The church which is His body (3)

Bible Reading 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Unity and Diversity in One Body

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. For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, on these we bestow greater honour; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honour to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

We have thus far seen, that the fact and nature of the "body of Christ" is a matter of divine revelation. It is universal in its scope. There are no national distinctions in it. All who obediently respond to the "call" of the gospel are "members" of this body. We have been considering "the realization of the body in fact" and in time. We continue to do this by dealing with the Word of God concerning


a) The Sovereignty of the Design

God designed and formed our human body (Gen. 2:7). He "prepared" the body of our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:5). He ordained the nature, form, and functional purpose of each part of the physical body. This is also true of the many-membered body, the church.

1 Cor. 12:12 (JBP) — "As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, SO IT IS WITH CHRIST."

1 Cor. 12:18 (Amp.) - "But now [as things really are], God has placed and arranged the parts in the body, each one of them, just as He willed and saw fit [with the best balance of function]"

JBP - "God has ARRANGED all the parts in the one body ACCORDING TO HIS DESIGN."

1 Cor. 12:24 (JBP) — "God has HARMONIZED THE WHOLE BODY by giving importance of function to the parts which lack apparent importance, that the body should work together as a whole with all the members in sympathetic relationship with one another."

Man is no more capable of making "a body of Christ" than he is of making a human body. Our physical bodies are not the result of human ingenuity, design, and creation. They are the product of divine design and creation. So it is with "the church" which is His body.

b) The Principle of Function


Rom, 12:5-6 (Amp.) - "So, we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ, the Messiah, and individually we are parts one of another - mutually dependent on one another. Having GIFTS (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ ACCORDING TO THE GRACE GIVEN US, let us use them."

JBP - "Just as you have many members in one physical body and those members DIFFER IN THEIR FUNCTIONS, so we, though many in number, compose one body in Christ and are all members of one another, THROUGH THE GRACE OF GOD WE HAVE DIFFERENT GIFTS."

1 Cor. 12:7 (JBP) - "Each man is GIVEN HIS GIFT BY THE SPIRIT that he may USE IT FOR THE COMMON GOOD."

1 Cor, 12:27-28 (Amp.) - "Now you (collectively) are Christ's body and (individually) you are members of it, each part severally and distinct - EACH WITH HIS OWN PLACE AND FUNCTION. So GOD HAS APPOINTED SOME in the church (for His own use)...."

Eph, 4:7,8,11,12 (JBP) ~ "Naturally there are DIFFERENT GIFTS AND FUNCTIONS; individually GRACE IS GIVEN TO US IN DIFFERENT WAYS out of the rich diversity of CHRIST'S GIVING. As the scripture says "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and GAVE GIFTS unto men. His "GIFTS UNTO MEN" were VARIED, His GIFTS were made that Christians might be PROPERLY EQUIPPED FOR THEIR SERVICE, that the WHOLE BODY MIGHT BE BUILT UP ...."

Each part of our human body has its own distinctive location, purpose and function. when the body is maintained in health, each part functions normally and in harmony with each other part. This is also true of the "body of Christ." Each member, functioning in health, contributes its distinctive part to the body’s total life.

c) Designating the Parts

The body of Christ consists of divinely gifted people, Each shares the common gift of eternal life and each has a distinctive gift which enables them to function in their particular God appointed place. These gifts and abilities are referred to in three sections of the New Testament (Rom. 12:1-8; 1 Cor. 12:4—11; Eph. 4:7-11). It is not our purpose to deal with these in detail at this time. They will be considered in our third series of studies.


If the physical body is to function normally, each part must be maintained in health and makes its unique contribution. This is also true in the body of Christ. However, at this point in the analogy we have a contrast instead of comparison. The members of our physical body do not have moral responsibility which they can choose to fullfil or disobey. The members of the body of Christ have such a responsibility. It was the failure of some of the members of the body of Christ in Corinth to obey the rules of body life that necessitated Paul‘s letter of correction. In that letter he outlines their responsibility as members of Christ's body. They must not hinder the life of the body.

a) By Downgrading Their Place in the Body

1 Cor. 12:14-17 — "For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?"

It is understandable that the foot should feel unimportant and not too necessary at times. The hand does all the clever things, the foot just plods along. The foot is often the object of a jibe and a joke, while the hand is groomed, bejewelled, and admired. Stuck under a desk or a table while the hand is engaged in some thrilling and clever exploit, the foot can feel most unneeded. And yet, how handicapped the hand would be without the transportation afforded it by the foot. Don't downgrade your gift. You may be unspectacular but extremely important to God.? As with the foot, so with the ear. There aren't many romantic songs about the ears, but the beauty and appeal of the eyes is celebrated in literature and music. But how essential is the ear. It is an honour to be any part of His wonderful body. And remember, the whole body is going to display His glory.

b) By Downgrading Other People‘s Place in the Body

1 Cor. 12:20-21 (JBP) — "The fact is there are many parts, but only one body. So that the eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" nor, again, can the head say to the feet, "I don't need you!"

If it is wrong to downgrade our own place and gift in the body, it is equally wrong to downgrade the place and gift of another member. No PART of the body is equal to the WHOLE. In our last scripture we see the "eye" and the "hand" as the prominent and more celebrated members. Here they are seen in mutual criticism. This is often the case. Those who are placed in positions of leadership are inclined to permit jealousy and carnal competition to make them unappreciative of each other's God-given ability. Then Paul takes the two extremes of the body, the head and the feet, to illustrate the most pronounced attitude of depreciation. It is understandable that the head may be tempted to such a feeling. The head containing the thinking and directing faculties might well feel much superior to the lowly feet. However, no matter how brilliant the head, the body would lose its mobility without the feet. It becomes particularly significant contrast when you spell head with a capital "H". Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of His body does not depreciate the lowliest member of that body.

c) By Failing to Recognize The Divine Placing

1 Cor- 12:18 - "GOD HAS SET the members EACH ONE OF THEM in the body, JUST AS HE PLEASED"

To downgrade our own place in the body, or that of others, is to pass judgement on God‘s purpose and arrangement. Assuming we are walking in normal fellowship with God, we are what we are "by the grace of God." He called us and He has placed us in His body according to His own purpose in grace. Failure to submit to God's will in this matter has caused much distress in the body. A wholesome contentment in the will of God on the part of the members of the body makes for body health.

d) By withholding Loving Concern For Other Members of the Body

1 Cor. 12:24 (NLT) - "while the more honourable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honour and care are given to those parts that have less dignity."

JBP - "The body should work together as a whole with all the members IN SYMPATHETIC RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER."

We are not only members of Christ, we are members of one another. The members of the body must rightly relate to one another as well as to the Head. No Christian is intended to operate alone. Each relates to the body of believers and only functions normally when so related. As we show genuine concern for other members we are at the same time insuring our own health. A whole body can be indisposed by one ailing part. There is no place for "loners" in the body of Christ.