Devotional: Ephesians 4:7-16
I think that verse 7 links the gifts Paul speaks of in verses 11 and 12, to our salvation experience: “grace was given in keeping with the measure of Messiah’s gift”. Gift, singular. What was His gift, given by grace? Eternal life! It is by that same grace poured out to us at the great exchange of our sins for His righteousness that we also receive the spiritual gifts He has designated for each of us to use for the building up of His body.
Verse 8 is a quote from Psalm 68. According to Strong’s Concordance, the word translated as “gave” (“gave gifts to his people”) is a word that means “to take, grasp or take hold of” and also has the secondary idea of “transfer”. Using the first meaning, it could be said that WE are the gifts that CHRIST received from the Father, but I think that it is this secondary meaning that Paul is using when he quotes the Psalm here in Ephesians. Think of it as Christ received spiritual gifts from the Father and is transferring them (giving them) to those who have accepted His gracious salvation.
Verses 9 and 10 remind me of what Peter said in his first sermon recorded in Acts 2:29-36 (from Tree of Life translation): “Brothers, I can confidently tell you that the patriarch David died and was buried—his tomb is with us to this day. 30 So because he was a prophet and knew God had sworn with an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 David saw beforehand and spoke of Messiah’s resurrection—that He was not abandoned to Sheol [hell], and His body did not see decay. 32 “This Yeshua [Jesus] God raised up—we all are witnesses! 33 Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God and receiving from the Father the promise of the Ruach ha-Kodesh [Holy Spirit], He poured out this—what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens; yet he himself says, ‘Adonai [LORD] said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’ 36 “Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him—this Yeshua whom you had crucified—both Lord and Messiah!” Paul makes it clear here in his letter to the Ephesians that this same Jesus, the One who had walked the earth for 33 years, teaching and training His disciples, is the One who died, was buried, rose again, and ascended to heaven. He is the one Who triumphed over not only the grave, but all principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15), AND is the giver (through the Holy Spirit) of gifts to men.
Verse 13 highlights what was said last time, that the gifts have a purpose. God’s plan is that no truster in Christ is left behind; no one stays in a state of spiritual immaturity. Paul uses the pronoun “we” in verses 14-15 to highlight that no one is exempt in their need to be firmly established in trusting Christ and Christ alone for salvation. As we use our gifts—guided by love—the Spirit will grow us as a group and make us more and more rooted in the Truth. Remember, reading, praying over and knowing Scripture is the way to renew our minds and be transformed from worldly-minded believers to firmly established, mature trusters in Christ, who IS the Truth.
As I was reading this section over once again, using my Complete Jewish Bible translation, I noticed something in verse 16 that caught my attention. I have always pictured us as cells making up the Body of Christ, making up the soft tissue parts (organs, skin, etc.). However, Paul says in this verse that “Under his control, the whole body is being fitted and held together by the support of every joint, with each part working to fulfill its function. . .” This sounds more like we are joints, which makes sense since we all interact with each other, supporting each other as we grow to maturity. This makes me think of the close friends I have within the church. Am I doing my part to fulfill the function of this particular “joint”? What can I do better? This speaks of unity not only within the Body of trusters as a whole, but unity at each joint. Think of a dislocated shoulder: lots of pain and incapacity until it is put back into place. When we are not working in unity with the other members of our particular “joint”, the whole Body suffers and is no longer functional until that separation is resolved. Just like the joints in a human body need a lubricant to move smoothly, so it is with the joints in Christ’s Body. The lubricant that He supplies is love.
This means that love is not only the catalyst for our growth in the Body of Christ, but it is essential for His Body to fulfill its mission here on earth. He is the glue that holds the Body together in unity, He is the One that fits together each gifted truster in just the right place in the Body so that as we use our gifts, His Body will be healthy, growing, and displaying His love to the inhabitants of this fallen world. That is His end goal.
Devotional reading to be shared on June 10th: Malachi 1:1-5