The Body - The Church
Christ is the head over all things to the church, which is his body (Eph 1:20-23).
Christ as the head and the church as his body is a figure of speech in which the Holy Spirit establishes the relationship of Christians to the Christ. Later, the apostle then uses this figure in discussing the work of the church (Eph 4:12-16). See also Col 1:18. Also study the church – church member relationship in Rom 12:4-5).
If we think of church membership in the same way that we think of being members of clubs, political parties, or other human organizations, we miss the point. The bible principle is not an “organization-membership relationship”, but a body-member (body-part) of body relationship. To digress from the figure, takes us away from the Biblical and correct view of the subject.
Again there is but one body yet many individual members (1 Cor 12:12-14). And all the members are to care one for another (1 Cor 12:25-27).
Looking briefly at the ascension of Christ (Acts 1:9) should remind us of the spiritual and illustrative nature of the head -body or Christ – Church relationship. Therefore, the church is the body of Christ. Look at the significance of the concept:
1. The church is a visible body. Ye are the light of the world (Matt 5:14-16). And ye are God’s building (1 Cor 3:9). The old Mosaical system is compared with Christianity in 2 Cor 3:7-11. From this study, it would be just as reasonable to say that Israel of old was an invisible kingdom as to say that the glorious church today constitutes an invisible (or mystical) church. There are two fundamental reasons why this is so important.
(1) First, is the erroneous modern notion that the church (the real church of Christ) is some kind of invisible, mystical body consisting of people from all religions and faiths and various practices that have been saved.
(2) More practically, the true church of Christ needs to work on its visibility. In most places, the best kept secret in town is the fact that there are Christians, simply Christians, nothing but Christians, meeting together and worshiping God.
Together or individually, we must demonstrate the presence of the head, Jesus Christ, in our lives and in our activities. If your Christianity is not visible to men, shame on you! You are defeating the visibility of the body of Christ. As a congregation, if we are not constantly working within all scriptural activities to show the body of Christ to the neighbourhood, we are defeating even ourselves.
2. The Church of Christ, the body of Christ, is a living body. This body (an organism) is alive, and active and doing. It edifies itself in love and the members have the same care one of another. It is not a dead body, in a coma, or a zombie. Sadly, the church at Laodicea, being neither cold nor hot, was more like a zombie than alive (
A study of Jesus reveals a man on earth who was busy without ceasing. So likewise, today, the body of Christ can never cease to be His body. This is also true of us as individual members of the body. The service of your life and my life as Christians is a living service. (Rom 12:1). That means it involves time, effort, energy, and action.
3. The body is of the same character, the same nature, as the head. If we can see anything from the figure, we should see that the head and the body have the same character, the same nature. See 2 Pet 1:3-4.
It is not that the head should conform to the body’s nature, or that the body should conform to its surroundings (the world); but that the body must conform to the nature of the head.
List briefly some of the characteristics of Jesus Christ and ask ourselves how we are at being like Christ.
1) Consider first the holiness of Christ (Mark 1:24). He was truly holy or without sin. Likewise, we should attain to be as holy as we possibly can be (Rom 12:1).
2) Consider the meekness and lowliness of the head of the body (Matt 11:29). No one has been more meek, none more humble, than Christ our example. We should then also attain to the same meek and humble character as our head (Eph 4:1-2).
3) Our head, Jesus Christ, is the epitome of self denial. What greater example could there be of self denial than to leave the glories of heaven and to take on the form of a servant as a mortal man. All His time on earth, He was in perfect subjection to the will of God (John 4:34). His spiritual body must have the exact same strength of character (Matt 16:24).
4) The head, Jesus was the most compassionate individual to ever walk on earth (Matt 9:35-36). He wept when Lazarus was dead. He was even compassionate for all the people (Matt 23:37). We should be of the same limitless compassion as is our head (1 Pet 3:8-9).
5) He also set for us the perfect example of personal zeal for the work of God. The head did not introduce Christianity with some “take it or leave it” attitude (John 2:13-17). As the body of Christ, and as individual members of that body, we are exhorted to the same strength of character (Titus 2:11-14). Our head was enthusiastic. He was zealous. And we, as the body of Christ, must approach our service with the same attitude.
4. Now, let us deal briefly with one last point in this head-body relationship...Let us emphasize the relationship itself: The head and the body is one of leadership and control. It’s one of headship and submission. Just as your body operates at the command of your head, so the body of Christ operates at the command of its head, Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote concerning Christ and the church, using the husband-wife relationship, as one of headship and submission (Eph 5:22-23). All members of the body need to comprehend the submission of the church to the Christ. Unfortunately, we live in a society of people where neither the submission of the wife to the husband or of the church to the Christ is understood. James 4:7 says “submit yourselves therefore to God.” This is the relationship. As long as Christ is the head and the church is the body and you and I are members of that body, we must live in complete submission to our head, Jesus Christ.
As the head, it is Jesus Christ’s role to do the “thinking” and the commanding.
As the body, it is our role to respond in subjection to his commands and to be obedient to his will. When he commands, we obey....collectively and individually. That is the essence of the head-body relationship.
If you are not a member of that body, you need to be… because apart from Christ, you are without salvation from sin and the hope of eternal life in eternity.