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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 12:12

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

Adam Clarke Commentary

For as the body is one - Though the human body have many members, and though it be composed of a great variety of parts, yet it is but one entire system; every part and member being necessary to the integrity or completeness of the whole.

So also is Christ - That is, So is the Church the body of Christ, being composed of the different officers already mentioned, and especially those enumerated, 1 Corinthians 12:28, apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. It cannot be supposed that Christ is composed of many members, etc., and therefore the term Church must be understood, unless we suppose, which is not improbable, that the term Ὁ Χριστος, Christ, is used to express the Church, or whole body of Christian believers.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For as the body is one - The general sentiment which the apostle had been illustrating and enforcing was, that all the endowments which were possessed in the church were the work of the same Holy Spirit, and that they ought to be appropriately cherished and prized, as being all useful and valuable in their places. This sentiment he now illustrates 1 Corinthians 12:27, meaning that it is one, and that he sustains to it the relation of Head; compare Ephesians 1:22-23. As the “head” is the most important part of the body, it may be put for the whole body; and the name “Christ” here, the head of the church, is put for the whole body of which he is the head; and means here the Christian society, or the church. This figure, of a part for the whole, is one that is common in all languages; see the note at Romans 12:4-5.


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-12.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Corinthians 12:12

For as the body is one, and hath many members … so also is Christ.

Of the great variety of men’s characters in the Church

The law of variety in unity obtains--

I. In nature.

1. No two leaves of the same tree, no two faces, even of twins, entirely correspond. Science, however, is continually bringing to light an unity and simplicity of type in things apparently different. What objects can present a greater superficial difference than quadrupeds and fishes, both of which, however, being vertebrates, are formed on the same general plan?

2. And the resemblance is not only of ground-plan, but of agency. The same power of gravitation which ties the planets to the sun, and retains them in their orbits, causes the leaf or the fruit to fall to the ground. The same power of electricity which rives the oak, attracts light substances towards chafed sealing-wax. The same refraction of the rays of the sun produces the rainbow, and makes the tiny dewdrop to twinkle with the prismatic colours.

3. The various parts of the universe work together for one end. Strong forces are at work in and around the earth, which, if allowed unlimited sway, might peril the planet’s existence; but they play into one another’s hands, and hold one another in equipoise.

II. In the Word of God. The Scriptures are a collection of books written under various circumstances at different times. We have histories, biographies, poetry, aphorisms, prophecies, rituals, letters. But however dissimilar, they are one organic whole, knit together by a certain plan and principles. The prophecy of the Seed of the woman, which should bruise the serpent’s head, is manifestly the nucleus round which the whole Bible has formed itself. The entire Old Testament looks forward to Messiah historically, typically, and prophetically.

III. In the Church. Shall we not expect to find the same feature here, for the Church, quite as much as Nature and Scripture is God’s workmanship?

1. The members of the Apostolic Church had various gifts, the phenomena of which were different, but all the results of the agency of one Spirit, and all working together for the glory of one Saviour. These supernatural gifts had something in the natural endowments of the possessor’s mind corresponding to them. Thus, e.g., corresponding to the gift of tongues, some persons have now a great facility of acquiring languages; corresponding to the girt of prophecy, we find in others a natural gift of high and fervid eloquence; some persons even nowadays have such a wonderful art of imparting what they know, that we can hardly be said to have lost the gift of teaching; others are admirably adapted for government; while even the gift of miracles itself rests on the power of mind over matter, of which power we have exemplifications in a natural way even nowadays.

2. The character and temperament of each individual Christian is different from that of his neighbour. Thus St. John represents the contemplative and studious disciple. St. Peter is the great bulwark and rock of the Church, breasting its perils and responsibilities gallantly, before St. Paul appears; Apollos is an eloquent declaimer, “mighty in the Scriptures”; Barnabas has a still small voice of consolation; while Paul, in powers of physical and mental endurance, in the expansiveness of his affections, is God’s chiefest instrument for the diffusion of the glad tidings. These are some of the moulds in which Christian character was cast, and in which we may expect that it will continue to be cast nowadays.

Conclusion:

1. Let us not distress ourselves that we were not brought to God in the same way as some others. God’s ways of influencing the human mind for good vary, first, with the original character of the mind, on which the Holy Ghost has to operate; and, secondly, with the acquired shape which that mind has taken from circumstances in which it has been thrown. On the same page of Scripture there is the record of Lydia, who became a Christian through the gentle opening of the heart, and of the gaoler who was shaken with strong alarm, as if over the pit of hell; nothing else would have broken bonds so firmly riveted.

2. Our method of serving God must depend on our capacities, endowments, position, and opportunities. It may not be a high or a widely influential work which we are doing for God, but then He may not have called us to such a work. “I would undertake to govern a hundred empires,” said Dr. Payson, “if God called me to it, but I would not undertake to govern a hundred sheep unless He called me.”

3. Learn a lesson of large charity. We ought, if rightly minded, to rejoice in the exuberance and variety of the spiritual gifts possessed by Christians, just as we delight in the rich variety of Nature or the Word of God. God’s purpose is that each Christian should exhibit, in the peculiarity of his circumstances, education, moral temperament, and mental endowments, a new specimen of redeeming love and grace. By various discipline here He fits and polishes each living stone for the place which it is destined to occupy in the spiritual temple; and when all the stones are made ready, He will build them together each into his place, and exhibit to men and angels their perfect unity. (Dean Goulburn.)

Different work given to different people

If we examine a thistle we find that each of the purple fringes of which the head is composed is a distinct flower, so that the plume of the thistle is not, in reality, one flower, but a collection of flowers. Each part has its own work to do, and is changed in shape or colour, according to its work. One part produces honey; another attracts, by its colour, insects to fertilise the plant; another helps to produce seed. Each part has its own excellent quality, and the effect of their combined labour is to promote the welfare of all. (H. Macmillan, LL.D.)

The Church: unity in diversity; diversity in unity

The apostle’s discourse is of spiritual gifts. These were largely distributed among the Christians of Corinth--to largely, it would seem, for the grace that went along with them. The diversity in unity here affirmed by the apostle of the gifts communicated to the early Church, pertains to the Church in its entire structure. It is, in fact, the law of its composition--an identity of character and experience, combined with an endless diversity in the details. The most palpable exemplification of this law is that which is offered by the diverse outward forms in which the Church exists. It is not the visible Church which the apostle affirms to be one; but the true Church--the Church made up of the regenerated and saved, who are confined to no one communion, and are known to God alone. But it is not without its significance that He has permitted the visible Church to be cast in many separate moulds. He might have prescribed a polity with such distinctness, and enjoined it in such terms of authority, that all churches would have conformed to it. But He saw fit so to frame His instructions on this subject as to leave room for a diversity of interpretation. The fact is indisputable, that to one class of minds this form of worship is the more edifying; to another, that. In this view we may refer to the visible Church as illustrating the principle of diversity in unity. The principle, however, finds its legitimate sphere within the brotherhood of real believers. This phrase, in fact, defines the sense in which they are affirmed to be one; they are “real believers”: this makes them one. So the apostle teaches in the passage before us: The body of Christ (the Church) is one: “for (verse 13) by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free.” It is through the anointing of the Spirit men are born again, and so engrafted into Christ as to become members of His body. This is the communicating of a new nature which makes them one, as really as the natural birth, the possession of a common humanity, makes them one. External diversities are of no consequence in either case. The child of the hovel, the wigwam, the palace, it matters not where or when he is born, he inherits the common nature and belongs to the race. So with the new birth, it merges all outward distinctions.

1. This unity includes a common head. “Christ is the Head of the Church.” Union with Christ is indispensable.

2. It denotes, further, a oneness of faith. Diversities of belief there certainly are among real believers. All Christians concur in the necessity of “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

3. They are also of one purpose. The various members of the body, controlled by a single will, work together for the same ends. The members of Christ’s mystical body have a common aim.

4. They are united, too, by the bonds of a mutual sympathy. In the human body, if one member suffers, all suffer; if one rejoices, all rejoice. But this unity is not monotony. The Church is one. But it is one as the body is one; as the animal kingdom is one; the vegetable; the mineral; the whole realm of nature. The formula of definition in all these cases is, Unity in diversity, and diversity in unity. The Christian Church began in this way, and began gloriously. The Day of Pentecost supplied the mould in which it was to be cast. “Parthians and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians.” What an assemblage was this! And as it set out, so it has continued. Contemning all distinctions of climate, empire, language, and religion, the Church has gone on, gathering into its ample fold people of all lands and tongues and faiths; cementing them into one harmonious whole; and that, without disturbing the elements which mark their several nationalities. But we may see this diversity in unity without convening the Church Ecumenical. It is the law of the kingdom everywhere. In the apostolic age, the household of faith comprised persons of every rank and occupation. And this variety has been perpetuated. The ministry has never been without its Johns and Pauls, its Thomases and Peters, its sons of thunder and its sons of consolation. Let me name Baxter, Owen, Bunyan, Jeremy Taylor, Bishop Hall, the Wesleys, the Erskines, Romaine, President Edwards, Whitefield, Dwight, Robert Hall, Chalmers, Davies, Mason, the Alexanders. What a galaxy is this! Every star is brilliant; but no two shine with the same lustre. And as with the ministry, so with the people. To delineate the variety which pertains to the many members of the one spiritual body would be to describe the numerous sorts of people aggregated in a community. For the Church recruits itself indifferently from the vast outlying masses of humanity. It appropriates to itself all ages, sexes, and conditions. Of course the training to which it subjects them demands the lopping off of excrescences and the healing of disorders which, neglected, would consume the life. But within the wise and wide limitations prescribed by the Divine Husbandman, it allows all the trees and shrubs transplanted into its enclosure to follow out each the law of its own growth. The pine is not expected to become an oak; nor the orange a vine; nor the violet a rose. This rule is observed even in respect to the methods by which the dead branches are engrafted into the True Vine and made alive. It is the prerogative of the one Almighty Spirit to effect this; here is the unity. But He does it in a great variety of modes; here is the diversity. Nor in conversion only. He carries the same variety of modes and means into the culture and development of the immortal germ deposited in regeneration. The efficiency in all instances is His own. And the one agency He has Himself prescribed, in His Word. But who can describe the paths along which He leads His people, and the endless combinations of proverbial and gracious influences by which He conducts them step by step up the acclivities of the higher life, and fashions them to the “likeness of the heavenly”? The fact is patent to every one. Let us advert to a few of the more important aspects in which it offers itself to our contemplation.

It will not be difficult to show that this Divine law of diversity in unity is as essential to the proper perfection of the Church as it is morally beautiful.

1. Let me begin with this latter thought, the moral beauty of this arrangement. This is not a thing to be argued. Beauty is a matter not of logic, but of feeling. Its appeal is to a constitutional susceptibility. And it is a part of our constitution to crave variety. We do not want, painting to be all of one colour, nor a tune of one strain. The ocean would pall upon us if it were always still or always boisterous. We grow weary of looking day by day at the same people in the same situation, unless they are our intimate friends. And as to our friends, we would not have them all alike if we could. It is one of the charms of the domestic state, the variety there is in families. He who made man made the Church; and of course adapted it to this as well as to every other part of his nature. No one can complain of the New Testament as a monotonous book; nor feel that when be has seen one of its personages he has seen all. We love the Church all the more because its unity, like that of a garden, effloresces in a grateful variety of fruits and flowers.

2. The principle of diversity in unity upon which the Church is constructed illustrates the power and efficacy of Divine grace. The palpable fact which meets the eye is that while grace is more than a match for depravity in its worst forms, it renews and elevates all the nobler traits of humanity; and in either case, without disturbing identity of character. In man’s hands these various types of character might be bent or broken; they could never be renewed. Changed they might be, but not changed without sad contortion or mutilation. Too often has the experiment been tried. A wonderful achievement it is, as wonderful in power as in love, that of imbuing a whole community with a new life, from its very nature pervading, elevating, and controlling, and yet so incorporating it with all the natural faculties and functions as to aid their proper working and their true development. We cite it as one of the fruits of that diversity in unity which enters radically into the constitution of the Church.

3. It is still more to our purpose to refer to the wisdom, perhaps we may say the necessity, of this principle, in view of the mission assigned to the Church. It is not for man to say that anything is absolutely necessary to God in effecting His purposes which He has not declared to be so. But we may speak of the perfect adaptation of the principle we are considering, to the ends for which the Church was established. Not to name other topics, the Church is appointed to be, under God, the Teacher and Guide of the world. Its business is to disciple all nations. It needs, therefore, labourers of every sort and every variety of talent. With fewer gifts in kind, some portions of its work would be neglected. If it is to carry Christianity through the globe, it must have men whose constitutions and training fit them for the various climates of the earth. It must have men of iron nerve who can face dangers. It must have men of the requisite scholarship to grapple with strange languages and preach to strange peoples. In its home-field there is room for the exercise of every kind of gift. A scheme so vast demands a corresponding variety and affluence of talents. And this want is provided for in that diversity which, as we have seen, enters into the constituency of the Church. There are ministers of every grade of culture and with every kind of gifts. How, otherwise, could the ministry fulfil its design? The people vary indefinitely. And who can survey the broad acres which the Church is cultivating, without rejoicing in the combination of gifts employed in carrying forward the work? A radical part of this agency lies in the silent power of example; the simple routine of a quiet and upright life. Some are breaking up the fallow ground. Some are sowing. Some are nurturing the precious grain. And others reaping and gathering the crop. But all are servants of the great Taskmaster.

The unfolding of such a subject suggests the practical lessons which grow out of it.

1. One is a lesson of instruction and encouragement in respect to religious experience. We have seen that this is of no uniform type. Certain elements are essential, but beyond these it partakes of a very great variety. We are not, then, to set up this or that instance of conversion, nor this or that form of the Christian life, as the standard by which all others are to be tested. God has His own methods for bringing men into His kingdom. The only safe or authorised mode of trying our state is to come to the law and the testimony.

2. As unity in diversity is the law of the Church, it is the duty of all its members to cherish and promote the spirit of unity. The apostle points out the effect of a schism among the members of the body, as illustrative of a divisive spirit among the members of the Church. The divisions among Christians have always been the opprobrium of religion.

3. As diversity in unity is the law of the Church, let us try to learn what are our own gifts, and to fill each his own place. To learn what this is, we must ask His teaching in prayer. We must consider our situation and circumstances. We must endeavour to find out what gifts we have, and how they can be used to the best purpose.

4. There is one other lesson which I would gladly enforce if the time would permit, viz., a lesson of charity in judging of the Christianity of others. (H. A. Boardman, D.D.)

Christ the head, the Church His body

The appellation “Christ” is here applied, not to the person or our Lord, but to His Church, intimating that she is identified with her Saviour; and being given to the Church as a body, indicates the harmony and union of all its parts.

I. The union of believers with Christ. This is here represented as corresponding with that which subsists betwixt the head and the members of the body. (Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 1:18). This reminds us that Christ is--

1. The same nature with ourselves, even as the head is of the same nature with the body (Hebrews 4:16-17).

2. The governing power in the Church, as the head is of the body. In the head the eyes are stationed like watchful sentinels; the ears receiving the information conveyed by sound; the organs of taste and smell discerning things that differ, and contributing eminently both to our safety and to our enjoyment; the tongue, the interpreter of thought: there, in short, is the countenance, the seat of beauty, giving to man an impress of dignity not found in any of the inferior animals. Now the superior endowments of this capital of the human frame afford a fit emblem of the honour and supremacy of Him who is constituted our spiritual Head.

3. The vital principle, the source of life and feeling to the whole body. Christ our Head, in whom dwell all wisdom and all power, imparts and sustains the principles of the spiritual life.

II. Their relation to one another.

1. The members of the body are many, and differ exceedingly, and yet in a machine so complex each movement and circumvolution is exactly fitted for its specific end. Of the many bones, e.g., of the hand or foot, not one could change its place without injury to the limb to which it belongs. In like manner, every muscle, nerve, and artery has its own place and office, which no other could supply. So in the mystical body of Christ there are many members, with each its own office. One Christian excels in the intelligence of the eye, another in the discrimination of the ear: one has the activity and adaptation of the band, another the firmness and perseverance of the foot: one has the energy of the arm, another the tenderness of the bosom (verses 4-11).

2. This diversity occasions a dependence of the several members upon one another (verses 21, 22). Let no believer, however mean, be discouraged; let no believer, however eminent, presume that he is independent. The analogy suggests the mutual sympathy that should subsist among believers (verse 26). The tenderness each should cherish our fellow-Christians, the zeal each should render.

4. This mutual co-operation has the happiest results. In the natural body, when the eye is quick to discern, the hand diligent to execute, the foot steady to pursue, the ear open to hear, and the tongue ready to return a right answer, the combined exertion of our powers secures ends which their separate and unconnected attempts could never have attained. In like manner the efforts of the several members of the body of Christ are then successful when they are honestly and affectionately combined. (H. Grey, D.D.)

The Church the body of Christ

I. What this implies. That its members, like a living organism, are--

1. Animated by one spirit (verse 13).

2. Mutually dependent (verses 14-18).

3. United for one end (verses 19, 20).

II. What it requires in the several members.

1. Humility and contentment (verses 21-24).

2. Unity and sympathy (verses 25, 26).

3. Gratitude and fidelity (verses 27-31). (J. Lyth, D.D.)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Corinthians 12:12". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-corinthians-12.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.

THE ONE BODY

The great Pauline teaching that the church comprises the spiritual body of Christ is among the most important teachings revealed to man. God's device of accounting people righteous is that of forming them into a corporate unity, of which Christ is head, all the saved being members of it, the body itself being identified as "Christ," and therefore partaking of the perfect righteousness of the Son of God himself. God saves people, not by injecting righteousness into them (on the grounds of their faith and/or obedience), but by transferring them "into Christ," identifying them "as Christ," and making them, in fact, to be Christ. By this heavenly device, man becomes truly righteous and thus saved, not as John Doe, but as Christ. Faith and obedience of the gospel are the conditions antecedent to God's transfer of sinners into Christ, baptism being the action through which God effects the actual entry into Christ; but neither the faith of the sinner nor any act of obedience is the ultimate ground of his redemption, that all-important ground being the perfect faith, obedience and righteousness of the Christ himself. For full discussion of this, see my Commentary on Romans, pp. 118-126. Any man failing to fulfill the prior conditions of being "in Christ" is not a part of the body in view here, as evidenced in the next verse.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-corinthians-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For as the body is one,.... That is, an human body; for of this the apostle speaks, and takes a simile, and forms a comparison from, showing the union among saints, and their mutual participation of the various gifts of the Spirit; for an human body is but one body, and not more.

And hath many members; as eyes, ears, hands, feet, &c.

And all the members of that one body being many are one body; as numerous as they may be, they all belong to, and make up but one body; performing different offices, for which they are naturally fitted for the good of the whole:

so also to Christ; not personal, but mystical; not the head alone, or the members by themselves, but head and members as constituting one body, the church. The church, in union with Christ, the head, is but one general assembly, and church of the firstborn written in heaven, though consisting of the various persons of God's elect, who are closely united one to another, and their head Christ; and therefore are denominated from him, and called by his name; see Romans 9:3.


Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-corinthians-12.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

7 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: 8 so also [is] m Christ.

(7) He sets forth his former saying by a similitude taken from the body: this, he says, is manifestly seen in the body, whose members are different, but yet so joined together, that they make but one body. {(8)} The applying of the similitude. So must we also think, he says, of the mystical body of Christ: for all we who believe, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, are by one person by the same baptism, joined together with our head, that by that means, there may be framed one body compact of many members. And we have drunk one self same spirit, that is to say, a spiritual feeling, perseverance and motion common to us all out of one cup.

(m) Christ joined together with his Church.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-corinthians-12.html. 1599-1645.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

So also is Christ (ουτως και ο Χριστοςhoutōs kai ho Christos). One would naturally expect Paul here to say ουτως και το σωμα του Χριστουhoutōs kai to sōma tou Christou (so also is the body of Christ). He will later call Christ the Head of the Body the Church as in Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:24; Ephesians 5:23, Ephesians 5:30. Aristotle had used σωμαsōma of the state as the body politic. What Paul here means is Christ as the Head of the Church has a body composed of the members who have varied gifts and functions like the different members of the human body. They are all vitally connected with the Head of the body and with each other. This idea he now elaborates in a remarkable manner.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-corinthians-12.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

So is Christ — That is, the body of Christ, the church.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-corinthians-12.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Members; limbs and organs.--Christ; the body of Christ; that is, the church.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-corinthians-12.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

12.For as the body is one He now derives a similitude from the human body, which he makes use of also in Romans 12:4; but it is for a different purpose, as I have already stated above. In that passage, he exhorts every one to be satisfied with his own calling, and not to invade another’s territory; as ambition, curiosity, or some other disposition, induces many to take in hand more than is expedient. Here, however, he exhorts believers to cleave to each other in a mutual distribution of gifts, as they were not conferred upon them by God that every one should enjoy his own separately, but that one should help another. It is usual, however, for any society of men, or congregation, to be called a body, as one city constitutes a body, and so, in like manner, one senate, and one people. Monenius Agrippa, (747) too, in ancient times, when desirous to conciliate the Roman people, when at variance with the senate, made use of an apologue, not very unlike the doctrine of Paul here. (748) Among Christians, however, the case is very different; for they do not constitute a mere political body, but are the spiritual and mystical body of Christ, as Paul himself afterwards adds. (1 Corinthians 12:27.) The meaning therefore is — “Though the members of the body are various, and have different functions, they are, nevertheless, linked together in such a manner that they coalesce in one. (749) We, accordingly, who are members of Christ, although we are endowed with various gifts, ought, notwithstanding, to have an eye to that connection which we have in Christ.”

So also is Christ The name of Christ is used here instead of the Church, because the similitude was intended to apply not to God’s only-begotten Son, but to us. It is a passage that is full of choice consolation, inasmuch as he calls the Church Christ; for Christ (750) confers upon us this honor — that he is willing to be esteemed and recognised, not in himself merely, but also in his members. Hence the same Apostle says elsewhere, (Ephesians 1:23,) that the Church is his completion, (751) as though he would, if separated from his members, be incomplete. And certainly, as Augustine elegantly expresses himself in one part of his writings —

“Since we are in Christ a fruit-bearing vine, what are we out of him but dry twigs?” (John 15:4.)

In this, then, our consolation lies — that, as he and the Father are one, so we are one with him. Hence it is that his name is applied to us.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-corinthians-12.html. 1840-57.

Vv. 12. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, but all the members of the body, being many, are one body: so is it with the Christ."

The apostle has just stated a Divine fact, which is the secret of the Church"s life: the unity of the Divine force, which animates it in the variety of its manifestations. This principle is realized, first, from the standpoint of the Divine influence in general, in the triple diversity of gifts, offices, and effects produced (1 Corinthians 12:4-6); then from the special viewpoint of the Spirit"s influence, in the variety of gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). In 1 Corinthians 12:12 Paul renders palpable the harmony of this diversity with the unity which produces and governs it, by comparing it with what is nearest us, our own body. What is the human body? One and the same life spreading out into a plurality of functions each attached to one of the members of the organism, and labouring for its preservation and wellbeing. — The last words: So it is with the Christ, present a difficulty. It seems as if we should have: So it is with the Church. Must we, with Grotius, de Wette, Heinrici, understand by the Christ the Church itself, or, with Rückert, the ideal Christ? These two meanings cannot be justified: the former because Paul, if that had been his idea, would have expressed himself more clearly; the latter, because it contains a notion foreign to the mind of the apostle. In general, commentators are agreed in applying the word: the Christ, to the personal glorified Christ, seeking, however, in various ways to comprehend the Church under the idea of His person; Chrysostom, Meyer saying: as head of the body, He fills and controls it throughout; Hofmann, Edwards regard Christ as the personal ego of the organism; Holsten thinks that the Christ denotes the Spirit, who generally, in Paul"s view, is identical, according to Holsten, with Christ"s glorified person. This last meaning is false, as well as the affirmation on which it rests. The Spirit is not identified either by Paul, or John, or any biblical writer, with the person of the Christ. The interpretations of Meyer and Hofmann are undoubtedly well founded, but it seems to me that the exact expression of Paul"s idea is rather this: The term the Christ here denotes the whole spiritual economy of which He is the principle in opposition to the natural economy to which the human body belongs. Similarly it might be said, in describing a law of natural humanity: "It is so in Adam," or in instancing a law of the Jewish economy: "It was so in Abraham." It is a way of forcibly calling to mind the unity of the personal principle on which an economy rests, and which forms, as it were, its permanent substance. In the first half of the following verse the apostle applies to the Church this figure taken from the human body.


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Bibliography
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/1-corinthians-12.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 12. So also is Christ] Mystical Christ, the Church. Christ the Saviour of his body {Ephesians 5:23} accounts not himself complete without his Church, Ephesians 1:23. So God is called Jacob, Psalms 24:6.


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Here our apostle acquaints us that the intent and design of God in giving these various gifts, was the profit and edification of his church, which he compares to a body that has many members; for though that one Spirit which distributes the gifts, could have given them all to the same person, yet to maintain a mutual dependence, and a charitable serviceableness of the members one among another, he gave to one one gift, to another another; by which means one member of the church would be obliged to take care of the rest.

Behold here, how the wisdom of God has ordered the state of the church, like that of the natural body, to which the apostle elegantly compares the body of Christ, which is his church: As the body hath many members, so also has Christ; that is, the church of Christ. Now having assured them, that they were indeed members of one body, he tells them what it was that made them so, 1 Corinthians 12:13. For by one Spirit, says he, we are baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit; that is, by being baptized we are all made members of the body of Christ, and united one to another under him the head; and this, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, we are all one in Christ, who by baptism were admitted into the church; and this union of ours, one with another, is testified and declared by our communion at the Lord's table, which is here called a drinking into one Spirit.

And whereas by baptism we are said by one Spirit to be baptized into one body, and at the Lord's supper are said to drink into one Spirit; we learn, that the grace of the Holy Spirit was given in baptism and in the Lord's supper to all the faithful, who do not receive unprofitable signs, but the quickening grace and Spirit of God, to make them living members of that one body.


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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

12.] The organic unity of the various members in one body, is predicated also of CHRIST, i.e. the Church as united in Him, see ch. 1 Corinthians 6:15. The γάρ confirms the preceding ἓν κ. τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα, by an analogy. By the repetition,— τὸ σῶμα, … τοῦ σώματος …, σῶμα, the unity of the members as an organic whole is more strongly set forth.


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-12.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 12:12. Illustration of how one and the same Spirit works all the charismata as He will; namely, just as the case stands with the body, that its many members make up its unity, so also does it stand in like manner with Christ, whose many members likewise constitute the unity of His body. χριστός is not the Christian church, but Christ Himself, inasmuch, that is to say, as He, as the Head of the church, has in its many members His organic body,(1975) which receives forth from Him, the Head, the whole harmonious connection and efficiency of all its members and its growth. Christ is not conceived as the Ego of the church as His body (Hofmann), but as in all parallel expressions of the apostle (see especially Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 5:30; Romans 12:4 f., and above on 1 Corinthians 6:15), as the Head of the church, and the church as the body of the Head. 1 Corinthians 12:21 does not run counter to this; see on that passage.

The repetition of τοῦ σώματος, which is superfluous in itself, or might have been represented by αὐτοῦ (comp Lobeck, a(1977) Aj. p. 222, ed. 2; Kühner, a(1978) Xen. Anab. i. 7. 11), serves here emphatically to bring out the unity.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 12:12. οὓτω καὶ χριστὸς, so also Christ) The whole Christ is the head and body. The head is the only-begotten Son of God, and His body is the Church; Augustine. This is in harmony with Ps. 18:51. To His Anointed, to David and his seed: for so the accent requires it to be.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-corinthians-12.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

For as it is in the body natural, the integral parts, or members of it, are

many, yet the body is but one; so it is in the spiritual body, the church, which is that mystical body of which Christ is the Head. The members of the church may be many, and there may be in several members of the church a diversity of gifts, of administrations, and operations, yet the church is but one, yea, Christ and the church make up but one mystical body, of which he is the Head; and they are the members; and therefore the several members, having several gifts, or several offices, or several powers and operations, had no reason, for their difference in such gifts, or powers, or offices, to envy one another, or to despise each other, or glory over one another; for they were but one body, and had all the same Head, though they had from the same Spirit divers abilities, offices, and powers for several operations.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

So also is Christ; the head of his spiritual body the church. All its members, like the different members of the human body, are united to one head, and should be, by mutual sympathy and affection, united to one another.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-corinthians-12.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

12. καθάπερ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα ἕν ἐστιν. This simile is a very common one. It is used on several occasions by the Apostle. See Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 5:30; Colossians 2:19. It was even familiar to Gentile minds from the well-known apologue of Menenius Agrippa in Livy II. 32. Cf. Shakespeare, Coriolanus, Act I. Sc. 1. For other examples see Alford in loc. The point here is somewhat different. The unity of the body in the fable above-mentioned centres in the idea of the body politic. In the Christian scheme the unity is found in Christ, of Whose life all His members partake.

οὕτων καὶ ὁ χριστός. The Apostle, like Christ Himself in the parable of the Vine in John 15 (as also in ch. 17), identifies His members with Himself. The life they live (Galatians 2:20) is no longer theirs but His. They have put on the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), the second Adam (ch. 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47) Who was created afresh in the Image of God. And the result is the identification of themselves with Him. So that they are His Body (Ephesians 1:23), as filled with Him, Who filleth all things. So Beza on Ephesians 1:23, ‘Hinc etiam illud in Christo toties repetitum, quod multo expressius aliquid significat quam cum Christo, vel per Christum.’ And Colet on 1 Corinthians 1, ‘Unum quiddam sub Deo ex multis et variis membris constituunt; qui ab una commune unctione unus Christus rite potest appellari. Quod hoc compositum ex Deo et hominibus in Deum vocatis, Paulus non modo Christum, sed etiam in Epistola ad Ephesios virum perfectum vocat.’


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"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-corinthians-12.html. 1896.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

12. The body of Christ is one, as He is one,” yet innumerable have been the saints of all ages. Unification of God’s people is in the baptism with the Holy Ghost.


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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/1-corinthians-12.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

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

Paul here likens Christ and His people to a body with its many different parts, and he describes them not as 'the church' but as 'Christ'. This revelation of Paul's inspired thinking must be carefully noted. It is not that Christ is in Heaven and we are on the earth, it is that we are with Him in 'heavenly places' (John 14:18; John 14:23; Ephesians 2:6; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1-3), and He is present on earth with us and in us, manifesting Himself through us, so close is the union. It is not satisfactory to simply see these as metaphors, although they are partial metaphor. His nearness and indwelling in His people is a genuine reality. It is a oneness that goes beyond metaphor, although we must, while enjoying it, not build great theories on it. And the spiritual realm, the unseen realm, is a reality. In the end the body is the glorified Christ.

This verse should be writ large in all our hearts for it reveals Paul's central emphasis and will save much false interpretation. It is in close union with Christ's body sacrificed in death and its consequence that we are one body (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 1:22), for it is through unity with Him that we are one (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). The body is primarily Christ, not the church. So it is in union with Him that we are the body, and the closer we sense our union with Him to be, the more will we see ourselves as one with His people in 'the body'. In all that follows we must remember that he is not speaking of the church as the body, but of Christ as the body with Whom they have been made one and through Whom the church lives. It is not a physical body at all, but a spiritual body, although partly and dimly manifested through physical bodies.


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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/1-corinthians-12.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The apostle spoke of this comparison in other epistles as well ( Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 4:11-13; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:19). He probably adapted the idea of the body politic, an essentially secular but commonly understood concept, to illustrate the church. There can be unity in a body without uniformity. Here the apostle stressed the fact that diversity among the members is an essential part of a unified body. Evidently the Corinthians were striving for unanimity and did not appreciate that there can and must be diversity in a "spiritual" church.

"One of the marks of an individual"s maturity is a growing understanding of, and appreciation for, his own body. There is a parallel in the spiritual life: as we mature in Christ, we gain a better understanding of the church, which is Christ"s body. The emphasis in recent years on "body life" has been a good one. It has helped to counteract the wrong emphasis on "individual Christianity" that can lead to isolation from the local church." [Note: Wiersbe, 1:607.]


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-corinthians-12.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 12:12. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body,(1) being many, are one body; so also is Christ—who with the Church is an organic whole.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/1-corinthians-12.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Corinthians 12:12. “The one Spirit,” the leading thought of § 39, suggests the similitude of “the body” for the Church (called in ch. 3 the tillage, building, temple of God), since this is the seat of His multifarious energies. In the Eph. and Col. Epp. τὸ σῶμα becomes a fixed title for the Christian community, setting forth its relation both to the inhabiting Spirit and to the sovereign Head; as yet it remains a plastic figure. Aristotle had applied this image to the State, the body politic; and the idea was a Gr(1870) commonplace. The Ap. is still insisting on the breadth of the Holy Spirit’s working, as against Cor(1871) partisanship and predilection for miraculous endowments; hence the reiterated ἓν and πολλά, also the emphatic πάντα of the second clause: “but all the members of the body, many as they are ( πολλὰ ὄντα), are one body”. In applying the comparison, Paul writes not as one expects, οὕτως ἐκκλησία or οὔτως ἡμεῖς, but with heightened solemnity οὕτως καὶ χριστός, “so also is the Christ!” “Christ stands by metonomy for the community united through Him and grounded in Him” (Hn(1872)). This substitution shows how realistic was P.’s conception of believers as subsisting “in Christ,” and raises the idea of Church-unity to its highest point; “all the members are instinct with one personality” (Ed(1873)): cf. Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 13:3; 2 Corinthians 13:5, for this identification in the case of the individual Christian. The later representation of Christ and the Church as Head and Body is implicit in this phrase. For χριστὸς with art(1874), cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 10:4, etc.; also Ephesians 5:23 ff.


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-corinthians-12.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

As the body is one, &c. From this comparison of the mystical body of Christ, that is, of his Church, to a man's natural body, he brings excellent instructions. 1. That as all members and parts, make up the same body, so also is Christ; that is, so it is in the Church of Christ, which is his mystical body. 2. As all the parts of man's body are enlivened by the same soul, so all in the Church have their life from the same Spirit of God in baptism, and in the sacraments instituted by our Saviour Christ; in which we are made to drink of the same spirit. 3. As all the members, that have such different offices and functions, do but constitute one complete body, so is it in the Church of Christ. 4. As those that seem the less considerable parts of the human body, are no less necessary for the subsistence and harmony of the whole, and stand in need of one another, (for example, the head stands in need of the feet) so in the Church, &c. 5. He take notice, that in a natural body, the less honourable, the baser, and as they are called, the uncomely parts, are clothed with greater care and decency, Literally, have a more abundant honour bestowed upon them, so in the mystical body, no less, but even a greater care is to be taken of the weaker, and more infirm members, of the poor, the weak, the ignorant; and in the spirit of charity and love, that there may be no divisions or schisms, but a brotherly union: that if one suffer, another compassionate and assist him, &c. (Witham)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.

"For"-"The "for" with which this sentence begins indicates that what follows is intended to offer further explanation of the point made in vv. 4-11." (Fee pp. 601-602)

"as the body is one"-essential unity in the body doesn"t demand uniformity in function or the exact same area of service for all members.

"so also is Christ"-i.e. the body of Christ, the Church. (; Romans 12:5)

"No one regards the body as divided ( or intended to be divided) because it has many different parts (fingers, feet, ears). As a body it cannot be all one member." (McGuiggan p. 171)

"The unity of the Church is not that of inorganic nature, --a monotonous aggregation of similars, as in..a heap of stones; it is the oneness of a living organism..Without "many members"..there would be no body at all." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 889)


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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-12.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

that one. The texts read "the".

so also, &c. = so is Christ also.

Christ = the Christ. App-98.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-corinthians-12.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
as
10:17; Romans 12:4,5; Ephesians 1:23; 4:4,12,15,16; 5:23,30; Colossians 1:18,24; 2:19; Colossians 3:15
so
27; Galatians 3:16

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-corinthians-12.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also (is) Christ.

For introduces an illustration of the truth taught in the preceding verses. Every organism, or organic whole, supposes diversity and unity. That is, different parts united so as to constitute one whole. The apostle had taught that in the unity of the church there is a diversity of gifts. This is illustrated by a reference to the human body. It is one, yet it consists of many members. And this diversity is essential to unity; for unless the body consisted of many members, it would not be a ( ףש ͂ לב) body, i.e. an organic whole. So also is Christ, i.e. the body of Christ, or the Church. As the body consists of many members and is yet one; so it is with the church, it is one and yet consists of many members, each having its own gift and office. See Romans 12:4, Romans 12:5. Ephesians 1:23 and Ephesians 4:4, Ephesians 4:16.


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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/1-corinthians-12.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

Christ is like a single body. Paul uses the example of the human body to show the nature of Christ (and his church). The point is variety in unity. Diversification of function makes possible human life. The unity of the Church is the oneness of a living organism where each individual has his or her own unique function. No one has any right to be jealous of what anyone else can do; and without this ONE, the body is not complete.


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-corinthians-12.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

: For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.

Here Paul affirmed that every individual Christian is part of a single "body" (this point is also found in places like Galatians 3:28). Paul expressed this fact in two different ways: (1) The body is one and has many members and (2) all the members of the body, although many, are one.

There is a sense in which all faithful congregations compose the one body of Christ ( Matthew 16:18), but here Paul referred to individual Christians and their local congregation. Everyone in a local congregation has become a Christian in exactly the same way (the process is described in verse13) and this means the members in a local congregation should be unified (compare Romans 15:6). Some think of unity as a luxury, but God views it as a necessity. Christians certainly have different functions and gifts (compare verses8-10), but all are part of one body (verses16-17). The Corinthians should have continually demonstrated this unity at the congregational potluck meals (11:18-21), the Lord's Supper (10:16b, 17; 11:29) and the other aspects of worship (chapters12-14), but they were failing in these things. Thus, Paul reminded them about how they became "one" with fellow saints in the next verse.


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Price, Brad "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bpc/1-corinthians-12.html.

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Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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