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Study on the Ephesians 4 Ministries
by Carolyn Wyman

Here is the study I've done on Ephesians 4:

Paul wrote Ephesians 5 years after I Corinthians, which was written while Paul was the pastor of Ephesus.  Thus, the Ephesians would have been familiar with Paul's teaching of I Corinthians and the lists of "spiritualities" in chapter 12.

Here Paul teaches (after a discourse on the foundation of humility and unity in chapter 11) that there are:

1. diverstities of gifting (charismaton - graces), but the selfsame Spirit

2. diversities of serving (diakonion - ministry, service), but the selfsame Lord

3. diversities of working (energematon- activity, work), but the selfsame God who works (energon-  effects) everything in everything (This, by the way, is another place where we see the Trinity at work...)

Then he launches into a list concerning the manifestation (evidence) of the Spirit ("given to each for the advantage of bringing together," v.7):

1. word (logos - spoken word) of wisdom (sophias - wisdom in action) through (dia) the Spirit

2. word (logos) of knowledge (gnoseos - apprehension of truth) according to (kata) the selfsame Spirit

3. faith in (en) the selfsame Spirit 4. gifts of healing in the selfsame Spirit

5. working (energemata) miracles (dunameon - inherent power)

6. prophecy (divine inspiration declaring the purposes of God)

7. discerning (diakriseis -distinguishing, separating) of spirits

8. kinds (gene -differences) of tongues (glosson - tongue, language)

9. interpretation (hermeneia) of tongues "Each of these works (energei) that one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one his own proportionately to a purpose." (I Cor 12: 11)

After a disposition on the Body of Christ, Paul lists the parts of His body (vv.27-28):

1. First, apostles (apostolous - one sent by another) (We now use the Latin word, missionary)

2. Second (as the other of two), prophets (prophetas - in Greek, one who speaks before others the oracles of deity)

3. Thirdly, teachers (didaskalous - instructor)

4. Then, miracles (dunameis - inherent power)

5. Then, gifts (charismata) of healings

6. Helps (antilempseis - support, aid, embrace - "to take hold of the other")

7. Governments (kuberneseis - to steer)

8. Kinds of tongues

Since it is safe to assume that the Ephesians were familiar with the lists and teachings above, it would follow that Paul would, in his letter to them 5 years later, be building on that knowledge.  Thus we come to chapter 4. Paul is begging us to walk worthy of the calling by being subject to one another in humilty, remembering that even Jesus came from heaven to lowly earth (v.9) to serve and not to be served!  So when he begins this list of gifts, he uses a different word than "charismata" as he had in the letter to the Corinthians.  Charis and charismata might best be understood as "a favor," something that is not necessary to give, even a surprise.  It's like letting an insult go without responding in kind, or giving a kind word to someone who deserves an upbraiding instead.  In that sense, the prior lists have the flavor of the unsought and unexpected, while the list in Ephesians is more of a concrete thing that could be expected (like a Christmas gift).

You may ask why this matters, but clearly it does to the Holy Spirit, Who led Paul to use different terms than the ones he had used previously.  The significance is, to me, that the lists in I Cor (and Romans 12)are of those graces that the Lord has given without a person "growing," so that even a babe in Christ is capable from the offset to increase the kingdom through his particular gift. Obviously, then, this idea of "getting better" at things like healing is foreign to the Scriptures.

The gifts (graces) of words of wisdom and knowledge, of faith and healing, of tongues and their interpretation are mature and complete immediately.  To take the case of the prophet (since that has been so abused by the elite among Pentecostals), he or she does not "get better," is not subject to percentages of accuracy.  From the get-go, any word of prophecy from a true prophet of Jesus Christ will be 100% correct all the time and every time. If a prophecy fails, that person is not a prophet, and we are not to fear him or her.  But clearly, the gift is the Lord's and He is able to keep it pure from the beginning.

The 4 or 5 (there is disagreement about this, due in part to trouble translating the words "kai ... men" in the Greek....) of Ephesians 4 are not graces, but "domata" and means something given, like a cup of water or a piece of pie.  It is a material thing (or person) rather than an intangible thing.   The difference is striking in the Greek, where "charisma" is used so often.  Why is it now just domata?  The Greek thus reads: "And He gave apostles,  prophets,  evangelists,  pastors and teachers..." The gist of this passage is that these PEOPLE were the gifts Christ gave to the church (v.7).  We are not being taught about unmerited (unworked for) grace, but "servants" - those who minister to the needs of the Body.

1. Apostles (sent ones) are given to the church to spread the word of salvation in Jesus Christ.

2. Prophets are given to the church to speak truth to God's people, the believers.

3. Evangelists ("good angel; good messenger") are given to bring the good word, a message of encouragement to the believer.

4. The pastors (poimenas - shepherds) and teachers (instructors) are given to tend the flock of God ("Feed [poimaine]my sheep...").  The difference is that charismata are graces, and domas are people.   And since domas are people, it would follow that they do grow by time and experience and knowledge.  Thus, the Lord is saying that He  gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers:

1. For (pros- to the advantage of) the perfecting (fitting, as an arranging) of the set apart ones

2. For (eis - because of what has happened in the past) the work (ergon) of the ministry (diakonias - serving)

3. For (eis) the building (oikodomen - house construction, literally "house and roof") of the body (somatos) of Christ (Christou - Messiah)

4. Until everyone attains (katantesomen) unto (eis) unity of the faith and of the correct knowledge of the Son of God

5. unto (eis) a finished (teleion) man

6. unto (eis) a measuring stick (metron) of adulthood (as one at full height) of the fulness (filled to capacity) of Christ

And why?

v. 14: (my translation) "In order that we may be no longer babies, tossed by waves, and carried around by every strong wind of teaching, in the dice-playing of human beings, in deceitful cleverness, to the advantage of those who lie in wait to deceive, v.15. But speaking the truth in love (agape - responsible love) may grow up in every way because of Him, who is the Head, Christ, v.16 out of Whom the whole Body joined perfectly together (sunarmologoumenon - "laid down with harmony") and knitted together (sunbibazomenon - "with both feet") through all joints ministering according to the working (energeian) in the measure of every part,  bringing increase of the body because of the building (house construction) of itself in love (agape). "

What, then, is Paul teaching?

A. That, unlike the charismata (which is powered by Him immediately), we are to receive these gifts of men and women in the assembly as those who help us grow as a unit. While we are to be zealous for the graces, that, like salvation, are complete and entire at the beginning of our walk, we are to receive these gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers as blessings of God to grow up with us into maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:1-11).  [I wish you read Greek, so that you could hear the flow of Paul's teaching - how he appeals for tenderness towards each other.]

B. That we are to receive these gifts for the purposes of organizing, serving, and building up the saints, with a view to unity and correct knowledge, with a goal of developing a fully grown and perfectly formed Body of Christ (Eph.4:12-13).

C. That we are to receive these gifts for the purposes of protection from false and/or harmful teaching (Eph.4:14). D. That we are to receive these gifts for the purposes of hearing truth that causes us to grow as a Body, of whom Christ is the Head (Eph.4:15-16).

The homechurches of the first through third centuries did not lack these gifts, and neither do we.  But we may lack the benefits of them if we refuse to let them have their place in the assembly.  Speaking through the Holy Spirit, Paul makes it clear that we NEED these people.  Praise Him for His glorious gifts and graces!

See also: Ephesians 4:15-16 - For The Body  by Molly Aley
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