The Church is the Body of Christ

Christ is the head of the church, because he purchased it with his own blood. Jesus paid full price for the church, consequently he owns it outright, and deserves to have full control over it, in everything.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” ~ Acts 20:28

The church is the body of Christ, and he himself is the head of that same body.

“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church. Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” ~ Ephesians 1:22-23

Being the head, Christ is the one who governs His church.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. the zeal of the Lord of hosts will preform this.” ~ Isaiah 9:6-7

In the church there are many different types of gifts that God gives, along with a special responsibility. But there is no room nor need for titles of: rabbis, popes, fathers, lordships, or district superintendents in his church.

“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and ye are all brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” ~ Matt 23:8-11

Now we all have an earthly father. And we are to respect a good father. In addition we may call them “father” because that is who they are to us. So what is Jesus trying to say here? He’s talking about an official title, that infers that someone is better than another person, and has power as a lord to control another person.

The word Rabbi as used in the scripture above means (from Strong’s) “my master, that is Rabbi as an official title of honor”. Jesus was teaching them to not be called by a title. As if they were above someone else.

But the lower case word rabbi means “teacher”. And there are many teachers in the church.

Paul stated often in the scriptures that he was an apostle. But he was never referred to with the title “Apostle Paul.” He was respected and recognized as an apostle, as many of the other apostles were also recognized. But none of them are addressed with such a title.  In fact, Peter addressed Paul as his beloved brother.

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;” ~ 2 Peter 3:15

Both Barnabas and Paul were recognized as apostles.

“Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out” ~ Acts 14:14

But this was their office of responsibility, and their gift.

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office” ~ Romans 11:13

Paul did not say “I magnify myself.” But he was rather alluding to the importance of his office. The office of an apostle is a very important responsibility.

The apostles and disciples of the Lord all recognized one another as equal brethren, but also that each of them have different responsibilities and gifts. And they often referred to one another as beloved brethren. But not with a title.

“It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul” ~ Acts 15:25

The reason for this is: because with their position and gift, they served the church. As Jesus taught, they were called by Jesus Christ to fulfill an office, and to use their gift given to them, to be as sacrificial servants to the rest.

“For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:9-10

The greater the importance of the office in the church, the greater the humility that is needed to conduct oneself properly in that office. Consider what Jesus said about John the Baptist.

“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” ~ Matthew 11:11

Now this may seem hard to understand. But essentially what Jesus is saying is: that John the baptist thought the least about himself. And that John the baptist led an extremely humble life with one purpose: that he might prepare the hearts of people to receive Jesus Christ. And John clearly understood, and accepted the fact, that his life needed to decrease, so that Christ could increase. John was the greatest, because he was the least.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” ~ John 3:30

So the apostles understood, that as an apostle, they were no better than anyone else. But that they had a very special calling and responsibility in the church. And for that reason they were to be respected in their office.

“But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” ~ Mark 10:42-45

The body of Christ Is made up of many different parts and responsibilities. And every one of them is important to the Lord.

Let us consider the important detail about the body of Christ that Paul wrote to us in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.

“[12] For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. [13] For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

He first mentions the one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, because unless everyone yields their own spirit, to the Holy Spirit, there is no way for them to successfully operate as one spiritual body of Christ.

“[14] For the body is not one member, but many. [15] If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? [16] And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? [17] If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? [18] But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”

Verse 18 is critical to understand, before we can understand the rest. If we have a mind to choose whether we are the ear or the eye, this will not work. The body of Christ belongs to him, and is completely governed by him. So we have to allow God to set the members in place as it pleases him.

“[19] And if they were all one member, where were the body? [20] But now are they many members, yet but one body. [21] And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. [22] Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:”

In our human body, if we injure even the smallest part, like our small toe, the whole body will feel for it. The whole body will compensate and adjust for that pain in the small toe. The small toe especially matters to us when it is hurting!

“[23] And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. [24] For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: [25] That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. [26] And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”

This is how you know that one is part of Christ’s spiritual body. It is by how much care they have for everyone in the body.

“[27] Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. [28] And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. [29] Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? [30] Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? [31] But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

And so after explaining clearly the analogy of the human body, to the spiritual body of Christ, then he talks about the importance of specific gifts. And so it is very clear, that these gifts are not titles. But rather they are given for the benefit of the whole body, to serve the needs of the body. And this is why at the end he says to covet earnestly the best gifts. Because if you are coveting them for the right reason, you are seeking the sacrificial love reason. And that is what he is going to talk about next in 1st Corinthians the 13th chapter, where he explains the more excellent way of sacrificial love.

Now, since the builder and head of the church is in Heaven, it stands to reason that the headquarters of the church is also in Heaven.

“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” ~ Ephesians 1:20-23