12 “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.”
Paul now compares the church to a human body, beginning at this verse and running through the end of the chapter.
12For as the body is one and has many members,
The biblical idea of unity is unity in diversity, not uniformity. There is a spectrum of gifts in the body of Christ but they all function under the head. Note the word “one” occurs seven times, in verses 12,13, and 14. The emphasis is on unity and oneness.
The Bible uses the word church in two senses: (1) the local church and (2) the universal church. The universal church is anyone who believes in the finished work of Christ on the cross to forgive sins. These people are in multiple denominations and theological strains. When a person is born again, God places him into the body of Christ universal, the universal church.
but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body,
Diversity is important for symmetry of a body. It would be gross if the entire body were one big toe! The body of Christ is one unit that requires symmetry in function.
so also is Christ.
Note the “as” and “so” thrust of this verse. Paul now draws the analogy to the body of Christ. There are a number of analogies in the New Testament between the church and Christ: The vine and branches, stone and temple, king and kingdom, shepherd and sheep, and bridegroom and bride. Every believer is part of a single body known as the body of Christ (14:27).
Each member in Christ’s body has a precise place and purpose, yet there is one body. Members are many but the body is one, the body of Christ. As we cannot separate our body from our head, so we cannot separate any member from God’s purpose for the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit tied the body of Christ together so that the torso shares life with Jesus, the head. The church is an organism, not an organization.
Co 1: 18And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
God’s principle is unity in diversity, not uniformity.
The Holy Spirit is in charge of Human Resources for the church. He places each believer in a particular place for a particular purpose. It is not a matter of chance but of divine design. The Holy Spirit is like a football coach who assigns men to positions.
The body is a unity but has many parts and these parts work together as one. God designed the body to work in cooperation. Unity does not come from unvarying uniformity. God unified the church in one body. But when we sing the old song, “We are not divided, all one body we,” we must sing that with tongue in cheek. When we look out upon Christianity’s divisions, we see an array of different schisms.
What kind of perspective on unity do you have in the local church? Are arms and legs cooperating with the head? We need all parts of the body to function properly. The body is a basic unity. We have never grown another ear or added another liver. We may have lost a few odds and ends along the way, but we are still the same basic unit. Our kidney is more important than our little toe, but if you were to ask me if I could spare my little toe, I would look with askance on that! I am jealous about that little toe. Every part of the body is significant to the head, the Lord Jesus. Thus, every spiritual gift as a basic differentiation is important to Him.
The body cannot live without the head and the head cannot exist without the body. Jesus Christ will never be satisfied in heaven without His entire body, the whole body of Christ. The exalted, magnificent head of the church is the Lord Jesus Christ. No man, no religionist, no preacher, no hierarchy is the head of the church, for Christ is the head of the church.