1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Ordinary C9


12 For just as the bodyI isII oneIII and hasIV manyV members,VI and allVII the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.VIII 

Notes on verse 12

I “body” = soma. Perhaps from sozo (to save, heal, rescue); from sos (safe, well, rescued). This is body or flesh. It can be body in a literal or figurative sense (as the body of Christ). This is where the word “somatic” comes from.
II “is” = eimi. This is to be or exist.
III “one” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
IV “has” = echo. This is have, hold, or possess.
V “many” = polus. This is much, often, plenteous – a large number or a great extent.
VI “members” = melos. This is a limb or an organ of the body. So, it is a member of a greater whole. It is used figuratively for the body of Christ.
VII “all” = pas. This is all or every.
VIII “Christ” = Christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.

13 For in the one SpiritIX we were all baptizedX into one body—JewsXI or Greeks,XII

Notes on verse 13a

IX “Spirit” = Pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
X “baptized” = baptizo. From bapto (to dip or dye; to entirely cover with liquid, to stain). This is to submerge, wash, or immerse. Used specially for baptism.
XI “Jews” = Ioudaios. From Ioudas (Judah, Juadas); from Hebrew Yehudah (Judah, son of Jacob, his tribal descendants, a name for the southern kingdom. Literally, it means praised); probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Jewish, a Jew, or Judea.
XII “Greeks” = Hellen. From Hellas (Hellas, what Greeks called themselves); perhaps from helane (torch) OR from selene (moon). This is Greek, but was used for Gentiles, broader populations that spoke Greek and were a part of Greek culture regardless of their heritage. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_(given_name)

 slavesXIII or freeXIV—and we were all made to drinkXV of one Spirit.

Notes on verse 13b

XIII “slaves” = doulos. Perhaps from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, compel; to declare something against the law or prohibited). This is used for a servant or for a slave, enslaved. It refers to someone who belongs to someone else. But, it could be voluntary (choosing to be enslaved to pay off debt) or involuntary (captured in war and enslaved). It is used as a metaphor for serving Christ. Slavery was not inherited (i.e. the children of slaves were not assumed to be slaves) and slaves could buy their way to freedom. Slavery was generally on a contractual basis (that is for the duration of how long it took you to pay your debt and/or save up enough money to buy your freedom).
XIV “free” = eleutheros. Probably from erchomai (to come or go). This is a free person, at liberty, not a slave. Properly, it is unshackled – figuratively, it is one who has the freedom to choose their destiny. Also, it is one who does not have obligation or liability.
XV “made to drink” = potizo. 15x in NT. From potos (drink or for drinking) OR from pino (to drink literally or figuratively). This is to give to drink, water, furnish, irrigate, or feed.

14 Indeed, the body does not consistXVI of one member but of many. 15 If the footXVII would say, “Because I am not a hand,XVIII I do not belongXIX to the body,” that would not makeXX it any less a part of the body. 

Notes on verses 14-15

XVI “consist” = eimi. Same as “is” in v12. See note II above.
XVII “foot” = pous. This is foot in a literal or figurative sense.
XVIII “hand” = cheir. This is the hand in a literal sense. Figuratively, the hand is the means a person uses to accomplish things so it can also mean power, means, or instrument.
XIX “belong” = eimi. Same as “is” in v12. See note II above.
XX “make” = eimi. Same as “is” in v12. See note II above.

16 And if the earXXI would say, “Because I am not an eye,XXII I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the wholeXXIII body were an eye, where would the hearingXXIV be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smellXXV be? 

Notes on verses 16-17

XXI “ear” = ous. This is the physical ear, or the perception of hearing, whether physical or cognitive.
XXII “eye” = ophthalmos. From optanomai (to appear, be seen by). This is eye or sight. It is used figuratively for the mind’s eye, a vision, or for envy.
XXIII “whole” = holos. This is whole, complete, or entire. It is a state where every member is present and functioning in concert. This is the root of the word “whole.”
XXIV “hearing” = akoe. From akouo (listen, hear, understand through hearing). This is hearing, ear, audience, fame, report, rumor.
XXV “sense of smell” = osphresis. 1x in NT. From osphrainomai (to smell) OR from ozo (to stink or have a scent). This is the sense of smell or the act of smelling.

18 But as it is, GodXXVI arrangedXXVII the members in the body, eachXXVIII one of them, as he chose.XXIX 19 If all were a singleXXX member, where would the body be? 

Notes on verses 18-19

XXVI “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
XXVII “arranged” = tithemi. This is to put, place, set, fix, establish in a literal or figurative sense. Properly, it is placing something in a passive or horizontal position.
XXVIII “each” = hekastos. Perhaps from hekas (separate). This is each one, any, every. It is every individual as a distinct entity as opposed to those counted as a group in small sets.
XXIX “chose” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.
XXX “single” = heis. Same as “one” in v12. See note III above.

20 As it is, there areXXXI many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannotXXXII say to the hand, “I have no needXXXIII of you,” nor again the headXXXIV to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 

Notes on verses 20-21

XXXI {untranslated} = men. This is truly, indeed, even, in fact. Often, it is not translated, but used to emphasize affirmation.
XXXII “cannot” = ou + dunamai. Dunamai is to be able, or something that is possible. It can also be empowered or being powerful. The Greek word for “miracle” (dunamis) comes from this root.
XXXIII “need” = chreia. From chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request); related to chre (what is proper, fitting, or necessary). This is the is task, business, or affair. It can also be need, want, or destitution.
XXXIV “head” = kephale. This is head or chief. It can be a literal head or, figuratively, a ruler or lord. It can also refer to a corner stone. This is where the word “cephalic” comes from.

22 On the contrary,XXXV the members of the body that seemXXXVI to beXXXVII weakerXXXVIII are indispensable,XXXIX

Notes on verse 22

XXXV “on the contrary” = alla + polus + mallon. Literally, “but much more rather.” Polus is the same as “many” in v12. See note V above. Mallon is rather, more than, or better.
XXXVI “seem” = dokeo. From dokos (opinion). This is to have an opinion, seem, appear, think, suppose. It deals with a personal judgment. This is the root of the word “doxology.”
XXXVII “be” = huparcho. From hupo (by, under, about, subordinate to) + archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power). This is to begin or be ready, to exist or possess. It is what one already has or possesses.
XXXVIII “weaker” = asthenes. From a (not) + sthenes (strong, vigor); {from the base of sthenoo (to strengthen so that one can be mobile); from sthenos (strength)}. This is without strength so weak, sick, helpless, frail, feeble. It can also be unimpressive or impotent. It can be used for physical or moral weakness.
XXXIX “indispensable” = anagkaios. 8x in NT. From anagke (necessity – something that happens that requires an immediate response; associated with pain or distress); {from ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + agcho (to press tightly or compress)} OR ana (see above) + agkale (the arm, particularly one that is bent to carry a load); {from agkos (a bend)}. This is necessary, essential, proper, intimate. It can be used to refer to close relatives.


23 and those members of the body that we thinkXL less honorableXLI we clotheXLII with greaterXLIII honor,XLIV

Notes on verse 23a

XL “think” = dokeo. Same as “seem” in v22. See note XXXVI above.
XLI “less honorable” = atimos. 4x in NT. From a (not, without) + time (worth or something’s perceived value; literally, price, but figuratively, the honor or value one sees in someone or something else; also esteem or dignity; also precious or valuables); {from tino (to pay, be punished, pay a penalty or fine because of a crime); from tio (to pay respect, value)}. This is without honor, despised, not valued, not recognized.
XLII “clothe” = peritithemi. Related to “arranged” in v18. 8x in NT. From peri (about, concerning, all around, encompassing) + tithemi (see note XXVII above). This is to place around i.e. to clothe. Figuratively, it can mean to bestow or to present.
XLIII “greater” = perissos. From peri (all-around, encompassing, excess). This is abundant, more, excessive, advantage, vehemently.
XLIV “honor” = time. Related to “less honorable” in v23. See note XLI above.

and our less respectableXLV members are treatedXLVI with greater respect;XLVII 

Notes on verse 23b

XLV “less respectable” = aschemon. Related to “has” in v12. 1x in NT. From a (not, without) + schema (figure, appearance, form – outer shape; figuratively, can be external condition); {from echo (see note IV above)}. This is without form or shape. Figuratively, it is indecent, unattractive, improper, or unpresentable.
XLVI “treated” = echo. Same as “has” in v12. See note IV above.
XLVII “respect” = euschemosune. Related to “has” in v12 & “less respectable” in v23. 1x in NT. From euchemon (presentable, seemly, prominent, noble, appropriate, desirable, well-formed); {from eu (good, well, well done) + schema (see note XLV above)}. This is presentable, decorum, or attractiveness.

24 whereas our more respectableXLVIII members do notXLIX need this. But God has so arrangedL the body, givingLI the greater honor to the inferiorLII member, 

Notes on verse 24

XLVIII “more respectable” = euschemon. Related to “has” in v12 & “less respectable” and “respect” in v23. 5x in NT. See note XLVII above.
XLIX {untranslated} = echo. Same as “has” in v12. See note IV above.
L “arranged” = sugkerannumi. 2x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + kerannumi (to mix, mingle); {from kerao (to mix)}. This is to mix together, arrange, unite so that different elements work in concert, assimilate.
LI “giving” = didomi. To give, offer, place, bestow, deliver. This is give in a literal or figurative sense.
LII “inferior” = hustereo. 16x in NT– same verb used by the rich young man when he asks Jesus what do I still lack? (Mt 19:20); used in the parable of the prodigal son to describe him as impoverished (Lk 15:14); used when the wine ran out at the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:3); all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23); used in describing the body of Christ – that we give greater honor to the inferior member (1 Cor 12:24). From husteros (last, later). This is to fall behind, come late, be interior, suffer need, be left out., to fail to meet a goal.

25 that there may be no dissensionLIII within the body, but the members may have the same careLIV for one another.LV 

Notes on verse 25

LIII “dissension” = schisma. 8x in NT. From schizo (to split, divide, tear, sever; split in a literal or figurative sense). This is a split or a tear. Figuratively, it can refer to a schism, division, or dissension. This is where the word “schism” comes from and also “schizophrenia” (literally “split mind”).
LIV “care” = merimnao. 19x in NT. From merimna (care, worry, anxiety; being separated from the whole); from merizo (to divide, part, share, distribute, assign; figuratively, to differ); from meros (part, share, portion figurative or literal); from meiromai (to get your share, receive one’s allotment). This is to be anxious, distracted, or care for. It is being pulled in different directions – usually a negative.
LV “one another” = allelon. From allos (other, different, another; this is one more of the same kind or a similar type). So, this is each, another, together, or mutual. There is a different word in Greek that speaks of another as a different kind (heteros).

26 If one member suffers,LVI all suffer together withLVII it; if one member is honored,LVIII all rejoiceLIX together with it.

Notes on verse 26

LVI “suffers” = pascho. Akin to penthos (mourning, sorrow). This is to be acted on for good or ill. It is often used for negative treatment. Properly, it means feeling strong emotions – especially suffering. It can also be the ability to feel suffering.
LVII “suffer together with” = sumpascho. Related to “suffers” in v26. 2x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + pascho (see note LVI above). This is suffer with or sympathize. It can refer specifically to persecution.
LVIII “is honored” = doxazo. Related to “seem” in v22. From doxa (glory, opinion, praise, honor, renown; particularly used as a quality of God or manifestation of God – splendor); from dokeo (see note XXXVI above). This is to render or hold something as glorious, to glorify, honor, magnify, or celebrate. This is ascribing weight to something by recognizing its true value or essence.
LIX “rejoice” = sugchairo. 7x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + chairo (to rejoice, be glad; used to say hello; properly, delighting in the grace of God or experiencing God’s favor); from char– (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is to share joy or rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individuallyLX members of it. 28 AndLXI God has appointedLXII in the churchLXIII firstLXIV apostles,LXV

Notes on verses 27-28a

LX “individually” = meros. Related to “care” in v25. See note LIV above.
LXI {untranslated} = men. Same as {untranslated} in v20. See note XXXI above.
LXII “appointed” = tithemi. Same as “arranged” in v18. See note XXVII above.
LXIII “church” = ekklesia. From ek (from, out from) + kaleo to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud) {related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on)}. This is properly a calling out or an assembly. It was used to refer to a church.
LXIV “first” = proton. From protos (what is first, which could be the most important, the first in order, the main one, the chief); from pro (before, first, in front of, earlier). This is firstly, before, in the beginning, formerly.
LXV “apostles” = apostolos. From apostello (to send, send away, send forth as a messenger, to commission); {from apo (from, away from) + stello (to set, arrange, prepare, provide for)}. This is a messenger – someone sent out on a mission as an envoy or delegate. It can also refer to someone set at liberty. Generally, this is a messenger who is meant to be a representative of the one who sent them. They are thus, set apart on a mission literally or figuratively.

secondLXVI prophets,LXVII thirdLXVIII teachers;LXIX

Notes on verse 28b

LXVI “second” = deuteros. From duo (two, both). This is second, twice, again. It is part of where “Deuteronomy” comes from, which means “second law” or “a repetition of the law.” See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Deuteronomy
LXVII “prophets” = prophetes. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear)}. This is a prophet or poet – one who speaks with inspiration from God.
LXVIII “third” = tritos. From treis (three). This is third.
LXIX “teachers” = didaskalos. From didasko (to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge; in the New Testament, almost always used for teaching scripture); from dao (to learn). This is teacher or master.

then deeds of power,LXX then giftsLXXI of healing,LXXII

Notes on verse 28c

LXX “deeds of power” = dunamis. Related to “cannot” in v21. From dunamai (see note XXXII above). This is might, strength, physical power, efficacy, energy, and miraculous power. It is force literally or figuratively – the power of a miracle or the miracle itself.
LXXI “gifts” = charisma. Related to “rejoice” in v26. 17x in NT. From charizomai (to show favor, kindness, or grace, to pardon, forgive); from charis (grace, kindness, favor, gratitude, thanks; being inclined to or favorable towards – leaning towards someone to share some good or benefit; literal, figurative, or spiritual; grace as abstract concept, manner, or action); from chairo (see note LIX above). This is grace, undeserved favor, a free gift, or a spiritual gift. It is the working of grace, some spiritual gift or religious qualification. It could be some kind of miraculous endowment.
LXXII “healing” = iama. 3x in NT. From iaomai (to heal, particularly from a physical illness, or a spiritual difficulty; to cure or make whole in a literal or figurative sense). This is healing or remedy.

forms of assistance,LXXIII forms of leadership,LXXIV various kindsLXXV of tongues.LXXVI 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?LXXVII 

Notes on verses 28d-29

LXXIII “forms of assistance” = antilempsis. 1x in NT. From antilambano (to take hold of, give help, share); {from anti (opposite, instead of, against) + lambano (active acceptance/taking of what is available or what has been offered; emphasizes the choice and action of the individual)}. This is help, relief, helper.
LXXIV “forms of leadership” = kubernesis. 1x in NT. From kupernao (to guide, govern). This is steering like one who guides a ship. It can also refer to a director or leader.
LXXV “various kinds” = genos. From ginomai (to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another; this is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth). This is family, offspring, kin – in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXVI “tongues” = glossa. Root refers to a point that sticks out. This is tongue in a literal sense, but can also refer to language or a nation that speaks a different language. Figuratively, it can also refer to speaking in tongues or speech inspired by the Spirit.
LXXVII “work miracles” = dunamis. Same as “deeds of power” in v28. See note LXX above.

30 Do all possessLXXVIII gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?LXXIX 31 But striveLXXX for the greaterLXXXI gifts. And I will showLXXXII you a still more excellentLXXXIII way.LXXXIV

Notes on verses 30-31

LXXVIII “possess” = echo. Same as “has” in v12. See note IV above.
LXXIX “interpret” = diermeneuo. 6x in NT. From dia (through, because of, across, thoroughly) + hermeneuo (to interpret, explain, translate); {probably from Hermes (Greek god who was messenger to the other gods, also god of language); perhaps from ereo (to say, tell, speak)}. This is to explain thoroughly, interpret, or translate.
LXXX “strive” = zeloo. 12x in NT. From zelos (eagerness or zeal on the one hand or rivalry and jealousy on the other; burning anger or burning love) perhaps from from zeo (to boil, be hot, ferment, bubble, boil, or glow; used figuratively for being fervent or earnest). This is jealous, eager for, burning with zeal, deeply committed, envy.
LXXXI “greater” = megas. This is big in a literal or figurative sense – great, large, exceeding, abundant, high, mighty, perfect, strong, etc.
LXXXII “show” = deiknumi. This is to show in a literal or figurative sense so it can be to teach, bring, or point out.
LXXXIII “more excellent” = huperbole. 8x in NT.  From huperballo (to surpass, exceed, or excel; properly, to throw beyond or run beyond; transcending, eminent, or surpassing); {from huper (over, above, beyond) + ballo (to throw, cast, place, put, rush, drop)}. This is excess, surpassing, exceedingly. Properly, it means to throw past so it can also mean abundance or preeminence. It is where the word “hyperbole” comes from.
LXXXIV “way” = hodos. This is way, road, path, or journey. It can imply progress along a route.

Image credit: “Painting detail of cracks on Mother Mary’s hands” by Old Photo Profile, 2008.

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