Ephesians 4:15-16 Commentary

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The Root The Fruit
Spiritual Wealth Spiritual Walk
Christian Privilege Christian Conduct
The Position
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The Practice
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God Sees
Us in Christ
World Sees
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Know your
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Live by faith in the light of your
Resources (Riches) in Christ
The Finished Work
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In Us
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Through Us
in Christ
in Us
of God
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Who You Are
In Christ
Whose You Are
In Christ
Identity Responsibility
of the Believer
of the Believer
Theology Ethics

Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: aletheuontes (1PAAS) de en agape auxesomen (1PAAS) eis auton ta panta, os estin (3SPAI) e kephale, Christos

Amplified: Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Hendriksen - but, adhering to the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him Who is the Head, even Christ.

NKJV: but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--

NLT: Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: But we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ,

Young's Literal: But we shall lovingly hold to the truth, and shall in all respects grow up into union with Him who is our Head, even Christ.

BUT SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE: aletheuontes (1PAAS) de en agape:


But (de) - has the force of "but rather" or "but on the other hand'. Always pause to ponder and query this term of contrast.

In these last two verses in this first section in Ephesians 4 on unity Paul describes the proper process of growth in the Christ. In contrast ("but...") to being misled by false teachers they are to speak the truth in love.

The verb aletheuo is difficult to translate into English but is literally “truthing in love,” which has the idea of maintaining truth in love in both in speech and life (walking in a truthful way). So they are not just speaking the truth but doing it and this is the recipe by which growth is maximized.

Morris adds that "alētheuō in Eph 4:15 is normally understood as 'speaking the truth in love,' and this may be the sense of it.  But in English we do not have a verb meaning 'to truth,' and it is worth bearing in mind that sometimes in the New Testament truth is a quality of action as well as of speech (e.g. Jn 3:21).  It is quite possible that the writer means that Christians are to act truly, and that if they do they will act in love" (Testaments of Love, 237)."

Speaking the truth pictures the right doctrine. In love pictures the right spirit or attitude. We ought to have a great love of the truth and we also ought to do the truth, but we must do the truth in love. Truth without love is brutality, but love without truth is hypocrisy.

Speaking the truth is in the present tense (we are to continually be doing this, doing it as our lifestyle and this  supernatural work is only possible as we are continually energized and enabled by the Holy Spirit - Eph 5:18+) and the active voice signifies this is a choice of our will, a volitional choice (but even that choice is energized by the Spirit for Php 2:13NLT+ says it is "God Who is at work in you, both to will [giving us the DESIRE] and to work [giving us the POWER] for His good pleasure.")

Speaking the truth (226) (aletheuo from alethes = true, real, actual, not counterfeit) in the only 2 NT uses (Gal 4:16, Eph 4:15) means to speak reality (truth) into someone by making it a matter of record of what God deems is truth. Aletheuo  describes the content of that which is true and so is in accordance with what actually happened. It describes the reality lying at basis of an appearance. Since verbs ending in the suffix -euo express the doing of an action signified by the corresponding noun, in this case signifies to speak the truth, be honest, be true in doctrine and profession, act genuinely.

Gary Hill on aletheuo - "Accordingly, alētheúō (literally, "to truth") includes Spirit-led confrontation to tell the truth, so others can also live in God's reality rather than personal illusion." "To truth" (alētheúō) seeks God's reality to become known in the inner man through faith ("God's inworked persuasion").  Note the close connection of the two terms in Eph 4:13-15.  Learning new levels of truth happens through revelation which is often supra-logical and "by-passes" (supersedes) our natural senses. Telling truth affirms reality as God defines or sees it.  (Discovery Bible)

S Lewis Johnson illustrates "speaking the truth in love" - I love the little story of Howard Moody Morgan. G. Campbell Morgan had a number of children. Four or five of the men went into the ministry. Mr. Morgan was an outstanding expositor. They all were interested in the Bible. They were having a discussion around the table one time about what was the best translation. And this was many years ago, and I don’t know the translation they were talking about, but I do know that Mr. Morgan used the American Standard Version. And so he, undoubtedly, spoke for that. And the English Revised Version was also used. Somebody probably spoke for that and several other versions. And finally, Howard Moody Morgan, who also became a minister and was a minister in this country, spoke up and said, “Well, the translation I like best is mother’s translation.” And what he meant by that was, simply, his mother’s Christian life. And the way in which she translated the truth into Christian living. Well, that’s what I think Paul means when he says speaking the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:13-16 The Work of the Ministry - II)

Vincent - Only here and Gal 4:16 ("Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?"). In classical Greek it means to be true, to arrive at truth, and to speak truth. Here the idea is rather that of being or walking in truth. Rev., in margin, dealing truly. (Ephesians 4 Word Studies in Greek)

Expositor's Greek NT explains "aletheuo" this way - It is best to take it...as "speaking truth" or more definitely "confessing the truth". The point of this brief, but significant clause, therefore, may be this - these Ephesians had learned the saving truth (cf note Ephesians 1:13) of Christ. They had been exposed to the treacheries and risks of false teaching. Christ had given them Apostles, prophets, and evangelists to secure them against all teachers of craft, and they are here charged to continue to confess the truth i which they had been instructed and so grow to the maturity of the Christian life. (Ephesians 4 Commentary S Salmond)

Blaikie admonishes - Truth is the element in which we are to live, move, and have our being. ... But truth must be inseparably married to love; good tidings spoken harshly are not good tidings. The charm of the message is destroyed by the discordant spirit of the messenger. (Ephesians 4 Exposition)

Love (26) (agape) is unconditional, sacrificial love which is the love that that God is and so describes a divine love, a love which is commanded by God, empowered by His Spirit, activated by personal choice of our will, not based on our feelings toward the object of our love and manifested by specific actions (e.g., especially 1Cor 13:4-8-note)

Expositor's Greek NT writes that regarding in love "Is taken to express the idea that love is the element in which truth is to be spoken (or the truth confessed), it it is to conduce to unity and brotherliness. (Ephesians 4 Commentary S Salmond)

Alford writes that ‘In love’ is added, as the element in which the Christian ‘speaking the truth’ must take place; it is not and cannot be a ‘speaking the truth’ at all hazards—a fiat truthfulness: but must be conditioned by love: a true-seeking and true-being with loving caution and kind allowance—not breaking up, but cementing brotherly love by walking in truth.” (Ephesians 4 Commentary)

McGee - The believer is to follow the truth in love; that is, he is to love truth, live it, and speak it. Christ is the truth and the believer must sail his little bark of life with everything pointed toward Christ. Christ is his compass and his magnetic pole. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Hendriksen - Now error is never overcome by mere negation. Over against the deceitfulness of the errorists the Ephesians should adhere to the truth, that is, practice integrity (ED: See note by Morris above). And what ministry (Eph 4:12) can be more noble than that which, while resolutely opposing deceit, setting truthfulness "of life and lip" over against it, does all this in the spirit of love? There are two great enemies of a successful ministry, whether carried on among believers or among unbelievers. One is departure from truth, compromise with the lie, whether in words or deeds. The other is chilling indifference with respect to the hearts and lives, the troubles and trials, of the people whom one is ostensibly trying to persuade. Paul has the real solution: the truth must be practiced in love (Eph 3:18; 4:2; Eph 5:1, 2), which was exactly what he was constantly doing (2 Cor. 2:4; Gal. 4:16, 19+; 1Th 2:7-12); and telling others to do (1 Ti 4:11-13). In fact,  love must mark all of life. By means of such behavior we will impart a blessing not only to others but to ourselves also, for we will "grow up in all things into him who is the head, even Christ." We must grow up into union with Him (ED: BY COVENANT WE ARE IN POSITIONAL UNION WITH HIM FOREVER - SEE Oneness of Covenant). The same intimacy of conscious oneness with Christ is stressed in Ro 6:5+, where the idea is expressed that believers are "grown together" with him. Such statements do not in any way obliterate the infinite distinction between Christ and Christians. They do not indicate identity but intimacy. (ED: I WOULD SAY THEY MARK BOTH IDENTITY AND INTIMACY) The distinction between believers and their Lord is clearly enunciated here, for the latter is called "the Head," while the former are designated "the entire body." " (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon).

WE ARE TO GROW UP IN ALL [ASPECTS] INTO HIM WHO IS THE HEAD, EVEN CHRIST: auxesomen (1PAAS) eis auton ta panta, os estin (3SPAI) e kephale, Christos:


Notice that "speaking the truth in love" is integrally associated in this verse with growing in Christ-likeness.

THOUGHT - This association of speaking the truth in love and growing up in Christ begs the question - Am I growing in Christ-likeness? Am I more like Christ today than I was last month, last year, last decade? Does the fruit of the Spirit's love birthed by faith and obedience in my heart translate into loving action in my life and in so doing mimic the love of Christ? If so our lips and life are in synch (see above), speaking and showing love and growing in grace, growing in Christ-likeness which is living a life of integrity which is defined in English dictionaries as "an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting." See Integrity - A Whole Heart, Daniel-Man of Integrity and Give Me An Undivided Heart

Grow up (837) (auxano) means to grow or cause to grow or increase. For someone or something to grow, they must have the element of life within and must be acted upon by an outside power. This verb is in the form indicating an exhortation so that the idea could be "let us grow up" or "we should grow up".

In is actually eis meaning into or unto. We are to grow up in all aspects unto Christ, describing the growth and maturity of all Christians as directed toward the goal of becoming like Christ.

Expositor's Greek NT explains that “This means more than that we are to grow into resemblance to Him, or that our growth is to be according to His example. It means that as He is the source from which the grace or power comes that makes it possible for us to grow, He is also the object and goal to which our growth in its every stage must look and is to be directed.” (Ephesians 4 Commentary S Salmond)

Hendriksen -  love must mark all of life. By means of such behavior we will impart a blessing not only to others but to ourselves also, for we will "grow up in all things into him who is the head, even Christ." We must grow up into union with Him (ED: BY COVENANT WE ARE IN POSITIONAL UNION WITH HIM FOREVER - SEE Oneness of Covenant). The same intimacy of conscious oneness with Christ is stressed in Ro 6:5+, where the idea is expressed that believers are "grown together" with him. Such statements do not in any way obliterate the infinite distinction between Christ and Christians. They do not indicate identity but intimacy. (ED: I WOULD SAY THEY MARK BOTH IDENTITY AND INTIMACY) The distinction between believers and their Lord is clearly enunciated here, for the latter is called "the Head," while the former are designated "the entire body." (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon)

In all aspects into Him - Christ is the Aim and Goal of the growth of the body and in the next verse He is the Source of our growth (Ep 4:13-note)

Head (2776) (kephale) (The KJV properly capitalizes "head") is literally the part of the body that contains the brain. It rules and governs the human body. Figuratively as used in this verse, kephale refers to Christ as the Head of which the church is His body, each saint being a member of that body. Christ as the Head is the source of growth and well-being of each member.

Kephale as just stated speaks of the source, the origin, the leader, the one in authority. Christ controls every part of His body the church and is its inspiring, ruling, guiding, combining, sustaining power, the mainspring of its activity, the center of its unity, and the seat of its life. Is He Head in your local church body? We are members of His body and should look only to Him for guidance and provision! True spirituality comes from tenaciously holding on to Christ, the Head of His body.

Paul emphasizes that genuine growth in spirituality comes from holding onto Christ, the Head, drawing the supply of all our needs from His inexhaustible resources. Since the loss of the head destroys life, this word is used in the phrases relating to capital and extreme punishment.

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. The growth of the Body has Christ as its goal. He is the One into Whom all believers are to grow.

Eadie phrases it this way - The growth is to Him, and the growth is from Him—Himself its origin and Himself its end. The life that springs from Him as the source of its existence, is ever seeking and flowing back to Him as the source of its enjoyment. (Ephesians 4 Commentary )

Inseparable Twins - A seminary student got into a heated debate with his landlord. They were discussing the teachings of a theologian whom the landlord thought was a heretic. The student, on the other hand, considered himself a follower of the man and his doctrines.

With an attitude of superiority, the young man showed his landlord a well-marked copy of a theology book written by this man. The landlord, who had little education but was a devout Christian, was overwhelmed by the young fellow’s greater knowledge. As a result, he felt frustrated and defeated.

Similarly, it’s possible for us to misuse the great spiritual truths of Scripture to hurt others. Maybe we’ve received instruction from a prominent Bible teacher, gained special insights into the Word, or memorized key Scriptures we can quote with ease. This gives us the leverage either to put someone down or to build him up. If we misuse what we know, we may set Christians against each other and break up churches. Or we can use the truth to enlighten, edify, and enrich others when we accompany it with love.

Speaking the truth must never be separated from love (Ephesians 4:15). They’re inseparable twins! --Dennis J. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, I must speak the truth in love
If seeking hearts would hear it,
For speaking with self-righteous pride
May wound another's spirit. —Fasick

The truth may hurt,
but love helps ease the pain.

Ephesians 4:16 from Whom the whole body, being fitted and held together * by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ex ou pan to soma sunarmologoumenon (PPPNSN) kai sumbibazomenon (PPPNSN) dia pases aphes tes epichoregias kat' energeian en metro enos ekastou merous ten auxesin tou somatos poieitai (3SPMI) eis oikodomen eautou en agape.

Amplified: For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NKJV: 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.

NLT: Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: For it is from the head that the whole body. as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints with which it is provided, grows by the proper functioning of individual parts to its full maturity in love. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: from whom all the Body constantly being joined closely together and constantly being knit together through every joint of supply according to the operative energy put forth to the capacity of each part, makes for increased growth of the Body resulting in the building up of itself in the sphere of love. 

Young's Literal: Dependent on Him, the whole body—its various parts closely fitting and firmly adhering to one another— grows by the aid of every contributory link, with power proportioned to the need of each individual part, so as to build itself up in a spirit of love.

FROM WHOM THE WHOLE BODY, BEING FITTED AND HELD TOGETHER BY WHAT EVERY JOINT SUPPLIES: ex ou pan to soma sunarmologoumenon (PPPNSN) kai sumbibazomenon (PPPNSN) dia pases aphes tes epichoregias:

From Whom - Refers to the Head, Christ. from which the entire body derives its capacity for growth. In the preceding verse Christ was the goal but here He is the source.

In Colossians 2 Paul gives a parallel teaching describing those who are inflated in unspiritual minds explaining that they are

not holding fast (continually clinging to, adhering strongly to - implication = this takes effort) to the Head (Christ), from Whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. (See note Colossians 2:19)

Comment: Holding fast to the Head emphasizes the necessity for a moment-by-moment dependence on the Lord. Yesterday’s help will not do for today. We can’t grind grain with the water that has passed over the dam. It should also be added here that where Christians do hold to the Head, the result will be spontaneous action which will coordinate with other members of the Body. There will be a oneness and harmony that is supernaturally super!

Whole (3956)(pas) means all without exception and includes the ideas of oneness, a totality or the whole. Paul clearly focuses on the growth of the body as a whole, rather than individual believers. Remember the context of the first 16 verses of chapter 4 is unity in diversity.

The whole body being fitted and held together - O'Brien writes that "The notion of believers’ unity and their growing together as a collective whole is further accented by the following two verbs. The first, ‘joined together’, has already been used of the harmonious construction of the church as ‘a holy temple in the Lord’ (Ep 2:21-note), while the second, ‘held together’, appears in Colossians, where it refers to the body knit together as a unity by the head alone (Col 2:19-note). The two verbs are virtually synonymous and indicate that there is an ongoing, unified growth to the body. It is ‘not shapeless’, but is ‘ordered and united, . . . fitly framed and knit together’. (O'Brien, P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999)

Vincent adds that "The present participles (being fitted and held together) denote present, continuous progress. The two participles represent respectively the ideas of harmony or adaptation and compactness or solidity. (Ephesians 4 Word Studies in Greek)

Expositors Greek NT explains that “The idea appears to be that the body is fitly framed and knit together by means of the joints, every one of them in its own place and function, as the points of connection between member and member, and the points of communication between the different parts and the supply which comes from the Head. The joints are the constituents of union in the body and the media of the impartation of the life drawn by the members from the head.” (Ephesians 4 Commentary S Salmond)

Being fitted...together (4883) (sunarmologeo from from sun = together, speaking of intimate union + harmologéo = join together in turn from harmós = joint + lógos = word, account, reckoning) means to be fitted or joined together with, literally used of the parts of the body or the stones of the building.

In construction terms sunarmologeo represents the whole of the elaborate process by which stones are fitted together, this process including the preparation of the surfaces, the cutting, rubbing, and testing; the preparation of the dowels and the dowel holes and finally the fitting of the dowels with molten lead. In short it represents the careful joining of every component of a structure, each part is precisely cut to fit snugly, strongly, and beautifully with every other part. Nothing is out of place, defective, misshapen, or inappropriate. Now take those ideas and apply them to the church composed of individual saints ("living stones" see note 1 Peter 2:5).

Sunarmologeo is in the present tense picturing this as an ongoing process...the framing is seen as in progress. The passive voice indicates the fitting is occurring from an outside source, God. And yet as "living stones" (1Pe 2:5-note) we each must be willing to allow the Master Architect to fit us just as He desires. So although the action is passive, it does require an act of our wills to submit to the hand of the Master!

Barnes explains being fitted together writing that "The word here used means, to joint together, as a carpenter does the frame-work of a building. The materials are accurately and carefully united by mortices and tenons, so that the building shall be firm. Different materials may be used, and different kinds of timber may be employed; but one part shall be worked into another, so as to constitute a durable and beautiful edifice. So in the church. The different materials of the Jews and Gentiles; the people of various nations, though heretofore separated and discordant, become now united, and form an harmonious society. They believe the same doctrines; worship the same God; practise the same holiness, and look forward to the same heaven. (Ephesians 4 Commentary).

Blaikie phrases it this way - There is a jointing and joining of the various parts to each other, forming a symmetrical, compact, well-ordered building. The Church has many members in one body, and all members have not the same office. It is a co-operative body, each aiding in his own way and with his own talent. The Church is not a collection of loose stones and timbers; its members are in vital union with Christ, and ought to be in living and loving and considerate fellowship with each other. (Ephesians 4 Exposition scroll down for homilies)

Held together (4822) (sumbibazo from sun = union + bibazo = to force) means to cause to come together, bring together, join together into unit, cause to be a unit, to unite, to cause to coalesce, to unite or knit together, to combine. It means to bring together by ligaments or joints.

By what every joint supplies - This phrase indicates that while the empowering for growth comes from the Head, the members of the Body are also fully involved in the process. The joints are in contact with other parts of the body and serve as the channels which extend nourishment from Christ, the Head.

Joint (860) (haphe from hápto = to connect, adjoin) refers to a juncture or point of contact of one part of body with another. Joints or parts of contact are very important among the members of Christ's body even as the joints are to the body (see note Colossians 2:19). Spiritually, these joints receive their nourishment from the Head, Christ (see note Colossians 1:18), but how we are joined together with other members of Christ's body affects the whole body of Christ, the Church.

Supplies (2024) (epichoregia from epichoregeo= give generously or lavishly)means literally to furnish or supply upon and refers to lavish or generous giving or furnishing abundantly not in a stingy manner.

The root of epichoregia is the Greek choregia. In the ancient days in Greece at the great festivals the great dramatists like Euripides and Sophocles presented their plays; Greek plays all have a chorus; to equip and train a chorus was expensive, and public-spirited Greeks generously offered to defray the entire expenses of the chorus. (That gift is described by the word choregia.) Later, in war time, patriotic citizens gave free contributions to the state and choregia was used for this, too. In still later Greek, in the papyri, the word is common in marriage contracts and describes the support that a husband, out of his love, undertakes to give his wife. Choregia underlines the generosity of God, a generosity which is born of love, of which the love of a citizen for his city and of a man for his wife are dim suggestions.

Barclay gives us his version of the historical background on this word group, writing that "epichoregeo "is one of the many Greek words which have a pictorial background. The verb epichoregein comes from the noun choregos, which literally means the leader of a chorus. Perhaps the greatest gift that Greece, and especially Athens, gave to the world was the great works of men like Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, which are still among its most cherished possessions. All these plays needed large choruses and were, therefore, very expensive to produce. In the great days of Athens there were public-spirited citizens who voluntarily took on the duty, at their own expense, of collecting, maintaining, training and equipping such choruses. It was at the great religious festivals that these plays were produced. For instance, at the city of Dionysia there were produced three tragedies, five comedies and five dithyrambs (a passionate choral hymn in honour of Dionysus). Men had to be found to provide the choruses for them all, a duty which could cost as much as 3,000 drachmae (Ed note: A drachma was a Greek coin made of silver, roughly equivalent to the Roman denarius, and one denarius was approximately one day's wage, which makes 3000 drachmae equate with a relatively large sum of money, so large that only a very wealthy person could provide...which is an interesting thought when we look at the use in Peter. Certainly all who are in Christ now have access to "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Col 2:3, and have abundant spiritual riches accessible for the "production" of abundant life and godliness as Peter explained in 2Pe 1:3,4-click for those notes). The men who undertook these duties out of their own pocket and out of love for their city were called choregoi, and choregein was the verb used for undertaking such a duty. The word has a certain lavishness in it. It never means to equip in any cheese-paring and miserly way; it means lavishly to pour out everything that is necessary for a noble performance. Epichoregein (Ed note: note the prefix preposition epi which means "upon") went out into a larger world and it grew to mean not only to equip a chorus but to be responsible for any kind of equipment. It can mean to equip an army with all necessary provisions it can mean to equip the soul with all the necessary virtues for life. But always at the back of it there is this idea of a lavish generosity in the equipment. So Peter urges his people to equip their lives with every virtue; and that equipment must not be simply a necessary minimum, but lavish and generous. The very word is an incitement to be content with nothing less than the loveliest and the most splendid life." (Ephesians 4 Commentary) (Bolding added)

Vincent explains that the derivation of the verb (2Pe 1:5) epichoregeo is "from choron, a chorus, such as was employed in the representation of the Greek tragedies. The verb originally means to bear the expense of a chorus, which was done by a person selected by the state, who was obliged to defray all the expenses of training and maintenance. In the New Testament the word has lost this technical sense, and is used in the general sense of supplying or providing." (Cp Gal. 3:5, in 2Pe 1:11-note translated "abundantly supplied")

ACCORDING TO THE PROPER WORKING OF EACH INDIVIDUAL PART: kat' energeian en metro enos hekastou merous

According to (2596) (kata)

Working (1753) (energeia from energes = pertaining to being effective in causing something to happen) describes operative power, most often used of the working of God. It is effectual working.

Each individual (1538) (hekastos from hékas = separate) every single one. This idea of singling out is expressed still more strongly by heís (one or individual) hékastos (each).

More literally this phrase reads in the measure of each individual part regarding which Vincent comments says is "According as each part works in its own proper measure." (Ephesians 4 Word Studies in Greek)

Proper working of each individual part - According as each part works in its own proper measure. This phrase highlights the contribution of each member to the life and development of the body as a whole.

Calvin wrote that "If we want to be considered members of Christ, let no man be anything for himself, but let us all be whatever we are for the benefit of each other"

Part (3313) (meros) is a division.

Wuest summarizes this somewhat complex sentence explaining that "The life of the Head flowing through the bands of supply, is constantly joining together and causing to grow together the individual members, this process being controlled or dominated by the operative energy put forth, the volume or strength of this operative energy coming from the Head of the Body, being determined by the capacity of each part to hold and allow to operate in him or her. That is, the degree to which this life of the Head flowing through the members operates, joining the members of the Body more closely together into a more compact organic union, is determined by the individual saint’s fellowship with the Lord and with his fellow saints. This more compactly built Body will show in the closer ties of Christian love and brotherhood as exhibited by the saints in their Christian experience. 

What happens when each individual part of the Body of Christ does not function properly?

S Lewis Johnson explains that "when we don’t really operate within the body, the body becomes a paralyzed body. If I don’t teach with my same irritating way, constantly, the body loses something. Isn’t that amazing to think that the body loses something if I don’t function? The body loses something if you don’t function. The body does not function perfectly if there are members in the body who are not functioning. There is a measure of paralysis in the body. So may God help us to come to know what our gifts are, and may God help us to exercise them and to exercise them in love. (Ephesians 4:13-16 The Work of the Ministry - II)

The following story by an unknown author gives an interesting illustration of how one believer not exercising their gift in the Body can affect the message produced by the entire Body.

A Brokxn Kxy

Evxn though my typxwritxr is an old modxl, it works quitx wxll xxcxpt for onx of the kxys.

I havx many timxs wishxd that is workxd pxrfxctly.

It is trux that thxrx arx forty-onx kxys that function wxll xnough, but just onx kxy not working makxs thx diffxrxncx.

Somxtimxs it sxxms to mx that our church is somxthing likx my typxwritxr -- not all thx kxy pxoplx arx working propxrly.

As onx of thxm, you may say to yoursxlf, "Wxll, I am only onx pxrson, I don't makx or brxak thx church."

But it doxs makx a big diffxrxncx, bxcasx a church, to bx xffxctivx, nxxds thx activx participation of xvxry pxrson.

So, thx nxxt timx your xfforts arx not nxxdxd vxry much, rxmxmbxr my typxwritxr and say to yoursxlf, "I am a kxy pxrson in thx congrxgation and I am nxxdxd vxry much."

This is what happxns to thx wholx church, and multiply this by many timxs -- thx whole thing just doxs not makx sxnsx!

"Belovxd don't bx like a broken kxy."

You must utilize your spiritual gift.
Saint, don't be an "ain't"!
The local body of Christ where you worship needs you
and cannot be the same without you!
Do you really believe that?
Are you a good steward of the gift God has entrusted to your care?
You are under grace, not law, but you are still accountable.

CAUSES THE GROWTH OF THE BODY FOR THE BUILDING UP OF ITSELF IN LOVE: ten auxesin tou somatos poieitai (3SPMI) eis oikodomen eautou en agape:

Causes (4160) (poieo) expresses action either as completed or continued. It refers to of an external action as manifested in the production of something tangible.

Growth (838) (auxesis) (Click related verb auxano) literally refers to increase and is here applied spiritually.

John MacArthur explains that "The noun growth (auxesis, used only here and in Col 2:19-note) is present middle in form, indicating that the body produces its own growth through resident dynamics. As with all living organisms, spiritual growth in the church does not come from forces outside but from the vital power within that causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself. All of this is in love, which is always to be the spirit of the fellowship of believers. Above all things, the Body is to manifest love, and when it is built up according to this plan, the world will know it is the Body of Christ (John 13:34,35).(MacArthur, J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)

Growth predicates an object having the element of life within itself and being acted upon by an outside power or force to produce either natural growth (eg, "lilies of the field grow" - Mt 6:28-note) or, in the metaphorical sense, spiritual growth, as in this verse. John the Baptist used the related verb auxano in his reference to Jesus, declaring "He must continually increase (auxano) and I must continually decrease." (Jn 3:30-note)

Body (4983) (soma) is an organized whole made up of parts and members.

Building up of itself - It is a living organism, and its growth is produced by vital power within itself. Clearly the whole body is involved in this process of building, not simply those who are leaders or who have special ministries.

Building up (3619) (oikodome from oikos = dwelling + doma = building) literally refers to the building of a house but figuratively to any sort of construction or building process.

The word for “edification” describes the building up of the house (oíkos). A house is a building to shelter people. When one is in public worship, the paramount concern must be how all the believers should be built up and not how someone or a small group may selfishly benefit by the public experience. In Christian worship the individual worshiper ought to be concerned how he or she can spiritually benefit others by what he or she does and says.

Of itself in love - O'Brien explains that...

[Of] itself’ adds to the previous reference of the church’s active participation (though ultimately Christ is the source of growth), while the words in love, which begin and end the paragraph, further underscore Paul’s emphasis on agape as the indispensable means of building the body. If it is only in love that the body increases, then it is only in love that true Christian ministry will contribute to the building of the body. The ‘spiritually gifted community is not only distinguished by its full possession of gifts through which divine energy flows, but it is also marked by its divine nature’. Love thus becomes the criterion for an assessment of the church’s true growth. Even the fullest demonstration of gifts has no spiritual value if love is lacking (cf. 1Cor 13:4-8). (O'Brien, P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999)

In love - This phrase occurs three times in Ephesians 4 (showing tolerance in love - Ep 4:2-note, Ep 4:15, 16) which points to the glue (along with peace) by which unity is maintained. In Colossians we read...

And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond (glue) of unity. (See note Colossians 3:14)

Love (26) (agape) is unconditional, sacrificial love which is the love that that God is and so describes a divine love, a love which is commanded by God, empowered by His Spirit, activated by personal choice of our will, not based on our feelings toward the object of our love and manifested by specific actions (e.g., especially 1Cor 13:4-8)

Warren Wiersbe sums up this section writing that "Love is the circulatory system of the body. It has been discovered that isolated, unloved babies do not grow properly and are especially susceptible to disease, while babies who are loved and handled grow normally and are stronger. So it is with the children of God. An isolated Christian cannot minister to others, nor can others minister to him, and it is impossible for the gifts to be ministered either way. So, then, spiritual unity is not something we manufacture. It is something we already have in Christ, and we must protect and maintain it. Truth unites, but lies divide. Love unites, but selfishness divides. Therefore, “speaking the truth in love,” let us equip one another and edify one another, that all of us may grow up to be more like Christ. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)