Study Guide

Corinthians Vision

Vision

Okay, so everything is the body is equal, right? So says Paul. But the eyes are sort of a stand out. After all, how can you see where you're going without a healthy set of peepers? And if something is blocking your view—forget it. You're bound to stumble and fall sooner or later.

Seeing is Believing

Paul regularly uses both sight and blindness as metaphors for understanding God:

  • "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
  • "Moses[…] put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:13-18).
  • "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

According to Paul, a true believer is one who "sees" what God is saying to him or her. If you can't see these things, you're blind or your face has a veil over it or some other lack-of-vision metaphor. Christians are getting a peek something that the rest of the world doesn't see, and that's what makes them super special. It's like a religious superpower or something.

Paul even goes so far as to say that God has purposely kept some people from seeing him. That it's sort of his style—he's drawn the veil over their faces and only he can take it away. So, like physical sight, spiritual sight doesn't seem to be a choice people can make either.

See No Evil

But, seeing also isn't everything. Paul also tells us:

  • "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
  • "What can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).
  • "No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

So, which is it, Paul? Do Christians see things or not see things?

Here, Paul is referring to the things of the world. These are things everyone can see. But Christians don't literally "see" where to walk; they need faith to figure that out (hey, that's why it's a metaphor, right?). On the same token, whatever anyone can look at right now is going to fall by the wayside one day. No one has seen what God has planned for the world. Hmm… we think the author of Revelation might disagree.

In Popular Culture

The world is full of people who, like these Christians, see things that other people can't:

  • Harry Potter can see thestrals, while no one else can. No one except Luna Lovegood, that is. He's just as sane as her.
  • In Beetlejuice, Lydia is the only one who can see the Maitlands… because they're actually dead.
  • On Lost, characters regularly see something that others can't. Dead people. White horses walking through the woods. The usual stuff.
  • On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits who show him various scenes from his past, present, and future. No one, though, can see the spirits or Scrooge.

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