the weblog of Alan Knox

What is edification?

Posted by on Sep 27, 2008 in edification, gathering | 11 comments

The purpose of this blog is to explore the nature of the church according to Scripture in parallel with my PhD studies in Biblical Theology. Specifically, I’m interested in the purpose of the meeting of the church. In other words, I want to answer the following the question: According to the New Testament, what was the purpose of the church gathering together?

I think that Scripture tells us that the purpose of the church meeting was edification. The primary indicator of this is 1 Corinthians 14:26 –

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up [edification]. (1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV)

However, even if the purpose of the church meeting is edification, this is not a complete answer. For example, this leads to other questions: What is edification? What does it mean to edify someone? How does someone know if they are edifying or being edified? Who does the edifying and how? Who is edified and how? What leads to edification?

So, I thought I would give you an opportunity to answer these and other questions relating to edification. What do you think?


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

  1. 9-27-2008


    Edification is something that the WHOLE CONGREGATION is involved in whenever they assemble,”….but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 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” (Eph.4:15-16).

    As I understand the word in the Gk. it has architectural conotations (1 Pet. 2:5) which the apostle also OBVIOUSLY understood as he spoke to the believers at Corinth.

    Edification is something which ought to be happening at any time when believers come together, whomever they are, and whatever their gifts.

  2. 9-27-2008


    I am with Mr. AJ brother.

    You asked:
    For example, this leads to other questions: What is edification? What does it mean to edify someone? How does someone know if they are edifying or being edified? Who does the edifying and how? Who is edified and how? What leads to edification?

    So, I thought I would give you an opportunity to answer these and other questions relating to edification. What do you think?

    1. I agree again with Mr. AJ, it is the building up of others into Christ as Paul writes, so to edify from a biblical sense has to connect you to the Head.

    2. I believe it is the intentional and sometimes unintentional strengthening of one saint to the other. I tend to see in the scriptures that this definition has to maybe include mutality, but I could be wrong there. So for me the definition seems to have to be mutual.

    3. I believe someone may not even recognize whats going on at first, especially if this is done biblcally. You may have someone over for the intent of ediying them and they don’t realize until they are meditating later on. I also think we know we are being edified in some sense because we the Spirit working in and through a person and that person has the intention to build you up. Its purposeful and its edifying.

    4. Typically today we have punted Acts as more description instead of a model to be mimiced as modeled in the scriptures so as you know most of the edifying are done by a select few. This is handicapping the saints but I think we have discussed this in detail.

    5. I believe Philippians 2:1-4 leads to edification Alan. Having an econouraging mindset also. But really thinking of others and putting their needs before your in an attempt to assist them in their worship of Christ.

  3. 9-27-2008

    These are good discussions and good definitions. I appreciate how you’ve brought Scripture into the discussion. I agree that Eph 4 and Phil 2 are very important to this discussion, as in 1 Cor 12-14. I would also add Heb 10:24-25.

    First, edification is certainly a work of the Holy Spirit as he works through his children to grow (edify) his children. Edification is mutual in both directions. This means that edification should be a mutual goal with the entire body working together, and also that the goal should include the growth of the entire body, not just the growth of an individual or subset.

    I also think that maturity is very important for edification, because being more “like Christ” should be the result of edification. Like Paul said in Eph 4, we grow into the measure of Christ – he is our standard, our plumbline, our goal.

    Thanks again for the discussion. Please continue. I’m learning alot from this.


  4. 9-27-2008

    I agree with your assessment with one exception (of course!). When we start our understanding of things with a man to man orientation we always seem to miss the mark. You stated that becoming like Christ is “our standard, our plumbline, our goal”. I agree, but question whose side we are approaching that statement from. It appears to me that all too often we take a human perspective of what building means rather than a God perspective, or a man-plan verses a God-plan. What I mean is that if we view what becoming like Christ means from our human perspective rather than from what it means from God’s perspective, we might just be in trouble. We can’t “press” for a mark that we are “unsure” of, or even know exists.

    God is the Architect and Builder (Heb. 11:10) and Paul refers to himself as a “wise Master Builder”. (1 Cor. 3:10) Every builder needs a proper blueprint before beginning to build. From a human perspective the blueprints and architectural designs are going to vary wildly, from a divine perspective, not so much. I’m not suggesting uniformity here; men seem to delight in uniformity while God delights in diversity. What I am suggesting is that we need to start with an idea of what God’s blueprint for this design is. To get away from religious-speak I call it the “end game”. I’m convinced that the less defined our end-game is the more sloppy our total game will be.

    So far we have “to be like Christ” as the end-game. I would refine that to becoming a Bride “SUITABLE TO SUIT” the King of all Kings, the God of all Glory. From a human perspective any stop along the way towards that goal might be acceptable, from a divine perspective, perhaps not so much! While the grace and inclusive passions of our God are seemingly boundless, nevertheless His end-game seems to be consistent.

    I always look forward to the comments of Aussie John and Lionel and would greatly appreciate their reaction to this as well as yours, Alan.

  5. 9-27-2008


    In terms of edification, which my comment was restricted to, I’m not sure where Don is coming from.

    No man can know God’s perspective apart from the Scriptures, but even more importantly, Jesus Christ Himself (John 8:19). Jesus Christ is the sole reference point for the building up of the Body of Christ, along with the teaching of the Scriptures (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:6).

    It is no accident that God chooses to use the word “cornerstone” because it refers to the fundamental understanding from which something is begun or developed or calculated or explained, especially a building. In this case that fundamental is Jesus Christ, His life and finished work, plus nothing.

    The Scriptures are the blueprint which the Wise Masterbuilder has drawn up for us. The blueprint centers on Jesus Christ,who, as a member of the Godhead, was its designer (John 1:1-3), and who does what the Father does (5:19)as He builds His Bride, His people (Matt.16:18). He began doing this from the moment of creation and continues until He declares it done.

    One thing we can be sure of is that the Building He is building, WILL BE suitable for the King of Kings, because it is His work (Eph.2:10). He is building her, according to His design, by His Spirit.

    Because she is not the work of man, she will be beautiful beyond description, perfect in every respect,filled with the glory of God, and every stone which the Masterbuilder has placed in its place will be like Him and see Him as He is.

  6. 9-27-2008


    I take the goal of edification from Ephesians 4, where Paul says we are to be built up “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”. Thus, it seems our goal is unity of the faith, knowledge of Christ, maturity, and all of this is measured against Jesus Christ himself.


  7. 9-28-2008

    Our words full of grace; our actions full of substance.

  8. 9-28-2008

    To build up; to shore up; to strengthen; to enable maximum utility; to empower…. These are all things that come to my mind.

  9. 9-28-2008

    I apologize for not explaining myself better. You asked questions for the purpose of better defining edification. I focused on the how. Scripture says: “each man must be careful HOW he builds”. (1 Cor.3:10) My hopeful refinement only concerned the question of direction. Are we looking at the blueprint from man’s side or are we attempting to look at the blueprint from God’s side? If we are looking from man’s side we’re likely to end up with 1001 different models, consequently our only safeguard is in finding and implementing God’s blueprint as seen from God’s side.

    I start from the same passage in Ephesians 4 but ask the further question, “what does the fullness of Christ look like”, and which blueprint am I following in building? Our confession is that Christ is the corner stone, but how do we edify or build on what He began? If we are the house of God, then whenever I’m edifying a brother I am, in fact, building on God’s house. So, starting with the understanding that “TO EDIFY IS TO BUILD”, (oikodomeo) I’ve made three propositions:
    PROPOSITION ONE: Any “true” building done is a work done on the house of God (Hb. 3:6)
    PROPOSITION TWO: To properly work we need a proper blueprint
    PROPOSITION THREE: Any old blueprint won’t do

    While I confess that the scriptures contain the blueprint I also confess that we often get lost in the scriptures and miss the forest for the trees. I also confess that if we attempt interpreting scripture from a carnal mindset (which is hostile against God) we might have a difficult time seeing the blueprint clearly. Paul said the Corinthians lacked no charisma (gift) and were rich in the Word and knowledge, he acknowledged that they had been sanctified but then proclaims they were carnal and walked like men who were capable only of milk. (1Cor.3:2-3) That isn’t an encouraging backdrop for extracting from scriptures a proper blueprint nor does it instill confidence in good blueprint reading.

    Therefore I ask the following question: what is the preferred blueprint when we are building up one another? Is it one modeled after the traditional church, the way we’ve always done things, or is it one of rebellion against the traditional church? Is it our idea of what the ideal church ought to be? Is it a model of the Suffering Servant or is it the model of the Conquering King? I’m sure if we tried hard enough we could find scriptures to back up most of these positions. My conclusion of the matter is that only a Bride “suitable to suit” (Gen. 2:18) the King of all Kings is a blueprint worth following. For the sake of clarity when I use “suitable to suit” I mean a Bride who is “after our image and after our likeness”. (Gen. 1:26) The only way I know of to get there from here is to first let the Holy Spirit have His church back and secondly we must see Jesus as HE IS the Blueprint and only in seeing the Blueprint can we really know how to build. Ultimately the purpose of Jesus being the Blueprint is to facilitate transformation and only in seeing Him can we be transformed from Glory to Glory into that “suitable” Bride.

  10. 9-28-2008

    David (ded) and Bryan,

    Short… concise… to the point. I like it!


    Thanks for the explanation! I understand what you’re talking about now.

    You said, “The only way I know of to get there from here is to first let the Holy Spirit have His church back and secondly we must see Jesus as HE IS the Blueprint and only in seeing the Blueprint can we really know how to build.” Yes! Absolutely!

    I think the “church” has been getting in the way of Jesus building his church for way too long.


  11. 9-28-2008

    Amen brother! And I have to say that it’s people like yourself who have the courage to go counter-intuitive on the issues who are helping pave the way for change.