We now look at Paul’s writing in Ephesians 4:7-16. He has already spoken of walking worthy of our calling as reflected in our character (4:1-2); and of making every effort to be united in the Holy Spirit as reflected in our fundamental doctrine (4:3-6).
Now his next words are, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (4:7) This section, then, is going to be about the gifts that Christ Jesus has richly given His church and the purposes for which those gifts are given.
- Paul has already revealed in part how it is possible for believers to walk worthy of their calling and to keep the unity that the Holy Spirit produces.
- It is rooted first in the prayer at the end of Ephesians 3 as he speaks of being strengthened with power in our inner being by the Holy Spirit, as we comprehend the love of Christ “so that you may be filled to all the fullness of Christ.”
- Now, here in 4:13 he will speak again of attaining the fullness of Christ.
GIFTS HAVE BEEN GIVEN:
- “But” does not appear as a separate word in the Greek; rather is the translators’ way of rendering, “but to each one.” It seems it could as easily be given as “now, in the same way” or even “on the other hand.”
- The immediate emphasis is now on what Christ has given each one of us, not just what the Church as a whole has received from Him.
- “To each one of us grace has been given.” Earlier when Paul used “grace” (1:6,7; 2:5, 7, 8) he emphasis was the grace of God which saved us without our deserving it.
- Now he is narrowing down the idea of grace here specifically to the gift or gifts Christ has given to each one. After all, the Greek word charis means both “grace” and “gift”.
- We have four places in the New Testament where such gifts are spoken about in some detail:
- Here in Ephesians 4:7-16
- Romans 12:3-8
- I Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31
- I Peter 4:8-11
- And in each context the same two points are emphasized:
- Christ (or God) sovereignly chooses both who receives which gifts according to His grace
- The gifts are always to benefit the Body of Christ and each other, not the recipient of the gift
- These gifts are commonly classified by scholars into several kinds. No matter the gift or category, each is from the Lord, and is just as important for meeting the needs of the Body.
- Miraculous or supernatural gifts – tongues, healings, prophecy – primarily for the purpose of confirming, convincing, providing evidence that the Gospel is truly from God
- “Common” or more natural gifts – teaching, generosity, hospitality, leadership, service, etc. – which are to help the Body grow or to minister to specific needs. Note that calling these gifts “natural” does not take away from the fact that the Lord Himself gave them
- While we may have trouble distinguishing between the common gifts and a person’s own skills or abilities, Paul made no such distinction. They all came from the Lord for the benefit of the Body
- The “gifts” most visible that Paul mentions here are apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. I find it fascinating that these gifts are not things (acts or abilities) but people! Certain people (in fact, maybe all believers) are Christ’s gift to the Body! So to reject someONE in the Body is rejecting some GIFT the Lord has given to the Church!
TO PREPARE GOD’S PEOPLE:
- When new believers first come into Christ’s Body, they only know that once they were lost but now they are saved, blind but now they see.
- Paul is saying that before them now is the task of serving in the body. And these “gifts which are people” have been given to prepare them for works of service… no doubt using the gifts that Christ is now giving to each one of them
- “Prepare” (Greek, karartismos) according to the Greek dictionaries means “to make fit, equip, furnish.”
SO THAT THE BODY OF CHRIST MAY GROW UP:
- “All reach unity in the faith”
- “All reach unity… in the knowledge of the Son of God”
- “And become mature”
- “Attaining to the full measure of the fullness of Christ”
- “No longer ‘rocked’ (tossed about) by every wind of doctrine”
- Each part and member of the Body does his/her part for the whole Body to grow.
- Paul is making it palin that the Body of Christ is not simply a collection of individuals but is to be one cohesive whole.
- Each part/member is contribute according to the gifts provided in him/her by Christ for the unity, growth, and maturity of the entire Body.
- In so doing both our Lord Jesus and our Heavenly Father will truly receive glory both now and through all ages to come!
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