What Does the Bible Say About the Body of Christ?

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The church is sometimes described as “the body of Christ”. When we are saved, we belong to Christ and symbolically become part of his body. When Jesus walked down here on earth 2000 years ago, his body was down here and with it he went around laying his hands on the sick so that they were healed, with his mouth he proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom of God, etc. Now that Jesus is in heaven, he has commissioned the church to be the body of Christ on earth, to do all the things that he did when he was here. The description of the church as “the body of Christ” shows the unity and interdependence that should exist among Christians, both locally in the individual church, but also throughout the world. Jesus himself is described as the “head” of the church. Each part, or “limb”, of the body has an important function for the whole.

Bible Verses

4For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.(Ro 12:4–5)

12For 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. 13For 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. 14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If 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. 16And 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. 17If 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? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21The 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.” 22On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and 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, 24which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And 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. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But earnestly desire the higher gifts.(1 Co 12:12–31a)

15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from 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.(Eph 4:15–16)

19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.(Jn 2:19–22)

16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.(1 Co 10:16–17)

Study Questions

  1. What functions do the different parts of the body symbolize in the church?
  2. If you were to describe your local congregation in “bodily” terms (i.e., what is the distribution of “mouths”, “ears”, “feet”, “hands”, etc.), what would the body look like?
  3. What is your function in the body of Christ?
  4. What functions are missing in your local church?
  5. What is the connection between the Lord’s Supper and the Body of Christ?

Additional Bible Verses

Col 1:18, Col 1:24, Col 2:19, Eph 5:23, 1 Cor 6:15

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