And if they were all one member, where were the body?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
where were the body? where would be the body? it would not be a body consisting of such proper and suitable members, as now it is: so if the community of the saints were either all ministers, or all hearers, &c. there would be no body, consisting of different persons, to receive any benefit or usefulness from either; the church of Christ would not be that uniform, useful, and consistent community it is.And if they were all one member, where were the body?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Corinthians 12:19 f. If, on the contrary, the whole of the members, which make up the body, were one member,—if they, instead of their variety, formed one undifferentiated member,—where were the body? In that case there would be no body existent, for its essential nature is just the combination of different organs,—a new abductio ad absurdum.
But so (as 1 Corinthians 12:18) there are indeed many members, but one body. The antitheses in 1 Corinthians 12:18; 1 Corinthians 12:20 manifest, in contradistinction to the perverseness of vain longing after gifts not received, the necessity of the existing relation to the organic and harmonious subsistence and life of the church.1 Corinthians 12:19-20 rehearse the doctrine of 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, now vividly illustrated by 1 Corinthians 12:15 ff., viz., that a manifold variety of organs is indispensable for the existence of the Church. First the principle is suggested by a rhetorical question, in the strain of 1 Corinthians 12:17 : “But if all were one member, where (were) the body? “Secondly, it is affirmed, with grave conclusiveness: “But as the case stands (νῦν δέ)—Many members, yet one body”.—Πολλὰ μέλη, ἓν δὲ σῶμα sums up the whole exposition in a concise epigram, which was perhaps already proverbial (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24).—ἐστὶν hardly needs to be supplied. cf., for the thought, 1 Corinthians 10:17, and notes on 1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:14 above.19. if they were all one member, where were the body?] The Christian Church, as St Paul continually teaches, was a body; that is, an organism which contained a vast number and variety of parts, each one with its own special function. But if all had the same purpose and work, the body would cease to exist.Verse 19. - And if they were all one member, where were the body? The interests of the individual must never overshadow those of the Church. In the Church, as in the body, the hypertrophy or the atrophy of any one member is injurious, not only to itself, but to the whole.
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