BIBLICAL BODY BUILDING
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Earlier in this letter, Paul had discussed the fact that Jesus is the chief cornerstone, the Apostles and prophets completed the foundation, and each believer fits into the building as God has gifted them (Ephesians 2:20) This is God’s blueprint for building His church. Apostles in this verse refers to the specific office of “apostle of Christ” meaning the 12 including Matthias and the Apostle Paul, making 13 in all. They were tasked with teaching the early church the truths they learned from Jesus, hearing and writing scripture, and confirming the Word, as the Lord, by the Holy Spirit, performed signs and miracles through them. When these apostles who were personally appointed by Jesus died, they were not replaced.
The early church prophets gave or explained revelation to specific congregations. There is still a gift of prophecy, but the prophets referred to in this verse were men specifically ordained to build the early church alongside the apostles.
Reformation Study Bible
prophets. The New Testament prophets conveyed special revelation to the early church. Their functions included prediction, exhortation, encouragement, warning, and explanation (Acts 15:32; 21:9–11; 1 Cor. 14:3). The teaching of the New Testament prophets and apostles laid the foundation of the church (2:20), and certain aspects of their work related to that unique task have been discontinued.
Evangelists have the specific gift of sharing the gospel, the good news that salvation is a free gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ, with unbelievers. Jesus commands all of us to share the good news, but some are particularly gifted in this area. Philip was an evangelist, and you can read how the Lord used him in Acts chapter 8.
Preachers/Teachers are those who shepherd the Lord’s “sheep.” They explain the word of God so that their congregations can internalize and live out what the Bible teaches in order to be witnesses, as lights in a dark world. They protect the flock by warning them about temptations, worldly appetites, and false teachers.
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
These gifted men were the “ingredients” for the success of the early church. Have you ever made “friendship” bread? It is a sourdough type of bread made from a starter passed from one friend to another. The early church under the leadership of the Apostles and prophets were the beginning. That starter continues to be passed down through the Bible, evangelists, and pastor/teachers to build thriving congregations. The model of the early church provides that starter base for all who would build a congregation that honors the Lord.
The leadership of the local congregation edifies (builds up and instructs) the believers under their care in order to help them ALL be faithful witnesses of the Lord Jesus. The pastor/teacher is not to be a one man or woman show. He/she is to instruct, inspire, edify the congregants in each of their giftings that the Lord has bestowed on them for the building of the church. We are all teammates trying to reach the same goals, and the pastor/teacher is the captain/coach who helps us become proficient in the game. We all work together to witness and to disciple new believers.
Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
We need to be rooted and grounded in the solid doctrine of the New Testament, and the pastor/teacher guides the church in that area. However, we as believers need to grow in our own knowledge of Jesus through prayer, Bible study, and obedience to what the Lord commands in His word. We will not completely achieve this transformation while in our earth-suits, but we should be maturing and becoming more Christ-like moment by moment as we surrender our wills to His, as we submit ourselves to the Lord’s pruning. The final metamorphosis to be completely like Jesus will occur when we are with Him.
1 Corinthians 15:52 (KJV) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Let’s take a look at this verse in the Amplified Classic Version:
Ephesians 4:15 (AMPC) Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
As mature believers, those who have walked with Jesus and come to know Him better through His word, prayer, and obedience, we are to be living examples of the truth that He taught. Speaking the truth in love means lovingly encouraging or correcting fellow believers. It is not just that we speak truth because we care, but it is HOW we speak that truth. Not only the manner in which we speak truth, but the motivation behind our addressing a fellow believer is important. We need to be sure we are coming from a position of genuine love and concern. We should not speak in any way that we would be embarrassed for Jesus to hear because, after all, He does hear everything including our thoughts!
Jesus is the Captain and the owner of this ship called the church. He is the one who we must follow if we all want to be sailing the right direction.
Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
As we grow in Jesus, each one of us will operate the way He intends, fulfilling our individual purposes but working together to build up the church as a familyship of love.
Ephesians 4:16 (VOICE) He joins and holds together the whole body with its ligaments providing the support needed so each part works to its proper design to form a healthy, growing, and mature body that builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Now Paul tells the Ephesians what NOT to do. He tells them not to be like unregenerate, unbelieving Gentiles as they were before. He wants them to avoid falling back into their old ways when they were ignorant of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Unbelievers are “willfully ignorant” of God’s ways, choosing to ignore all evidence of His grace and power. They choose to be slaves of their sensual desires rather than servants of their Creator.
Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language:
1. Looseness; irregular indulgence of animal desires; wantonness; lustfulness.
Who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness Ephesians 4:19.
1. Each believer should be seeking to know Jesus more by being in the word, praying, and obeying.
2. Believers need to exercise the gifts given them in order to build up the church.
3. We need to admonish those who are slipping away but be sure it is done in an attitude of love and grace.