Apr 21st, 2011 by Cheryl Schatz
The body of Christ is a body ministry where each of us are needed and each gift that God has distributed among us is needed. So why is it that many men say that they do not need for a woman teacher when this personal rejection of their own need is contradicted by 1 Corinthians 12:21?
1 Corinthians 12:21 (NASB95)
21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
Why does the Bible say that the eye cannot say to the hand that others may need you, but I have no need of you? In other words, why is it that some say what the Bible says they cannot say?
The Greek term for “cannot” is the negative of dynamai which is one’s ability or capability of doing something, thus the term “cannot say” should mean that the eye has no personal ability to say something. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary gives an expanded understanding of what it means to not be able to do something:
Words of this stem all have the basic sense of ability or capability. dynamai means a. “to be able” in a general sense, b. “to be able” with reference to the attitude that makes one able, hence sometimes “to will,” and c. (of things) “to be equivalent to,” “to count as,” “to signify.”
Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (186).
With this meaning, we can understand that the reason why the eye cannot say to the hand “I don’t need you” is that the eye has no power through its own will to make the hand unneeded. It isn’t that the part of the body known as the eye cannot utter these words to another part of the body. In fact these words are said often enough in the Church. When it comes to men claiming that they don’t need women teachers, these words are not uncommon. Instead of an inability to say the words, it is an inability to will it to be so by the mere fact of one’s claim. The eye’s claim to not need the hand has no effect on the eye’s need nor does the eye’s claim take away the usefulness of the hand for the good of the eye.
Another thing that is noteworthy in the grammar is that the term “cannot say” is either middle or passive. The middle voice signifies that the subject of the verb is being affected by its own action or is acting upon itself. Could it be that the eye is being affected by its own claim to not need another body part? The eye has no power to make the hand not needed, but the mere fact that it confidently claims that it has no need of the hand, is affecting its own well-being, for to deny that you have a need makes you blind to God’s provision for that need.