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The Epistles of Paul - 1 Corinthians Part 14: Inspiration and the Kingdom of God.
In Romans chapter 4, Paul discussed the certainty of the promise of the faith to the seed of Abraham, to those nations which indeed had sprung from the loins of Abraham. In 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul identified the nations round about the Corinthians, those nations which were all practicing pagan idolatry, as Israel according to the flesh. Paul had told the Romans in Romans chapter 4 that Abraham was their forefather. Paul had likewise told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 that their own ancestors were with Moses in the Exodus, ascertaining that they were also Israelites. An investigation of ancient history proves the veracity of these statements, and presenting 1 Corinthians chapter 10 we exposited some of that historical verification. The Romans and the Corinthians were from just two of those nations which had actually descended from the literal seed of Abraham through Jacob-Israel, and Paul brought them the Gospel in demonstration of the truth of the Word of Yahweh, that “the promise might be sure to all the seed”.
Therefore, with Paul himself having attested to all of these things, the balance of his epistle as well as of all of his writings must be understood within that contextual framework which Paul himself has provided. To attempt to apply Paul's statements so as to include to anyone who was not originally included in the promises of God which are found in the Old Testament is to pervert the message of Paul and is also an attempt to defraud God Himself. Paul defined his ministry to the Nations as a ministry of reconciliation, meaning the reconciliation of Israel to God, as Paul himself defined Israel as twelve tribes and as those very nations of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. As Christ Himself said, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 16, “16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Yet every man does not have a part in it, since Christ came only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
1 Now concerning the things of the Spirit, brethren, I do not wish that you be ignorant. 2 You know that you were once a people being taken away with yourselves, as you had been taken away to dumb idols.
The Greek word ἔθνος (Strong's # 1484) is properly a nation, but here it is translated as people, although that should not be interpreted as detracting or diverging from the meaning of the word since a nation is properly a homogenous people. Like many lexicons, the Liddell & Scott Greek-English lexicon is an excellent resource, and in particular it was the standard reference for ancient Greek in English for many decades after it was first published. But it also followed established religion in the understanding of many of the words used in the New Testament. That is the failure of many lexicons, even those such as Liddell & Scott which are not generally sectarian in their purpose. Therefore, from the time of Homer they attest in their definition for ἔθνος that the word means “a nation, people”, among other related things, but then they claim that it also means “in the New Testament, τὰ ἔθνη the nations, Gentiles, i.e. all but Jews and Christians”, and that is a lie. Liddell & Scott did an excellent work where they followed secular and common Greek writers to understand the language. But being 19th century Englishmen and where they followed the Anglican Church policy in defining certain words, they like all other modern Greek lexicographers have derailed themselves. If the word ἔθνος is applied to Jews or to Christians, then it cannot possibly bear the meaning of “non-Jew” or “non-Christian”! In Acts 24:17 and 28:19 Paul refers to Judaea as “my ἔθνος”. In Acts 26:4 he calls it “mine own ἔθνος”. Here we see that Paul also refers to Corinthian Christians as an ἔθνος. In his first epistle Peter called the Christians of Anatolia to whom he had written a holy ἔθνος. They which are saved are described in the Revelation not merely as individuals, but as τὰ ἔθνη, the nations, in Revelation chapter 21 where it mentions “the nations of them which are saved”. If the King James Version were honestly translated, then it would have Paul saying at Romans 4:18 that Abraham was to become the “father of many Gentiles”, according to the promise “so shall thy seed be”, and as Paul explains, it is to these particular gentiles, or nations, which are the twelve tribes of Israel according to the flesh, that the promises of God are intended. So Christians are defined by nations, that is how Paul used the term in relation to the promises to the fathers, and the churches are interpreting the Scripture out of context, corrupting Paul and defrauding God. Therefore where we see religious definitions even in a lexicon as scholarly as Liddell & Scott, they also should be challenged.
The Corinthians were at one time a nation or a people taken away to dumb idols, but in order to be taken away in such a manner they must have originally been Israelites in the community of God. That was the entire purpose of Paul's explanation in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 where he asserted to these Corinthians that their ancestors were Israelites with Moses in the Exodus. As the Word of God says of Israel in Ezekiel chapter 16: “35 Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD: 36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; 37 Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. [This reveals that the lovers were not only the idols of the other nations, but the people of other nations as well.] 38 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. 39 And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places [the Assyrians and Babylonians who destroyed ancient Israel]: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare.” These words in Ezekiel are representative of the judgment of both Judah and Israel. But Hosea speaking of this same punishment in chapter 2 of his prophecy also speaks of the reconciliation of Israel to Yahweh: “1 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah. 2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. 4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. 5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. 6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. 8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. 9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. 10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers [the non-Israel nations], and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. 11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. 12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. 13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD. 14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 15 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. 16 And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. 17 For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.”
If the Corinthians, as Paul explains here, were once a nation taken away with themselves, as they had been taken away to dumb idols, then they must have been one of the nations descended from the children of Israel according to the promises to Abraham, who would be reconciled to Yahweh in Christ according to the words of the prophets. That is the context of the entire Scripture from Genesis through to the Revelation, and Paul is teaching the fulfillment of the words of the prophets in regards to Israel. The pleading of Yahweh with Israel was conducted through the Gospel, and the names of Baalim were removed from the mouths of Israel in their turning to Christ.
3 Therefore I explain to you that no one speaking in the Spirit of Yahweh says, ‘Accursed is Yahshua’; and no one is able to say ‘Prince Yahshua’ [or 'Lord Jesus'] except by the Holy Spirit.
The Codex Claromontanus (D) and the Majority Text have the words for “Prince Yahshua” in the Accusative case here, rather than in the Nominative, for which may be written: “...and no one is able to address Prince Yahshua except in the Holy Spirit.” That may well represent a loss of the historical context of this passage even by the 6th century AD. The text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C). [See Liddell & Scott at εἶπον, II. for this use of the verb with the Accusative case.]
Paul is teaching that which John had taught in his first epistle. From 1 John chapter 2: “18 Little children, it is the last hour, and just as you have heard that the Antichrist comes, even now many Antichrists have been born, from which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They came out from us but they were not from of us. For if they were from of us, they would have abided with us, but so that they would be made manifest that they are all not from of us. 20 Yet you have an anointing from the Holy One and you know all. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it and because any lie is not from of the truth. 22 Who is a liar, if not he denying that Yahshua is the Christ? He is the Antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son! 23 Each denying the Son has not the Father either; he being in agreement with the Son also has the Father. 24 That which you have heard from the beginning must abide in you. If that which you have heard from the beginning should abide in you, you also shall abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise which He promised to us: eternal life.”
There are some who would abuse this passage with the claim that it supports universalism, that if the non-Israel races profess Christ that they may somehow be Christians. Yet even Balaam's ass was used to reproach the soothsayer. And even the Gospel shows that their were evil spirits which recognized Christ as the Son of God and admitted His authority over them, which we see in Luke chapter 8: “26 And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. 27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. 29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) 30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.” So the apostle James explained in his lone epistle that even the devils knew there was one God, and they tremble.
But if later on in history certain devils or brute beasts are taught to recognize that Jesus is God, or that Jesus is come in the flesh, that has no bearing on the words of Paul or John when they were spoken. Paul and John were describing the people of their world, the Adamic oikoumenê of their time, and their words were not meant to be removed from that historical context. The proof of this is in the words of Christ, who is recorded as having said in Matthew chapter 7 that “21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Therefore the words of Christ indicate that in “that day”, referring to His second advent, circumstances would change, and that there would be people who were professing His Name whom He did not know and whom He would reject for that reason. These people appear to be true believers, themselves even casting out devils and prophesying in His Name, yet ostensibly they were rejected simply because they were not Israelites. It is Israel alone whom alone God takes credit for knowing in Amos chapter 3, where the Word of Yahweh says to Israel: “2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”.
However to truly understand what Paul must have been referring to, as he had already mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 that Christians were undergoing a period of persecution, we shall quote at length from a near-contemporary source, the epistle of Pliny to the emperor Trajan [trai-an], which dates to about 112 AD. [As an aside, I know that I usually butcher the typical pronunciation of this emperor's name, which is popularly tray-jun although that is certainly a corruption of the original Latin Traiánus.] There it is seen that Christianity was a crime, as it had been also in the days of Claudius and Nero, and that those accused of Christianity were compelled to curse Christ and to worship an image of the emperor, and if they did not, then they faced often severe and even capital punishment. Pliny the Younger was the governor of Pontus and Bithynia, which were districts of Anatolia along the southern coast of the Black Sea, from 111 to 113 AD. There have survived to us a collection of his letters with the emperor Trajan. While several sources for the text are available, here the letter is presented from a translation by William Whiston found in his Dissertation 3, one of his appendices to his translation of the works of Flavius Josephus:
It is my constant method to apply myself to you for the resolution of all my doubts; for who can better govern my dilatory way of proceeding or instruct my ignorance? I have never been present at the examination of the Christians [by others], on which account I am unacquainted with what uses to be inquired into, and what, and how far they used to be punished; nor are my doubts small, whether there be not a distinction to be made between the ages [of the accused]? and whether tender youth ought to have the same punishment with strong men? Whether there be not room for pardon upon repentance? or whether it may not be an advantage to one that had been a Christian, that he has forsaken Christianity? Whether the bare name, without any crimes besides, or the crimes adhering to that name, be to be punished? In the meantime, I have taken this course about those who have been brought before me as Christians. I asked them whether they were Christians or not? If they confessed that they were Christians, I asked them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions. If they persevered in their confession, I ordered them to be executed; for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished. There have been some of this mad sect whom I took notice of in particular as Roman citizens, that they might be sent to that city. After some time, as is usual in such examinations, the crime spread itself and many more cases came before me. A libel was sent to me, though without an author, containing many names [of persons accused]. These denied that they were Christians now, or ever had been. They called upon the gods, and supplicated to your image, which I caused to be brought to me for that purpose, with frankincense and wine; they also cursed Christ; none of which things, it is said, can any of those that are ready Christians be compelled to do; so I thought fit to let them go. [It must be kept in mind that not all of dispersed Israel had yet heard the gospel, or heard enough to find it credible.] Others of them that were named in the libel, said they were Christians, but presently denied it again; that indeed they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so, some three years, some many more; and one there was that said he had not been so these twenty years. All these worshipped your image, and the images of our gods; these also cursed Christ. However, they assured me that the main of their fault, or of their mistake was this:-That they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again; after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal, which they had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and wherein I had forbidden any such conventicles. These examinations made me think it necessary to inquire by torments what the truth was; which I did of two servant maids, who were called Deaconesses [Whiston translated this from a feminine form of the word for minister]: but still I discovered no more than that they were addicted to a bad and to an extravagant superstition. Hereupon I have put off any further examinations, and have recourse to you, for the affair seems to be well worth consultation, especially on account of the number of those that are in danger; for there are many of every age, of every rank, and of both sexes, who are now and hereafter likely to be called to account, and to be in danger; for this superstition is spread like a contagion, not only into cities and towns, but into country villages also, which yet there is reason to hope may be stopped and corrected. To be sure, the temples, which were almost forsaken, begin already to be frequented; and the holy solemnities, which were long intermitted, begin to be revived. The sacrifices begin to sell well everywhere, of which very few purchasers had of late appeared; whereby it is easy to suppose how great a multitude of men may be amended, if place for repentance be admitted.
Trajan's brief reply to Pliny has also been preserved, and was translated by Whiston:
You have taken the method which you ought in examining the causes of those that had been accused as Christians, for indeed no certain and general form of judging can be ordained in this case. These people are not to be sought for; but if they be accused and convicted, they are to be punished; but with this caution, that he who denies himself to be a Christian, and makes it plain that he is not so by supplicating to our gods, although he had been so formerly, may be allowed pardon, upon his repentance. As for libels sent without an author, they ought to have no place in any accusation whatsoever, for that would be a thing of very ill example, and not agreeable to my reign.
This is from the Epistles of Pliny, 10.96. While it is not explicitly recorded, Pliny the Younger is believed to have died suddenly in Pontus-Bithynia in 113 AD, soon after this exchange of letters.
In Paul's time as well, when men referred to Yahshua Christ as their lord, it was interpreted as an act of treason against Rome and they were exposing themselves to execution by the Roman government. In Acts chapter 16 in Philippi we see the complaint against Paul and Silas by certain men who declared “These men, being Judaeans, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.” So Paul said “no one is able to say ‘Prince Yahshua’ [or 'Lord Jesus'] except by the Holy Spirit.” Those who loved the world, or who loved their lives more than they loved God, or even those who were simply not well-established in the faith would pronounce Christ accursed for the benefit of their Roman inquisitors. So Paul attested that “no one speaking in the Spirit of God says, ‘Accursed is Yahshua’” These words of Paul's cannot be understood or applied outside of their original historical context. Paul himself was later put to death by Nero Caesar for that same profession and in a similar trial. The non-Israelite aliens who profess Christ today are doing so without risk of persecution. By professing Christ the aliens receive rewards from Christian society in this life, and then they are given further hope for a reward that they were never promised by He who could actually dispense it, by Yahweh Himself. They are professing a Christ whom they do not know, and who does not know them, as Christ Himself has foretold. Christ will deny them as He Himself has professed. The aliens as well as the universalist Christians having formed a Christ in their own image are actually worshipping an idol and not the Christ of Scripture.
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are diversities of services, and the same Prince; 6 and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who operates all things in all.
Notice that Paul did not say that there are diversities of people. Rather there are diversities of gifts among the people of God. However there are constant disputes concerning the word “all” in scripture. The word “all” whenever it appears in any writing must be understood in context. If a rancher wrote a letter about cattle and declared that all the males on the ranch were to be slaughtered, and the females sold, one cannot assume that the intended slaughter may include roosters or rams.
But if one insists that “all” means any “all” other than all of Israel, since only Israelites are being addressed in the Scripture, then one must consider Jeremiah chapter 30 where the Word of God says “10 Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. 11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” Very similar words are repeated in Jeremiah chapter 46. Certainly, “all” may mean “all”, but of men and nations only those of Israel – all of Israel - are relevant to Scripture and the promises of God.
Beginning from around chapter 25 of the book of the Exodus and almost to the end of the book, among other things there are many detailed instructions to Moses concerning the construction of the tabernacle of the wilderness and the manufacture of the implements and the adornment of the priests of that tabernacle. In Exodus chapter 31 we read “31:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: 3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. 6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee”. Then further on, in Exodus chapter 35 we read “29 The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses. 30 And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; 32 And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 33 And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. 34 And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35 Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.”
In the Exodus account it is apparent that, building the tabernacle of Yahweh in the wilderness, certain of the children of Israel were inspired by the Spirit of Yahweh to be chief architects and teachers among the artificers, and many others of the children of Israel were inspired with the appropriate gifts to actually execute the work required for the building. Few men can be masters of many trades. The adornment of the ancient Kingdom, so as to announce its manifestation in Israel to the rest of the world, required carpenters and smiths and weavers and all sorts of other skills among the people. The ancient kingdom of Israel was built for appearance and as an affront to the surrounding nations. Therefore the appropriate inspiration was imparted by the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish its manifestation. But the kingdom of Christ is not by appearance in that sense, and instead the inspiration of Yahweh is imparted to men for different reasons, that the kingdom would manifest itself within the greater Adamic society. For that reason Christ told the Pharisees that “the kingdom of God is among you”, in Luke 17:21. Those true Israelites among the greater population who were destined to accept Christ and carry that kingdom forward would indeed be inspired with the appropriate gifts for the building of His kingdom.
7 And to each is given manifestation of the Spirit towards that which is advantageous. 8 While to one through the Spirit a word of wisdom is given, then to another a word of knowledge, down through the same Spirit; 9 and to another faith, in the same Spirit, and to another gifts of the means of healing, in the same Spirit; 10 and to another operations of power, and to another interpretation of prophecy, and to another dissolution of spirits, to another sorts of languages, and to another interpretation of languages.
The Greek word διάκρισις (Strong's # 1253) is “dissolution” here and in the King James Version it is “discerning”. The word is a noun from the same component word as the verb διακρίνω (Strong's # 1252), and it is defined as meaning “separation, dissolution...decision, judgment” by Liddell and Scott. This is being mentioned here to further illustrate the use of the verb at 1 Corinthians 11:31 which the King James Version very wrongly rendered as judge. Paul actually said at 1 Corinthians 11:31 that “If then we had made a distinction of ourselves [or, if Israelites had discerned themselves], perhaps we would not be judged.” The word dissolution may be a difficult choice here, however it was chosen because it primarily means “the resolution or separation into component parts” or “the act or process of resolving or dissolving into parts or elements.” Paul is not necessarily referring to ghostly spirits, but to embodied spirits, just as the apostle John was also in chapter 4 of his first epistle. There John warned his intended readers to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Being able to discern spirits, one must be able to perceive the component parts of their rhetoric, professions and assertions, and measure them against Scripture. From there one must be able to estimate their agendas and why they are not truthful according to the Word of God. That is why we chose the word dissolution as a translation of διάκρισις here. Of course, some Christians are better and faster at determining evil spirits than others, and that is a gift from God.
11 But all these things one and the same Spirit operates, dividing personally [P46, D, and 0201 want “personally”, the text follows א, A, B, C, and the MT] to each just as He wills [meaning just as God wills].
Ancient Rome as well as ancient Greece had multitudes of competing philosophies, which were all essentially religions, belief systems after which people regulated their daily lives. These were in addition to the ancient worship of the pagan deities. Furthermore, in addition to these there was the compulsory worship of the emperor which we have seen described in the Letter of Pliny to Trajan. If the children of Israel were to be reconciled to Yahweh their God, and if the pagan idols and all of the immoral practices which accompanied paganism were to be done away with, then Christianity had a world of obstacles which it had to overcome.
By the time that the epistle to Pliny was written, circa 112 AD or about 80 years after the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, there were so many Christians in Pontus and Bithynia that Pliny actually feared for the number of people whom he would have to execute in order to suppress the new creed. It is not an easy thing to get such masses of people to change their religion, to abandon the beliefs they were raised with in so short a time. Therefore the gifts which Paul speaks of here which were imparted to Christians by the Holy Spirit must have been readily manifest in the eyes of the people, for so many of them to be persuaded that Christianity was indeed the Way, and that therefore they should abandon their old paths. Accepting this profession, in addition to abandoning whatever sort of paganism it was in which they were raised, they risked death at the hands of the government. The testament to the Truth in Christ and the accounts of the Acts of the apostles is that not only were so many people so rapidly converted to Christianity, but that so many of them had been willing to die on behalf of this new profession, steadfastly proclaiming that “Jesus is Lord” in defiance of the almighty empire.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body [D and the MT have “the one body”; the text follows P 46, א, A, B, and C], being many, are one body, so also the Anointed. 13 For also in one Spirit all we into one body have been immersed, whether Judaeans or Greeks, whether bondmen or freemen, and all one Spirit have been watered [A has only “and all are one body”].
Christ Himself is not each and every Israelite. Therefore the word χριστός in verse 12 cannot refer to Christ, but rather it is used collectively of the people of Israel who are called in Christ, who form His Body in the world. Therefore Christian Israelites are collectively the Anointed. There are many other passages in Paul's epistles which reflect his use of the term in this manner, and those passages are the subject of a paper available at Christogenea under the title Yahweh's Anointed: The Children of Israel.
In verse 13, Paul seems to be using allegories to describe the physical and spiritual aspects of the children of Yahweh in the world which are reminiscent of the words of Christ in John chapter 3 where He said “Truly, truly I say to you, if one should not be born from water and Spirit, he is not able to enter into the Kingdom of Yahweh! 6 That which is born from of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born from of the Spirit is Spirit. 7 You should not wonder that I said to you that it is necessary for you to be born from above.” The one body of which Paul speaks are the collective body of the children of Israel. This is the same body to which Paul refers in chapter 11 where he says that those who eat and drink unworthily condemn themselves, and that if that body had distinguished itself then perhaps it would not be judgd. Evidently, the members of the body of Christ, which are the collective children of Israel, distinguishing themselves from non-Israelites would therefore be blessed by God.
The Judaeans of which Paul speaks here must be Israelites, those whom he identifies in Romans chapter 9 as his “kinsmen according to the flesh”. It must be kept in mind that in that same place Paul also informed us that not all of the Judaeans were Israelites, but that many of them were the accursed Edomites who are the ancestors of today's Jews. Likewise, the Greeks of which Paul speaks here must be Israelites, those whom he identifies in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 as “Israel according to the flesh”, the nations taken away into paganism which he also addresses here in the opening of this very chapter. They also had among them some of the accursed Canaanites and Edomites, as well as others of the Adamic tribes.
The story of the punishment and reconciliation of Israel is told in many places in the Old Testament prophets. Here we shall present and discuss it from Ezekiel chapter 20: “18 But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: 19 I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; 20 And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God. 21 Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. 22 Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. 23 I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; 24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols. [Here it is evident that the scattering of Israel actually began with the time of the Exodus. There is historical and scriptural evidence linking early nations of Europe to the children of Israel, and among them are both the Romans and the Dorian Greeks.] 25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live; [many of the Old testament laws were purposely contrary to Israel, as a punishment from God] 26 And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the LORD. [Israel was further punished by paganism, for turning to paganism.] 27 Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me. 28 For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings. 29 Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day. 30 Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations? 31 For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you. [Therefore most of the Israelites in their dispersion were pagan and not Hebrew in their religious practice.] 32 And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. 33 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you [this is fulfilled in Christ]: 34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face [at the spread of the gospel into Europe]. 36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. 37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: 38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 39 As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols. 40 For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things. 41 I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. [This bringing out happened in Europe over the centuries before and after the time of Christ, through and beyond the great tribal migrations of the 5th and 6th centuries AD.] 42 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers. [The land of Israel is not necessarily in Palestine, as the words to David in 2 Samuel 7:10 attest.] 43 And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed. 44 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”
According to Scripture itself, the scattering of Israel among the nations happened from as early as 1500 BC up until the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations of Israel and Judah approximately 741 to 585 BC. The gathering of Israel began with the spread of the Gospel message. Paul of Tarsus understood where it was that ancient Israel had been scattered, and that is the entire purpose of his ministry of reconciliation. In his ministry, Paul often compared Judaeans and Greeks, but also mentioned Galatae, Scythians, and others of the Nations where ancient Israel was scattered. But “all” does not always mean “all” in Scripture. Rather, in the context of the promises of God, it only means all of Israel, the Anointed which are the Body of Christ. That Yahweh God is true is the only fact which can account for the multitudes of Christians in Pontus and Bithynia who are discussed in the epistle of Pliny, all of whom he feared were willing to die for the profession of the Faith, as these Corinthians which Paul addresses here were also withstanding such persecution. The gifts among Christians of which Paul speaks here were the way in which apostate pagan Israelites were brought back to Christ, and the efficacy of the Faith is manifest in the results which it had produced.
14 For also the body is not one member [Christ alone], but many. 15 If perhaps the foot may say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body’, because of this is it not of the body? 16 And if perhaps the ear may say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body’, because of this is it not of the body?
A Christian Israelite cannot deny being a part of the body of Christ, and especially if he does not like the role he has been assigned. This analogy which Paul uses comparing individuals of a community to the actual members of a human body is a literary device employed in similar ways centuries before Paul wrote this epistle. For instance, in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Xenophon's Memorabilia, Book 3 paragraph 18 we read in a dialogue where two brothers are the subject of the discussion: “'Now what if a pair of hands,' he said, 'refused the office of mutual help for which the god [or God] made them and tried to thwart each other; or if a pair of feet neglected the duty of working together, for which they were fashioned, and took to hampering each other? That is how you two are behaving at present. Would it not be utterly ignorant and disastrous to use for hindrance instruments that were made for help? And moreover, a pair of brothers, in my judgment, were made by the god [or God] to render better service to one another than a pair of hands and feet and eyes and all the instruments that he meant to be used as partners.'” Somewhat more contemporary to Paul were Livy and Cicero, who also used similar analogies. [See Cicero's De Officiis, 3.5.22 and Livy's History of Rome, 2.32.9-12.]
17 If the whole body were an eye, where is the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where is the sense of smell? 18 But now Yahweh places the members, each one of them in the body, just as He wishes. 19 But if all would be one member, where is the body?
By this Paul illustrates that not all Christians should have the same gifts which he had mentioned in verses 7 through 10. The body, in order to function, requires many different abilities, and the members of the body of Christ as a community are no different. With this comes the realization that Christians should all work together by using their individual gifts for the benefit of the body as a whole.
20 And now indeed many are members, yet are one body. 21 And the eye is not able to say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’, 22 But still much more, those members of the body imagined to be too weak are necessary; 23 And those of the body which we imagine to be less valuable, upon these we confer more abundant dignity; and those unseemly of us have more abundant elegance. 24 But the elegant of us have no need [D adds “of esteem”].
From the Loeb Classical Library edition of Cicero's De Officiis, Book 3.5.21-22: “Well then, for a man to take something from his neighbour and to profit by his neighbour's loss is more contrary to Nature than is death or poverty or pain or anything else that can affect either our person or our property. For, in the first place, injustice is fatal to social life and fellowship between man and man. For, if we are so disposed that each, to gain some personal profit, will defraud or injure his neighbour, then those bonds of human society, which are most in accord with Nature's laws, must of necessity be broken. Suppose, by way of comparison, that each one of our bodily members should conceive this idea and imagine that it could be strong and well if it should draw off to itself the health and strength of its neighbouring member, the whole body would necessarily be enfeebled and die; so, if each one of us should seize upon the property of his neighbours and take from each whatever he could appropriate to his own use, the bonds of human society must inevitably be annihilated. For, without any conflict with Nature's laws, it is granted that everybody may prefer to secure for himself rather than for his neighbour what is essential for the conduct of life; but Nature's laws do forbid us to increase our means, wealth, and resources by despoiling others.” In the Rome of Cicero's description one was not compelled to give anything to his neighbor, but one was morally precluded from taking anything from his neighbor.
In the body of Christ, Paul takes Cicero's analogy a step further. Not only should Christians respect their lesser brethren, but they should even seek to magnify their lesser brethren, giving esteem to all of the members of the body regardless of one's own position. The eye and the hand and the foot may be more important parts than others, but nevertheless they should each recognize that all parts are necessary, and all should therefore be of equal esteem. Yet giving our lesser brethren even more abundant dignity, we show our esteem for Christ and ensure that the least of our brethren are never despised.
Rather Yahweh has tempered the body together, giving more abundant esteem to that which is wanting, 25 in order that there would not be division in the body, but the members would have the same concern for one another. 26 And if one member is affected, all the members are affected together; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice together.
The verb πάσχω (3958) is usually to suffer in the King James Version. According to Liddell & Scott it means “to receive an impression from without, to suffer”. The word may be used to describe the reception of good impressions, as well as bad, and the lexicon also offers the example found in the phrase εὖ πάσχειν, which accordingly means to be well off. Because suffer in today’s English is usually only associated with ill, here the word is translated as affected.
27 So then, you are an anointed body [or a body of Christ], and members by destiny.
The Codex Claromontanus (D) has ἐκ μέλους here rather than ἐκ μεροῦς, reading “and members of, or from, members”.
The phrase ἐκ μεροῦς appears here and in 1 Corinthians 13:9, 10, and 12 where in the Christogenea New testament it is “by destiny”. Literally ἐκ, means from and μέρος (Strong's # 3313) is “a part, share...one’s portion, heritage, lot...one’s turn...the part one takes...the part assigned” according to Liddell & Scott, or “a part...a part due or assigned to one...lot, destiny”, according to Joseph Thayer. So the words “by destiny” may just as well have been written “by heritage”. The children of Israel are indeed members of the body of Christ by their heritage.
According to Liddell & Scott, in other grammatical cases the phrase ἐν μέρει was used by Herodotus and others to denote “in turn” (L & S), and μέρος τι “partly” or “to some degree” as it is used at 1 Corinthians 11:18, and Herodotus also used τὸ μέρος to mean “in part”. While Thayer's lexicon also has “in part” for ἐκ μεροῦς, he only cites these four verses (1 Corinthians 12:27; 13:9, 10, and 12), and no other Greek references, to make his point. I must conjecture that Thayer’s definition is based upon theological reasons, and not upon Greek grammar.
Here our interpretation of the phrase is wholly within the context of Paul's other statements, especially considering 12:18 where he wrote “But now Yahweh places the members, each one of them in the body, just as He wishes.” This interpretation is also supported by other statements which Paul had made elsewhere, such as in Romans chapter 8 where he wrote “29 Because those whom He has known beforehand, He has also appointed beforehand, conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be first born among many brethren. 30 Moreover, those whom He has appointed beforehand, these He also calls; and those whom He calls, these He also deems worthy; while those whom He deems worthy, these He also honors.” The members of the body of Christ are members by heritage, by destiny, and because Christ honors them they should also honor one another.
At the close of our presentation of 1 Corinthians chapter 11 we said that “Paul is about to address the Corinthians who ate and drank at the assemblies to the disgrace of those of their less fortunate brethren who had to do without.” Paul is indeed about to do that, and in fact he has already begun doing that, but we did not quite reach the point where we may describe it fully. With all certainty, Yahweh willing, we will reach that point when we proceed with our next presentation of this epistle.