Body of Christ

This biblical phrase is used in several different ways:

1/. The literal human body of Jesus Christ, born as a baby and then as a man was crucified some 33 years later (Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 4:2). It was through His physical body, Jesus demonstrated the love of God, especially through His sacrificial death on the cross (Rom 5:8).

2/. The bread at the last supper over which Christ spoke these figurative words, “This is my body” (along with the cup of grape juice, which He referred to, as “This is my blood”). At the communion service these symbolically remind us of the sacrifice He made for us (Mt 26:26,28; 1 Cor 11:24). These emblems only represent and do not literally become His flesh and blood (transubstantiation) as some believe they do.

 3/. The local group of believers and also the entire multitude of believers worldwide who are joined to Christ in salvation and follow His as their head (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:12,13,20,24,27; Eph 1:22,23, 4:11-16). These groups are also called the household of faith, the family of God, and the bride of Christ.

A person becomes a part of the body of Christ at salvation. Christ is the head of the church (His body) and we are to submit to Him and the delegated authorities He has placed in the local church (Eph 5:23; Heb 13:17). Applying the concept of the body, Paul says that as Christians, we are each required to function in our gifts and abilities for the common good

Do I relate to other Christians as part of the same body?

of the whole body. We may be an eye, an arm, or a foot in the Body of Christ, building each other up in the faith and caring for them.  We need not only the direct input from the Lord but also the input and support of visible ‘Christ’s’ (fellow believers) so it is vitally important to meet together for mutual support (Heb 10:25). With humility we are to be in relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, to be able to give and receive. A Christian without a church family is an orphan. 

As believers, we should be known for our godly treatment and interaction with all people and especially those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ, those who have been made righteous by the same blood of Christ (1 Tim 5:1-3; 1 Pet 1:18,19). "There should be no division in the body, but...its parts should have equal concern for each other" (1 Cor 12:25). The Bible commands "Love your neigbour as yourself"; yet when we replace Christian love with criticism of other believers we are destroying them, and in fact doing it to Christ (Mt 25:42-45; Gal 5:15). We are to be considerate of those who are weaker in the faith, helping them grow in the faith and support them through their issues (Rom 14:15; 1 Cor 8:11; Gal 6:1).  Another way to read the verse, "No one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for it..." is don't attack your own body, but have its best interests at heart and this should be our attitude to the worldwide multitude of believers (Eph 5:29). It is unnatural and contrary to life, not to respond to the instinct to protect and seek the best for another, be it spouse, fellow believer or those still outside the Kingdom of God. Members of the body of Christ are the physical representation of Christ, the manifestation of His life in the world today. Members possess a diversity of gifts suited to particular functions for the good of others and build each one up (1 Cor 12:4-31).

See also: believers, church, communion, relationships, salvation, spiritual gifts, transubstantiation.