The church which is His body (4)

Bible Reading Ephesians 4:1~12

Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

In forming, structuring, and directing the Body, Christ has revealed it to be His purpose to use specially called, commissioned, and specifically gifted men and women. God is a God of order, and as we see His order in creation and in the life of the Old Testament people Israel, we find order in "the church which is His body."


Eph. 4:8,11,12 - "That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” .... Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.

Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, as described here :-

Eph 4:12-13 "... to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

In the Acts of the Apostles, we see how in the early church, these "given men" operated. Each being "given" by Christ for a specific purpose, they are under His direction as to the nature and scope of their ministry. How they functioned ideally is a historical example of the purpose of God made visible and recorded.

The apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers (APEST gifts) are seen going into communities to win the lost, and out of the harvest of souls establishing churches in each place. Since their ministry was generally not permanent in any one place it was necessary that there be permanent oversight in the churches which they had planted. We will expand on these below.

The APEST gifts are given to ensure the church grows up into Christ in a manner that is described in terms we clearly do not see in the church of 2018. The early church may well have understood and walked in the reality of Eph 4:13, but we have until recently, avoided many of the APEST gifts and often taught they were only for the first church, or until the cannon of scripture was available.

Over the last 300+ years, the unity of the faith described here, has been worked against as each denomination has split and branched off. Fortunately as we have seen in the previous studies, Jesus Christ is and will build His church. In 2018 we see some signs that unity of the faith is being actively talked about and embraced by a growing number of local gatherings.

We believe these five specific gifts, callings and commissioned ministries are being restored to the church in order to enable the promise of Eph 4:12-13 to be fulfilled. We will not cover these APEST gifts any further here, they are worthy of detailed study to enable us to discern the many counterfeits and also help us to recognise and honour those that carry the requisite character attributes and gifts with integrity.

The word "pastor" occurs only once in the New Testament. However, the word translated "pastor" (Poinen) is translated "shepherd" 17 times. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "raah" is translated "pastor" 8 times, "herdman" 7 times, and "shepherd" 62 times.

A "pastor" then, is a divinely "given" "shepherd" to "tend, feed and protect" God's sheep. Our Lord Jesus Christ is "the good Shepherd" (John 10:11); "the great Shepherd" (Heb. 13:20); and "the chief Shepherd" (1 Pet. 5:4). He is the completely perfect Shepherd!

In the Acts, we find Paul and Barnabas returning to the bodies of believers they had won to Christ in Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, "strengthening the souls of the disciples, and exhorting / encouraging them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God, And when they had APPOINTED THEM ELDERS IN EVERY CHURCH, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed" (14:21-23), So, in "EVERY CHURCH" there were "ELDERS." Now let us look at another word, the word "bishop," When Paul is addressing the Philippian church, he writes "to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the BISHOPS and deacons" (Phil. 1:1). The Greek word for "bishop" is "episkopos" which means "OVERSEER," The Amplified version reads "bishops (overseers) and deacons (assistants)." We will consider other occurrences of this word later. To this point we have looked at three words — "SHEPHERD, ELDER, OVERSEER." With these three words in mind, let us look at Paul's words to the "elders of the church" at Ephesus whom he had asked to meet him at Miletus.

Acts 20:17,28 — “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH ... take heed to yourselves, and to all THE FLOCK, among which, the Holy Spirit has made you OVERSEERS, to shepherd, (that is, tend and feed and guide — Amp.) the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood."

Here we see the “ELDER, OVERSEER, AND SHEPHERD" caring for the church of God in Ephesus. Peter writing to this same class of men says, 1 Pet. 5:1-4 — "THE ELDERS which are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder ... SHEPHERD THE FLOCK of God which is among you, SERVING AS OVERSEERS, not by compulsion, but willingly; not for dishonest gain, but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the FLOCK. And when the chief SHEPHERD appears, you will receive a crown of glory that does not fade away."

The "SHEPHERD" is called both ELDER AND OVERSEER." "Elder" refers to the person - a senior man, not a "novice." It is a title. "OVERSEER" refers to the work he does. "Oversight" is the function to be exercised by the holder of the title.

The qualifications of the overseer

The qualifications of the "overseer" are outlined in considerable detail in 1 Tim. 3:1-7; and Titus 1:5-9. He is to be

1) "BLAMELESS" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6)

This means "above reproach, irreprehensible or unassailable. Enemies may bring all manner of accusations, but these charges are proved to be empty whenever fair methods of investigation are applied.

2) "THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6)

This is restrictive, not imperative. It does not mean that an overseer must be married, but that if he is married he must have only one wife.

3) "VIGILANT" ( 1 Tim. 3:2)

Temperate, circumspect. He is filled with spiritual and moral earnestness. He is not given to excess, but moderate, well—balanced, calm, careful, steady, and sane. This pertains to his physical, moral, and mental tastes and habits.

4) "SOBER" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)

Sound-minded. The self-controlled or sensible man is the man of sound mind. He is discreet, sane; hence, not swayed by sudden impulses over which he exercises no mastery."

5) "OF GOOD BEHAVIOUR" (1 Tim. 3:2)

Orderly. Of disciplined life. Of inner moral excellence and of outward orderly behavior."

6) "GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY" (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)

At this time Christians on a journey could not resort to the houses of the heathen or to public inns. The home and help of any Christian was welcome to the one in need and the overseer should be an example of such hospitality.

7) "ABLE TO TEACH' (1 Tim. 3:2)

"Be a capable and qualified teacher."

Wey. - "With a gift for teaching."

Titus 1:9 (Amp.)~ "He must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instructions and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine, and to refute and convince those who contradict and oppose it — showing the wayward their error."

JBP - "A man who takes his stand on the orthodox faith so that he can by sound teaching both stimulate faith and confute opposition."

8) "NOT GIVEN TO WINE" — (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)

A command like this may sound strange, but it must be remembered that in Bible lands wine was and is a common beverage. An elder was not to be a drunkard or "one who lingers beside his wine."

9) "NOT VIOLENT" (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)

An elder must not be a violent man, one who is ever ready with his fists. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal."

1O) "NOT GREEDY FOR MONEY" (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)

"Not a lover of money - insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means." (Amp.).

11) "GENTLE" (1 Tim. 3:3)

This is the opposite of a "striker." It means yielding, lenient, and courteous. Though never compromising with respect to the truth of the gospel, the elder must be willing to yield when it comes to his own rights."

12) "NOT QUARRELSOME" (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7 "not soon angry")

This means "Not contentious or quarrelsome, averse to fighting." He may not be a "striker", but "being quick-tempered, would still be lacking one of the characteristics which are needed by an overseer."


"He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful" (Amp.). "The father's FIRMNESS makes it ADVISABLE for a child to obey; his WISDOM makes it NATURAL for a child to obey, and his LOVE makes it a PLEASURE for a child to obey."

14) "NOT A NOVICE" (1 Tim. 3:6)

This means "one newly planted." "He must not be a beginner in the faith, for fear of his becoming conceited and sharing the devil's downfall" (JBP).


"To be an effective overseer a brother must be known even to worldly people with whom he is (or has been) in contact, as a man of character, a man against whom it is not possible to level any JUST CHARGES of moral turpitude. It must be possible to say with reference to him, ‘he conducts himself properly with respect to outsiders'."