This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 4, 2017.
Of all of the wonders of creation, the human body may be the most amazing.
For example, consider the human sense of smell. Although it is hotly debated in scientific circles, some have estimated that the nose is capable of discerning a trillion different scents. Consider the human eye. It contains 120 million sensitive structures called cones. They are very sensitive to light, but not to color. If we only had them imagine how different our perception of the world would be. There are 6 to 7 million structures called cones concentrated in the eye’s macula region that provide sensitivity to color. Because of them, humans can differentiate an estimated 7-10 million different hues. Consider the human brain. The brain is capable of processing information from the nose, ear, and eye at the same time while also maintaining our hormonal levels, monitoring our heart rate, setting our mood, keeping track of our memories, and keeping us from losing our balance. All of this, the brain can do seamlessly. The human body is a fantastically designed masterpiece of God.
While Paul may not have had our scientific sensitivity to the wonders of the human body, he certainly thought of it as an amazing work of God. In looking at the body, Paul found a metaphor for how the Church should function and for the use of spiritual gifts within the congregation. 1 Corinthians 12:3-13 is not the only time Paul uses the metaphor of the body for the Church; he does so in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 10, and Ephesians 2-4. His argument in this passage is that just as the body is a diversity of members working together, the church is a body of diverse members with diverse gifts working together.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on February 19th, 2017.
Paul writes to the church at Corinth from Ephesus while demonstrating his deep love for the church and his debt to God’s grace. Paul’s word to the church faces three critical challenges. First, the culture at Corinth presents an almost overwhelming challenge. Imagine walking through Corinth near the time of Paul’s writing around A.D. 54 or 55. The hustle and bustle marketplace in the city, people buying and selling, would grab your attention. Architecture would also catch your eye: the bema, a huge public platform used for legal proceedings (Acts 18:12-17) or the Temple of Octavia, a pagan temple dedicated to Caesar Augustus used for emperor worship or the famed temple of Aphrodite, goddess of love where temple prostitutes gathered and other temples such as the Temple of Apollo or the Temple of Asclepius, god of healing. The beautiful also served as a major trade route.
As a side note, during the reigns of the Roman emperors Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius (A.D. 41-54) each one constructed many projects and new buildings. Outsiders to Corinth, though, knew that “to be a Corinthian” meant to live a life of immorality. The Temple of Aphrodite contributed to this label.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on January 15th, 2017.
Has the local church fallen out of favor? Many Christians critique and criticize the church. Some have given up on it as a flawed and failed institution. Thankfully Paul had a very different point of view. Writing to a church with many discernible problems, he offered a strong word of encouragement. Even when the church is struggling, her Lord is not. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul starts with a clear understanding of who he is and who the church is. His words inform those who would speak to the local church today.
The word, “calling,” plays a prominent role in the text. Paul stood in the authority of his own calling from God. As an Apostle (one who is sent), Paul had experienced God’s call to go to Corinth after he left Athens. In fact, Paul’s calling went all the way back to the road to Damascus when he was blinded by God’s glorious light and commissioned to speak God’s word to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-19). Paul is called as an Apostle (1:1). The Corinthians are called to be God’s holy people (1:2). Paul addresses the Corinthian church along with all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has called them into fellowship with his Son (1:9). In the church at Corinth, where the people give a great deal of thought to their gifting to speak, God’s voice is the first voice. Our calling on God in prayer is response to his calling.