Sunday, 11 September 2016
…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:12
The word “for” is used three times in the English of this verse, but actually two different words are used, pros and eis. The word pros gives the idea of “with a view to.” It is the ultimate end which is in view. The word eis gives the idea of “unto.”
The first thought is, “…for the equipping of the saints.” The appointment of the five offices of the previous verse (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers), is with a view to, or the ultimate end of, “equipping the saints.” The word translated as “equipping” here is katartismos. It is found only here in the New Testament, but it is found in classical Greek where it refers to the refitting of ships, and also to the setting of bones.
It is as if the church is being used in order to bring about a refitting of that which was lost. Those in this special body are being brought into a restored relationship with God where intimate fellowship will exist, just as it originally was for Adam. The “ministry” and the “edifying” which are next mentioned are the means to obtain this end. Thus, “equipping” is in the emphatic position.
This is why we can discern that two of the offices are no longer needed, that of the apostles and prophets. They were given with a view to the equipping of the saints. With the end of the apostolic era, and with the end of the giving of biblical inspiration, they were no longer required. However, the other three categories are still needed for the end purpose of equipping the saints. They are being perfected for the ultimate goal for which the church is intended.
Next Paul notes that this is “for the work of ministry” in order to reach the desired end goal. As noted, the word “for” here gives the idea of “unto.” The equipping of the saints is “unto the work of the ministry.” The work of the ministry, then, is intended for the equipping, or perfecting, of the saints. The evangelists, pastors, and teachers conduct their duties in order for this to come about.
Further, their work is for, or unto, “the edifying of the body of Christ.” When the body (meaning the sum of the individual parts) is edified, then the end goal of equipping the saints will be met. Paul’s words are logically showing us how the church is being prepared to be the beautiful temple where God will reside. He will continue with this line of thought in the verses ahead, and he will tell why this work is so vital. Failing to adhere to the inspired words of the apostles and prophets, and a failure to have sound evangelists, pastors, and teachers, can only lead to a sad end.
Life application: It is right and appropriate that we should pursue sound doctrine. Understanding the nuances of the Greek is often not possible by reading any given translation of the Bible. Therefore, an analysis of the original languages, and sound commentary from those who have been properly trained in those languages, is a reasonable way of discerning what is right and proper concerning sure doctrine.
Lord God, thank You for giving us such a firm and sound foundation on which we can stand. Your word is faithful and it is precious. In it, we can see what You intend for us and we can see Your marvelous plan of the ages – from beginning to end. In it, we are assured that all will be made right once again for those who have called on Christ and have received Your offer of forgiveness through His shed blood. Thank You that we don’t have to wonder if we have these things. We can be sure of them. Thank You for this marvelous guarantee. Amen.