- 1 Corinthians 12:21-31
- 1 Cor 12:21 (KJV)
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor
again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
The lesson here is that no person in the body of Christ stands alone. Every
Christian in the body of Christ has a purpose for existence. No Christian
can arrogantly say that they have no need of other Christians. For if was
not for another Christian bringing them the Gospel, whether directly or
indirectly, they could not become saved. God uses the body of Christ in many
ways and He uses all the redeemed in different ways with one common goal
which is the Glory of God and salvation of the Elect through the Lord Jesus
Christ. One may not be called to preach the Gospel publicly but the other
one may fund the public preaching. The body of Christ is an intricate body
and all members work together in concert.
- 1 Cor 12:22 (KJV)
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are
The word “feeble” carries with it the idea of “infirm or weak.” The weakest
believer is still a valued member of the body of Christ. The little old lady
in the nursing home who has a praying ministry probably has one of the most
powerful ministries in the world, yet she is probably only known by a few
people, but she is surely known of the Lord. Every weak believer, and we are
all weak in some areas, is an indispensable part of the body of Christ.
Weakness does not disqualify any believer from having some type of ministry.
Your little toe may not seem important yet it is required for balance.
- 1 Cor 12:23 (KJV)
And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable,
upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more
This verse deals with clothing our bodies. The word “bestow” carries with it
the idea that we place a garment on. How many of us think our feet are
pretty? Do you have fungus nails? Yuck! Yet we will spend hundreds of
dollars on expensive sneakers, running shoes, hiking boots, or dress shoes
to dress up the feet which normally are an uncomely or inelegant part of our
body. The expensive shoes drive away the repulsiveness of fungus nails by
means of covering them. The verse tells us that by purchasing such clothes
or shoes, we honor that part of the body by thinking enough of it to dress
it up. Spiritually speaking, there are times when we get to know Christians
who are physically poor yet very rich in Spirit.
(Prov 13:7 KJV) There is that maketh himself
rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great
riches. As we get to know them, we place more
honor on them than the so-called famous Christians who seem to be the
honorable ones by reason of their public ministries.
1 Cor 12:24 (KJV)
For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body
together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
The comely or elegant parts of our body are normally associated with our
face which has the eyes, nose, and mouth. They do not have need to be
covered but only the uncomely parts. It is the uncomely parts which have the
need speaking of those who are weaker in the faith. These are the ones who
are not to be neglected but rather built up. God has placed together in the
body of Christ those that are strong and those that are weak in the faith.
(Rom 15:1 KJV) We then that are strong
ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
The word “tempered” carries with it the idea of a “uniting or a
commingling.” For every strong Christian in the faith, there will probably
be many who are weak in the faith, nevertheless that weakness does not mean
they are not as valuable as the strong Christians.
- 1 Cor 12:25 (KJV)
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members
should have the same care one for another.
The word “schism” carries with it the meaning of “division or dissension.”
Some believers may be more gifted than others and some will be less gifted.
Each one should complement each other. The weaker need the stronger and the
stronger needs to care for the weak. There is no such thing as a spiritual
caste system in Christianity. The weaker and the stronger are on the same
level in the eyes of God. There is no such thing as a tier system. The
weaker should not despise the stronger ones and the stronger ones should not
despise the weaker ones. There is no such thing as a spiritual ghetto where
the weaker Christians live. The body of Christ is one cohesive whole and not
a fragmented body.
- 1 Cor 12:26 (KJV)
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or
one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
The body of Christ is so intimate, that if one Christian suffers, then we
all do. It is like if we have an injury to a part of our body, the whole
body suffers pain until that injury is healed. The word “suffer” carries
with it the meaning of “afflicted.” When Christians in other countries are
afflicted for their faith, it should affect us too. For the spiritual war is
not just against them, it is against us too, because we are in the same
body. If we get an infection in our little toe, do we neglect it or do we
take care of it? Unfortunately, the attitude of many western Christians is
that the persecution faced by other Christians won’t happen to us, simply
because we are going to be raptured out. This is an erroneous belief because
affliction is already occurring on a national level in North America. The
verse also tells us that we mourn with those who are afflicted but we also
rejoice with those who are honored. The verse is not speaking of the type of
worldly honor that some famous preacher gets because they sell out to the
world. Who rejoices for a traitor? The type of honor here is when a person
becomes saved through the ministry of another Christian. The highest honor
that a Christian can have is when they see another person enter into eternal
salvation through their ministration of the Word of God. It is those
Christians we honor, not those who get a letter of endorsement from the
- 1 Cor 12:27 (KJV)
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
Even though Paul has been describing the body of Christ in human terms, he
now plainly tells these Corinthian Christians that they are the body of
Christ and are members in particular which carries with it the meaning of
“part.” This means that they are not the whole body of Christ but are only
part of the larger body of Christ which was soon to be worldwide.
- 1 Cor 12:28 (KJV)
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.
Now that Paul has completed the discourse on the intricacies of the body of
Christ, he now brings in the different spiritual gifts which are given to
the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit at the time of a person’s salvation.
Let us give a brief description of these spiritual gifts.
Apostles - These were the original twelve plus Paul and Barnabas
(Acts 14:14) who were directly commissioned by Christ to begin the work of
evangelism and church planting. They also had the power to work miracles to
confirm the word (Mark 16:17-18). Their authority was over all the churches
at the time. This gift ceased with the death of John.
Prophets - These were the ones in the church who had received divine
revelations such as Agabus (Acts 11:28 & 21:10). They also prophesied things
to come plus they were able to explain the Scriptures through the Spirit.
This gift ceased at the end of the first century when the Bible was
Teachers - These were the ones in the church who had the ability to
expound the Scriptures by studying them and not by divine revelation. This
group gets a little deeper into the Scriptures being able to bring to light
the more difficult passages of Scriptures. This gift continued on in the
body of Christ.
Miracles - Until the time of the completion of the Scriptures, this
gift would be able to work supernatural miracles through the power of the
Holy Spirit. This was done in conjunction with the preaching of the Word.
This Scripture does not say that this gift was limited only to the Apostles
and Prophets but was done by some ordinary Christians who were given this
power. The word “miracles” is the word “dunameis” which means power or
ability. The gift of supernatural miracles ended in the first century.
Healings - This gift was also present in the early church. We saw
Peter and Paul had been given the ability to heal. Peter’s gift was so
powerful that he healed by just having his shadow cross over people.
(Acts 5:15 KJV) Insomuch that they brought
forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at
the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
This gift ceased by the end of the first century because the primary reason
the Gospel was given is to save the Elect of God.
Helps - This gift had the ability to help and support others in their
ministry or even just to help someone with a task. The person with this gift
does not seek the limelight but is happy assisting in any way they can. This
gift continued on in the body of Christ.
Governments - This gift has the ability to rule and may apply to
Elders and Deacons in the church. It may also apply to a Christian having
the ability to rule in a secular environment such as civil government. This
gift continued on in the body of Christ.
Diversities of Tongues - This person had the supernatural ability to
be able to speak in a known language which was not their birth language. The
word “tongues” means a legitimately established language such as German or
Greek. This gift ended in the first century. The tongues of today are just
- 1 Cor 12:29 (KJV)
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all
workers of miracles?
Paul now asks four questions stemming from verse 28. He picks up the theme
of the diversity of gifts in the body of Christ. The answer to all four
questions is no! Not everyone will have the same spiritual gift is the
answer that Paul is searching for. He wants these Christians to know that
each will be gifted differently and will be qualified and empowered to work
in a different area but with the same goal.
- 1 Cor 12:30 (KJV)
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all
Paul continues the questions which he started in verse 29. He wants these
Christians to understand the spiritual diversity of the body of Christ.
- 1 Cor 12:31 (KJV)
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more
The word “covet earnestly” carries with it the meaning of “be zealous.” Paul
wants them to be zealous for the best gifts. Those gifts that minister the
Gospel of Christ are the best gifts. The “more excellent way” is Christ
Himself who is the giver of all these gifts in His redeemed body. All the
gifts in the world mean nothing if they do not proclaim Christ. The
spiritual gifts are given to bring glory to God and souls to Christ, if they
are used for anything else, then the person has strayed from the faith. The
Corinthian church may have been plagued by people who were showing off with
their gifts instead of using them to edify others. Many in today’s false
charismatic movement do the same thing, they blather some nonsense thinking
they are impressing their audience when they are just making a mockery of