The Nature of the Church: The Church as Body

I. Introduction
A. An important question to consider
B. How is the church supposed to function?
C. Church as ekklesia, group of people
1. The church is the collection of the believers in Jesus--
never a building or an organization
2. How are the people who make up the church supposed to work
with each other?
D. God provides an explanation through the image of church as body
1. Romans 12:3-8
2. 1 Corinthians 10:17, 12:12-27
3. Ephesians 1:23, 2:16, 3:6, 4:4-16, 5:22-32
4. Colossians 1:18, 24, 2:17, 19, 3:15
E. An important image, very worthy of consideration
F. How is the church supposed to function like a body?

II. The Constitution of the Body
A. How is the body composed?
B. The head-- Christ Jesus
1. Ephesians 5:22-32, Colossians 1:18
2. As head, Christ has all authority, directs body according to
His will
C. The body-- believers
1. Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
2. In the wide perspective, all believers
3. More functionally, the local congregation
4. Believers as needing to listen to Head, follow His
5. Directives as indicated in the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
D. Unity of Head and Body
1. In this image we are considered the Body of Christ
2. As our bodies express physically the necessities of
existence, communication, and the like, so we as Christians
are responsible for expressing the message of Christ in our
words and deeds (Matthew 5:13-16, 28:18-20)
3. We are to consider ourselves as part of Christ and no longer
our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Galatians 2:20)
4. We must therefore work to be one with the Head and with one
another (cf. John 17:20-23)
E. The Body is thus composed of Christ the Head and Christians as
composing the Body

III. The Functions, Interrelationships of the Body
A. How is the Body supposed to work?
B. Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27: the human body the
source domain to explain the function of the church, the target
C. Romans 12:3-8
1. One body as having many members: we all have different parts
of our bodies and they all have their own particular
functions (v. 3)
2. Christians, though many, are one body in Christ,
individually members of one another (v. 4)-- demonstrates
responsibility toward one another, need for working together
for proper function
3. Thus, just as different parts of the human body have
different functions, thus different Christians have
different abilities and thus different tasks within the Body
(vv. 5-8)
D. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
1. One body with different functions, all functions necessary
(vv. 12-21)
2. God as having different people in different positions/places
to compose the Body for His purposes (v. 18)
3. Parts that seem to be weaker really indispensable, some
parts require more honor even if considered shameful
(vv. 22-24)
4. Thus, God gives honor to parts of the Body that do not
normally receive the honor so that members care for one
another (vv. 24-25)
5. All members suffer, rejoice with other members (v. 26)
6. Church corporately Body of Christ, people as individual
members of it (v. 27)
E. Thus we see the interrelationship and function of the Body:
different people working as individuals and together to do the
work of God

IV. Applications of Church as Body
A. The Body as self-sufficient
1. In terms of the image of church as body, the church is seen
as self-sufficient
2. Concept of autonomy
3. If the work of Christ is going to be done, it must be done
by the members of the body, and the members of the body
cannot expect the work to be done by people in the world
4. In terms of local congregations, while there can be contact
with and even benevolence for other local congregations at
times (cf. Acts 11:27-30, 2 Corinthians 8), the local
congregation must do the work in their area and not expect
other congregations to pick up the slack!
B. "Individually Members of One Another" (Romans 12:4)
1. In our society it is very popular to be "independent" and
2. Americans have come to expect that they are not their
brother's keeper and no one else is their keeper
3. That is not how the church is supposed to operate!
4. Yes, it is true that members have individual functions, and
are to operate individually-- Romans 12:3, 5-8 attest to
5. But consider the human body-- the function of most of the
parts directly impacts other parts, and few are the parts of
our bodies that work without any involvement or
participation with other parts!
6. Thus it must be in the Body of Christ-- we are members of
one another
7. We have responsibilities toward one another, to lift up and
encourage, and to do the work allotted to us in the Kingdom
(cf. Galatians 6:1-2)
8. "Lone rangers" or people who want no accountability cannot
have those attitudes and function in the Lord's Body!
C. Differing Abilities
1. Both Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 affirm that
different believers have differing abilities and thus
differing functions
2. Differences are in number as well as proportion-- more is
expected from some than others, different people have
different tasks (cf. Matthew 25:14-30, Romans 12:3-8)
3. Not a reason for arrogance or false humility-- just a
statement of fact
4. We cannot expect every member to do the exact same thing as
other members!
5. Furthermore, the body cannot properly function if only a few
do all the work!
6. If 20% of your body did 80% of the functioning, how well
would that work out for you?
7. It is equally detrimental to the church!
8. Our differences are not designed to get us out of work or
to glory in our work but to respect one another for the
different abilities and what each can bring to the body!
D. Same Expectations
1. As it is with our body, so it is with the church: different
parts may have different functions, but all parts must do
certain things
2. All cells, for instance, must replicate, use energy, etc.
3. All parts of the body need oxygen, brought by the blood
4. Likewise, in the body, all members must assemble
(Hebrews 10:24-25), live according to the fruit of the
Spirit, avoid works of flesh (Galatians 5:17-24)
5. We all must be the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16)
6. There are always plenty of tasks that everyone is able to
do-- and everyone should take their turn doing them!
E. Honor, Care for All (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
1. It is easy to elevate certain roles in the church above
other roles
2. That is also true with the human body
3. Nevertheless, as with the body, so with the church: all
parts are necessary for proper functioning, no matter how
public or private, obvious or hidden
4. All Christians are to have honor and care for all fellow
5. While not all roles in the Body are glamorous, they are all
6. All should feel valued for what they contribute to the Body
F. A Helpful Perspective
1. There are no doubt many other applications possible for the
image of the church as body
2. This is a helpful perspective-- it helps us understand what
the church is to be
3. The image of church as body means that the church cannot be
like a social club in which members have little concern for
one another, or to be seen like a concert or some event in
which some members participate and others watch
4. Instead, church as body indicates that the church must be
like a living organism-- members must have deep care and
concern for one another, work with one another, and work
individually for the betterment of the body, just as our own
body functions!
5. When we see our human bodies which God so wonderfully made
(cf. Psalm 139:14), and see how all the parts work together
in harmony, with each part receiving due honor, all parts
working together not worried about rivalries or
self-interest, each doing what it can individually and
together to make the body work, we see God's blueprint for
how He desires His church to function!
G. Let us work together as the Body of Christ and function like
the human body functions, and manifest Christ to the world!
H. Invitation/songbook

By Ethan R. Longhenry

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