11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from whom the whole body, 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.
We’ve seen what it means to be an apostle (the ones who wrote the Scriptures that were spoken to them by God. This is an office no longer in use today), a prophet (the one who is over the local body, interpreting the Scriptures and leading the local body thusly), an evangelist (one who travels about preaching the gospel, without having a leadership role in any certain body), and a shepherd/teacher (the ones who teach and minister to the individuals in the local body). So, what were all these offices given for?
…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry… Many people put a comma after the word “saints” so that it reads, “…for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry…” But this is not correct. The offices are giving so that the saint may be equipped to minister. Otherwise, for what reason is the saint being equipped? If there is a comma after “saints,” then what is the equipping for? However, we know that we, the saints, are to minister to one another, to encourage one another, to love one another, and to carry one another’s burdens.
1st Peter 4:10-11—As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 3:13—But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
John 15:12—This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Galatians 6:2—Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The offices appointed by Christ are meant to increase the fruit of the local church, so that we may be equipped to minister to one another, so that we may all be what we ought to be to one another.
…for the edifying of the body of Christ… this ministering to one another is not just so we can be comfortable in this life. That is part of the reason, yes—so that we may know God as our all in all, and the Holy Spirit as our Comforter. But there is a far more imperative reason. It is so that the body of Christ may be built up, strengthened, shown to be mighty through God. If there is a single brick in a wall that needed repair, would you let it fall out, thus lessening the integrity of the whole wall? Or would you not reinforce that brick, not only for appearance’s sake, but so the whole wall might not come crashing down? How many times have the strongest of local bodies been rent asunder because of damage to one member? And consider the body itself. If one of the smallest organs fails, can it not lead to the destruction of the whole body? Our kidneys are not very big. Our gall bladder may not seem to be that important. But if either of these fails, a person may die. Likewise, when the least of the members of the body of Christ fails, is not the whole body affected?
1st Corinthians 12:20-26—But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
The body of Christ is one body. And when one member suffers, the rest of the body must come along side and help to heal that member. …till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…
…till we all come to the unity of the faith… Let’s look at unity. The battle cry of the Emergent, Postmodern Movement. We should all just get along in our heresies, no matter how damning they may be. But notice what Paul says here. He is not talking simply about the “unity of the local congregation.” He is talking about the unity of the faith. If you recall, back in verses 4-5 of chapter 4, Paul uses a list of “one’s”—one body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord to one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. There is only one faith that can call Christ “Lord.” And all those in that faith are to be united. Not that we should allow one member to poison the rest with their assorted blasphemies. 2nd John 2:9-11—Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. If we allow heretics to practice their iniquity in the house of the LORD, the faith will be split, and His name will be blasphemed.
…to a perfect man… Perfect. “Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). You may think that this is difficult. You would be mistaken. It is not difficult to be perfect like our Father in Heaven. It is impossible. Paul here uses the same Greek word (telioV [telios]) that our Lord Jesus Christ used in Matthew. We like to tell people that Jesus would never give us a command that we could never fulfill. So why would Jesus give us a command such as this, if it is impossible? Because we are not perfected in ourselves. We are made perfect in Christ.
Perfect. “Brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; consummate human integrity and virtue; full grown, adult, of full age, mature.” 1st Corinthians 14:20—Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. Colossians 1:27-28—…Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
The word for “perfect” (teleioV [teleios]) comes from the root word teloV (telos), meaning “end.” When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” it was written as one word—tetelestai (tetelestai). “It has been accomplished once, its effects will carry on indefinitely.” When we accept our salvation, it is not something we need to keep on doing. We saw that in chapter 2, vv. 8-9. We see it in Philippians 1:6—being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete (epiteleo [epiteleo]) it until the day of Jesus Christ.
…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… The fullness of Christ. Paul writes in Colossians 2:10 that …you are complete in Him… Same Greek root word (plhrhs [plērēs]), same connotation. You have been completed by Him. What Christ did at one point in time in the past has carried on so that we may experience that same fullness in Him. He has completed us, He has perfected us, He has saved us. In fact, Paul uses this same word in chapter 3, v. 19 when he says that if we know the love of Christ we will be filled with all the fullness of God. If we are filled with the love of Christ, will we be left half-done, like some construction project? Read that verse from Philippians again. If God begins the work of making you a new creation in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17), He will complete it! And how does He do that? Through those whom He sets in the church (Ephesians 4:11). He sets them in the church as it pleases Him (1st Corinthians 12:11), that His will may be accomplished.
…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting… We have established that we are to grow in Christ. That we are to mature into spiritual adults, so that we may minister to those who come behind us. what good will we be to anyone—let alone to God—if we do not continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2nd Peter 3:18)? Besides, what happens to children if they do not continue to learn? The older they get (physically) the farther they drift from the truth. The same thing happens to those who are babes in Christ. They don’t grow spiritually, they get scooped up in all kinds of false teachings, they give credence to every heretical doctrine that comes along. And they pass this tolerance for evil onto those who come in behind them. The cancer spreads, and before anybody is aware, the church of the living God has been handed over to Satan.
…carried about… That verb is in the passive voice. It means that we allow ourselves to be carried along, like a paper bag in the breeze. We relinquish control over where we are headed, and the world carries us wherever it wants. Much like how the world conforms us to its image if we allow it (Romans 12:2).
…by the trickery of men… “Trickery” comes from the Greek word kubeia (kubeia, from the Greek word kuboV [kubos], meaning “cube”), or “the rolling of dice.” How many of you out there think the craps tables in Vegas aren’t fixed? None of you. Good. When you roll dice—if the dice aren’t rigged—you can pretend that you can make the dice come up to be whatever you want. You can fancy yourself to be the best roller in the land. But are you going to roll 12’s every time? Of course not. Why? Because there’s always going to be some factor you weren’t counting on to mess up your roll. And irregularity here, and imperfection there.
Following the doctrines of men is much the same. Men who do not desire to know the full counsel of God and who do not wish to repent of their sins will always try to find some loophole in the word of God to excuse their sin, and lay out some path that they think will lead them to heaven. And we are not to allow the changing winds of men’s doctrine to carry us along to where we do not want to go, so that they take us on a path that changes with their own selfish desires, and we wind up millions of miles away from where we should be.
…in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting… Deceitful plotting. The Greek reads like this: meqodeian thV planhV (methodeian tes planes), or “method of leading astray.” In fact, “method” is better read “systematizing.” When Satan goes about deceiving and leading astray, he doesn’t just throw anything at us. He plans, he schemes, he has a system. That’s why in Ephesians 6, when Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God, we are to do it so that you may be able to stand against the wiles [meqodeian] of the devil. The methods, schemes, plans, stratagems of Satan. You see, we don’t know what Satan is up to. When he came after Job, did Job know what was going on? That his trials were caused by Satan testing the LORD? When Jesus told Peter that Satan wanted to sift him like wheat (Luke 22), Satan knew exactly what he would do to lead Peter astray—he would appeal to his desire for Christ to establish His kingdom on earth. Then, when Peter finally realized that wasn’t going to happen, he claimed that he did not know the Man (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:55-62; John 18:17-25).
…we should no longer be children…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ… We have the word of God, given to us by the apostles, interpreted by the prophets, fed to us by evangelists and shepherd/teachers so that we can stand firm in the truth, we can say, “Thus says the LORD.” We can know the courage that comes from knowing that Christ dwells within us, so that if we know the truth, we cannot be deceived. Thus, we can grow into the full measure of a man, the fullness of Christ, the mature man, no longer a child, no longer limp in the wind, to be carried wherever the world will carry us according to the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
…from whom the whole body, 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. If every part of the body is working properly, that body grows and develops and continues to be strong. Every part does its share, every part works together—the lungs deliver oxygen to the lungs, that blood is carried to the heart which pumps it into the body to provide energy, the kidneys and liver filter out impurities from the blood, etc. And all these functions receive their commands from the head.
In much the same way, we—the members of Christ’s body—receive commands from Him. If we obey them, there will be love and unity in the body. But if we allow the doctrines and desires of men to carry us to where we should not be, there will be divisiveness, bitterness, enmity, and every other emotion that should not be in the body. Christ is not divided (1st Corinthians 1:13). We are to be one (John 17:11). We are to bring each other along, helping each other grow into the fullness of the perfect man, that we may be whole and complete.