Lesson 40

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

12:12 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. 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many. 12:15 If the foot would say, "Because I'm not the hand, I'm not part of the body," it is not therefore not part of the body. 12:16 If the ear would say, "Because I'm not the eye, I'm not part of the body," it's not therefore not part of the body. 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be? 12:18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired. 12:19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 12:20 But now they are many members, but one body. 12:21 The eye can't tell the hand, "I have no need for you," or again the head to the feet, "I have no need for you." 12:22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 12:23 Those parts of the body which we think to be less honorable, on those we bestow more abundant honor; and our unpresentable parts have more abundant propriety; 12:24 whereas our presentable parts have no such need. But God composed the body together, giving more abundant honor to the inferior part, 12:25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 12:26 When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. Or when one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Today's Lesson 

The root problem in the Corinthian church was the divisions that existed between the members of the assembly. As Paul has written about the problems within the church at Corinth, time and again he has chided them about the way that they separate themselves from one another. The extended metaphor that Paul uses in today and tomorrow's lesson is his most dramatic attempt to impress on the Corinthians how divisive their actions were to the unity that should exist in Christ.


Paul uses the metaphor that the church is a body -- specifically that it is the body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All Christians are part of this body. Just as a human body is made up of many parts, the church is also made up of many different kinds of people each performing a different task for the sake of the body. But even though each one of the members of the body are different from one another, they are still part of one whole being. So it is with the members of the body of Christ. Even though we are all different, we are all part of a greater whole.


Because they only saw their differences, the Corinthians dwelled on those differences and this created envy and strife among the members of their assembly. Paul asks them, what would it be like if the members of your body were envious of one another? What of the eye wanted to be an ear? Would your feet ever be envious of your hands? Paul wants them to see how ridiculous such a situation would be. The hand does not consider itself as being separated from the rest of the body. An individual considers every part of his body a piece of himself.


In the same way, Christ considers each of us to be a part of His own body. When we are baptized into Christ by faith, we are made a part of the body of Christ. God places us into the body just where He wants us to be. The parts all have different functions, but they are all part of a unity. When one part of the body is honored, the whole of the body is honored. If one part does well, the whole of the body enjoys the reward. Just as we take special care to protect and clothe the weakest parts of our bodies, we should take that same care and concern with the weakest parts of the body of Christ. It is the role of those that are strong to protect the weak. Those that are strong are strong so that they may serve those that are weak. In that way, both strong and weak fulfill their roles within the body.


There is no room for envy and jealousy in the body of Christ. How can I be envious of myself? Let us instead lift one another up, for where one of the members of the body of Christ is lifted up, we all are lifted up. Where one member of the body is honored, we all are honored. Within the body, there is no you and I. There is only Christ.


Where does your envy and jealousies within the body come from? Would you divide yourself from another part of the body of Christ? Would you really want to be cut off from any other part of your body?


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