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First Corinthians - Part 31

Introduction:

Last time we looked at the nature of how the annointing worked in the acts of the apostles and specifically the baptism which the Spirit of God performed and was active in. We noted that there is a complete correspondence between the events of 1Cor 12 and 1 Cor 10 where a baptism unto Moses was recounted. The connection to Israel and her spiritual things was made clear.

In this lesson we will examine the body at Corinth and its membership.

 

Chapter 12:27-31

This passage begins with a paragraph mark and rightfully so -- for the new beginning in Christ is stated after the "de". As has been seen in the previous lesson, the local Corinthian body was likened metaphorically to the human body in "total". eyes, ears etc whereas the joint body of Ephesians and Colossians has Christ the head. The Corinthian body is very different from that which is taught in Ephesians. The body in PAul's prison books had not been revealed in Acts and all assumptions and attempts to harmonize these two separate and unique bodies will do violence to the scriptures and the teaching which so clearly enlightens the believer in this very confusing time of so called healers and magicians who claim inside revelations and gifts of pentecost. 

27 ¶  (AV) Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
27  (TR) υμεις δε εστε σωμα χριστου και μελη εκ μερους

The above verse needs some care in expounding, the greek text does not contain the article :

... ὑμεῖς δέ ἐστε σῶμα Χριστοῦ ... "Now ye are body of Christ" -- or pushing the indefiniteness further "Now ye are a body of Christ". The derfinite article is placed into the english since the body at Corinth is being discussed with all its problems and is in that sense made definite by context. However the thought that comes to us from the greek is that there could be another body somewhere else, say in Rome. (see Rom. 12:4-8)

 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
TBT  Romans 12:5 οὕτως οἱ πολλοὶ ἓν σῶμά ἐσμεν ἐν Χριστῷ, ὁ δὲ καθ᾽ εἷς ἀλλήλων μέλη.
 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Rom 12:4-8 KJV)

The Romans were one body in Christ just as the Corinthians were a different body in Christ. Their universal unity with all believers in Acts was not in a body but their state of  being "in Christ". The one body of Christ mentioned in Ephesians is not present here, for it was a "joint-body" waiting to be revealed and created by God till Israel fell Acts 28. 

The next clause is difficult because we must be careful to gain the sense of the passage without reading into it from our own likes and wishes. " καὶ μέλη ἐκ μέρους" the greek says "and members (pl) out/from of a part (sing)" . What does this mean? Whatever interpretation we place on it there must be the idea of incompleteness here since part can not be the whole. The immediate context says that the members worked together and were necessary despite the fact that they could be uncomely. Lets get some ideas of possible meaning from Paul's use of the word.

meros

Rom. 11:25
Rom. 15:15, 24
1 Co. 11:18
1 Co. 12:27
1 Co. 13:9-10, 12
1 Co. 14:27
2 Co. 1:14
2 Co. 2:5
2 Co. 3:10
2 Co. 9:3
Eph. 4:9, 16
Col. 2:16
Heb. 9:5

The idea of a part and not the whole is easily seen in the the Roman and indeed through most of the passages above. However, another interesting usage and suggestive for the current passage is in 1Cor. 14:27:

TBT  1 Corinthians 14:27 εἴτε γλώσσῃ τις λαλεῖ, κατὰ δύο ἢ τὸ πλεῖστον τρεῖς, καὶ ἀνὰ μέρος, καὶ εἷς διερμηνευέτω·
KJV  1 Corinthians 14:27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

The preposition has changed ( ἀνὰ μέρος) but the idea of a part being functional and ordely is one that could work well with the passage under consideration. That is the Corinthians were members by part means that they were members according to their function in the body, out of their "part" in the function of the body. The Roman body would have difficulties and needs similar but not exactly the same as the Corinthians -- the members in Rome would be placed according to these "particular" needs.

28  (AV) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
28  (TR) και ους μεν εθετο ο θεος εν τη εκκλησια πρωτον αποστολους δευτερον προφητας τριτον διδασκαλους επειτα δυναμεις ειτα χαρισματα ιαματων αντιληψεις κυβερνησεις γενη γλωσσων

1,2,3 after that comes the mixed multitude. Last is tongues.  The after that gifts are all missing in the prison ministry of PAul. But the apostles, prophets and teachers are present. The picture below shows the evident differences in the gifts that were available during the Acts and their removal after the close of the Acts due to Israel's divorce.

29  (AV) Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
29  (TR) μη παντες αποστολοι μη παντες προφηται μη παντες διδασκαλοι μη παντες δυναμεις

Here we see the use of the rhetorical μη which supplies the answer to the questions. Are all apostles -- NO! Are all apostles -- NO! etc Of course the english with the context would tell us the same.

30  (AV) Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
30  (TR) μη παντες χαρισματα εχουσιν ιαματων μη παντες γλωσσαις λαλουσιν μη παντες διερμηνευουσιν

Same here -- the greek construction and context all demand No to the questions.

31  (AV) But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
31  (TR) ζηλουτε δε τα χαρισματα τα κρειττονα και ετι καθ υπερβολην οδον υμιν δεικνυμι

Here comes the imperative -- Desire or seek after the greater gifts - this is interesting -- their were better or greater gifts -- their was however a path that was more excellent.