United to Jesus

All Christians agree we are the body of Christ.They do not agree on what this phrase means. Some possibilities...

  1. It is merely symbolic and means we are united to Christ in much the same fashion as husband and wife are united.
  2. There is a mystical union of some sort in the spiritual realm and the Holy Spirit mingles with our human spirit.
  3. It refers merely to the Church; to the community of believers.

In several passages of the Bible, the phrase "body of Christ" clearly refers to the actual flesh and blood, physical, material body of Jesus which was crucified on the cross.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (Romans 7:4)

Christ's bodily sacrifice on the cross for sin.

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16)

Christ's bodily sacrifice on the cross for sin. Christ's literal, bodily presence in the Eucharist.

But Christians are also the body of Christ.

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Christians, joined mystically in some way to the Spirit of Christ through his sacrificial bodily death to redeem us from sin.

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12)

Christians, same as above.

Do these two uses of the phrase "body of Christ" mean two completely different things? one referring to Jesus' physical body, and the other referring to Christians as a group?

In my view there was a progression...

  1. In taking on human form Jesus added human nature into the Godhead
  2. In bodily dying on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, Jesus provided a way for believers to enter into mystical communion with God
  3. Upon receiving salvation through faith, the Spirit of Christ (residing in the spiritual realm) mingles with the soul of the new believer (also residing in the spiritual realm) who becomes "deified" having God's nature (human nature now being part of God's nature.)

Thus, it is perfectly natural to refer to Christians as the body of Christ since we are speaking of their soul, not their body. Just as the human nature of Christ is the "body of Christ" so also those whose souls are indwelt with the Holy Spirit are likewise the "body of Christ."

I should mention: Married couple have a similar kind union. Their souls in the spiritual realm get tangled-up together upon taking their marriage vows of living together in love forever.