The Body of Christ

When we speak of the Body of Christ we need to distinguish the various senses in which this expression is used in the Scriptures. There are I believe four senses and these are as follows:-

(1) The body in which Christ lived when here upon earth.
(2) The body He now has in heaven.
(3) His symbolical body.
(4) His spiritual body

As to the first, this was his physical body, composed of flesh and blood and was essentially no different from our own. This was the body that Joseph of Arimathea took and buried (see John 19:38 & 40). Hebrews 2:14 would confirm, if necessary, that Christ's body was one of flesh and blood. When Christ was raised from the dead his body was simply one of flesh and bones, because his blood had been poured out (John 19:34; Luke 24:39).

As to the second, this is his body of glory as stated in Philippians 3:21. No doubt we would be correct in concluding that this has the fashion that Christ had when He appeared in a changed form on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36; 2 Peter 1:16-18). It may be noted that when Christ appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead He only said that what they saw was Himself having flesh and bones (Luke 24: 39). It does not necessarily imply that he now has a body of flesh and bones. He can change his form as stated in Mark 16:12.

As to the third, this is the loaf that Christ took at the last supper (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23/24). Clearly this loaf was not Christ's physical body. For one reason he was holding it in his own hands, which were part of his physical body. For another, it is quite clear that what Christ moved about in here on earth was not a loaf of bread any more than his blood was fermented grape juice. The idea that it was is as absurd as it is profane. Further, the loaf did not change into flesh, as if it had Christ would hardly have expected his disciples to eat it. Christ said nothing at all about the loaf changing into anything. Those that think it did are only imagining it, that is, it only changes in their minds. I am referring here to the Mass as practised now in the Roman Catholic Church. For all practical purposes there is no change in the loaf after the priest has blessed it as can be seen from simple observation, not to mention scientific examination. The serious side of the matter is that in days gone by the Romish church was quite prepared to put to a painful death those that did not except the nonsense that the Pope taught on the subject.

Sometimes Christ's statements in John 6:53-56 as to persons eating his flesh and drinking his blood are used to justify the Romanist's thinking on the subject of transubstantiation (the changing of bread and wine into Christ's body and blood). However, while there is in Christ's statements a spiritual correspondence to the eating and drinking of the physical elements, there is nothing in the passage about elements changing into something else. John it may be noted does not give us an account of the institution of the breaking of bread at the last supper. He is concerned with the spiritual equivalent in chapter six as we have seen. This is not just my opinion, for Christ Himself said so in verse 63: "It is the Spirit which quickens, the flesh profits nothing: the words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life". If the Romish Church had grasped the import of Christ's words they would not have introduced the nonsensical ideas as to the communion bread and wine that they have. It may be noted here that the Jews also misunderstood Christ for they said: "How can he give us this flesh to eat ?" (verse 52). In fact a perusal of John's Gospel will show that Christ's spiritual teaching was often taken materially by his hearers. Consider John 3: 1-7 and 4:7-14.

It may be noted that those who were martyred for not accepting the doctrine of transubstantiation often drew attention to the fact that Christ made statements such as "I am the door" (John 10:9) and "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). No one supposed that these statements meant that Christ was a physical door or a physical light. Why then should we suppose that when Christ said "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35) He was thinking of Himself as being physical bread. A perusal of the context precludes the idea.