1 Corinthians 12:21
And the 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Corinthians 12:21-23. And the eye — In its commanding station, and possessed as it is of light and discernment; cannot say to the hand — Endowed with neither of these qualities, and the mere instrument of action; I have no need of thee — For by the hand the whole body is maintained and fed, and the eye itself preserved and defended. Nor again the head — Elevated as it is, and so admirably furnished with all the nerves and organs planted in it, cannot say to the feet — The most distant and extreme parts, mean as their form and office seems; I have no need of you — Since by them the head and all the other parts of the body are supported, and are removed from place to place. “The apostle mentions the two principal members of the body, the eye and the head, and affirms that they need the service of the inferior members, to teach such as hold the most honourable offices in the church not to despise those who are placed in the lowest stations: for as in the body, the hand needs the direction of the eye, and the eye the assistance of the hands, so in the church they who follow the active occupations of life, need the direction of the teachers. On the other hand, the teachers need to be supported by the labour of the active members.” Nay, those members which seem to be more feeble — Because unable to endure external injury, such as the brain, the lungs, the heart, and bowels; or the veins, arteries, and other minute channels in the body; are more abundantly necessary — For without them the animal functions can by no means be discharged, nor the body preserved in life and health. And likewise those members which we think to be less honourable — Or graceful, on account of their place and use; upon these we bestow — Greek, περιτιθεμεν, these we surround with more abundant honour — By carefully covering them. And our uncomely parts have — By virtue of the dress we put upon them; more abundant comeliness — Than most of the rest. It is as if he had said, The face, on which the image of God is particularly stamped, we leave uncovered; but as for those parts which decency or custom teaches us to conceal, we contrive not only to cover, but also, as far as we conveniently can, to adorn by covering. “This observation, concerning the pains which we take in adorning or concealing the weak and uncomely members of our body, the apostle makes to teach the higher members of the church to advance the honour of the whole body, by concealing the weakness and imperfections of the lowest, and by setting off their gifts and graces, whatever they may be, to the best advantage, for the reason mentioned 1 Corinthians 12:25. And when such attention is paid to the inferior, by the superior members of the church, the inferior, laying aside all envy, should willingly suffer the superior members to recommend themselves to the esteem of the whole body, by the lustre and usefulness of their more excellent gifts.”12:12-26 Christ and his church form one body, as Head and members. Christians become members of this body by baptism. The outward rite is of Divine institution; it is a sign of the new birth, and is called therefore the washing of regeneration, Tit 3:5. But it is by the Spirit, only by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, that we are made members of Christ's body. And by communion with Christ at the Lord's supper, we are strengthened, not by drinking the wine, but by drinking into one Spirit. Each member has its form, place, and use. The meanest makes a part of the body. There must be a distinction of members in the body. So Christ's members have different powers and different places. We should do the duties of our own place, and not murmur, or quarrel with others. All the members of the body are useful and necessary to each other. Nor is there a member of the body of Christ, but may and ought to be useful to fellow-members. As in the natural body of man, the members should be closely united by the strongest bonds of love; the good of the whole should be the object of all. All Christians are dependent one upon another; each is to expect and receive help from the rest. Let us then have more of the spirit of union in our religion.And the eye cannot say unto the hand ... - The hand in its place is as needful as the eye; and the feet as the head. Nay, the eye and the head could not perform their appropriate functions, or would be in a great measure useless but for the aid of the hands and feet. Each is useful in its proper place. So in the church. Those that are most talented and most richly endowed with gifts, cannot say to those less so, that there is no need of their aid. All are useful in their place. Nay, those who are most richly endowed could very imperfectly perform their duties without the aid and cooperation of those of more humble attainments. 21. The higher cannot dispense with the lower members. He names two of the most noble and useful members of the body, the head and the eye, which yet cannot tell the hands or the feet they have no need of them: the wise God having created nothing in vain, but made every member in the body of a man for use, as to the whole, so to the several parts of the body; the hand is useful to the eye, and the feet are of use to the head. The application of this similitude, which the apostle so much enlargeth upon, we shall have, 1 Corinthians 12:27, &c. And the eye cannot say unto the hand,.... Every member of the natural body is useful and necessary. The eye, the seat of the sense of seeing, cannot say to the communicating and working hand,

I have no need of thee: I can do without thee: so the seers and overseers of the church, the ministers of the Gospel, cannot say to the liberal and munificent hands, we have no need of you; for as the one stand in need of the light, instruction, comfort, advice, and direction of the other, so the other stand in need of communication from them; and as God has made it a duty, that he that is taught in the word should communicate to him that teacheth in all good things; and as it is his ordinance that they which preach the Gospel should live of it; so he has generally ordered it in his providence, that they that teach should need such assistance:

nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. The head, which is the seat of the senses, and is superior to, and has the command and government of all the members of the body, cannot say to the lowest and most distant parts of it, the feet, you are needless and useless; so those that are set in the first place in the church, are over others in the Lord, and have the rule over them, cannot say to those that are under them, and submit unto them, even the lowest and meanest of them, that they are of no use and service to them; they can no more be without them, than the head can be without the feet, or than princes can do without subjects, or magistrates without citizens, or generals without soldiers.

{12} 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.

(12) Now on the other hand, he speaks to those who were endued with more excellent gifts, exhorting them not to despise the inferiors as unprofitable, and as though they served to no use. For God, he says, has in such sort tempered this inequality, that the more excellent and beautiful members can in no wise lack the more abject and such as we are ashamed of, and that they should have more care to see to them and to cover them: that by this means the necessity which is on both parts, might keep the whole body in peace and harmony. And that even though if each part is considered apart, they are of different degrees and conditions, yet because they are joined together, they have a community both in prosperity and affliction.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 12:21. Hitherto, in 1 Corinthians 12:15-20, this figure has been used to rebuke those who were discontented with what they considered their lesser gifts; we now come to those who were proud of their higher gifts and contemptuous towards the less highly gifted.

οὐ δύναται] of the impossibility conditioned by the indispensableness of the hand for the eye.

πάλιν] as in Matthew 4:7; Matthew 5:33, again,—since the case belongs to the same category. Comp on 2 Corinthians 10:7; Romans 15:10.

Ἡ ΚΕΦΑΛΉ] the head, consequently the part of the body which stands highest, compared with the feet, the members that stand lowest. That Paul, in his specializing representation, has in view simply the corporeal members as such, and therefore introduces the head also upon the scene with the rest, without in any way thereby touching upon the idea of Christ as the Head of the church (comp on 1 Corinthians 12:12), is plain from the whole picture, which, in its concrete details, is as far as possible from giving occasion to allegorical interpretations of the several parts of the body.1 Corinthians 12:21-31 a. § 41. THE MUTUAL DEPENDENCE OF THE BODY’S MEMBERS. Multiformity, it has been shown, is of the essence of organic life. But the variously endowed members, being needful to the body, are consequently necessary to each other—those that seem “weaker” sometimes the more so (1 Corinthians 12:21 f.), while the less honoured have a dignity of their own; thus all the members cherish mutual respect and fellow-feeling (1 Corinthians 12:23-26). This holds good of the Church, with its numerous grades of personal calling and endowment (1 Corinthians 12:27 f.). No one charism belongs to all Christians (1 Corinthians 12:29 f.). There is choice and purpose in God’s distributive appointments, which leave, moreover, room for man’s personal effort. We should desire the best of His gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31).1 Corinthians 12:21. Χρείαν, need) To this refer the word necessary, 1 Corinthians 12:22.—ἡ κεφαλὴ, the head) the highest part.Verse 21. - I have no need of thee. A rebuke to the pride of those who thought their own gifts to be exclusively valuable.
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