1 Corinthians 12:22
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
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(22) Which seem to be more feeble.—The general argument of this and the following verse (without attempting to identify the particular parts of the body referred to) is that the weakest parts of the body are as necessary to the body as the strongest; and those parts which are considered less seemly are more abundantly cared for by being carefully covered with clothes, as distinguished from the face and hands which are uncovered.

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.Which seem to be more feeble - Weaker than the rest; which seem less able to bear fatigue and to encounter difficulties; which are more easily injured, and which become more easily affected with disease. It is possible that Paul may here refer to the brain, the lungs, the heart, etc., as more feeble in their structure, and more liable to disease than the hands and the feet, etc., and in reference to which disease is more dangerous and fatal.

Are more necessary - The sense seems to be this. A man can live though the parts and members of his body which are more strong were removed; but not if those parts which are more feeble. A man can live if his arm or his leg be amputated; but not if his brain, his lungs or his heart be removed. So that, although these parts are more feeble, and more easily injured, they are really more necessary to life, and therefore more useful than the more vigorous portions of the frame. Perhaps the idea is - and it is a beautiful thought - that those members of the church which are most retiring and feeble apparently which are concealed from public view, unnoticed and unknown - the humble. the meek, the peaceful, and the prayerful - are often more necessary to the true welfare of the church than those who are eminent for their talent and learning. And it is so. The church can better spare many a man, even in the ministry, who is learned, and eloquent, and popular, than some obscure and humble Christian, that is to the church what the heart and the lungs are to the life. the one is strong. vigorous, active, like the hands or the feet, and the church often depends on them; the other is feeble, concealed, yet vital, like the heart or the lungs. The vitality of the church could be continued though the man of talent and learning should be removed; as the body may live when the arm or the leg is amputated; but that vitality could not continue if the saint of humble and retiring piety, and of fervent prayerfulness, were removed, any more than the body can live when there is no heart and no lungs.

22. more feeble—more susceptible of injury: for example, the brain, the belly, the eye. Their very feebleness, so far from doing away with the need for them, calls forth our greater care for their preservation, as being felt "necessary." By feeble the apostle here doth not only mean most weak, but which seem to us most abject and contemptible; in which sense the word is used, 2 Corinthians 12:10; such are the belly and the entrails; the eye also is a feeble member, &c.; yet these parts are most necessary for the use of the body, being such without the use of which the body cannot live.

Nay, much more those members of the body,.... The apostle, in a beautiful gradation, proceeds to take notice of such parts of the body as are more weak, dishonourable, and uncomely, showing the necessity and usefulness of them:

which seem to be more feeble; than others, do not consist of a strong bony substance, and are not fenced with sinews, as the belly and its intestines: yet these

are necessary; nor could the body be sustained, nourished, and refreshed, without them; so the more weak and feeble saints, whose hearts and hands are to be strengthened, whose infirmities are to be bore, have their usefulness; and the effectual working in the measure of every part, even of the feeble and tender, maketh increase of the body, to the edifying of itself in love: and these God has seen fit, as necessary to call by his grace, and place in the body, that his strength may be made perfect in their weakness, and to confound the mighty; and out of the mouths even of babes and sucklings to ordain strength and praise.

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be {p} more feeble, are necessary:

(p) Of the smallest and vilest offices, and therefore mentioned last among the rest.

1 Corinthians 12:22-23. No; the relationship of the members is, on the contrary, of a different sort; those accounted weaker are necessary; likewise those held to be less honourable are the more honourably attired; those which are unseemly are invested with all the greater seemliness. What particular members Paul specially meant here by the weak (Theodoret, Estius, and several others hold: the brain and inward organs; Hofmann: “the delicate inward parts;” Bengel: the hands; most commentators, including Billroth: the eyes and ears) and by the ἀτιμοτέροις (usually: the feet; Grotius and Calovius: “venter cum iis quae sub ventre sunt;” Kypke: the intestines) cannot be definitely settled in detail, since he only says in a summary way: “How contrary it is to the natural relation of the members, if one were to say to the other (as in the preceding illustration the eye to the hand, or the head to the feet), I have no need of thee! Such contemptuous treatment can find no warrant either in the weakness, or the less honourable character, or the unseemliness of any member; for the members which we count weak are shielded from depreciation by their necessity; those held less honourable, by their more honourable dress; and those which are unseemly, by their seemly covering.” Since, however, it is of itself undoubted that he reckoned the pudenda (τὰ αἰδοῖα) and the breech among the ἀσχήμονα, we may further, without arbitrariness, set down the delicate organs of sense, such as the eye and ear, among the ἀσθενέστερα, and among the ἀτιμότερα again the members specially cared for in the way of adornment by dress, such as the trunk, hips, and shoulders.

πολλῷ μᾶλλον] the logical multo potius.

τὰ δοκοῦντα] which appear, like ἃ δοκοῦμεν, 1 Corinthians 12:23. Chrysostom aptly says, that what is conveyed is not τῆς φύσεως τῶν πραγμάτων, but τῆς τῶν πολλῶν ὑπονοίας ἡ ψῆφος. The position is, as in Plato, Rep. p. 572 B, καὶ πάνυ δοκοῦσιν ἡμῶν ἐνίοις μετρίοις εἶναι. Comp p. 334 C.

The first ΚΑΊ in 1 Corinthians 12:23 subjoins another category, the two members of which are put in order of climax (ἈΤΙΜΌΤ., ἈΣΧΉΜ.).

.] to be more dishonourable parts of the body, than others; “comparativus molliens,” Bengel.

τιμὴν περισσ.] honour in richer measure than others, namely, by the clothing, which is indicated by περιτίθ. (Matthew 27:28; Genesis 27:16; Esther 1:20; Proverbs 12:9; 2Ma 11:13; 2Ma 12:39; 2Ma 3:32; Hom. Il. iii. 330, xiv. 187).

τὰ ἀσχήμ. ἡμ.] our unseemly parts. Theodore of Mopsuestia says well: ἀσχήμονα ὡς πρὸς τὴν κοινὴν ὄψιν ἀποκαλεῖ. Notice, too, that we have not here again the milder relative comparative.

ἜΧΕΙ] They have greater seemliness than others; it becomes their own, namely, through the more seemly covering in which they are attired. On the purport of the verse, Chrysostom remarks rightly: τί γὰρ τῶν μορίων τῶν γεννητικῶν ἀτιμότερον ἐν ἡμῖν εἶναι δοκεῖ; ἀλλʼ ὅμως πλείονος ἀπολαύει τιμῆς, καὶ οἱ σφόδρα πένητες, κἂν τὸ λοιπὸν γυμνὸν ἔχωσι σῶμα, οὐκ ἂν ἀνάσχοιντο ἐκεῖνα τὰ μέλη δεῖξαι γυμνά. According to Hofmann, we are to supply ΤΟῦ ΣΏΜΑΤΟς from what goes before in connection with ΤᾺ ἈΣΧΉΜ.; the words from ἩΜῶΝ to ἜΧΕΙ, again, are to be taken as: they bring with them a greater seemliness (a more seemly demeanour) on our part. Needlessly artificial, and contrary to the τὰ τὲ εὐσχήμ. ἡμῶν which follows.

1 Corinthians 12:22-24 a. “On the contrary” (ἀλλά), instead of the more powerful and dignified (1 Corinthians 12:23) bodily parts dispensing with the humbler (1 Corinthians 12:21), it is “much more” the case that these latter—“the weaker” or “less honourable as they may seem to be” (τὰ δοκοῦνταἀσθενέστερα ὑπάρχειν)—“are necessary” in themselves (1 Corinthians 12:22), and treated with “more abundant honour” in our care of the body. By πολλῷ μᾶλλον (cf Plato, Phœdo, 80 E, ἀλλὰ πολλῷ μᾶλλον), multo potius (Bz[1914]) or a fortiori (Ev[1915]), the position of 1 Corinthians 12:21 is more than negatived; the inferior members are not merely shielded from contempt, but guarded with exceptional respect. By the “weaker” and “ignobler” parts P. cannot mean the hands or feet spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12:21, for these are strong and usually uncovered (see περιτίθεμεν, 23); but members in appearance quite subordinate and actually feeble—viz., the more delicate vital organs. Amongst these the ἀσχήμονα signify definitely τὰ αἰδοῖα, quœ inhonesta sunt (Vg[1916]); cf. Revelation 16:15, τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην.—The ἀσθενέστερα and ἀτιμότερα, the “comparatively weak” and “feeble” (comparativus molliens, Bg[1917]), are wide categories applicable to the same members from diff[1918] points of view. Weakness, in the case, e.g., of the heart, is compensated by needfulness; ignobility, as in the viscera, by careful tendance shown in ample clothing—“we put about them (clothe them with) a more abundant honour” (for the use of τιμή, cf. ἐξουσία in 1 Corinthians 11:10). The unseemliness (indecency) attaching to certain organs, always guarded from sight, “brings with it (ἔχει, cf. Hebrews 10:35) a more abundant seemliness”. Against most commentt. (Gd[1919], e.g., thinks only of “les soins de la toilette”!), Ed[1920] maintains that εὐσχημοσύνη (1 Corinthians 12:23) has a moral sense, looking beyond the honour of apparel; “the greater comeliness relates rather to function”. Is any office more responsible than that of parenthood, anything more sacred than the mother’s womb and mother’s breast? (cf. Luke 11:27; also Hebrews 13:4).—τὰ δὲ εὐσχήμονα κ.τ.λ.: But our seemly parts”—head and face, e.g. (the human face divine)—“have no need,” their distinction being conspicuous; see 1 Corinthians 11:7 a, where this visible, but also moral, εὐσχημοσύνη is raised to its highest grade. From this text Bg[1921] inferred the impiety of patches!—On ὑπάρχειν, see note to 1 Corinthians 11:7; δοκέω has in 1 Corinthians 12:22 f. its two meanings—non-personal and personal—of seem and suppose; like methinks and I think, Germ., dünken and denken.

[1914] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1915] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[1916] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[1917] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

difference, different, differently.

[1919] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1920] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1921] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

1 Corinthians 12:24 b, 1 Corinthians 12:25. “But God compounded (συν-εκέρασεν, mixed together; Vg[1922] contemperavit) the body.” The assertion of God’s workmanship in the structure of the physical organs (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:18) was necessary, when many thinkers affirmed the evil of matter and regarded physical appetites as degrading (cf. 1 Timothy 4:3, Colossians 2:23; also 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18 ff. above). This accounts for the adversative ἀλλά—“Nay but”: P. tacitly contradicts those who saw nothing but ἀτιμία and ἀσχημοσύνη in vital bodily functions. For ὁ Θεὸς συνεκέρασεν, cf. Psalm 139:13-16 (where the womb is “God’s laboratory,” Delitzsch), Ecclesiastes 11:5, Job 10:8-11. Ed[1923] reads the assertion as directed against philosophy; “where Aristotle says ‘nature,’ P. says ‘God’ ”.—τῷ ὑστερουμένῳ περισσοτέραν δοὺς τιμήν, “to the part which suffers lack (opus habenti, Cv[1924]: cf., note, 1 Corinthians 1:7) having assigned more abundant honour”; so that the human instinct respecting the ignobler organs of the body (1 Corinthians 12:23) is the reflex of a Divine ordinance: cf. 1 Corinthians 11:14 f., to the like effect.—“That there may not be division (σχίσμα: see parls.) in the body”—the manifestation of the jealousy or scorn depicted in 1 Corinthians 12:16; 1 Corinthians 12:21, which have their counterpart at present in the Cor[1925] Church (1 Corinthians 1:10 ff., 1 Corinthians 4:6, etc.).—The opposite state of things (ἀλλά), so desirable in the spiritual organism, is realised by Divine art in the natural: “God tempered the body together” in this way, “that … the members might have the same solicitude for one another”. The physical members are obliged, by the structure of the frame, to care for one another; the hand is as anxious to guard the eye or the stomach, to help the mouth or the foot, as to serve itself; the eye is watchman for every other organ; each feels its own usefulness and cherishes its fellows; all “have the same care,” since they have the same interest—that of “the one body”. This societas membrorum makes the physical order both a parable of and a basis for the spiritual. For τὸ αὐτό, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Php 2:2, etc.—μεριμνῶσιν (see esp. 1 Corinthians 7:32 ff., for this shade of meaning) is in pr[1926] sbj[1927], of habitual feeling; in pl[1928], despite neut. subject, since the μέλη have been individually personified (1 Corinthians 12:15 f., 1 Corinthians 12:21).

[1922] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[1923] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1924] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[1925] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1926] present tense.

[1927] subjunctive mood.

[1928] plural.

22. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary] The more feeble parts of the body, those, that is, which are most delicate, least able to take care of themselves, are by no means the least valuable. The eye or the brain, for instance, are more necessary to the well-being of the body than other stronger and ruder organs.

1 Corinthians 12:22. Ἀσθενέστερα, more feeble) the hand, compared with the eye.

Verse 22. - Are necessary. This is the point of the fable of the belly and the members. 1 Corinthians 12:22Seem to be (δοκοῦντα - ὑπάρχειν)

The allusion is probably to those which seem to be weaker in their original structure, naturally. This may be indicated by the use of ὑπάρχειν to be (see on James 2:15); compare εἶναι to be, in 1 Corinthians 12:23. Others explain of those which on occasion seem to be weaker, as when a member is diseased.

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