Tuesday

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” (v. 12)

1 Corinthians 12.12-31a Tuesday 3 March 2015

Psalm: Psalm 119:33-48


Background

Following on from yesterday's passage, in which Paul wrote thatalthough there may be many spiritual gifts they all come from theone Spirit of God, he goes on to explore how they all serve and areinterdependent upon one another.

Paul does this by introducing the image of the human body inverse 12 (above). He begins by reminding his fellow Christians thatthey have all been baptized into the one Body of Christ, and thenature of their different backgrounds, "Jews or Greeks, slaves orfree" (v. 13) indicates the range of possible tensions which mightarise.

He then reflects on how the body works. There are many members,limbs and organs in the body, each of which depends on the others.No one limb or organ can presume to operate on its own, or wherewould this leave the body? "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I haveno need of you' nor again the head to the feet 'I have no need ofyou'" (v. 21). Indeed, within the body, it is sometimes the casethat the seemingly "weaker" members turn out to be the most"indispensable" (v. 22); perhaps here Paul is reflecting on some ofthe social divisions within the Christian community in Corinth. ForGod has so arranged things in the body as to give "greater honour"to the lesser members (v. 24), so that instead of disagreement anddiscrimination there should be mutual respect and care. For "if onemember suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member ishonoured, all rejoice together with it" (v. 26).

Paul concludes this section by reminding us that what is true oflimbs in the human body is equally true of members in the Body ofChrist: "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members ofit" (v. 27). It follows that there are a variety of offices(apostles, prophets, teachers) and of gifts (of healing,assistance, leadership and tongues) which God has distributed(verse 28). But no one person has a monopoly on them: "Are allapostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?". For all these giftsare intended to be shared in the life of the Church.

Paul closes with an enigmatic challenge to "strive for thegreater gifts" (v. 31a); what exactly this means will be picked upin the sections which follow.


To Ponder

  • Have you been called to exercise office in the life of theChurch?
  • Do you think we tend to privilege or rank some gifts higherthan others? Why?
  • Can you think of some gifts which we tend to underplay andwhich should be given a higher priority? If so, what are they? Whymight this be?
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