1 Corinthians Chapter 6 vs 16 and 17: “One Body, One Flesh, One Spirit” 

3 sections in 1 Corinthians: 

3 Reasons for Righteousness: 

Fellowship with one another (6:1-8) 
Citizenship in the Kingdom (6:9-11) 
Relationship with God (6:12-20) 

In verse 13 Paul uses the false slogan of the Corinthians to: 

Dispel error 
Deduce the truth 

Dispel error 

The error that we can deduce purpose by knowing function 

We don't start with function and work out purpose 

We must start with purpose – with the Lordship of Christ and from this bring all function into subjection to Him. 

Under control of that purpose we see that man was created (Gen 1:26) for: 

Relationship with God 
Resemblance to God 

This is confirmed and completed in Christ in Romans 8 and 1 John 3 

Deduce the truth 

If it is true that: 

meats are for the belly 

and thus: 

belly is for meats 

Thus if we apply the same reasoning to the body we see that the: 

Body is for the Lord 

then it must also be true to say that: 

Lord is for the body 

In which case the body must be in a fit state for Christ, by His Spirit to reside in us. 

Herein lies the reality of our: 

Fellowship with God 
Usefulness to the Lord 

So this 3rd section of 1 Corinthians chapter 6 deals with our: 

Relationship with God 

all other relationships are to be understood in terms of their impact on this the greatest relationship of all: 

Relationships that Hinder 
Relationships that Help 

Relationships that Hinder 

v15 – 'members of an harlot' 

This takes us into a very interesting and important area; into the truth that what we do physically impacts upon what we are spiritually. 

Over the years there has been great debate over the nature of man. 

Debate has raged over the years as to wither or not man is: 


Man certainly at the very least has: 


That much is clearly seen in Genesis 2:7: 

Physical part from the earth: 'of the dust of ground' 
Spiritual from God: 'breathed into his nostrils' 

Yet man is surely not fully explained simply by: 

a part from the ground 
a part from God 

There was in Adam something distinctively Adam; distinctive from the purely physical or even biological, and distinctive from the breath of God 

There was in Adam a 3rd and distinctive identity, something so distinctive from the creator that in Genesis chapter 3 it would demonstrate with catastrophic consequences, its utter distinctiveness from God by rebelling against the creator. 

2:7 “and man became a living soul” 

There was a part of Adam that cried; “I am Adam” - and that part rebelled; to that we append the name: “soul” (2:7) 

It is tempting to jump to the conclusion that it is the soul which connects / hard wires the 'body' to the 'spirit' – this may be the case; although not explicitly stated in the text of Genesis chapter 2. 

The important point to note however is that man does not consist of 2 independent components: 


But of 2 interdependent parts: 


Some over the years have either doctrinally attempted to insist on breaking the connection between the two: Eastern mystic religions, Gnosticism, Christian Scientists and some over the years have practically treated the 2 as independent from one another: a Monday to Saturday life and a Sunday Christianity; a public life and a private life, a secular life and a spiritual life. 

The two are intertwinned and interconnected. 

The spiritual impacts on the physical; we recognise this even in our figures of speech: 

'face tripping him' 
'wind always in his face' 

That we can see a discouraged, depressed, downcast or negative spirit in a persons very facial features. 

Not only by common observation is this the case but with biblical endorsement too the spiritual impacts on the physical: 

Nehemiah 2:2 
Proverbs 15:13 

But does the physical impact upon the spiritual? 

Ecclesiastes 7:3 

Or more pertinently, consider David's sin with Bathsheba – the physical sin impacted heavily upon his spiritual condition cf. Psalm 51:4,7,10; “create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.” 

cf. Romans 5:1ff; Hebrews 12:11ff 

The physical impacts on the spiritually 

I cannot do as I please, watch what I please, touch what I please and go where I please and remain spiritually impervious to it! 

The physical impacts on the spiritual, cf. Samson in Judges chapter 16: 

Set in Delilah's chamber – Judges 16:9,12 – a place of physical compromise 
Ongoing war of attrition against Samson 
The truth slips out by Judges 16:13 

There was a progressive: 

Physical (Judges 16:9,12) 
Emotional (Judges 16:15,16) 
Spiritual (Judges 16:20) 

Entanglement between Samson and Delilah 

The down fall is complete; though in grace Samson is not complete. 

Relationships that Hinder 
Relationships that Help 

One Body – The Problem – Physical 
One Flesh – The Provision – Organic 
One Spirit – The Purpose – Spiritual


Notes from a sermon preached  as part of our systematic bible study series on 1 Corinthians. 

Free audio, mp3 downloads  available above, of these messages as we expound verse by verse through the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. 

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie