1 Corinthians 12:12-26

12 Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many.
13 We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink.
14 Certainly the body isn't one part but many.
15 If the foot says, "I'm not part of the body because I'm not a hand," does that mean it's not part of the body?
16 If the ear says, "I'm not part of the body because I'm not an eye," does that mean it's not part of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, what would happen to the hearing? And if the whole body were an ear, what would happen to the sense of smell?
18 But as it is, God has placed each one of the parts in the body just like he wanted.
19 If all were one and the same body part, what would happen to the body?
20 But as it is, there are many parts but one body.
21 So the eye can't say to the hand, "I don't need you," or in turn, the head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you."
22 Instead, the parts of the body that people think are the weakest are the most necessary.
23 The parts of the body that we think are less honorable are the ones we honor the most. The private parts of our body that aren't presentable are the ones that are given the most dignity.
24 The parts of our body that are presentable don't need this. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the part with less honor
25 so that there won't be division in the body and so the parts might have mutual concern for each other.
26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 CORINTHIANS 12

In this chapter the apostle discourses concerning spiritual gifts, showing the author, nature, use, and excellency of them; compares the church to an human body, and in a beautiful manner sets forth the symmetry and subserviency of the members of it to one another, being set in different places, and having different gifts; and enumerates the several offices and gifts in the church, and yet suggests there is something more excellent than them. He intimates, that spiritual gifts are valuable things, and should be taken notice of; nor would he have the saints ignorant of them, and therefore gives the following account, 1Co 12:1 and yet he would not have those that have them be proud of them, and lifted up with them; for which reason he puts them in mind of their former state in Heathenism, to make and keep them humble, 1Co 12:2 and points out such who have the Spirit of God, the author of all gifts and grace; not such who call Jesus accursed, but they that call him Lord, 1Co 12:3 which Holy Ghost, who is called Spirit, Lord, and God, is the author of the different gifts bestowed upon men, 1Co 12:4-6 the end of bestowing which gifts is the profit of others, 1Co 12:7 of which gifts there is an enumeration in nine particulars, 1Co 12:8-10 of each of which the Spirit of God is the worker and giver, according to his sovereign will and pleasure, 1Co 12:11 and which are all for the good of the whole community; which is illustrated by the simile of an human body, which as it consists of many members, and is but one, so Christ mystical, or the church, though it consists of divers persons, yet they are all one in Christ, and all their gifts are for the service of each other, 1Co 12:12 which unity is proved and confirmed by the saints being baptized by one Spirit into one body, the church, and by drinking of him, or partaking of the same grace, 1Co 12:13 and in order to show the usefulness and profit of every spiritual gift, even the meanest, to the churches of Christ, and that none might be despised, he enlarges upon the metaphor of the human body he had compared the church to, and by it illustrates the unity of the church, and the members of it, 1Co 12:14 and shows that the inferior members should not envy the superior ones, or be dejected because they have not the same gifts: and conclude from hence, that they are not, or deserve not, to be of the same body, 1Co 12:15,16 seeing it is convenient and absolutely necessary that there should be many members, and these set in different places, and have different gifts and usefulness; and particularly what should make them easy is, that God has placed them according to his will and pleasure, 1Co 12:17-20. And, on the other hand, he shows, that the more noble, and excellent, and useful members, ought not to despise the lower, meaner, and more ignoble ones, partly because of the usefulness and necessity of them, they cannot do without them, 1Co 12:21,20 and partly because of the honour put upon them, 1Co 12:23,24, and all this is so ordered, that there be no schism, but that there should be a mutual care of one member for another, and that they should sympathize with each other, 1Co 12:25,26. This simile the apostle more plainly and particularly accommodates and applies to the church, the body of Christ, and the members of it, and of one another, 1Co 12:27 and gives an enumeration of the several officers and offices in the church, set there by God himself; and there are no less than eight of them, some greater than others, most of them proper and peculiar to the primitive church, though some perpetual, and which still continue, 1Co 12:28 but in the times in which they were all of them in being and use, every member of the church was not possessed of them, only some, though all had more or less the advantage of them, 1Co 12:29,30. Wherefore, he concludes with an exhortation to the saints to covet the best of those gifts; and yet observes that there was something more excellent than them, and preferable to them, which he was about to show them, 1Co 12:31 and hereby he makes an easy transition to the next chapter, in which he recommends charity, and prefers it to gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 In-Context

10 performance of miracles to another, prophecy to another, the ability to tell spirits apart to another, different kinds of tongues to another, and the interpretation of the tongues to another.
11 All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person.
12 Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many.
13 We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink.
14 Certainly the body isn't one part but many.
15 If the foot says, "I'm not part of the body because I'm not a hand," does that mean it's not part of the body?
16 If the ear says, "I'm not part of the body because I'm not an eye," does that mean it's not part of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, what would happen to the hearing? And if the whole body were an ear, what would happen to the sense of smell?
18 But as it is, God has placed each one of the parts in the body just like he wanted.
19 If all were one and the same body part, what would happen to the body?
20 But as it is, there are many parts but one body.
21 So the eye can't say to the hand, "I don't need you," or in turn, the head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you."
22 Instead, the parts of the body that people think are the weakest are the most necessary.
23 The parts of the body that we think are less honorable are the ones we honor the most. The private parts of our body that aren't presentable are the ones that are given the most dignity.
24 The parts of our body that are presentable don't need this. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the part with less honor
25 so that there won't be division in the body and so the parts might have mutual concern for each other.
26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it.
27 You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.
28 In the church, God has appointed first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, the ability to help others, leadership skills, different kinds of tongues.