More Words, Phrases, and Clauses of 1 Corinthians 12:13
"Are We All"
Universal church advocates point at the "we" here as their best evidence that 1 Corinthians 12:13 must be talking about Spirit baptism. Bill Combs, professor at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, uses the plural "we" to argue this way:
According to Rom 12:5, Paul was a member of the same body as the Romans: "so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." Notice Paul includes himself as a member of the same body as the Romans--"so we...." Paul had never been to Rome so he could not have been a member of the local church in Rome.According to 1 Cor 12:13, Paul was a member of the same body as the Corinthians: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." Notice Paul includes himself as a member of the same body as the Corinthians--"we were...."
You might read this and say, "Dr. Combs certainly settled it with those points." Well, no. Just because Paul and the members of the church at Corinth were baptized into one body doesn't mean that they were baptized into the same body. Consider 1 Timothy 3:12:
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
If we apply the same kind of thinking to this verse as Combs applied to Romans 12:5, then Paul was instructing all the deacons in the church at Ephesus to marry the same woman. However, I think it is obvious to everyone that Paul meant that each deacon should have only one wife.
Paul said "we" because he too was baptized into one body, not the same body. If I said, "we all took the bus to the game," that doesn't assume that we all rode the same vehicle. Paul wasn't including himself in the same body as the church at Corinth by saying "we." If he was doing that, he would have said, "We are all baptized into your body." His point was that everyone who is water baptized, including himself, joins himself to one church, unifying himself with that church. Even though they are many members, as having associated by means of water baptism, they are all one body as well.
The term "we" often does not include the speaker in the group to whom he is speaking. In the same epistle, Paul writes in 10:20-22:
20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. 22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
Look at v. 22. Was Paul fellowshiping with devils? Was he provoking the Lord to jealousy by doing so? So was he including himself with these Corinthians by saying "we"? I don't think so. Combs says that Paul puts himself in the same body by saying "we." We doesn't necessarily include Paul in the same body.
Consider Acts 2:8:
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
First, was everyone hearing in the same language? No. Was everyone from the same country? No.
Consider 2 Timothy 2:12:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.
Was it possible Paul was going to deny the Lord? No. Just because he used the pronoun "we," doesn't mean that he was including himself with that group.
If I say "We all bought one shotgun," I don't mean that we bought the same shotgun. If I say, "We all played one game," I don't mean that we played the same game. If I say, "We all caught one fish," I don't mean that we caught the same fish. If I say, "We all invested in one mutual fund," I don't mean that we invested in the same fund.
Because Paul wrote, "We all are baptized into one body," he didn't mean that he was baptized into the same body as the church at Corinth. What he meant was that he was baptized into one body just like those at Corinth were baptized into one body.
Both universal church proponents and local church only advocates would agree that the "one body" here is "the body of Christ." Where in Scripture is "the body of Christ" defined? This is crucial, because there is only one place that we get a definition of "the body of Christ." It is in v. 27 of 1 Corinthians 12. In this very context we have the body of Christ defined for us. 1 Corinthians 12:27 reads:
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
Paul says that the church at Corinth is the body of Christ. If the body of Christ is all believers, like the universal church people teach, then Paul would have said, "We are the body of Christ." He doesn't. I don't want to call the church at Corinth "the local church" because it is redundant. It is a bow to universal church doctrine. The church at Corinth is the church. The church is local only. It isn't all saved people. It is a body of believers that meets in a particular location, just like the human body is found in one location.
The members of a human body are all right where the body is. That is why Paul couldn't include himself when he was referring to their body. Their body was different than his body. All bodies have something in common---they're all bodies. Since they all have that in common, they could be referred to as the body. I could say, "The body is a marvel." I'm not talking about any body in particular. But if I say, "Your body is a marvel," then you know I'm talking about one in particular.
When Paul writes, "Ye are the body of Christ," he nails down the definition of the body of Christ. It is the local church. He was water baptized into the church at Damascus by Ananias. Those church members at Corinth were baptized into the church at Corinth. We are all baptized into one body. The many become the one through water baptism.