Ephesians 4:7-16; Christ gave gifts to the church.

Class Outline:

Tuesday September 14, 2021


EPH 4:7

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.


Paul entreats all believers to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which they’ve been called. By the use of the word “walk” Paul is referring to our lifestyles, conduct, character, etc.


A big part of that lifestyle is unity in the body of Christ stemming from the supernatural things we all share in common: the Trinity, the one body, the one calling, the one faith, and the one baptism (EPH 4:4-6).


Another part of that lifestyle is our individual calling tied to our position in the body. Not all members function in the same way, a point Paul will make more than once. To “each one of us” grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. So many gifts we share in common, and then there are some gifts that are unique to each of us.


The gifts, ministry, and working of each member of the body are together unique from all others. By obedience and trust in the Holy Spirit, we will discover our niche in the body.


“The measure of Christ’s gift” - each member of the body has a distinctive part to play and a distinctive service to perform.


Paul was given a unique stewardship in which he had a ministry to others, and this was a gift of God’s grace. The word “ministry” is used for every believer. Each of us has one over which God has given us the freedom to exercise. Peter (1PE 4:10) tells us that we are to exercise our gift as “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” We are not forced by God to perform our respective ministries well, for a steward is set over his respective ministry, but in several ways, God entreats us to walk worthy of them. And of course, God has many ways, including discipline, by which He shows us that serving Him in the ministries that He has given each of us is our only option for abundant life, the desire for which He has ingrained in every born-again believer.


Christ gave us an exceptional warning in LUK 12:41-48 in the parable of the steward. The good and sensible steward is the one doing his master’s will when the master is away. In contrast is the unfaithful steward who thinks his master will not return for a long time and abuses his stewardship.


1PE 4:10

As each one has received a special [“special” not in original. Just the word charisma] gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.


Most good expositors agree that not all of the gifts to the church are exhausted in the three lists given in Paul’s epistles. The Complete Biblical Library says of the word charisma, “Unquestionably we would be doing Paul - and the Holy Spirit - a disservice if we were to limit the gifts of the Spirit in terms of either character or number.” Paul uses the words dorea and doma as frequently for gift or gifts, which he uses in our passage before he lists the four gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor and teacher.


So then,

EPH 4:7-8

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.


8 Therefore it says,


"When He ascended on high,

He led captive a host of captives,

And He gave gifts to men."


We noted that vs. 8 is a quote from Psa 68 with reference to the conquering of Jerusalem and therefore the hill to be known as Zion by David.


Paul applies this picture to Christ’s ascension, not arbitrarily because he detected a vague analogy between the two, but justifiably because he saw in the exaltation of Jesus a further fulfilment of this description of the triumph of God. Christ ascended as conqueror to the Father’s right hand, and His train of captives refers either to those He saved or the principalities and powers He defeated.


There is a textual issue in that PSA 68:18 says “Thou has received gifts” when Paul states that He “gave gifts to men.”


Some think that Paul deliberately changed the word, however the Hebrew word could be translated “brought” rather than “received.” Another solution is that the Targum (Aramaic translation) renders PSA 68:18 as “gave.” I don’t think any of us mind all that much as to which reason is valid. It is unmistakable that Christ abundantly gifted His church, His bride, when He ascended in victory.


Paul uses this important historical moment as a type of the greatest of all historical moments, the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. When Christ ascended, He gave us gifts. And, we would be reading our own idea into the text if we thought Paul’s reference to Christ’s gifts to us were limited to apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor and teacher, or for that matter, we could not limit these gifts to the other lists in 1Co 12 and Rom 12. So, we will read it plainly.


Each of us should always be very content and joyful that we each have Christ’s gifts. No worldly thing compares with them.


By this truth, we should overcome the all too common problem among fallen mankind that he is justifiably miserable because he doesn’t have enough.


It is no accident that the imagery of the body as a symbol of unity appears in both 1Co 12 and ROM 12:4-8, as it does in Eph 4 (“one body”). And also, that the body, like the human body, is made up of individual parts having different functions, yet working together to perform whatever task is needed.


1CO 12:4-11

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.


“to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Gifts are for service, though they will also build up the individual who uses them.


Every time we perform God’s will and do good works, we are strengthening and building up our own lives. The catch is that if building up our own lives is our main goal or concern, then we are not working according to the Spirit and we will only undermine our lives. There is no getting around the laws of Christ in the spiritual life.


Plus, in this passage, we don’t at all feel that Paul is taking gifts (charismata), ministries (diakonia), and effects (workings: energemata) as three distinct manifestations from the three members of the Godhead. That would run counter to Paul’s whole point that “the same God works all things in all persons.” All three, gifts, ministries, and effects are all for the benefit of the church, for the benefit of the world by shining our light to it and portraying the gospel, and all that God may be glorified.


“gifts” - charisma. Gifts given for service of the common good.

“ministries” - diakonia. The work of a diakonos (minister).

“effects” - energeia. Power and work.


The only use of charisma outside of Paul is in 1PE 4:10. Let’s read it in context.


1PE 4:1-11

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles [Greek: ethnon - unbelieving world], having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4 And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you; 5 but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.


7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.


The modifier “special” is not in the original. Gift is in the singular, and it is received from God. Peter also uses the word “stewards” like Paul does.