The Mission of the Church- Ephesians 4:11-15

In this passage, Paul gives the leaders of the church their mission and commission in regard to those under their leadership, as well as the goal toward which all of their efforts are to be directed. He begins in verse 11, by telling us that these leaders are chosen by God, that “It was He (God) who gave some to be Apostles”, etc. Who these leaders are and what they are to do is determined by God Himself, it is not up to leaders to choose their place but to discover their place, which is given by God. The term given here is didomi, to give as a gift, a term very similar to charis, or grace. A position of leadership in the church is a gift of the grace of God, not based upon the worth or worthiness of the one receiving it, but solely upon God’s choice. We next find that these gifts are given to “some”, not all. The Greek translated as “some” here is “tous men-tous de”, a figure of speech meaning “the one- the other”, with the idea here being that each of these positions is held by a different person, in direct contrast to the five fold ministry nonsense preached today, the idea that all of these gifts are given to one person. Paul then lists what these positions are, and he begins with apostles, from the Greek apostolos, which means to “send out”. This term signifies one who is sent out as an official representative, given full authority and commissioned with a message or task. The apostle must also be the embodiment of the one who sends them out, their character serving to verify the validity of their message. In the case of the New Testament, the Apostles were personally commissioned by Jesus Christ Himself, and went out to proclaim His message under His full authority, with that authority verified by their character, which was the embodiment of Jesus Himself. Next Paul mentions prophets, from the Greek prophetes, to “tell forth”. A prophet is one who speaks for God to His people, one who declares the word of the Lord, one who proclaims the message of the Apostles (Scripture) to the people, seeking to bring them to repentance, to a change of mind and a change of direction. Next is evangelists, the Greek euangelion, to “proclaim good news”, to proclaim the message of the Apostles to those who are not God’s people, in order to bring them to faith in the Jesus they proclaim. We should also note here that both the prophet and the evangelist should also be the embodiment of the one “giving” them their place, their character should be such that it does not invalidate their message. Next is pastors, from the Greek poimenos, often translated as shepherds, from a root meaning “to tend”. This term is used only here in the New Testament, and speaks to the role of the pastor as one who tends to the needs of his flock, whether spiritual or otherwise, the context of which we will see shortly. Last on the list is teachers, from the Greek didaskalos- to instruct in doctrine. These differ from prophets in that prophets proclaim the message of the apostles, while teachers explain the message of the apostles and help people apply it to their lives. What is critical to note in all of this is that the message of the prophet or evangelist, the work of the pastor and the instruction of the teacher are always subject to, based on and commissioned by the message of the apostles, on the Word of God as they have proclaimed it in the Scripture. Paul then gives the goal toward which all of these leaders are to work, what their particular forms of service are designed to bring about, and it is a two part mission. The first is “to prepare God’s people for works of service”. The word prepare here is the Greek katartismos, a medical term referring to the setting of a bone, used here to signify the putting of things in their proper place. It is the task of church leaders to help others find their proper, God given, place within the body of Christ, to help the “saints” (God’s people) find their own place and purpose within God’s kingdom. All of their proclamation, teaching and shepherding should be directed toward this goal. That place, we then find, will always involve “works of service”, it will always be directed primarily toward others, used to glorify God through service to others rather than to glorify self through self promotion. The second part of this mission of church leaders is so that “the body of Christ may be built up”. The church is a unit, described here as a body. A body only functions at its full capacity when each individual part is functioning properly, as it is intended to function, and it will only be “built up”, or grow into a strong, healthy body as each part is strengthened and grows into its full maturity. Thus we find that the primary task of church leaders is to ensure that each member of the body of Christ find their proper, God given place and purpose within the body of Christ, and that they be given the “food” and resources necessary to grow into fully functioning members of that body. It is only when leaders within the church realize, understand and live out their God given commission from this passage that the body of Christ will function properly, and lives and hearts will be truly transformed.

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