4:8-11 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers
By the grace of God we are able to fulfill our roles and ministries within the Body of Christ.
Unity, as mentioned prior in Ephesians, does not deflect from the importance of Biblical diversity. Diversity, not as the worldly flesh teaches, but in our ministries being carried out according to the measure of grace allotted.
As for gifts, this often becomes the focus of “diversity”, yet this Scripture cannot be justification for such gifts. In the time that Paul wrote Ephesians, apostolic gifts and even prophecy was still prevalent.
There was a transition period between the Kingdom of Israel program and the Grace program we live in today.
However, the apostolic gifts have ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8-13) and are unnecessary in light of the completion of the Canon.
Many of Paul’s apostolic gifts even ceased (ex. [Healing] Philippians 2:25-30).
They were foundational (Ephesians 2:20); yet, God’s completed Word stands as our ultimate authority now and extra-Biblical revelation is no true revelation at all.
A man of God is made perfect by the Gospel, which is of the Scripture/Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Canon is completely capable of guiding successful ministry.
Some ministries have been specifically kept in operation; however, without some of the more notable apostlic gifts, these ministries may look different (ex. Pastor, teacher).
As for verses 9 and 10, note the contrast between Christ’s descension into Hell (1 Peter 3:18-20) and then ascension to Heaven. Christ’s glory has been at both ends. Above all principalities and powers, Christ is exalted (Ephesians 1:19-23)
4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
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 fulness 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;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
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.
Nonetheless, for verse 12, the roles that Paul listed strike an uncanny semblance to a verse mentioned prior in this study.
2 Timothy 3:17 states that by inspired Scripture, man may “be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”.
In verse 12, Paul places responsibility on the roles such as teachers, preachers, prophets, and apostles to teach the Word of God “for the perfecting of the saints”.
The teachers do not perfect the saints, the message they carry does.
God’s word teaches doctrine, reproofs, corrects, instructs (2 Timothy 3:16), perfects, and edifies (Builds up) the Body of Christ.
Verse 12-16 is all one complete sentence combined and concerns ministry and its varying functions.
- Purpose is: Perfecting (v.12)
- Goal is (v.13-14): Unity of The Faith and knowledge of Christ raises us from babies in faith to adults (1 Corinthians 14:20) in the fullness of Christ Jesus.
Note what doctrine and knowledge we are raised up in matters (v.14). Anything other than doctrine derived from the true Gospel is deceiving and needs to be marked and avoided (Romans 16:17-18).
Failure to do such is why local Christian fellowships get ripped apart and unity of the Spirit is divided.
Paul has strong words for deceivers, who teach another Gospel. He states to “let him [them] be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
- Motive is: Love (v.15-16)
Truth in love is the fertilizer of Christian growth.
Accurate Biblical love edifies the Body and makes a more effective movement for the Body of Christ. It is the first of the fruit of Spirit for good reason and should be our motivation as we carry the head of the Body, Jesus Christ, in our life.