Amplified: His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NKJV: for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
NLT: Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: His gifts were made that Christians might be properly equipped for their service, that the whole body might be built up until the time comes when,. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: for the equipping of the saints for ministering work with a view to the building up of the Body of Christ, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: in order fully to equip His people for the work of serving—for the building up of Christ's body—
FOR THE EQUIPPING OF THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF SERVICE: pros ton katartismon ton hagion eis ergon diakonias: (Luke 22:32; John 21:15, 16, 17; Acts 9:31; 11:23; 14:22,23; 20:28; Romans 15:14,29; 1Corinthians 12:7; 2Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 1:25,26; 3:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; Colossians 1:28; 1Thessalonians 5:11, 12, 1,3, 14; Hebrews 6:1; 13:17) (Acts 1:17,25; 20:24; Ro 12:7; 1Corinthians 4:1,2; 2Corinthians 3:8; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3; Colossians 4:17; 1Ti 1:12; 2Timothy 4:5,11)
Equipping of the saints - KJV has "perfecting of the saints" which conveys the wrong idea, for the purpose of Christs gifts ("gifted men") to the Church is not to make saints sinlessly perfect but is to completely outfit them for service or as Paul describes to make them...
John MacArthur gives some sage advice in this vital area of pastor-teachers equipping their sheep writing...
Dr S Lewis Johnson explains this important passage writing that
Equipping (2677) (katartismos from katartizo [word study] = mend, repair, make whole or perfect, of setting bones, mending nets in turn from katá = with + artízo = adjust, fit, finish related to ) means to make something or someone (in this case the "sheep" in the flock) completely adequate or sufficient for something. The basic idea is that of putting a thing into the condition in which it ought to be. In politics it is used for bringing together opposing factions so that government can go on.
The English word equip means to furnish for service or action by appropriate provisioning. Equip describes the supplying with the items needed for a particular purpose, both of these definitions providing excellent pictures of the effect the gifted men should have on the body of Christ.
Fitting or preparing them fully, so that thus equipped or fitted out they might serve the purpose for which they were made.
Paul used the verb form (katartizo) in the context of a call for unity writing...
Paul used the verb form (katartizo) again in second epistle to the Corinthians in his closing admonition to the believers:
It is worth noting that in classical Greek this word group is derived from the root "ar-" which indicates appropriateness, suitability, usefulness, aptitude. Artios (katartismos) for example means suitable, appropriate, fitting a situation or requirements; hence also respectively, normal, perfect, sound in physical, intellectual, moral and religious respects. In mathematics it is used to describe what is straight and to denote even numbers.
Artios properly signifies an integer or whole number in arithmetic, to which nothing needs to be added to make it complete. This word describes those persons who are complete, capable and proficient in everything they are called to be or do. When you're packing to go on a trip you have everything you need for the journey and you're ready to go! You are ready for the WORK of God once you have been trained by WORD of God!
Regarding artios NIDNTT adds that...
As noted in the NIDNTT preceding definition, there are two cognates (relatives of katartismos) used in 2 Timothy which are very instructive regarding the primary tool God provides for the equipping of the saints...
Basically katartismos refers to that which has been restored to its original condition, is being made fit or being made complete. The root word was used as a medical term used for setting bones! Secular Greek also used it to refer to the furnishing a house.
Paul's use in the context of the body, the church, pictures the complete furnishing of the believer so that he/her might be made ready to fulfill his/her purpose in the body of Christ where he/she had been placed by God's Spirit.
It follows quite logically that if the "sheep" are not equipped by the shepherds, the body will not function to its full potential or capacity, just as human body that is deficient in vital nutrients fails to fulfill its function optimally. If this is an important truth for the temporal, physical body, how much more important is it for the eternal, spiritual body! Shepherds, feed your sheep. Have you ever just read an entire letter of Paul's together with your flock? This letter was meant to be read publicly but it seems we have drifted from such practices, for a variety of reasons. Are you encouraging your sheep to memorize the Word? (Ps 119:9, 10, 11-note)... to meditate on the Word? (Ps 1:2,3-note, Josh 1:8-note)
Ray Stedman offers an excellent illustration (mending nets) of the practical meaning of katartismos . First observe the passage Stedman is referring to...
In the time of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the Temple, the Jews who returned from captivity were in great need of "shaping up", and so the following solution should not surprise us...
Saints (40) (hagios [word study]) is literally holy one and refers to one set apart (sanctified) for a special purpose. Hagios describes all who have been saved by grace through faith and whom God has set apart from that which is secular, profane, and evil and on the other hand dedicated to worship and service of God. Saints are those who have been taken out of Adam and placed into Christ. Saints are holy ones in character and are to manifest a conduct reflective of their high position and privilege. They have been set apart by God to be exclusively His, dedicated to Him and manifesting holiness of heart and conduct.
Hagios was used throughout the NT to speak of anyone or anything that represents God’s holiness, anything set apart from the common and profane -- Christ as the Holy One of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, holy Scriptures, holy angels, holy brethren, and so on.
The Gentiles (the church at Ephesus was primarily Gentile) understood the term hagios because among the pagans, hagios was a term commonly used to signify that which was separated and dedicated to the base, idolatrous gods (cp Gal 4:8, 1Co 8:4,5, 10:19, 20, Dt 32:17, Lv 17:7, 1Th 1:9b-note) but which of course carried no idea of moral or spiritual purity as in Scripture. It was primarily the idea of that which set apart from the commonplace. In fact, the manmade gods were as sinful and degraded as the men who made them! The worshipper of the pagan god acquired the character of their pagan god and the religious ceremonies connected with their base (anything but "holy") worship. In fact the Greek temple at Corinth housed a large number of harlots ("spiritual priestesses"!) who were connected with the "worship" of the Greek god. Thus, the set-apartness or holiness of the Greek worshipper was characterized by licentious, totally depraved, sinful conduct.
Work (2041) (ergon from érgo = to work) describes toil as an effort or occupation. In English an erg is a unit of work or energy, equal to the work done by a force of one dyne when its point of application moves one centimeter in the direction of action of the force.
For the work of service - Literally unto spiritual service. Service for the Lord will require some expenditure of ergs! Note that the pastor-teachers are not doing their work for the saints, but are preparing the saints for their (the saint's) work! Radical! The leaders are God's gift to the church for the purpose of perfecting or equipping believers to carry on this work. We seem to have forgotten that the church is not to be a spiritual rest home, but a barracks for training soldiers of the cross! So many today think that it is the job of the pastoral staff to do the work of ministry! This is not the divine design! All (each and every single one) of the saints and not just a few (church staff) leaders are to carry on the work of the ministry (cp 1Pe 4:10, 11-note). Tragically, most local churches today do not follow this NT template for "success". It is common practice to let the pastor do the ministering when his job is actually to be the training up of the saints to be the workers, which will make the overall ministry more effective.
It is vitally important to understand that the bulk of the work (ministry) in the church is to be accomplished not by the paid staff but by the men and women in the pews. They are not there to just sit and soak but to hear and grow and serve! Equipping of the saints is the primary responsibility of the leadership, especially the pastor-teacher. But 1Pe 2:5 (note) makes it clear that every believer is a “priest.” (cp 1Pe 2:9-note) How tragic it is that in most churches the work of God is greatly hindered because the leadership tries to perform the services and doesn’t make adequate use of the sheep.
D. L. Moody hit the proverbial nail on the head when he said...
Service (1248) (diakonia [word study]) means the rendering or assistance or help by performing certain duties, often of a humble or menial nature, including such mundane activities as waiting on tables or caring for household needs—activities that in men's eyes (but not God's!) are without apparent dignity.
A caveat - Martha's serving (diakonia) serves as a reminder that we are not to work for "work's sake"! Martha worked so hard that she was distracted (literally was being drawn different directions at the same time!) with all her preparations (Lk 10:40, 41) and missed the good part (Lk 10:42) of sitting at the Lord's feet (Lk 10:39, 42 = she was also "worried and bothered"). Spirit empowered work (cp Paul's pattern in Col 1:28-note, Col 1:29-note, 1Co 15:10) proceeds from Christ centered worship, time with the Master, in His Word, listening to His voice, speaking with Him. We must continually keep in mind our Lord's warning that apart from abiding in Him as our Vine we can do absolutely nothing of eternal value (Jn 15:5).
Diakonia - 34x in 32v - Luke 10:40; Acts 1:17, 25; 6:1, 4; 11:29; 12:25; 20:24; 21:19; Rom 11:13; 12:7; 15:31; 1 Cor 12:5; 16:15; 2 Cor 3:7, 8, 9; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3; 8:4; 9:1, 12f; 11:8; Eph 4:12; Col 4:17; 1 Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 4:5, 11; Heb 1:14; Rev 2:19. NAS translates as ministries(1), ministry(19), mission(1), preparations(1), relief(1), serve(1),service(7), serving(2), support(1).
Paul is describing the spiritual service expected of every believer, not just of church leaders. As he wrote to the Corinthians...
Since service associated with the word diakonia necessarily involved dependence, submission, and constraints of time and freedom, the Greeks regarded diakonia as degrading and dishonorable. Service for the public good was honored, but
That last sentence is strikingly contemporary, and is mindful of the fact that a culture that is focused on self-actualization and self-fulfillment will find little value in servant hood.
In the view of the erudite, elite Greeks, diakonia service was not dignified. They saw ruling, not serving as that which was proper for a man. The formula of the sophist ("wise ones") expressed their basic attitude
For the Greek who "worshiped" wisdom and intellectual freedom there was be no thought of their existence being that to serve others.
Judaism had no philosophy of ministry involving diakonia. Judaism, however, adopted a philosophy of service not unlike that of the Greeks. If service was rendered at all, it was done as an act of social obligation or as an act to those more worthy. A superior would not stoop to become a servant! Such an attitude, which conforms so closely to man’s natural prejudices, causes the Lord’s example and teaching to stand out in brilliant contrast. By our Lord's own testimony (using the verb diakoneo)...
"the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mt 20:28)
Though Judaism in the time of Jesus knew and practiced its social responsibilities, e.g., to the poor, this was done mainly by alms, not by service (cf. Lk 10:30, 31, 32, 33, 34 35). Lowly service such as waiting at table, was beneath the dignity of a free man (cf. Lk 7:44, 45, 46, 47, 48). Sometimes, the "greater" would wait at table, but this was unusual. Jesus' example and the NT introduced a radically new attitude toward diakonia.
Diakonia is not the activity of a lesser to a greater, but is the lifestyle of a follower of the Lord Jesus. “Serving” in the form of diakonia pervades the NT, not merely in the frequency of the word’s usage but in the constant recurrence of attitudes and examples of service.
Luke records that in the early period of the newly born church...
"while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving (diakonia) of food." (Acts 6:1)
Diakonia is modeled on the pattern and command of the Savior and represents the practical outworking of God’s love, especially toward fellow believers.
“Ministry” (including "mission" as shown in the reference below) is not the activity of an elite class, but the mutual caring of a band of brothers. Luke records that
"Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission (diakonia), taking along with them John, who was also called Mark." (Acts 12:25)
Such service is personal and practical, rather than institutional. A diakonos is one who by choice and position has come to be under the authority of his Master and who therefore serves others in love and gratitude. Paul had been called and set apart to be a servant, Luke quoting Paul who testified...
"I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry (diakonia) which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)
Martha is an example of service of a menial nature but without the proper attitude, Luke recording that
"Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving (diakonia) alone? Then tell her to help me." (Lu 10:40)
Diakonía involves compassionate love towards the needy within the Christian community. Paul and Luke in the Acts use the word to designate those who preach the gospel and have care of the churches, even as Paul instructed Timothy to...
"be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (diakonia)" (See note 2 Timothy 4:5)
Therefore, diakonia is an office or ministration in the Christian community viewed with reference to the labor needed for others.
TO THE BUILDING UP OF THE BODY OF CHRIST: eis oikodomen tou somatos tou Christou: (Eph 4:6,29; Romans 14:19; 15:2; 1Corinthians 14:4,5,12,14,26; 2Corinthians 12:19; 1Thessalonians 5:11) (Eph 4:4; 1:23; Colossians 1:24)
Building up of the body of Christ - Note that Paul does not say for the increasing of the number of attendees on a given Sunday! The critical issue in view here is not quantity of saints, but quality of saints, saints equipped for the work of edifying so that they can then be engaged in edification of other saints! Does this describe the philosophy and practice of your local church? It should because it's God's pattern for real "church growth"! The body is built up externally through evangelism as more believers are added, but the emphasis in this verse is on its being built up internally as all believers are nurtured to fruitful service through the Word.
Once again Paul mixes metaphors - a body and a building, but both representing a dynamic, living entity. Peter explained that every genuine believer is also a living stone writing to the saints explaining...
you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (See note 1 Peter 2:5, cf Eph 2:20, 21, 22 - see notes Ep 2:20; 21; 22)
Gifted people are to minister the Word to others so that they in turn are readied to get involved in ministering to others. This same pattern is seen in 2 Timothy where in his last letter Paul exhorts young Timothy...
And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (see note 2 Timothy 2:2) (Comment: equip faithful men who will be able to equip others also! This has always been God's pattern for disciple making.)
Building (3619) (oikodome [word study] from oikos = dwelling, house + doma = building or demo = to build) is literally the building of a house and came to refer to any building process. Oikodome can refer to the actual process of building or construction. Another literal meaning is as a reference to a building or edifice which is the result of a construction process (Mt 24:1, Mk 13:1, 2 are the only literal uses of oikodome in the NT). (See sermon by Alexander Maclaren entitled "Edification")
Oikodome - 19x in 19v - Matt 24:1; Mark 13:1f; Rom 14:19; 15:2; 1 Cor 3:9; 14:3, 5, 12, 26; 2Cor 5:1; 10:8; 12:19; 13:10; Eph 2:21; 4:12, 16, 29; 1 Tim 1:4. NAS translates as building(8), buildings(3), edification(5), edifying(1), upbuilding(1).
Figuratively, as used in this verse, oikodome refers to the church as the building for God's indwelling and the spiritual edification of the body of Christ.
Most of the NT uses of oikodome are metaphorical or figurative, obviously an architectural metaphor. As used here in Eph 2:21, oikodome refers to the church as the building for God's indwelling (cp 1Co 3:9 - see discussion below). Figuratively the idea is the process of edification or building up spiritually or spiritual strengthening.
In this same chapter Paul uses oikodome to describe building up of other saints...
Let no unwholesome ("rotten") word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. (See note Ephesians 4:29)
How fitting that in his last emotion filled encounter with the elders of the Ephesian church he reiterated the vital importance truth of Ephesians 4:12 declaring...
"And now I commend (literally means to place near = a banking term - Paul deposits the elders first near to God and then near to the Word of God's grace!) you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able (dunamai = the word of God has the inherent ability or resources) to to build you up (epoikodomeo = to build upon or erect a superstructure) and to give you the inheritance (part of which is "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" - see note Ephesians 1:3) among all those who are sanctified (positional sanctification is in view - perfect tense describes their permanent condition. Progressive sanctification is daily walking worthy, pursuing holiness, growing in grace). (Acts 20:32)
Body of Christ - the church, local and universal. This same phrase is found in Ro 7:4 and 1Co 10:16.
Body (4983) (soma) refers not to a literal physical body in this verse but to the figurative ("mystical" - Paul chooses the metaphor) body of Christ, the church, the Bride of Christ. Paul explains the figurative use of body writing...
Christ (5547) (Christos from chrio = to anoint, rub with oil, consecrate to an office) is the Anointed One, the Messiah, Christos being the Greek equivalent of the transliterated Hebrew word Messiah. As a Jew learned the Torah, now the Christian learns Christ!
Wayne Barber has an interesting illustration of unity in the face of diversity in the realm of spiritual gifts
Ray Stedman offers a penetrating assessment of how well the church has followed the "Divine Blueprint" for the building up of the Body of Christ...
Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: in the unity of the common faith and common knowledge of the Son of God, we arrive at real maturity - that measure of development which is meant by the "fullness of Christ". (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: until we all attain to the unity of the Faith and of the experiential, full, and precise knowledge of the Son of God, to a spiritually mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: till we all of us arrive at oneness in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and at mature manhood and the stature of full-grown men in Christ
UNTIL WE ALL ATTAIN TO THE UNITY OF THE FAITH: mechri katantesomen (1PAAS) oi pantes eis ten enoteta tes pisteos: (Ep 4:3,5; Jeremiah 32:38,39; Ezekiel 37:21,22; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 14:9; John 17:21; Acts 4:32; 1Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:1, 2, 3) (Isaiah 53:11; Matthew 11:27; John 16:3; 17:3,25,26; 2Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 3:8; Colossians 2:2; 2Peter 1:1, 2, 3, 3; 3:18; 1John 5:20)
Until (3360) (mechri) is an adverb marking a terminus both of place and time. Here mechri is used to introduce the goals of the equipping.
We All (pas = all without exception) invokes a collective thought and indicates that Christian growth or progress does not occur in isolation. God’s people collectively are envisioned as en route to this vital destination. It is not a goal to be attained be a select few "elite" Christians, but by all believers, which is will reach its consummation at the return of Christ, at which time the entire church arrives at complete maturity, otherwise known as glorification.
Attain (2658) (katantao from katá = intensifies meaning + antáo = meet) means to happen to, with the implication of something definitive and final coming upon one. Katantao is used figuratively in this verse and means to arrive at a particular state, with the focus on the end point. One gets a sense of the meaning of katantao observing the repeated use in the book of Acts to describe travelers arriving at their destination. In this verse katantao conveys the thought of believers arriving at their "destinations" of "unity of the faith" and full knowledge of Christ, and ultimately mature man.
Katantao - 13x in 13v - Acts 16:1; 18:19, 24; 20:15; 21:7; 25:13; 26:7; 27:12; 28:13; 1 Cor 10:11; 14:36; Eph 4:13; Phil 3:11. NAS translates as arrived(4), attain(3), came(3), come(2), reach(1).
Barber writes that...
To the unity of the faith - oneness is reached when one body of doctrinal truth ("the faith") is adhered to, and is lived out in the body by grace through faith (believing). Paul had earlier mentioned the importance of "one faith" and his point here is that the Church is now moving towards the goal of appropriating all that is included in "one faith". The final perfection of this unity will not be attained until the moment of glorification. Nevertheless, this goal is practical for there can never be unity in the church apart from doctrinal integrity. Since "the faith", the body of doctrine, is not fragmented, logic tells us that when the body is divided, it has to be related to some departure or distortion of "the faith", the doctrines propounded in the Bible. In Ep 4:3-note "the unity of the Spirit" is a gift to be guarded whereas in the present verse the "unity in the faith" is a goal to be reached and it is reached as pastor-teachers are preaching expository messages from the whole counsel of God's Word (both Testaments, not just the New! When one looks at the sermon series of great preachers of past ages such as Spurgeon and Maclaren, it is amazing how many sermons they preached from the Old Testament.)
Ray Stedman explains that...
John MacArthur makes an excellent point that...
Unity (1775) (henotes from heís = one + genitive of henós = of one) describes a oneness or unanimity. This oneness and harmony among believers is possible only when it is built on the firm foundation of sound doctrine. The only other use of henotes is Ep 4:3.
The faith (4101) (pistis [word study]) subjectively refers to one's trust or belief and thus their conviction of the truth of anything (i.e., everyone lives on faith, e.g., that the red light works to stop the oncoming car, that the plane will lift off, etc). However in this context the phrase "the faith" (the definite article "the" indicating not just any belief system but a very specific belief) refers to the content of what is believed. It is the body of revealed truth that constitutes Christian teaching, particularly featuring the complete content of the gospel.
Approximately one-half of the 38 occurrences of the specific phrase "the faith" refer not to the ACT of believing but rather to WHAT is believed, the latter being the usage that the present context calls for. It follows that the specific meaning of this phrase is dependent on the context (the text that goes with the text in question). See the study on this phrase the faith".
The first use of "the faith" referring to the body of truth believed is recorded by Luke who writes that
Robertson remarks that here "the faith" means
In a similar use we read of
Paul and Barnabas "returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, (not in "their faith" but in the body of truth they had placed their faith in) and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:21, 22)
Similarly we read that
The believers in Jerusalem only knew Paul by reputation and "they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” (Gal 1:23) This is another clear example of "the faith" referring to the objective body of truth that composed the gospel message which Paul preached ceaselessly (1Cor 1:17, 2:1 2:2).
Paul exhorts the Corinthians to
The faith is used in a similar way in Paul's first letter to Timothy (1Ti 3:9,4:1 5:8 6:10).
Jude writes that we are to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" which is clearly not a reference to the believers' faith but to the whole body of revealed salvation truth contained in the Scriptures, the objective truths which were to be believed, and the very truths which Jude warns were in danger of being distorted (Jude3).
AND OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD: kai tes epignoseos tou huiou tou theou:
Knowledge of the Son of God - this is not a reference to the knowledge of Christ by which we were first saved but refers to a deeper, more intimate and experiential knowledge. This refers to a growing encounter with the Lord Jesus Himself, so that we come to know Him more and more--not just know about Him, but know Him, directly and personally. That is a glorious component of a maturing faith. Don't become discouraged for this growing in the deeper knowledge of the Son of God is a lifelong process that will not be complete until we see our Lord face to face. Keep pressing on!
Knowledge (1922) (epignosis [word study] from epí = upon + ginosko = to know) is a strengthened form of gnosis (1108) and conveys the thought of a more full, larger and thorough knowledge. Epígnosis also conveys the idea of an intimate and personal relationship.
Vine says the related verb epiginosko suggests in general a directed or more special, recognition of the object known than does the simple verb ginosko. In fairness it should be stated that there are a few resources that suggest there is very little difference between gnósis and epignosis. This discussion holds the opinion that epignosis does have subtle but real differences.
Epígnosis refers to exact, complete, thorough, accurate, experiential knowledge, not just abstract, intellectual, head knowledge of God or even facts about Him. Epígnosis always describes moral and religious knowledge in the NT and especially refers to full and comprehensive knowledge of God’s will that rests on the knowledge of God and of Christ found today in His Word.
Epignosis - 20x in 20v - Rom 1:28; 3:20; 10:2; Eph 1:17; 4:13; Phil 1:9; Col 1:9f; 2:2; 3:10; 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Tim 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1; Philemon 1:6; Heb 10:26; 2 Pet 1:2f, 8; 2:20. The NAS translates epignosis as acknowledge*(1), knowledge(14), real knowledge(1), true knowledge(4).
Son (5207)(huios) refers literally to a male offspring or descendant. The Son of God is the One Who has the essential characteristics and nature of God.
TO A MATURE MAN: eis andra teleion: (Eph 4:12; 2:15; 1Corinthians 14:20; Colossians 1:28)
To a mature man - Mature manhood conveys the idea that God wants believers to fulfill their humanity, the design which He intended for each of us when He created the first man and the first woman. Ponder this incredible thought for a moment. What satisfaction to be all that the All Wise God created us to be. Not to be the richest. Not to be the smartest. Not to be the best looking. But to be what God originally intended for us. This is surely a mountain worthy of the cost it will take to climb it! Some might see it as an arrival but I see it more as a pursuit, like Paul's pressing on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus... to be all you can be in Christ and all for the glory of God.
Ray Stedman puts it this way - It is important to realize that, according to this passage in Ephesians, the supreme purpose of the church is not the evangelization of the world. The Great Commission is often held up to us as the supreme aim and purpose of the church, and it is certainly a crucial and essential task. Jesus has clearly sent us out to preach the Gospel to every creature. But the Great Commission is not God's supreme and ultimate goal. Romans 8:29 tells us that God's ultimate plan for us is that we be "conformed to the image of his Son." Evangelization is a means of bringing people into a relationship with God, so that God's ultimate goal for them--Christlikeness--can be achieved in their lives...God's overarching goal is to produce men and women who demonstrate the character qualities of Jesus Christ. God does not want a church filled with white robed saints. He does not want a church filled with theological authorities or cultured clergyman. He wants a church filled with ordinary men and women who exemplify the extraordinary integrity, temperament, wholeness, compassion, individuality, boldness, righteousness, earnestness, love, forgiveness, selflessness, and faithfulness of Jesus Christ! Deep in your own heart, isn't that what you truly desire? You want to be a whole person, a complete human being. You want to discover and fulfill all that God has built into you...we long to fulfill our humanity, to be the kind of idealized persons that God originally designed us to be. But that is what the church is all about. It is the vehicle designed by God to achieve mature humanity--a humanity exactly like that which was exemplified by the life of Jesus Christ. We have now come full circle, for this is where the apostle began: the church is to fulfill its calling--the calling of demonstrating to the world a new character, a spirit of lowliness, love, and unity, coupled with resurrection power, proving that the church is a body inhabited by God Himself! (Body Life - chapter entitled The Goal is Maturity)
Mature (5046) (teleios [word study] from telos = an end, a purpose, an aim, a goal) means complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, in good working order. Teleios signifies consummate soundness, includes the idea of being whole. Interestingly the Gnostics used teleios of the one fully initiated into their mysteries and that may have been why Paul used teleios in this epistle.
Teleios - 19x in 17v - Matt 5:48; 19:21; Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 2:6; 13:10; 14:20; Eph 4:13; Phil 3:15; Col 1:28; 4:12; Heb 5:14; 9:11; Jas 1:4, 17, 25; 3:2; 1 John 4:18. The NAS translates teleios as complete(2), mature(4), more perfect(1), perfect(12).
Teleios has at three shades of meaning:
In all the above variations of meaning the underlying idea is that a purpose has been achieved or that a thing or person has reached its intended goal or end. The basic meaning of teleios in the New Testament is always that the thing or person so described fully carries out the purpose for which designed. And so when Greek speaks of "perfect" (teleios) it is in fact such if it perfectly carries out the purpose for which it was designed.
Richards explains teleios (and related words in this group such as teleioo, teleiotes) writing that the emphasis is on...
As Paul explained to the saints at Colossae, his heartbeat in discipleship was to see believers continually growing in maturity...
In a parallel motivational message to the saints at Philippi Paul wrote...
Man (435) (aner) refers to an adult male person and in context as shown in the next verse stands is stark contrast to the believer who is still in spiritual diapers.
J Vernon McGee in a pithy statement said on his radio broadcast one day "I am going to talk to you very frankly. Don’t expect your pastor to do it all. He is there to train you that you might do the work of the ministry and that the church might become mature. We are not to act like a bunch of nitwits today. We are to give a good, clear-cut, intelligent witness to the world. I think the greatest sin in the local church today is the ignorance of the man sitting in the pew; he doesn’t know the Word of God, and that is a tragedy. I would hate to get into an airplane if the pilot didn’t know any more about flying than the average church member knows about Christianity and the Word of God. The plane wouldn’t make it—I think it would crash before it got ten feet into the air. That is the condition of the church today. All believers need to be trained in the Word of God so they can do the work of the ministry. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
TO THE MEASURE OF THE STATURE WHICH BELONGS TO THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST: eis metron hlikias tou pleromatos tou Christou: (Ep 1:23)
To the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ - In a word this is Christlikeness or conformity to the image of Christ.
As Paul explained to the saints at Rome, God has...
On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription:
No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son Who makes us free can and should be seen in the lives of His true followers who are being equipped and built up by sound doctrine expounded by Spirit filled pastor-teachers. The church in the world is the body of Jesus Christ in the world, for as Paul explained earlier...
The Body of Christ is to radiate the beauty of Christ to a spiritually dead world by walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Ep 4:1-note)!
Measure (3358) (metron) is a measure of capacity.
Metron - 14x in 12v - Matt 7:2; 23:32; Mark 4:24; Luke 6:38; John 3:34; Rom 12:3; 2 Cor 10:13; Eph 4:7, 13, 16; Rev 21:15, 17. The NAS renders metron as measure(8), measurements(1), proper(1), standard(4).
Stature (2244) (helikia from helix = adult, full–aged) conveys the idea of maturity in years or size. It speaks of the "ripeness" of full age. In this context it speaks of the maturity of one's renewed Christian mind.
Helikia - 8x in 8v - Matt 6:27; Luke 2:52; 12:25; 19:3; John 9:21, 23; Eph 4:13; Heb 11:11. The NAS renders helikia as age(2), life(1), life's span(2), stature(3).
Fullness (4138) (pleroma from pleroo = make full, fill, fill up) speaks of a full measure with emphasis upon completeness. God wants every believer to manifest the qualities of His Son, Who is Himself the standard for their spiritual maturity and perfection.
As an aside the Gnostics taught that Christ was a kind of “halfway house” to God, a link in the chain with other better links on ahead. Paul says "no way" -- the complete embodiment of God dwells permanently in Christ and that is to be the goal toward which the equipping of the saints is to continually press.
Pleroma - 17x in 17v - Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21; 6:43; 8:20; John 1:16; Rom 11:12, 25; 13:10; 15:29; 1 Cor 10:26; Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10, 23; 3:19; 4:13; Col 1:19; 2:9. The NAS renders pleroma as all it contains(m)(1), fulfillment(2), full(2), fulness(10), patch(m)(2).
F F Bruce makes an interesting observation writing that "When the goal is ultimately reached, and the body of Christ has grown up sufficiently to match the Head Himself, then will be seen that full-grown Man which is Christ together with His members. That spectacle will not fully appear until the day when they are glorified together with Him; but the expectation of that day will act as a powerful incentive to spiritual development in the present time’ (Bruce, FF: Ephesians)
I like Ray Stedman's advice regarding our growth in Christlikeness...
Do not be discouraged if you are not experiencing overnight spiritual maturity. Remember that it takes God years to grow an oak tree, but He can grow a squash in three months and a radish plant in a few weeks! Which would you rather be!
F B Meyer writes the following devotional entitled "Our Sheet Anchor" which speaks to our present striving toward Christlikeness...