Criswell Theological Review 3.2 (1989) 373-375
[Copyright © 1989 by
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HOS 3:1-3-BACKGROUND TO 1 COR
GEORGE L. KLEIN
Few Pauline exhortations are more climactic than 1 Cor , "For
you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."
The context of this admonition in chaps 5-7 deals primarily with
proscriptions against sexual immorality and enjoinders to treat mar-
riage as a sacred institution. So, in 6:12-20, using three metaphors,
Paul argues that Christians must be free of sexual vice.
The first metaphor is that of believers as members of the Body of
Christ (vv 12-18). Here Paul makes a clear distinction between the
propriety of satisfying the body's appetite for food and the licentious
gratification of the body's sexual appetite. Furthermore, the notion of
a body is developed from merely the corporeal to an expression of
the mystical relationship the Corinthian believers had to Christ. Thus,
to practice sexual debauchery is to prostitute the very body of Christ--
a thought inconceivable to Paul.
With the second metaphor Paul treats the body as the temple of
Spirit (v 19a). Just as defiling the
too is defiling the temple of the Spirit.
The third metaphor Paul uses is redemption as a description of a
believer's new relationship to God (vv 19b-20). This well-known
emblem of what Christ does for the individual when one first believes
(Gal 3:13; 4:5; et al.) is now applied to his/her sanctification. The
believer is freed from the law and the curse accompanying its
disobedience, but s/he is not set free in the sense that a]gora<zw spoke of
releasing slaves for freedom (e]p ] e]leuqeri<a) in antiquity.1 Instead, the
new believer was enslaved to righteousness (e]doulw<qhte t^ dikaiosu<n^,
1 F. Biichsel, "a]gora<zw," TDNT 1.125.
374 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
Rom ). It is at this juncture that a parallel can be drawn, I believe,
between Hos 3:1-3 and 1 Cor 6:19b-20.
In chap 3 Hosea tells of his reconciliation with his wayward wife.2
This familiar passage recounts the prophet's purchase on the slave
market of one who was already his wife. Thus, Hosea stood in an
unique relation to Gomer; he was at once both husband and master. As
husband he had expected, but lost, the unique position he held as
husband (chap 1); however subsequently, as master, he demanded the
faithfulness which was his due by virtue of paying his wife's purchase
price. In v 3 Hosea commanded Gomer to remain faithful to him
because of his absolute authority over her. Again, the reason he could
issue such strong terms to Gomer was that since he had purchased her,
she was his possession.
Returning to 1 Corinthians 6, we see the thematic parallel with Hos
3:1-3. Broadly, there is in both passages an admonition to sexual
fidelity argued upon similar grounds. More specifically, in both texts
there is one who is redeemed from slavery to a new and higher
servitude. In Hosea 3 the prophet redeemed his wife out of a degrading
life to a life bound by sexual decorum. Similarly in 1 Corinthians 6 the
audience had been redeemed out of bondage to sin (including
licentiousness) to a life in which sexual sin was unconscionable. Just as
Hosea was both husband and master, likewise Christ is husband (2 Cor
11:2; Eph ) and master (
but lost, his unique position when the Corinthians were unfaithful to
him. As master though, Christ demanded the loyalty requisite for a
slave (1 Cor ).
Finally, it must be noted that Paul does not use precisely the same
terminology as is found in either the MT or the LXX. 1 Cor reads
h]gora<sqhte ga>r timh?j whereas the LXX of Hos 3:2 reads e]misqwsa<mhn
e]maut&?. . . . Furthermore, a]gora<zw is nowhere used in the LXX to
translate hrk, the root of hAr,K;x,vA ("so I bought her," Hos 3:2). If an
allusion (understood in broad thematic terms) does in fact exist, why
would Paul refrain from using misqe<w in 1 Cor when this word was
regularly used in the LXX to render hrk and is also present in the NT
(Matt 20:1, 7)? I submit that the reason lies in the multiple nuances of
a]gora<zw. To be sure, this word does connote the idea of purchasing a
slave as the preceding example demonstrates.3 However, the following
2 I am assuming here that the unnamed woman of chap 3 is the same woman as in
chap 1, namely, Gomer. For an alternate perspective cf. Hans Walter Wolff, Hosea
(trans. Gary Stansell;
3 Buchsel, "a]gora<zw," TDNT 1.125.
Klein: Hos 3: 1-3 375
meaning distinguishes this word from misqe<w, for a]gora<zw (and its
derivatives) is the usual word for redemption in the NT. Since the
argument in 1 Corinthians 6 hinges upon the fact that the Corinthians
had been redeemed as well as being bound to righteousness and should
therefore cease sinning, only a]gora<zw could function in 1 Cor .
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