Last week I opened up our discussion in this new series on Recognizing Your Fivefold Functions in the Body of Christ.
Today I want to look specifically at the gifts described in Ephesians 4:11. As a reminder, Paul writes to the Churches in Ephesus:
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’ … And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:7-14)
According to Paul, each one of us has received grace (charis) from Christ according to the measure of His gift, and this is confirmed by the Scripture he then quotes:
When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men” (Psa. 68:18)
So, apparently in His victory, Jesus gives out gifts to those he has conquered (i.e. to those of us who are now “slaves to Christ,” to use Pauline language).
The imagery Paul is alluding to is that of a conquering military general leading his captives as a sign of his victory and then generously bestowing gifts as a sign of his benevolence. It is not unlike the triumphal imagery he uses in 2 Corinthians 2:14.
The second thing to note in these verses is that we are given a measure (metron) of a gift. Different people have different measures. There is no reason to presume that the gift of “prophet” is given to each one with an equal measure! Some receive a larger metron than others (in keeping with many of the parables Jesus told about the distribution of resource in the Kingdom). Paul is indicating that there are different degrees of gifting and anointing across the Body, to suit the calling on your life.
Paul then describes these gifts as “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.” So it appears that on this occasion, the gifts are people—or perhaps more specifically, people who are identified by their function.
Their purpose is clear enough: They are given to equip the saints for the work of ministry (service) so that the whole Body might mature into the full stature of Christ. Once again, the gifts are given for the benefit of the Body of Christ. These gifts are always for a wider benefit!
But what of their function? What do these people do?
In my next post I will show how the five gifts are a reflection of the very character of Jesus Himself.
For now, I’ll leave you with these questions: Are you grateful for the “measure” that God has given you? Jesus decides the measure of the gift He gives—how does that make you feel?