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1 Corinthians 12:21

    1 Corinthians 12:21 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And the eye may not say to the hand, I have no need of you: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

    Webster's Revision

    And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

    World English Bible

    The eye can't tell the hand, "I have no need for you," or again the head to the feet, "I have no need for you."

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

    Clarke's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:21

    And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee - The apostle goes on, with his principal object in view, to show that the gifts and graces with which their different teachers were endowed were all necessary for their salvation, and should be collectively used; for not one of them was unnecessary, nor could they dispense with the least of them; the body of Christ needed the whole for its nourishment and support. The famous apologue of Menenius Agrippa, related by Livy, will serve to illustrate the apostle's reasoning: the Roman people, getting into a state of insurrection and rebellion against the nobility, under pretext that the great men not only had all the honors but all the emoluments of the nation, while they were obliged to bear all the burdens, and suffer all the privations; they then in riotous assemblage left their homes and went to Mount Aventine. Matters were at last brought to such an issue, that the senators and great men were obliged to fly from the city, and the public peace was on the point of being utterly ruined: it was then thought expedient to send Menenius Agrippa to them, who was high in their esteem, having vanquished the Sabines and Samnites, and had the first triumph at Rome. This great general, who was as eloquent as he was valiant, went to the Mons Sacer, to which the insurgents had retired, and thus addressed them:

    Tempore, quo in homine non, ut nunc emnia in unum consentiebant, sed singulis membris suum cuique consilium, suus sermo fuerat, indignatas reliquas partes, sua cura, suo labore ac ministerio ventri omnia quaeri; ventrem, in medio quietum, nihil aliud, quam datis voluptatibus frui. Conspirasse inde, ne manus ad os cibum ferrent, nec os acciperet datum, nec dentes conficerent. Hac ira, dum ventrem fame domare vellent, ipsa una membra totumque corpus ad extremam tabem venisse. lnde apparuisse, ventris quoque haud segne ministerium esse: nec magis ali, quam alere eum, reddentem in omnes corporis partes hunc, quo vivimus vigemusque, divisum pariter in venas maturum, confecto cibo, sanquinem. T. Livii, Histor. lib. ii. cap. 32.

    "In that time in which the different parts of the human body were not in a state of unity as they now are, but each member had its separate office and distinct language, they all became discontented, because whatever was procured by their care, labor, and industry, was spent on the belly; while this, lying at ease in the midst of the body, did nothing but enjoy whatever was provided for it. They therefore conspired among themselves, and agreed that the hands should not convey food to the mouth, that the mouth should not receive what was offered to it, and that the teeth should not masticate whatever was brought to the mouth. Acting on this principle of revenge, and hoping to reduce the belly by famine, all the members, and the whole body itself, were at length brought into the last stage of a consumption. It then plainly appeared that the belly itself did no small service; that it contributed not less to their nourishment than they did to its support, distributing to every part that from which they derived life and vigor; for by properly concocting the food, the pure blood derived from it was conveyed by the arteries to every member."

    This sensible comparison produced the desired effect; the people were persuaded that the senators were as necessary to their existence as they were to that of the senators, and that it required the strictest union and mutual support of high and low to preserve the body politic. This transaction took place about 500 years before the Christian era, and was handed down by unbroken tradition to the time of Titus Livius, from whom I have taken it, who died in the year of our Lord 17, about forty years before St. Paul wrote this epistle. As his works were well known and universally read among the Romans in the time of the apostle, it is very probable that St. Paul had this famous apologue in view when he wrote from the 14th verse to the end of the chapter.

    Barnes' Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:21

    And the eye cannot say unto the hand ... - The hand in its place is as needful as the eye; and the feet as the head. Nay, the eye and the head could not perform their appropriate functions, or would be in a great measure useless but for the aid of the hands and feet. Each is useful in its proper place. So in the church. Those that are most talented and most richly endowed with gifts, cannot say to those less so, that there is no need of their aid. All are useful in their place. Nay, those who are most richly endowed could very imperfectly perform their duties without the aid and cooperation of those of more humble attainments.

    Wesley's Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:21

    12:21 Nor the head - The highest part of all. To the foot - The very lowest.