a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Spiritual Gifts


Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

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.

14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

4. Now there are diversities of gifts The symmetry of the Church 730730     “La proportion et ordre bien compasse qui est en l’Eglise;” — “The proportion and well regulated order that is in the Church.” consists, so to speak, of a manifold unity, 731731     “Consiste en vne vnite faite de plusieurs parties assemblees;” — “Consists of a unity made up of many parts put together.” that is, when the variety of gifts is directed to the same object, as in music there are different sounds, but suited to each other with such an adaptation, as to produce concord. Hence it is befitting that there should be a distinction of gifts as well as of offices, and yet all harmonize in one. Paul, accordingly, in the 12th chapter of Romans, commends this variety, that no one may, by rashly intruding himself into another’s place, confound the distinction which the Lord has established. Hence he orders every one to be contented with his own gifts, and cultivate the particular department that has been assigned to him. 732732     “I1 vent donc qu’un chacun se contentant du don qu’il a receu, s’employe a le faire valoir, et s’acquitter de son deuoir;” — “He would, therefore, have every one, contenting himself with the gift that he has received, to employ himself in improving it, and carefully discharge his duty.” He prohibits them from going beyond their own limits by a foolish ambition. In fine, he exhorts that every one should consider how much has been given him, what measure has been allotted to him, and to what he has been called. Here, on the other hand, he orders every one to bring what he has to the common heap, and not keep back the gifts of God in the way of enjoying every one his own, apart from the others, 733733     “Pour en iouyr a part, sans en communiquer a ses freres;” — “So as to enjoy them apart, without imparting of them to his brethren.” but aim unitedly at the edification of all in common. In both passages, he brings forward the similitude of the human body, but, as may be observed, on different accounts. The sum of what he states amounts to this — that gifts are not distributed thus variously among believers, in order that they may be used apart, but that in the division there is a unity, inasmuch as one Spirit is the source of all those gifts, one God is the Lord of all administrations, and the author of all exercises of power. Now God, who is the beginning, ought also to be the end.

One Spirit This passage ought to be carefully observed in opposition to fanatics, 734734     “Vn tas d’esprits enragez;” — “A troop of furious spirits.” who think that the name Spirit means nothing essential, but merely the gifts or actions of divine power. Here, however, Paul plainly testifies, that there is one essential power of God, whence all his works proceed. The term Spirit, it is true, is sometimes transferred by metonymy to the gifts themselves. Hence we read of the Spirit of knowledge — of judgment — of fortitude — of modesty. 735735     “De discretion;” — “Of discretion.” Paul, however, here plainly testifies that judgment, and knowledge, and gentleness, and all other gifts, proceed from one source. For it is the office of the Holy Spirit to put forth and exercise the power of God by conferring these gifts upon men, and distributing them among them.

One Lord. The ancients made use of this testimony in opposition to the Arians, for the purpose of maintaining a Trinity of persons. For there is mention made here of the Spirit, secondly of the Lord, and lastly of God, and to these Three, one and the same operation is ascribed. Thus, by the name Lord, they understood Christ. But for my part, though I have no objection to its being understood in this way, I perceive, at the same time, that it is a weak argument for stopping the mouths of Arians; for there is a correspondence between the word administrations and the word Lord. The administrations, says Paul, are different, but there is only one God whom we must serve, whatever administration we discharge. This antithesis, then, shows what is the simple meaning, so that to confine it to Christ is rather forced.

6. One God that worketh. Where we use the word powers the Greek term is ἐνεργήματα, a term which contains an allusion to the verb worketh, as in Latin effectus (an effect) corresponds with the verb effectus (to effect.) Paul’s meaning is, that although believers may be endowed with different powers, they all take their rise from one and the same power on the part of God. Hence the expression employed here — worketh all things in all — does not refer to the general providence of God, but to the liberality that he exercises towards us, in bestowing upon every one some gift. The sum is this — that there is nothing in mankind that is good or praiseworthy but what comes from God alone. Hence it is out of place here to agitate the question — in what manner God acts in Satan and in reprobates.

7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man He now points out the purpose for which God has appointed his gifts, for he does not confer them upon us in vain, nor does he intend that they shall serve the purpose of ostentation. Hence we must inquire as to the purpose for which they are conferred. As to this Paul answers — (with a view to utility)πρὸς τὸ συμφερον; that is, that the Church may receive advantage thereby. The manifestation of the Spirit may be taken in a passive as well as in an active sense — in a passive sense, because wherever there is prophecy, or knowledge, or any other gift, the Spirit of God does there manifest himself — in an active sense, because the Spirit of God, when he enriches us with any gift, unlocks his treasures, for the purpose of manifesting to us those things that would otherwise have been concealed and shut up. The second interpretation suits better. The view taken by Chrysostom is rather harsh and forced — that this term is used, 736736     “Que ceci est appele Manifestation: — “That this is termed a Manifestation.” because unbelievers do not recognize God, except by visible miracles.

8. To one is given He now subjoins an enumeration, or, in other words, specifies particular kinds — not indeed all of them, but such as are sufficient for his present purpose. “Believers,” says he, “are endowed with different gifts, but let every one acknowledge, that he is indebted for whatever he has to the Spirit of God, for he pours forth his gifts as the sun scatters his rays in every direction. As to the difference between these gifts, knowledge (or understanding) and wisdom are taken in different senses in the Scriptures, but here I take them in the way of less and greater, as in Colossians 2:3, where they are also joined together, when Paul says, that in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge, therefore, in my opinion, means acquaintance with sacred thingsWisdom, on the other hand, means the perfection of it. Sometimes prudence is put, as it were, in the middle place between these two, and in that case it denotes skill 737737     “Le sqauoir et la dexterite;” — “Skill and dexterity.” As to this use of the term prudentia, (prudence,) see Cicero de Officiis, 1. 43. — Ed. in applying knowledge to some useful purpose. They are, it is true, very nearly allied; but still you observe a difference when they are put together. Let us then take knowledge as meaning ordinary information, and wisdom, as including revelations that are of a more secret and sublime order. 738738     One of the most satisfactory views of this subject is that of Dr. Henderson in his Lecture on “Divine Inspiration,” (pp. 193,196,) who understands by σοφία, (wisdom,) in this passage, “the sublime truths of the gospel, directly revealed to the Apostles, of which the λογος (word) was the supernatural ability rightly to communicate them to others;” and by λόγος γνώσεως (word of knowledge,) the faculty of “infallibly explaining truths and doctrines which had been previously divulged.” — Ed

The term faith is employed here to mean a special faith, as we shall afterwards see from the context. A special faith is of such a kind as does not apprehend Christ wholly, for redemption, righteousness, and sanctification, but only in so far as miracles are performed in his name. Judas had a faith of this kind, and he wrought miracles too by means of it. Chrysostom distinguishes it in a somewhat different manner, calling it the faith of miracles, not of doctrines. 739739     Chrysostom’s words are: Πίστιν οὐ παύτην λέγει τὴν τῶν δογμάτων ἀλλὰ τὴν τῶν σημείων. “By this faith he means not that of doctrines, but that of miraeles.” — It was called by the schoolmen fides miractelorum (faith of miracles.) — Ed This, however, does not differ much from the interpretation previously mentioned. By the gift of healings 740740     The plural is made use of, it is manifest, to intimate the number and variety of the diseases that were healed — the Apostles having been invested with power to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease. (Matthew 10:1.) — Ed. every one knows what is meant.

As to the workings of powers, or, as some render it, the operations of influences, there is more occasion for doubt. I am inclined, however, to think, that what is meant is the influence which is exercised against devils, and also against hypocrites. When, therefore, Christ and his Apostles by authority restrained devils, or put them to flight, that was ἐνέργημα, (powerful working,) and, in like manner, when Paul smote the sorcerer with blindness, (Acts 13:11,) and when Peter struck Ananias and Sapphira dead upon the spot with a single word. The gifts of healing and of miracles, therefore, serve to manifest the goodness of God, but this last, his severity for the destruction of Satan. 741741     There does not appear to be sufficient ground for understanding the miracles here referred to as necessarily deeds of terror, while the connection in which the expression occurs seems to intimate, that the miracles here meant were more than ordinarily stupendous manifestations of Divine power, such as would powerfully constrain the beholder to exclaim, This is the finger of God! Thus, “the resuscitation of the dead, the innocuous handlng of serpents, or drinking of empoisoned liquor, the dispossession of demons, and the infliction of blindness,” as in the case of Elymas, the sorcerer, and of death itself, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira,. were mighty deeds — to which “no mere created power could possibly pretend, under any circumstances, or by the application of any means whatever.” See Henderson on Inspiration, pp. 203-206. — Ed.

By prophecy, I understand the singular and choice endowment of unfolding the secret will of God, so that a Prophet is a messenger, as it were, between God and man. 742742     “Apportant la volonte de Dieu aux hommes;” — “Communicating the will of God to men.” My reason for taking this view will be explained more fully afterwards.

The discerning of spirits, was a clearness of perception in forming a judgment as to those who professed to be something. (Acts 5:36.) I speak not of that natural wisdom, by which we are regulated in judging. It was a special illumination, with which some were endowed by the gift of God. The use of it was this: that they might not be imposed upon by masks, of mere pretences, 743743     “Par la montre et belle apparence que les gens ont aucuneffois;” — “By the show and fair appearance which persons sometimes have.” but might by that spiritual judgment distinguish, as by a particular mark, the true ministers of Christ from the false.

There was a difference between the knowledge of tongues, and the interpretation of them, for those who were endowed with the former were, in many cases, not acquainted with the language of the nation with which they had to deal. The interpreters 744744     “Et en tel cas ceux que auoyent le don d’interpretation des langues;” — “And in such a case, those who had the gift of interpreting languages.” rendered foreign tongues into the native language. These endowments they did not at that time acquire by labor or study, but were put in possession of them by a wonderful revelation of the Spirit. 745745     The following classification of the, gifts, (χαρίσματα) here enumerated by the Apostle, is suggested by Dr. Henderson, as tending to show the “beautiful symmetry” of the passage: —
   I. ̔Ω μὲν — λόγος σοφίας  —  (I. To one, the word of wisdom)
2. ἄλλῳ δὲ λογος γνώσες  —  (2. to another, the word of knowledge.)
II. ̔ΕΤΕΡΩ δὲ πίστις —  (II. To another, faith,)
1. ἄλλῳ δὲ χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων —  (1. to another, gifts of healing,)
2. ἄλλῳ δὲ ἐνεργήματα δυμάμεων  —  (2. to another, working of miracles,)
3. ἄλλῳ δὲ προφητεια  —  (3. to another, prophecy,)
4. ἄλλῳ δὲ διαχρίσεις πνευμάτων  —  (4. to another, discerning of spirits.)
III. ̔ΕΤΕΡΩ δὲ γένη γλωσσῶν —  (III. To another, divers kinds of tongues,)
2. ἄλλῳ δὲ ἑρμηνεία γλωσσῶν  —  (2. to another, interpretation of tongues.)

   Thus the first class includes “the word of wisdom,” and “the word of knowledge. Under the head of faith, that is, the faith of miracles, four kinds of gifts are enumerated — “gifts of healing,” — “working of miracles,” — “prophecy,” and “discerning of spirits;” while the third class includes “divers kinds of tongues,” and “the interpretation of tongues.” See Henderson on Inspiration. — Ed.

11. One and the same spirit distributing. Hence it follows that those act amiss who, having no concern as to participation, break asunder that holy harmony, that is fitly adjusted in all its parts, only when under the guidance of the same Spirit, all conspire toward one and the same object. He again calls the Corinthians to unity, by reminding them that all have derived from one fountain whatever they possess, while he instructs them, at the same time, that no one has so much as to have enough within himself, so as not to require help from others. For this is what he means by these words — distributing to every one severally as he willeth The Spirit of God, therefore, distributes them among us, in order that we may make all contribute to the common advantage. To no one does he give all, lest any one, satisfied with his particular portion, should separate himself from others, and live solely for himself. The same idea is intended in the adverb severally, as it is of great importance to understand accurately that diversity by which God unites us mutually to one another. 746746     “Par laquelle Dieu nou conioint et oblige mutuellement les uns aux autres;” — “By which God connects and binds us mutually to one another.” Now, when will is ascribed to the Spirit, and that, too, in connection with power, we may conclude from this, that the Spirit is truly and properly God.

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.

15. This is a bringing out still farther (ἐπεξεργασία) of the preceding statement, or in other words, an exposition of it, with some amplification, with the view of placing in a clearer light, what he had previously stated in a few words. Now all this accords with the apologue of Menenius Agrippa. “Should a dissension break out in the body, so that the feet would refuse to discharge their office to the rest of the body, and the belly in like manner, and the eyes, and the hands, what would be the effect? Would not the result be — the destruction of the whole body?” At the same time Paul here insists more particularly on this one point — that each member ought to rest satisfied with its own place and station, and not envy the others, for he institutes a comparison between the more distinguished members, and those that have less dignity. For the eye has a more honorable place in the body than the hand, and the hand than the foot But if our hands were, from a feeling of envy, to refuse to discharge their office, would nature endure this? Would the hand be listened to, when wishing to be separated from the body?

To be not of the body, means here — to have no communication with the other members, but to live for itself, and to seek only its own advantage. “Would it then,” says Paul, “be allowable for the hand to refuse to do its office to the other members, on the ground of its bearing envy to the eyes?” These things are said of the natural body, but they must be applied to the members of the Church, lest ambition or misdirected emulation and envy should be the occasion of bad feeling among us, 754754     “Nous face restraindre et espargner les vns enuers les autres;” — “Make us restrict and spare ourselves — one towards another.” so as to lead one that occupies an inferior station to grudge to afford his services to those above him.

17. If the whole body were an eye He sets aside a foolish aiming at equality, by showing the impossibility of it. “If all the members,” says he, “desire the honor that belongs to the eye, the consequence will be, that the whole body will perish; for it is impossible that the body should remain safe and sound, if the members have not different functions, and a mutual correspondence between them. Hence equality interferes with the welfare of the body, because it produces a confusion that entails present ruin. What madness, then, would it be, should one member, instead of giving way to another, 755755     “De s’accommoder et soumettre a l’un des autres membres;” — To accommodate itself, and submit to one of the other members.” conspire for its own ruin and that of the body!”

18. But now God hath placed. Here we have another argument, taken from the appointment of God. “It has pleased God, that the body should consist of various members, and that the members should be endowed with various offices and gifts. That member, therefore, which will not rest satisfied with its own station, will wage war with God after the manner of the giants. 756756     “Comme les poetes ont dit anciennement des geans;” — “As the poets have told of the giants in ancient times.” The fabled war of the giants with the gods is referred to in Homer’s Odyssey, 7, 59, 206; 10, 120. — Ed. Let us, therefore, be subject to the arrangement which God has appointed, that we may not, to no purpose, resist his will.” 757757     “De peur de perdre temps, and nous gaster en resistant a la volonte;” — “Lest we should lose time, and do hurt to ourselves by resisting his will.”

19. If all were one member He means, that God has not acted at random, or without good reason, in assigning different gifts to the members of the body; but because it was necessary that it should be so, for the preservation of the body; for if this symmetry were taken away, there would be utter confusion and derangement. Hence we ought to submit ourselves the more carefully to the providence of God, which has so suitably arranged everything for our common advantage. One member is taken here to mean a mass, that is all of one shape, and not distinguished by any variety; for if God were to fashion our body into a mass of this kind, it would be a useless heap. 758758     “Un amas de chair inutile;” — “A heap of useless flesh.”

20. Many members one body He repeats this the oftener, because the stress of the whole question lies here — that the unity of the body is of such a nature as cannot be maintained but by a diversity of members; and that, while the members differ from each other in offices and functions, it is in such a way as to have a mutual connection with each other for the preservation of the one body. Hence no body can retain its standing without a diversified symmetry of the members, that we may know to consult public as well as private advantage, by discharging, every one, the duty of his own station.

21. And the eye cannot say to the hand Hitherto he has been showing, what is the office of the less honorable members — to discharge their duty to the body, and not envy the more distinguished members. Now, on the other hand, he enjoins it upon the more honorable members, not to despise the inferior members, which they cannot dispense with. The eye excels the hand, and yet cannot despise it, or insult over it, as though it were useless; and he draws an argument from utility, to show that it ought to be thus — “Those members, that are less esteemed, are the more necessary: hence, with a view to the safety of the body, they must not be despised.” He makes use of the term weaker here, to mean despised, as in another passage, when he says that he glories in his infirmities, (2 Corinthians 12:9,) he expresses, under this term, those things which rendered him contemptible and abject.

23. Which are less honorable. Here we have a second argument — that the dishonor of one member turns out to the common disgrace of the whole body, as appears from the care that we take to cover the parts that are less honorable. “Those parts that are comely,” says he, “do not require adventitious ornament; but the parts that involve shame, or are less comely, are cared for by us with greater concern. Why so? but because their shame would be the common disgrace of the whole body.” To invest with honor is to put on a covering for the sake of ornament, in order that those members may be honorably concealed, which would involve shame if uncovered. 759759     It is observed by Raphelius, that τιμὴν περιτιθέναι “signifies, in general, (honorem exhibere,) to give honor; but in this passage, by a metonymy, to cover over with a garment those members of the body which, if seen, would have a disagreeable and unseemly appearance; and this is a kind of honor put upon them.” — Ed

24. But God hath tempered the body together He again repeats, what he had stated once before, (1 Corinthians 12:18,) but more explicitly, — that God has appointed this symmetry, and that with a view to the advantage of the whole body, because it cannot otherwise maintain its standing. “For whence comes it, that all the members are of their own accord concerned for the honor of a less comely member, and agree together to conceal its shame? This inclination has been implanted in them by God, because without this adjustment a schism in the body would quickly break out. Hence it appears that the body is not merely shattered, and the order of nature perverted, but the authority of God is openly set at naught, whenever any one assumes more than belongs to him.” 760760     “Et que ne porte sa vocation;” — “And does not keep within his calling.”

26. Whether one member suffers “Such a measure of fellow-feeling.” (συμπάθεια,) 761761     The term is made use of in this sense by classical authors. Polyb. 22, 11, 12. See Calvin’s Harmony, vol. 2, p. 232. — Ed. says he, “is to be seen in the human body, that, if any inconvenience is felt by any member, all the others grieve along with it, and, on the other hand, rejoice along with it, in its prosperity. Hence there is no room there for envy or contempt.” To be honored, here, is taken in a large sense, as meaning, to be in prosperity and happiness. Nothing, however, is better fitted to promote harmony than this community of interest, when every one feels that, by the prosperity of others, he is proportionally enriched, and, by their penury, impoverished.

27. But ye are the body of Christ Hence what has been said respecting the nature and condition of the human body must be applied to us; for we are not a mere civil society, but, being ingrafted into Christ’s body, are truly members one of another. Whatever, therefore, any one of us has, let him know that it has been given him for the edification of his brethren in common; and let him, accordingly, bring it forward, and not keep it back — buried, as it were, within himself, or make use of it as his own. Let not the man, who is endowed with superior gifts, be puffed up with pride, and despise others; but let him consider that there is nothing so diminutive as to be of no use — as, in truth, even the least among the pious brings forth fruit, according to his slender capacity, so that there is no useless member in the Church. Let not those who are not endowed with so much honor, envy those above them, or refuse to do their duty to them, but let them maintain the station in which they have been placed. Let there be mutual affection, mutual fellow-feeling, (συμπάθεια,) mutual concern. Let us have a regard to the common advantage, in order that we may not destroy the Church by malignity, or envy, or pride, or any disagreement; but may, on the contrary, every one of us, strive to the utmost of his power to preserve it. Here is a large subject, and a magnificent one; 762762     “Voyci vne belie matiere riche et abondante;” — “Here is a fine subject, rich and copious.” but I content myself with having pointed out the way in which the above similitude must be applied to the Church.

Members severally. Chrysostom is of opinion, that this clause is added, because the Corinthians were not the universal Church; but this appears to me rather forced. 763763     It is remarked by Billroth, that “the view of Chrysostom is out of place; for such a notion does not pertain to the argumentation of the Apostle.” Biblical Cabinet, No. 22. — Ed. I have sometimes thought that it was expressive of impropriety, as the Latins say Quodammodo, 764764     An instance of this will be found in Cicero de Amicitia, 8. — Ed. (in a manner.) 765765     “Comme nous disons en Langue vulgaire, Aucunement;” — “As we say, in common language — In a manner.” When, however, I view the whole matter more narrowly, I am rather disposed to refer it to that division of members of which he had made mention. They are then members severally, according as each one has had his portion and definite work assigned him. The context itself leads us to this meaning. In this way severally, and as a whole, will be opposite terms.

VIEWNAME is study