27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, and various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And yet, I am going to show you a far better way (1Cor12:27-31).
Having just celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we remember that His ascension soon followed. For He was the One “whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things, about which God spoke by the mouths of His holy prophets from ancient times”(Acts3:21). Yet Christ has not entirely departed from the planet for the Church remains as “the body of Christ” as Paul outlines here. “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (v27). “For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ (v12). Note how Paul describes the Church here simply as “Christ”. That has providential implications to what he relates later in his epistle concerning the Lord’s coming again: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: firstly Christ the first fruitsNote 1 , after that those who are Christ’s at His coming” (15:22-23NASB).
For as I am in the business of demonstrating, Christ’s mystical body does not comprise the totality of those God loves and towards whom His intentions are benevolent; rather they are the agency for a continuation of His saving work on earth as well as the company of people being fitted through the Holy Spirit’s energies and their own self discipline to become His Son’s corporate Spouse in the ages to come (1Cor9:27; Rev19:7). In the present, this mystical body is intended to show the Way, reveal the Truth and provide the means of Life to the rest of the world; the latter (spiritual life) only being provided to those who themselves become incorporated into that body. That is especially so that the latter might partake of the “cup of blessing” that Paul referred to earlier in his epistle (10:16) which I examined in my previous post. To this end, God’s Spirit has provided gifts to the various members of the body so that she may function effectively. Whilst it is by no means wrong for individual members to desire the greater gifts, Paul is about to demonstrate a still better way (v31). He shall explain in the next chapter that even the greatest gifts of the Spirit shall be of no avail unless their outworking is motivated by “ἀγάπη” (compassionate love).
- God’s elect (the Church) as well as Jesus Himself being referred to as “Christ” and also the “firstfruits of creation” (James1:18; 1Cor15:23)