Together in Christ: 'The Gifts of Leadership' — Ephesians 4:7, 11-13

Monday, May 6, 2024

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[God] has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.

. . .

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and 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. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

— Ephesians 4:7, 11-13 NLT

Key Thought

Paul's words in today's verses give us one of the four places [1] in the New Testament where the inspired writers share the gifts that God — as Father, Son, and Spirit [2] — gives believers. In this passage, Paul presented the four "foundational" or leadership spiritual gifts — apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. [3] His focus is on God's goal for spiritual gifts:

  • unity in our faith
  • knowledge of God's Son
  • mature in the Lord, measuring up to the... standard of Christ

Paul's intention was not to talk about the many different spiritual gifts given to believers generally [4] but to remind leaders in Christ's church of their primary responsibilities:

to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ ... to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Paul's Spirit-led conviction was that the church's goal was to restore the presence of Jesus to the world through the church. Paul shared this message with other churches of Asia Minor. [5] He gave them this message so that members could hold their leaders accountable for equipping them to serve and challenge the members to support their leaders as they did so.

God gave each member of Christ's body a spiritual gift. He didn't give these gifts to glorify those who manifested the gift; He gave these gifts to help the church serve as Jesus' bodily presence in the world. Only as each part — each member — does her or his work could the body of Christ be built up in love and impact the world for Jesus. [6]

God gave the leaders the responsibility to equip, empower, and encourage people to use their gifts. Each member's responsibility is to use their gifts to bless and build up the body. Most importantly, as each member uses her or his gifts humbly and faithfully, they become the presence of the living Lord.

[1] See the Related Readings, below.
[2] In these Related Readings, God, Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all mentioned as giving spiritual gifts.
[3] Ephesus was in what was known as Asia Minor in Paul's time. It is the Asian part of modern Turkey today. Carefully examining the footnote for Ephesians 1:1 in most translations reveals that "Ephesus" was not in the original text. Many conservative scholars believe that Paul sent this letter to several churches in Asia Minor, similar to the seven churches in Revelation 2:1-28, 3:1-22. See also Colossians 4:16.
[4] As he does in Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-31. See also, 1 Peter 4:10-11.
[5] See footnote 3 and Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 3:6, 4:12, 15; Colossians 1:24.
[6] John 13:35.

Today's Prayer

Precious Lord Jesus, we ask the Father's help and the Holy Spirit's transforming love to fill our hearts. We want to use our spiritual gifts in ways that build up Your body, Your church, and blend with the gifts of our other sisters and brothers offered to You with humility and grace. We pray that our leaders will not become sidetracked by complaints and criticisms. Bless them as they focus on their primary responsibilities to lead, speak, equip, and empower us to use our gifts to bless each other, the world, and You. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Romans 12:4-13; Ephesians 4:1-16
  • 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, 1 Peter 4:10-11

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Illustration

Illustration of Ephesians 4:7, 11-13 NLT — [God] has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.

 . . . 

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and 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. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.