Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility


Wayne Stewart's avatar
June 21, 2015

First Corinthians – Part 32


Last lesson mainly concerned the meaning of the 27th verse:  “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1Co 12:27 KJV)” — where it was discovered that the idea of the Corinthians being a body of christ was that they were made so by their “part” in the body — they functioned particularly — so would the body at Rome have a different combinatorial mix to satisfy the needs at that locality. 

We will continue to ask the same question (slide above) as we compare the Acts body  with  the body created by God at the end of the book of Acts.

Chapter 13:1-13

The last verse of chapter 12 reads:

TBT  1 Corinthians 12:31 ζηλοῦτε δὲ τὰ χαρίσματα τὰ κρείττονα. καὶ ἔτι καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν ὁδὸν ὑμῖν δείκνυμι.
KJV  1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

The adjective “κρείττονα”, is the comparative of agathos “good”, there were some gifts “τὰ χαρίσματα” that were “better” and the Corinthians were commanded by Paul to desire these. Despite the fact that this was a part of a “way” that was GOOD there was a more excellent “καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν ” way (road) that Paul shows them. In comparing this body made up members that functioned out of the part they played as defined by these gifts we should ask is it possible that there is a more excellent road after PAul introduces us to the one body and its joint equality, the sussoma? The question needs only to be asked to be denied :

This post Acts body was created not out of the part played by gifts for they were removed after Acts 28, but as a representation of completeness and fulness, Col.2:10. How could there be a more excellent path after this? The Acts body was formed during a time when Jew was first where the very signs and wonders were built into the fabric of the local body at Corinth – this transient and Israel centered shadow system was a part of a “good” made “better” path not a complete and perfect way that God had kept secret from before the ages.

The comparison of any Acts body whether it be at Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica etc with the “One Body” is an apples with oranges comparison. The Acts bodies were local and temporary, the One body with Christ the head was permanent and universal to all believers in the unsearchable riches of Christ gospel that is it was not local and not out of a Jewish shadowy part.

The more excellent path is now expounded by Paul in the famous and beautiful thirteenth chapter: 

1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

The word “charity” here comes from the greek word “ἀγάπη (1Co 13:1 TBT)” which would normally be translated “love”. The question is: why the different english word?  The translators clearly had “love” at their disposal see John 3:16, it seems a little dismissive to say that they got it wrong, or they made a mistake. Christian love or that love which is  associated with the way of Christ might have been their intention, that “more excellent way of christian love” needs only to be used as a definition of  biblical “charity” to make sense of this particular love rather than a wholesale correction and replacement of “charity” common today. To see why it is useful to retain charity — look at verse 6: “…rejoiceth in the truth” — can you do that with and unbeliever in all contexts? Can you rejoice in the truth that he or she is lost? The more excellent way relates to believers in the Acts — it is that component that survives the Acts 28 boundary (becasue it is not transient like the charismata) but can only be fully and completely applied within the domain of professing believers. 

 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Charity NEVER faileth: unlike the gifts! Can we see a special and larger expression of love after the Acts? Yes we can — look at these verses:

TBT  Ephesians 2:4 ὁ δὲ Θεός, πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς,
KJV  Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

This was a “much” or “great” love which he loved us with –  διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, literally “through his much love which he loved us” 

TBT  Ephesians 3:17 κατοικῆσαι τὸν Χριστὸν διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν· ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι
KJV  Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
TBT  Ephesians 3:18 ἵνα ἐξισχύσητε καταλαβέσθαι σὺν πᾶσι τοῖς ἁγίοις, τί τὸ πλάτος καὶ μῆκος καὶ βάθος καὶ ὕψος,
KJV  Ephesians 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
TBT  Ephesians 3:19 γνῶναί τε τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως ἀγάπην τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ.
KJV  Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

The love of Christ passeth knowledge — is nonetheless a possibility for those rooted and grounded in love.

The fullest expression of God’s love is seen in the outworking of God’s love for the church. It is also essential for the practical bond of perfectness

TBT  Colossians 3:14 ἐπὶ πᾶσι δὲ τούτοις τὴν ἀγάπην, ἥτις ἐστὶ σύνδεσμος τῆς τελειότητος.
KJV  Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Continuing with 1 Corinthians:

 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
 9 ἐκ μέρους γὰρ γινώσκομεν, καὶ ἐκ μέρους προφητεύομεν· (1Co 13:9 TBT)
 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
 10 ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ τὸ τέλειον, τότε τὸ ἐκ μέρους καταργηθήσεται. (1Co 13:10 TBT)

It is interesting that the Corinthians were members “in part” 12:27 and that which is in part shall be done away! When that “thing” which is perfect is come then that “thing” which is in part shall be done away. What is that thing which is perfect? Since it is neuter we should expect a totality of things — what would perfect what they saw and performed and knew? It would have to be the fulness of the kngdom which would include the coming of Christ.

 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1Co 13:1-13 KJV)

The Corinthians along with the Acts believers knew in part — that is they did not know completely they saw part of the whole through their signs and wonders:  the charismata — putting it another way the part they could not see would complete what they could see, what they could see and experience was powers of the age to come, the kingdom promises in relation to Jesus and the New Covenant. Their part knowledge would not be contradicted by a full knowledge, the full knowledge would remove their part knowledge with the complete picture. 

TBT  Hebrews 6:5 καὶ καλὸν γευσαμένους Θεοῦ ῥῆμα, δυνάμεις τε μέλλοντος αἰῶνος,
KJV  Hebrews 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come

What did remain was faith hope and charity — these three — but the greatest of these is charity. This principle is seen in the greatest expression of the love of God by His creation of the Body of Christ for which Christ is head.

The structure here is interesting- chapter 12 with the body and “in part” membership with signs and wonders, chapter 13 Charity and what endures,  showing again the temporary and shadowy in comparison whith what remains.