Ephesians 4:7-16 The Ministry Gifts

Having described our unity in Christ (v1-6), Paul makes it clear our unity is not uniformity, but UNITY in DIVERSITY. Our diversity is in (among other things) our varied spiritual gifts and ministries. Yet as we all contribute our gift (supplying life to the body) the body is brought into closer union and grows up into Christ. The subject of v7-16 is our MINISTRY GIFTS and how we are to function in them for the good of the body of Christ. 

The Main Statement: “But to each one of us GRACE was given according to the measure of CHRIST’S GIFT”(v7).Each of us was given GRACE at the moment we were born again. This is not related to salvation but service.

This is a special grace to minister, a ministry gift, as in 1Corinthians 12:5,12-31 and Romans 12:3-8 which lists some examples: “I say, through the GRACE given to me (apostleship), to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think (don’t go round with a card calling yourself an apostle and prophet!), but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (to function in your ministry). For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the (ministry)grace that is given to us let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

 refers to our GRACE to MINISTER. This is the subject of this section (v7-16). It is not a natural talent but an enduement of grace or anointing which may or may not be combined with a natural talent. Hence it either enhances a natural strength (giving it a live-giving quality) or it transforms a natural weakness making a person graced in that area. There is great diversity in the gifts so we need to learn to appreciate each others gifts.

‘THE GIFT OF CHRIST’ describes the origin and Lordship over the ministry gifts. “There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord” (1Cor 12:5). We don’t chose our gift, it all flows from the Lord. We can only operate in it by the measure of faith He gives. The ministry or service gifts are given directly by Christ to each believer. He had “the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34) and operated in the fullness of all the ministries, but we only have a MEASURE of that anointing and the corresponding measure of faith to fulfil our role. But when we all combine together, the Body carries the full anointing of Jesus Christ.

The Origin of these Gifts
 is further explained in v8-10. If we know their origin we will understand, know and value their power and thus have a stronger faith to operate in them: “Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave GIFTS to men" (v8). The origin of the ministries of Christ is found in His ascension. Paul quotes Psalm 68, describing the triumphant procession of Messiah after His great Victory.

A conqueror openly displays his victory by a triumphal procession. Jesus did this: “Having disarmed (stripped from himself) principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it (in His death, burial and resurrection)” (Colossians 2:15). As he ascends to the throne on high he leads behind him his captives and the booty obtained through the conflict as proof of his victory. When Christ ascended into heaven after defeating the powers of hell and death, He led a train of captives behind him (He led ‘captivity captive’). These along with the keys of hell and death (Rev 1:18), were His spoils of war. These were not His enemies but His people - the Old Testament saints who had been prisoners in captivity in Hades (under the earth) in the believer’s compartment (called Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom- see Luke 16:19-31). Because of His victory Christ could liberate them and triumphantly lead them on high.

This jail-break was made public in Matthew 27:51-53: ‘the earth quaked, the rocks split, the graves opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Now Paradise (where believers go at death) is no longer located under the earth but in heaven: “(I, Paul) was caught up to the third Heaven... caught up intoParadise” (2Cor 12:2-4).

"When He ascended on high... He gave GIFTS to men" (v8). The ministry GIFTS are the subject of this passage. It explains that they were given at the time of Christ’s ascension on the basis of His previous victory (of His death, burial and resurrection), demonstrated by His leading ‘captivity captive’.

Next it describes where Christ went to win this victory and release these captives: “Now this, "He ascended" - what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” (v9,10). 

After his death Jesus Christ descended into hell as taking our sin and curse into the enemy camp: "As Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39,40). But it was not possible for ‘the pains of death to hold the Prince of Life’, so after 3 days God made Him alive in the pit of hell and raised Him up (Acts 2:24). He defeated the powers of hell in personal conflict(Colossians 2:15) and went to Paradise to liberate the captive believers there:  “The gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit”(1Peter 4:6)

The Old Testament saints could not go to heaven until the Blood of Jesus was shed. He preached the Gospel to them of His death and resurrection so they could be reborn. Then He triumphantly led them out into heaven in His victory procession as a sign and proof of His victory over sin, satan, death and hell. This captive train has continued for 2000 years because whenever one is born again, upon death he goes to heaven because of Christ’s victory over death and hell.

Psalm 68 first describes His complete victory over evil in the heart of the earth: “Let God (Messiah) arise, let His enemies be scattered; let those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God (this describes the scene in hell when Jesus arose by God’s power!) But let the righteous (in Paradise) be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. Sing to God, sing praises to His name; extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name YAH, and rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land (the unbelievers were left in Hades)” (v1-6).

Our God is the God of salvation; and to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death”  (v20).  

Then it describes the triumph of the Conqueror: “They have seen Your procession O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary”  (v24).

“You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts (to give) among men, even the rebellious, that the LORD God 
might dwell there. Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah.”(v18,19). T

The victorious General would receive great rewards from the King for His sacrifices and victory (v18). When He ascended having fulfilled His mission, Jesus received from the Father all authority (Eph 4:10). He was given to sit on the throne of the universe, filling all things. He also received the Holy-Spirit (which includes all salvation blessings and anointings for ministry). Rather than keep all these gifts to Himself (that He had obtained through His victory), He distributed them to men (as Eph 4:8 brings out) so that God’s Presence might be ministered to men, including the unsaved. “He gave gifts’ correctly interprets ‘he received gifts’ (in Psa68) for the picture painted is of the Victor (Christ) receiving them from the King (Father) and then giving them to out to His friends. When we are made part of His body we are given a function, and an unction to function!

From their origin we see the nature and great power of the ministry gifts. We see what’s behind them. The Giver of the gifts is the Victorious Lord of all, Who ascended to heaven and sat down at God’s right hand. 

“He ascended on high” - shows HIS AUTHORITY.

“He led captivity captive”- shows HIS VICTORY. 

“He gave gifts to men” - shows HIS GENEROSITY (in sharing the rewards of His victory). The GIFTS are the fruit and manifestation of Christ’s resurrection victory and ascension authority, so they are anointings carrying the presence of the risen Christ with His authority and power to destroy the power and works of satan. So when we receive the Spirit, we also receive special supernatural grace to minister that carries the life, presence, victory and authority of Christ. As we let those gifts operate through us, we supply Christ’s very life and victory to His body and to the world.

‘THE MINISTRY GIFTS (2)’- Ephesians 4:11-16. 
Having died on the Cross to pay the price for the gift of the Spirit, having descended into hell to destroy the power of the enemy
 and having ascended to the place of all authority and received the ministries of Holy-Spirit from the Father to give to us (v8-10). So the ministries come from the ascended Christ, they come from the throne of God with Christ’s authority and power. Next Paul describes the ministries, their purpose and how long they will operate.

The purpose of the ministries of Christ is the building up of the Body of Christ:
 “And He (Christ) Himself gave (1) some apostles, (2) some prophets, (3) some evangelists, and (4) some pastors and (5) teachers, for the equipping of the saints for (the purpose of) the work of ministry (‘diakonos’ = service) for the (purpose of) edifying (building up) the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect (mature) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v11-13).

Christ’s body must be built up (like a building), which means each member being strengthened and new ones being continually added. The MINISTRY GIFTS are given to all for that purpose. Here Paul identifies certain leadership MINISTRY GIFTS (pulpit gifts). Only a minority are called to one of these 5-fold ministries. All have a ministry but not necessarily one of these five (see Rom 12, 1Cor 12). He mentions these because of their strategic value in building the body. These 5-fold ministries of the Word have the special purpose of equipping (perfecting) the saints, which means preparing fully (as in refitting a ship for sail, mending nets for fishing, providing what is missing). There is no comma after ‘saints’, so it is all the saints who are to ‘do the work of the ministry.’ Notice ministry is W-O-R-K! These ministries are to equip (through the Word) the saints so that they effectively function in their ministry gifts causing the body to grow. Each one moves in their gift of service: “for the (purpose of the) edifying (building up) of the body of Christ.” The 5-fold ministry is necessary to bring the saints to maturity and effectiveness in their ministry. We are equipped by the Word to serve by God’s grace and anointing, resulting in the body being built up. We come to church to ‘recharge our batteries’, to get equipped to go into world. The ministries are to unify and build the body not to bring unnecessary division magnify the man. All (including apostles and prophets) will operate until we come to perfection (v13).

These are the ministries of Christ for Jesus had the fullness of each anointing

1. He is an Apostle (Hebrews 3:1, John 20:21). 

2. He was a Prophet (Luke 4:24, Acts 7:37)

3. He was an Evangelist (Luke 4:18).

4. He is our Pastor, the Good Shepherd (John10:11)

5. He was often called a Teacher (Matthew 26:18).

In His ascension Christ distributed His anointings to the Church.

There are ministry gifts of teaching, prophecy e.t.c (Romans 12) but that is different from being a Teacher or Prophet. The 5-fold ministry-gifts are not just described as gifts but as PEOPLE called by God. It is as if their call and ministry possesses them and their whole life. Hence the gifts given to men are not called apostleship, prophecy, and teaching, but apostles, prophets and teachers. Paul was called to be an apostle not just to have an apostolic anointing.

 (‘sent ones’). These came first in time and authority (1Cor 12:28). The first leaders of the Church were the 12 apostles of the Lamb (Rev 21:14) who witnessed the ministry, death and resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:21,22). Judas fell and was replaced by Matthias but many believe Paul was actually God’s choice for the 12th (1Cor 15:5-10). There were other New Testament apostles like Barnabus (Acts 14:14) and James (Gal 1:19). The apostles were largely responsible for the New Testament, the foundation of our faith (Eph 2:20).

There are apostles today as we have seen from Ephesians 4:11-13). Present-day apostles have much less authority than the original 12 but have a powerful anointing of the 5-fold ministry to pioneer and break open new territory to plant and establish new churches (1Cor 4:15). They are able operate in all 5 ministries. They are marked by signs (2Cor 12:12) and great fruit (1Cor 9:1,2).

2. PROPHETS have an inspirational ministry giving a ‘now word’, and operate in the revelation gifts. There are still prophets but not on the level of the ones to whom scripture was revealed.

3. EVANGELISTS - anointed to preach the Word for the salvation of souls and train the Church to do this it. Philip (Acts 8) is the classic New Testament evangelist with a healing ministry.

4. PASTOR-TEACHERS feed the sheep by expounding the Word of God. As Shepherds they stay in one place to shepherd a local flock. James was a classic Pastor.

5. TEACHERS often called to teach an special area of truth as specialists, whereas Pastors must cover the whole balance of truth (as GP’s). Apollos (1Cor 3:6-9) was a classic Teacher. They minister the Word in greater detail than other ministries. 

GOD’S PLAN and VISION FOR THE BODY. God wants in His Church: 

1. UNITY (of heart) with DIVERSITY (of gifts). 2. MATURITY with CHARITY (love) 
“till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect (mature) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be (immature) children (babies), tossed to and fro (like a ship without anyone at the helm steering) and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery (‘cubeia’) of men, (manipulating texts like cards) in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting”(v13,14).

The Five-Fold Ministry equips the believers with the Word of God which is the first step in this process of growth to maturity, which is measured by the standard of Christ Himself. God wants us to GROW UP - not to stay childish as babes who are not grounded in the Word and so are unstable changing their direction all the time being easily led astray by the latest fads, false-doctrines, manipulators and false ministers (religious con-men out for your money who use spectacular claims and stunts using a spiritual disguise). 

v15: “but, speaking (lit: holding) the truth (or ‘TRUTHING’) in LOVE.” 
This describes how we minister in our gift - it must be IN TRUTH (the truth of the Word) and IN LOVE. We share truth but we also demonstrate it by our love. We preach that ‘God is Love’ through our love for one another. Jesus, our example, was ‘full of grace and truth’. Maturity is the two combined. Truth without love becomes too hard. Love without truth too soft. Someone prayed:“Lord, make sound people loving and loving people sound.”

So, ministering His gift in truth and in love (v15,16): “(together we) may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head, even Christ, from whom the whole body (grows), joined and knit together by what every joint supplies according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in LOVE”, or better: “the whole body joined and held together by every (supporting) joint of supply, grows and builds itself up, as each part does its work (‘energeia’) in love.” 

1. The Goal of Maturity
 is Christ and the fullness of His character and grace.

2. The Source of Maturity is the Life that flows from the Head causing growth: ‘from whom the whole body (grows).’ So in order to minister your gift (supplying life from the Head to other parts) you must be in fellowship with the Head.

3. The Means of Maturity is each part supplying life from the Head to the other parts by ministering to one another in the truth and love of Christ.

4. The Necessity of ‘Joints of Supply’ which are the bonds of relationship (fellowship). Each part receives grace from the Head to give to the parts it is connected to. The supply of life comes through the joints. So we must be joined to each other as well the Head for our ministry to be effective. If isolated we are unable to receive life from others, and also the body is cut off from our gift. Our gift cannot operate if we’re not connected. As each part lets God’s energy work through them to others, the whole body is built up and grows to God’s glory. Relationships like joints need liquid lubrication (love) to work well.



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