4. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office;
4. Quemadmodum enim in uno corpore membra multa habemus, membra vero omnia non eandem habent actionem;
5. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
5. Sic multi unum sumus corpus in Christo membra mutuo alter alterius.
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;
6. Habentes autem dona secundum gratiam nobis datam differentia; sive prophetiam, secundum analogiam fidei;
7. Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching;
7. Sive ministerium, in ministerio; sive qui docet, in doctrina;
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.
8. Sive qui exhortatur, in exhortatione; sive qui largitur, in simplicitate; sive qui praeest, in studio; sive qui miseretur, in hilaritate.
But Paul especially intended to beat down the pride which he knew to be innate in men; and that no one might be dissatisfied that all things have not been bestowed on him, he reminds us that according to the wise counsel of God every one has his own portion given to him; for it is necessary to the common benefit of the body that no one should be furnished with fullness of gifts, lest he should heedlessly despise his brethren. Here then we have the main design which the Apostle had in view, that all things do not meet in all, but that the gifts of God are so distributed that each has a limited portion, and that each ought to be so attentive in imparting his own gifts to the edification of the Church, that no one, by leaving his own function, may trespass on that of another. By this most beautiful order, and as it were symmetry, is the safety of the Church indeed preserved; that is, when every one imparts to all in common what he has received from the Lord, in such a way as not to impede others. He who inverts this order fights with God, by whose ordinance it is appointed; for the difference of gifts proceeds not from the will of man, but because it has pleased the Lord to distribute his grace in this manner.
But this passage is variously understood. There are those who consider that by
this sense it is taken by Paul when he says,
"I wish that you spoke in tongues, but rather that ye prophesy,"
(1 Corinthians 14:5;)
"In part we know and in part we prophesy,"
(1 Corinthians 13:9.)
And it does not appear that Paul intended here to mention those miraculous graces by which Christ at first rendered illustrious his gospel; but, on the contrary, we find that he refers only to ordinary gifts, such as were to continue perpetually in the Church. 3
Nor does it seem to me a solid objection, that the Apostle to no purpose laid this injunction on those who, having the Spirit of God, could not call Christ an anathema; for he testifies in another place that the spirit of the Prophets is subject to the Prophets; and he bids the first speaker to be silent, if anything were revealed to him who was sitting down, (1 Corinthians 14:32;) and it was for the same reason it may be that he gave this admonition to those who prophesied in the Church, that is, that they were to conform their prophecies to the rule of faith, lest in anything they should deviate from the right line. By
As to the other clauses there is less difficulty. Let him who is ordained a minister, he says, execute his office in ministering; nor let him think, that he has been admitted into that degree for himself, but for others; as though he had said, "Let him fulfill his office by ministering faithfully, that he may answer to his name." So also he immediately adds with regard to teachers; for by the word teaching, he recommends sound edification, according to this import, -- "Let him who excels in teaching know that the end is, that the Church may be really instructed; and let him study this one thing, that he may render the Church more informed by his teaching:" for a teacher is he who forms and builds the Church by the word of truth. Let him also who excels in the gift of exhorting, have this in view, to render his exhortation effectual.
But these offices have much affinity and even connection; not however that they were not different. No one indeed could exhort, except by doctrine: yet he who teaches is not therefore endued with the qualification to exhort. But no one prophesies or teaches or exhorts, without at the same time ministering. But it is enough if we preserve that distinction which we find to be in God's gifts, and which we know to be adapted to produce order in the Church. 5
Though he rightly calls those
1 The Apostle pursues this likeness of the human body much more at large in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. There are two bonds of union; one, which is between the believer and Christ by true faith; and the other, which is between the individual member of a church or a congregation and the rest of the members by a professed faith. It is the latter that is handled by the Apostle, both here and in the Epistle to the Corinthians. -- Ed.
2 The ellipsis to be supplied here is commonly done as in our version, adopted from Beza. The supplement proposed by Pareus is perhaps more in unison with the passage; he repeats after "prophecy" the words in verse 3, changing the person, "let us think soberly," or "let us be modestly wise." -- Ed.
3 It is somewhat difficult exactly to ascertain what this "prophecy" was. The word "prophet,"
That is was a distinct function from that of apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, is evident from Ephesians 4:11; and from the interpretation of tongues, as it appears from 1 Corinthians 12:10; and from revelation, knowledge, and doctrine, as we find from 1 Corinthians 14:6. It also appears that it was more useful than other extraordinary gifts, as it tended more to promote edification and comfort, 1 Corinthians 14:1,3. It is hence most probable that it was the gift already stated, that of interpreting the Scriptures, especially the prophecies of the Old Testament, and applying them for the edification of the Church. "Prophets" are put next to "apostles" in Ephesians 4:11. -- Ed.
4 "Secundum analogiam fidei," so Pareus;
5 Critics have found it difficult to distinguish between these offices. The word
But what are we to think of those mentioned in the following clauses? Stuart thinks that they were not public officers, but private individuals, and he has sustained this opinion by some very cogent reasons. The form of the sentence is here changed; and the Apostle, having mentioned the deaconship, cannot be supposed to have referred to the same again. The word that seems to stand in the way of this view is what is commonly rendered "ruler," or, "he who rules:" but