IS HEBREWS 13:3 A REFERENCE TO THE CHURCH THE BODY OF CHRIST?
by Shawn Brasseaux
In Hebrews 13:3, we read the following directive: “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” What is this “body?” Is it the Church the Body of Christ?
This is a most bizarre reading of the Bible text; I have never heard of it until now. Evidently, it is based on the common (yet flimsy) assertion that the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews. However, there is abundant Scriptural proof that Paul did not write Hebrews. (See our study linked at the end of this article.) Furthermore, the anomalous language of Hebrews 13:3 would not allow us to substitute “the Church the Body of Christ” for the generic noun “body.” Scripture would be violated chiefly because there is no qualifier “of Christ” attached to “body.” Never once do we read of the Church the Body of Christ in the Book of Hebrews.
When the Holy Spirit through Paul referred to the Church the Body of Christ, notice how He handled the term:
- Romans 12:4-5: “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.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:17: “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
- 1 Corinthians 12:12-13,27: “For as the [physical] body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ [the Body of Christ]. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit…. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
- Ephesians 1:22-23: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
- Ephesians 2:16: “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:….”
- Ephesians 3:6: “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:….”
- Ephesians 4:4,23,16: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;…. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:…. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
- Ephesians 5:23,30: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body…. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”
- Colossians 1:18: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
- Colossians 1:24: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:….”
- Colossians 2:19: “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.”
- Colossians 3:15: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
Having reviewed the above “Church the Body of Christ” verses, we can see Hebrews 13:3 is something else entirely. It simply does not fit into the list. “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” The verse, and its context, does not mention explicitly which “body” it is, but again, to what purpose would it be to have the Body of Christ brought up here anyway? Hebrews spent over 12 chapters without saying a word about it, and then, in the final chapter, make one obscure reference to the Body of Christ? Impossible.
We have no choice but to infer that the “body” of Hebrews 13:3 is the flesh-and-blood body (the same in which we ourselves live right now). These Jewish readers know what their brethren are enduring: they all know living in these physical bodies has its hardships. When we consider that the Book of Hebrews is part of the prophetic program—namely, Israel living the end-times scenario (Hebrews 2:3-5)—we see that the believing Jews are suffering under the Antichrist. All those believing Jews are facing persecution. Whether early Acts, mid-Acts, or post-Acts—which all loop toward the future beyond our Dispensation of Grace—they have their trials and tribulations as people living in fallen (sinful) bodies in a fallen (sinful) world.
Along the same line of thought as Hebrews 13:3, 1 Peter chapter 5 encourages the Little Flock: “ Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” They are all suffering for Jesus Christ—imprisonments, difficulties, worries, beheadings, and so on. Being brothers and sisters in Christ, they are to be mindful of one another. “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” This, however, has absolutely nothing to do with us, the Church the Body of Christ.