By Clinton D. Hamilton
Question: Does 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 apply to physical fitness, in that we should exercise regularly and eat healthy foods?
Reply: Each passage should be understood in the relation to its actual language and the context in which it appears. The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9). Then follows in the text a listing of numerous different kinds of sinners: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners. Some of the Corinthians had been guilty of such sins. However, they had been washed, sanctified, and justified (1 Cor. 6:11).
Then the apostle draws an analogy. Foods (meats) are made for the alimentary canal (belly) and the latter is designed for ingestion of foods. Both the foods and the alimentary canal are designed to enable the digestive process to occur properly so as to make continuation of life and health possible. But both are perishable and will decay as God planned it. In a like manner, the body was not designed for fornication. It was for the Lord that the body was designed and the Lord came to redeem the body from its corruption (1 Cor. 6:13-14).
It is then pointed out that those who have been washed, sanctified, and justified are members of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15). To join one’s self to a harlot in the sin of fornication is, therefore, completely inconsistent for “shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid” (1 Cor. 6:15). The reason for this is that one who is joined to a harlot is one body, “for two, saith he, shall be one flesh” (1 Cor. 6:16). Sexual union is that which makes them one body or one flesh as Genesis 2:24 says. However, the person that is joined to the Lord is one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). It follows, therefore, that one who is Christ’s must flee fornication (1 Cor. 6:18).
Every sin except the sin of fornication is without the identification of body as one flesh (1 Cor. 6:18). Therefore, the person who commits fornication sins against the body, that is against the entire purpose and design of the body that is the house of the spirit that is one with the Lord. Since we know that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us and whom we have of God and we are not our own, having been bought with a price, we are to glorify God in our bodies and our spirits that belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Glorify means to extol, magnify, or praise. In this context, the idea is to have the body extol the virtues of God. It cannot do this joined to a harlot. What one permits his body to do should morally and spiritually be consistent with the character and nature of God. In this particular passage, physical exercise and the eating of health giving foods is not under consideration. The sin of gluttony would be included. Certainly, the body should be cared for because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Exercise is good for the body and profits a little (1 Tim. 4:8). Godliness is the important issue and this is what is under consideration in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Godliness is that which shows in one’s acts respect for the law of God.
Question: Is over eating a sin? How much is too much (gluttony)?
Reply: A study of the two words used in the Greek text of the New Testament will help us to understand what gluttony is and, therefore, assist in the answering of these two questions. Gaster, according to Joseph Henry Thayer in his lexicon, has two basic meanings in the New Testament: uterus or the womb and the stomach. In the latter sense, “by synecdoche a glutton, gormandizer, a man who is as it were all stomach. . . Ti. 1: 12. ” This passage is the only time it is used in this sense. The passage literally says Cretans are idle bellies or as some translations put it “slow bellies.” The idea is that in their idleness they spend their time filling their stomachs. Phagos means, according to Thayer, a voracious man, a glutton. The word is used twice in the New Testament (Matt. 11: 19; Lk. 7:34). Jesus said they who opposed him charged him with being gluttonous. He was not, of course.
Is gluttony a sin? Yes, the uses of the words to designate it in the New Testament are in the context of its being a sin. How much over eating is too much (gluttony)? One cannot answer this question with finite terms of ounces of either solid or fluid food. Further, the size and physical condition of the person eating would also affect how much is too much. When one is insatiable in appetite or consumes food to the discomfort of the body by distending the stomach, the point of gluttony has been reached. If one eats to maintain proper weight without adding tat and without discomfort, one eats in moderation. If this is the disposition and intention, the point of gluttony will not be reached.
Question: Here is another question related to the life of Paul. “I am quoting from a religious magazine I receive each month. ‘Paul was chosen to preach; he could not be unfaithful to the heavenly vision’ (Acts 26:29). ” Does this mean Paul had no choice to obey or not. “He did say, ‘Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.'”
Reply: Acts 26:19 is a part of a straightforward narrative account which is made up principally of declarative statements of fact. The passage in point is one of these: “Whereupon O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” Disobedient in this passage is from apeitho, which means to be not persuaded. He was persuaded by what he saw and heard to the point that he was convinced that Jesus Christ indeed spoke to him. Being thus persuaded that Jesus was the Messiah, he obeyed what he told him to do.
The issue of whether he could or could not make a choice is not the point of the passage; he is simply stating what he decided or chose to do. Surely, he could have rebelled. But being convinced that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, it would have been completely inconsistent for him to have disobeyed. Therefore, he did not. In this context, one might make the statement, “he could not be unfaithful to the heavenly vision.” Could not in this context would mean that it would be totally inconsistent to disobey the Lord, having been convinced that he in fact was the Messiah. In this sense, he could not disobey consistent with his conviction.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 5, pp. 133-134
March 1, 1990