Based on verse 28 of First Corinthians chapter twelve, it seems clear that in this chapter the author is writing about the church: “And God has placed some in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers,….” Much is written in chapter twelve concerning the believers as members of the Body of Christ, the church, and of the various spiritual gifts that the members may possess, such as a word of wisdom, or healing, or works of power, or prophecy, or speaking in tongues, etc. When we read chapter twelve verse 12, however, light bulbs begin to flash in our heads. Because of the context, our brain tells us that verse 12 should read as follows: “For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the church.” We expect that the author is now using the human body as an illustration of the Body of Christ, which is the church. But, instead, we are shocked to read, “…so also is the Christ.” We ponder anew what the church is! As a child we were told that the building on the street corner with stained glass and steeple was the church. In later years we came to know that the church is the regenerated people collectively—the assembly of the called out ones (ekklesia, in Greek). Now, this one word (or actually, the lack of one word that we expected to be there, and it being replaced by a different word) uplifts our entire view concerning the church: It is THE CHRIST!
Before his conversion, the author of this verse (Paul the apostle, who was formerly called Saul) was struck down by the Lord as he was traveling to Damascus to persecute the Christians there (Acts 9). The voice of the One who struck him said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” “Who are you, Lord,” responded the bewildered Saul. The answer came back, “I am Jesus whom you persecute!” No doubt, from that day forward this man had the strong realization that the people he was persecuting, those who have turned to the Lord Jesus, called upon His name, and gotten regenerated with the divine life, are truly part of Christ. May we similarly be so bedazzled by this revelation that we could have the proper discernment to know what is the church and what is not the church in the midst of the distorted world in which we live.