The Church: Unity in Diversity

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” –Romans 12:4-5 (ESV)

The Bible uses analogies all throughout its pages. Whether it’s comparing the Christian life to a marathon race, or faith to a mustard seed, analogies give clarity. In the book of Romans, Paul uses the diverse parts (members) of the body to explain how God wants the church to function in unity. The similarities are helpful in demonstrating how to sustain a healthy, biblical church.

Alternate translations

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (NIV)

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (KJV)

“For just as we have many members in one body, and all those members do not have one function, so also, we who are many, are one body in The Messiah, and each one of us is a member of the other.” (Aramaic Bible and playing English)

Meaning of the verse

The analogy here to the human body makes a perfect analogy to the body of Christ and the church. Our body is made up of many parts and each one has an important function to the operation of the whole. So it is with the church. Every member has their own unique and special gifts, and all gifts are needed for the whole body of Christ to function.

There must be a hierarchy in the church that divides labor so that each person does what they do best, and provides the gift God has bestowed upon them, each part to the benefit of the whole.

This is also a warning do not allow pride to interfere or allow our talents to feed our ego. We shouldn’t seek our own recognition due to whatever gifts we process or what status we may hold. Oppositely, we should not perceive that whatever role we serve and is a lesser role, and makes us inferior.

Every role serves Christ. And whatever capacity we serve, we should always serve in a diligent, cheerful and humble manner. We are all united in Christ, and whatever contributions we make serve the glory of God.

For a deeper illustration of this teaching see: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Related verses

1 Corinthians 12:12

The body is a unit, though it is comprised of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:20

As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

1 Corinthians 12:27

Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it.

Ephesians 4:4

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;

Ephesians 4:16

From Him the whole body is fitted and held together by every supporting ligament; and as each individual part does its work, the body grows and builds itself up in love.