“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” Ephesians 4:11-13.
As stated earlier in this study, verses 11 through 16 are all one sentence. For this reason and because one tends to run words together when reading a long sentence, it has been broken down into smaller parts to fully grasp what is being said.
Though verses 11 and 12 have already been examined they have been repeated above for context. Verses 12 and 13a were covered in the last post, Christ’s Church, Ephesians 4:12-13a on 6-16-21.
We will now explore Ephesians 4:13-16.
“…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” Ephesians 4:13a.
Coming to the unity of the faith is the beginning of our knowledge of Jesus, but the true knowledge is still far from many of us. Most Christians and those in the world see Jesus as no more than a two dimensional person.
Not unlike the cardboard cutouts you may have seen in movie theater lobbies. Perhaps you have stood next to one of Darth Vader, yes, he is tall, yes he is impressive, but he remains little more than that until you have seen some of the movies about his life. At that point you begin to understand him more, and though he is fiction, he becomes more real, more understandable.
I have read that one Russian encyclopedia lists Jesus Christ as a fictional character. One could just say, that is a lie and be correct, but there is far too great a mountain of evidence to be found that backs His existence for anyone to become unsettled by so devilish a lie.
“… [Jesus after His resurrection] was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:5-8.
With so many witnesses to the resurrection of Christ who were still alive at the time this book and three of the gospels were written we have an overwhelming witness to Christ’s resurrection. There are many other examples which can be found in a study of the subject if you wish.
Still, there are the stereotyped stories heard in the media and from men around us that give little information on who Christ really is. Some say a great prophet, some, a great man, others see Him as an example of how to live.
All of these have some truth to them, but half truths are worthless and blasphemous since they do not portray Him as He is, God incarnate.
It takes study, prayer, and fellowship with older believers to really see Jesus as He is.
Jesus cares for us, He is our shepherd:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:11.
Jesus loves us:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39.
In the person of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is constantly with us, as a comforter, adviser, and protector.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you [both the disciples and Christians] all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-14.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me [a picture of fellowship].” Revelation 3:20.
“…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…” Ephesians 4:13.
The goal here is, once again, to come to the unity of the faith, and gain a real insight into the person of Jesus Christ. Once the Christian has gained these things they move to being a mature Christian, a perfect man (or woman). The word man when used in this manner always means a man or woman
However, the perfect man is an elusive goal which rather than having attained this quality the Christian must not think that they have arrived.
This is a continual lifetime process in which the Christian continues pressing forward to the end of the race, which is when they are standing before Jesus.
Read what the Apostle Paul has to say about his own life in Christ.
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” Philippians 3:12-17.
The Apostle Paul, who states here that he has not arrived yet at perfection in his walk, still gives himself as an example as to how we should live in Christ. This is a bold statement, yet it is made by a man who lived for Christ and wrote most of the New Testament.
This is verification that we should all strive to become mature Christians “to a perfect man”, which comes from a true knowledge of the Son of God.
But becoming a perfect man is only a goal, because we are told to continue on to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”
Jesus Christ was the only perfect man to live on earth, this is a lofty goal that continually inspires and energizes us to stretch our limits, to excel still more in the same manner as one practices for the Olympics.
The result of becoming a mature Christian is the thought given to us in the very next verse.
“…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…” Ephesians 4:14.
It is time to take off the rose colored glasses; there are men who lie in wait for Christians. Not because they are ignorant and misunderstand Christian doctrine, but look at these words, trickery, cunning craftiness, deceitful plotting, they do it to rob Christ of His glory, and to destroy Christians.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.
The thief here is Satan, but he does his best work through men who are willing soldiers in his army of destroyers.
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:17-18.
The sane mind rebels, what sort of person would set himself against the omnipotent God? There is no rhyme or reason for this sort of thing.
If you hate God, well and good, find a quiet place and live your life in hopes that you will slip between the cracks and escape His notice. But assuredly, no one will escape, everyone will give an account of himself before God, and every knee will bow, including the devil, like it or not, see Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10, Revelation 20:11-15.
But the godless do exist and in spite of many warnings they will persist in attacking God, His doctrine, and His people. The Bible continually warns us of these things, we need to listen.
“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.” Philippians 3:17-19.
“But there were also false prophets among the people [children of Israel], even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” 2 Peter 2:1-3.
And finally, the Christian is told to speak the truth in love.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
When one speaks the truth in love and it is received as being in love, offenses are avoided and correction is seen as helpful.
“…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – 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.” Ephesians 4:15-16.
Love is used three times in these first sixteen verses of Ephesians 4, twice in these last two verses. In fact verses 15 and 16 are bracketed by the word love.
Since these two verses speak of the body of Christ, love has to be the main ingredient in the healthy function of the local church which is His body. It is the mature Christians who are the most aware of this and should be the ones who are an example to newer Christians.
It is when love fails that the body suffers sometimes irreparable damage. The ones who suffer the most from church breakups or when a domineering personality takes over are the new Christians. Some never recover from this. It is for this reason that the more mature Christians need to take control and return the body to the head who is Christ.
When men actively seek to follow Jesus Christ and endeavor to train the members up in the knowledge of the faith and of Christ then each part of the body will begin to function as a unit by doing their share.
The result of a local church which acts as a single body in this manner would be stunning. Christ never designed His church to be one huge monolithic body run by a few men. It has always been His design to have many healthy local churches spread abroad and displaying the same attributes of Jesus to their respective communities.
Many people would love or admire a church like this, some people would hate it, but no one would ignore it.
Christ’s Church, Ephesians 4:13-16 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 3-4-16, updated on 6-19-21.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.