1 Corinthians 12:12-31 NIV
Unity and Diversity in the Body
12Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized byc one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tonguesd ? Do all interpret?31Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Love Is Indispensable
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
(1) Paul states and illustrates the truth that the church is one. As the body is one, yet has many members, so is it with the church, 1 Corinthians 12:12. The body has many members, and no members in the body are useless, but all perform important parts, however unimportant they may seem to be; and no one member can say that it has no need of the others. So it is in the church, 1 Corinthians 12:13-27.
(2) this beautiful allegory, drawn from the functions of the various parts of the human body, Paul applies now to the church, and shows 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 that the same thing should be expected in the church of Christ. It followed, therefore, that those who were not as highly favored as others should not regard themselves as useless, and decline their duty in the church. It followed also, that those who were in inferior responsibility should not envy those who had been more highly favored; and that those who were in more elevated positions, and who had been more signally favored, should not look down on those beneath them with contempt. It followed also, that they should regard themselves as one body; and love and cherish each other with constant Christian love.
(3) Paul tells them that it was not improper to desire the highest endowments, but says that he will propose an object of desire to be preferred to these gifts - and that is love, 1 Corinthians 12:31.