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 (Manna 47: The Body of Christ)
The Body of Christ
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Jason Hsu — Baldwin Park, California, USA

Apostle Paul said, “[N]o one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (Eph 5:29).

Learning about the body of Christ has many important teachings for us. It speaks to us of God’s great love for His people, and this love was prepared in Christ from before the foundation of the world.

Hopefully, by examining the “what,” “how,” “when,” “where,” and “why” of Christ’s body, particularly through apostle Paul’s writings, we will gain a clearer insight into the teachings of the body of Christ.


The simple answer is, of course, Christ’s physical body. But on a deeper level, Ephesians 1:22-23 tells us:

            [God] put all things under [Christ’s] feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

In other words, the body of Christ is the church.

Andrew Jackson once said, “One man with courage makes a majority.” Though it is somewhat of a generalization, modern culture tends to place a high value on the contribution of the individual.

Even when there is an inherent “team” concept, like basketball, people often still focus more on “star players” and individual statistics. And if, unfortunately, a player does not perform well statistically, that player might then be cut from the team.

But, this is not the way it is in God’s church, for the church body is not a collection of individuals but a unity of members.

The Bible says that there would be no body if there was only one member (1 Cor 12:19). No doubt, a strong building requires the support of individual pillars (Gal 2:9). Yet, we would not consider a structure consisting simply of pillars as a building. Likewise, the church body requires every member to be considered a complete structure.

Apostle Paul says, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ” (1 Cor 12:12).

Weak Members are Necessary

The interdependency of the members of the body tells us all members of the body are necessary—even the weak members. In today’s cruel world, we might think it better to sever a weak member than to let a weak member become a pull on the whole body.

But a weak member of the body is not like a cancer we can unthinkingly cut out from the body. Members that appear to be weaker are actually necessary for the functioning of the body (1 Cor 12:22).

Apostle Paul illustrates this interdependency of the church body through a somewhat unusual illustration dealing with the presentable and un-presentable parts of the body (1 Cor 12:23ff).

We can ask ourselves: isn’t it true we often fixate more on the un-presentable parts of our body than on the presentable parts? This is how it is with Christ’s body. It is the weaker members that we must strengthen and care for so that there is no division in the church.

In this spirit, apostle Paul encourages the strong to “bear with the [weaknesses] of the weak” (Rom 15:1). For example, it is our right to eat whichever food we desire, but if our right causes another to stumble, we should learn to forego our rights in love. To care is to nurture, not destroy. It is to build up the body in love, which is the purpose of each of its members (Eph 4:16).


On the night Jesus was betrayed He took the bread and, when He had given thanks, He broke the bread and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you” (1 Cor 11:23-24).

So in order to establish the body of Christ, the Lord gave up His body and His blood (Heb 10:4-10). Life is in the blood, and by giving us both body and blood, Christ demonstrated the fullness of His love to His redeemed.

A full understanding of how Christ established us means we will no longer consider ourselves our own, for Jesus purchased us at a very high price. In Acts 20:28, Paul exhorts the elders to “…shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Colossian 1:14: “…in whom we have redemption through His blood.” Also, in 1 Corinthians 6:15, 19-20:

            [D]o you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

When we realize we are His own, we will no longer live carnally. When we start to live for Him, we will find our mission and our purpose in God: “For [we] died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).


God treasured the love of His people like a husband would treasure the love of his wife in her youth (Jer 2:2). In fact, His love even surpasses this type of love because God’s love is everlasting (Jer 31:3).

Although God’s people repeatedly suffered for their unfaithfulness and sin, God always kept His promise of restoration in view (Ezek 16:15-52, 60-63). God may have seemed far away from them, but His intention for His people was always one of restoration and redemption. This is God’s love.

            For your Maker is your husband
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth. (Isa 54:5)

So as we answer the question, “When was the body of Christ established?” we must realize God’s love surpasses time and space; it surpasses the forty or fifty years a husband might have to cherish his wife. Before the foundation of the earth ever was, the Lord’s body was already prepared for the redemption of His people (Heb 10:5ff). The elder Peter understood these things when he wrote:

            [Y]ou were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ…He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for you. (1 Pet 1:18-20)


We know that God’s kingdom does not just exist on earth—it exists on two levels: (1) in heaven and (2) on earth. Jesus says that when we pray, we pray: “Let Your kingdom come. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10).

But if we were to look for the actual body of Christ on earth, we’d be as disappointed as Mary of Magdalene was at the empty tomb (Jn 20:11-15), because it has ascended to heaven (Act 1:9-11). But since the church follows the pattern of Christ, we know where His body is by understanding His death, His resurrection, and His ascension.

Christ did not ascend into heaven immediately after His resurrection but remained on the earth for forty days (Acts 1:3; cf. Rev 20:6, 14). Thus, after the Lord’s death and resurrection, the church, the body of Christ, remains on the earth.

Although Christ is in the heavenly places and seated at the right hand of God, we, who were raised with Christ and seated in the heavenly places with Him, remain here (Eph 1:20; 2:5-6).

In John’s vision of the new Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem descends down from heaven but it rests on the earth, where the tabernacle of God rests with men, and the nations of the world enter through its gates (Rev 21:2-3, 10, 26; Jer 3:17).

After His ascension, Christ gave gifts to men to edify this body. Through this body, He wants us to accomplish His purposes, and to grow into a complete person and to the full measure of the stature of Christ (Eph 4:8-13, 15).


Understanding “why” Christ’s body exits is important. Practically speaking, it helps us grasp the pattern and path of our present purpose and future glory as Christ’s body. Though there are many aspects to this question, we will examine three:

To Complete Itself

If we are blessed enough to have all our limbs functioning and whole, do we ever wonder how it would feel to one day suffer the loss of our arm or leg through an accident? How would we live?

To feel incomplete in our life or purpose is, in many ways, worse than being physically incomplete. To not know the direction of our growth or how to function is worse than missing a limb and still know how to carry on. Sometimes in life, we just don’t know how to continue on—particularly in suffering.

Apostle Paul taught us: if one member of the body suffers, all the members suffer with it (1 Cor 12:26). This is an important principle to understand before we can answer why the body exists, because it relates back to the essence of Christ’s body as a unity of members. If we do not understand the interdependency within the body, we will not know how to continue on as the body; we will not know how to live.

A person knows they are alive because they change and grow and mature, and hopefully for the better. It’s natural for a person to want to feel complete in one’s self at the end of his/her days.

Therefore, part of the answer to why the church exists is to learn to become a whole person. That is, the church body should understand itself—the interdependency and harmony of its members, its purpose, and how it can feel complete in God’s grace.

To Complete All in Christ

Apostle Paul once taught:

            For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Cor 15:21-22)

Apostle Paul was commissioned to preach to the nations, for the Gentiles were without hope and cut off from the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12; 3:8). This was accomplished through the blood of Christ in His flesh (Eph 2:13, 15; cf. Heb 2:14).

Today, Christ’s body exists as evidence of the fellowship and administration of the mystery of Christ, and this was revealed to the apostle that all may be made complete in Him (Eph 3:9-11). This is what apostle Paul calls the “whole family” in heaven and earth (Eph 3:15, cf.1:10). This is what we call the body of Christ, as it exists on the two levels.

The purpose of God for the church is to make all things complete, to make all things whole, and to make one new man from the two (Eph 2:15, 4:13). Paul calls this the “eternal purpose” (Eph 3:11). But how do we accomplish this unity of making one new man from the two?

To Reveal God’s Love for His Body

The strongest of loves in this world is the love between husband and wife (Eph 5:25ff).

When apostle Paul spoke of such love, however, he was speaking of the mystery of love between Christ and the church. He also said the love of Christ surpasses all knowledge, and its dimensions immeasurable (Eph 3:18-19).

The answer to how we make one new man from the two, how we make what was incomplete complete, and how we make the body of Christ whole is answered in this word: love. Christ’s love makes the church whole (Eph 4:15-16, 5:25).

Earlier we asked: if we are blessed enough to be whole, and one day we suffered the loss of our limbs, how would we survive? How would we continue? Without love, it would be difficult. We might give up hope on life itself. For without love, how can anyone continue?

A body without life is dead. When Christ gave us His body, He also gave us His blood—He gave us everything. That is what it means to love, because even if we give up our whole body to be burned, but have not love, it means nothing because we have not given the most important part of ourselves (1 Cor 13:3). So without love, we cannot complete the answer to “why” the body of Christ exists.

Today, as God’s people, we are Christ’s body. As His body, we must also have His life, which Christ gave us by giving us His blood. This is how He gave us His all. If Christ so loved us that He gave us everything, should we not know how to love His body?

When Christ ascended above, He gave gifts to men, and we received them. But we must not only give of our many gifts, we must also give of our love. May the Lord grant us strength through His spirit so we may complete what is lacking in the body of Christ. Amen.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church