John: The Body of Christ
John: The Body of Christ
John's Gospel shows us that Christ is still present with us, but now to be found in the gathered people of God – the body of Christ
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100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible Passages

John 17:20–26

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to
see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the
creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

John 20:19–23, 26, 29

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am
sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

… A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with

… Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 15:5–6

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”


John wrote his Gospel later than the others, when the church was being fiercely persecuted. We know from the epistles (for example 2 Thessalonians) that believers expected the second coming of Jesus to be at hand. Their faith centred on Jesus, and they saw the time they were in as a brief waiting period. John’s Gospel is encouraging them to see things differently, answering their question, “Where is Jesus now? He rose from the dead – so where is he?”

Luke answers the question in one way, in telling us about the day of Pentecost, and the passing-on of the Holy Spirit. John answers in a different way, showing us that Christ is still present with us, but now to be found in the gathered people of God – the body of Christ. A clue to this theme is in the opening words Jesus speaks in John’s Gospel. “Where are you staying?” the two disciples ask him, and he answers, “Come and see” (John 1:37–39).

Notice how, in the story of Doubting Thomas, John shows us the believers
in a rhythm of weekly meetings (compare Acts 2:42–47). When Thomas didn’t attend, he missed the risen Jesus. It was as he joined with the body of believers that he found the risen Christ.

Jesus’ teaching about the vine in John 15, and his prayer in John 17, when
put together with John’s emphasis on Christ’s divinity, give us a picture of organic wholeness – the body of believers united with each other, in Christ, in God. It is in this unity that Christ’s presence is revealed.



God of love, indivisibly one, Father of mercy, blessed saviour, Holy Spirit, we give you thanks that you have called us into union with you and communion with one another – all believers in every time and place. Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, and bring us at the last into the fullness of your eternal presence. In Jesus’ holy name we pray; Amen.