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Read Introduction to Romans


4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,


In verses four and five, Paul presented the church in the imagery of the human body. A body has more than one member. It has a multiplicity of members. Differing members of the local church have different gifts. Each gift has its special purpose for the church.

In verse three we are told to think rightly about ourselves, but in verses four and five we are to think rightly about the church. The issue here is where the individual fits into the corporate family of God. Each individual has his own gifts to contribute to the body.

4 For

The “for” here functions as the basis for verse three.

as in one body we have many members,

In verse four we have the “as” and in verse five we find the “so.” This is a ball-and-socket picture. As the church is constituted of many members, yet it is also one body. There is unity, diversity, and mutuality in the church. We have unity in Christ, diversity of gifts to serve one another, and an interdependence on one another.

This phrase depicts the church as a human body. The body cannot function without diversity of functions, such as eyes, ears, hands, and feet. Both diversity and unity obtain in the local church.

and the members do not all have the same function,

It takes many gifts to make up the proper function of the church. As the eyes and ears contribute to the body as a whole, so various gifts within a given congregation contribute to how the church operates. A wide variety of gifts is necessary for a successful church.

God uses each believer differently in the local church. Not all have the same function within the church, but every part of the body has purpose. An arm or leg has a different function, but each has a unique contribution to the total function of the body.


Spiritual gifts demonstrate the need for mutuality in the church.


It is important to remember that God has put us into a larger entity. The church is not a group of individuals doing their own thing. The church is both corporate (body) and individual (member). Each gift serves a role and does not stand alone apart from other gifts in the body of Christ. There is a corporate function to the church with a communal character. God designed the church, the body of Christ, with diversity. This is diversity in unity. We need to think accurately about our place in the body of Christ.

Diversity in the body of Christ does not threaten its unity. To the contrary, divergence in the body is important to its function and wellbeing. We will see these differences in seven gifts in verses six through eight. In our human body our right eye does not fight the left eye. They both work in coordination to maximize the function of vision. This is mutuality. Each gift profits from the gifts of others. This perspective keeps us from pride. There will always be a tension between self-exaltation and mutual service in the church.

God has a purpose for every gift in the church. Christian leaders who think that the church revolves around them and them alone minimize the principle that God uses every believer in the body of Christ. They minimize the principle of diversity in the body.

Each of us, in our individuality, possesses a unique role in the church. However, spiritual gifts determine different roles in the church. Some have leadership roles and some do not. Each makes a unique contribution to the edification of the body and evangelism.