The Book of EPHESIANS
James J. Barker
THE MINISTRY GIFTS
- Last week we studied the
unity of the church (4:3-6).
Tonight, we shall look at the diversity of the church.
- “Unity is not monotonous
- Each member of the local
church has a particular role assigned to him or her. No two members are alike, and no two
members have exactly the same function.
- The part to be played by
each church member is assigned “according to the measure of the gift of Christ”
- As each member fulfills his
appointed assignment, the church grows both spiritually and
- Tonight, we will look at the
ministry gifts, which are part of God’s program for the local
- THE GIVING OF THE
- THE PURPOSE OF THE
- THE EFFECTUAL WORKING OF THE
THE GIVING OF THE GIFTS
- The Holy Spirit gives the
gifts, and the Holy Spirit Himself is the gift (cf. John 14:16, 17; Acts
- In other words, a gift is
the Holy Spirit working through the believer for the purpose of building up the
local church (cf. I Cor. 12:7, 11).
- First Corinthians 12-14 and
Romans 12 deal extensively with this important matter of spiritual
- Each believer is given a
gift so that he or she may function in the body (the church) in a particular
- My eyes would not do me much
good apart from the rest of my body, neither would my arms, legs, ears,
- My body needs all the
members to function properly.
Likewise, for the body of Christ to function properly – all members need
to work together. This is the “unity of the Spirit” Paul
speaks of in Ephesians 4:3.
- Notice the gifts are for all
– “But unto every one of us…” (Eph. 4:7).
- The more gifts we have, the
more grace we need. That is why
Paul spoke of grace being “according to the measure of the gift”
- Along with the gift, every
one of us is given grace to exercise that gift in the power and fullness of the
Holy Spirit. When each believer is
exercising his or her gift, it produces harmony as does each member of the human
body. (The converse is true also.)
- Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 but
you will notice it is a bit different (Eph. 4:8). The Holy Spirit is allowed to do that
but we are not allowed to do that.
- One of the marks of a cult
is their changing, adding, and omitting words in the Bible. Paul refers to this as “the sleight of
men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”
- Back in Ps. 68:18, we are
told that the Lord Jesus Christ “had received gifts for men.” Then He came to earth, died on the
cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into
- Now, up in heaven, He is
distributing the gifts among men – He “gave gifts unto men”
- How is He giving gifts unto
men? Through the Holy
- “He led captivity captive”
(4:8) refers to all the saints who died before Calvary and went to paradise when
they died. Remember, our Lord said
to the thief on the cross, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me
in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
- Our Lord referred to
paradise as “Abraham’s bosom” in Luke 16:22.
- Christ took these OT
believers with Him out of paradise, and into the very presence of God when He
ascended into heaven. That is why
Paul says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (II
- Now, when Christ ascended He
also gave gifts to men (4:8). The
scope of the gifts is paralleled with the scope of Christ’s victory – His
resurrection and His ascension (4:7-11).
- “The lower parts of the
earth” (4:9) refers to hell.
However, the Bible says little about this. The charismatic (e.g., Kenneth Copeland)
teaching that our Lord was tortured in hell by demons is
- Now in Eph. 4:11, Paul names
the gifts to the local church:
- Apostles – men who were
directly commissioned by the Lord to preach the Word and plant churches. They had seen the resurrected Saviour
(Acts 1:22), and had power to perform miracles (cf. II Cor. 12:12) as a means of
confirming the message they preached (cf. Heb. 2:4). Together with the prophets, they laid
the foundation for the church (Eph. 2:20).
- Prophets – spokesmen for
God. They received direct
revelation from the Lord and passed it on to the church (cf. Acts 11:27-30;
- Evangelists – those who
preach the Gospel and win souls; generally understood to be itinerant preachers
like Paul (church planters, missionaries,
- Pastors – those who guide
and feed the flock. The pastor has
the same office as bishop and elder (cf. Acts 20:17, 28; Phil. 1:1; I Tim.
3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; I Peter 5:1-4).
- Teachers – Because pastors
and teachers are linked in this verse, some conclude that it means
“pastor-teachers.” They have a
point, for all pastors must be “apt to teach” (I Tim. 3:2b). However, these are two different gifts
and two different offices. Some men
are gifted Bible teachers but have not been called to the office of
- We should distinguish
between divine gifts and natural talents.
Some men have natural talents but cannot serve as evangelists or pastors
unless God calls them.
- God takes our natural
talents and sanctifies them for His use.
THE PURPOSE OF THE GIFTS
- It is good to stop at this
point and ask, “What is the purpose of these
- According to Ephesians 4:12,
they are “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for
the edifying (building up) of the body of
- This is God’s
- The evangelists, pastors,
and teachers teach and disciple the saints. They are then equipped for the work of
the ministry. They are being
- The saints then do “the work
of the ministry,” i.e. they serve God in their local church (teaching SS,
preaching, singing, ushering, soulwinning, working in the nursery,
- The church is then edified
or built up – both spiritually and
- There is a popular
misconception (largely due to the RCC with their unscriptural priesthood and
hierarchy), that the ministry is for priests or “ministers.” According to the NT, all Christians are
priests and ministers.
- The “ministry” is not
restricted to pastors, evangelists, missionaries, or those in full-time
Christian service. All Christians
should serve (minister).
- All Christians should be
reproducing themselves. On a usual Sunday, we usually have a few first-time
visitors. Now, if each one of us
brought one visitor, we would double our attendance. This is how the church is “edified”
(4:12), or built up numerically.
- It is built up spiritually
by the preaching of the Word of God.
- Expecting the pastor to do
all the soulwinning, and all the visiting, and all the calling, and all the
inviting and all the tract distribution is
- This mindset hinders the
development of the individual church members, stifles the outreach of the
church, slows down the progress of the church, limits the missions program, and
stunts the growth of the church.
- How long will this program
continue? “Till we all come in the unity of the faith…” (4:13). In other words, when we get to
- Today we have our
disagreements, some major, most minor.
But in heaven there will be perfect
- “The measure of the stature”
(4:13) means our complete development.
Today we are in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ
(cf. Rom. 8:29). But we are
not there yet.
- Another reason God has
gifted the church is so “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and
fro…” (4:14). Christians who are
not actively engaged in serving God in a good local church are tossed to and
fro, and are carried about with every wind of doctrine (e.g., many radio
- Folks that are not grounded
in a good local church are susceptible to all of the strange doctrines, passing
fads and gimmicks so prevalent in religious
- These people tend to become
religious gypsies, moving here and there, hither and thither, tossed to and fro
like a boat on rough waters, moving from one church to another, never settling
down in any one church. I have met
scores of these people over the years.
- These church-hopping hobos
are easily deceived “by the sleight of men” (like card sharks on streets
tricking and cheating gullible passers-by).
THE EFFECTUAL WORKING OF THE
GIFTS (4:15, 16)
- The effectual working of the
gifts results in our “growing up into (unto) Him in all things”
- If we are to “grow up,”
there must be the proper balance.
As parents, we see to it that our children get a balanced diet, and the
proper balance between work and play, etc.
Growing a church is the same way.
- That is why it is important
that we be “speaking the truth in love” (4:15). Some churches never speak the truth, and
some seldom do. And then there are those which speak the truth, but not in love.
(Illustration of Bible college student who told a Jewish lady that her deceased
husband was in hell).
- Note the perfection of the
human body. God has intricately
fitted everything together.
David said, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”
- Shakespeare has Hamlet say:
“What a piece of work is man!” The
human body is a beautiful illustration of the body of
- If we all do our part, “the
whole body (will be) fitly joined together” (4:16). Every church member is important just
like every member of the body is important.
- Someone has said that not
everyone can be one of the larger members, but the joints are very important too
for the body to function properly.
All parts must work together.
- As each church member
fulfills his proper role, the body grows and God blesses. This building process is done “in love”
- Note Paul mentions the word
“love” twice (4:15, 16).
- Why? Because, love is the most important
ingredient in our spiritual growth.
A church can be very fundamental, but if it lacks love it will grow cold
and die (cf. Rev. 2:1-5).