Could You Explain More Fully Ephesians 4:11-16?


Here are the verses in question:

“(Ephesians 4:11) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

“(Verse 12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

“(Verse 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;

“(Verse 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,

“(Verse 15)  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

“(Verse 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.”

In analyzing these verses carefully, we find that verse 11 points out that it is Christ who gave or placed these ranks in the ministry—into His Body, the Church. These titles were not invented, decided or instituted by men, but by Christ, and we should have the faith and confidence that Christ knows what He is doing since He is the Head of the Body.

Also, men are not self-ordained into the ministry or to one of these offices, but they are ordained by other ministers. The process for ordination of ministers is outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, including the ordination of non-ministerial offices of deacon and deaconess.

Verse 12 explains the reason for these offices or ranks: It is for the equipping of the saints, to help the saints to be equipped with the whole armor of God, mentioned in Galatians 6:11-17, in order to overcome Satan’s attacks, and also for the edifying of the Body of Christ (the Church) to build it up and to encourage it; including the edification and sharpening of the ability to test the spirits.

Verse 13 shows us the purpose of this process: We all are to come to the unity (the same doctrinal beliefs), so that we are all on the same page. Notice that it says that we ALL come to that unity of faith–ALL, not just a few.

We are also to grow in the knowledge of the Son of God; that is, to know who and what God the Father and the Son of God are, and not to be confused by false doctrines about the Godhead like the doctrine of the Trinity or by the erroneous teaching that Christ was somehow fully God and fully man when on the earth. Rather, we are to understand the truth that He was fully man and gave up His divinity to become a man (Philippians 2:6-7). (Our booklet, Jesus Christ–a Great Mystery, goes into details about this fact.)

Verse 13 explains that we are to become more and more perfect, striving to attain the measure and the stature of Christ; that is, to have His mind in us (Philippians 2:5), as well as God the Father’s mind, as promised by Christ in John 14:23. We are to walk as He walked, according to His perfect example.

Verse 14 continues to show that we should be adults, mature in the knowledge of God and not be swayed by every wind of doctrine, distraction, conspiracy theory or so-called better understanding of certain aspects of the Bible, which may be twiggy—but  rather, we should stick to the trunk of the tree.  Hanging from a twig will offer little help when the winds of persecution and trials come, but hugging the trunk will preserve us.

Also notice, the winds of doctrine come from men and Satan, not from God. Trickery, cunning craftiness and deceitful plotting are characteristic of the adversary. They do not originate with God or Christ or His faithful and dedicated ministers.

Verse 15 shows that we are to speak the truth in love.  The truth is the Word of God, not some fanciful idea which does not square with Scripture. We must do it in love, with outgoing concern for those hearing the message, which makes it easier for them to assimilate and absorb it. The purpose is so that we may grow up, be adults, requiring meat and not just milk for our spiritual diet.

Verse 15 states that Christ is the Head of the Church. He is responsible for it, which does not mean we have no part in the process, but we are to follow Him as our Leader and we must not try to take over that responsibility.

Verse 16 explains that we are the members of that Body. The joints of a body supply movement; likewise, as God’s Church we must be moving forward in grace and knowledge, in truth and understanding.

Every part of the Body must do its share. If one is a little toe in the Body, then he or she must be the best little toe possible. We don’t all have the same functions in the Body but that does not mean that we cannot effectively do our part, regardless of how insignificant it seems.

The human body is a fully functional entity with all its systems working together. We have eleven systems in the body, including the circulatory, productive and nervous systems. Each system is working in harmony for the general well-being of the body as a whole.

We have five vital organs in the body, the heart and the liver being two of them. If we remove one or seriously damage it beyond repair, the body cannot survive. Each vital organ does its part and they are not in competition with one another. This is a good lesson for us to work in harmony.

We have a job to do as the Church or Body, and that is to preach the gospel to the world as a witness. We don’t all have the same function or responsibility, but we should work in harmony to that end (compare 1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

As Paul states, we are all part of the Body of Christ, but we are not all the same part, and each part is important and works in harmony with the other parts to achieve the goal set before us.

Regardless of how insignificant we may think we are, we all are important and we are all working towards the same goal, which includes the hope of achieving eternal life. In the process, we must be faithful servants.

White blood cells in the body may seem insignificant and we may not be able to see them, but they are vital for fighting infections and diseases. They are like a small army of soldiers fighting germs. If they all were to lay down their arms, as it were, the body would be subject to infections and diseases and would die in short order. White blood cells are small and out of sight, but are necessary for a person’s health.

Christ as the Head of the Church can also eradicate infections from His Body, the Church, through various means to keep the Church in a healthy condition.

Each member of the Body is a potential son or daughter of God, regardless of his or her responsibility within the Body, so let us never forget that fact. Each one of us is precious in God’s eyes.

Verse 16 states that the proper functioning of every part of the Body causes growth (spiritual growth). Growth can only occur while living and being actively engaged. It will edify the Body, which includes building it up in truth and knowledge, as we grow in those spiritual areas.

Verse 16 concludes that the edification of the Body must occur in love. This refers to the love of God. He gave up His Son to save the world, and part of our job as the Church, the Body of Christ, is to bring the message of salvation to this world.

Furthermore, we should be growing in grace and knowledge and true love, always remembering that no matter how small or seemingly insignificant we are, it is important that all the parts work smoothly and in harmony.

Christ is the living Head of the Church. As members and parts of the Body, we need to be healthy in order to accomplish our task given to us by God.

Lead Writer: Rene Messier (Canada)

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