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DAY 22: The Body of Christ

Paul regarded his converts not only as individuals who had been freed from sin but also as organic members of the collective body of Christ. The idea of the body of Christ probably also explains why, in his view, it is difficult to sin so badly as to lose one’s place in the people of God. Only the worst forms of denial of Christ can remove an organic member from the body of Christ.

Those who are in Christ will be transformed into a spiritual body like Christ’s when he returns, but they are already being “transformed” and “renewed” (2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:16); the “life of Jesus” is already being made visible in their mortal flesh (4:11). Paul thought that membership in the body of Christ really changed people, so that they would live accordingly. He thought that his converts were dead to sin and alive to God and that conduct flowed naturally from people, varying according to who they really were. Those who are under sin naturally commit sins —“those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8)—but those who are in Christ produce “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22; compare Philippians 1:11; Romans 8:2–11).

This absolutist ethical view—those in Christ are to be morally perfect; those not in Christ are extremely sinful—was not always true in practice, and Paul was often alarmed and offended when he discovered that the behavior of his converts was not what he expected. It was in this context that he predicted suffering and even death or postmortem punishment for transgressions (1 Corinthians 11:30–32; 3:15; 5:4–5). Paul’s passionate extremism, however, was doubtless often attractive and persuasive. He made people believe that they could really change for the better, and this must often have happened.

Key Verse:
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:27

Questions to ponder:

  • Consider Paul’s analogy of the body in 1 Corinthians 12. How does each member’s unique role contribute to the overall health and function of the body? How can you use your gifts to edify the body of Christ?
  • Meditate on the significance of partaking in the Lord’s Supper as a participation in the body and blood of Christ. How does this sacrament deepen your sense of connection with Christ and fellow believers?
Adapted from Britannica: The Biography of St. Paul the Apostle
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