October 1971

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Please comment on the church as the body of Christ. Is the local church the body of Christ in the community in which it is located? SL


Different applications are made of the church as the body of Christ. In Eph. 1:22-23 the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe is being shown; (vs. 19) and I believe His headship over all believers is being affirmed (things has been supplied) so that all believers are likened unto a " body with Christ as the head. Believers being faithful ones, or Christians; the passage says all saints (universal church) make up this body. The same idea is found in Eph. 5:23 where Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body. (universal)

Jew and Gentile are reconciled unto God in one body (2:16) which is likened unto Gods building, household, etc., (2:19 -f) referring to the universal church. The one body of 4:4 is universal, and I believe 4:12 and 4:16 also use body with reference to the universal church. The benefits under consideration (being perfected, edified, etc.) are realized by the units of the universal church, the individual saints considered severally rather than collectively. Christ, the head, has only one body.

In 1 Cor. 12: the physical "body is used as an example of coordination of parts in a whole. For as the (physical) body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one (physical) body, being many, are one (unified) body: so also is (the universal body of) Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one (universal) body (of Christ).. . (my comments in parenthesis; rt) The head is a member of this body (vs.21) so that it is the unity and coordination of a complete physical body that is being used to impress the need for such among the saints which make up the one universal body of Christ.

Paul is not teaching collective action of the universal church, but in the same vein that Peter says, Love the brotherhood. (1 Pet. 2:17) Paul says, there should be no schism in the body; and urges this on the basis of our need, appreciation, sympathy and empathy for one another. To be sure, such unity would have its effect upon saints at Corinth, and would correct the particular problem in the local church which. was under consideration; but I do not believe 1 Cor. 1.2: justifies calling a local church a or the body of Christ.

Ditto, for Rom. 12:4-5; Col. 2:19.

A local church consists of a group or body" of saints. Overseers imply over seen — the flock. . . among you — and those who make up such a unit may be called members of that unit. But there is a vast jump between a body (group) of saints and the body of Christ. I believe we unnecessarily complicate the language and figures of the New Testament when we speak of a local church as the body or the kingdom of Christ, or the family of God. It seems to me these figures refer to the universal church.