Ephesians 4:4-6, The one body and the variety of gifts, part 2.

Class Outline:

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

1CO 12:4-11

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. [one Trinity as in EPH 4:4-6] 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.


Some gifts were temporary to support the building of the infant church: healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues. And yet all, the temporary and the permanent are through the “same” Holy Spirit.


Learning and training are necessary, but do not substitute or neglect the mighty operations of the Holy Spirit in the function of gifts.


1CO 12:12-22

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;


“weaker” - inner organs. We can’t live without them.


Next, Paul continues his analogy of the physical body with the body of Christ, in that we clothe part of our body, the less honorable, and leave uncovered the honorable.


1CO 12:23

and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor [probably - apparel], and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, 24 whereas our seemly members [i.e. face] have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor [apparel] to that member which lacked, 25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.


God gave all of us the desire to adorn the parts of our bodies that would disgrace us if exposed. Hence, the fig-leaf coverings of Adam and Eve and God’s subsequent covering of them with animal skins. Paul is still in his analogy, or else God gives more abundant honor to people who lack honor or lack visibility, and that isn’t just. If you have a visible gift, you didn’t apply for it or choose it, neither did the member who has a practically invisible gift, so why should one be more honored than another? The point of it all, this analogy of the human body for the body of Christ, is in vs. 25, “that there should be no division in the body.”


You can decide for yourself which is true, but the context does not dramatically shift until vs. 27 with “Now you are Christ’s body,” so we should conclude that Paul is still in his human body analogy of Christ’s body. And when we stick with that literal context, the seeming contradictions all fade away, revealing to us that we have the proper interpretation.


Vs. 24: God “composed” (literally: mixed together) the body (human body) giving more abundant honor (clothing or apparel) to that member which “lacked” (inferior, or needing to be covered).


Vs. 25: So that, there should be no division in the body.


Vv. 24-25: The exposed parts of our body do the work to clothe the parts we do not want to expose.


Paul uses this (vv. 23-25) to show that the members of our body care for each other so that the whole, our person, is not disgraced.


1CO 12:26

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.


Paul is still in the human body analogy. “Suffer with it” is a medical term used Hippocrates and Galen. Plato in his Republic stated that the body politic “feels the hurt” as the whole body feels a hurt finger. This is the sense in Paul’s usage. A broken finger, an infected tooth affects the entire body. We don’t say, “Well, the rest of my teeth feel fine. Only one has incredible pain. I won’t go to the dentist.”


It is also true that when all the parts of the body are healthy, vital, and pain-free, the body as a whole is filled with rejoicing. Again here, furthering his analogy, all the parts of the body are necessary.


The point of the human body analogy is that there are no members of the body more vital than the others. We are all necessary and unified.


Now, Paul draws from the physical body analogy to the reality of the body of Christ.


1CO 12:27-31

Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.


And I show you a still more excellent way.


One could look at each of these “appointments” as individual offices, and certainly apostles and prophets would be. One could also look at them as appointments given to members of the body that might hold different offices. Take for instance “helps.” One could say that they have the gift of helps, or one could say that Paul is referring to deacons or elders [presbuteros - older leaders, used also of women in 1TI 5:2] called to serve and help. We can imagine that a leader or a deacon or any member of the body of Christ could be gifted in multiple areas. So Paul could speak in tongues, be an apostle, and teach. Did he have three offices or did he have one office that possessed these gifts?


This means that a believer will be able to identify his spiritual gift, but if he has more than one, he will have trouble isolating one gift above another, and so the trouble of determining our one spiritual gift, which trouble has plagued the minds of some believers, is eliminated. Not to mention, two members of the body who have, say, the gift of teaching, will manifest their gifts differently in a multitude of ways.


If we notice, when Paul begins the list again in vs. 29 in order to show that not all of us have the same gifts (diversity and unity), he leaves out helps and administrations. Apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, tongue speakers, and interpreters are all people who, like teachers, had a certain position in the church, but not the exact same position in every local church. However, he didn’t write, “All are not helpers are they? All are not administrators.”


It seems very possible that a position of, say, a teacher could also have a tremendous gift of helps or administration. I would imagine that it might depend on what community God placed him in. If numbers of people were limited, or some members didn’t function in their given gifts, the proper function of the assembly would depend upon the faithful wearing two or more hats, so to speak. God places the members of the body as He pleases and distributes gifts as He wills.  


Paul does not say here or in Rom 12 or in Eph 4, our other spiritual gift lists, that each believe only has one gift and that he has to identify it, and when he does, he should do nothing else besides the things that fall under the category of that particular gift.


As with all doctrines, we must be careful of reading into them assumptions. Though they may seem harmless, assumptions about things not revealed will always eventually lead to hurt and division. God’s revelation is perfect and complete, when we accept it as such, not adding or taking away, we will see the results of God’s purposes rather than the feeble results of our own.


I have witnessed Christians sitting on their hands while they wait to find out their spiritual gift, or refusing to do certain things, or doing them in a lack-luster fashion, because they determined that those things were not under the title of their spiritual gift. I have also seen what looked like competition, and concluding from Paul’s analogy of the human body, a false doctrine that some in the body are weaker than others. False conclusions always, eventually, lead to false declarations and dead ends.


The lists of spiritual gifts in Rom 12 and Eph 4 do not match this list perfectly. This means that we cannot conclusively make a full list of gifts so as to have them assigned to each of us.


Such makes me tend to think that each member of the body is endowed with a gift or gifts, that may not depend upon what title or lack of they have in the church. There are exceptions, as in pastors, who must be prepared and be able to exhort and to teach and to shepherd the flock; deacons must serve and help; administrators must serve; prep-school teachers must teach, exhort with compassion. Yet, all need to serve in the capacity that God has given them.


Don’t wait for God to give you a title. Serve Him in humility and you will discover your gift or gifts.


Serve Him and the body in the church and you will find that there are some things you not only do well, but like to do. And make every effort to preserve the bond of unity. If you are still unsure of your gifts, there is no need to identify them. It should excite you to know that you have been endowed with them and they will manifest themselves and you will operate in them supernaturally to the glory of God.


And what if there is a need in front of you that you don’t like to do? Don’t be so blind to think your position is above it. All of must be servants of all, all the time.


Diversity, not uniformity, is the mark of God’s handiwork. It is so in nature; it is equally so in grace, and nowhere more so than in the Christian community. Here are many men and women with the most divers kinds of parentage, environment, temperament, and capacity. Not only so, but since they became Christians they have been endowed by God with a wide variety of spiritual gifts as well. Yet because and by means of that diversity, all can co-operate for the good of the whole.


Let’s look at the sister passage to 1Co 12 in Rom 12.


ROM 12:6-8

And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.


I have gone over several arguments by commentators for the continued existence of the gift of prophecy in the church. Since I only read good commentators, none of the ones I have read think it is tied to predicting future events. Indeed, that was not the only function of a prophet, plus, he never predicted things, but only stated the future as God told him. Much of the ministry of a prophet was to communicate truth from God to the people or particular person. Certainly, this continues throughout the church, and it is in this capacity that some of my fine writers think the gift continues. Yet, it is simply another opinion, which may or may not be true. Certainly, nothing stated by a learned believer to another that is truth comes from anywhere outside the scripture. There is no extra-biblical revelation. So, for one to say he is a prophet and then gives biblical truth, someone else may say he is a teacher, an exhorter, or a minister. The gift of prophecy had an obvious need before the canon was complete. The gifted one in a certain assembly could receive revelation of doctrines not yet written down and speak them in the church.


And also we find that the prophets of the early church did receive revelation of future events that were important to the survival of the early church.


ACT 11:27-28

Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.


After reading several arguments for, and further pondering over the scripture with a more open mind then I have ever had on the issue, I personally continue to conclude that the gift of prophecy was temporary, along with miracles and tongues and healings, existing only in the very early church, and it would seem likely, for the purpose of establishing the church solidly upon the earth. And, added to this, though there are differing opinions as to what Paul truly means when he writes:


1CO 13:8-10

but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.


When the perfect comes? The completed canon of scripture, eternity, the return of Christ? I wonder if God gives us these beautifully somewhat vague statements to test our humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and love.


“service” - diakonia = ministry. Used for apostles, pastors, deacons, and all believers in the NT.


“service” or diakonia serves as a perfect example of a gift that is also a virtue that the Bible indicates somewhat plainly that every believer has. Diakonia, meaning ministry or service, is applied to apostles, deacons, missionaries (Barnabas and Paul’s first missionary journey), and it is applied to all of us in the ministry of reconciliation; 2CO 5:18, and in 1CO 12:5 “there are a variety of ministries.” In Act 6, some of the widows were neglected in the daily “ministering”; so seven men were chosen to distribute food so that the twelve could give themselves to prayer and “ministering.” These seven are known as the first “ministers” or “deacons,” from diakonia.


All of us have a ministry or service unto God, akin to our stewardship, but they are not all the same. The same word [diakonia] is used of Martha hurrying about the kitchen to prepare the meal, flustered that her sister wasn’t helping her at all.


It is not stated that the gift of teaching is only for the pastor.


HEB 5:12

For though by this time you ought to be teachers,


Any number of believers may be gifted with communicating the word of God but are not ordained pastors. That doesn’t mean that they would not have to prepare, they do, but the Holy Spirit gifts them to teach others. The gift of teaching exacts much study and consumes much time, perhaps like four hours a week of Bible class, and with it, you can teach your family, friends, neighbors, children, and you may discover that you have a gift of teaching from God.


Proper Christian teaching is clearly explaining direct to believers’ hearts, of Christ’s work for us, as well as NT doctrine concerning all aspects of the church and God’s presence and will and purposes in the church. It is the ability to make clear to another member what is true purpose of a matter, cutting through all opinion, falsehood, and noise. Proper teaching is also being able to reveal the import of the OT, and open another’s eyes to the love of that study. It is the ability to make sense of prophecy and reveal its place in the whole realm of truth.


Every Christian teacher should be able to say:


GAL 1:15-16

through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me,


This was the kind of work done by Priscilla and Aquila.


ACT 18:24-28

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; 26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he helped greatly those who had believed through grace; 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.


I think too many believers have neglected the word of God so that they wouldn’t know what was more accurate or less. The church should have many more teachers than it does, and by that, I don’t mean pastors.


I relate to you a passage from Barnhouse’s commentary, and I caution that it is his opinion, but one that I think we should hear. “I believe that every member of the body of Christ is called upon to tell someone else every fresh bit of truth learned, every new knowledge of Christ received, every pitfall seen and avoided, every distant glory brought near, and every lesson learned that will help us to be more like Christ. This is the essence of the Christian life. Each believer must be a teacher, in the measure of the proportion of faith given to him. We are to tell others; we are to be living witnesses of the truth and living examples of the blessing of truth.”


These gifts have been given to us to manage. They are actually on loan, for it may not be that we have them or exercise them in eternity. We must care for them, and by that we mean that we must use them in the service of others. The spiritual gifts are strengthened by giving them away.


ROM 12:6-8

And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.


Exhortation - paraklesis = (verb translated “exhort” in EPH 4:1) to call to one’s side. It is used for various purposes. A pastor, an older person to a younger, a friend can all be a paraklesis.


The verb means to call to one’s side and one can do so to exhort or to comfort or to admonish, etc. The word for church, ekklesia, is akin to it, meaning literally to be called out of this world.


This is yet another virtue that we are all called to have. 2CO 1:4

who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.


There are so many in this world that are in all sorts of difficulties who need comfort, advice, and counsel. Jesus spoke of the poor, the wretched, the sick, and the imprisoned and promised reward to those who came to their aid. And like all other rewards, to be a paraklesis to another is to be like God, for it is a title of both the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ.


Teaching and exhortation may be found in the same person, but exhortation is distinct from teaching.


Paul used the word “exhort” of himself in 1Co 1 and 4, and he commanded both Titus and Timothy to exhort their own sheep.


TIT 2:7

These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.


2TI 4:2

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.


Exhortation is a precious gift, comfort from one gifted to others in the body of Christ, but not simply a hug with words of kindness but an ability to persuade the other of their need of obedience to the truth which he heard. There is no use in comforting someone as they continue in a lifestyle antithetical to sound doctrine. And like all other gifts, the exhorter must be walking in the path that he/she calls others to follow.


Exhortation is an appeal to the will; teaching to the mind.


Giving literally means to impart, sharing our substance with others, and of course, without reluctance, for “the Lord loves a cheerful giver.”


All of us are to give. Like mercy, service, exhortation, giving is required of us all, but we see here that some have a special gift of it. It is no use trying to get more detail that what is said. “Gifts differ according to the grace given to us.” We all give graciously; we all show mercy with joyfulness, and there are some among us who have gifts in those areas. We simply need to rejoice in it rather than getting out our pad of sticky notes and trying to label everyone, even ourselves.


We can imagine a believer, versed improperly in the doctrine of spiritual gifts, who after acting in a non-comforting manner to another, claiming and justifying, “Well I don’t have the gift of exhortation or mercy.” All give, all show mercy, and that, very sacrificially. And yet some, possess special gift(s) in these areas.



Others like giving and mercy are virtues that all of us are to possess. Is there a gift of mercy and a gift of giving that empowers some to have more mercy and liberality than others, and if not, in what way do the “gifts … differ according to the grace given to us?”