Ephesians 4:7–16 (NKJV)
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)Ephesians 4:7-10
Paul transitions in this passage to a discussion of gifts, spiritual gifts of ministry, given to the church. He describes the lengths to which Jesus went to secure these gifts be in operation in the church. Paul has a strong Christology in his overall theology, where everything revolves around Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit came to the church through the advocacy of Jesus Christ. The gifts operate in the church because Jesus descended into the earth (at His death on the cross), and then emerged victorious to ascend to the heavens where He would disperse the gifts to all who would receive. He filled all things, completed all things, supplied all things that those on earth could receive salvation, forgiveness, and justification, but also receive the gifts of the Spirit and gifts of ministry for the betterment of the church and its members.
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.Ephesians 4:11-16
In this part of the passage, Paul then identifies the gifts of ministry which were being given to the church. He itemizes the five-fold ministry gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. While these are five different titles, the last two are groups together to signify that they often operate concurrently in the same person serving a local congregation. Pastor signifies a shepherding or leadership role, where teacher can signify the role that is uniquely instructing in the Word of God. The truly meaningful part of this passage is the explanation given for these gifts. Leadership is needed in the church, but not just so someone can be in charge. Instead, the leadership is to equip the saints to do ministry that will build up the church. Leaders are to foster unity, good doctrine, maturity, and Christ-centeredness. We are to grow up into Christ, the head, and allow Him to flow through us through His Holy Spirit to produce growth and maturity in all the parts of the body, so that all do the work they are gifted with, and will be solid, knowledgable, and resistant to temptation and false doctrine. In so being and doing, the members of the body of Christ will speak the truth in love, and will convict hearts of sin, and win them with the gospel! Edification, or building up the body and the church, and further the cause of the gospel of Christ. Let’s use the gifts God has given us and fulfill His purpose for our lives.
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