Saturday, October 15, 2011

Where does the church belong?

Where does the church belong? Most people will answer that the church belongs to Christ. But the answer is not obvious. For Paul, the church is God's. It is Deutero-Pauline letters (for example, Ephesians 4:1-17) that the church is Christ's. As for Paul, the church belongs to God (God's), not to Christ. Christ serves God. Paul's theology is thoroughly theocentric (God-centered). Only in Deutero-Pauline or Pastorals, we see clearly that the church belongs to Christ, who is the head of the church. Christ is served (for example, read Colossians 1:18 or Eph 4:1-12). How will you interpret these two different views of the church?

In Paul's letters, "the body of Christ" (soma christou) does not refer to the church. The body of Christ is, first of all, Christ's own body -- his life and death. It is a metaphor for a way of living: being Christ-like.   "You are Christ's body" may mean that you are to live like Christ. If we understand the body of Christ as Christ's body crucified, the image of this body of Christ provokes all kinds of bodies.
For more about this kind of reading of Paul's letters, see the following books: