Thursday 19 May 2022

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. (v. 18)

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Thursday 19 May 2022

Psalm 135:1-7


In yesterday's reading, Paul affirmed the Holy Spirit’s role in distributing gifts within the Church (12:4-11). Here he moves to his famous discussion of the Church as the ‘body of Christ’. It is an image that he uses elsewhere in his writings (see Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:19).

Paul begins by introducing the idea of the body of Christ, suggesting that the relation of ‘members’ (limbs and so forth) to the body is the same as the relationship of ‘members’ of the Church to Christ (v. 12). The Church in that sense is the ‘body of Christ’, and it is the Spirit who transforms us into this body through baptism (v. 13). The verse reflects a stage in the Church’s life when conversion, baptism and reception of the Spirit occurred together.

Paul next develops the image at some length, drawing out some of its different implications. One is that all members of the body belong together, and Paul points to the foolishness of any one part of the body suggesting it doesn't belong to another. How could it be that an ear, for instance, could disregard the role of the eye (v. 16)? This leads to the next implication which is that all parts of the body have an important function, and so all within the Church have a role to play. It is God, Paul states, who has arranged it in this way (v. 18).

Paul also draws out a corollary point that the body is particularly dependent on those members that at time seem to be weaker or less important, including those parts of the body which are clothed from view (and so ‘honoured’) (v. 26). In a similar way, God honours the ‘inferior members’ within the Church in order that there may be unity rather than division, and so that each member cares for the other (v. 25).

Paul ends the passage here with the importance of mutual care. Since we are all part of the same body, we should suffer with one another and rejoice together. Isn’t this the kind of Church that truly witnesses to the reality of the Spirit’s presence?

To Ponder:

  • How might Paul’s teaching challenge the idea that some within the Church are more valuable because of their roles?
  • Paul pictures a Church where people cry together and rejoice together. Where have you seen this taking place at church or in a Christian community?
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