1 Corinthians 12:19
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
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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 if all were one member - If there were nothing but an eye, an ear, or a limb, there would be no body The idea which this seems intended to illustrate is, that if there was not variety of talent and endowment in the church, the church could not itself exist. If, for example, there were nothing but apostles, or prophets, or teachers; if there were none but those who spoke with tongues or could interpret them, the church could not exist. A variety of talents and attainments in their proper places is as useful as are the various members of the human body. 19. where were the body—which, by its very idea, "hath many members" (1Co 12:12, 14), [Alford]. The body is a whole consisting of many members, it could not therefore be a body if there were but only one member. Or how could the body perform the several actions necessary either for the being or the well-being of it, if it consisted but of one member?

And if they were all one member,.... As all eye, or all ear, or all hand, or all foot:

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?
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. 1 Corinthians 12:19
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