Thursday, July 06, 2017

When he ascended up on high

Ephesians 4:8-13 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

In Ephesians 4:8-13 Paul references Psalm 68:18 (Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.) He proceeds with commentary on the work of the ministry/service (ἔργον διακονίας) and the gifts thereto purposed.

Three characteristics of ministry
  1. Christological (of or relating to Christ). The ministry or service of the church and the Christian is founded in Christ. It proceeds from Christ – “When he ascended up on high, he gave gifts…” “He fills all things.”
  2. Charismatic (gifted; related to or based on charisma/χάρισμα/a gift of grace, which leads back to charis/χάρις/grace). Ministry flows from Jesus giving gifts unto men (Paul uses charisma elsewhere to speak of spiritual gifts, but here the words “gave gifts” are ἔδωκεν δόματα). “He gave gifts unto men.” Ministry is above and beyond the natural talents and inclinations of mankind.
  3. Comprehensive (of large scope; of various kinds; inclusive; multifaceted; diverse). Ministry is diverse, it comprehends various kinds of gifts. No one person or one gift is the be-all, end-all, of Christian service. “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers…”
Three-fold task of ministry
  1. Perfecting of the saints (maturation)
  2. Work of the ministry (application)
  3. Edifying of the body of Christ (edification)
Three spheres of ministry
  1. In the kingdom (manifestation; Ephesians 1:5-20; Ephesians 2:6)
  2. In the world (mission; the manifestation of the kingdom of God to the world, Cf. Ephesians 5:13-16; Ephesians 6:12, for example)
  3. In the church (education; Ephesians 3:3-5; Ephesians 3:10)
1. When he ascended up on high
(First on the cross Christ had to die;)
He captive led captivity,
Receiving gifts, he gave freely.

2. The churches’ history gifted is:
Apostles, prophets, evangelists,
Pastors, teachers – all to see
The saints to full maturity.

3. Within the body building up
On knowledge, stature, grace and love.
For the work of the ministry,
Till we all come to unity. 

(Some points inspired by E. Earle Ellis in Pauline Theology: Ministry and Society)

No comments: