World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

One Body with Many Members

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.


Select a resource above

12. For as the body is one He now derives a similitude from the human body, which he makes use of also in Romans 12:4; but it is for a different purpose, as I have already stated above. In that passage, he exhorts every one to be satisfied with his own calling, and not to invade another’s territory; as ambition, curiosity, or some other disposition, induces many to take in hand more than is expedient. Here, however, he exhorts believers to cleave to each other in a mutual distribution of gifts, as they were not conferred upon them by God that every one should enjoy his own separately, but that one should help another. It is usual, however, for any society of men, or congregation, to be called a body, as one city constitutes a body, and so, in like manner, one senate, and one people. Monenius Agrippa, 747747     Menenius Agrippa, a Roman consul, on occasion of a rebellion breaking out among the common people against the nobles and senators, whom they represented as useless and cumbersome to the state, was successful in quelling the insurrection, by a happy use of the apologue referred to, founded on the intimate connection and mutual dependence of the different parts of the body. The reader will find this interesting incident related by Livy, Book 2. chapter 32. — Ed. too, in ancient times, when desirous to conciliate the Roman people, when at variance with the senate, made use of an apologue, not very unlike the doctrine of Paul here. 748748     “En remonstrant que les membres du corps ayans conspire contre le ventre, et se voulans separer d’auec luy s’en trouuerent mal les premiers;” — “By showing that the members of the body, having conspired against the belly, and wishing to separate from it, were the first to experience the bad effects of this.” Among Christians, however, the case is very different; for they do not constitute a mere political body, but are the spiritual and mystical body of Christ, as Paul himself afterwards adds. (1 Corinthians 12:27.) The meaning therefore is — “Though the members of the body are various, and have different functions, they are, nevertheless, linked together in such a manner that they coalesce in one. 749749     “Ils prenent nourriture et accroissement l’un auec l’autre;” — “They take nourishment and increase, one with another.” We, accordingly, who are members of Christ, although we are endowed with various gifts, ought, notwithstanding, to have an eye to that connection which we have in Christ.”

So also is Christ The name of Christ is used here instead of the Church, because the similitude was intended to apply not to God’s only-begotten Son, but to us. It is a passage that is full of choice consolation, inasmuch as he calls the Church Christ; for Christ 750750     “Ce bon Seigneur Iesus;” — “This good Lord Jesus.” confers upon us this honor — that he is willing to be esteemed and recognised, not in himself merely, but also in his members. Hence the same Apostle says elsewhere, (Ephesians 1:23,) that the Church is his completion, 751751     Calvin, along with some other interpreters, understands the term, πλήρωμα, (fullness,) in the passage referred to, in an active sense. Theophylact observes that the Church is the Πλήρωμαcompletion of Christ, as the body and limbs are of the head. The term may, however, be taken in a passive sense, as meaning a thing to be filled or completed. — Ed as though he would, if separated from his members, be incomplete. And certainly, as Augustine elegantly expresses himself in one part of his writings —

“Since we are in Christ a fruit-bearing vine, what are we out of him but dry twigs?” (John 15:4.)

In this, then, our consolation lies — that, as he and the Father are one, so we are one with him. Hence it is that his name is applied to us.

13. For we are all baptized by one Spirit. Here there is a proof brought forward from the effect of baptism. “We are,” says he, “engrafted by baptism into Christ’s body, so that we are by a mutual link bound together as members, and live one and the same life. Hence every one, that would remain in the Church of Christ, must necessarily cultivate this fellowship.” He speaks, however, of the baptism of believers, which is efficacious through the grace of the Spirit, for, in the case of many, baptism is merely in the letter — the symbol without the reality; but believers, along with the sacrament, receive the reality. Hence, with respect to God, this invariably holds good — that baptism is an engrafting into the body of Christ, for God in that ordinance does not represent anything but what he is prepared to accomplish, provided we are on our part capable of it. The Apostle, also, observes here a most admirable medium, in teaching that the nature of baptism is — to connect us with Christ’s body. Lest any one, however, should imagine, that this is effected by the outward symbol, he adds that it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Whether Jews or Greeks. He specifies these instances, to intimate, that no diversity of condition obstructs that holy unity which he recommends. This clause, too, is added suitably and appropriately, for envy might at that time arise from two sources — because the Jews were not willing that the Gentiles should be put upon a level with them; and, where one had some excellence above others, with the view of maintaining his superiority, lie withdrew himself to a distance from his brethren.

We have all drunk in one Spirit. It is literally, “We have drunk into one Spirit,” but it would seem that, in order that the two words ἐν (in) and ἑν (one) might not immediately follow each other, Paul intentionally changed ἐν (in) into ἐις (into,) as he is accustomed frequently to do. Hence his meaning seems rather to be, that we are made to drink through the influence, as he had said before, of the Spirit of Christ, than that we have drunk into the same Spirit. It is uncertain, however, whether he speaks here of Baptism or of the Supper. I am rather inclined, however, to understand him as referring to the Supper, as he makes mention of drinking, for I have no doubt that he intended to make an allusion to the similitude of the sign. There is, however, no correspondence between drinking and baptism. Now, though the cup forms but the half of the Supper, there is no difficulty arising from that, for it is a common thing in Scripture to speak of the sacraments by synecdoche. 752752     A figure of speech, by which a part is put for the whole. See Quinctilian. (lnst. 8. 6, 19.) Thus he mentioned above in the tenth chapter (1 Corinthians 10:17) simply the bread, making no mention of the cup. The meaning, therefore, will be this — that participation in the cup has an eye to this — that we drink, all of us, of the same cup. For in that ordinance we drink of the life-giving blood of Christ, that we may have life in common with him — which we truly have, when he lives in us by his Spirit. He teaches, therefore, that believers, so soon as they are initiated by the baptism of Christ, are already imbued with a desire of cultivating mutual unity, 753753     “Si tost qu’ils sont amenez a Christ par le baptesme, desia leur est donne un goust de l’affection qu’ils doyuent auoir d’entretenir entr’eux unite et conionction naturelie;” — “So soon as they are brought to Christ by baptism, there is already given to them some taste of the disposition which they ought to have, to maintain among themselves a natural unity and connection.” and then afterwards, when they receive the sacred Supper, they are again conducted by degrees to the same unity, as they are all refreshed at the same time with the same drink.




Advertisements