1 Corinthians 12:12-31 BHT: The One and the Many

Paul talks about “Christ” as the One, and persons as the parts that make up that One.

An addition to the BHT, where Paul discusses the paradox of the One and the many, and how we can think of “Christ” as the One that is composed of all of us as interconnected and interdependent parts of that Whole.


12 Just like a human body has many parts, all the parts of the body, although there are many, make up a single body; it is the same with the Anointed One (Christ).

13 We are all also of a Singular Nature. We are all immersed in One Body, whether you are Christian or Buddhist, or whether you are an employee or a business owner, we are all sustained by that very same One Reality.

14 It’s true that the human body does not have only a single part, but many parts.

15 If a foot could say, “Since I am not the hand, I am not part of the body.” That doesn’t mean it is not part of the body.

16 Or if an ear could say, “Since I am not the eye, I am not part of the body.” That doesn’t mean it is not part of the body.

17 If the entire body was an eye, where could it hear? Or if the entire body was an ear, where could it smell?

18 But Ultimate Reality has evolved all the parts, each one of them in the body, as it willed them to be.

19 If it was all just one body part, where would be the whole body?

20 But as it turns out, even though there are many parts, it is still only a single body.

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21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

22 No. It’s quite the opposite. Those parts of the body that seem to be inferior are actually the most essential.

23 The parts of the body that we may think are the least valuable, we actually care about the most. So, for example, those parts we may think are ugly, we clothe with greater protection,

24 but the parts we think are most presentable don’t need such special treatment. Ultimate Reality has so constituted the human body, that the parts that may seem to us to be the most deficient or inadequate, we actually give the greatest worth.

25 This is so there is no division in the body, but rather so the parts have equal care for each other.

26 If one part mourns or suffers, all the parts suffer together with it, in compassion and sympathy. If one part is honored, all the parts rejoice together with it, in congratulation and sharing in that joy.

27 You are all together the Body of the Anointed One, its Incarnation or physical Manifestation, and each one of you is a part of that One Body.

28 Nature has so constituted the parts of the One’s Body to gather in these various capacities: first, messengers sent out by the One (apostles); second, those who speak or interpret the will of the One (prophets); thirdly, teachers who instruct and become experts in different fields of knowledge; then, those who have power to do and create great works; then, those who have been given the grace of healing and medicine; also, helpers to those in need; and leaders who can guide and direct; and linguists who speak and interpret languages.

29 Is every part a messenger? Is every part a speaker? Is every part a teacher? Does every part do great works?

30 Does everyone have the grace to heal or practice medicine? Do all have the ability to speak in other languages? Can each person interpret or translate these languages? No.

31 But we should strive towards the greater graces, and I will show you the best way to do that.


The image at the top is from the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the early manuscripts of 1 Corinthians 12, dating from the mid-4th century.


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