Ephesians 4:12-13: The goal of the church’s life.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent (making every effort) to preserve (guard or keep) the unity of the Spirit in the bond (binding together) of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Walking (living) worthy of our calling (Christ’s life) is to be done with humility, gentleness (meekness), patience with people, and forbearing with one another in divine love.
We are to remember that all of us, all believers share in the seven blessings listed. Of each one, there is only one, and since we all share in and possess each of these divine, eternal, and wonderful things, we must treat each other with these virtues.
Then Paul refers to our diversity.
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 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
Gifts are given to each believer for the sole purpose of equipping other believers for ministering work and thus the entire body of Christ is built up.
There is unity in the body of Christ as well as uniqueness in the individual parts. The gifts given to each are to be used to help other members of the body to be better fit for their own work, and so, in the genius of God, He made the uniqueness enhance and indeed strengthen the bonding together of the one body.
Starting, excitedly, in verse 12, we discover what the gifts of the spiritual life and the specific spiritual gifts are for. “And He gave …” is followed by three prepositional phrases.
One commentator said that Paul’s epistles read like “a rapid conversation stenographed.” Findlay says that in several places Paul’s ideas are shot out in disjointed clauses, hardly more continuous than short-hand notes; often, as in Ephesians, they pour in a full stream, sentence hurrying after sentence and phrase heaped upon phrase with an exuberance that bewilders us.
Paul did not have in mind literary craftmanship, but a direct and condensed communication of the grand truth of Jesus Christ.
For (pros = to, towards) the perfecting of the saints
For (eis) the work of ministry
For (eis) the building up of the body of Christ.
“Equipping” is a word that means completing or perfecting. “Service” is the word we already studied as the spiritual gift of ministering or serving. The whole thought of this section is the equipping of the saints for their own service so that the body would be built up. The first line (vs. 7) looks forward to it and the last line (vs. 16) looks back to it.
The two prepositions used (pros and eis) have several meanings. Eis usually means “into.” Pros has the nuance of heading towards something or being with something. All three phrases state the purpose of Christ’s gifts.
The first is the completing or perfecting the saints. Certainly, we cannot make other Christians mature, but this word has the nuance of being made fit for service rather than spiritual maturity. In our service we help others to also serve in their own personal ministry.
Each preposition has its object. The first object is:
“equipping” – katartismos = make fit, complete, perfect.
The nuance of this word is not finishing or completing a journey, but being equipped or made fit for a journey.
Doctrinally this supports the biblical principle that only the believer can do the things necessary to run the race and finish the course. No one, not even God can force him or do the running for him. Growing to spiritual maturity, or rather continually heading in that direction, is totally in your own hands.
However, being equipped to do the work that will assist in maturation demands help from the service of other believers.
And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete [teleion – same word translated “mature” in Eph 4:13] in Christ.
It’s not a paradox that others can’t make us mature but that we need their help in maturing. It’s like building a house. If you are the builder, it is up to you whether the house gets finished. But you need plans, tools, workers, machinery, etc. If for some petty reason you fire all the workers, your house will not be completed. In some rare instances, a believer might be forced to be very isolated, but going back to our analogy, he will then only be able to build a small shelter, and with devotion to it, a very good shelter, and the Lord will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” But for almost all of us, God is building a palace, and that demands that others pitch in and we help each other with our own building projects. The example of the barn raising method of the Amish comes to mind.