Friday 20 May 2022

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (v. 27)

1 Corinthians 12:27-31 Friday 20 May 2022

Psalm 135:13-21


After yesterday's detailed exposition of the image of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-26), Paul turns to the importance of distinct gifts within the Church, indicating some roles are more significant than others. This does not mean that God honours thosewho use these gifts more than others – in fact, Paul has already said the weaker members should be treated most honourably in the body of Christ (12:22-24). It does mean, however, that Paul prioritises certain roles as especially important, though even these are less important than the greater call of love.

Following his reminder that the Church is the body of Christ and each participant is a member (v. 27), Paul enumerates a number of different roles which God has appointed, beginning with apostles, prophets and teachers (v. 28). While the ‘apostles’ Paul has in mind here are probably those commissioned by the risen Christ to spread the gospel, ‘prophets’ and ‘teachers’ both have a role in communicating God’s message to God’s people. This suggests the foundational role of communicating truth within the Church. Hearing God’s message is essential for the life of the Church.

Paul next moves from roles to functions, and these are listed in what seems to be a less ordered way. The gifts include those that are seemingly more miraculous (deeds of power, gifts of healing, various kinds of tongue) with those that might seem to us more mundane (forms of assistance, forms of leadership). God uses all with such gifts to build up the Church.

The series of questions in verse 29-30 are rhetorical, implying a negative answer in each case. While some people are apostles, prophets and teachers, not all are – and that is okay. God uses people in different ways to build his Church.

The final verse encourages the Church collectively to ‘strive for the greater gifts’ – the gifts that especially focus on communicating God’s word and will – and Paul promises to show his readers a "still more excellent way" (v. 31), preparing for his treatment of love in chapter 13 (which we will study tomorrow).

To Ponder:

  • Do you think that there are some ‘essential’ roles for the life of the Church? If so, what are they?
  • How can we both affirm the significance of each person within the Church while also affirming that some roles are especially important? Is it possible to do both?
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