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Ephesians 4:7-16 and Consistency…

Posted by on Apr 20, 2007 in edification, scripture, spirit/holy spirit, spiritual gifts | 46 comments

Ephesians 4:7-16 and Consistency…

In my three previous posts, I have been discussing Ephesians 4:7-16 (“Ephesians 4:11 and the Five-Fold Ministry“, “Ephesians 4:12 and Equipping Ministries“, and “Ephesians 4:7-16 and the Growing Church“). In this post, I am going to examine some of my previous statements concerning Ephesians 4:7-16 with reference to other passages of Scripture. In other words, I am going to ask this question: Are my conclusions consistent with other passages of Scripture?

First, based on Ephesians 4:7, I stated, “God works through different people in different ways according to his grace and Christ’s measure”. This is straightforward, and few disagree with this statement. But, there are a few parallel passages that teach the same thing. For example, the first part of Romans 12:6 says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…” (Romans 12:6a ESV) Once again, we see that different people are given different gifts according to God’s grace. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 state in three different ways that there are “varieties” of gifts all given by the same Triune God.

Second, based on the emphasis beginning in Ephesians 4:8 and continuing through 4:16, I concluded that Paul was emphasizing Jesus’ giving instead of emphasizing specific gifts. I said, “The emphasis is firmly placed on Christ and the affects of his giving”. This can also be seen in 1 Corinthians 12, specifically in the passage I mentioned earlier:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV) 

While volumes have been written identifying the various gifts listed in verses 8-10 and how people with those gifts should function, this is not the author’s purpose. In fact, Paul does not identify how each gift functions. Instead, he emphasizes that it is God Himself (through the Spirit) who gives the gifts. In these eight verses, Paul states that God gives the gifts for His purposes nine distinct times. Once again, we see that the emphasis is not on the gifted individuals nor on the functioning of those individuals. Instead, Paul consistently emphasizes that gifts and gifted individuals are given by Christ or the Spirit in order to carry out His will and His purposes.

Third, I suggested that the individuals listed in Ephesians 4:11 do not represent offices or positions in the church, but instead represent examples of gifted individuals. This is probably the most controversial point of my interpretation of Ephesians 4:7-16. I do not expect to convert anyone to my position, but I will attempt to explain my position. My request to those who disagree: Please try to understand what I am saying before you begin arguing against me.

Notice that in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, Paul easily transitions from gifted individuals to the gifts themselves:

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30 ESV) 

Why do we see some of these as offices or positions, but not others? If we have an office of apostle, why not an office of helping? If teachers represent a certain position in the church, why not a position of interpreter?

Consider, instead, the possibility that God worked through individual believers according to His will and for His purposes (as we have seen previously, and as Paul emphasized in an earlier passage in 1 Corinthians 12). It is the working of God (manifestation of the Spirit) that is recognized as specific giftings, not particular inate abilities within the individuals themselves. God could use some as apostles, others through gifts of healing, others with gifts of teachings, and others as interpreters. This says nothing about the individuals themselves; instead, it speaks about the working of God. Thus, a “teacher” is simply a believer through whom the Spirit normally teaches other believers. An “interpreter” is simply a believer through whom the Spirit normally manifests Himself through interpreting tongues. This does not require a special office or position. It does, however, require God to work through individuals as He Himself chooses.

This also helps explain why (in just a few paragraphs) Paul instructs the believers in Corinth that they all have the ability to prophesy: “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.” (1 Corinthians 14:31 ESV) The gift of prophecy is not relegated to those who hold an office or position of prophet. All believers have the potential of prophesying, if God wills to prophesy through them. (By the way, in case someone wants to make a distinction between “prophet” and “prophecy”, please notice that Paul does not make the same distinction. Instead, he closely connects “prophet”, “prophecy”, and “revelation” in 1 Corinthians 14:29-32.) The prophet is the one who prophesies, not the one who holds a particular office or position. The same could be said for apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, etc.

Finally, based on Ephesians 4:16, I concluded that the body will only grow (as Christ desires it to grow) if each believer functions as he or she is gifted by Christ. I said, “In fact, the last verse emphasizes and double emphasizes that it is the proper working of each part of the body that is necessary for the body to grow”. Most would agree with this point as well, but I want to empahsize one thing in particular. According to Scripture no gift or grouping of gifts are more important than any other gift or grouping of gifts. Instead, every individual (as gifted by God) is necessary for the proper functioning and growth of the body.

Again, 1 Corinthians 12 is the best parallel for this (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Not only does Paul recognize the importance of each “member” of the body of Christ (foot, hand, ear, eye metaphorically), he also teaches us that those gifts that seem less important – from a human viewpoint – are actually more important from God’s viewpoint:

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (1 Corinthians 12:22-25 ESV) 

Notice specifically that God Himself deems of greater honor those parts of the body that seem to be weaker, dispensable, and less honorable to us. This turns human thinking about importance and leadership on its head.

All members of the body of Christ should recognize that they were placed in the body and gifted by God Himself to carry out His will. No one is indispensable; no one is less important. Instead, every believer should function as gifted by God. If those gifted as apostles and evangelists are functioning, but those gifted as healers and interpreters are not, then the body will not grow as God planned. If those gifted as prophets and pastors and teachers are functioning, but those gifted as helpers, tongues speakers, and miracle workers are not, then the body will not be edificed toward maturity in Christ. Every member of the body is placed in the body by God to function as the Spirit gifts, enables, and empowers.

Hopefully, even those who disagree with me at certain points will recognize that I have attempted to be consistent in my understanding of Scripture. More importantly, this is not an academic exercise for me. Because of these teachings and others, I treat everyone within the body of Christ (regardless of abilities, talents, or gifts) as equally important and necessary. I have been chosen as an elder, but I do not see myself, my gifts, my abilities, or even my opinions as more important or more correct that anyone else’s. God can use my nine year old daughter and sister in Christ to edify me and others just as He can use me.

As always, I know that I am fallible, and I know that I am still learning. I welcome any questions or comments.

Ephesians 4:7-16 Series:
1. Ephesians 4:11 and the Five-Fold Ministry
2. Ephesians 4:12 and Equipping Ministry
3. Ephesians 4:7-16 and the Growing Church
4. Ephesians 4:7-16 and Consistency


46 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-20-2007

    Alan,

    Am I allowed to say, “Praise the Lord!” I am drawing the attention of several others to what you have written.

    You wrote, “This turns human thinking about importance and leadership on its head.”, which reminds me that the Giver of the gift/s is the Head of the church, who has given the gift/s TO THE CHURCH for its growth to maturity, and NOT TO individuals,for their “possession” and exclusive use. He has given these gifts for the building up of His church, NOT for the promotion of an individual to an “office” in the church, but to further His purpose.

    You suggest that when every member of the body is not functioning in the area in which grace is endowed, “…then the body will not grow as God planned.” The church at Corinth is a case in point. According to Paul they were well endowed with gifts (1 Cor.1:6-7), but were not functioning, as a good example of the Body of Christ, as would be expected of an assembly so gifted.

    From experience, I suggest that gifts are given as they are needed and are not necessarily, or always permanent. Even though not specifically gifted in some areas, all believers have roles to play, such as in hospitality. Some are gifted, all are to practice hospitality.

    I talk (write) too much!

  2. 4-20-2007

    Alan,

    I agree with much of your post. I think I understand what you are saying with the connection between the various passages, even the connection between 1 Cor. 12:28-30 and Eph. 4:11.

    However, I do have to quibble with you at a few points, and ask you some questions to clarify your thinking.

    First, I don’t subscribe to the concept that apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers are “offices.” I tend to agree with you that these are gifted individuals, but I would add that these gifted individuals, in order to properly function, have a special role or function in the body of Christ, and that is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” At this point, I must quibble with your conflation of equipping and edification. The latter term, “to edify,” means to build up. It does not really connote training, preparation, maturity, or completion. On the other hand, the very concept of “equipping” most definitely DOES connote training, preparation, maturity, and completion. Or, “perfecting” as some translations use. Thus, I would say IMHO that ALL gifts are for the edification of the body, but ONLY the Eph. 4:11 gifts are for the EQUIPPING/PERFECTING of the saints. So, this is a major distinction that I make, without saying that apostles are an office, etc., which is really not found in the text.

    I would also add that, for example, the gift of apostle (one who functions as an apostle, and thus is a gift to the church), is a specific gifting, and not an inante ability. But still, because “doma” is used here rather than “charisma,” the person is the gift himself, not the grace in the person.

    Another distinction I would make, which also deals with the “equipping” issue, is the difference in which the Rom. 12 and 1 Cor 12 gifts operate, versus how the Eph. 4:11 gifts operate. Let us take the gift of “prophecy” vs. “prophet,” because this most likely gives the best example to make this point. The first time “prophecy” is mentioned in the Scriptures is Romans 12:6. Then the same gift of prophecy is also mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:10. But “prophet” is listed as a gift BOTH in 1 Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11. Here’s the point, and I hope you can understand it: I make a distinction between these two gifts that you probably do NOT make, and that is they are different gifts. One who has the gift of prophecy does simply prophecy, but the prophet does not just prophecy — the prophet equips the saints for the work of the ministry, and thus his ministry is more than just prophecying — it is providing a foundation of the church, along with the apostle, according to Eph. 2:20.

    Now, what about 1 Cor. 14:29-32, in light of all of this? How do I harmonize this with the distinction between the gifts??? That passage says, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can ALL prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” OK, this is what I believe the distinction is: ALL believers may operate in the gift of prophecy, but just because you operate in the gift of prophecy does not mean you ARE a prophet. The difference is that one who is a prophet carries a greater authority than just any believer who prophecies. Regardless, according to verse 29, any prophecy must be tested, so that there is accountability. However, prophecy is a grace (charisma) gift, while prophet is a doma gift — they are NOT the same.

    Now, in all of this, Alan, I do agree that God is sovereign in the distribution of the gifts, and uses individuals as He sees fit. I do not deny that at all. However, I do believe that prophecy and prophet are different gifts, as are teaching and teacher, in a similar manner.

    Lastly, I want to re-iterate that none of what I’ve written here makes any gift mentioned in Eph. 4:11 “superior” to other gifts, or somehow creates “offices” or “positions.” I do believe that Eph. 4:11 gifts, just like the gifts listed elsewhere are functions, and in the context of Eph. 4:11, I would use the term “role” in addition to “function,” because as you say, the apostles play a part, as do the prophets, as do evangelists, pastors, teachers, etc., and above all else, all of these must be functioning in order to edify (and in the case of Eph. 4:11, equip,) the body of Christ, amen?

    So, what questions do you have of me? What else can I clarify here, now that I have explored our differences?

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  3. 4-20-2007

    Jonathan, it sure sounds to me like your explanations are getting quite “hyper-technical”.

    Paul says, “Let two or three prophets speak….” He doesn’t say, “Let two or three people prophesy.”

    So when you say that just because someone prophesies doesn’t mean they are a prophet, you are contradicting Paul, even in the English translation.

    This whole notion of “teaching” and “teacher” being different and “prophesying” and “prophet” being different is way more hyper-technical than Greek grammar.

    Would it be possible for you to just go on record as disagreeing with the basic teachings of this blog and not keep reiterating the same circular reasoning over and over?

    Otherwise, your comments about others being “hyper-technical” are more in line with the following scenario:

    phone rings
    “Hello, this is Kettle speaking.”
    “Kettle? This is Pot. You’re black.”
    click

  4. 4-20-2007

    Hahahahahahahhahahahahahaha
    steve,
    man i was wondering when someone was gonna say that.
    i am still laughing about it

    sorry i did not get to meet you when you came. hope you enjoyed the stay.

    ed

  5. 4-20-2007

    ed, yes, we were quite disappointed that we didn’t get to meet you, although your wife and son were wonderful hosts!! :)

    Thanks for letting us stay with you, and I hope we weren’t too noisy when we came in so late or when we got up so early.

  6. 4-20-2007

    Aussie John,

    Yes, you are allowed to say, “Praise the Lord”. And, if anything I say is correct, then please praise the Lord and not me.

    Also, I do not think you write too much.

    Jonathan,

    Thank you for sharing your interpretation again. Since I didn’t see Scriptural evidence for “special role or function” or “greater authority” etc., I will stick with my interpretation.

    Despite your insistence, I do not see a difference (in Scripture) between a prophet and one who prophesies.

    Steve,

    Thank you for the laugh this morning! I needed it.

    -Alan

  7. 4-20-2007

    Alan,

    A couple of questions I have with practical implications are:

    1. If apostleship is a gift, how do those with this gift put it into practice? I have a fairly good idea of how someone might prophesy, evangelize or teach, but I am not sure about “apostling.” Others, such as Watchman Nee, say it is not a gift, but a calling. I am not sure what I think.

    2. If apostleship has to do, for instance, with church planting, what implications does the fact that the purpose of apostleship (together with prophecy, evangelism, pastoring-teaching, and other gifts) is to build up the Body of Christ with the specific end of reaching unity and maturity, have to do with church planters who have an independent mindset and don’t take into consideration the rest of the Body of Christ in the area in which they are working?

  8. 4-20-2007

    David,

    You ask some very good questions. I don’t know if I have answers (from Scripture) to your question, “How do those with this gift (apostleship) put it into practice?” Honestly, I think Scripture is very silent in answering the “how” question for any of the gifts, even prophesy, teaching, and evangelism. I could speculate from some examples in Scripture, but my speculation is not worth much.

    You asked about “church planters who have an independent mindset”. I think an “independent mindset” would be wrong regardless of the gift.

    -Alan

  9. 4-20-2007

    I like what you have written. I think it is important that we always focus on Jesus, the source of all. I agree that Paul is directing us to do so. I also think that everything God does for, in and through us is to draw us into a deeper and more intimate, personal relationship with Himself, Who Is a personal God.

    I also identify with what you are saying about prophesying, for example. Why else did Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 encourage all of us to desire that gift?

  10. 4-20-2007

    Quoting Aussie John:

    “From experience, I suggest that gifts are given as they are needed and are not necessarily, or always permanent.”

    I also believe that the Spirit enable and empowers according to the needs of a particular situation and the obedience and sensitivity of the members of the body involved. While some people may be more practiced and mature in certain areas of gifting, I don’t believe that the gifts are necessarily specific and permanent.

    I believe that we elder (mentor), deacon (serve), apostle, teach, prophesy, pastor, and evangelize according to the grace given by the Spirit and our willingness to respond in the situation we find ourselves in.

  11. 4-20-2007

    I am going to repost an earlier post of mine from somewhere else on Alan’s blog. It just seems there are two different methods going on. This post is a generalization of things I have seen here lately with people going in different directions.

    1 – Thayers lexicon gives an english equivalent as do all lexicons. They do not give word definitions, only equivalents in another language. (Perro in Sp. to Dog in Eng.) The exception to this seems the newest BDAG. An equivalent and a definition are two different things.
    2 – Semantics is the study of the meaning of a word and its range which is basically defining a word.Philology is doing this with ancient texts.
    3 – Grammar and Syntax is the study of the way a language constructs its sentences and the languages’ rules.
    4 – It is very important to know and use these different things (Gr/Syn/Sem/Lex) correctly to avoid poor hermeneutics.
    5 – Jonathan seems to be on a different level in his understanding of these tools, not worse, but different. A more fruitful discussion might be proper hermeneutics/exegesis over the resultant exegesis.
    6 – I would propose to exegete any text via text criticism, gramm and synt, word semantics, the compositional approach of the author, and finally stating the resultant biblical theology of that process.

  12. 4-20-2007

    At the risk of coming across as a bit pedantic, I am going to re-phrase one of my earlier questions, taking it from a “semantic” perspective:

    If a “prophet” is someone who is gifted at “prophesying,” an “evangelist” at “evangelizing,” a “pastor” at “shepherding”, and a “teacher” at “teaching,” does that mean an “apostle” is gifted at “being sent out”?

    Is there any semantic explanation in the greek that helps resolve this apparent inconsistency? Or does anyone else even see this as an inconsistency?

  13. 4-20-2007

    Bryan,

    Thank you for you encouragement. Yes, we should always focus on Jesus.

    Grace,

    I would agree with everything you said except one thing. Elder/mentor is not necessarily a noun/verb connection like the others. Should elders mentor? Yes, as should other believers. I’m not sure that is a gifting though.

    Ed,

    I saw this list before, and I think you are correct. We (Jonathan and I) definitely have a different hermeneutic. I agree with your hermeneutical steps (#6).

    David,

    I think you have paired the nouns and verbs as I would. I do not see an inconsistency.

    Perhaps, if I explained my view of gifts a little more, it would explain why I do not see an inconsistency. I do not think that a “teacher” “teaches”. I believe that a believer speaks as God leads them. If the Spirit uses that as “teaching” then that person would be considered a “teacher” at that time, though perhaps not at other times. I think we see this when as a believer speaks, one person is taught, another is exhorted, another is rebuked, another is encouraged, another is helped… so which gift did the person use? None… the person spoke and the Spirit ministered as He willed.

    I would not see “being sent” as a speaking gift but a serving gift, to use Peter’s categories in 1 Peter 4:10-11. Paraphrasing: If anyone is “sent out” let him do so as one who “goes out” in the strength which God provides.

    -Alan

  14. 4-20-2007

    Steve Sensenig,

    I don’t think I am being “hyper-technical” here. Paul uses two different Greek words, one for “prophet,” and one for “prophecy.” They are two different things. A “prophet,” as it is used in Eph. 4:11 is a “doma,” the “thing” (or person, here) is a gift itself. However, “prophecy,” which is a different gift, and available to EVERY PERSON, is a endowment of grace, a “charisma” according to Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12. This is NOT being hyper-technical, but clearly a distinction that Paul makes with just normal language, both in the Greek and the English.

    The same is true for the difference between “teacher” and “teaching.” And here, there is even more of a point, if you believe “teacher” is a separate gift from “pastor,” because then BOTH the “teacher” and the “pastor” have that distinct “equipping” function, which is not the same as the “edifying” function that the gift of “teaching” has.

    Again, this is NOT hyper-technical. I am not parsing grammatical structures, as Alan does. However, a simple review of the varying Greek words that Paul used, and that have been translated into English, shows these distinctions.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  15. 4-20-2007

    Jonathan, you wrote: I don’t think I am being “hyper-technical” here.

    Of course, you don’t, Jonathan! And I could pretty much have written your response for you. Whenever challenged here, your response is always “I don’t think that’s what I’m doing.”

    I guess I’ll just use the tactic you use against Alan here and just reassert my point despite your denial. That seems to be how you approach these discussions, so…

    It is being hyper-technical to distinguish a noun and an adjective (“teacher” vs. “teaching”, “prophet” vs. “prophesying”) as two completely separate gifts.

    And you did contradict Paul when you said that not all who prophesy are prophets. If a person prophesies, they are functioning as a prophet. It’s that simple, whether you’re reading about it in Greek, English, or Pig Latin, Jonathan.

    As I stated (and you elegantly avoided answering directly), Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 “Let two or three prophets speak.” He does not say, “Let two or three people prophesy.” Yet in that context, he repeatedly uses the word “prophesy” in verb form. Over, and over, and over.

    So, let’s see how the word “prophet” plays out in context there. Obviously, Paul must be referring to something different right in the middle of a consistent use of the same word, right? Wrong.

    Paul draws no such distinction within the context of 1 Corinthians 14 between “prophet” and “prophesy”.

    Your continual splitting of hairs between “teacher” and “teaching” and now “prophet” and “prophesy” is absurd. One is the person functioning in a particular gift. The other is the function itself.

    Again, this is NOT hyper-technical. I am not parsing grammatical structures, as Alan does.

    Ummmm, and insisting on a complete divide between noun and adjective isn’t parsing grammatical structures???

    The kettle’s still a very dark shade of what most people would call “black”, Jonathan.

  16. 4-20-2007

    ugh….I completely mistyped something. Both times I said “noun and adjective”, I meant to type “noun and verb”.

    Please read accordingly.

  17. 4-20-2007

    Jonathan,

    Since you seem to like dictionaries, I looked up the words “prophet” and “teacher”. Guess what I found?

    “prophet” = one who prophesies

    “teacher” = one who teaches

    Maybe in this case the dicitonaries are wrong, though in all other cases you seem to stand by them.

    -Alan

  18. 4-20-2007

    Steve and Alan,

    I’m responding to you together because you are making some of the same points.

    Above all else, I think we need to examine what we believe in light of the Scriptures, and not necessarily the English dictionary. Sometimes the dictionary is helpful in defining terms and finding synonymsn, but sometimes it is not. I do believe that there is a basic distinction between a noun and a verb. I would say that the gift of teaching, for example, as it is mentioned in Romans 12 is “the grace to teach.” This is a different kind of gift than one who IS a teacher, e.g. 1 Cor. 12:28 or Eph. 4:11.

    Likewise, Paul says “Each of you may prophecy” (the grace to prophesy is available to all), BUT — according to 1 Cor. 12:29-30, not everyone is a prophet. So, even Paul admits all may prophesy, but not all are prophets. This is not hyper-technical, but what the very Word of God says.

    Steve, your thinking actually is contrary to Paul, because he is the one who actually says “all may prophesy,” yet at the same time says, “not all are prophets.” This is very clear to me in 1 Cor. 12 and 14, because there is a difference between the gift of prophecy, which is a GRACE to prophesy, and the gift of prophet, which is not just a person who prophecies, but rather someone who equips the saints for the work of the ministry in a prophetic way (see Eph. 4:11, et seq. and Eph. 2:20).

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  19. 4-20-2007

    Jonathan, you are using circular reasoning, as seems to be the frequent case in these discussions we have been having with you.

    [I’m not a prophet, but my prediction is that Jonathan’s response will be, “Steve, I don’t think that I am using circular reasoning.”]

    You have argued that prophet and prophesying are two different things, and that the “prophet” in Eph 4 is a different gift than the gift of “prophecy” in 1 Corinthians 12.

    Yet, your defense for why the gift of “prophecy” in 1 Corinthians 12 is a different gift? As follows:

    [T]he gift of prophet, which is not just a person who prophecies, but rather someone who equips the saints for the work of the ministry in a prophetic way (see Eph. 4:11…)

    You cannot use 1 Corinthians 12 to defend your view of Eph 4 while defining the terms in 1 Corinthians 12 by appealing to Eph 4.

    Go ahead. Say it. “I don’t think is what I’m doing.” But it is, Jonathan.

    Denial is not just a river in Egypt, my friend. ;)

  20. 4-20-2007

    hmmm… I thought about taking part, but I think I am enjoying the show too much.

    -Alan

  21. 4-21-2007

    …passing Alan some popcorn…

  22. 4-21-2007

    Steve,

    I’m not going to phrase my argument in the “I don’t think, blah blah blah” format. :)

    However, Steve, to be honest with you, I do not think you understand my argument. You’re playing ad hominem (labeling) games by saying I’m using circular reasoning. Yet, you have no substantive critique against my arguments. You do not say why I am wrong — you just label them “circular.”

    You said, “Yet, your defense for why the gift of “prophecy” in 1 Corinthians 12 is a different gift? As follows: [T]he gift of prophet, which is not just a person who prophecies, but rather someone who equips the saints for the work of the ministry in a prophetic way (see Eph. 4:11…)”

    No, that’s incorrect. My defense for why the gift of “prophecy” is different was a new argument: the gift of “prophecy” is the GRACE TO PROPHECY. Likewise the “gift of teaching” is the “grace to teach.”

    Paul is very clear that ALL CAN prophesy (the grace to prophesy is available to every believer). However, Paul is equally clear that “all are not prophets.” So, even Paul makes a distinction between the two different gifts of “prophecy,” which is a grace to prophesy, and “prophet,” which is a person who equips the saints for the work of the ministry by what I’ll call “prophetic revelation.”

    This is not circular reasoning. I am actually making an argument of substance, based on actual texts.

    I’d like to see you respond in a way that is likewise substantive, and not a criticism based on my lack of logical reasoning, etc.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  23. 4-21-2007

    Well, I am late to the party again- different time zones you know.
    Alan, this is a very good post and I agree with what you have said. As I view the discussion with Jonathon and Steve I wonder if the reason for the disconnect is not Greek parsing or logical fallacies but rather the real issue is ecclesiology. The nature of biblical leadership vs. worldly leadership and the nature of authority within the body of Christ is what muddies these waters.
    I agree with the issue of gifting over hierarchical positions 100% primarily because of how I see the Church. These first century pastor/teachers did not stand behind a pulpit on Sunday morning and then retreat to a cozy office in back after shaking hands at the door at the end of the service. These guys met in their homes and sat around on the floor breaking bread and drinking…. you know, liquid. The kids were running around in and out of the house as mom kept getting up to make more tea.
    In this atmosphere there were no high powered dictators. Sometimes, in fact, high powered dictators came along and Paul dissed them badly (read Galatians, cursed them is what he did).
    There are giftings which are callings which is another way of saying that this is what God has given you the authority to do now. The Church ought to recognize and honor these people so as to encourage them to go and be obedient. But this ‘honor’ is not the same as bowing down to a dictator- as many SB pastors dream about. (Yes, that is unfair but not entirely untrue. I was a pastor once myself).
    Alan if you want to do a follow-up post on this then where you need to go is to biblical leadership and authority.
    As for David’s apostolic questions I agree that in our denomination this has not been addressed well. Because all of these are gifts the spirit gives they have a mystical non-definable quality about them. Why is one guy a great pastor and the next guy a real prophet. There is much more to it than mere personality types. But to finish this comment I will simply say that the apostle has a key role in empowering others to ministry. Paul was remarkable in his discipling a small group and then appointing leaders and moving on. This is what he ‘did’ as an apostle in my opinion. He empowered others and got out of the way. Too few modern day M’s get this.

  24. 4-21-2007

    Strider,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m glad we ended up on the same page. I agree with what you said about authority. I have been working through authority issues systematically, and this series was part of that.

    Jonathan,

    Pointing out circular reasoning is not the same as an ad hominem attack. Ad hominem would dismiss your argument because of who you are – attacking the speaker instead of the argument. Pointing out circular reasoning attacks your argument, not you.

    You are correct that Paul expects a “no” answer when he asked “Are all prophets?”. You are also correct that Paul says “All can prophesy.” I believe there is a much simpler explanation than separating these into two different gifts, especially given their connection in 1 Cor 14:29-31.

    -Alan

  25. 4-21-2007

    Jonathan, Alan already clarified what I was going to say in response. I pointed out a fallacy in your logic. That is not a personal attack, nor is it a logical fallacy on my part.

    I think I recall you saying that you are an attorney, no? In that case, I’m a bit surprised that you don’t know logical fallacies inside and out.

    Yet, you have no substantive critique against my arguments. You do not say why I am wrong — you just label them “circular.”

    That is substantive critique, Jonathan. I’m telling you that you are using logical fallacies to connect the dots, and therefore, your argument is lacking.

    My defense for why the gift of “prophecy” is different was a new argument: the gift of “prophecy” is the GRACE TO PROPHECY.

    But in the very paragraph that I quoted, Jonathan, with regard to this, you referenced Eph 4 in support of this idea that the gift of “prophet” was different from the gift of “prophecy”. That was the circular part!

    With regard to this hyper-technical distinction between “prophet” and “prophecy” and your statement that I am in opposition to Paul…

    Yes, it is true that Paul says “Not all are prophets” and that he says, “All can prophesy”, but is that really saying there are two different gifts?

    One is stating a fact about the present: Not all are prophets. The other is a statement of possibility: All can prophesy. Notice the different verbs used. One is factual. The other is possible.

    Paul says that he wishes that everyone in the Corinthian church would seek to prophesy. And he affirms that all can prophesy.

    Furthermore, with your hyper-technical separation of “prophesy” and “prophet”, you do continue to miss the point that Paul does not, despite your wearisome assertions to the contrary, make that distinction.

    In 1 Corinthians 14:31-32, Paul writes:

    For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets

    Do you really think that Paul just changes thoughts mid-sentence and talks about something very different here?

    He uses the word “prophesy” and “prophet” in the same sentence. Is he giving two very different instructions to two very different people?

    I think not, Jonathan.

  26. 4-21-2007

    Steve,

    OK. I stand corrected and its not ad hominem. However, it is “labeling” and NOT substantive, and thus I prefer a more substantive critique.

    I am an attorney — but I’m not a litigator. I practice corporate/transactional law. We really don’t deal with litigation, where you do have to be very logical. The transactional world is a bit different, and maybe some day in the blog world I’ll explain it somewhere for all to see. :)

    Now, back to this circular issue — it is NOT a substantive critique. A real substantive critique would be something like this: “What you say is wrong because the Scriptures say otherwise.” Now, THAT is a substantive critique. Playing labeling games by calling it “circular reasoning” isn’t substantive, because it “attacks” the mode of argument, and not the argument itself.

    Yeah, I referenced Eph. 4 in that paragraph. So what? I could have equally referenced 1 Cor. 12:28, where Paul also lists “prophet” as a gift. After all, Eph. 4:11 “prophet” and 1 Cor. 12:28 “prophet” are the same thing. The point is Paul makes a distinction between these two gifts, and that is what I’m trying to get you and Alan to recognize.

    Then you said, “One is stating a fact about the present: Not all are prophets…One is factual.” Well, no, Paul is not making a factual remark here. Paul actually said, as a rhetorical question, “All are not prophets, are they?” Yet he also said, “All CAN prophesy,” and YES, Steve, you are correct, this latter statement IS one of possibility. However, Paul is making a distinctions between these two gifts. He is saying on one hand, all are not prophets (which is a gift listed in 1 Cor. 12:28 AND Eph. 4:11, and has a different function than the gift of prophecy), but on the other hand, the gift of prophecy (listed in Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12) is a GRACE gift, it really is the grace to prophesy, WITHOUT NECESSARILY being a prophet, which operates diffently.

    Lastly, I will comment on the passage you mention in 1 Cor. 14. I am looking at the English text in my Bible. I am going to note two things. First, the instruction that “you can all prophesy” is in verse 31, while the instruction that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” is in verse 32. Second, I could be wrong about this, and I admit, this is going to be hyper-technical, BUT — semi-colons really do not exist in the Greek. Semi-colons, however, in English, do represent a change of thought.

    Thus, Steve, if what you’re saying is true, and we should conflate these two gifts into one, then anyone can be a prophet when they prophesy — and that contradicts Paul’s assertion in 1 Cor. 12:28 and 29.

    One more thing: I haven’t said this yet, but I am going to say it now. Paul makes clear in 1 Cor. 12:28 that apostles, prophets, etc. are all APPOINTED BY GOD. Therefore, Paul must imply in verse 29 that God has not appointed every believer to BE a prophet. This MUST be then a different gift than the grace to prophesy, which is available to EVERYONE.

    So, Steve, YES — I do believe that Paul implied a distinction between these two gifts, and that is why we see the semi-colon between 1 Cor. 14:31 and 32.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  27. 4-21-2007

    Steve and Jonathan,

    Again, you two are doing such a fine job of discussing this point that I don’t feel it necessary to comment. I am following though, and I’ll jump in later if I have anything to add.

    -Alan

  28. 4-21-2007

    Jonathan, since you don’t want to entertain the idea that your theories are not logically sound, it’s beyond me to know how to persuade you.

    However, I will say that if you are willing to point out semicolons (which you correctly recognize did not exist in the Greek) as defenses for your position, you owe Alan a huge apology (and I’m not joking in any way here; I’m very serious) for ever accusing him of being hyper-technical.

    Here’s the thing, though, Jonathan. I know this might cut right across the theories you have presented earlier about translation, etc., but guess what? A semi-colon isn’t even correct in the NASB between 1 Corinthians 14:31 and 32.

    In English grammar, when you have a conjunction such as “and” (which does appear in the Greek, as well, despite the complete lack of it in the NIV translation of this passage, for example), the proper punctuation is a comma, not a semi-colon.

    Semi-colons, however, in English, do represent a change of thought.

    No, this is not correct, Jonathan. A semicolon represents the joining of two sentences together to show their close relationship to one another. It does not “represent a change of thought.”

    (And by the way, you pointed out that one statement appeared in verse 31 and the other in verse 32. You do realize that Paul did not write in “verses”, don’t you?)

    So, even your grasping at the semicolon as alleged proof of Paul switching from talking about one gift of prophesy and another gift of prophet is indefensible.

    Playing labeling games by calling it “circular reasoning” isn’t substantive, because it “attacks” the mode of argument, and not the argument itself.

    Jonathan, I suggest you take some time to familiarize yourself with rules of logic. I did not “attack” anything or anyone. I pointed out a fallacy in your argument.

    What you probably meant to say here was that you felt like I attacked your argument and not your conclusion. But I have no clue what you mean by “mode of argument” vis. “argument”. You seem to have a misunderstanding about how argumentation works and what it means when someone points out a fallacy in your argumentation.

    Pointing out a fallacy does not negate the conclusion (even though it’s no secret that I disagree with your conclusion here, as well).

  29. 4-22-2007

    Steve,

    First, I am surprised that you do not approach this on a substantive level. I’ve reiterated several times that the gift of prophecy is really the grace to prophesy, and you’ve never said that definition was wrong. You’ve failed to say why that is not correct. So, I’m left to believe you agree with it, right?

    Second, semi-colons can go in one of two directions. They can be originally a comma, or originally a period. I would argue here, because of the verse separation (although yes, Paul did NOT write in verses) that originally Paul used a period, and not a comma, because he DID change his line of thinking, from prophecy the gift, to prophet the gift.

    So, you don’t think the NAS is a good translation of 1 Cor. 14. WOW — I am surprised by that. That’s a really low blow. Are we now going to debate which translation would be better???

    Lastly, concerning logical fallacies, Christianity is not a logical reasoning. The Bible is very clear that the natural, “logical” mind (by human standards) cannot comprehend God’s logic and way of thinking. Thus, we must become spiritually-minded. So, I really do believe that is where we need the Holy Spirit to teach us, to give us the rhema word, and fill-in-the-gaps, where our logic fails us. Would you be open to that, Steve???

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  30. 4-22-2007

    I have a question… why would it matter either way, whether there are two different gifts or just one? Practically, what would be the difference?

    I see prophecy as proclaiming God’s message of restoration/reconciliation to restore intimacy with Him and to expose idolatry (false intimacy) in the hearts of man. Whether one is a prophet or simply has been given the grace to prophesy… well, help me understand why it is significant for us to make the distinction?

  31. 4-22-2007

    Bryan,

    If I understand Jonathan correctly, the difference is important because a prophet as a “special function” and “authority” (I think those are his words), while someone operating with the gift of prophecy does not have this special function or authority.

    On the other hand, I do not think the distinction is important.

    -Alan

  32. 4-22-2007

    Bryan,

    First, I think I would define “prophecy” differently than you do. But that is beside the point.

    As Alan said, the prophet does have a “special authority” (for lack of a better way to say this), which is primarily to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, according to Eph. 4:12. He does so in a prophetic manner, with what I might call “prophetic revelation.” Merely prophesying DOES edify the body, but to equip is different than that — to equip is to mature, complete, perfect, train, and prepare. To edify is simply to build up. So, that’s the difference. Make sense?

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  33. 4-22-2007

    Jonathan, you have chosen to see my arguments as non-substantive, which is sad, because you have missed the main point of what I, and others, have been trying to say for a long time.

    I think it’s very telling (and saddening) that you will come here and accuse someone else of being “hyper-technical” for examining Greek grammar, while you yourself continue to be hyper-technical about things that aren’t even in the text to begin with.

    I’ve reiterated several times that the gift of prophecy is really the grace to prophesy, and you’ve never said that definition was wrong.

    I have not disagreed with that definition. What I have continually disagreed with is a splitting of “prophet” and “prophecy” into two different gifts. I have attempted to demonstrate that the process by which you arrive at that conclusion is faulty, Jonathan. It is not substantiated by the text.

    All of the gifts given are grace-based. So, there is no need to separate gifts in the way you continue to do.

    Second, semi-colons can go in one of two directions. They can be originally a comma, or originally a period.

    Where are you getting your information, Jonathan? I think you are just making up definitions. Reference one English grammar source that backs this up.

    I would argue here, because of the verse separation (although yes, Paul did NOT write in verses) that originally Paul used a period, and not a comma…

    You have some pretty serious misunderstandings about 1) the original format in which Paul wrote, and 2) the process of translation, and 3) the process of chapter/verse additions to the text.

    You assume that because there was a verse separation placed there by someone that Paul must have originally written a period. However, are you aware, Jonathan, that Greek did not use punctuation like that? The verse separation was completely arbitrary, and has nothing to do with how Paul himself wrote his thoughts.

    It’s not a question of whether Paul wrote a comma or a period. He didn’t write any punctuation there! He wrote one clause, followed it with the conjunction kai (usually translated as “and”), and wrote the second clause.

    because he DID change his line of thinking, from prophecy the gift, to prophet the gift.

    And once again, Jonathan, you have argued your point in a circular fashion. You first said that Paul must have changed his line of thinking because there was a semicolon. Now you’re saying that Paul must have put a period there because he changed his line of thinking. So you’re using your conclusion to defend your original assertion. That is circular reasoning.

    So, you don’t think the NAS is a good translation of 1 Cor. 14. WOW — I am surprised by that. That’s a really low blow. Are we now going to debate which translation would be better???

    Actually, that’s not at all what I said. In fact, I think their translation of 1 Cor 14 is quite fine. What I actually said, Jonathan, is that the use of a semicolon in between verses 31 and 32 is not consistent with proper English usage of a semicolon. This is because they started the second clause with “and”. You either put a comma with the word “and”, or you put a semicolon without it. Or, you can put a period and make it two complete sentences. (cf. NIV’s elimination of kai and use of a period.)

    Furthermore, Jonathan, as I said earlier, you apparently have some serious misunderstandings about the work of translation. Translation is not a precise work. There are always decisions that must be made, and the translator has skills and abilities that help him make those decisions. But they are not perfect. And they should not be treated as such.

    If translation were an exact science, and/or if you even want to claim Holy Spirit inspiration of the translators (which I believe you referenced in an earlier comment somewhere), you are left with a troubling dilemma because translations disagree with one another.

    Lastly, concerning logical fallacies, Christianity is not a logical reasoning.

    But this does not mean, Jonathan, that Christianity is based on faulty reasoning.

    I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when my faith defies reason. But that is a completely different animal than supporting my faith with logical fallacies.

    So, I really do believe that is where we need the Holy Spirit to teach us, to give us the rhema word, and fill-in-the-gaps, where our logic fails us. Would you be open to that, Steve???

    Of course, I’m open to that. But that’s not what I see you doing, Jonathan. This is not an issue of logic failing us. This is an issue of you wanting to defend something that is not consistent with the text that we have been given. And then using logical fallacies to defend the same. And then, when all else fails, appealing to the Holy Spirit as your final defense.

    In response to the critiques of your viewpoint, you have leveled accusations of being “hyper-technical” (I still believe you owe Alan an apology for that so that you don’t appear hypocritical), you have implied that others are not listening to the Holy Spirit, you have stated that logic is not necessary in your viewpoint…..it’s time to stop, Jonathan.

    I’m going to put an ultimatum on this one, Jonathan. If your response does not include a retraction of your accusations against Alan, as well as a show of humility with regard to the things with which you apparently have not familiarized yourself prior to making your assertions (such as the process of translation, the use of punctuation in Greek, the history and role of chapter/verse divisions, etc.), I do not care to continue this discussion.

  34. 4-22-2007

    Steve,

    I guess this will be the “last word” in this discussion, because I am NOT going to retract as you request, and so forth, and so on, towards Alan.

    However, I do must make a few last comments, because you make some statements here that are not true. First, you said, “All of the gifts given are grace-based. So, there is no need to separate gifts in the way you continue to do.” No, the gifts listed in Romans 12 and 1 Cor. 12 are grace-based. However, the “doma” gifts in Eph. 4:11 are not “charisma,” but “doma,” which is NOT really grace-based as the others.

    My understanding of English grammar is that a semi-colon is a cross, or hybrid, between a comma and a period. This is what I was taught in high school, and unfortunately, I no longer own a book of English grammar to cite you.

    Steve, I don’t think my reasoning is circular. I know you disagree, but the Scriptures (as a whole) DISTINGUISH between the gift of the prophet, and the gift of prophecy, which is a grace to prophesy. These two gifts are NOT the same, and the Bible is VERY CLEAR about that. Paul is VERY CLEAR about that, too.

    Well, Steven, now you contradict yourself. First you said that I do not understand the semi-colon within the English languge. But now you say that the semi-colon CAN go in two directions: either a comma or a period. And that was my basic point about the semi-colon to begin with, and I believe Paul DID transition his thought there between the gift of prophecy and the gift of the prophet.

    About translations, this is because I believe we need to reference multiple translations to get a full understanding of a text. Not only do I use the NAS, but also the NKJV and the KJV. If I really get ambitious about it, I might reference The Amplified Bible, or something like that, on occasion. And, I do believe that the translations are Holy Spirit-inspired, i.e. the translators were inspired by the Holy Spirit in the decisions they made.

    Steve, finally you say, “This is an issue of you wanting to defend something that is not consistent with the text that we have been given. And then using logical fallacies to defend the same. And then, when all else fails, appealing to the Holy Spirit as your final defense.” I completely disagree with this line of thinking. I AM defending a view that is VERY consistent with the Scriptures (that the Bible DOES distinguish between prophecy and the prophet, and teaching and the teacher). Further, I am NOT using logical fallacies to defend this view. And lastly, its not that all else has failed — but my views are what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me about the Scriptures, namely, Eph. 4:11, 1 Cor. 12:28, and the others that we all have referenced (1 Cor. 14, etc.) So, this line of thinking you have here, Steve, is completely inappropriate.

    The fact that I have labelled Alan’s argument as “hyper-technical” is NOT an accusation, Steve. Alan has not publicly said I have “accused” him of anything. Quite frankly, I am saying that the ARGUMENT is hyper-technical, and NOT Alan personally. Thus, it is NOT an accusation, by definition. Further, I do think that your view and Alan’s view over-depends on logic, and causes logic to trump the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the basic meaning of the Scriptures. I will not apologize for that statement.

    So, Steve, if you don’t care to continue this discussion, I’ll have the last word with this post.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  35. 4-22-2007

    Alan, Jonathan, Steve, or whoever else wants to chime in,

    I have no desire at all to get in the middle of an argument here. But, something that you have all discussed brings up a question in my mind, and I’m thinking you (any one of you) may be able to help me understand better what Scripture is saying.

    I see Steve’s point about 1 Cor. 14.31-32, and agree that, in that context it would appear that those who are “prophesying” and the “prophets” are one and the same.

    However, when Acts 13 says there were 5 prophets and teachers in the church of Antioch, are we to understand they are the only ones that ever prophesied or taught? Or perhaps that they were the ones who happened to be prophesying or teaching at that time? Also, what about Agabus?

    My inclination, on the basis of these passages, is to think there are some who due, either to the frequency of the use of the prophetic gift, or perhaps the especially effective use of it, were known as prophets, in counter-distinction to those who occasionally practiced the gift of prophecy but were not known as prophets, or at least not in the same sense as the Antioch 5 and Agabus.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot about Philip’s four daughters, who the text doesn’t call “prophetesses” but says rather that “they prophesied.” Actually, right after calling Philip himself an “evangelist,” not someone who “evangelized.” (Acts 21.8-9)

  36. 4-22-2007

    David,

    I think that a prophet is someone who prophesies, and a teacher is someone who teaches. God can work through any believer at any time with any gifts as He chooses.

    So, who were the people who were known as prophets or teachers? I think prophets were the ones through whom the Spirit prophesied regularly. The same for teachers. I know people now through whom the Spirit regularly teaches. I would call them teachers. However, that would not preclude the Spirit from working through them (“teachers”) with different giftings, nor does it preclude the Spirit working through others to teach.

    -Alan

  37. 4-22-2007

    Jonathan,

    According to Ephesians 4:7, the gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11 ARE “grace” gifts.

    -Alan

  38. 4-22-2007

    Jonathan, what you wrote in your comment toward me does make sense. I think I am just not sure that I would go to the mat on this issue against a brother or sister in Christ. I really think it is something that is a disputable doctrine that need not be a point of contention. That’s all. I’ve not studied spiritual gifts much; I have experienced gifting. But I do recall being taught years ago, in a Baptist church, that the gifts of Eph 4 were somewhat different that the other lists of gifts. That’s about the sum of what I recall. How’s that for intellectual and spiritual. :)

    BTW, I am/was a lawyer, too. I just am trying to get over it. LOL.

  39. 4-22-2007

    For the record:

    Jonathan wrote: Well, Steven, now you contradict yourself. First you said that I do not understand the semi-colon within the English languge. [sic] But now you say that the semi-colon CAN go in two directions: either a comma or a period.

    I never said any such thing about a semicolon going in two directions. In my previous comment, I quoted Jonathan’s words in italics (consistently my use of quotations in responding to comments). These were his words and not mine.

    I’m done with this topic, y’all. The only way for my head to stop hurting is to stop beating it against the wall.

  40. 4-23-2007

    David,

    I would say that a prophet is one who equips the saints by means of prophetic revelation, and yes, one who would regularly prophesy. However, I would not conflate the two gifts of prophet and prophecy the way that Steve and Alan do. I see “prophecy” as a grace to prophesy, and “prophet” as more of a person who is established and equips the saints.

    Alan,

    Yes, all gifts are because of God’s grace, but the very Greek definitions of “charisma” and “doma” are different. The word “charisma” actually means “gracelet,” which is why I keep reiterating the point that the gift of prophecy really is the grace to prophesy, and the gift of teaching is really the grace to teach. These are available to all. But, “doma” while given on account of God’s grace, is NOT a gracelet, but the person himself (or herself) in Eph. 4:11 is the gift (it is not a grace to do something). That’s the difference.

    Bryan,

    I understand your point. Out of curiosity, what kind of law did or do you practice?

    Steve,

    Alright. If you want to bow out, that is your perogative.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  41. 4-23-2007

    For what it is worth, I have had a ‘crack’ at Ephesians 4:7 and found the following:-

    Eph 4:7 But to every one of us is given grace (1) according to the measure of the gift (2) of
    Christ.

    First: The two words relevant to this discussion are: ‘grace’ and ‘gift’ in that order.

    (1) Grace [G5485]
    χάρις
    charis
    khar’-ece
    From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

    (2) Gift – [G1431]
    δωρεά
    dōrea
    do-reh-ah’
    From G1435; a gratuity: – gift.

    Next … the context and some comments:

    Every one (ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ)
    Or perhaps better … each. Paul in this verse seems to be moving from discussing the Church as a whole, to individual members.

    Now a closer look at ‘grace’…
    Grace (ἡ χάρις)
    The article; is omitted by A.V. and this is important: the one (*) grace of God, manifesting itself in the different gifts.

    Next … gift:
    Note: The Greek is dōrea not charis
    And so it seems that the idea here is God gives ONE gift [charis] which is manifest in varieties of ways [dōrea]

    (*) Not wanting to ‘throw a spanner in the works’ … but is it possible that this ONE grace gift refers to the Holy Spirit [Himself] who then manifests Himself in different gifts according to the need etc?

    Just some preliminary thoughts, John

  42. 4-23-2007

    Jonathan, I was in house doing primarily employment law. I am now in missions.

  43. 4-23-2007

    John Purcell,

    The concept of the Holy Spirit begin the gift, with everything else being a manifestation of the Spirit sounds good to me. I’m not sure how much Eph 4:7-16 helps with this view, but we could certainly argue this point from other passages of Scripture.

    -Alan

  44. 4-23-2007

    Bryan,

    That’s cool. Thanks.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  45. 4-24-2007

    Alan,

    This is tentative [the discussion on your blog forced me to re-examine my own understanding of Eph 4:1-11] my self-questioning is along the following lines:

    Ephesians 4:7

    In translating ‘Grace’ in this verse, the article is omitted in the Greek (and this is important) as GRACE must therefore be treated as singular.

    The correct rendering of verse 7 would be: The ONE [charis] Grace of God [perhaps the Holy Spirit], manifesting as varieties of gifts [dōrea].

    Just thought I would throw this in to spice things up a bit!

    John

  46. 4-24-2007

    John Purcell,

    I think I understand what you are saying, but I’m not sure how much we can base on the lack of a definite article. Greek definite articles do not work like English definite articles. It is something to think about though.

    -Alan