Paul's Theology of the Church as Body : The background, function and effect of ‘The Body of Christ’ as a metaphor for the Church
'The body' is an important idea in Paul's theology generally, and ‘the body of Christ’ is perhaps even more so in Paul's theology of the church. However there is no agreement among Biblical scholars as to how the phrase should be understood. As a Jew and a Roman Citizen the apostle Paul could have potentially drawn upon Hebrew anthropology, Greek anthropology and Greek political philosophy to construct ‘the body of Christ’ as a metaphor for the Church. This thesis will examine Paul’s use of this metaphor in the four places where it appears in his writings, i.e. Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians.
The principle way in which I am going to do this is to look at the language and the historical situation of the different texts that use 'the body of Christ' and see how the metaphor is used in the arguments that Paul is making in the circumstances to which Paul is writing. But I might use some other techniques later if I think they'll help. Hopefully, by carefully reading the texts in their historical context I will be able to tell what Paul has in mind when he writes 'the body of Christ.' Once I have done this for each text individually I will then look for differences in the way Paul uses the metaphor between different texts, although there might not be any. The last thing I hope to do is list how my findings can help people who are trying to understand Paul's theology in general and Paul's theology of the church in particular. Hopefully the finished thesis will be useful for both academic and practical discussions about the church.