The Church: The Body of Christ

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body…” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

The book of Ephesians speaks of a body.  There is one body (Ephesians 4:4).  Christ is the Savior of this body (Ephesians 5:23).  The body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23 cf. Colossians 1:18a; 1:24).  It is composed of both Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:16; 3:6 cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13).

Why is the church referred to as the body of Christ?  (1) It is a reference to authority (Ephesians 1:22-23).  God put all things under Jesus’ feet (a reference to dominion and subjection (cf. Psalm 8:6; Acts 4:37; Hebrews 2:8).  God positioned Jesus as the head of the church (a reference to positional authority cf. Ephesians 5:23-24).  A healthy physical body is submissive to the will of the head.  Even so, the church is to be subject to, and carry out the will of its head, Jesus Christ.

(2) It has to do with relationship of members (Ephesians 4:16 cf. Colossians 2:19; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31).  “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:4-5).  “For in fact the body is not one member but many.  If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the healing? If the whole body were hearing, where would be the smelling… And if they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'” (1 Corinthians 12:14-21).  The Holy Spirit gave, different members in the early church, different miraculous gifts (cf. Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28-30; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11).  He could have given all members the same gifts.  He did not.  He wanted the church to work together, using these gifts for the work of the ministry, the edifying of the body, and the glory of God (Ephesians 4:12, 16 cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 4:10-11).  While the church today does not possess a diversity of miraculous gifts, it is composed of members with different talents and abilities.  We are to work together, as a body, to the glory of God and the furtherance of the gospel and the cause of Christ.

We should care for one another.  “There should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).  J.W. McGarvey commented, “God intends that the church shall look upon itself as such an organic whole… ‘When a thorn,’ says Chrysostom, ‘enters the heel, the whole body feels it, and is concerned: the back bends, the fore part of the body contracts itself, the hands come forward and draw out the thorn, the head stoops, the eyes regard the affected member with intense gaze.  When the head is crowned, the whole man feels honored, the mouth expressed and the eyes look gladness.'” (McGarvey, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans, p. 126.

(3) It has to do with the work.  “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today.  He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way.  He has no tongue but our tongue to tell me how He died.  He has no help but our help to bring them to His side” (Annie Johnston Flint).  The church is His body on earth to do His will.  If we don’t, who will?

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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