We Mature Together- Ephesians 4:11-15

In our previous post, we examined the mission and goal of church leaders, which is the building up of the body of Christ. We will resume our look at Ephesians 4 in verse 13, in which we find what evidence leaders are to look for to examine if they are successful in their mission. Paul uses here the metaphors of both a body and a building, both of which are made up of various parts and need all parts operating properly to function well. He begins verse 13 with the term “until”, identifying here the goal of the process of edifying individual believers so that the group can function as intended. The use of “all” here shows that God intends none be left behind or overlooked in this process, leaders are responsible for the edification of all members of the body, each part is to be tended to and cared for. This is all so that all may “reach” something. Reach here is the aorist subjunctive of katantao- to arrive at a destination. We are intended to travel together and arrive together, characterized not by competition but by cooperation, each part seeking to help the other parts function to their full capacity. The use of the subjunctive here shows that this has been made possible but is not certain, that reach the destination is up to us. The goal then is given in several parts, the first of which is “unity in the faith”. The Greek unity here is hemotes, literally “oneness”, with the church here being a reflection of the nature of God as trinity, God as three, being and functioning as one, and the church being many, being and functioning as one. This oneness is to be in “the faith”, an expression here used to describe the doctrine of the Apostles, the body of teaching set forth by them in Scripture, whose essential teachings believers are to be “one” in. The second part is then given as “the knowledge of the Son of God”. The Greek “knowledge” here is epignosis, which describes a relational and experiential knowledge, a growing intimacy with the person of Jesus Christ, described here as the “Son of God”. This term is used by Paul here in a way similar to John’s use of it, to describe Jesus as the Son who always does the will of His father, for the Son does what the Father does (John 5:19, 8:31-47), and the goal for all believers is that they would, like Jesus, always do the will of the Father, that as “sons” they would do what the Father does. As grow in this knowledge we become “mature”, telos in the Greek, which refers not to maturity in the sense of growing up, but speaks of a goal or purpose. Something is telos when it fulfills its purpose, when it does what it is created to do, and each member of the body has been “given” a purpose, and those who are “mature” have found their purpose and place within the body and are fulfilling it, are doing what they are created to do. Through the ministry of their leaders, they have found what part of the body they are, and are functioning as they were intended to function. When this happens in each individual, then the body as a whole will “attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. The term fullness here is the same as used in Colossians 2, and refers to being one with God, finding our place and purpose and fulfilling it, doing what we are created to do under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Just as no one individual leader can fulfill all of the roles set forth in verse 11, no one believer can be filled to the measure of all the fullness of Christ, it takes the entire body to be Jesus to the world. We “mature” together as each member of the body does its part and helps others find and do their parts. We find “fullness” together as each part lives out its own “fullness”, as each believer discovers who and what he is, what he is given in Christ, and functions as Christ created him to. We are intended to function as a body, with each part doing its part, and we will only accomplish our goal and carry out mission as each part works together to help the other parts be all they are created to be.

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