Chapter # 12 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
February 23, 2010
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office:
5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another.
6 And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith;
7 or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry; or he that teacheth, to his teaching;
8 or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.
- I. Paul's "Reason" For Calling for Humble Commitment.
- A. The "objective" for all "instruction" is the production of the right kind of "behavior". "Behavior" is the "cause" in a Cause/Effect Universe. Without "behavior" there is neither "benefit" nor "destructiveness". In 1 Timothy 1:5 Paul claimed that the "telos" (end or goal) of God's "mandate" (emphatic insistence) is "love". However, "love" is a "root-to-another-issue" reality. "Love" sponsors choices and actions. What is "sponsored" is more valuable than the "sponsor". Jesus said it this way, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15) and "If a man love Me, he will keep My words..." (John 14:23). In other words, doing is the outcome of loving and, thus, doing is the critical factor. The reason that "Love" and "Faith" are so primary to the biblical message is that they are the real roots of all actions taken and actions taken in a Cause/Effect universe are critical means to relational Life. But, to maintain a proper perspective, we must keep the fact in mind that "behavior" is, itself, a "root-to-another-issue" reality also. That "other" issue is the impact that "behavior" has upon the persons in the cause/effect reality (joy or grief/Life or Death).
- B. Paul, understanding what he himself taught about all of this, summoned his readers to a "humble commitment to God" because he wished to produce as much "Life" as possible for his readers. This "Life" was going to arise out of those readers' behavior toward God and one another.
- II. Paul's Declaration.
- A. We exist in a many-members/one-body, multiple stage, equivalent-reality.
- 1. At the physical reality level (stage one), our bodies become the foundation for this declaration. The body is "one", but it is composed of multiple parts which each have their own "function", while sharing a goodly number of similarities and processes that are identical. The "sameness" indicates a broad spectrum of usefulness for the same processes, but the "distinction" indicates a deliberate individuality for unique contribution's sake. This creates a two-fold reality wherein the "sameness" ties the body together and the "uniqueness" gives each part a special place in the process of maintaining life as a contributory concept. There is a sense in which there is no life where there is no special input.
- 2. At the metaphysical reality level (stage two) this is "equivalent" (Paul's word is "precisely as") and is-not/can-not be altered. The physical body is as "exact" an illustration as can be used to define the metaphysical body and, in that light, there is not one commandment, or promise, from God that does not assume this underlying reality and provide for its maximal "Life" realization; nor is there one disobedience or disbelief that does not attack this underlying reality in order to insert "death" into the mix.
- 3. This "multiple member oneness/diversity" is an "across the board" reality (from "physical" at one end of the continuum to "metaphysical" at the other end) because it is an essential aspect of the nature of the Creator. The doctrine of the Trinity is not an aberration; it is an essential, inescapable reality. That we, as created persons, exist in a many-members/one-body reality is rooted in the fact of a multiple-members/one-body, eternal, God.
- B. We "exist" in a many-members/one-body, multiple-function reality.
- 1. The purpose for multiple members is to enable multiple functions. The greater the number of members, the greater the possibility of distinctive accomplishments. On one level, the greater the number of the same kind of members, the greater the cooperation for certain tasks so that more can be accomplished. On another level, the greater number of different kinds of members, the greater the diversity of tasks that can be accomplished.
- 2. One focus, however, must be maintained: the focus of "love" wherein those relating to this many-members/one-body/multiple-function reality are completely focus-consumed by those upon whom the impact of their actions fall. And within this consumed focus there must be a distinction made between the various "targets" of their actions with the realization that what brings "benefit" to one may well bring "disaster" to another. God's love is "election-determined" with some terrible consequences for certain "vessels of wrath", but this is the nature of the reality. In the same vein, God's "election-determined-love" often spells some seriously negative consequences even upon the "beloved" for the sake of "other" beloved (is this not the message of the Cross -- a seriously negative consequence -- for Christ so that we -- the "other" beloved" -- may live?). Those who truly love do not "mind" these realities, but those who do not love find them terribly onerous. John said it this way: "... and His commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3). Those who love find it so; those who do not love find this declaration offensive.