Ephesians 4:7-16; Unity in the body of Christ by diversity.

Class Outline:

Thursday June 17, 2021


Consider the woes of a corrupt nation or society: Unjust economics, slavery, irresponsible leaders, and idolatry.


1. Unjust economics - unfair taxes, interest rates, and regulations designed so that people remain in their class. The wealthy, the elite protect their status, passed down to their children, almost like hereditary titles in a monarchy. The poor remain fixed under an iron ceiling created by rules designed to keep them immobile. This system minimizes and even eliminates the middle class.


2. Slave labor - treating humans like animals and threatening them if they don't comply to the demands of the masters. In almost all ancient kingdoms, actual slavery was legal. In modern societies we are fortunate that it has been mostly abolished, but a form of it still exists in the mass of unjust laws that are heralded as being necessary for the common good, propagated by fear.


3. Irresponsible leaders - abuse of pleasure seeking (alcohol, drugs, wealth, lusts) while their people suffer. The leaders enjoy lavish expenditure of their amassed wealth and fail to consider their duty to serve the population they are tasked with leading. Even outside of democracies or republics, good leaders (monarchs or oligarchs) understood that they served the people in protection, providence of opportunity, and protection of basic human rights. It’s not the system of government as much as it is the irresponsible characters of the leadership.


4. Idolatry - the engine that drives these nations or societies. Money, power, national security, etc. are made into gods that are proclaimed as sacred and have to be worshipped. The idols of safety, wealth, national power, sometimes war, national security, equality of outcome, pleasure, and more demand allegiance at all costs. Idolatry, in the form of wooden and metal figures in the past, and in the form of ideology in the present, has always been the quiet running engine that drives the whole behemoth.


What nation is this? Habakkuk’s description of Babylon in five woes in chapter 2. Eventually, all nations become like Babylon. Hence, we hear stated upon the end of all kingdoms, “Babylon the Great has fallen.”


Consider God’s kingdom is one of love, service, unity, sacrifice, and all manner of virtue. The same description is for the body of Christ.


The same description of behavior is found for the body of Christ. So that, in the midst of a world that is constantly plagued by God’s woes, the body of Christ is to shine in the world the light of the ways of the kingdom of God. But as we saw last time, we are not just to try unity for unities sake, rather we are to understand what we share in common, what common purpose we have though we are diverse, and most of all we are all to understand the love of God and love one another as Christ has loved us.


Our next section of study is EPH 4:7-16 - unity in diversity. Vs. 7 and vs. 12: “To each one grace was given … for the equipping of the saints for the work or service, to the building up of the body.”


EPH 4:7-8

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,


"When He ascended on high,

He led captive a host of captives,

And He gave gifts to men."


The particle “de” (but) marks more than a change in thought, it sets the “each one” in contrast to the “all” but with the same injunction to keep the unity of the Spirit.


Paul does not in this passage say the “charisma” (spiritual gift - ROM 12:6; 1CO 12:4) was given, but that charis (grace) was given.


In his famous passages on spiritual gifts, Paul uses the Greek word charisma. Here he refers to the grace given to us according to the measure of Christ’s gifts. The context obviously points to the gifts of service, but Paul may also have in mind everything that Christ gave us, for the special gifts of service do not function without the gift of the Holy Spirit, the word of God, our new nature, our spiritual growth, the plan of God for our lives, etc. The emphasis here is mostly on the “heni hekasto” (unto each one) singling out the individual who must by faith and perseverance mature and use his gifts for the service of the body of Christ and the world.


Though charisma is not used (dorea - a free and gracious gift) it is clearly implied in the context that Paul has in mind the special gifts of service.


Dorea is always used of God giving a gracious gift in connection with the gift of Christ to us. Our gifts are not like so many in the world which are supposed to be used for self. Our gifts from Christ are to only be used for others. We know that God is going to bless us, and so we do not have to be concerned for ourselves. This is true freedom, as Paul writes in GAL 5:13, freedom is love to serve one another.


Uses of dorea:

JOH 4:10

"If you knew the gift of God, …”


ROM 5:15

But the free gift is not like the transgression.


2CO 9:15

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!


EPH 3:7

I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace


EPH 4:9-16

(Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


It is not misleading Paul’s message by combining vv. 7 and 12. Vv. 8-10 Paul references Christ’s gifts as fulfilling prophecy and Paul includes his own commentary on that. Then Paul begins to list some of the gifts Christ gave to the individuals in the church in vs. 11. So, vs. 8-11 contain the one thought of Christ’s gifts to individuals in the church. The next thought starts in vs. 12, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” leading us to see that our individual gifts have the singular purpose of serving one another.


Our gifts from Christ (4:8-11) are for the sole purpose of serving others (4:12). How much of our thinking is aimed at the needs of others, and how much is focused on ourselves?