Ephesians 4:15-16 –The church in the world.

Class Outline:

Wednesday January 19,2022

EPH 4:14-16

As a result, we are no longer to be children [spiritual infants], tossed here and there by waves, and carried about [twirled around] by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming [method of getting believers off the right path and onto a wrong one]; 15 but speaking the truth [living and being the truth] in love, we are to grow up in all aspects [things] into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being [continually] fitted and held together [fitly joined and knit together] by that which every joint [connected believer] supplies [fully supplies], according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


The joints therefore refer to the points of contact that the Lord has knit together - each believer in contact with others in the body.


The one believer supplies the next believer to whom he is in contact and their ministries furnish and build up the body’s inward life through a communion wherein each single part shares, creating a tie that binds one Christian soul to another and serves to nourish the common life of grace.


Each believer has a ministry in which they have works that serve, or equip others, and in this sentence, Paul uses a word that means to fully supply. “Every joint fully supplies, according to the energy or power of each individual part.”


This is the doctrine of ecclesiology (doctrine of the church).


Ecclesiology: believers are saved from sin and death and called out (ekklesia - “church,” literally “a calling out of”) to be a connected and ministering servant of a group (the body of Christ).


Notice how often the truth of unity and service and the body has already been mentioned in Ephesians, especially here in the opening of chapter four. Believers must not neglect their calling to being a part of the body, exercising their spiritual gifts.


The body needs a mechanical construction and a pervasive life. Churches where the bodies show up (they have the construction) but have no pervasive spiritual life are missing the point.


The church began and Pentecost and is completed at its Rapture. Between these two events, the time of the Rapture fully unknown, the church age is an interim period.


“For the Church, this interim is a time of humiliation (PHI 3:21), testing (JAM 1:12), trouble and persecution (2CO 4:8-9), suffering and groaning (ROM 8:18-23), patient endurance (JAM 5:7-11), refining and persecuting (JAM 1:2-4), unceasing labor (1CO 3:8-15), agonizing conflict (1TI 6:12; 2TI 4:7), and unrelenting struggle toward a goal which lies beyond this age and world (PHI 3:12-14).” [Alva McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom]


Part of the doctrine of the church, the life of which is described plainly in Eph 4-6, is that since the opposition to our way of life, the way of Christ, is so strong, that the members of the body must live and walk by faith, live in hope, endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ, not looking at the things which are seen but at the things not seen. This is to be our daily lives.


So then, in reference to the description of the great peace that is to come upon the world in the prophetic kingdom, the church cannot be its fulfillment since the church always faces struggle, persecution, and tribulation. The church age is certainly no golden age on earth.


In that last reference Paul states, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (PHI 3:14). He uses this word “prize” in a few passages.


The parallel passage in the sister epistle to Ephesians, Paul writes similarly to the Colossians about false winds of doctrine and the body knitted together.


COL 2:18-19

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.


The warning is dire: losing your prize (brabeion = a prize in the games).


1CO 9:24

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.


1CO 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.


An athlete in the games goes through anything, both effort and abstinence, to win, because he has an eye on the ultimate goal. So should the Christian, and therefore it is imperative that the believer understand what the goal or the prize is, for then he will be greatly motivated to attain it.


What is the imperishable wreath?

The context is 1CO 9:23, And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.


He wrote in the previous sentence: 1CO 9:22 I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.