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In 1 Corinthians 12:24-25 (KJV) which states,

For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

(emphasis added)

Does the "tempering" prevent a schism, or does the "giving of honor" prevent a schism? Or should we interpret that some combination of both prevent a schism?

According to Blue Letter Bible resources, "having given" is in the "second aorist" tense. I am not trained in Greek at all, so I am not exactly sure how to interpret these verbs. Based on the verb structure:

Verb structure 1:

God hath tempered

Verb structure 2:

having given...honor

Reason/result

That there should be no schism

Perhaps it should read, "God has tended to the composition of the body, and schism is avoided by caring for those members which lack, and by esteeming them more honorable than they appear." I feel that this is less clear, but it may be more accurate (if I've understood correctly). In addition to the main question, feel free to offer any alternative explanations.

  • trademark - A.) I tried composing a very similar question, but specifically regarding the participle phrases. B.) I am not sure if that question / answer would impact this question - but there could be something the Greek experts might notice! C.) See: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/23595/… – elika kohen Aug 1 '16 at 7:26
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1. Question Restatement:

Is the tempering the thing that was done to prevent a schism, or is it the giving of honor that was done to prevent the schism? Perhaps some combination of both?


2. Proposed Answer:

The immediate context, the entire book, and Ephesians 4, seems to indicate that Paul is teaching at least two principles - in order to preserve the unity of the Body:

  1. God has given those who are lacking more honor, and the Church should do the same;
  2. The reason that God mixed the Body together - of those who have abundance, and those who lack - is to fulfill the needs of those who lack, so all could rejoice together;

Edited NASB, 1 Corinthians 12:24 - whereas our more presentable members have no need. But God has so mixed together | συνεκέρασεν1 the body - for | τῷ2 those who are lacking, [because] God has given them even greater honor | τιμήν3

NASB, 1 Corinthians 12:25 - so that there may be no division in the body4;

Footnotes:
1. Literally, "Mixed Together" - having mixed together those with abundance, and those who are lacking.
2. As a Participle of Cause, especially given the Aorist tense, and Dative Case of "for those who are lacking";
3. As a Participle of Cause or Concession
4. Certainly a Participle of Purpose;

Necessary Conditions for the Explicitly Stated Purpose:

NASB, 1 Corinthians 12:25 - so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

Which was To Address The Problem, of People Accumulating too much Honor:

NASB, 1 Corinthians 1:11-12 - For I have been informed ... that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”


3. Analysis of the Greek:

3.1. Participle Phrases:

See: In 1 Corinthians 12:24 - Which Kind of Participle Phrase is "Having Given Them"?

This argument suggests that regardless of how the syntax is understood in that one verse - the rest of the context - and all of Paul's other writings - affirm the same things :

3.2. The Dative Case: "[τῷ | To / For] those who lack" -

The Greek Dative Case indicates that "the parts which lacks" are the recipients and "beneficiaries" of: A.) "Greater Honor"; AND ALSO - B.) "the Body being brought together".

Herbert Weir Smyth, A Greek Grammar for Colleges, The Dative Case - Dative Proper:

1457. The dative proper denotes that to or for which something is or is done.

1459. The dative proper is largely personal, and denotes the person who is interested in or affected by the action; and includes 1461-1473 as well as 1474 ff. The dative proper is not often used with things; when so used there is usually personification or semi-personification.


4. Refuting the Traditional Translation as a Participle of Manner:

4.1. If Translated as a Participle of Manner:

God brought together the Body, (having given more honor to those who were lacking) - so that there might not be divisions in the Body.

In this case, neither condition is a necessary necessary condition for unity, neither: fulfilling the needs of those who lack, nor giving greater honor to those who lack.

4.2. But, In Paul's Writings: Greater Honor is Required Towards those Who are Lacking -

NASB, Philipians 2:2-5 - make my joy complete by being of the same mind, ... the same love, united in spirit, ... one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit... regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests ...

4.3. Further, In Paul's Writings: Care for One Another is Required for Unity -

NASB, 1 Corinthians 12:25 a - so that there may be no division in the body - but [on the contrary] that the members may have the same care for one another.

NASB, Romans 12:3-5 - ... I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think ... 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

NASB, Galatians 6:2 - Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

NASB, Ephesians 4:11 - And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

NASB, Ephesians 4:12 - for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

NASB, Ephesians 4:16 - ... the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

  • "God had joined the body together - in order to care FOR the members that lack." How does this relate to the next phrase that talks about preventing a schism? Is it something like, "God joined, in order to care for members, to avoid schism" or something else? I'm most interested in what it is that prevents the schism. Perhaps I've not fully comprehended where you were pointing, and I'm sorry if that is the case. Thank you for your patience. – trademark Aug 1 '16 at 0:55
  • I added to the question as well, but I think I still understand what you're saying. Going back to the scripture, it seems to be that God is the only Actor present in the actions mentioned in v.24 (down until "but that the members should have the same care one for another."). Therefore I'm still having a little difficulty understanding how your two numbered "unity preservers" seem to focus on the members as the actors. Do you mean that the members should acknowledge the least... and fulfill the needs? – trademark Aug 1 '16 at 1:46
  • @trademark - A.) I significantly updated this answer - removing the arguments regarding "Participle Phrases" into another question; B.) I hope the answer is more clear, and the new question helpful too: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/23595/… – elika kohen Aug 1 '16 at 7:27

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