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Not One but Many Parts

Not One but Many Parts

Words of Faith 7-17-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 12

   [14] Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. [15] If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. [16] And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. [17] If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? [18] But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. [19] If they were all one part, where would the body be? [20] As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

   [21] The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" [22] On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, [23] and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, [24] while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, [25] so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. [26] If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

  [27] Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. [28] And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. [29] Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? [30] Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? [31] But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

   And now I will show you the most excellent way.


       The image of the body was a perfect working example for understanding God's intention for His church. These "called out ones" were gifted with a variety of functions and unique contributions to the whole. Different parts are needed if a body is to live, grow and function. So too, no believer should think of oneself as inferior and so desire another member's gift. The gifts were not haphazardly distributed but carefully arranged according to the perfect will of God.  

       In the diversity of the bodily parts there was a corresponding mutual dependence. A person with a seemingly greater gift should not imagine that they could function alone since a bodily member cut off from the natural body would cease to exist. More importantly, one thought to possess a lesser gift should in fact be accorded greater attention by the other members of the body just as in the natural body special deference in attention to dress is paid to those parts of the body deemed less presentable.

       The unifying member in the spiritual Body is Christ. As the Head, He possesses the Body and sovereignly expresses His will. His command is that love should prevail among the members (John 15:12). This was the force which would maintain unity within the diversity and to this subject Paul would move in the next chapter.

       God, not man, assigns the gifts. As Paul discussed another sample of gifts it was the members, the people so gifted, to whom he referred. The fact that Paul assigned numbers-- first, second, third-- to the first three gifts suggests that these may have been relegated to a lesser role by the Corinthians. Those three kinds of gifted members-- apostles... prophets... teachers... probably were rated lower among many Corinthians than those who had the more spectacular gifts such as tongues.

         But Paul seems to lift these three gifts higher (v. 31) because of their extensive value to the whole body of Christ. Roughly, these gifts operate in Missions, Preaching, and Teaching. This may be why he listed them first and then said that the church should eagerly desire the exercise of those gifts in the assembly. "Eagerly desiring" does not necessarily mean that we desire those gifts to be operative in us personally, but that we desire for them to be operative for us in the Body, for our benefit and the benefit of others.

         Gifted apostles, prophets, and teachers characteristically ministered to a whole church, and so would engender unity and mutual edification. The gift of tongues, on the other hand, tended to suit the Corinthian penchant for self-expression and the pursuit of personal freedom. Love for others was an essential need in the Corinthian church, and to that fundamental attribute Paul then turned to pay eloquent tribute.

         It is important for us as believers to identify our spiritual gifts and then to practice them. Often this is a gentle process of mentored growth in our walk with God that includes discernment and testing our passions for ministry in practical ways. There are some self-diagnostic inventories that can be helpful as well. An example is found at

         Tools such as these are very helpful in discerning and identifying spiritual gifts but these should be bathed with prayer. Openness to the Holy Spirit's leading, guidance and reassurance is the most important component in learning our spiritual gifts. Confirmation within the Body is another component. For most of the spiritual gifts, there will be clear confirmation from within the Body and through leadership.

         So where do you fit? What is your part? Where has God gifted you to serve the Body? There is no gift of spectatorship. There is no gift of criticism. And while we receive ministry from the Body we are also called to minister to the Body.


         Holy Spirit, help me to know my spiritual gifts. Help me to know where I fit in the Body of Christ and where You would have me to serve. Help me to receive graciously the ministry of others and recognize their gifts with honor and respect. In Jesus' Name.