Criswell Theological Review 3.2 (1989) 373-375

[Copyright 1989 by Criswell College, cited with permission;

digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere]









Criswell College, Dallas, TX 75201


Few Pauline exhortations are more climactic than 1 Cor 6:20, "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

the Holy Spirit (v 19a). Just as defiling the Temple was anathema, so

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.




Rom 6:18). 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 5:23) and master (Col 4:1). As husband, Christ had expected,

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 6:20).

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 6:20 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 6:20 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; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974) 59.

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 6:20.




This material is cited with gracious permission from:

The Criswell College

4010 Gaston Ave.

Dallas, TX 75246

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: