Body Building A Study In Ephesians

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When was Ephesians written? He mentions his imprisonment several times in this letter 3. What is Ephesians about? There are three big interwoven themes to notice as we study Ephesians:. Some background to the ancient city of Ephesus :. In Acts 19 we read of how the gospel took root in Ephesus, and in Acts These four gifts relate to the whole body of Christ, much as the major body systems relate to the physical body. There are, within the human body, four major systems upon which the entire body is dependent for proper functioning: the skeletal and muscular framework, the nerve system, the digestive system, and the circulatory systems.

There are other systems in the body which are not essential for life itself such as the reproductive system but these four are. In a most remarkable way they correspond to the four support ministries within the body of Christ:. First, there is the basic structural system of bones and muscles.

This gives the body its fundamental support and makes possible our mobility and activity. We would all be nothing but rolling, shapeless globs of gelatin if it were not for our bones and muscles!

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Ephesians 4:1-16, Live worthy of your calling

This image clearly corresponds to the apostles and their function in the body of Christ. Their work was foundational, skeletal. They formed the basic structure which made the body of Christ assume the particular form it has. To revert for a moment to the figure of the church as a building, there is a clear word from the apostle Paul concerning the function of the apostles and prophets.

In Ephesians and 20, he says, "So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone. The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ, as Paul declared to the Corinthians, "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" 1 Corinthians.

That is the foundation. What the apostles say about Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church, and what they said about Jesus Christ is recorded for us in the New Testament. That book is written by the apostles and prophets, and the church rests squarely upon that foundation. How does one get into the church? By believing the truth about Jesus Christ and believing means more than intellectual assent--it is a commitment of the will as well. It is only as the church rests upon this foundation of the faith, as taught by the apostles, that there is any certainty or strength.

Ephesians Study Resources

Today many are straying from the foundation and as a result they have lost any note of authority or assurance. Merely human view-points or opinions do not change the foundation. Modern knowledge and the discoveries of science will never alter it. Our ultimate concern is what the apostles taught.

That is the greatest revelation of reality we possess, "the truth [as it] is in Jesus" Ephesians. People in the construction business know that a foundation is of the utmost importance. You do not take risks or shortcuts with a foundation. You lay it squarely, securely, and strongly, for the whole building is going to rest on that foundation and will derive its strength from the character of the foundation.

The same is true of the church.

God’s Plan for the Church

The Lord Jesus made very clear that if a man builds on the wrong foundation, he is in trouble. One man may build his house on the sand and the house may look very beautiful and impressive, but when the storms come, it falls. Another man may build on the rock and his house will stand in the storm.

It is the foundation which makes all the difference. Jesus himself is the one who named the apostles. We have the record in the Gospels of the Lord calling twelve men to be "with him. He sent them out in a specialized ministry. The word "apostle" means one sent out or one sent forth. The Twelve had a special commission and a special authority. As you follow their ministry you recognize that they possessed an authoritative word.

Bible Study in Ephesians – Lesson 1: Overview and Outline of Ephesians

Wherever they went they spoke with authority. They were impressed with this themselves. They came back to Jesus and told him how they rejoiced to discover that the demons were subject to them. When they spoke the word, they had authority and that word of authority is the special mark of an apostle. Paul, of course, was a special apostle, chosen by Jesus after His resurrection.

He did not obtain his ministry from the Twelve but directly from the Lord himself, though what he taught and preached was in no sense different from what the Twelve proclaimed.


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The apostolic gift is still being given today, though in a secondary sense. There is no new truth to be added to the Scriptures. But the body of truth which we now have is to be taken by those who have an apostolic gift and imparted to new churches wherever they may begin. It is part of the apostolic gift to start new churches. We call those who perform this ministry "church planters" and "pioneer missionaries" today.

Throughout the course of church history, there have been many such secondary apostles, including Adoniram Judson in Burma, William Carey in India, and Hudson Taylor in China. These were Christians with the apostolic gift and were made responsible for imparting the whole faith to new churches. To return to the figure of the body, this apostolic system of truth is the bones and muscles of the church. There is no other line of truth about Jesus Christ. There is no other information which can come to us about Jesus than what the apostles have given.

There is nothing else. If there seems to be, as Paul says to the Galatians, "it is another Gospel. Here is the skeleton of the body, and upon this the church is built and from this comes its strength. Linked with the skeletal system in the human body is the nervous system.

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It is the means by which the bones and muscles are stimulated to activity, galvanized into action. The nervous system is the directive system.

It is linked directly to the head, and from there it conveys messages to every part of the body. This system corresponds to the work of prophets in the body of Christ. A prophet is essentially a man who speaks for God, who unfolds the mind of God. In the early church, before the New Testament was written down, prophets spoke directly by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, uttering the truths that are now recorded in the New Testament.

They unfolded what God taught, and thus the body was motivated, galvanized into activity. Men such as Mark, Luke, James, and Jude were not themselves apostles but they were associated with the apostles in the writing of the New Testament. The gift of a prophet differs from that of an apostle: The apostle gives an authoritative declaration of the whole body of truth concerning Jesus Christ; but the prophet interprets that authoritative word and explains the truth so that it becomes very clear, vital, and compelling.

The very word "prophet" suggests this. It derives from a Greek root which means "to cause to shine," and is linked with the prefix "pro" which means "before. This meaning of the word "prophet" is fully reflected in Peter's second letter when he says, "We have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place" 2 Peter.

Paul also says, "He who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation" 1 Corinthians. The church owes much to the ministry of prophets. Not only were parts of the Scriptures given to us by prophets but the great theologians and preachers of the church have been men with prophetic gifts.

Men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, and the founders of other denominations have been prophets, and many pastors and Bible teachers today have prophetic gifts. Usually men who speak at conferences are speaking as prophets, making the truth clear, shining, and gripping. They differ from teachers in that the prophet tends more to deal with the great sweeping principles of Scripture and reality, leaving the development of more specific areas to the teacher.

The third support ministry within the body of Christ is the evangelist. He is linked with the work of the pastor-teacher.

Tyneside Church Central | Ephesians: some background

Evangelists and teaching pastors work together just as the apostles and prophets work together. Evangelists are men and women with a special gift of communicating the Gospel in relevant terms to those who are not yet Christians. Since the evangelist is primarily responsible for the numerical growth of the body of Christ, the ministry of the evangelist corresponds to the digestive system within the human body, taking food which is quite unlike flesh and transforms it into flesh and bones, making it a living part of the body.

All Christians are expected to evangelize, but not all have the gift of an evangelist. Christians are to evangelize as witnesses, but a witness is different from an evangelist. The writings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee focus on the enjoyment of the divine life, which all the believers possess, and on the building up of the church, the goal of God's work with man in this age. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

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The Church Is God’s

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