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Paul’s refutation of Sophistry in 1 Cor. 6:12-14 was intended to show the contrast between Greek wisdom (sophia) and Hebrew wisdom (chokmah). Sophia is based upon soulish understanding, or philosophy; Hebrew wisdom is based on the spiritual revelation of the law. So Deut. 4:5-8 says,
5 See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. 6 So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom [chokmah] and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise [chakam] and understanding people. 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? 8 Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?
The root of chokmah is chakam, In Arabic, the word means “to judge, hence to rule,” according to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon. Its comment reads, “Indeed, the primary power of this word, as I understand it, is of judging.”
To judge anything righteously is to have the ability to discern and to have the insight that comes only by divine revelation. Thus, those with chokmah possess the wisdom from the laws, statutes, and judgments that God has revealed in His righteous laws. Divine revelation, then, is the source of godly wisdom that qualifies someone to judge the world and even the angels that sinned.
On the other hand, Greek philosophy was the based on soulish reasoning and understanding. Sophistry stated that “man is the measure of all things.” The revelation of the law is that Jesus Christ is the measure of all things. Each contradicts the other, believing that the other side teaches foolishness (moria).
It really boils down to the source of wisdom. Does true wisdom come from the soul or from the spirit? The Greeks did not understand the difference, so in their view, wisdom came from the spiritual soul. But Paul used the sword of the Spirit to divide soul from spirit (Heb. 4:12), thus making the clear distinction that allows a person to develop the ability to perceive truth from the Holy Spirit through one’s human spirit.
The Greeks universally despised the body by contrasting it with the soul. The soul was immortal, the body was mortal, they said. The soul was good, the body was evil, they said again. It was all based upon their faulty view of creation, for they taught that the demiurge (devil) had created all things physical. The Greek word was demiourgos, which originally referred to a craftsman or artisan, but later came to mean a creator. Its philosophical meaning and usage comes from Plato’s book, Timaeus, written about 360 B.C., where he says that the demiurge created the universe. This idea became the basis of virtually all Greek philosophy thereafter.
The book of Genesis, obviously, presents an opposite view, saying in the opening verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Further, each new development of creation He pronounced “good,” and when it was completed, it was pronounced “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Hence, from Paul’s perspective, nothing in creation was evil—including the body. When he asked in Rom. 7:24, “who will set me free from the body of this death?” he was not despising the body, as if to dispose of it. Instead, he was searching for a way for the body to be delivered from death.
This forms the background to Paul’s discussion in 1 Cor. 6:13-20 in regard to the body. His opening statement is found in the second half of 1 Cor. 6:13, “Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body.”
Since God is the creator of the body (Gen. 2:7), He is its Owner. Man does not have the right to use his body to violate the law of God. Sophistry may dictate that “all things are lawful for me,” but Paul says that our bodies do not belong to us, but to God. Sophistry says that “food is for the stomach,” implying that it is alright to satisfy all bodily needs, including sexual gratification. But Paul says that “the body is not for immorality.”
1 Corinthians 6:15-17 says,
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says [Gen. 2:24], “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
The first Bride of Christ was Israel, betrothed through Abraham and married by Moses, the minister. Israel became Gomer, the Harlot, in the book of Hosea, and finally was divorced by God (Hosea 2:2; Jer. 3:8). The New Covenant Bride, Paul says, is not to follow Israel’s example.
Greek philosophy was no help, because its final solution to all things was not marriage but divorce. The Greek philosophers taught that the spiritual soul must be separated from the physical body in order to be saved. The good soul must be delivered from the evil body.
But Paul says the body was created by God and belongs to Him. The solution is not divorce, but marriage. “The two will become one flesh.” However, the basis of this divine purpose cannot come through an unlawful union. Harlotry is not marriage.
There are, of course, two kinds of marriage, each based on a different covenant. The soul was married to God under the Old Covenant. After its failure, as seen in Gomer-Israel’s divorce, a new and greater marriage relationship was established, based upon the New Covenant. Whereas the Old Covenant required Israel to work hard to be a perfect wife, the New Covenant puts the obligation upon God to make her a perfect wife.
Hence, God first took an Old Covenant wife, and that marriage ended in divorce. Now He is forming a New Covenant wife, or “body,” which will bring about true union, as intended from the beginning.
How does Paul interpret the concept of “one flesh” in Gen. 2:24? Is God really going to become “one flesh” with His New Covenant wife? Considering the fact that it is not our fleshly soul, but rather our spirit that has become our new identity, should we not believe that we will be “one spirit” with Christ?
The fact is, Paul refers to both. He speaks of “one flesh” in 1 Cor. 6:16, but in the next verse he says, “the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Does this contradict the concept of “one flesh”? Not at all. Both are true.
We will be “one flesh” with Christ at the resurrection of the dead or the transfiguration of the living saints, for then the Spirit of God will be fully operational in human flesh. We already see Jesus as the Example of this marriage, as Col. 2:9 tells us:
9 For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form.
Being in the image of God, Jesus was the full expression of God in human flesh (Heb. 1:3). When the divine plan is complete, we too will be in the full image of God, as Paul says in 2 Cor. 3:18. The image of God comes in three stages, pictured by the three main feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The last of these feasts completes the process and makes the marriage complete between heaven and earth, spirit and body.
In the end, we will be both one flesh and one spirit with Christ. By extension, too, heaven and earth itself will become one in accordance with Jesus’ prayer in Matt. 6:10, saying, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The two are “one flesh,” in that the glory of God manifests in the earth in human flesh. The two are “one spirit,” in that the Spirit of God is joined with the human spirit through a New Covenant marriage.
Paul continues in 1 Cor. 6:18,
18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
Most sin violates the rights of others. The law compensates victims of injustice by giving them the right to receive compensation for their losses. But immorality commits sin “against his own body.” The world system today, based upon Greek philosophy, says that “all things are lawful.” In other words, my body is my own, and I can do with it as I please as long as I do not hurt others. But we are not our own, for we did not create ourselves. It is possible to sin against one’s own body. It is a sin because it violates God’s right of ownership.
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 concludes,
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body.
A temple is not owned by man, but by God. Even pagan temples were said to be owned by and dedicated to certain gods. Not only does God own us by right of creation, but He also owns us by right of redemption. God appealed to His rights as the Redeemer of Israel in Deut. 15:15,
15 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore, I command you this day.
In the laws of redemption, the redeemed slave was not set free, but was required to serve his redeemer. Lev. 25:50 and 53 says of such redeemed slaves,
50 … It is like the days of a hired man that he shall be with him… 53 Like a man hired year by year he shall be with him; he shall not rule over him with severity in your sight.
In other words, the purpose of biblical redemption was to benefit the slave who had been sold to one who did not love him. When a near kinsman redeemed a slave from a foreigner, the redeemer was commanded to treat his new slave as “a hired man” and “not rule over him with severity.”
Jesus came to redeem us from a greater house of bondage, no longer “Egypt,” but a slave driver called Sin. As our Redeemer, Jesus has the right to be served by those that He redeemed. Their new Master forbids immorality (or fornication) in all of its forms—all forms of unlawful union, whether bodily or spiritual.
Likewise, as temples, we have been dedicated to God. We do not own ourselves, for a temple is not a place of self-worship. “Therefore, glorify God in your body,” that is, in your temple. After all, the purpose of this body is to manifest the glory of God, so that all may admire Christ in us and marvel at His presence, as Paul says elsewhere (2 Thess. 1:10).