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Excursus on the Body of Christ

What is the difference between the church and the Body of Christ? What about the difference between the church in Jerusalem vs. the one Christ revealed to Paul? I want to encourage you to study the following passages carefully that discuss different facets of the church and the Body of Christ:

Romans 16:25 “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 “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.  (13)  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.”

Ephesians 1:22-23  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,  (23)  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 3:3-9  “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  (4)  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  (5)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  (6)  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  (7)  Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  (8)  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  (9)  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.”

See also Eph. 2:11-22; Col. 1:24-27

Christ Promised to build His Church

Christ revealed His plans for a special assembly gathered around His name. AC Gaebelein offers sound insights from his Annotated Bible: “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). Here we have the first mention of the church in the Bible. It did not exist in the OT. The church, still future when Jesus spoke these words, was formed on the Day of Pentecost and is composed of all true believers in Christ, both Jew and Gentile. A distinct society known as the body and bride of Christ, it has a unique heavenly calling and destiny. We would scarcely expect the church to be introduced in Matthew’s Gospel where Israel and the kingdom are the prominent themes. However, consequent to Israel’s rejection of Christ, a parenthetical period—the church age—follows and will continue to the Rapture. Then God will resume His dealings with Israel nationally. So it is fitting that God should introduce the church here as the next step in His dispensational program after Israel’s rejection.”

Two “Churches”

“Some of God’s people will inherit an earthly Kingdom, while others are members of the Body of Christ, destined for Heaven. Knowing the difference is all important to be established in your faith. You cannot follow instructions given to people of another time whose inheritance is in another place and be successful in your service for the Lord. All scripture is given by inspiration of God. All of the Bible is for us, but it is not all about us. Peter and Paul are two different apostles of the Lord. They have two different messages called “the gospel.” Their message is addressed to two different groups of people. Those two groups of people are in two different churches.

The Jewish Church

The Jewish Kingdom Church was formed to call out the new Nation of Israel out of apostate Israel. The establishment of the Kingdom is yet future. It has not yet happened. The reason you do not see the Lord Jesus Christ ruling and reigning on the throne of David as the King in the Kingdom is because God had a secret. The secret is about another group of people called the Body of Christ. The Body and the Kingdom are two different things. God’s prophetic program for a “Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth” gave way during the time of the book of Acts for the revelation of the mystery.

The Body of Christ Church

The church which is Christ’s Body has a heavenly calling and a heavenly inheritance. You only learn that from Paul’s epistles because he is the only one who received the revelations and the only one who writes about and unto the body of Christ.” (above in quotes copied from http://www.av-1611.com/Prophecy_vs_Mystery.htm)

The Church and Israel

The Church is composed of all believers who have put their trust for salvation in the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Unlike Israel, the Church is not under a covenantal relationship with God. Prior to the calling of Abraham, God made a covenant with mankind through Noah in which he promised never again to destroy the world with a flood cf. Genesis 9.9-17. After God created the Hebrew race he made covenants with them (see the Covenants of Israel). But God never made a covenant with the Church. God’s relationship to the Church is grace alone and is not under the Law of Moses. The Church does, however, share in the blessings of the New Covenant as the blessing of this covenant are spiritual rather than physical (as are the blessings of the other covenants).

The Church is separate and distinct from Israel. The below chart outlines the key differences.

Israel Church
Established by and under covenants Established by grace alone (a “secret”)
Has earthly promises Has heavenly promises
Operates under Law Operates under Grace
Is a Kingdom Is a Body
Has a King Has a Head

Israel

Israel was established by a covenant God made with Abraham who became the father of the Jewish race. Subsequent covenants followed. The final covenant was the New Covenant. The Church’s life is Christ as his Body. The Church was a creation held secret in the mind of God until God revealed the secret to Paul (Ephesians 2.11-22; 3.3-9; Colossians 1.26-27). Both Israel and the Church are beneficiaries in God’s plan under the “eternal covenant” (Hebrews 13.20-21). This covenant was not made with either Israel or the Church. The Eternal Covenant was sovereignly made by God the Father and God the Son in eternity past as the means of redeeming fallen mankind, solving the problem of evil, and bringing glory to God. The Church’s domain and destiny is heaven (Philippians 3.20). Israel’s promised realm is earth (Matthew 6.9-10). God promised Israel an earthly kingdom (Acts 1.6).

The Church (Body of Christ)

The Church has no earthly kingdom. The operative means of life for the Church is grace (Romans 6.12). Throughout most its history the nation of Israel operated under the Law of Moses and Jesus operated under the Law (Matthew 8.4) during his earthly ministry. In a future day, under the New Covenant, Israel will have the Law written on their hearts (Jeremiah 31.33). The Church is described as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.12-13, 27). Israel is described as a kingdom. Jesus is the Head of the Church, i.e., the Body of Christ, (Ephesians 1.22). He is never called the King of the Church. Jesus is the King of Israel (Luke 1.31-33). Ironically, the Roman governor Pilate, a Gentile, recognized Jesus’ Jewish kingship (Matthew 27.37; Mark 15.26;Luke 23.38; John 19.17-22 cf. John 18.33-39) even though the Jews rejected His title (Matthew 27.29-31; Mark 15.17-20; Luke 23.35). In the Messianic kingdom, Jesus will rule as Israel’s King in his role as David’s greater Son. In this role he will fulfill the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic, Sabbatic, and New covenants.

Conclusion

God established the Church, the Body of Christ, with the conversion and commission of Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles. It has the following characteristics.

 The Church is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1.22-23; 1 Corinthians 12.12-13; Colossians 1.24).
 All who put their trust in Christ in this age are members of the Body of Christ, i.e., the Church (1 Corinthians 12.12-13).
 Membership into the Body of Christ, i.e., the Church, is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.13; Galatians 3.27).
 One is baptized by the Holy Spirit when one exercises faith in Christ (Galatians 3.26-27).
 Members of Christ’s body, i.e., the Church, are indwelt by Christ (Colossians 1.27). (Excursus copied from http://doctrine.org/the-church-the-body-of-christ/

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Categories: Body of Christ, Doctrine, Misc
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