Building Up the Body of Christ

KEY VERSE: “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” —Ephesians 4:11,12

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 4:1-16

WE can be assured from this scripture that, in the organization of the church, the Lord has a directing hand, that he sets every member in the body as it pleaseth him. This is a vitally important fact to keep in mind in our association with the brethren. If we believe that those with whom we are associated are the Lord’s church, then it behooves us to be exceedingly careful in the matter of criticism of this or that one, or of the position he occupies, peradventure we might be criticizing the Lord.

It was not without purpose that the apostle emphasized the Lord’s overruling in the affairs of his true people. It is too easy, perhaps, to conclude that in some cases the Loren does not “set” the members. But this would be concluding that only those decisions of the church which please us are of the Lord.

The Lord “gave some” to be apostles. This is a reference to the inspired Twelve. His choice of these was definite, although their position in the church has been called in question by many. The Lord did not recognize the choice of Matthias by the other apostles, but chose Paul instead.

The term ‘prophet’ does not necessarily mean a seer, but in the New Testament especially it more often refers merely to an expounder of the truth. A distinction is made between these and teachers. The implication is that one may be used by the Lord as a teacher, yet not be particularly gifted as a public lecturer. Apollos was a public expounder of the Gospel, but Aquila and Priscilla were able to teach him the way of the Lord more perfectly than he understood it when he began the work of the ministry.

An evangelist is one who announces glad tidings. He may proclaim the Gospel of Christ to a multitude, or to a single individual. It is not the size of the audience, but the character of the message, and the spirit of the individual who announces it, which are the important considerations.

In mentioning the different categories of servants which the Lord has provided for the church of Christ, Paul includes evangelists. This is a kind of service in which all can and should be encouraged to participate. Today one does not have to have a great gift of speech to be an evangelist. So much of the Gospel is in the written form. But the spirit of telling it forth is still a needed qualification.

Some among the church are used by the Chief Shepherd as under-shepherds, pastors. To these the Apostle Peter writes: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”—I Pet. 5:23

Leaders who are faithful to their charge will contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints. They will always seek the best spiritual interests of the brethren rather than just their own. They will not hesitate to warn the consecrated when danger approaches, even though in doing so they may expose themselves to ridicule. They will promote peace and harmony among the brethren, but will not advocate peace at any price. They will stand firm for the fundamental doctrines of the truth. A true elder will have a genuine love for the brethren and will serve them with kindness and understanding, and thus fulfill the Lord’s purpose of “edifying of the body of Christ.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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