The Body of Christ: Part 1
The last article on the house of God brought into focus many Old and New Testament Scriptures that paint a picture of this entity. The book of Ephesians explains the house of God contains many rooms—representing God’s work with His followers in the ages of human history. The cornerstone of God’s house is Jesus Christ, and He is the ultimate focal point for all who live in the house of God.
The Old Testament Scripture does not discuss the Body of Christ. The New Testament Gospels do not describe the Body of Christ either. Only the Pauline epistles provide an understanding of one of God’s most amazing creations. God revealed to Paul an understanding of the Body of Christ soon after his salvation experience on the road to Damascus. Paul received his sight at the house of Ananias (Acts 9:17-18), then proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus. After many days, the unbelieving Jews in the city stirred up resistance and plotted to kill Paul. His followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall surrounding the city. (Acts 9: 19-25). He escaped the city, and God led him into the deserts of Arabia, where Jesus taught him for a period of 3 years. Paul explains this experience in the book of Galatians 1:11-12,15-18:
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ…. But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia and returned once more to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days.
The Body of Christ was one of many revelations Jesus gave to him while dwelling in the wilderness. Paul explains additional mysteries and revelations in other epistles. These will not be discussed in this article. However, Paul states he did not consult with flesh and blood—nor even with the Apostles in Jerusalem. God alone taught him these things. Why was that? It is because the revelations given by God to Paul were uniquely suited for the Body of Christ and the church age. These mysteries were designed for a new program superseding God’s program with Israel. Paul was instructed to transmit the messages and mysteries of God’s grace—not the prophesies of the coming Messianic age.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians portrays the most detailed description of the Body of Christ. Paul explains this as a mystery God concealed in His mind from eternity past throughout human history—from Adam through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God thereafter chose to reveal His secret uniquely to the Apostle Paul and gave him instructions to reveal it to the world:
If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord… (Eph. 3:2-11).
God hid this mystery through the ages until He revealed it to Paul. God unlocked the secret of the Body of Christ, comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles in the age of grace—the church age. Jesus Christ is the head of the Body, overseeing and empowering its function.
God did not even share His mystery with heavenly angelic beings prior to revealing it to Paul (vs. 10). Why did God wait to reveal the Body of Christ? The answer is actually quite simple. The Body of Christ could only be accomplished by the crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. God knew in His infinite wisdom that revealing this mystery to anyone – especially angelic beings—would compromise the fulfillment of His plan. Had Satan known the complete victory Jesus would achieve through His crucifixion and resurrection, he would have never allowed himself to be duped into that battle. Jesus completely defeated His bitter foe. Jesus multiplied Himself millions of times over when He rose from the dead and ascended to rule at the right hand of God the Father. He became the Head—the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent ruler of the Body of Christ on this earth. His presence in the heart of every believer extending across the face of the earth over time must have brought holy terror into the hearts of Satan and all his demonic followers.
Jesus came into this world lonely, poor, humble and inconspicuous. The Apostle Paul describes this in Philippians 2:5-11:
Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Satan recognized Jesus coming and possessed King Herod to cut His life short. Satan failed that attempt. Father God announced He was well pleased with His Son when Jesus was baptized and anointed for His earthly ministry. The Gospels reveal the spiritual and physical assault Satan made on Jesus for 40 days in the wilderness, shortly thereafter. Satan and his minions hounded Jesus throughout His 3 year earthly ministry. Finally at Calvary Satan thought he had succeeded. God’s Son was crucified, dead and buried. Surely, the Messiah was cut off—there was now no hope for God’s kingdom on earth. Satan was free to expand his dominion.
However, Jesus rose from the dead, utterly defeating His enemy, Satan. God’s Lamb dramatically expanded the battle front. After His resurrection and ascension, Christ rules at the right hand of God the Father over all created things, including heavenly and earthly beings. He is Head of the Church—the Body of Christ. “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).
Jesus Christ, by means of His crucifixion and the power of His resurrection, broke down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles, making the two peoples into one Body of Christ. Prior to this work of Christ, the Jews were God’s chosen people. But no more—they had rejected God’s Son, whom He sent to be their Messiah. God would thereafter extend His hand to the Jews and Gentiles alike to create His Body of Christ in this world.
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by having put to death the enmity (Eph. 2:14-15).
He was and is the ‘Light of the world.’ He multiplied Himself into a myriad of sparks, illuminating a dark world controlled by the Prince of the air. Christ’s body will one day rise to meet its head, Jesus, in the heavenly realm. It will one day explode into a new creation – a new glorified and eternal body. This fireball will then return with its King. He will speak a word and deliver the mortal blow—ending the rule of the antichrist, Satan, and all his followers. The Body of Christ and the Head, Jesus, are eternally united.