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 FIRST CORINTHIANS 12:12-27

 

"Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 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 abundant comeliness."

BODY LIFE, IT WILL SURPRISE YOU!

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

"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. 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. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 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? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. 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. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 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 abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." 1st Corinthians 12:12-27

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

No matter what the context, the Apostle Paul is an interesting writer. Add to that fact the "touch" of the Holy Spirit of God, "Divine Inspiration" we call it, and every Text the Apostle has produced is miraculous!

That includes 1st Corinthians 12, one of the greatest "word pictures" in all the Bible.

There the Church is compared to a body, a human body!

Then, from another angle and on a far different level, very much inferior to Paul and any claim of Inspiration, comes Brother Bagwell. Yet I have a distinct interest in that Text too, 1st Corinthians 12.

Not only for what the Chapter says about the Church as a body, but what is said about the different parts of that body as well!

Paul talks about certain "members" who are "more feeble!"

And "less honourable!"

And even "uncomely!"

Yet, surprisingly, the Man of God comes to the conclusion that these less esteemed parts are important too!

In fact, some of them are essential to body life!

Here's how the Lord has led me to this Text. As many know, my wife has been sick for several years now. "Chronically ill," some call her condition. "Handicapped," using more common language. A "shut-in," my old Pastor used to say. A person who no longer is able to even leave their home.

When someone, a saved person I mean, is in poor health, no longer able to function in many normal ways, what's our attitude to be?

At home?

At Church?

Of course, many of them can't even go to Church! That's my point! They can't go anywhere except to the hospital, in an ambulance!

How are we as "caregivers" to understand our role toward our loved ones in Christ?

This Text, 1st Corinthians 12:12-27, at least indirectly, will give us "light" on our subject.

In the Body of Christ, it's not just the "Preacher" who is important! Don't misunderstand me. His job can't be minimized, yet neither can he do it all!

Nor can the deacons!

Or the music folks!

It takes us all!

All who are "in" the Body!

Nearly every church has some, too. Sick folks, afflicted, weak, home-bound, by the world's standards "unable to contribute!"

But, oh, how very wrong the world is!

Paul is going to tell us that God has bestowed "more abundant honour" upon these lightly esteemed members!

They are, in fact, necessary to healthy body life!

Well, now you know where we're going.

We shall, Lord willing, ingest two or three verses each day, trusting God the Holy Spirit to guide us, to teach us, from this long-forgotten chapter of Scripture.

Hope I'm not the only one who will find it interesting!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Tomorrow's Text, 1st Corinthians 12:12-13. "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. 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." How we got "into" the Body in the first place! That alone is amazing!

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSES 12-13:

The Bible says of those who are "saved," they have been "born-again." That carries us to a sort of spiritual maternity ward!

In other places it tells us that we have been "adopted" into God's family. Now we're in a courtroom! It's the same Truth, just "pictured" a little differently.

But today, in our Text, we are said to have been "baptized" into Christ Jesus! Still talking about salvation, but again, a totally different word picture!

In fact, there's one more in today's Scripture! Being saved is compared to taking a drink of good cool water! That's the same kind of idea Jesus presented to the woman at the well of Sychar in John chapter four. "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." John 4:10

Living water!

There's only one way to be saved, but many ways of describing that blessed event! That one way is Jesus, His death on Calvary, His shed Blood.

Now, to today's verses.

"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. 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." 1st Corinthians 12:12-13

Christ our Lord is here compared to a body. Elsewhere, even more specifically, Paul tells us that Jesus is the Head of the body! "Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." Ephesians 5:23

The Greek noun "body" is interesting. It's "soma," from which we get such words as psychosomatic, sicknesses that involve both the psyche and the human body itself. It is believed that "soma" is derived from "sos" or even earlier "soaz," both meaning "safe!" A word we Christians use a lot is related, "sozo," that is, "to be saved!"

Jesus has only one Body! There are no more! Other ways to Heaven do not exist. Our Lord made it plain. "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6

But that one body of Christ, like our human bodies, has many "members." The word "melos" means "parts or limbs," anything that helps constitute a functioning body.

"Many" members, our Text tells us. "Polus" in Greek means "much, many or large."

Thus begins another of Paul's great metaphors, word pictures, figures of speech that make the Apostle such a great communicator.

Now, to verse 13, how did we get into that Body, the Body of Christ? "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body."

The Holy Spirit, by Grace through Faith, placed us in the Body!

Here Paul imagines the Body of Christ Jesus to be "liquid." As a great sea of water! And the Holy Spirit takes us old sinners and, upon our faith and trust in Jesus, His vicarious Death on Calvary, the Spirit "plunges" us into that Body!

We are "saved," in other words!

"Immersed" into Christ Jesus!

"Baptized" or "baptizo" means just that! "Dipped, submerged, plunged!"

But do notice here, that unlike other places, like Romans 6, Paul does not bring us back up "out" of Christ Jesus!

We stay "in" Christ!

We perpetually remain "in" Him!

We are never "un-baptized!"

Always submerged in Jesus!

Continually saturated with Him!

What an illustration, a Holy Ghost inspired illustration!

"By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body," if you're saved, this has happened to you! If I'm saved, it's happened to me too!

We know it has!

But, wait a minute. How were the Jews saved? Or the ancient Romans? Or the heathen who've not yet heard?

Everyone is saved the same way!

Back to verse 13. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free." Wow!

The "Jews," their name being based on the old Hebrew name "Judah," just meaning praise, get saved the same way the "Gentiles" do! Here the noun is spelled "Hellen." That's right! It's our word "Hellenists," in other words, "Greeks." Anyone who is not a Jew is a Gentile, including the most advanced civilization then know to man, the Greeks!

"Bond," those who are "slaves," which is exactly what "doulos" means, are redeemed exactly in the same manner as the "free," either former slaves who had been "freed" or Roman citizens who were born free!

Anyone who ever goes to Heaven, past or present or future, will go the same Way, Jesus! What a Name, Jesus! "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Peter in Acts 4:12

Then Paul says one more thing in our Text today. We ... "have been all made to drink into one Spirit."

Another picture of salvation!

It's now like taking a long, cold, refreshing, everlasting drink of Water!

But here it's the Holy Spirit of Whom we drink!

That all right too!

God is Triune, but One!

If you drink of Jesus, you also drink of the Father and the Holy Spirit! "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." John 7:37-39

Here's an example of drinking of Jesus. "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." That's John 6:54. But let's add verse 56 too. "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him."

Anyone today glad you've been baptized?

This is not what happened down at Church after you were saved, the water and the baptistry and the Pastor and the whole church observing.

No!

This is what happened the very second you got saved!

You were plucked up out of this old filthy world, washed in the Blood of the Lamb of God, and plunged deep into His Body, "baptized" if you choose to use Paul's terminology!

Excuse me, the Holy Spirit's terminology!

Anyone glad today you took that Drink?

Of the Holy Spirit?

I know it can get complicated and technical and multiplexed. That's the way Paul's great mind works! But it's still beautiful!

Here it is again!

Revel in it!

Delight over it!

Shout, if you must!

Glory to God!

"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. 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." 1st Corinthians 12:12-13

Thank you, Lord!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSES 14-17:

Using that grand logic God gave him, the Apostle Paul writes: "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 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? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?" 1st Corinthians 12:14-17

This whole paragraph of Scripture seems to focus on "body parts!"

Paul is writing to a church, the Corinthian Church to be exact, that is overcome by jealousy and bitterness!

One member wanted to have the gifts and abilities of another member, thinking one body part to be more important than another! Or more visible! Or more appreciated!

In a Spirit-inspired effort to build harmony and unity among God's children, Paul is trying to show that "it takes us all" to make a body function properly!

Every member of a human body, every part, has its job!

Every member of a church, also, has his or her job!

In sum, YOU are important to the Body of Christ, no matter what!

The body does not consist of one big EYE!

Or EAR!

How ugly, how grotesque, that would be!

There's "balance" in a human body!

And in the Body of Christ.

Paul is right in verse 14, "For the body is not one member, but many." In one of the most miraculous moves in all of His creation, God has wonderfully organized and imparted life to us human beings, bodies included! The Psalmist used that exact word, "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14

Then, brilliantly, Paul "personifies" the human foot, right or left he does not say. That little body part is heard to say, "I wish I were a hand!"

How very silly!

But when someone at church is unhappy with God's dealings in his or her life, jealous of some other brother or sister, someone more in the "spotlight," someone on the "platform" week after week for example, that's just like the foot wanting to be an eye!

God can't, and did not, call everyone to pastor a church!

Some of us need to follow!

So, verse 15: "If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?" Little foot, we couldn't walk without you!

I couldn't obey: "Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work." Colossians 1:10, not without my feet! I couldn't even "stand" without two good feet! Then forget Ephesians 6:13: "And having done all, to stand." No feet, no standing!

Feet, you just don't know how valuable you really are!

Paul continues the analogy in verse 16: "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?"

Now, the ear is unhappy!

It wanted to be an eye!

Like the usher wanted to be a singer!

Or the Sunday School teacher wanted to be deacon!

Or the custodian wanted to be the trustee!

But, ear, please listen!

Without you how could I ... "Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath?" James 1:19

An "earless" church body would sure have trouble here in John 10:27, where Jesus said: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."

Ears are critical to healthy body life!

Then  Paul "jumps" to another one of our senses, the job our noses perform! Verse 17: "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?"

We need eyes to be alerted to approaching danger! "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." 1st Corinthians 16:13

And ears to obey the seven-fold command of Jesus in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

And we even need spiritual "noses" too! To know the depths of our own sinfulness! Listen to the Psalmist David, sorry for his sins! "My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness." He would not have known, without a good nose, Psalm 38:5.

Nor could we smell the sweetness of the love and kindness others share with us so often! Paul again, having just received a gift from the Philippians: "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God." Philippians 4:18

Oh, how we need our noses!

Our whole Text again, for today: "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 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? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?" 1st Corinthians 12:14-17

Every little part of the human body has a place, a significant place, given by God our Creator, according to His Will!

And, in like fashion, everyone in the Body of Christ has a place, a significant place too!

Let's not be envious one of another. After all, real love, real charity "envieth not." 1st Corinthians 13:4

Let's be satisfied wherever God put us, functioning according to the Grace given us by His Wise Hand. After all, like Jesus asked in Matthew 20:15, "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with mine own?"

It's lawful!

He can!

Are you an ear, an eye, a finger, an appendix, a kidney?

I speak figuratively, as did Paul.

Be the best you can, serve the Lord and His Body well!

And the rewards will be significant!

Two-fold rewards!

Firstly, heavenward!

That is, Glory to our Saviour!

Secondly, self-ward, awarded by Christ at His Judgment Seat!

Crowns, literally given to you His dear follower, whatever "part" you fulfilled!

Wow!

And ... Amen!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSES 18-21:

Today we study these verses: "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. 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." 1st Corinthians 12:18-21

God knows what He is doing!

He is omniscient!

And He is certainly skilled at building a body, any body! He made Adam, human body included. And Eve. And all the animals. Also the body of stars we call the universe. And God made His Own Son's "Body," Jesus' literal human body, given via the virgin birth over two thousand years ago!

And then I need to mention one more body, the metaphorical body Paul is describing here in 1st Corinthians 12, obviously referring to the Church, the Body of Christ!

Paul also is here emphasizing the vital importance of each individual part of the body. Like he asked in verse 19, "And if they were all one member, where were the body?"

If the whole church, everyone,  were Pastors, who would listen and obey? If we were just singers, who would gladly receive those musical exhortations to live more godly? If we were all teachers, who would be the pupils?

More literally, if the Body of Christ were all eyes, or all ears, or all feet, how very unbalanced and impractical that would be!

And God did not make us so!

Then Paul immediately emphasizes the other side of the equation. Not only are we not all alike, "But now are they many members, yet but one body." We are admittedly different, verse 20 here says, "many members" ... but still "one body!" Two ears, two eyes, two legs and feet, ten fingers and toes, one spleen or heart or liver! Yet these many members all live in one "house!" One body! Again, the Body of Christ, the Church.

Paul is seeking to introduce more harmony and love into the strife-torn Corinthian assembly. This local church, the one at Corinth, had too many "mouths!" And too many "minds." Too many strong-willed "hearts!"

And not enough unnamed, invisible, quietly-working little "parts" doing what God made them to do, functioning according to His Will!

The Lord does not appreciate these words, not when it comes to the spiritual life, "no need!" For example, "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." 1st Corinthians 12:21

As Christians, we need the Lord, always!

And we need each other!

And, wonderfully so, we can't live without the Scriptures as well!

We are needy creatures!

It certainly upset the Lord when one of His churches said, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." Revelation 3:17

The "eyes" need the "hands," in any body! Sight needs touch, to fulfill our humanity. At least that's the ideal.

And somehow, the "head" even needs the "feet." Thought needs action, one might say. Thinkers must be doers, in God's family anyway.

The adverbial "not" used in verse 21 here is "ou," sometimes spelled "ouk," depending on its context. It is the absolute prohibitive, no exceptions! God is NOT going to have a distorted body!

The church of Jesus Christ is, ultimately, perfect!

Christ's goal for His Church: "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:27

But perhaps the foundation verse for today, "king" of this one paragraph of 1st Corinthians 12, is verse 18. "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."

The verb "set," in Greek "tithemi," means "to put, to place, to lay something down, to fix or establish it!" God has ordained that certain Christians fulfill specific roles in His Church, that they be particular body "parts!"

Just as a quick example, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." Ephesians 4:11, these constitute the Church's mouth and eyes and ears perhaps, its more visible and vocal members.

But the quiet, invisible, yet just as essential body parts, like the lungs, are essential to body life as well!

In fact, one can live without eyes, but not without lungs!

"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."

The criteria for setting us in our places, calling us to certain functions within the body, is one outstanding factor. And here it is: "As it hath pleased Him."

The will, the pleasure, the desire of God!

He made of you what he WANTED to make of you!

The verb "hath pleased" is "thelo," meaning as He "willed!" As He "had in mind." As He "intended."

If you're a Preacher today, called of God, you hold your office because God was pleased to place you there!

If you're a deacon, in God's will, same reason!

A teacher?

Ditto!

"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him." 

But isn't that the central goal, the ultimate purpose for all we do anyway? The Glory and Pleasure and Will of God!

Here's why He saved us, clear as it can be! "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."

For His sake!

Want another verse?

"Even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32

Next time I preach, I must remember this. I try to anyway. I was put "into the body" to fulfill this role, to work at this job, to function in this specific manner. Just ... "as it hath pleased Him." 

Wow!

That stops all grumbling right there!

Doesn't it?

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSES 22-23:

Today we reach the verses that first drew me to this Text, 1st Corinthians 12:12-27. They deliver an unusual message, quite foreign to today's culture.

Remember, we're talking about the body of Christ, His Church. Paul likens it to a human body!

"Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 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 abundant comeliness." 1st Corinthians 12:22-23

Look at this!

Paul has divided our body parts into two categories!

The more feeble and the less feeble! Remember, the entire human body is temporary, made of clay! For the saints, awaiting its day of redemption! "Groaning," Paul says elsewhere.

Another way of representing these two groups, the less honourable and the more honourable!

Or, yet again, the uncomely and the comely parts of the body!

Let's study these words.

Most of these characterizations finally rest on appearance. Or at least that's what I'm seeing here this morning.

The more or less "feeble" groups "seem" to be that way! And "seem" is "dokeo," meaning "to suppose, to think, to express an opinion."

The "honourable" crowd, we "think" them to be that way. But Paul still uses the verb "dokeo," with the same meaning as earlier.

Talk about opinion polls!

But the third set of expressions, those who are "comely" or "uncomely," are presented more directly! No "seeming" or "thinking" here, Paul bluntly says they are, well, "uncomely!"

No doubt, two categories of "parts" are here discussed.

There can be, at least on surface appearance, "class" distinction in the body of Christ.

How does Paul handle the problem?

Really, how does the Holy Spirit handle it?

A judgment call is made!

No doubt about it, either.

Watch!

"Those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary." Verse 22, 1st Corinthians 12

The adjective "feeble" is "asthenes." In Greek "sthenoo" means "to make strong." The prefix "a," sometimes called the alpha privative, reverses the meaning of the word's stem.

So "feeble" means "weak, without strength, impotent," and six times in the King James Version, "sick."

In the body of Christ, sick people exist! Weak people are to be found! Feeble, to varying degrees!

But, astoundingly, Paul calls them "necessary!"

"Anagkaios," when verbalized, means "must needs be!" By definition, things one just "cannot do without!"

We need such weak people in our Churches!

And God has placed them there!

Someone who can't hear! Or see! Or walk! Or talk, not plainly perhaps!

In today's culture these folks are marginalized, ignored, relegated to second or third rate humans!

In God's economy, they are "necessary!"

Next, Paul says: "And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour."

This just defies logic!

This "honourable" chain of Greek words, the "time" stem, pronounced "tee-may," means something "precious, valuable, costly!" The expression "less honourable" is "atimos," that is, "no honour."

Like it or not, human nature being what it is, folks are "valued" today because of several abilities they do or do not possess. Are the "productive?" Are they "educated?" Are they __________? You fill in the blank this time, many options exist!

But God says, the ones, the saints, whom we devalue ... He gives "more abundant honour!" The descriptor "more abundant" is "perissoteros," filled to the top and "overflowing all around!" In Greek "peri" is "around."

That person you know in the wheelchair? Chronically ill? Shut-in or home-bound? Who stutters?

Guess what?

God values them very highly!

They are just priceless to the Church body!

Then, lastly, "Our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness." This couplet of adjectives is hinged to the "schema" stem. This Greek noun means "fashion" or "appearance." See in it our English word "schematic" as in a schematic drawing of a device's wiring plan. A "diagram," in other words.

That which has symmetry!

Balance!

Beauty!

So, the "uncomely" are not very lovely in appearance!

Not beautiful!

Some would be more blunt, "ugly."

Based on appearance!

Some body parts, Paul plainly says, are prettier than others.

A vibrant young Pastor who is eloquent in the Scriptures is far more acceptable and pleasant than the handicapped person sitting in the back of the sanctuary, in that wheelchair, slobbering all over himself!

So we think!

But God sees it in reverse! Again, "Our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness." Verse 23

Much more needs to be said about Paul's conclusions here, and will be, Lord willing. But surely, at the very least, this ought to make us re-evaluate our view of the handicapped, the disabled, the weak, the too often called "inferior" among us!

To God they are necessary!

Even honourable, most honourable!

And, finally, downright lovely!

Only the Lord!

Only the dear Lord would say such things!

And herein is one of the sparkling beauties of Christianity!

The world often says, "Do away with this crowd of non-productive people." If you've not yet heard this line of reasoning, you're going to hear of it, a lot, in the next few years!

But God says, "They are precious in My Sight!"

"Indispensable!"

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSES 24-25:

Sometimes we begin a paragraph or a conversation or a sermon, whatever, with one goal in mind ... only to have that goal "shift" as we develop our thoughts.

This very thing happened to Jude as he started to write his great Epistle! He began with "salvation" in mind, but actually wrote about "contending for the faith!" Look here. "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude verse 3

It may have happened to Paul in 1st Corinthians 12 also. He began with these words, back in verse one: "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." But by the time he pens our Text, verses 12-27, he seems to be talking about something different.

Listen to him today. "For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another." 1st Corinthians 12:24-25

Using the illustration of a human body, Paul is making a comparison to the Body of Christ.

And just like a body has less significant "parts," so does the Church, or so it seems. And as the body has more obvious "parts," so does the Church!

Next Paul "labels" some of these parts as "more feeble" or "less honourable" or even "uncomely!"

While the subject of "spiritual gifts" may be way in the background still, I think the Holy Ghost has led Paul to help us focus on folks, saved brothers and sisters in Christ, who are handicapped or afflicted or so-called "challenged" in one way or another.

Truth be told, they are NOT to be looked down upon, not at all! The most healthy specimen among us, whomever, could be taken by a stroke before this very hour has ended! Or a heart attack!

In fact we all, if old age has its way, we all will weaken and deteriorate physically ... to the very point where the "more feeble" are living right now!

Today Paul writes: "For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked." Verse 24

The parts of the body that are "comely," in Greek "euschemon," literally "shapely, of elegant figure, bearing oneself properly, more balanced in appearance," have no "need!" This noun is "chreia" and comes from a verb that means "to receive a loan!"

Certain folks at church have all it takes to be popular, well-liked, useful, "most likely to succeed!" They are well-rounded, personality-plus people, "ten-talented" according to one of Jesus' parables!

But every church, nearly anyway, has some members who are not so comely! These people, precious as they are, "lack" many of the qualities the folks in "leadership" possess! That verb "lacked" is "hustero," meaning "to be behind, tardy, late!"

But look what God does to "balance" His Body! "God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked." That's word-for-word what Paul said!

The verb "tempered" is a strange one! "Sugkerannumi" connects the preposition "sun" and the verb "kerannumi," meaning "to mix together!"

God intertwines the "haves" and the "have-nots" in His Body! Like a cook with her cake batter, the Lord "blends" us all together!

Verse 25 adds even more. It tells us why God does this. "That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another."

Part of this two-fold "purpose" is general, while part is specific.

The noun "schism" is in Greek "schisma!" It means a "rip," like in a piece of cloth. Something "torn!"

God wants the Church unified!

Not split into groups or cliques or levels of importance!

The Lord further wants us to "care" one for another. Here "merimnao" is employed, actually the Greek verb for "worry or anxiety."

It means "to care" so much for a thing or a person that one becomes nearly "obsessed" with the job! "Merizo" means "to pull into different parts!" One text says "to divide!"

Paul practiced this very same kind of "care" in 2nd Corinthians 11:28. "Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."

Wow!

What lessons today!

I can hardly keep up!

Paul wades deep waters sometimes.

I know this. God will accept no "I'm more important than you" attitudes at Church!

He is only pleased when we're more unified than that, much more!

And tomorrow, Lord willing, we'll see one more example of proper "body life," Body of Christ life that is!

Join us then.

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSES 26-27:

"Body life," some call it.

Christ Jesus and His Church!

No one so beautifully describes this miraculous relationship as does the Apostle Paul.

"And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." 1st Corinthians 12:26-27

The body is so linked, so joined together, that when one part hurts ... it all hurts!

Or at least that's the ideal!

Say it again, Paul. "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it."

The verb "suffer" is "pascho," which we use in expressions like "the Paschal lamb," the little animal slain at Passover. Brutally slain!

Our English words "pathos" and "pathetic" also are derived from "pascho."

If a member at Church has a loved one who dies, we all are to sympathize!

On the other hand, if ... "one member be honoured, all the members should rejoice with it."

If a fellow Christian is able to attend Sunday School two years in a row, without missing a single week, and the Pastor recognizes his or her faithfulness ... everyone should rejoice!

The verb "be honoured" is "doxazo," meaning "to think, to evaluate, to esteem" someone very highly!

And "rejoice" is "sugchairo," that is, "to be glad together." Or just "to congratulate," someone says!

Feeling one for another!

In Romans 12:15 Paul makes this attribute into a command! "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." An obligation!

Verse 26 here suggests both sympathy and empathy! Sympathy wants to help, but perhaps from a slight distance! While empathy goes much deeper! Empathy wants to jump right into a person's situation and cry or laugh right along with them!

Paul again, "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

Then, equally beautiful ... "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." Verse 27 here is a "paradox" many think. That's a statement that goes "beyond" the generally "accepted opinion." An apparent "contradiction," but not really so!

How can we be both "body" and yet "members in particular?"

The more complex a unity, an organism, becomes ... the more readily visible this phenomenon appears.

A body consists of millions, maybe more, of little units, little members! Yet each is significant in its own way!

All together, we Christians are His Body! Yet He allows, requires may be better, us to be who we are! To be ourselves! To maintain our identity!

We are ecclesiastical mixtures, spiritual families, yet non-homogenized ones it seems!

The phrase "in particular" illustrates the point. "Ek meros" means "out of one's own part." There's something YOU can do at church, for your brothers and sisters in Christ, that NO ONE ELSE can ever accomplish!

You are part of the Whole, but a unique part!

Indispensable!

Significant!

Precious, at least to your Lord!

And, ideally, to one another as well!

The lowliest member of Christ's Body, the most sickly, the most handicapped, the eldest, the newest ... all the way to the most lovely, the most intelligent, the most popular ... all of us are clasped by the Lord's mighty Hands and reside right in the middle of His great big Heart!

Yes! This lofty goal can be reached! "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

Amen!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, CONCLUSION:

This lesson is mostly for those who are themselves handicapped, no matter to what degree. It's also partly to those who care for the members of Christ's Body who seem, in Paul's words, "more feeble, less honourable, and uncomely." Folks, let me try to speak to you an encouraging word.

Truthfully the Holy Spirit, in 1st Corinthians 12:22-23, calls our "weak" members "necessary" to the body! He declares you to be "more abundantly honoured" than all the others! You're not uncomely to Him, the Lord, at all! Rather He sees you as filled with "more abundant comeliness!" In Song of Solomon language, the Groom (Jesus) speaking to His Bride (the Church, all the Church), labels her "thou fairest among women!" Pretty, but more than that! Beautiful! Incomparable!

Read Paul here. Get every word! "Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 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 abundant comeliness." 1st Corinthians 12:22-23, word for word!

Friend, sickly as you might be, deformed, incapacitated, whatever word applies, you are PRECIOUS to Jesus, but not because of what you can do!

Not because of the amount of money you can earn!

Not because you are pretty ... or handsome!

Not because you are intelligent!

Not because you come from some line of so-called "great" people!

Not because you're popular!

Not because of any earthly reason!

BUT ... because God loves you!

Mercy!

Jesus died for you!

Years ago He gave you life itself, physically speaking!

You're breathing!

Then added to that, the day He saved you, He blessed you with eternal life as well!

Then, if you're saved, think of it, the Holy Spirit lives inside you!

God inhabits your very body!

That alone makes you more valuable, far more so, than any President who is unsaved!

Or a CEO who does not know Jesus!

Or a millionaire, make that a billionaire now, who has spurned God's love!

God, in Malachi 3, calls you one of His "jewels!" That's value! "And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." Malachi 3:17

God has invested a lot in you! You're part of His very "heritage!" Yes! "That ye may know what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints!" You're that valuable to the Lord! Ephesians 1:18 says, in so many words, that if you're a child of God, you are the Father's love gift to His Son! You are Jesus' very inheritance! An heirloom of Grace!

That's value!

You're not a "target" for somebody's misguided charity!

You're not the "means" by which some wealthy man can dispense of some of his money, relieving his conscience in the process!

You're not some "source" of inspiration, by which a healthy man can say, "Thank God, I'm not like him!"

You are important, significant, perhaps even more precious than the so-called "healthy," in God's economy anyway! Again, this is according to 1st Corinthians 12.

You have dignity, simply because you are encircled by the marvelous Grace of God! Saturated!

You are one for whom we others are to live the principles of 1st Corinthians 13. The "love" chapter! This is not Red Cross "charity" either! Not helping the "unfortunate!"

You all are God's masterpieces!

You deserve this kind of love and treatment, all the time! "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail." Still Corinthians, but 1st Corinthians this time, 13:4-8.

Those of us who know you, or care for you, or get to love you ... are given the opportunity of sharing in your preciousness, your uniqueness, your beauty!

Just of being around you!

When we're together, both of us having been saved, we are "co-hosts" of the precious Holy Spirit!

You are made "in God's image," just as much as the speedy athlete running his marathon! In your brokenness, I remind you that Jesus was marred and crushed and reviled on the Cross! "His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men." Isaiah 52:14

And while I must soon close, though you may never get well, may never be healed, you can still live in an atmosphere of HOPE!

Hope like this. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ!" Titus 2:13, He's coming!

And this. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1st Peter 1:3-5

Look what Jesus has done for us all, His born-again children: "Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace!" Wow to 2nd Thessalonians 2:16 here!

The last word for your situation, anyone's situation in Christ Jesus, no matter how complicated it is ... that last word is not defeat or tragedy or even death, not spiritual death anyway, but HOPE, HOPE HOPE!

God is "for" you! And remember ... "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

No matter how "bad" it gets, "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1st John 4:4

Praise the dear Lord!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

                    I am so thankful we have studied these precious verses!

 

 

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