A Second Helping of Ephesians 4:1-16

Pastors are collectors. We collect books, notes, anecdotes, quotes, oddities about the Greek/Hebrew text, etc. Most of this collecting is done during sermon preparation. However, when we preach a lot of this collected data gets left at home.  It seems a shame to let it go to waste. So here are some additional notes on Ephesians 4:1-16 that I scavenged while preparing to preach. If you would like to hear the sermon you can go here.

1. Verses 4-6 have a Trinitarian shape. There is one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father of us all. This Trinitarian shape is why we can have unity (verses 1-6), but a diversity of gifts (verse 7).

2. Charles Hodge on the unity of the Spirit. “As hatred, pride, and contention among Christians cause the Spirit to withdraw from them, so love and peace secure his presence. And as his presence is the condition and source of all good, and his absence the source of all evil, the importance of the duty enjoined [unity] cannot be over estimated.”

3. Verses 11-12 are  some of the most debated verses in the New Testament. Two problems are presented. Is verse 11 talking about 4 offices (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor/teacher) or 5 offices (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor, and teacher)? Second, is verse 12 talking about three things the teaching offices do or one the teaching office does (equip) and two things the saints do (the work of the ministry and the building up of the body)? It is interesting how interpretations shift over time. In the reformation era the 5 office view and teaching offices doing all three were the dominant interpretations of the verses.  Today the ground has shifted to exactly the opposite.

4. A diversity of gifts does not harm the Body of Christ, but on the contrary makes it healthy.

5. The only other verse in the New Testament where word for “tossed to and fro” is used is James 1:16. 

6. “Speaking the truth in love” in verse 15 is talking about speaking doctrinal truth. It is connected with verse 14. It is not talking just about lying, but rather about false teaching.  Paul uses “truth” in a similar way in 4:21.

7. The body is built up/edified when each part does its share. (verse 16)