Study of Ephesians 4 "The Purpose of the Church"
In Verse 9
When Jesus had ascended He had first descended in the lower parts of the earth. In Luke 16, the story about Lazarus we read about a great chasm fixed,
Luke 16:26 (ESV)
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
This was the place of all believers after death, and they were divided by a great gulf, the righteous in paradise and the unrighteous in Hades, one side paradise, the otherside torment.
When Christ shed His blood at Calvary and rose from the dead, there was moment before He ascended to His Father in heaven that He first descended to the lower parts of the earth, and there He proclaimed His victory. They ascended up to the Father with Him.
Hebrews 4:14 (NASB95)
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
After having ascended to heaven, He gave gifts to men.
1. Apostles - comes from the Jewish word "apostilos" came from the Sanhedrin, the Sanhedrin was coomposed of 70 learned Jewish men who were the governing body of the Jews. When they had a special task to be carried out they gave it to an "apostilos". Backed by the Sanhedrin, he was to perform his special mission. The early church took this word "apostle" as one who had seen and been with Jesus, an a witness of His resurrection. An apostle today is a person who has been given a specific mission, a divine calling that is usually vast reaching.
2. Prophet - The prophet was a proclaimer one whom was given special revelational knowledge based on the Word of God, they were the verbal "voice" of the Holy Spirit to the church. They flowed in the gift of prophecy.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NASB95)
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
3. Evangelist - A proclaimer of the "good news". He or she is the one gives a "witness" of Christ, they take the gospel to those who haven't heard. The miracles will probably most evident in their calling.
4. Pastors - shepherds
he to whose care and control others have committed themselves, and whose precepts they follow. Manger or overseer.
The tasks of a Near Eastern shepherd were: 1) to watch for enemies trying to attack the sheep; 2) to defend the sheep from attackers; 3) to heal the wounded and sick sheep; 4) to find and save lost or trapped sheep; 5) to love them, sharing their lives and so earning their trust. During World War II, a shepherd was a pilot who guided another pilot whose plane was partially disabled back to the base or carrier by flying alongside him to maintain visual contact.
5. Teachers - 1 a teacher. 2 in the NT one who teaches concerning the things of God, and the duties of man. 1a one who is fitted to teach, or thinks himself so.
The reason for these gifts, is evident:
A. For equipping of the saints, for the work of service. To teach, train & serve so that saints (people) will be equipped for service (ministry). What is this service? It's to reach others, to disciple others. We've been given the ministry (service) of reconcilation, restortation of favor with God.
2 Corinthians 5:18 (NASB95)
18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
The work of service to the building up of the body of Christ. The five-gifted callings of men are for the equipping of others so that they will do the service of the kingdom, thereby building up the kingdom of Christ in the earth; we found out early that we are the body of Christ and are God's building, growing into a temple of the presence of God in the earth, the church.
Vs 13, this work of service is to continue until we all attain the:
1. unity of the faith
a. a place of oneness, (agreement) remember Jesus' words when you agree as touching anything you will have what you agree upon.
Matthew 18:19-20 (NASB95)
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
b. unity, without division this is Jesus' desire and prayer in John 17, that they may be one, even as we are one, vs 21, so that the world may know that He is the Christ!
John 17:21 (NASB95)
21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
2. knowledge of the Son of God - this is an understanding, a knowing of Christ that brings about His purposes and will in the earth, "thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as in heaven", only when we know Him, can we will, His will in the earth.
3. This will produce the "mature man" the mature body of Christ, the measure of the stature or the fullness of Christ. The Body of Christ must look and act just like Christ.
When these things are working in the Body of Christ then we will no longer be children, tossed by the waves of false doctrines, the scripts and mindsets of the world, the Body of Christ will began to be a divine different influence in the earth.
James 1:5-8 (NASB95)
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Vs 15 - 16. This service (ministry) of the saints, will only come about by walking, living and speaking of the truth.
Vs 16, You may be thinking that my part isn't that important! Notice verse 16 "the proper working of each individual part, is what causes the body to be built up.
Someone asked, do I have to go to church to be a Christian, and of course the answer is no, but it's kinda like a soldier saying do I have to go to service to be a soldier? It just doesn't make sense.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NASB95)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
The local church is the place where, the gifts of men are given in order to teach, and train, the local saints for the work of service, in order to see the body of Christ built up in a local as well as a global body. It all comes down to this verse 16b, the over-all growth will only be as good as the individual growth of the body.
What is the promise there in Heb 10, I believe it's the promise of the mature man, the building of God, whom Christ is the High priest. God wants to fill the earth with His glory, but He has limited Himself to do that through His body, which is the "church" in the earth, and that will only be done, when the individual members of that body grow into the full measure of Christ. That will happen when we allow oursleves to be equipped and we do the service of advancing the kingdom.
Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G1320). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G4166). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.
 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.