A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry
If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.
3. A Church Is a Mystery, an Assembly, a Spiritual Body
Copyright © January 2, 2018
The Holy Spirit forms a church. When Peter opened the door of the kingdom to the Gentiles (Ac. 10), the Holy Spirit, without delay, or other condition than faith, was given to those who believed (Ac. 10.44; 11.15-18). This is the permanent fact for the entire church-age. Every believer is born of the Spirit (Jn. 3.3, 6; 1 Jn. 5.1), indwelt by the Spirit, whose presence makes the believer’s body a temple (Ga. 4.6, Ro. 8.9-15 (“if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”); 1 Co. 3.16-17; 1 Co. 6.19; 1 Jn. 2.27;), thus sealing him for God (Ep. 1.13; 4.30). The Holy Spirit imparts gifts for service to every member of that body (1 Co. 12.7-11, 27, 30; Ep. 4.3-4; 11, 16), guides the members in their service and is Himself the power of that service (Lk. 2.27; 4.1; Ac. 1.8; 2.4; Ac. 16.6, 7; 1 Co. 2.4; 12.4-11). The Spirit abides in the company of believers who constitute a local church, making of them, corporately, a temple (1 Co. 3.16, 17; 2 Co. 6.16; Ep. 2.21).
A church is called the body of Christ, and therefore a living organism a spiritual body. Paul gives two metaphors of the body, the living spiritual body or organism. The first is in 1 Corinthians 12.12-27, quoted in En [i]. The second is in Ephesians 4:4-16, quoted in En [ii]
In other passages, Christ is depicted as the head of the church and the earthly members as the body. Remember that these passages are from Epistles written to local churches for their instruction.
- “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” (Ep. 1.22-23).
- “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ep. 4.15-16).
- “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2.19).
A church is a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21, 22); is “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30, 31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one husband (2 Co. 11.2-4). By speaking the truth in love, a church “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
For more details, to include an examination of conflicting views, see Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church.
Click here to go to Bible Study of Ephesians. Ephesians reveals the institution of the church as God’s masterpiece. It is more wonderful that any temple made with hands, constructed of living stones, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1 presents the church as a body.
[i] 1 Corinthians 12.12-27: “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. 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. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 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? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. 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. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 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. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body: but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Co. 12.12-27)
[ii] Ephesians 4:4-16: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”