THE BODY OF CHRIST
By Rosco Brong
Published in the Berea Baptist Banner May 5 , 1992.
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of
the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”
Fanciful misinterpretations and misapplications of
figurative language in the Bible are among the means
used by Satan and his ministers to discredit the Word of
God among the ignorant. With reference to the New
Testament Church, Satan has accomplished one of his
most cunning deceptions in the popular though ridicu-lous
myth that the figurative “body of Christ,” as Christ’s
church is scripturally called, is not really a body at all,
but is identical with the family or the kingdom of God.
Scripture passages in which the church is referred to
and described under the figure of a human body as the
body of Christ include: Rom. 12:4, 5; I Cor. 10:16,17;
12:12-28; Eph. 1:23; 4:4, 12-16; 5:23-30; Col. 1:18, 24;
A careful and intelligent study of these scriptures in
context is enough to expose to the Bible believer the
evident fallacy and folly of the universal church heresy.
A BODY ESSENTIALLY
“For as we have many members in one body. .
.so we, being many, are one body in Christ” (Rom.
12:4-5). The essence of the comparison is the organiza-tion
of different members in one body. If a human body
is ground into hamburger and fed to the dogs on six
continents, it is no longer a human body. Neither do
Christians constitute a body scattered around the world
in space and through 19 or 20 centuries in time. The
idea is so superbly silly that it could have been spawned
only by Satan and adopted by people more influenced
by the philosophy of Plato than by the teachings of
“We have many members in one body” (v. 4),
referring to the human body of each of us, does not
mean that we have one big universal invisible human
body. But such a monstrous idea is exactly as sensible
as the idea that the one body in verse 5 is universal or
Ecumenical, modernistic, and compromising inter-preters
who reject the Lord’s church but try to count
themselves in a mythical universal church need to study
the abstract, generic, institutional, general, distributive,
and ideal uses of words; or, if they already understand
the truth about the church and reject it, they need to get
Repeating, the essence of the comparison of a genu-ine
New Testament church to the human body is the
fact that each is an organization or organism having dif-ferent
members with different functions but all function-ing
for their mutual profit in the whole body.
A BODY EATING
“We being many are one bread, and one body:
for we are all partakers of that one bread” (I Cor.
10:16-17). The reference, of course, is to the Lord’s Sup-per,
which is scripturally observed by the members of
one church or at least one kind of church eating from
one loaf or at least from one kind of bread.
But of course there are in the world many genuine
children of God who belong to false churches or to no
church at all, and who partake of different kinds of bread
in mockeries of the Lord’s Supper or never partake at
all; and of course those Christians are no part of the
“one body,” or one kind of body, referred to here.
A BODY EXERCISING
More than anywhere else in the Bible, the figure of
the human body to represent an organized church is
elaborated in I Corinthians 12:12-28. The baptism in
verse 13 is of course water baptism; the one body is
what would today be called a Baptist church.
Note the words “no schism” in verse 25. Advocates
of a universal church have an imaginary body full of
schisms or splits—surely nothing fit to represent Christ,
Who is not divided (I Cor. 1:10-13).
Verse 26 beautifully describes the ideal fellowship in
a genuine church; I suppose that no believer in a uni-versal
church is stupid enough to pretend that the lan-guage
fits his imaginary body.
A BODY EDIFIED
God gave Christ to be “Head over all things to the
church, which is his body, the fulness of him that
filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). Christ in turn (Eph. 4)
“gave gifts. . .for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Again the expression “one body” in Ephesians 4:4
means one kind of body, just as “one baptism” in the
next verse means one kind of baptism.
Edification of a genuine New Testament church, an
organized body of baptized believers under the headship
of Christ, is fittingly figured in Ephesians 4:11-16. Note
the emphasis in verse 16 on “the whole body fitly
joined together.” In plain words, the figure means that
the church needs to be well organized in order to expe-rience
“the effectual working in the measure of
A BODY ENGAGED
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even
as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the
saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23). “The church” or
“the body” is no more universal or invisible than “the
husband” or “the wife.” The terms are used abstractly,
generically, or ideally, and express reality only when
applied to real entities. No man ever yet loved a univer-.The Body of Christ by Rosco Brong – Page 2
sal invisible wife. The church which Christ loved and
for which He gave Himself (v. 25) is an organized body
of baptized believers in Him, having Him alone as its
A BODY EXALTED
“And he is the head of the body, the church:
who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead;
that in all things he might have the preeminence”
(Col. 1:18). See how Christ has honored and exalted
the church which He Himself organized during His per-sonal
ministry on earth and declared that He would
continue to build upon Himself! Under the figure of a
building, He is its foundation; under the figure of a body,
He is its Head.
Shall He recognize as members of His body rebel-lious
children who have refused to join themselves to
Him as Head in a church relationship? The supposition
is mere fatuous fancy, without a shred of scriptural sup-port.
A BODY ENDURING
Paul rejoiced in his sufferings for the saints at Colosse
that he might “fill up that which is behind of the
afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake,
which is the church” (Col. 1:24). Of that church, he
tells us in the next verse, he was “made a minister.”
Now, it hardly needs to be pointed out to intelligent
readers that Paul’s ministry was not performed merely
in an abstract idea, but in real assemblies of the saints
having definite organization and location.
Because or by means of the sufferings of Paul and the
afflictions of Christ in the flesh of other faithful minis-ters
through the centuries, the figurative body of Christ,
formed during His earthly ministry, has endured to this
good hour; and such churches will be here when He
comes again (Matt. 16:18; 28:20; Eph. 3:21; etc.).
A BODY ENLARGING
Christianity in general is in a spiritual decline, hav-ing
less and less of God as it has more and more in
numbers and wealth; less and less of truth as it dotes
more and more on bogus miracles; or, in the language
of scripture, “having a form of godliness, but deny-ing
the power thereof” (II Tim. 3:5).
A genuine New Testament church, however, being
an organized body holding fast to Christ as its Head,
“from which all the body by joints and bands hav-ing
nourishment ministered, and knit together,
increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2:19).
This is the kind of growth we need.
A BODY ENROLLED
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to
the which also ye are called in one body; and be
ye thankful” (Col. 3:15). How can the peace of God
rule in hearts that rebel against the teaching of His Word
on the church and its ordinances?
The first church at Jerusalem (before Pentecost) had
a roll or list of names to the number of “about an hun-dred
and twenty” (Acts 1:15). They had been called
not only to salvation but also to the peace of God ruling
in their hearts in one body. As one body they carried
on business for the Lord, including the election of
Matthias as a successor to Judas Iscariot.
How thankful we ought to be, if our names are en-rolled
not only in the Lamb’s book of life, but also in
the membership of the kind of church which Jesus or-ganized,
commissioned, and promised to be with until
the end of the age! (Matt. 16:18; 28:20). True members
of this kind of church will eventually be brought together
in one heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, as the bride of
Christ (Rev. 21:2).
Saul of Tarsus learned that when he persecuted the
church he persecuted Christ (Acts 9:4), and as Paul the
apostle to the Gentiles he learned to honor and serve
Christ by honoring and serving His churches. Modern
seekers for self-glory who downgrade and minimize the
sacred importance of Christ’s churches are either min-isters
of Satan or unfaithful in their ministry for Christ.
Enemies of truth may accuse us of believing that only
Baptists are saved. They lie. Salvation and church mem-bership
are two different things. Every saved person on
earth ought to be a member of a genuine New Testa-ment
church, but many saved people, perhaps most of
them, are not. Their numbers cannot justify their dis-obedience
Jesus organized and commissioned only one kind of
church. That kind of church is better in the sight of God
than false churches organized by men, and certainly it
is infinitely better than a universal church which does
not even exist except in heretical imaginations.