1 Corinthans 6:12-14 (“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats”), Part 2

1corinthiansIn the last post, we considered the Corinthian argument that sexual urges are natural and therefore may be morally satisfied with someone other than a spouse. In fact, the discussion will soon turn to prostitution — a common and very acceptable practice in First Century Corinthian culture.

(1Co 6:12 ESV) “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”– and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

Paul made three counter-arguments —

* Not all things are helpful

* I will not be brought under the power of any

* The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body.

We considered the first two in the last post.

The translations don’t quite agree as to where the quotation in v. 13 ends. The ESV treats “God will destroy both one and the other” as Paul’s own statement, whereas the NET Bible translates,

(1Co 6:13 NET) “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both.” The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

And the NIV is to the same effect. The NET Bible translators explain,

There is debate as to the extent of the Corinthian slogan which Paul quotes here. Some argue that the slogan is only the first sentence – “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food” — with the second statement forming Paul’s rejoinder, while others argue that the slogan contains both sentences (as in the translation above). The argument which favors the latter is the tight conceptual and grammatical parallelism which occurs if Paul’s response begins with “The body is not for sexual immorality” and then continues through the end of v. 1Co 6:14. For discussion and diagrams of this structure, see G. D. Fee, First Corinthians (NICNT), 253–57.

Doubtlessly, Paul’s readers in Corinth knew what they were saying and what Paul was saying, but in the absence of quotation marks (not invented until centuries after Paul), we have to rely on context. And so, we should take the NET Bible translator’s suggestion and check out Fee’s commentary. He lays out the argument this way, with Proposition II contradicting Proposition I, matching 1 against 1 and 2 against 2.

Proposition I:

    1. Food for the stomach, and the stomach for food
      de (“and”)
    2. God will destroy both the one (stomach)
           and the other (food)
de (“But” = the same will not hold true for the body)             

Proposition II:

    1. The body [not for sexual immorality, but] for the Lord, 
      and the Lord for the body                                                          
      de (“and”)
    2. God both has raised the Lord and will raise us                      
           by his power (referring to both)                                              

Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), 253–254.

Okay. Fee’s point is that Proposition II(2), “God will raise us,” contradicts the Corinthian assertion, Proposition I(2), “God will destroy.”

And this is, of course, consistent with N. T. Wright’s teaching of a bodily resurrection in Surprised by Hope. The Greeks believed in an afterlife, but it was as a mere spirit, barely existing, less than a ghost.

As far as the ancient pagan world was concerned, the road to the underworld ran only one way. Death was all-powerful; one could neither escape it in the first place nor break its power once it had come. Everybody knew there was in fact no answer to death.

N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope.

In short, the statement “God will destroy both one and the other” is part of the claim of the Corinthian church that Paul is refuting by insisting on a bodily resurrection: “God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.”

Paul rejected the Grecian notion that it doesn’t matter what we do with our bodies, since God’s just going to destroy them. In fact, in chapter 15, Paul gives his most detailed explanation of the resurrection. To Paul, resurrection is not mere theory — it has implications for how we live today.

As Paul explains in chapter 15, after the resurrection, we will have a body, and it will be like Jesus’ resurrected body — a body with many strange characteristics that the Gospel writers do not even attempt to explain. It seems that Jesus could walk through doors, cook a meal for his apostles, talk, and be recognized and be not recognized. The resurrected body will be different in marvelous ways that are beyond our comprehension.

The body will be transformed. We’ll be changed. And our bodies will last forever. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for Paul to say, “The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body.” Our bodies are given to the Lord through baptism.

When we repent and commit to Jesus as Lord, he becomes Lord of all of what we are, body, soul, and spirit. The Jews did not distinguish body from soul as we do. They saw people as a unity, and to have in faith in Jesus is therefore to give everything that you are to him.

“The Lord for the body” sounds strange until we realize that our hope in Jesus is the resurrection, and the resurrection is, in a very real sense, a bodily resurrection — but a different kind of body given by the Spirit. We will be changed, just as Jesus was.

(Phi 3:20-21 ESV) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Jesus cares about our bodies, demonstrated by the fact that he died so we could have improved, transformed bodies — which are somehow continuations of our old bodies, just as was true of Jesus. He received a wondrously transformed body but it was made out of his old body. The tomb was empty.

Our bodies belong to Jesus. And we, by giving our bodies to Jesus, are promised new, improved, and dramatically changed bodies suitable for a world without pain, hunger, or need.

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Abraham Kuyper

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
This entry was posted in 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 1 Corinthans 6:12-14 (“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats”), Part 2

  1. R.J. says:

    Wow! It’s funny how much Plato has influenced our thinking of this passage! I can remember as an Italian boy wondering how Heaven could be ecstatic without food!

    Though I thought many Greeks through Plato believed the soul when freed from this bodily cage remained fully cognisant of itself in bliss as a full human spirit. I thought only Zoroastro held to the position that our post-mortem existence is nothing but a traced-out repetitive shadowy dream with no purpose or self-awareness(that’s how some Pagans explained what they interpreted as residual hauntings).

    When Paul says we groan because of getting stripped or distabornakled(made that one up), he’s not talking of disembodied existence but death(the fear of becoming nought)! To be further clothed is to not only be alive(lesser clothed) but to enjoy immortality(fully clothed! Weather in this somatic state or the next resurrected one, let us glorify the Lord!

  2. Dwight says:

    As a Christians body is the temple of God, we should take care of our body, but often we take care of it for our desires and our purposes that have nothing to do with God. Paul tried to make us aware that the flesh and the spirit are different and often at odds with one another in purpose and yet both ought to be under God’s will.

Comments are closed.