Our Bodies Are Not Our Own, So What Are Our Bodies For?

Paul begins the final section of chapter six with a illustration that parallels food and the body. He says that food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food. He doesn’t want us to be deceived in thinking that the body is meant for sexual immorality and sexual immorality for the body. No, Paul shows us the correct purpose for the bodies that God has given us. The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body.

Paul then makes an argument about the negative affect of treating the body as though it were meant for immorality and makes a positive argument for why it is for the Lord and how the body is the Lord’s.

Many in Corinth saw sex as something to be treated casually and even within the church there were those who thought that freedom in Christ meant the freedom to do anything with their bodies, including incest and prostitution. Paul disagrees with this and tries to show why what we do with our bodies has great importance.

Any sexual interaction creates a new unity. Therefore there is no casual sex. This is a myth of our culture that says sex can be “just sex.” It is something more. So to have sex with a prostitute is to join yourself to the prostitute. It is not a casual encounter with no significance and to make it all the worse, Paul reminds us that we are already joined to Christ. We are members of Christ and to engage in this wrong behavior is to take the members of Christ and make them members with a prostitute. We should rather flee this sexual immorality and flee to Christ.

This stems from a low view of the body and of sex. Sex shouldn’t be seen in the same way as food. Ken Bailey’s commentary says this on the topic:

Paul is objecting to the dehumanizing of sex that takes place when it is turned into a form of entertainment and made parallel to food. Paul is rejecting the view that says “I feel hungry–I eat. I feel sexual desire–I engage in sex.”1

No we are made for something more. Our bodies are for the Lord and in Christ we are bound to him, two are made one in spirit. If we throw ourselves into immoral sexual relationships we are pulling ourselves away from unity to Christ and united our bodies, temples of the Spirit, to a prostitute. We are torn apart from the fellowship we find in Jesus.

It is more than a moral argument about what is acceptable in polite society. Paul wants his readers to realize that our bodies are meant for the Lord and they will be raised up with him. Our bodies are meant for the resurrection and what we do to them matters. Christianity is not a religion that pulls away from the body and focuses only on the otherworldly. We believe God created this world and proclaimed it good. Our God even came to us and took on flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus had a body and our bodies are of great worth and we can’t toss them aside or think what we do with them has no meaning. No, they are meant for the Lord and destined to be raised with him.

Memory Verse 1 Cor 6.19-20

Our bodies are given a great task in that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. Where once there was one place where all people went to seek the presence of God, now the one who is found in Christ is the very dwelling place of his Spirit. As a temple, our bodies then are to be places of worship, sacrifice, dedication, praise, offering, and thanksgiving. As a temple, we represent God’s presence where ever we walk.

Sexual immorality draws us away from Christ, harming the unity we have with him. It also misunderstands the purpose of our bodies, giving us a vision of a purpose that is far too small for the Christian. God has given us our bodies to be temples of the Holy Spirit, to be for the Lord. And we are the Lord’s. We have been purchased at great cost to be Christ’s. The price for you and for me was his death. But that is how much we are loved and prized by God. We are beloved, a cherished possession. So know that we now do in our bodies matters. His sacrifice for us gives our whole selves–bodies and all–great significance. If you and your body are important to God, they should be important to you as well.

The last line says it all so well. Remember, you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.


  1. Ken Bailey, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes. 185. ↩

Why Does Paul Instruct the Church in Corinth to Expel the Sinner in Chapter 5?

When Paul says to cast the man out of the church who is sleeping with his father’s wife, it is important to remember everything that he says, lest we miss his point. He begins in verse four with:

Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

But that is not all. A couple verses later he adds:

When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

This is not punishment for no purpose. Paul instructs the church in a way to enact discipline on this man for two reasons. What we see in the verse quoted above is “so that his spirit may be saved.” It is the difference between a strictly punitive action and a restorative one. Paul wants the church to, by their expulsion of him, restore his soul. If he wants to be part of the body again, he’ll have to turn from this sin. He can’t just go to the more open-minded church around the block in Corinth. This is his fellowship to which he would seek to restored.

Dough

The other purpose in casting out this man, a man who has sinned in such a way that even the extremely permissive Roman society would condemn him, is to guard the body of believers. His sin is not harmless. It is like a leaven that makes it way into the whole dough. Paul wants to protect this people who he cares greatly about. He’s already compared himself to a mother and a father in his relationship to them. He knows that if this influence remains it will affect the whole church.

So rather than recommend what may have been a Jewish judgment of incest, stoning, or delivering this man before Roman courts for the Roman law he has broken, Paul instructs the body to do something that may save the man’s spirit on the day of the Lord and will protect the life and witness of the church in Corinth.