Skip to main content

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

You can read the text here.

In this section Paul continues to hammer home the need for unity and for valuing every member of the church using a well known philosophical trope, that of a community forming a body. However, Paul turns the usual analogy, aimed at reinforcing the current social hierarchy, on its head.[1] Whether they like it or not, they are one body. All who have been baptized into Christ, are, by his Spirit, joined into one body.

The one body is made up of a variety of individuals with a variety of gifts. Just because one feels that that don't have any special role to play in the church's mission doesn't make them extraneous. Nor should they obsess over their "lack" of gifts. Every part has a role to play and every member is essential. If everyone had the same gifts the body would be a monstrosity, only through unified diversity can the body be healthy and whole. In fact, God has given those whose stature in the body may be small special honor. When one part suffers the whole body suffers with it, and when one part is honored, the whole body is honored. The Corinthians are a union whether they like it or not. Paul wants them to like it and to lay down their individualistic status seeking, otherwise they will harm the body, which is ultimately Christ's body. Hence Christology and ecclesiology meet.[2]

Paul then proceeds to rattle off some roles and gifts that God has given to certain members. Some degree of hierarchy does seem implied, but that has to be qualified by everything said above. Even if some roles are more central to the body's function, they are all still necessary (no one is an appendix). Apostleship, exhortation, and teaching head the list with their focus on sound instruction and building up the community. Interestingly Paul mentions administrative gifts. A church does not need to be "institutional" to have logistical issues to manage. Tongues comes in last, again as Paul tries to devalue the gift in the Corinthian's eyes. But Paul has focused enough on gits for the moment. He wants to show them something far more important to be focused upon.

[1] Ciampa and Rosner have an excellent extended section on the background of the body metaphor, one of the few places the exceed Thiselton in this regard.

[2 So Thiselton.


Popular posts from this blog

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:15-29

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! Fo…

Commentary Series Overview

When I write commentary reviews, one of my main goals is to assess how well the commentator hit the intended audience of the commentary and utilized the format of the commentary. This often necessitates cluttering up the post discussing issues of format. To eliminate that, I thought that I would make some general remarks about the format and audience of each of the series that appear in my reviews. Terms like liberal, conservative, etc. are not used pejoratively but simply as descriptors. Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Pierce's commentary series overview. If you don't see a particular series covered here, check out his post to see if it's reviewed there. I am making no attempt at covering every series, just the series that I use. Additionally, new series (such as the NCCS) have been started in the five years since he wrote his very helpful guide, so I thought that it might not be completely out of order to have another person tackle commentary series overviews. This…

Commentary Review: Daniel

In my opinion, Daniel is not the best covered Old Testament book as far as commentaries go. This isn't an uncommon phenomenon among Old Testament books. Though I've looked at them, I'm not going to review some of the older Evangelical Daniel commentaries (like e.g., Baldwin). They don't provide much that you can't get in either Longman or Lucas. If you're unfamiliar with the series that one or more of these commentaries are in check out my commentary series overview.

It was a very close call but my favorite commentary on Daniel is Goldingay's. While there were a few places where I disagreed with his interpretation, I found the commentary to be exemplary. If you're going to teach Daniel, especially the apocalyptic portions, you need a commentary that provides you with a lot of background material. Goldingay, while not as broad as Collins, certainly provides you with quite a bit. His exploration of the background to the apocalyptic symbolism is very helpfu…