15 Do you not know that your bodies are parts of Christ? Shall I then take away the parts of Christ and make them parts of a prostitute [or harlot]? Far from it! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute [or harlot] is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.”1 Corinthians 6:15-16
I don’t like ranking Biblical books, but this is one of my favourites.
As an author and blogger, I love Paul’s passion and his variations of literary style and wordplay to persuade the wayward believers in Corinth.
It was Paul’s desire (albeit the point and purpose of his life) to communicate, illustrate and exemplify the necessity of accepting the Lord’s complete authority over our lives.
Written during his third missionary journey in the first half of A.D. 55, 1st Corinthians is the apostle Paul’s opening letter to the church members of Corinth (Κόρινθος).
Bounded by the Saronic Gulf on its east and the Gulf of Corinth on its west, the ancient city of Corinth was located in the Roman province of Achaia in southern Greece, an hour or so’s drive west of Athens.
All north-south land traffic in that area had to pass through or near Corinth, making it a significant trade city.
The Romans had ruled the city of Corinth since its sacking by General Lucius Mummius Achaicus in 146 B.C. General Mummius received the agnomen of Achaicus (sorrowing) following his conquest of Greece and the dissolution of the Achaean League.
Comparative to modern-day New York, Corinth was the centre for trade in the ancient world. Our friends at Nasa tell us that in order ‘to save ships from the dangerous 700-kilometre voyage around the peninsula’s rugged coastline’, a canal across the peninsula connecting the Mediterranean to the Agean sea was initiated in the 1st Century by emperor Nero. However, it wasn’t complete until 1882-1893.
Okay, cool, but why was Paul sent there? Corinth was also the host for the Isthmian Games, the second most prestigious sporting event in the Greco-Roman World, the first being the Olympic Games.
The Corinthian believers were carnal and immature, subjects to the worldly living of the polytheistic and pagan cultures around them.
Corinth became so morally corrupt that its very name became synonymous with debauchery and moral depravity. To “corinthianize” came to represent gross immorality and drunken debauchery.MacArthur, John F.. The MacArthur Bible Commentary (pp. 1561-1562). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition
Wow, that sounds like a pretty lousy city. What heinous and depraved practices were going on?
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.1 Corinthians 6:9-10
So, basically the same as what’s occurring across our increasingly proud, egocentric, and pagan world today.
Okay, let’s dive in!
15 Do you not know that your bodies are parts of Christ? Shall I then take away the parts of Christ and make them parts of a prostitute? Far from it!1 Corinthians 6:15
15“Do you not know that your bodies are parts of Christ?”
As believers, we must understand that our bodies and souls are not our own. We were bought at an incalculable cost. As recipients of the Holy Spirit, we (the body of believers) are the Lord’s and of the Lord.
16Or what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I will dwell among them and walk among them;2 Corinthians 6:16
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“Shall I then take away the parts of Christ and make them parts of a prostitute?”
This verse is written as both a rhetorical question (one that doesn’t really require an answer) and a leading question (designed to coerce the accused into agreeing with the speaker).
Paul gives the believers in Corinth a clear example: when a believer who has received the Holy Spirit commits sexual sin with a prostitute, it involves or places Christ himself with the said prostitute. Not good.
It’s clear that members of the Corinthian church didn’t fully grasp, appreciate or understand what it meant to be part of the body of Christ. For them, “Christianity” was just another of the many creeds, guilds or social groups.
Again, this is not much different to modern Christian congregations.
“Far from it!”
This declaration is written with the most decisive Greek negative: ο μὴ γένοιτο! Meaning, “Let it never happen!“.
16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.”
To support his argument, Paul references God’s declaration concerning the marital union between man and woman in Genesis 2:24. Therefore, the gift of sex is intended exclusively for marriage.
If you have received the Holy Spirit but sleep with a prostitute (or commit any other sexual sin), you are joined together with said prostitute in a one-flesh experience. By doing so, Jesus Christ is also bound to the prostitute.
Any sexual sin or illicit relationships (including extramarital sex, adultery, homosexuality) profane Christ himself. Indeed, no other sin has the power to destroy our body and soul like sexual sin.