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1 Corinthians 6:12–20


14 January 2024

Exploring the Scripture

The Christians in Corinth were divided with many questions about living their new faith. Paul’s letters to this group tried to help them find unity and a sense of community amid disagreement. Paul speaks with clarity to all sides and upholds his perspective on faithful living. The range of topics covered provided, and continues to provide, insights for the church through the ages. The challenge for each generation is how to read Paul’s guidance in context and responsibly interpret the more profound principles for our lives as disciples in our own time.

Chapters 5 through 11 of 1 Corinthians speak about problems of various behaviors, based on what Paul is hearing, and responses to questions he received. Today’s and next week’s (1 Corinthians 7:29–31) scriptures provide instruction for faithful living.

Paul begins with a statement we often find in the letters that “all things are lawful”
(v. 12). The belief was that freedom as Christians, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, meant freedom from established rules about their behavior. Paul teaches that their freedom comes from belonging to Christ and the church as the body of Christ. This freedom leads to making decisions and behaving in ways that bring about good and are aligned with God’s purposes for our lives and the lives of others.

Paul upholds several examples to help clarify what things are possible but not very helpful. He uses food and sexual relations to make his point about our bodies and life’s purposes as disciples. The underlying principle promoted by Paul is that freedom in Christ includes the body and spirit and means a person is free to act in ways that show love for God and others.

Like the Corinthians, many live in cultures that still have a body-spirit dualism. Dualism means thinking the spirit is holy and good, but the body works against the spirit. As Paul taught, Community of Christ encourages people to move past this dualism and see both the body and spirit as holy and good, working together to glorify God and build up the community. 

In many ways, this text speaks of whole-life stewardship as we consider our body “a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (v. 19). Our stewardship is not limited to only our treasures. Our stewardship extends to how we take care of our body and spirit, and for what purposes we use them in our lives as disciples. Today’s reader should consider the principle upheld through the idea that our body, as God’s temple, must guide our choices about our body and how we support one another.

This idea speaks to each generation, encouraging us to be mindful of the precious gift we receive from God in our physical bodies. Our bodies may be different shapes, sizes, and skin colors, with different abilities. There are countless differences in our bodies, but we are unified in our understanding that each “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,” and we are encouraged to “glorify God in your body” (vv. 19 and 20). Our bodies are part of our whole-life stewardship and response in living Christ’s mission.

Project Zion Podcast

Co-hosts Karin Peter and Blake Smith consider how this week's scripture connects to our lives today.

LISTEN

Central Ideas

  1. The challenge for each generation is reading Paul’s guidance in a frame of reference that responsibly interprets the more profound principles for life as disciples in our own time and context.
  2. Paul teaches that freedom comes from belonging to Christ and the body of Christ.
  3. Paul promotes that freedom in Christ includes both body and spirit, and means a person is free to act in ways that show love for God and others.
  4. Our bodies are part of our whole-life stewardship and response in living Christ’s mission.

Questions to Consider

  1. How is the environment of the Christians in Corinth similar and different from the context of the group to which you are speaking?
  2. What does freedom in Christ mean for us as disciples?
  3. What does it mean for our bodies to be members of Christ?
  4. What does it mean for our bodies to be part of our whole-life stewardship and response in living Christ’s mission?

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