1 Corinthians 12:13


Saturday, 13 December 2014

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13

The opening words of this verse, “For by one Spirit” continues on with the theme of the previous verses. From verse 4-11, we have been shown that the gifts and ministries all came from the same Spirit and therefore their use should be united for one ultimate goal. There should be no disharmony among the believers, no boasting about one’s gift, and no feelings of being of less value within the body because of the gift or ministry we may possess.

To support this, we are told that by this “one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Paul just explained that “the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body.” As this is so, then each member is a part of a cohesive whole which should be working towards the accomplishment of the purposes of the whole body. To further bolster this point, he then gives two examples which demonstrate the greatest extremes possible.

The first concerns the identifier “whether Jews or Greeks.” This is the Old Testament’s greatest distinction. To be a Jew was to be of the chosen people of God. To be a Gentile was to be outside of the covenant promises. But now in Christ, that immense distinction is erased. Both Jew and Gentile have been baptized into one body.

Similarly, the same is also true with “slaves or free.” A slave was one without rights and was under the authority and control of another. A free man had rights and could own slaves, choosing to direct what the slaves did, when they did it, etc. However, the same Spirit baptized both slave and free into one body. In this body, each member has the same rights and privileges extended to him.

Together, regardless of the category they stood in from a cultural or societal aspect, they “have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” Each received the same healing waters of regeneration.

A question which arises from this verse is whether the “baptism” mentioned is speaking of water baptism or the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The latter is certainly the case. Paul has been speaking of the work of the Spirit consistently. Water baptism is only an outward sign of an inward change in the believer. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a one-time event which occurs upon belief and it is granted to all who believe – Jew and Gentile, slave or free.

As a final point, it should be noted that a Gentile doesn’t become a Jew when they believe and a Jew doesn’t lose his cultural status as a Jew. This is a point which some confuse, but throughout Paul’s writings, he never equates one with the other. A slave who belongs to a human master doesn’t stop being a slave to that human master when they come to Christ. Nor does a Jew stop being a Jew when they come to Christ. The very fact that Paul mentions the categories proves that those categories continue to exist after the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Life application: In Christ, you are no different than any other who is in Christ. You are a member of the body and have all the rights and privileges of that inclusion. Strive to be the best you can for the glory of the whole!

How good it is to be a child of the Lord
To know that I am one of His people
I will live my life according to His word
And will exalt Him with others under the church steeple

By His grace and love He saved me from sin
And for eternity I will praise my Lord, Jesus!
A great change has been made without and within
What kind of love He has lavished on us!

Thank You Lord! I know that regardless of who I am to the world, as a member of Your body I am loved and cared for. To You, it doesn’t matter if I’m poor or rich; the color of my skin is irrelevant; the things I did in the past are washed away; and I share in the same Spirit as all others. No matter what the world thinks of me, I am Yours. That is what counts. I am Yours. Hallelujah and Amen!

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