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1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – The Body as a Temple

Summary

Paul's ethical exhortations to the Corinthians are embedded in his conviction that their physical human bodies are (a) members of the body of Christ, (b) meant to be raised up, as Christ was raised from the dead, and (c) currently providing a temple for the Holy Spirit.

Analysis

"All things are lawful for me" is probably a slogan used in the Corinthian church that Paul quotes in order to qualify. Paul encourages the Corinthians to reason, not from what is lawful, but from what is beneficial.

At some points in the letter "body" means the individual's physical body. At other points, "body" means the corporate body of believers. This text shows how closely connected the two meanings are in Paul's thought: to join one's body to the body of a prostitute is to put the corporate body of Christ at risk.

The value Paul places on the physical body here and elsewhere in 1 Corinthians cannot be overstated. The Corinthians flirted with a hyper-spirituality that saw the physical body either as inconsequential to or negatively impacting their religious life. Paul rejects these options outright. The body-both the individual's body and the corporate body-is a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Glorify God in Body and Spirit

12 ‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything. 13‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’,* and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’ 17But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple* of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

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10 February 2011

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