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Ephesians 4:7-16 and the Growing Church…

Posted by on Apr 19, 2007 in edification, scripture, spirit/holy spirit, spiritual gifts | 28 comments

In my last two posts (“Ephesians 4:11 and the Five-Fold Ministry” and “Ephesians 4:12 and Equipping Ministries“) I argued from the basic structure of the Greek sentence that Paul was not specifying a special group of five leaders who job was to equip the church. Because of these posts, several have asked me to post my interpretation of Ephesians 4:11-12. In order to do so, I believe we must look at the passage in context.

Paul begins this section of Ephesians (that we call chapter 4), by encouraging believers to deal with one another in humility and gentleness and patience in order to “maintain the unity”. What unity is Paul talking about? He explains that we are united in one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. This is the foundation of our unity. From this starting point of unity, Paul writes:

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” ( In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:7-16 ESV)

Beginning in verse 7, Paul recognizes that unity is not the same as uniformity. God works through different people in different ways according to his grace and Christ’s measure. “Measure” is an important word in this passage (μέτρονmetron), showing up in three important verses: 4:7, 13, 16. Also, the phrase “to each one of us” is important: it is fronted in the Greek text, showing the author’s emphasis.

Next, in verse 8, Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 in order to demonstrate Christ’s right to distribute gifts. In this quote (and in the explanation that follows in the next two verses), Christ is described as a victorious conqueror. As a conqueror, he has the right to the spoils and to distribute those spoils as he sees fit. Thus, Christ (the one who descended and ascended) has the right to distribute gifts according to his measure.

In the next two verses, Paul connects the “ascending” in verse 8 to Jesus’ incarnation (descension) and ascension. In verse 10 especially, the subject changes to focus on the work of Jesus. Christ is “He who descended” and “who also ascended”, and he does this for a particular purpose: “that he might fill all things”. This is very important: Christ does not give gifts so that the gifts might fill all things, or that the gifted individuals might fill all things. Instead, Christ ascended and gives gifts so that he himself might fill all things.

Paul continues to focus on the work of Christ in verse 11. This verse begins a sentence that continues through the end of verse 16. Specifically, the verse and sentence begins with the (unnecessary) nominative third person pronoun “he” (αυτος). This pronoun is unnecessary (and rarely used in Ephesians) because the pronoun is already built into the verb “gave” (εδωκεν – aorist active indicative 3rd person singular from διδωμι). Because of this, some English translations begin the verse “he himself gave” (NKJV) or “it was he who gave” (NET, NIV) in order to show the emphasis. Paul lists four groups gifted individuals (apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers) whom Christ gives. (I will discuss this gifted individuals after I finish interpreting this passage.)

Why does Christ give? In verse 12, Paul says that Christ gives for the purpose or result of the equipment, training, or preparation of the saints. Similarly, the following two prepositional phrases (“for the work of ministry/service” and “for building up/edification of the body of Christ”) could demonstrate the purpose or result of Christ’s giving. However, since these two phrases begin with a different prepostion than the phrase “to equip the saints”, this preposition could indicate a frame of reference. Thus, Paul could be saying that Christ gives for the purpose or result of the work of service and the edification of the body, or he could be saying that Christ gives with reference to the work of service and the edification of the body. Either way, any “work of service” or “edification of the body” is carried out only because of Christ’s giving, not because of the people themselves.

Verse 13 begins with a conjunction: “until”. From this we see that the author continues to point back to the beginning of this sentence: “And he gave… until”. There is a point at which Christ will stop giving. What is that point? Notice there is a change of subject for this clause. Now the subject is Paul and other believers: “we all”. Christ will stop giving when “we all” reach (“attain to”) at least three things: 1) unity, 2) perfection/completion, and 3) the measure of Christ himself. (This is the second use of the term μέτρον (metron – “measure”). Christ not only “measures” the gifts that he gives (vs. 7), he is also the “measure” of the perfection to which we are being changed.)

Verse 14 begins with another conjunction that relates back to the beginning of the sentence in verse 11: “And he gave… in order that”. We are not yet perfect, but we may no longer be children. Because Christ gives, we are being matured such that we no longer are affected by the storms of this world. The “storms” that concern Paul most are the “cunning, crafty, deceitful” teachings of other humans. As we mature through the gifts that Christ gives, we grow beyond being affected by this type of deceit.

In verse 15, Paul continues the clause that he began in verse 14. This is still part of the same sentence that started in verse 11: “And he gave… in order that we might no longer be children… but [in order that] we might grow…” In this verse, we begin to understand how Christ’s gift move us from being children to the perfection and maturity that is measured by Christ. We begin by being truthful in love. As we grow into the head – that is Christ – something else begins to happen that is further explained in verse 16.

In the final verse of this section (vs. 16), we see that our goal is to grow into the head (Christ) by working from the head (Christ). As each part of the body does its share (literally: “according to the working in the measure of each one’s part”), the body grows into Christ. Here is the third use of the term μέτρον (metron – “measure”). No only does Christ “measure” the gifts that he gives, and not only is Christ the “measure” of our growth, Christ also “measures” the part that each person plays in the growth of the body.

Specifically, each person has a part to play in order for the body to grow. In fact, this verse states this emphatically twice (double emphasis): “joined and held together by every joint” and “when each part is working properly”.

So, in this passage, the emphasis is firmly placed on Christ and the affects of his giving, not on the function of certain parts of the body of Christ. 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. Is it necessary for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, etc. to function properly in order for the body to grow? Yes, absolutely! But, this is not because they are special parts of the body, but because that are parts of the body. Every part of the body must function properly in Christ in order for the body to grow. There are not any unnecessary parts nor are there any unimportant parts in the body of Christ.

Therefore, when I look at the list of gifted individuals (see, I told you I would get back to them!) in Ephesians 4:11, in the context of this entire passage and especially in the context of the long sentence that runs from 4:11-16, I do not see a list of special Christian leaders. In fact, seeing these gifted individuals as special leaders would be contrary to the entire passage. Instead, it seems to me that in Eph 4:11, Paul is simply listing examples of gifted individuals that Christ gives to the church. These individuals, and all other believers, must function as they are gifted in order for the church to be edified. 1 Corinthians 12 (especially 1 Cor. 12:28-30) shows that Paul can easily shift from gifts (as in Eph 4:7-10; 1 Cor 12:28b;30) to gifted individuals (as in Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:28a;29).

What do I make of the combination “pastors and teachers” in Eph. 4:11? I do not have to make anything of this. Simply, Paul is pointing to individuals who are gifted both with pastoring and teaching. Paul is not saying that all pastors are teachers; nor is he saying that all teachers are pastors. These arguments may be made based on other passages of Scripture, but that is not Paul’s point here. Instead, just as some people are gifted by Christ as apostles, others are gifted as prophets, others are gifted as evangelists, and still others are gifted as pastors and teachers.

What is important is that those who are gifted as apostles must function as apostles in order for the church to be edified. Those who are gifted as prophets must function as prophets in order for the church to grow. Those who are gifted as evangelists must function as evangelists as Christ himself has measured their part. Those who are gifted as pastors and teachers must function as pastors and teachers in order for the church to mature toward Christ-likeness. These gifted individuals and all gifted believers edify the church when they do their part – gifted, empowered, and enabled by Christ himself. Christ equips believers to edify the church.

Yes, I believe these giftings are still necessary today, but that belief has little to do with this passage (I have already mentioned something of this in 4:13 with the conjunction “until”). Instead, I do not see any indication elsewhere in Scripture that any gifting has stopped. I do believe that gifting will stop eventually, but that time (the time of perfection – Eph 4:13; 1 Cor 13:10) has not occurred yet.

I have tried to start with the text of Scripture and what the text actually says. I have based my interpretation on that text. Do I have preconceptions coming into this text? Certainly. Am I open to correction? Yes, I am open to correction as explained from the text itself. Do I believe that the Holy Spirit aids me in understanding these texts? Absolutely! As important, if not more important, I also rely on the Spirit to enable me and convict me to LIVE these texts. I have tried to live what I believe here and elsewhere in Scripture. Does that mean that I am always right? No, the Spirit is infallible, but I am not. I know that this interpretation will not satisfy everyone. I’m okay with that, and I would welcome any 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


28 Comments

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

  1. 4-19-2007

    Alan,
    I appreciate your explanation here and in the last several posts. I think that we have been taught for so long that this is an elite list, that it is hard to see it differently.

    Maybe the whole point of the list was to exemplify that a variety of gifts are needed to equip the body.

    Maybe it doesn’t matter as much whether it’s 4 or 5 or another number.

    “And he gave a variety of gifts to equip the saints for the work of ministry,”

    Regardless of whether the list is exclusive and complete or simply an example of different equipping gifts, I agree with the point you made in an earlier post that Jesus’ equipping is not limited to the ministry of a small, select group of individuals.

    I appreciate the detailed thought you give to this passage (and others).

  2. 4-19-2007

    Alan,

    I think there is a lot we agree with here, but there is also some things we disagree on, and I will note this in my response.

    First, I agree with you about what you are saying concerning the unity of the faith, and how its not the same as uniformity. I can say amen to that.

    Second, one factual correction I would ask your clarification about. I see “measure” in verses 7 and 13, but not 16. So, you might clarify that for me.

    Next, I agree completely with your interpretation of verses 8-10. But one thing I would add is how Paul connects verse 8 to verse 11, because at least in the NAS, verses 9 and 10 are a parenthetical. Also, in the NAS, and this is another factual issue, the NAS translators end the sentence in verse 13, and then verses 14-16 are a second sentence. The NAS actually renders some of these verses differently, and I’ll note that as I comment on your post.

    With regard to your comments on verse 12, I agree that any equipping, etc., is a result of what Christ gives Himself, and not the specific individuals alone that are mentioned in verse 11 (without regard to their number). The glory goes to Christ, not to men. :)

    Then, I also agree with all your comments in your paragraph about verse 13. However, in the NAS, verse 13 does end with a period, and verse 14 is a new sentence. Verse 14 also begins with a different phrase, “As a result,” however, I do not believe that changes the interpretation that you are giving. So, I agree with you concerning verse 14 with much of what you say concerning it.

    But as regards to verse 15, while we probably agree to the same thing on the conceptual level, I think I would articulate it somewhat differently. I believe that it is Christ’s gifts (esp. those mentioned in verse 11 and more on that later) that causes us to grow to maturity in Christ, which is measured by Christ. I think we’re saying the same thing here, but we have semantic differences here.

    Finally in verse 16, I don’t see the “metron” or measure word that you see. In the NAS, verse 16 states, “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.” I do not see “measure” or “metron” here in the text. Perhaps you could correct me, but its just not there, at least not in the NAS.

    Regardless, I agree with you that verse 16 teaches that everyone has a part to play, and we all have a supply in the spirit (every joint supplies) that helps edify the body. I also agree with you that, “Every part of the body must function properly in Christ in order for the body to grow. There are not any unnecessary parts nor are there any unimportant parts in the body of Christ.”

    Then, you come to your discussion of the gifts/gifted individuals (really both apply here) of verse 11. I agree with you that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are NOT “special leaders.” However, I DO consider them to be LEADERS (just not special ones). Specifically, I view these gifted individuals IMHO as elders in the Body of Christ. But that is just my opinion.

    I do agree with you that no matter what your gift is, be it apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, etc. — you need to function properly in order for the body to be edified (and equipped in reference to the gifts listed in verse 11).

    However, this begs the NEXT question: HOW does one properly function in their gift? I believe the starting point to answer that is found in the definition of each gift. So, I still am interested in the difference between “pastor-teacher” and just “teacher.” Is “pastoring” a separate gift? If so, WHERE do you find it outside Eph. 4:11??? Are you saying all pastors are teachers, but NOT all teachers are pastors???

    These are some of the unanswered questions that I have, that perhaps you can explore in your next post. Thanks.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  3. 4-19-2007

    Alan,

    I certainly appreciate your interpretation of the passage. I wonder, if it doesn’t cause digression, whether you might briefly touch on your take of the word “gift”in v.8 (doma), which I have always understood to emphasise concrete reality, being able to be perceived by our senses, as opposed to (charisma), as more abstract.

  4. 4-19-2007

    Jonathan, the word “proper” in verse 16 in the NAS is the Greek word “metron”.

  5. 4-19-2007

    Grace,

    Thank you for the encouragement. You said: “Maybe the whole point of the list was to exemplify that a variety of gifts are needed to equip the body.” Yes, from the various emphases in this text, I believe this is the point.

    Jonathan,

    metron is in verse 16 and Eph 4:11-16 is one long sentence. You are correct that you would never know this by studying the NASB.

    Paul does not explain the function of apostles, prophets, evangelists, or pastors and teachers in this text. My purpose was to examine this text. Since Paul did not find it necessary, neither do I.

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for the encouragement and for linking to this discussion on your blog. Paul uses two synonyms in this passage for “gift”: dorea in vs. 7 and doma in vs. 8 in his quotation of Psalm 68.

    Since charisma is based on the word for grace (charis) I would think charisma as a “gift” has more to do with the grace with which it is given. Thus, the lexical definition of charisma is “a gift (freely and graciously given), a favor bestowed”.

    Steve,

    Thank you for pointing out how the NASB translates metron. Since I did not consult the NASB, I did not know what they did with the word.

    -Alan

  6. 4-19-2007

    Alan, this is a very good explanation of this text and I agree with what you have said here. There are two things that I would like to point out.
    First, to Jonathan I do not see these gifted individuals as mere elders. These guys are gifted by Christ to serve His Bride in a specific way. I would see these guys as bringing special authority to serve the Church. This authority is not the ‘authority’ of a leader to lead or a ruler to rule. When we speak of elders I am afraid that this is what we mean sometimes. No, The Apostle (Big A) Paul very often felt powerless and on the ‘outside’. He was not some democratically elected baptist pastor or even deacon. But what he was was specially gifted and empowered to do the task that Christ set before him.
    I may be stepping on the toes of a future post here Alan, and I am sure you will say it better.
    But my second point is my ongoing frustration with the four vs. five issue. You go to great efforts to show that the pastor/teacher position is one and then in the next post you admit that the two cannot be reconciled as one position and you have no intention of doing so. What does that mean Paul is saying? He gave some apostes, prophets, evangelist, and schitzophrenics? I need more help in understanding both the text and what you are saying here. I also need more help in being able to spell shitzo.. whatchacallit.

  7. 4-19-2007

    Strider,

    Actually, showing “four vs. five” is not going to great lengths. It is straightforward Greek grammar. I went into detail in order to explain it to others who do not know Greek grammar. Remember, the whole pupose of that post was to show that we cannot base a “Five-Fold” thing on a list of four things.

    We probably disagree on this, but I do not see the list in Eph 4:11 as a list of positions or offices. I see them as examples of gifted individuals. I’ve known many people who were gifted with pastoring (shepherding) and teaching. They were not schizophrenic at all. I will explain this more in my next post.

    Paul does not tell us what an apostle does, or what a phrophet does, etc… Why do we feel the need to define something that Scripture does not define?

    -Alan

  8. 4-19-2007

    Aussie John,

    As I understand the word “doma” in the Greek, it is the actual person that is the gift, which is why I call Eph. 4:11 both gifts and gifted individuals. In a way, both are true.

    Steve,

    Thanks for clearing that up. I did not know that “metron” had two definitions in the Greek, “measure” and “proper.” Thanks.

    Alan,

    OK. I think I agree, we do not see the definitions of each of these gifts, or how they each operate here. However, maybe that would be a good topic for a later post.

    Strider,

    I actually agree with you that the gifts/gifted individuals listed in Eph. 4:11 are not just mere elders (i.e. bishops, overseers, pastors, etc.), but are, as you say, “are gifted by Christ to serve His Bride in a specific way” because they “[bring] special authority” to serve the church. I whole-heartedly agree with that.

    But Strider, I believe my view of “elders” is different than your view (its probably narrower than your view). I do not see elders as those who are democratically elected (not in the Scriptures) or anything like that. Elders are basically, in a general sense, pastors who oversee the local church. Timothy was the head elder at Ephesus, for example. I guess the best way to say this is that all Eph. 4:11 gifted individuals are elders, but not all elders are Eph. 4:11 gifts. Does that make sense???

    Lastly, Strider, I think you mention a good point about the four vs. five issue. That is why I continue to ask what the defintion of a pastor-teacher is, and what the definition of a teacher is, etc.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  9. 4-19-2007

    Alan,

    Thank you for your response. I was aware of those distinctions. My interest was in what Jonathan touched on.

    I will understand if you delete any comment I make if you consider it will distract from where you’re going in your post.

    If the gift (doma) is concrete in nature,as I suggested in my earlier comment, in this case a person whom Christ has given to the church, they will function, amongst the assembly to which they belong, in the area of their gift (charisma),as all believers are expected(“each one” v.7).

    The understanding that the gift (doma)is the gift of a person is often used to elevate, to a level of “office” of unintended exclusiveness, and importance, each of the four areas of ministry which Paul mentions in v.11.

    The result of this is that some individuals, for their own reasons,will covet such an “office”, seeing themselves “above”,or more important than, those they consider to have the more mundane gifts.

    You say,”Either way, any “work of service” or “edification of the body” is carried out only because of Christ’s giving, not because of the people themselves.”

    Even if the individual (v.11)is a gift to the assembly, they are not given because of any inherent worth in themselves, but because the Giver has a purpose for them in which He wants them to be a servant (Matt. 20:28;Phil 2:7; John 12:26).

    That purpose is no more nor less than His purpose for every believer, as you clearly suggest, ” In the final verse of this section (vs. 16)….”.

  10. 4-19-2007

    Jonathan,

    In your comment to Aussie John, are you suggesting that doma intrisically means “the actual person that is the gift”, or are you saying that is your interpretation of doma in this passage?

    Aussie John,

    I believe you are saying the same thing, or at least something similar, that I am saying. I especially agree with your last statement: “That purpose is no more nor less than His purpose for every believer…” That is the direction that I am heading in my next post.

    -Alan

  11. 4-19-2007

    Jonathan, at the risk of sounding “hyper-technical”, I want to clarify something.

    I did not comment on whether or not the Greek word metron had two meanings, “measure” and “proper”.

    All I stated was that the NAS translators translated metron as “proper” in vs. 16. I have made no assertion as to the correctness or incorrectness of such a translation.

    Draw your own inferences from their work. I was merely helping you see where that word was in verse 16 since you told Alan you didn’t see it there.

  12. 4-19-2007

    I don’t really have anything to add to the discussion, but I do have a question… I am not following the connection between the word doma, and the idea that the word refers a person. Granted, I am terribly ignorant in this field, but I’m not understanding how the use of the word doma means that Paul was saying that these gifts are the people themselves. Could someone explain this to me? Thanks. (As always, I really enjoy following the discussions here.)

  13. 4-20-2007

    Alan,

    Yes, I would say that “doma” here intrinsically means “the actual person is the gift itself.” I believe this for two reasons: (1) this is what I believe the Greek means here, and (2) I’ve been taught this view, and so my personal study has been re-inforced.

    Steve,

    Thanks for your clarification. My comment that “metron” has two meanings was a synthesis of Alan’s and your own remarks.

    Drew,

    I think what Paul is saying in this passage is that persons who are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are the gifts themselves. Thus, it is not a gift of apostleship, but the person who is an apostle is a gift. Likewise, there is no such gift of evangelism, but rather the person who is an evangelist is a gift himself. Similarly, there is no gift of shepherding, but there is the gift of pastor (or pastor-teacher, if you take the four gifts view, rather than the five gifts view).

    However, by contrast, there is a separate gift of prophecy, which operates different than the gift of the prophet; and there is a separate gift of teaching that operates differently than the gift of the teacher. The difference is purpose and operation, and if you’d like further clarification, please ask me. Thanks.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  14. 4-20-2007

    Jonathan,

    Since doma intrinsically means “the actual person is the gift itself”, then could you show me one other place in the NT where doma refers to people?

    (btw… I couldn’t fine one.)

    -Alan

  15. 4-20-2007

    Jonathan, you said that you believe the greek word doma means the actual person is the gift itself. Then you went on to give me your interpretation of the passage, but you didn’t answer my question (which maybe I didn’t ask clearly enough). Let me try again… I want to know why you believe doma means what you think it means. Linguistically, what brings you to that conclusion? My lexicon lists the definition merely as “a gift”.

  16. 4-20-2007

    Alan and Drew,

    I’m sorry, but I jumped a little bit with defining “doma.” Rather than saying that the gift is the person itself, I should have said the gift is the “thing” itself. Literally, Thayer’s says, “a thing given.” Here, the “thing” is actually a “person,” and not an endowment of grace that you see with “charisma,” as it is used in Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12. Thus, the “thing itself is the gift,” and here its not really a thing, but a person.

    Alan, you asked where else does “doma” refer to a person? I actually have an answer for that one… its a different kind of answer though. But, in Matt. 7:11 and Luke 11:13, Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifs (doma) to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to who ask Him!” That is Matt. 7:11, but Luke 11:13 clearly indicates as a substitution “the Holy Spirit” in place of “what is good.” Well, the Holy Spirit is NOT a thing — its a person (or personality, if you’d like). Thus, here in Luke 11:13, “doma” is being compared to the Holy Spirit, which IS a Person.

    Drew, does that make sense to you?

    Alan, how about you? Do you understand?

    Other thoughts or questions???

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  17. 4-20-2007

    Jonathan,

    Good try, but Luke 11:13 does not use doma for the Holy Spirit. Instead, doma is used for the gifts that earthly fathers give their children. Unless some are giving slaves, I don’t think this refers to people. The word doma is used in Luke 11:13, but not for the Holy Spirit.

    In Matthew 7:11, doma is once again used to refer to the gifts that earthly fathers give to their children… and again, I would assume this is not people. Meanwhile, what does our “Father in heaven” give to his children? He does not give doma (“gifts”); He gives agatha (“good things”) – a completely different word.

    -Alan

  18. 4-20-2007

    Alan,

    I did not say “doma” was used for the Holy Spirit. Please go back and read what I said. I said “doma” was being COMPARED to the Holy Spirit in Luke 11:13. There is a difference in equating (which you think I did, but really did not), and making a comparison.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  19. 4-20-2007

    But Jonathan, your answer was in response to a question about where “doma” refers to a person.

    So, I guess since you said now that “doma” does not “equate to” the Holy Spirit, you are admitting that Scripture does not use “doma” to refer to people, which was Alan’s point to begin with.

    What was the point you were trying to make then, about “doma”?

  20. 4-21-2007

    Steve,

    “Doma” refers to things, BUT — persons are a kind of thing. If the Bible were in Latin, and not in Greek, I would use the word “rem” to explain the concept. Unfortunately, I won’t do that because we’re discussing the Greek and not Latin.

    Nevertheless, “doma” means the thing itself (or in the case of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher — the person itself). However, “doma” is compared with the Holy Spirit, who IS a Person — and so to me it is not a stretch to believe that because the Holy Spirit is called a “gift” in the Scriptures, then “doma” can also refer to persons as things.

    Steve, if in Eph. 4:11, “doma” does NOT refer to a person, i.e. an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher (you DO believe that these gifts are all people, right?) — then what would “doma” be in reference to then, if not the “things” in Eph. 4:11 —???

    I guess my point is that Paul saw “person” and “thing” as interchangeable in Eph. 4:11.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  21. 4-21-2007

    Jonathan,

    I accept your exlanation, as long as you continue to say “this is what I think” instead of “this is what Scripture says”. You are welcome to think anything at all. You are not allowed (at least, not here) to change what Scripture actually says. As you’ve pointed out, doma does not refer to people in Scriputre. But, you are still allowed to think it does in Eph 4:11.

    -Alan

  22. 12-1-2009

    Hi, I’ve had a quick look at your article above, hope I’m not missing anything important. I’m currently researching the role of women in the church, and I find myself needing to understanding if there is such a thing as ‘offices’ in the church. Anyway, from the bit of studying I’ve done so far, I seem to have discovered (and I’m open to correction) that the only leadership roles in the church are given to apostles and elders (pastors/bishops/overseers). I cannot find any Scripture where prophets, evangelists or teachers are given authority to oversee the church in terms of teaching right doctrine and guarding them from wolves, which is a criteria of rulers/leaders according to Acts 20:17-28 and 1 Tim 3:1-2. This makes me think that the 5 (?4) ascension gifts in Ephesians 4, or simply refering to God’s gifts to the church, they are not offices, or leadership positions – apart from apostles and pastors (elders) who are elsewhere in Scripture defined as overseers of the church. Moreover, I’ve just read Romans 12: 7 to 8 tonight and if the ‘leader’ of verse 8 refers to pastors/elders, then it suggests that teachers and pastors are different gifts to the body because Paul lists them separately. Teachers are mentioned in verse 7, then he refers to people who exhort and others who give, and then he refers to leaders … so far in my studies, it looks as though pastors and teachers are different giftings. However, as it’s already been mentioned, pastors must be capable of teaching, but teachers don’t necessarily have to be leaders …

  23. 12-1-2009

    Excuse the spelling errors above, I didn’t check it before posting :-)

  24. 12-1-2009

    Marissa,

    I think I look at things a little differently. In fact, I think that all believers are given the “authority” to teach, admonish, correct, etc. So, while apostles and elders should be teaching, admonishing, etc, others should as well. Here are a couple of passages to consider: 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 (don’t forget vs. 13), Galatians 6:1, Colossians 3:16. So, as far as I can tell, the scriptural instructions for elders to teach/admonish are given within the backdrop of all believers teaching/admonishing. (That said, I do believe that the church should recognize among the community of believers those who are actually teaching/admonishing among other things that all believers should be doing, like caring for one another.)

    -Alan

  25. 12-1-2009

    Hi Alan,

    I agree that everyone in the church is exhorted to teach and admonish others etc, in Hebrews 5, the writer says ‘by now you should be teachers’. And in 1 Corinthians 14 when Paul invites everyone to contribute during meetings, he says that one brings a teaching. To be honest, I’m having difficulty finding out whether there is a difference between someone who teaches and ‘a teacher’ (is there a separate ‘office’? Is it all the same gifting?) and between some one who prophesies, and a prophet, and someone who evangelises and an evangelist. I was hoping to build a website with little bible studies on it, to help encourage others, but as I’m digging into stuff to make sure I understand what I’m talking about, I find I’m having to research other things before I can get stuck into the first thing. I’m glad I’ve found your blog. I’ll look through it over the coming months as I’ve found some very interesting stuff, and I only discovered it about an hour ago! I’ve already been challenged regarding my use of the term ‘authority’. I’ll rethink my position and look at the Scripture references you gave. Thank you. Marisa

  26. 12-2-2009

    Marisa,

    I believe that we can find in Scripture instructing all believers to teach, but also instructing that not all are teachers. The same can be true of giving/givers, encouraging/encouragers, prophesy/prophets, etc. I haven’t found exactly what this distinction is. For now, I think it is a distinction between someone who the Spirit chooses to teach through occasionally, and someone who the Spirit often chooses to teach through. I hope that makes sense.

    -Alan

  27. 12-2-2009

    Yes Alan, that makes sense. Thank you.

  28. 6-25-2010

    Alan,

    I would be interested in your thoughts on my own “interpretation” of this issue. In different passages Paul lists different gifts. In the above mentioned, he mentions 4 only. In other passages he adds other gifts (speaking in tongues, word of knowledge, healing, etc.) This would go along with your discussion that the emphasis is on the gift, and the function of that gift in the body, than the person who carries the gift. In regards to how elders play into this, my belief has been that, among the elders of a local body, there would be a representation of ALL these gifts, or at least many of them. Also, we need not get caught up on “positional” leadership or authority, or offices, but instead should focus on “functional” leadership. Elders are to lead by example, and Christ’s example was to lay down His life for his church.