member of the body was, we would truly look out for and look after each other.
v26: When a baby stubs its toe its mouth and vocal chords get involved (it wails) and its eyes get involved (it cries and tears stream down its face). In the same way the body of believers should spring into action when one part is suffering.
- If one member is honoured all the members rejoice: When we sit down to a good meal our whole body benefits from the experience (the sight, the smell, the taste etc of the food) and ‘rejoices’. This is also how it should be for us spiritually within the body of Messiah. When something good happens to a fellow believer we should rejoice with him about that.
v27: The body of Messiah is ONE body
- Members individually: Different parts make up that ONE body. Believers are all over the world. We will never interact with every single believer personally, while we live on this earth, but we all still share a common purpose or goal.
v28: Apostles…Prophets…Teachers etc: Paul is speaking about different roles/gifts/functions found in the church.
v29: The answer to all of these questions is NO. Only some are apostles, Only some are workers of miracles.
v30: No, not everybody speaks in a tongue and not everybody can interpret tongues. Everybody has a call though, and everybody needs to be faithful to the call that they individually and specifically receive from G-d.
v31: Earnestly desire (seek) the best gifts: What are the best gifts? Just because those things were written in that order (apostles, prophets, etc) does not mean that those are the best gifts. If G-d gifts you to be a prophet be the best prophet. If G-d gifts you to be a teacher be the best teacher you can be etc. There’s a relationship between the call that we have and the gift that we are given
- A more excellent way: When we are functioning to the best of our ability in what G-d has called us to do (teach, heal etc) then we will be shown an even more excellent way.