In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul encourages the believers to remember their calling. He wants them to be diligent to preserve their unity of Spirit because they are of one body, in one Spirit called to one hope, and that they have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is over all and through all and in all. Paul, then, interjects with a contrast found in Ephesians 4:7. This contrast and the verses following in Ephesians 4:7-16 were our focus for the Week 7 lessons.
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7
The coordinating conjunction word, but, introduces the contrast found in the verses to follow. Paul switches gears from talking collectively of all believers to addressing the individual. The verse highlights that, in addition to the body of Christ being a beneficiary of His grace, each believer also receives grace given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Our lesson directed us to discover more about this gift through a couple of cross references. Through these references, we learned that the Holy Spirit was a gift given permanently to all who believe in Jesus after His ascension.(John 7:37-39) We also learned that the Holy Spirit gives these spiritual gifts as a manifestation of Him within believers and that they are for the good of all believers and that these gifts assist in the function of the church body.(1 Corinthians 12:4-13)
In Ephesians 4:11, we read about some of these gifts given by Jesus.
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,” Ephesians 4:11
Some scholars view pastor and teacher as a single gift to someone instead of two separate gifts. All of the gifts listed in this verse are speaking gifts. Additional spiritual gifts which include gifts of service can be found in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:1-8, and 1 Peter 4:10-11 but we were not instructed to read these additional passages in our lesson plan.
Ephesians 4:12-16 instructs that these gifts were given for the equipping of the saints in order to serve and minister as well as for the building up of the body of Christ. The person given the gift of apostleship is to share the message of the gospel and serve as a delegate or messenger sent on a mission to share God’s Word. The prophet is gifted with the gift of “speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God.” The evangelist is gifted with bearing the good news of the gospel to the lost so that they can become part of the body of Christ. The pastor is given the gift of shepherding the believers and the teacher is to teach and instruct.
Using these gifts properly, the church body is equipped and built up which leads to a unity of faith, knowledge of Jesus and maturity. Maturity in faith is what helps us as believers not to be tossed about, carried away, or deceived by false truths as Paul states in Ephesians 4:13-14.
“but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16.
When we are knit together properly as a church, exercising the spiritual gifts given for the good of one another as members of the body of Christ, and serving one another in love, then discord, falsehood, and immaturity should not be seen among the family of God. This properly working church instead will reflect God and bring glory to Him.
The Lesson 7 video featured Kay Arthur who spoke about church history. She shared stories of some of the difficult disputes among the early church. Disputes which lead to the death of some believers at the hands of other believers. She stated that when the church body does not grow up and know truth, when they do not live in the light of the knowledge of the unity of the Spirit that Paul teaches from Ephesians 4, then controversy, strife and discord lead to decisions that pit believer against believer. Kay exhorted and encouraged the listener to grow up in faith, to know the call of God and be worthy of it, to speak truth with love, and not cause division among the body of Christ. She also spoke in more detail about the spiritual gifts given to every believer.