1 Corinthians 12:11-20
1 Cor 12:11 (KJV)
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Here Paul once again reiterates that all the spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit who is the only source of the spiritual gifts. This passage also teaches us that the Holy Spirit distributes different gifts to each believer. The word “severally” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of “individually or separately.” When a person becomes saved, the Holy Spirit already knows what spiritual gift or gifts they are going to receive which will empower them to do the ministry that God has for them. (Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
1 Cor 12:12 (KJV)
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
Paul makes an analogy concerning the human body which he will further illustrate in a few verses. The human body is a marvelous creation and is very complex. It has many members such as eyes, ears, a nose but these are the more visible ones. What about the Pancreas, the Liver, the Lungs, the Brain, etc? We tend only to look at the outside of the body while these complex objects are busy inside the body keeping us healthy. As long as the major organs are operational, we will be physically alive. We don’t see those organs when we look at the body but we know they are there. It is like the body of Christ, all we see are the famous people and the public ministries but we do not see the many people who work behind the scenes to keep the ministries going. These people who work behind the scenes are as valuable to the body of Christ as the more public ones are.
1 Cor 12:13 (KJV)
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Continuing the thought from verse 12, we read that it does not matter what a person’s social status is, if they have truly become saved they are on equal footing with everyone else. The Holy Spirit brings people of diverse backgrounds together to knit us into the body of Christ. That baptism is not speaking of water baptism but is speaking of being baptized into the body of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, which is a uniting together in that body of believers. The word “drink” is a metaphor for a person becoming saturated with the Holy Spirit after salvation. As water saturates, the Holy Spirit saturates the believer as they grow in the faith.
1 Cor 12:14 (KJV)
For the body is not one member, but many.
This short verse gives a powerful truth. Every believer is an important part of the body of Christ. The pastor is not the church. The evangelist is not the evangelistic association. It takes many believers to make a ministry work properly. As the body is not just the head, but made up of many parts, so is the body of Christ. The Christian saved in Hong Kong is just as important to the body of Christ as one saved in the United States.
1 Cor 12:15 (KJV)
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
Paul begins to give some specific examples. If the foot says that it is not a hand and therefore means it is not of the body, does that make it so? Of course not, would you be able to walk on your hands all day? The foot is a very vital member and is not inferior to the hand.
1 Cor 12:16 (KJV)
And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
The same situation here. If the ear claims that it is not the eye, does that mean it is not part of the body? Have you ever tried to listen to music with your eyes? The ear has a vital duty in the body. If you are in the woods, sometimes your eye cannot see what your ears can hear. It could be the difference between life and death.
1 Cor 12:17 (KJV)
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
Now Paul is saying that each individual member is not the body but all the members make up the body. Each member in the body works in concert with every other member of the body making each member an important part of the body. This verse tells us that each member was created for a certain function. The same way every believer is spiritually empowered for a certain ministry.
1 Cor 12:18 (KJV)
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
Paul concludes, stating that God has placed all the believers in the body of Christ as it pleased Him. That phrase carries with it the meaning of “intention or purpose.” This placement is according to God’s will and He places believers in different positions in the body of Christ but all positions are made to work in concert for the furthering of the building of the body of Christ. No believer is of less value or more value than another.
1 Cor 12:19 (KJV)
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
If the body was only one member, then it would not be a body but only that one member. Can you imagine what it would be like to see a six foot nose coming at you or a six foot eye? The body is made up of diverse individuals from all walks of life.
1 Cor 12:20 (KJV)
But now are they many members, yet but one body.
As the Holy Spirit continues to impart the spiritual gifts to every new believer, He is building the body of Christ until the last day when it will be complete. Then the millions of members of Christ’s body will be made manifest.