Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 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:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
The next thought here covers several verses. There is much meat here to digest. In verse 11 God gives us the details of those who He chooses to help the saints to grow. The first two offices are that of apostles and prophets. Both of these offices are now closed. There are no Biblical apostles today and there are no Biblical prophets today. There were twelve apostles and we learn from them through the epistles, that God directed them to write. There is a religious organization in Canada and elsewhere called “Church of God Restoration.” Several of their leaders have been in the news in Canada. They are not ashamed to speak about what they believe. One of the false teachings of this group is that they believe there are still apostles today and they also believe there are women apostles. One of the churches they have has gained so much attention that they claim they can no longer fit inside their building. The popularity of this group is an evidence that there is a great lack of discernment among many people.
The Bible gives us several marks of a true Biblical apostle. None of those can be duplicated today. First of all, every one of the apostles were chosen by Christ (Luke 6:13-16; Acts 22:14; Galatians 1:1). Acts 9 shows us that Saul (later Paul) was directly chosen by Jesus Christ. Secondly, every apostle saw the resurrected Jesus Christ (Acts 1:22; 22:14; I Corinthians 9:1; 15:7-9). Thirdly, they received their message directly from God. They did not receive it from someone else (Acts 22:14; Galatians 1:11-12; 2:6). Fourthly, they were given sign gifts to authenticate their message. The Scriptures were not complete at that time and the listeners needed to know who was speaking the truth (Acts 2:43; 4:33; 5:12; II Corinthians 12:12). In Acts 19 we read of the sons of Sceva who tried to duplicate some of the signs of an apostle and they were severely beaten up by the devil they were trying to play with. Fifth, they could also pass on spiritual gifts to others as God directed them (Acts 8:17-19; II Timothy 1:6). In Acts 8 the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to some of the believers to authenticate the ministry of the apostles. We need to keep in mind that the book of Acts is a transitional book and everything that we read there is not repeated after the completion of the Scriptures. Discernment is required to rightly divide the Word of God. Sixth, they had the same authority as the Old Testament prophets (II Peter 1:21; 3:2). Seventh, they were directed by God to write Scripture (II Peter 3:15-16). There are men and even some women who claim to have been given a message directly from God in our days. Several of the cults claim to have received their message directly from God. They are deceived. As we will see further in this passage, God gave these various offices to help the saints to grow stronger and not be deceived. God does everything in order. He gave us the first 6 verses of this passage to remind us of the importance of walking worthy of our vocation. The first three chapters of the book of Ephesians are focused on doctrine. The last three chapters deal primarily with the application of that doctrine. It is one thing to have head knowledge. It is quite another to have heart knowledge. Head knowledge can puff up. Heart knowledge will move the person to greater obedience to Christ.
The second office God directed Paul to mention is “prophets”. In mentioning apostles and prophets, God is referencing the Scriptures. It is important to note that our primary place of instruction if from the Word of God. As we look at the last three offices, each one of them must teach the Word of God. In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul wrote about the high calling he had received in Jesus Christ. Every born again Christian has received a high calling in Christ Jesus. There is no greater calling than to be forgiven and saved and to be adopted into God’s family. Within that high calling of the saint, is the high calling of leadership. Not all are called to be spiritual leaders in the sense of these five offices. Those who accept this high calling must understand that it comes with greater accountability. We have looked at that from Hebrews 13 in the past.
In the Old Testament God held the high priest to a high standard and he was expected to lead according to God’s Word. Because of Aaron’s sin against God, he was not allowed to enter the land of Canaan. The high calling does not make the spiritual leader any better than anyone else. Back in our text, we noted already that the saint needs to function with all lowliness and meekness. There can be no room for pride.
Back in our text, the prophets refer to the Old Testament spiritual leaders that were chosen by God. Those men were directed by God to declare God’s Word. They were used by God to record His Word for all future generations. There were many false prophets, and God clearly identifies them for us.
The importance of the Word of God is paramount for us to understand. As we have mentioned before, the many false religions that exist today would never be there if people submitted to the authority of God’s Word. False religion has been around since the fall of man. In the Bible God has always exposed false religion. He has not wiped it out. He did not create man to be a robot. He gave man a mind and a conscience. Man can and must choose who he will listen to. Every person will be held accountable for the choices they make. No one will have any excuse for making a wrong choice. We have God’s Word and we can know the truth. We will look further at this passage next time, Lord willing.