This series is an excerpt from a paper that I am writing. In the introduction, I argue that in order for the church to edify itself, at least three things are required: 1) the source and result of this edification must be found in the person of Jesus Christ, 2) the focus of edification should be placed on others and not on the self, and 3) the opportunity should be given to all believers to use their spiritual gifts to edify others.
This post is meant to support the first requirement: the source and result of this edification must be found in the person of Jesus Christ.
First, according to Eph. 4:11-16, the source of edification and the result of edification are found in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul gives this instruction to the church in Ephesus as part of an extended discourse on the growth of the church. This discourse begins with the unity that the church has in its association through the one Spirit, the one Lord, and the one God (Eph. 4:4-6). Paul then contends that the Lord provides various gifts in order to promote service by the church and the growth of the church (Eph. 4:7-12). The result will be a maturing church, one growing out of childhood and toward the maturity of Jesus Christ, which the church demonstrates when everyone works together from his or her connection with Christ toward the perfection of the entire body (Eph. 4:13-16). Importantly, throughout this passage Jesus Christ determines the â€œmeasureâ€ (Î¼ÎÏ„ÏÎ¿Î½) of how the spiritual gifts are imparted (v. 7), of the goal of growth (v. 13), and of the work of each member (v. 16). Therefore, in this passage, the church edifies itself when it helps itself grow empowered by its connection with Jesus Christ and toward the maturity that is found in Jesus Christâ€”the head of the body. This edification is the work of the entire body, not just certain members of the body. â€œChristians are mutually dependent on one another and they are collectively dependent on Jesus Christ for life and power.â€
Similarly, in Col. 2:10, Paul reminds the church that their edification occurs in Christ. In Acts 20:32, Luke records that Paul used similar language to encourage the elders from Ephesus that the word, or message, of grace is able to edify them. This is an important passage, because it demonstrates that God works through the person of Jesus Christ and the message concerning Jesus Christâ€”that is, the Scripturesâ€”to produce the edification of the church. For the growing church, Jesus Christ is their ability, their example, and their objective, and He is revealed to them by the Spirit through the â€œword of grace,â€ or the Scriptures.
 Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 547-49.
 Peterson, Engaging with God, 208.