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Living the resurrection (2)

God is for the body, therefore the body should be for God (1 Corinthians 6:14). That’s what Paul wanted the believers at Corinth to understand and be guided by in their behavior. They viewed the body as having no higher purpose than to blindly follow its desires and to sate its appetites. When this mind set was coupled with a misunderstanding of liberty, the results were disastrous. A "because I can" attitude ruled their behavior (v. 12). 

By the grace of God the Corinthians had come to understand that there was no such thing as other gods --- there was only one God.  (We shouldn't be dismissive of this accomplishment.  In a culture indundated by gods, this was no small thing!).  Some of them were able to take this truth a step further and reason that if there were no other gods, then the meat offered to them at temples wasn't unclean as many believers claimed. Something that didn’t exist had no power and therefore the meat was okay to eat. Paul will discuss this more fully in 1 Corinthians 8-10, but he introduces it here because it’s evident the Corinthians were using this as a springboard for their "because I can" behavior.  Verses 12-13 seem to suggest that they were saying something to Paul like, "We have the freedom to satisfy our appetites with any food that we want, including food from the temple.  In the same way, we have the freedom to satisy our sexual appetites anyway we want, including sex with the temple prostitutes."
If that sounds like a bit of a stretch, remember that sexually transmitted diseases in the first century were referred to as the Corinthians sickness.  One of the words for debauchery used the word Corinth as its root.  The city had not one, but two seaports (Lechaeum and Cenchreae), where people from all over the world streamed into the city and acquired the services of the numerous prostitutes there.  This was the world the Christians at Corinth had grown up in and Paul was struggling to get them out of!  Remember in chapter five he had to deal with a man who is in a sexual relationship with his father's wife (5:1ff).  And sadly, Corinth isn't that far removed from our culture, is it?  The kind of stuff that happened at Corinth fills our television and movie screens, we have a state where prostitution is legal, and sexual immorality is all around us.
As stated, Paul would deal with the food issues later, but his immediate concern was their sexual immorality.  And as in the previous chapter, Paul wasn't dealing with the sin generally, but specifically as it manifested itself at Corinth.  If you put all of the elements mentioned in these verses together (meat, temple, prostitute), it should become clear that he was dealing with a situation where the men were having sex with temple prostitutes. There was a temple of Aphrodite in Corinth and it was served by priestesses (prostitutes), who engaged in sex with others as part of their worship of Aphrodite. The Corinthians were justifying their their involvement by saying that just as the stomach was designed for eating, the body was designed for sex. If it was okay to eat meat sacrificed to idols, then it was okay to have sex with the temple priestesses. They were, after all, just taking care of a basic appetite and understood there was no objective reality answering to Aphrodite.

Paul begins by rebutting the stomach/body analogy used by the Corinthians. Both the stomach and food were transitory and would be destroyed by God. Not so with the body. It was for God and He had plans for it. Their low view of the body (and the low life it led to), was being attacked by Paul. He wanted them to see the Lord was for the body so they would use their body for the Lord.

In the next six verses (v. 14-20), he gave five reasons why their bodies should be used for the Lord:

1.  the resurrection --- "By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also, " (v. 14). This was a death blow to the Platonic concept and Paul will spend a good bit of time (58 verses in chapter 15), helping the Corinthians to sort it all out this since it flew in the face of their world view. But his point here is simple: God is not done with your body at death, He has eternal plans for it.

2.  their union with Christ (v. 15-17) --- Man was created not just to be joined to his wife (Genesis 2:24), but to be joined to Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32). This meant that sexual union with a prostitute was joining Christ to the prostitute. That put their behavior in a much different light.

3.  the design of the body (v. 18) --- "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body," (v. 18). When viewed in this light, the body has a relational design. It was made for one’s spouse and for the Lord. Fornication is a sin unlike any other in that it rebels against the relation design aspect of our bodies.

4.  their body as a temple (v. 19) --- He had already spoken of them collectively as being God’s temple (3:16-17), but now it really hit home. What were they doing at the temple of Aphrodite when they were the temple of the Holy Spirit?

5.  the price that had been paid for them (v. 20) ---If none of the preceding resonated with them, that was okay, they could grow into a more mature understanding. Their immoral behavior had to cease simply because they were no longer their own. They had been bought with a price and they belonged to the Lord, who was against fornication of any kind. This they could understand.

The Lord was for the body and the body was for the Lord. It’s hard not to imagine this becoming a watchword in the church at Corinth. Every time they were tempted by their culture or needed to be reminded of their body’s destiny, these words would point them to God and remind them of what it meant to live the resurrection.
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