In Ephesians 1:22–23, Paul provided a picture of God’s people here on earth. He said, “The church…is His [Christ’s] body.” Paul developed this theme in 1 Corinthians, saying, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:27). He used various examples from the physical body to emphasize the fact that, as Christians, we are all interdependent; we all need one another.
The most complete and authoritative picture of the church as the body of Christ is given in Ephesians. It is most significant, therefore, that throughout this epistle, Paul spoke consistently of Christians in the plural. He had virtually nothing to say to or about individual Christians. (See Ephesians 1:3–12.) A careful reading of the rest of Ephesians will confirm that this is the book’s message from beginning to end. There are no promises and no prayers for any individual. Only in the last six verses is there one brief exception: Paul closed by asking for special prayer for himself.
This focus on the collective body of Christ comes to its climax in Ephesians 6:10–18, where Paul spoke about our spiritual warfare. In verse 12, all the key words are in the plural—both those that refer to God’s people and those that refer to the opposing forces: we wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers, and hosts.
Depicted thusly, spiritual warfare is not a conflict between individuals, but a vast war between opposing armies. There is no room here for “lone rangers” pursuing their individual goals. Victory will require controlled and concerted action by God’s people, working together as members of one body. This will demand discipline and a readiness to submit to scriptural authority.