Ephesians 4:7-16; Gifts given by the Conqueror to His bride.

Sunday, September 12, 2021


Eph 4:1-10

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.


In vv. 1-6 Paul writes about the church’s unity, but the one body with its shared one Trinity, faith, election, and baptism is not to be misconstrued as a lifeless or colorless uniformity. We are not to imagine that every Christian is an exact replica of every other, as if we had all been mass produced in some celestial factory. On the contrary, the unity of the church, far from being boringly monotonous, is exciting in its diversity. So, “to each one of us grace was given.”


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


The word gift, dorea in Greek, denotes a free gift, stressing its gratuitous character. In the NT it always refers to supernatural gifts. It is used for the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as well as to the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house.


Jesus used the word when revealing Himself as the gift to mankind when talking to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.


Joh 4:10

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."


It is used for the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17), the salvation earned by Christ (Rom 5:15-16), the gift of stewardship to Paul (Eph 3:7).


Eph 3:1-7

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles —  2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.


Paul was given a unique stewardship, and as members of the body of Christ, unified in one body (one Spirit …), we each have our own unique stewardship, gifted to us for the “building up of the body.”


The synonym to dorea, charisma (charismata is the plural) is used almost exclusively by Paul. He freely interchanges the two words. Grace itself is a gift in Eph 2:8, and grace (charis) is the basis of God’s gifts to man (charisma). God’s salvation, Christ Himself, eternal life, righteousness, justification, and of course the so-called “spiritual gifts.”


I say “so-called” because that phrase is only found in Rom 1:11 (charisma pneumatikon). In the three passages that have list of gifts to the church (1Co 12; Rom 12; Eph 4) they are given the term charisma (gift) or charismata (gifts). The movement called charismatic, chose the plural word “gifts.”


While we are on this point, most good expositors agree that not all of the gifts to the church are exhausted in the three lists. 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 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.


When Christ ascended and sat at the right hand of God, He gave to the church all her gifts. And to each of us individually, our unique stewardships.


We should all be ecstatic about this truth, and by it overcome the all too common problem among fallen mankind that he is justifiably miserable because he doesn’t have enough.


Act 2:32-36

"This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 "For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:


'The Lord said to my Lord,

"Sit at My right hand,

35 Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet. "'


36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ —  this Jesus whom you crucified."


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.

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