I Corinthians 12:14-31
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (v. 27). Paul uses “ye”, the plural form of you, to address the church at Corinth. In his epistles to the Romans, the Ephesians, and the Colossians, Paul also states that believers are the body of Christ. The words of this epistle are not for the believers at Corinth alone. Paul is speaking to believers in every church of every era.
The church at Corinth was a diverse congregation made up of both Jewish and Gentile converts. In his opening words to the Corinthians, Paul described the church as “them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus.” The body of Christ is all who are set apart His purposes.
Paul’s words are not his own. Paul speaks words which are of God the Father and God the Son (see II Pet. 3:15-16). The Holy Spirit moved Paul to state that the spiritual body which is Christ is composed of many members which are different from one another. Some members are feeble (v. 22); some are perceived to be honorable and others less honorable (v. 23); and some viewed as comely and some uncomely (v. 23). The members, while different, all exist for one purpose: making the whole body function in efficient manner. The Apostle Paul uses the make up of a physical body to illustrate the make up of the church. A physical body has many parts. Each part is different but each is necessary. The church, likewise, is composed of many parts with each part performing an integral function. If one part fails to perform, its failure hinders the functioning of the entire body.
In verse 18, Paul states: “But now hath God set members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” In the physical body, the head did not make himself the head nor the eye make himself the eye. It is with the body of Christ as it is with the physical body. Each member of the body of Christ is to be directed by God’s will. Every member of the body is sanctified by believing. Not one member has sanctified or can sanctify himself. All are saved by grace through faith given by God (Eph. 2:8). Every part of the physical body from head to toe is dependent upon the Lord. Not one is an independent entity. All are part of the body.
God has given more abundant honor to that part which lacked honor (v. 24). Sometimes we do not hear what God would have us to hear. The Lord has said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Christ gave it all. He has given His righteousness to every member of His body. He has commanded us to love one another as He has loved us.
In verse 25, Paul states that God did not fashion the body for purpose of division. The body is fashioned as it is so that members should have the same care one for another. Again, no member is independent. When one suffers, all suffer with that member. When one member is honored, all members rejoice in it. Such is the body of Christ, the church of God’s design.
Divisions existed within the church at Corinth. There is no division in the church which God designed. When members care for one another, when we love one another as He loves us, there is no division. The church of God’s design cannot be identified by an inscription on the side of a building or upon a signpost on the road. The church of His design is without schism. The church of His design keeps His commandments. Members of His body love one another as He loves us.
Loving others as He loves us requires a righteousness which no man, save Jesus, possesses. No one can love as Christ unless Christ live in him. All must believe and receive. Believe, receive and be blessed. The poor in spirit shall be poor no more (Matt. 5:3). Those who mourn shall be comforted (Matt. 5:4). The meek shall be blessed (Matt. 5:5). Those who seek righteousness shall be satisfied (Matt. 5:6). The merciful shall obtain mercy (Matt. 5:7). The pure in heart shall see God (Matt. 5:8). Peacemakers shall be called the children of God (Matt. 5:9). All who are persecuted and reviled for His sake shall receive great reward (Matt. 5:10-12). His promised blessings belong to them who reveal the righteousness which He has freely given.
In verse 28, Paul reveals the organizational detail of the body of Christ. God has chosen some to do one thing and others to do different things. The Lord did not designate anyone to do all things. The first in ranking are apostles, followed by prophets (those who deliver inspired utterances), then teachers, miracle workers, gifts of healing, helps (helpers), governments (directors), and, lastly, diversities of tongues. Paul was an apostle because the Lord Jesus spoke directly to him.
In verse 31, Paul implores believers to earnestly desire the best gifts. The best gifts are to be chosen to receive the word of God, to deliver inspired messages, and to teach the word. In the close of verse 31, Paul states that he (an apostle) will show the Corinthians (and us) a more excellent way. Paul reveals that way in I Corinthians 13. More excellent than being a vessel chosen by God to hear His voice or to deliver or to teach His word is to love one another as He loves us. When we abide in Him, His love shall be seen in us.