The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

Church (ecclesia) and her head (PDF) PDF version

Church (ecclesia) and her head

The head is the part that directs the whole body. We recognize this in other settings too. Thus the director of my department at work is called the head of the department. Or we speak for the head of the family, the head of the state etc. What we mean with the term “head” in these expressions is that part, that person, that is responsible to give directions and to make decisions at work, the family, the state etc. There is no direction if there is no head or if those who are under the head, do not obey to what the head says.

The Bible, the written Word of God, tells us that we are members of the body of Jesus Christ, the church, the Ecclesia. With the term ecclesia or church I don’t mean here – nor the Bible means - buildings or other human constructions but the sum of those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9). Everybody that believes this is automatically member of the family of God, of the body of Christ, the church, the Ecclesia. The Bible also tells us who is the head, the director of this body. This is no other than the Son of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s see this:

Ephesians 1:22
“And He [God, the Father of glory, (verse 15)] put all things under His [Jesus Christ’s] feet, and gave Him to be head over ALL THINGSto the church

Ephesians 4:15-16
“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head––Christ–– from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Ephesians 5:23
Christ is head of the church ;”

Colossians 1:17-18
“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church..

And here are also some passages that make clear that we, the believers in the Son of God, are members of the body, whose Head is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:4-5
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ….. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body––whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free––and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeedthere are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer withit; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

Ephesians 5:30
“For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”

In these pages of New Testament Scripture, three questions are given crystal clear answers:

i. Body of Christ: is it one or many?

There is ONE and only ONE body of Christ. Ecclesia is the body of Christ and is ONE. I’m speaking here about the universal Church of Christ and not about the local church in the individual cities. Without wanting to make a digression, in each local city there is in the Scripture ONE and only ONE church in the city. It was the church in Corinth. It was the church in Collosai, the church in Jerusalem etc. There is nothing in the Scripture to support what we have today: many churches, with no relationships to each other, all in the same city. Also completely unknown to the Scripture is the concept of denominations. There is no Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Catholic or any other denomination in the Scripture. What there is in the Scripture is one simple thing: just Christians. “And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26). To sum it up: what you see in the Scripture is ONE body that includes everyone that believes that Jesus Christ is Lord and God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9). What you also see is one Head of this body, the Son of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.

ii. We in the body of Christ: is there a top-down hierarchical relationship between believers?

What is also made clear from the above given New Testament passages is the fact that we are members of the body of Christ and members of each other. The relationship therefore with each other is not a hierarchical one, exactly as the relationship of our members in our own body is not a hierarchical one. The foot does not say I’m in a greater position than the hand but still need to catch up with the ear. The foot is happy to be foot, because that’s what God made it to be and placed it in the body to be. It is also happy that there is a hand to do what a hand is supposed to do. Foot and hand are both members of the same body and are therefore connected to each other. The hand cannot live alone, outside the body. It has life and function only within the body. So is with the members of the body of Christ, the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. They do not relate to each other via a top-down hierarchy where the X believer is in higher place in the hierarchy than the Y believer but still needs to catch up with the Z believer. There is also no competition in the body. Everybody who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His resurrection has been placed by God Himself into the body of Christ with a specific function. And all members of the body are valuable. As Paul said above: “much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.”

iii. Head of the body: who is the head, the leader, of the church?

Lastly, and this we have noticed right from the beginning of this article, it is clear that the Scripture recognizes one and only one as Head of this body. This is no other than the Son of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Head, the director of the church, the top one. He directs the church, His body, and it is Him therefore to whom the body should look up for instruction and direction.


This is a very short article and though it still needs a lot of completion, I don’t think we need a book to lay out some basic truths found in the Scripture about the church. We all too often prefer to rely on a human hierarchy to decide for us. We are all too often waiting in the sidelines for somebody else, a “professional”, to do what we are supposed to do or to tell us what we are supposed to do. We are looking and searching for mortal church CEOs that will take each individual and tell him what he is supposed to do like head of the departments do in our business world. Our business world with its practices is all too often copied into the church. We need however to notice one thing. The Scripture says that God gave Christ to be “head over ALL THINGS to the church”. See this “OVER ALL THINGS”. Now guess what ? Over all things means OVER ALL THINGS. There is nothing left out from this “over all”! Christ and not a mortal man – however well intentioned he may be - is the boss, the master, the CEO, the “over all” in the church.

See also that the body grows as “every part does its share”. EVERY PART! Again, guess what? “Every part” means EVERY PART. There are no exceptions here. There is nothing in the Bible that suggests that one part does everything and the other parts do nothing. All of us have to go to the Lord and ask Him, as the Head, the manager of this organism called the church: “Lord what do you want me to do? You are the head. Direct me as you want, where you want”. Let us stop look out for mortal men to get directions. The directions can only come from the head and the head is one: CHRIST! To Him let us turn for directions and Him let us seek!

Matthew 7:8
“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Anastasios Kioulachoglou