Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – purpose of edification.

Class Outline:

Title: Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts - purpose of edification.


Life is short. There is no time to lose.


“Because God’s nature is infinite, everything that flows out of it is infinite also. We poor human creatures are constantly being frustrated by limitations imposed upon us from without and within. The days of the years of our lives are few, and swifter than a weaver’s shuttle. Life is a short and fevered rehearsal for a concert we cannot stay to give. Just when we appear to have attained some proficiency we are forced to lay our instruments down.” [A. W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy]


Paul reveals that when Christ ascended He gave gifts to His church. Paul then mentions four gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher.


A deeper theme is then revealed when Paul states what the gifts are for, and we will assume he means all gifts and not only the four just mentioned.


Spiritual gifts are for edifying the church.


ROM 14:11

So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.


We’ll return to see the word “edification” in EPH 4:12, 16.

EPH 4:25-32

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.


Spiritual gifts are for equipping of the saints, for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; edification of the saints, edification with words and deeds. Edification doesn’t mean to flatter, for imagined opinion of others concerning yourself is a false building, and a weak one, but rather it is the building of the spiritual life of another or a group of others through speaking and service.


Paul is writing to a church just born upon the world, meaning the whole church, not just Ephesus. It is imperative that they “build up the body of Christ,” but no less imperative now. The influence of the church on our world currently is at low point.


From the start of the biblical narrative we have Adam alone and needing a helper. Then we have the immediate failure of Cain who was told to do as his brother, which we could think of as seeking Abel’s help with the sacrifice, but decides rather to kill him out of hate. In a rotten world, Noah is almost alone, and after the flood, one of his sons dishonors him. On and on throughout the Bible; Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, fathers and sons, mothers and sons, tribes within the nation - and under the grand rule of the Law to love your neighbor as yourself, we find far more failure than we do edification, and, edification from divine love and not in the pursuit of ultimately gaining personal reward. Jesus showed this to the disciples just before His death because it was so vital to the building of the church. He washed their feet after knowing full well that they were debating amongst each other as to who was the greatest of them.


We must serve one another throughout the church and that means getting our own souls in the proper order - obedient and subservient to God with faith in His power in us.


God demands a unified, powerful, and functioning church: unified in purpose, powerful in truth, and functioning in good deeds. If this is to be true, each of us must have our own spiritual lives in order, which result will be the overcoming of the world and the flesh; meaning, sinfulness and distraction are not foundational aspects of our lives. We resolve to be obedient to divine mandates and at the same time have faith that the Holy Spirit within us will fill us to perform His good pleasure. Faithful obedience and humble subservience are the keys to power in God’s plan for our lives.


The entire principle of service, unity, community, and shining Christ’s light to the world is in view.


With the deeper principle in mind, read the entire passage.


EPH 4:7-16

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."


9 (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 [perfecting or completing] of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. 14 As a result [of Christ’s gifts], 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 [mature man, vs. 13] 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 [every properly functioning spiritual gift], according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


“building up” - oikodome = the act of building, edification, promoting spiritual growth (ROM 14:11; EPH 4:12, 16, 29).


The deeper purpose of these actions from us all that promote edification of the saints is our unity, our strength, and our impact on the world around us.


God cannot relinquish anything. He gives power and wisdom and gifts to His people, but He does not surrender anything from Himself. In other words, God does not have less power than He had before He created the universe. He gives but He does not give away.


All that God gives remains His own and returns to Him again. Our life, our gifts, remain God’s and they can only be properly used in His service.


Abraham offers his son, as does Hannah, to the Lord. When the ark of the covenant single handedly defeats the Philistines, they offer it back to God. Everything that we would call a gift, is His and if we see it properly, in justice and righteousness, we must offer it to the path of His will.