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1 Corinthians 12:19

ESV If all were a single member, where would the body be?
NIV If they were all one part, where would the body be?
NASB If they were all one part, where would the body be?
CSB And if they were all the same part, where would the body be?
NLT How strange a body would be if it had only one part!
KJV And if they were all one member, where were the body?

What does 1 Corinthians 12:19 mean?

Paul's comical picture of the parts of a body in rebellion against their functions feels less comical when we think of all the ways Christians do similar things in the church, the body of Christ. How many Christians have decided to simply stop functioning because they don't like the function God has given them to fulfill? It's not that they cannot serve, give, teach, and so forth. It's that they'd really like to do something else.

Spiritually, this like a body part choosing to become inert—like a finger that simply stops performing its functions. At best, it's now taking up resources without contributing to the body's intended mission. At worst, it's distracting other members from being efficient in their intended roles as they work to take up the slack.

Why can't we all choose what job we want to have in the church and serve in that way? Paul shows why in this verse. If every member decided to be the same thing—pastor or encourager or speaker of tongues—the body would cease to exist. A thousand noses is not a body. A mass of brain cells—without bones, fingers, intestines, or elbows—would be useless, and incapable of survival.
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