(Vs. 15, 16.) It appears from this statement that these special spiritual gifts, offices and operations had caused divisions in the church. Some of the members felt inferior, unnecessary and slighted, because they were not gifted and did not have a prominent ministry. Others who preached, taught, or were especially gifted looked down upon those who did not have certain gifts and abilities. This is unreasonable, says the apostle, for the body is not made up of only one member, but many members, all different but all performing their necessary duties. The foot is not a hand and does not serve in the same manner, but it is necessary to the body's function. The ear is not an eye, but it is as necessary as the eye!
(Vs. 17.) What if every believer were a preacher? There would be no hearers! If every believer were an organist, there would be no singers! If every believer were an elder, there would be no custodian! If every believer were an overseer, there would be no workers, no givers, no teachers, no children! If everyone were young and zealous, there would be no patient counsel which only experience and age can provide.
(Vs. 18-20.) The infinitely wise God made the body of man and put every member of man's body where it is, doing what it does for the proper functioning of the body. So the Lord has put us, as members, in his mystical body, the church, in such a place and part as it pleased him. Every member ought to be content with his place, gift and usefulness because it is God's will for him and because, without all of the necessary members, there would be no body. Now we are different in parts, places, gifts and service, but one body in Christ!
(Vs. 21.) The eye is vital to the body's well-being, but it cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you.' Nor can the head say to the foot, 'Because you are a lowly member which does not speak, reason, or hear, I do not need you." Every member is of use to the whole body.
(Vs. 22.) Actually those parts of the body such as the liver, intestines and stomach, which are not displayed, recognized, or talked about, are as necessary to the body's life and usefulness as any other part. Even so, all believers in the church, the strong and the weak, the recognized and the unrecognized, the leaders and the followers, are necessary (2 Cor. 12:9, 10).
(Vs. 23.) There are parts of the human body which are considered less comely and less honourable, which we do not expose to the public, but upon which we bestow honour and recognition, for we clothe them carefully and attractively; and to us they are important and beautiful as God's creation. So, in the church body, let those who appear less honourable and less out-going be clothed with love, grace and kindness.
(Vs. 24.) Our eyes, ears, hands and faces have no need of special adornment or attention, for they are constantly seen, honoured and cared for. But don't forget or neglect those other parts of the body without which we have no life. God has composed the church in such a way that all members are beneficial and necessary to the life of the church, and he bestows his honour and glory to all equally (1 Cor. 1:26-29). He will humble the gifted and lift up the lowly.
(Vs. 25-27.) By "schism" is meant division. Though members differ in office, honour, gifts, personality, etc., yet all should have the same care and love for each other as though they were of equal importance, for, indeed, they are. When one member suffers, all suffer with him; when one member is honoured, all rejoice. As with the human body, a broken arm is felt by the whole body. We are members of the body of Christ, therefore we are one body joined together. How can we not be affected by the pain or rejoicing of a part of ourselves?
(Vs. 28-30.) In his sovereign purpose God has given to the church apostles, prophets, teachers, men and women with this gift and that gift, with this ability and that ability. Are they all the same? Are they all alike? No more than the human body can be all eyes, or ears, or hands. There must be the presence of all organs, faculties and members to make a human body; so there must be many different members in the body of Christ.
(Vs. 31.) This verse must be joined with the first verse of chapter 13, so will be covered in the next lesson.