Ephesians 4:4-6, The one body and the variety of gifts, part 3.

Wednesday October 7, 2020


1Co 12:1-3

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.


There is one Lord, and all believers confess Him. Paul contrasted their experience as unconverted idolaters with their present experience as Christians. They had worshiped dead idols that never spoke to them, but now they belonged to the living God who spoke to them as the divine Holy Spirit within and through the spiritual gifts of apostle and prophet.


In their demonic, pagan worship, some would claim to be the voice of the false god speaking through them, and now, Paul points out to them, that they all are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who speaks through them that Jesus is Lord. And this, not in loss of control, but in full self-control, for the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.


The Trinity is one and so must the body of Christ be. Paul uses the human body as an analogy. It has various members with different functions, but it is one body. It has inner weaker parts, inner organs, that are vital. It has unseemly parts that are clothed and seemly parts that are unclothed so as to present one body properly and not in disgrace. If one member of the body is hurt, the whole body suffers with it, and when that member is healed, the whole body rejoices. All of this is a perfect analogy for the unity of the body, the parts of the body caring for other parts, the proper display of the body, and all as one body though made up of various parts with various functions.


In the body of Christ there are:


1Co 12:4-7

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. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.


Why glorify any man? Glorify God.

Why compete with one another? Do good to one another.

Everything we have that is good is from the one Trinity.


“the manifestation” is in the singular, which is used as part of the argument for each believer receiving one spiritual gift.


But that is not an overwhelming indication, as “the manifestation” could refer to the work of the Holy Spirit as a whole. If God wanted us to be sure to know that we received one gift, it would have been very easy for Him to dictate that to us.


Also, the list that follows says “to one,” and “to another,” (allos and heteros) which clearly indicates that different members of the body receive different gifts, hence our diversity, but since there are more of us than the number of gifts, some of us receive the same gifts, but still it isn’t a clear indication that one or more are given to each member. So then, as in all things in which we don’t have a clear revelation, we do not need to know.


Personally, I have no convictions either way. One or two gifts (personally I wonder that three would be too much work for any person) is not the issue. The fact that all are gifted and that for the common good and unity of the body though it is very diversified.


The only way to identify one or more within yourself is humble growth in grace and knowledge and the influence of God the Holy Spirit within you. He bears witness that we are sons of God, and if sons, heirs also. Part of our inheritance is our spiritual gift.  


The gifts are given for the good of the whole church. They are not for individual enjoyment, but for corporate employment.


The Corinthians especially needed this reminder, because they were using their spiritual gifts selfishly to promote themselves and not to prosper the church. When we accept our gifts with humility, then we use them to promote harmony, and this helps the whole church.


[from The Bible Exposition Commentary]

“The various gifts are named in 1Co 12:8-10 and 28, and also in Eph 4:11 and Rom 12:6-8. When you combine the lists, you end up with nineteen different gifts and offices. Since the listing in Romans is not identical with the listing in 1 Corinthians, we may assume that Paul was not attempting to exhaust the subject in either passage. While the gifts named are adequate for the ministry of the church, God is not limited to these lists. He may give other gifts as He pleases.”


This further emphasizes the fact that it is not vital for every member of the body to identify or pin down the exact identity of their spiritual gift, but don’t let that lead anyone into thinking that they should not serve, or serve half-heartedly. We all must serve with vigor and with joy, and only then do we have a hope of identifying our gift or gifts.


Pride, fear, selfishness, laziness are guarantees that the gift within you will not function. Without the spiritual growth from knowledge, understanding and walking in truth, a believer’s capacity to serve the common good will be diminished. As an analogy, if we imagine a believer’s capacity to be one-hundred gallons, stunted spiritual growth may only fill 20 gallons while 80 gallons are left for self. It is an analogy that attempts to make the point that pride and selfishness, or ignorance and lack of diligence will quench a residing spiritual gift.


Apostles – first as in the highest authority in the church. Apostolos literally means “one sent forth.” The twelve (Luk 6:13). Jesus (Heb 3:1; Joh 17:3). Barnabas and Paul (Act 14:14). Andronicus and Junias (Rom 16:7). Epaphroditus (Phi 2:25). Paul, Silas, and Timothy (2Th 2:6).


Andronicus and Junias are said to be “outstanding” or “of note” among or in the apostles. Epaphroditus is labeled by Paul as “your apostle” in his epistle to the Philippians. To the Thessalonians, Paul calls himself, Silas, and Timothy apostles of Christ.


God has not revealed anything superfluous. He intends for us to know the full realm of doctrine. The fact that Mat 10:2 shows us that Jesus chose twelve disciples that are called by Matthew as the twelve apostles (definite article is used), and the New Jerusalem has twelve foundation stones written upon by “the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb,” presents an issue when Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Epaphroditus are called apostles. Are these apostles simply in the meaning of the word – “one sent forth” or did they hold the office? Without God telling us, it is impossible to know, and by God not telling us, we know that we don’t need to know. As we quickly go through the list of spiritual gifts we will see small problems like this fade away and be replaced by the joy that comes from knowing that God has given special, spiritual gifts to the church, and we all have at least one, and we will use these gifts for the common good of the body of Christ to the glory of God if we walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called.


The only real problem has occurred when people after the first century, after the apostle John (the last to die), claim to be apostles and so have special authority. To a man they always breath false doctrines, of which we are abundantly warned in the NT. If we are sober and alert, we will easily discover them, for in time you will know them by their fruit. With no more apostles after John, there is not need to worry about false apostles, but we do have great concern over false doctrine.


The verb apostello (to be sent forth) is used of Christ in Joh 17:3 as well as many other gospel passages. It is used of the Holy Spirit, Moses, John the Baptist, disciples and apostles, evangelists or preachers, as well as others who are sent by men to go forth with their bidding, as in officers or officials, and of angels and demons.


Prophets were New Testament spokesmen for God whose messages came immediately from God by the Spirit. Their ministry was to edify, encourage, and comfort (1Co 14:3).


1Co 14:3

But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.


Paul makes clear in this chapter that the gift of tongues, which seemed to be abundant in Corinth, being the gospel spoken in a foreign language, was a gift for the unbeliever. It would only edify in the church if someone interpreted the language so that all in the church could understand what was said. However, he says that the gift of prophecy, where a believer heard truth directly from the Holy Spirit and then communicated it to the church, was an edification for believers. Since the canon is complete, there is no longer a need for this gift. And neither is there a need for the gift of tongues, nor is there any evidence or historical account of speaking in tongues anywhere outside of 1Co.


There certainly was the danger of false prophets.


The messages of prophets were tested by the listeners to determine whether they were truly from God, 1Co 14:29; 1Th 5:19-21.


We should read this first passage in context as it shows us how the diversity of spiritual gifts, when mixed with pride, will actually sow discord in the church.


1Co 14:26-33

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.


1Th 5:12-24

But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 14 And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men. 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.


23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.


Worthy of your calling is to obey and “He also will bring it to pass.”


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