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Sunday, November 15, 2015 pm                                Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (23)
For the Equipping of the Saints
Ephesians 4:11 (11-16)

 

Tonight we continue our study of the book of Ephesians.   The past few lessons we have addressed the unity of the body that we are to strive to achieve.    In our last lesson we noted that the gift of Christ was given to each one – rather than being miraculous gifts given by the Spirit to select ones at His discretion, this seems to be a more general “gift” available to all – this could be salvation, spiritual blessings, that which promotes true unity or perhaps even leaders within the Lord’s body who build us up to be the body we ought to be.  In our last lesson we noted that it could be descriptive of all these things – as they are certainly related to one another.

Tonight, we want to focus on leaders that were given for the equipping of the saints.  Truly, those who lead us are a gift from God.

 I.                    He gave some to be

a.       Note: Not everyone can serve in these capacities.  They were given as functions for the building up of the body.  
Before noting each work individually, we want to notice that these persons were ALL involved in teaching the word of God to saints.  We have already spent considerable time establishing that the word itself comes from God (i.e. Eph. 3:3-4).
Each of these persons has a function in our reception of the word.

b.      Apostles – a special class of disciples that were with Jesus during His teaching on earth. 

                                                   i.      We find from Acts 1:21-22 that the one to replace Judas had to have been with Jesus throughout His teaching and preaching from the time of His baptism through His resurrection. (NOTE: This is one reason we don’t have apostles today).

                                                 ii.      Some describe them as ambassadors of Christ.   

                                                iii.      Jesus gave His apostles special instructions – including the “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 16:18-19)

                                               iv.      The church was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)

                                                 v.      Ephesians 3:5 reveals that the message was made known by His holy apostles and prophets.
John 13-16, it is believed the disciples on this occasion were the apostles (consider Matthew 26:20 – when Jesus sat down with the twelve).  This is believed to be the occasion of that the teachings in John.  Certainly, they would be the ones the Holy Spirit would guide into all truth.

                                               vi.      Matthew 28:16-20 – it was to the eleven that Jesus gave the “great commission”.
It was to the apostles (the eleven plus Matthias) that the Holy Spirit baptized them and they spoke in tongues and preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:26-2:4).
They had the ability to lay hands upon others to receive gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:18)

                                              vii.      2 Corinthians 12:12 tells us there were “signs of an apostle” – abilities with which they proved themselves worthy of consideration.

                                            viii.      NOTE: The apostles did not think of themselves as superior to others – they simply had a function that was vital to the revelation of God’s word!

                                               ix.      ALSO: The office of apostle was limited to the first century considering the qualifications. 
We also note in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 that prophecies, tongues and knowledge (miraculous) would be done away with when “that which is perfect has come.”    Notice how the miraculous gifts mentioned here all related to revelation.

                                                 x.      Today, we still follow the teachings of the apostles, who taught what Jesus revealed to them (e.g.  Galatians 1:10-12, 1 Cor. 14:37, etc.), but we must respect the boundaries they set.

c.       Prophets – the task of taking the gospel to the known world of that day could not be done exclusively by the twelve apostles. 

                                                   i.      There were godly men (and some women) who taught the word of God and helped to establish its truth, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 29, etc.).  NOTE: The apostles were also prophets by the very definition of their work.
2 Peter 1:20-21 – they spoke as the Holy Spirit moved them.  NOTE: This text is addressing OT prophets, but it describes what makes one a prophet. 

                                                 ii.      In revealing the message, they were often associated with the apostles.   Again note Ephesians 3:5 – the message was made known to the apostles and prophets. 
Eph. 2:20 build upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.

                                                iii.      There were prophets above and beyond the apostles – Acts 11:27-30 – Agabus, Acts 21:9 – Philip had 4 daughters who prophesied, Acts 13:1 – there were prophets in Antioch, etc.

                                               iv.      They were needed in the first century because they did not have the written word in its completed form.  They were able to with divine guidance reveal God’s word. 
As with the work of the apostles, the work of the prophets was done when “that which is perfect” came (1 cor. 13:8-10).   Also, SPECIFICALLY stated here is that prophecies would fail.

                                                 v.      Today, we still learn from the inspired prophets whose message is recorded in scripture.  Some of the NT books were written by prophets who were not apostles – Luke & Acts, possibly Mark and James.  Thus they build us up

d.      Evangelists – proclaimers of the “good news”, actually a derivative of the same root word as “gospel”.

                                                   i.      When we think of preachers today, it is the idea of the evangelist. 
There were men who served in this role.  Some of them had gifts of the Holy Spirit that enabled them to teach (i.e. some were prophets, all apostles were also evangelists,  etc.)

                                                 ii.      We read of a handful of evangelists in the New Testament – Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8), 2 Timothy 4:5 – Timothy was told to “do the work of an evangelist” – the letters to Timothy and Titus help the preacher/evangelist understand what his responsibilities involve.
Romans 10:14-15 speaks about the preacher (a different Greek word).

                                                iii.      Evangelists are different in that they are not described as “laying the foundation” in the same way as apostles and prophets, but rather proclaiming that which had already been taught. 

                                               iv.      Because of his work, the evangelist/preacher can still work today as he uses the word that has already been delivered (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Jude 3). 
We need preachers today!

                                                 v.      NOTE: Never is the term preacher or evangelist used as a title.  It is a description of what we do.  Scripture is clear concerning the avoidance of such titles as they can lead to arrogance.  Consider Matthew 23:6-10 where we are told to avoid the terms Rabbi, father and teacher AS TITLES!

e.      Pastors – shepherds of the flock

                                                   i.      The word for pastor here (ποιμήν, poimēn) is descriptive of a shepherd and is so used at times (Matthew 9:36, John 10:11).

                                                 ii.      This is a special office that requires men who meet certain high qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9) that help them to shepherd the flock.

                                                iii.      They are also called elders and bishops.  

1.       The term “elder” is (πρεσβύτερος, presbyteros) and has reference to one of experience (i.e. not a novice – 1 Tim. 3:6).  Titus 1:5 finds Titus left at Crete to appoint elders in every city, Acts 14:23 speaks of Paul and Barnabas appointing elders in every church, etc.)

2.       The term “bishop” is (πισκοπή, episkopē) and means an overseer (similar to a supervisor in a company).  It is descriptive of how elders oversee the work they are entrusted with.  1 Timothy 3:1-2 in describing the qualifications of elders uses this term.  So does Philippians 1:1.

3.       NOTE: We have 2 passages that deal with the qualifications of elders – they use the 2 different words to describe the same office (elder and bishop)

4.       In Acts 20:17 as Paul is headed to Jerusalem after his 3rd preaching tour, he calls for the elders (presbyterous) of Ephesus.  Speaking to them he tells them in vs. 28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (episkopous) , to shepherd (poimainein) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.    Notice that forms of all 3 words are used to describe the same persons.

5.       Also, 1 Peter 5:1-3 similarly uses all 3 words – elders (vs. 1); shepherd (vs. 2); overseers (vs. 2).

                                               iv.      The work of elders is limited to their local congregation – Phil. 1:1 – to all the saints, with the bishops and deacons in Philippi;
1 Peter 5:2 – the flock of God which is among you:
Acts 20:28 – take heed to your salves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers – this was said to the elders of the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17).

                                                 v.      They are to be honored because they watch out for our souls – Hebrews 13:17.

                                               vi.      A primary work of elders includes teaching, which is why it is included in our list.  1 Tim. 3:2 – able to teach.  Titus 1:9-11 speaks of the ability to hold fast the faithful word including being able with sound doctrine to exhort and convict gainsayers, etc.   

f.        Teachers –

                                                   i.      Teachers convey a message and provide instructions. They help convey the word of God.  Not everyone can be an elder or even a preacher, but that doesn’t mean we can’t teach.  

                                                 ii.      There is a sense in which we are ALL teachers to some degree – Hebrews 5:12, 2 Tim. 2:24 (possibly broader than a preacher)

                                                iii.      But our text seems to imply there are some entrusted with that responsibility above and beyond the teaching of everyone.  Consider James 3:1 – let not many of you be teachers.  1 Corinthians 12:29 – with spiritual gifts – “Are all teachers?”
The teaching of this text is tied to building up the body of Christ. 

                                               iv.      The terms we have discussed previously all involve being teachers.   In fact, some see the word here in our text as a description of the work of pastors in teaching us.  We have noted that he must be able to teach.

                                                 v.      Teaching, like preaching does not require inspiration.  We learn and we share – 2 Tim. 2:2.  But let our goal be to fulfill what Paul says these leaders in the word do.

g.       NOTE: Deacons are not mentioned in this text – because their work is not primarily about teaching.  This helps us understand the point of our text!

 II.                  What was their purpose? (12-16)

a.       We will address this more in our next lesson, but here we want to put in context the works to be carried out by those given to us as leaders in His word.

b.       To equip the saints – this is the summary!

c.       For the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ – the work here described builds up the body

d.      How? Till we come to unity of the faith and knowledge…no longer tossed to and fro, etc.

e.      Vs. 16 describes the result – when those teaching us do their work properly (shall we say – with excellence) the body is built up

 

God has given us the gift of leaders that can help us get to heaven when this life is over.  May we cherish the work they do and thank God for their efforts to maintain the truth.  Think about it!