Question: “How is the church the Body of Christ?”

Answer: The phrase “the Body of Christ” is a common New Testament metaphor for the Church (all those who are truly saved). The Church is called “one body in Christ” in Romans 12:5closeRomans 12:5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and inspanidually members one of another. (ESV) closeRomans 12:5closeRomans 12:5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and inspanidually members one of another. (ESV) so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and inspanidually members one of another. (ESV) , “one body” in 1 Corinthians 10:17close1 Corinthians 10:17 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (ESV) close1 Corinthians 10:17close1 Corinthians 10:17 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (ESV) 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (ESV) , “the body of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 12:27close1 Corinthians 12:27 27 Now you are the body of Christ and inspanidually members of it. (ESV) close1 Corinthians 12:27close1 Corinthians 12:27 27 Now you are the body of Christ and inspanidually members of it. (ESV) 27 Now you are the body of Christ and inspanidually members of it. (ESV)  and Ephesians 4:12closeEphesians 4:12 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (ESV) closeEphesians 4:12closeEphesians 4:12 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (ESV) 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (ESV) , and “the body” in Hebrews 13:3closeHebrews 13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (ESV) closeHebrews 13:3closeHebrews 13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (ESV) Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (ESV) . The Church is clearly equated with “the body” of Christ in Ephesians 5:23closeEphesians 5:23 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV) closeEphesians 5:23closeEphesians 5:23 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV) 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV)  and Colossians 1:24closeColossians 1:24 Paul's Ministry to the Church 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (ESV) closeColossians 1:24closeColossians 1:24 Paul's Ministry to the Church 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (ESV) Paul's Ministry to the Church 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (ESV) .

When Christ entered our world, He took on a physical body “prepared” for Him (Hebrews 10:5closeHebrews 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me; (ESV)
closeHebrews 10:5closeHebrews 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me; (ESV)
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me; (ESV)
Philippians 2:7closePhilippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (ESV) closePhilippians 2:7closePhilippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (ESV) but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (ESV) ). Through His physical body, Jesus demonstrated the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly—especially through His sacrificial death on the cross (Romans 5:8closeRomans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV) closeRomans 5:8closeRomans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV) ). After His bodily ascension, Christ continues His work in the world through those He has redeemed—the Church now demonstrates the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly. In this way, the Church functions as “the Body of Christ.”

The Church may be called the Body of Christ because of these facts:

1) Members of the Body of Christ are joined to Christ in salvation (Ephesians 4:15-16closeEphesians 4:15-16 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV) closeEphesians 4:15-16closeEphesians 4:15-16 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV) 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV) ).

2) Members of the Body of Christ follow Christ as their Head (Ephesians 1:22-23closeEphesians 1:22-23 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV) closeEphesians 1:22-23closeEphesians 1:22-23 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV) 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV) ).

3) Members of the Body of Christ are the physical representation of Christ in this world. The Church is the organism through which Christ manifests His life to the world today. Acts 11:25-26closeActs 11:25-26 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. (ESV) closeActs 11:25-26closeActs 11:25-26 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. (ESV) 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. (ESV)

4) Members of the Body of Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9closeRomans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (ESV) closeRomans 8:9closeRomans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (ESV) You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (ESV) ).

5) Members of the Body of Christ possess a diversity of gifts suited to particular functions (1 Corinthians 12:4-31close1 Corinthians 12:4-31 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one inspanidually as he wills. One Body with Many Members 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 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.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no spanision in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and inspanidually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (ESV) close1 Corinthians 12:4-31close1 Corinthians 12:4-31 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one inspanidually as he wills. One Body with Many Members 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 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.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no spanision in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and inspanidually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (ESV) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one inspanidually as he wills. One Body with Many Members 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 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.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no spanision in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and inspanidually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (ESV) ). “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ” (verse 12).

6) Members of the Body of Christ share a common bond with all other Christians, regardless of background, race, or ministry. “There should be no division in the body, but . . . its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1 Corinthians 12:25close1 Corinthians 12:25 25 that there may be no spanision in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (ESV) close1 Corinthians 12:25close1 Corinthians 12:25 25 that there may be no spanision in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (ESV) 25 that there may be no spanision in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (ESV) ).

7) Members of the Body of Christ are secure in their salvation (John 10:28-30closeJohn 10:28-30 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (ESV) closeJohn 10:28-30closeJohn 10:28-30 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (ESV) 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (ESV) ). For a Christian to lose his salvation, God would have to perform an “amputation” on the Body of Christ!

8) Members of the Body of Christ partake of Christ’s death and resurrection (Colossians 2:12closeColossians 2:12 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (ESV) closeColossians 2:12closeColossians 2:12 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (ESV) 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (ESV) ).

9) Members of the Body of Christ share Christ’s inheritance (Romans 8:17closeRomans 8:17 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (ESV) closeRomans 8:17closeRomans 8:17 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (ESV) 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (ESV) ).

10) Members of the Body of Christ receive the gift of Christ’s righteousness (Romans 5:17closeRomans 5:17 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (ESV) closeRomans 5:17closeRomans 5:17 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (ESV) 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (ESV) ).