The purpose of this article is to place and describe Paul’s use of the body metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12 in its literary context. By way of introduction, the importance of a proper understanding of Paul’s use of the body metaphor is indicated. The first part of the article deals with the origin and use of the body metaphor in ancient times, thereby establishing the literary context within which Paul used the metaphor. Greek, Roman and Jewish usage is described. In the second part of the article the focus moves to Paul’s use of the metaphor within its literary context. It is concluded that the body metaphor was well-known to Greek, Roman and Jewish readers, and was thus ideally suited to Paul’s unique communication of the relationship between Christ and his church.
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