July 02, 2020 – Thursday
1 Corinthians 12:27
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
The above verse is near the end of section of chapter twelve about Unity and Diversity in the body of Christ. It begins with verse twelve with Paul writing 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Apparently there was a need to ensure in the church at Corinth that everyone knew everyone was part of the body of Christ. We are not told what was behind the need for Paul’s great illustration of the physical body to make his point clear. Are you a Jew? Are you a Gentile? Are you a slave? Are you free? None of that matters if you were baptized by the one Spirit into the body of Christ. None of those divisions matter. You are one of the many parts of the body.
Paul continues on to make his point even clearer still using the example of the human body. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
As for me I like to look upon verses 20 and 27 as a summation of sorts separated to make the point in various places.
As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I can clearly remember when I was soaking up everything possible about Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit, but very aware of how little I really knew. I was also very aware of how I could not sing – I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Then came a time when we shared a space with another church and tables and chairs needed to be set up and torn down and stowed away. My comment to the Pastor then was, “I can’t sing and I can barely dance (no there was no dancing involved), but I know how to take care of these tables and chairs plus the clean up afterwards.” The Pastor was pleased I had found a way to serve instead of standing off to the side while others did the set up and tear down. I was clearly part of the body that day.
Paul had started this chapter discussing spiritual gifts and ends it discussing the same as well as the body by asking a series of questions: 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. Obviously the answer to Paul’s questions is “No.” But in ending with verse 31 he didn’t finish by simply saying Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. He added And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
That was his teaser pointing to what was to follow, what we have labeled chapter 13. It is there where he points out none of the gifts matter if we are without love. Or as he puts it in the opening verses of the chapter 1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
In Galatians 5:6b Paul was much more succinct The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.