Ephesians 4:1–16comment (0)
October 14, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 4:1–16
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Being in Step
When church members cooperate with one another and their leaders and both leaders and members use the gifts God has provided, then the church is strengthened to become what He wants.
Live Up to Your Calling (1–6)
The apostle Paul urges his readers to walk worthily of their calling. He uses the term “walk” to speak of Christian behavior. We do not become Christians by living a Christian life. Rather we live the Christian life because we have become Christians. Our lives are to measure up to our position in Christ. A worthy walk includes the following virtues produced in us by the Holy Spirit: humility (putting Christ first, others second and self last, accepting and being ourselves to the glory of God), gentleness (power under control), patience (preserving an even temper in the face of adversity) and tolerance (love that accepts another). Turning from the virtues for individual believers, the apostle lists particular truths forming the basis of Christian unity. While not all Christians agree on some minor matters of doctrine, there are certain matters on which all do agree. (1) First is the body of Christ into which each believer becomes a member at salvation (1 Cor. 12). (2) The same Holy Spirit indwells each believer so that we belong to each other in Christ. (3) The “one hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:4) refers to the return of Christ. (4) The one Lord is Jesus Christ, who died for us and will come for us one day. (5) There is one settled body of truth revealed in the New Testament; it is called “the faith” (Jude 3). (6) The “one baptism” mentioned here is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which places the believer into the body of Christ. Water baptism is a reflection of Spirit baptism. (7) “One God and Father” expresses the basic doctrine of God revealed in Scripture. We are children in the same family, loving and serving the same Father.
Appreciate Spiritual Gifts (7–12)
Paul moves from what Christians have in common to how they differ. The various spiritual gifts are the means by which Christians minister in the body of Christ. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve Him and minister to other Christians in a way that glorifies Him and builds up believers. Every believer has at least one spiritual gift. All spiritual gifts are important and needed by the church. They have been given by Christ, through the Holy Spirit, following Christ’s ascension into heaven. Next Paul lists the gifted leaders God has placed in the church. The apostles were a close group of men appointed by Christ as His representatives. They had three basic responsibilities: to lay the foundation of the church in history (Eph. 2:20); to receive, declare and write God’s Word (Eph. 3:5); and to confirm God’s Word through signs, wonders and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12). When these men died, there were no more apostles and no more revelation from God to be written. The prophets were men especially qualified by the Lord for ministry exclusively within a local congregation. The Lord gifted them with the ability to receive, before the completion of the New Testament, practical revelation from Him as well as the ability to explain revelation already given. The evangelists were given the special ability to present the gospel so that people trusted Christ. The apostles and prophets laid the foundation of the church in time/space history, while the evangelists built on it by leading people to trust Christ. “Pastors and teachers” is best understood as one church office with two ministries. “Pastor” means “shepherd” so that this office means shepherding God’s people by means of teaching.
Work Together (13–16)
Paul desires the church to grow spiritually. As the members grow in God’s Word and minister to one another, they become more like Christ. The church also becomes more spiritually and emotionally stable. The members learn to speak the truth lovingly and work with each other cooperatively. The result is that they grow spiritually and help build the church.