Ephesians – Chapter 1, Part 7
God’s Plan for Salvation, Eph 1:1-23
Eph 1:22-23, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
Having noted Jesus’ superior authority over the angels in vs. 21, we now see in vs. 22-23 that Jesus Christ is superior in authority over the church, which is His body. This is all part of Operation Footstool. This statement actually comes from Psa 8:6 that has a special emphasis on the God-Man man, Jesus Christ.
Psa 8:6, “You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.”
These two verses also conclude Paul’s prayer for the Church, which began back in vs. 17. This prayer emphasizes Paul’s desire that we understand the power of God that is available to us, the believer, with a reminder that the Church is the beneficiary of that power, i.e., Jesus has been given all authority as head over all things, i.e. all of creation lost by Adam in the Garden of Eden and handed over to Satan, c.f. Luke 4:6.
Having manifested the power of God by subjecting all angelic creatures to the authority of the God-Man Jesus Christ, a second manifestation of God’s power in Christ is seen in these verses in His placing “all things under Christ’s feet.” Whereas Adam lost his headship over Creation when he sinned, Christ was made Head over all Creation, cf. Eph 1:10 due to His victory at the Cross. And as we have noted, this will be fully realized in the future, Psa 8:6; 1 Cor 15:27; Heb 2:6-8.
This authority is “to the Church,” because the Church is a living organism with Christ as its head by which God manifests His power through.
The third manifestation of God’s power in Christ in these verses is His appointment of Christ as Head over… the Church. That God’s power is available for his people is underlined in the assertion that God has given Christ as head over all things to the Church. Though the final manifestation of Christ’s headship over all Creation will be in the future, He is now Head over the fellowship of believers. He is called the Church’s “Head” in Eph 4:15; 5:23; Col 1:18. Although the Church is implied in Eph 1:10, it is specifically mentioned for the first time in Ephesians here in vs. 22b. As such, the Church is “His body” vs. 23; cf. 4:4, 16; Col 1:18. His body is the universal church consisting of all believers of the entire Church Age.
Jesus has been given the rank of “head,” KEPHALE, κεφαλή over “His body,” SOMA, σῶμα. KEPHALE meaning, “head,” is also used metaphorically in classical Greek for that which is superior and which has authority. So it is used in the N.T. not only literally but also as a symbol of authority, strength and leadership. It means He is the supreme rule and authority over His body, the Church.
In Col 2:10, KEPHALE is used for Jesus’ authority over the fallen angels as we noted in vs. 21, but here and elsewhere, it is used of His authority over the Church, Eph 4:15; 5:23; Col 1:18; 2:19.
Eph 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.”
Eph 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”
Col 1:18, “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.”
Col 2:19, “And not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.”
As the human head governs the body to which it belongs, so authority is vested in the headship relation wherever it exists. In the N.T. there are at least five such authoritative relations of Christ as head over, including:
- He is the “Head of the Cornerstone,” Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7. Eph 2:19-22, speaks of the entire Church as a building of God, Christ being the Headstone of the corner. It figures the stability that Christ gives to His body to function rightly.
- He is “Head over Every Man,” 1 Cor 11:3; cf. Eph 5:23. Whether recognized or admitted by men, Christ is ruling over all of them. To Him they must one day render an account. So even though Satan rules the world, Jesus Christ continues to control history, as all men are subject and accountable to Him.
- He is “Head over the Mystic Body of Christ,” the Church, Eph 4:15; Col 1: 18; 2:19. This figure is used more than any other to represent the service and manifestation of Christ by or through the members of His Body.
- He is “Head over the Bride,” Eph 5:23-33. Here again the Church is in view with a unique relationship, which relationship is to be realized fully after the marriage of the Lamb. It figures the day to day authority Christ has in our lives.
- He is “Head of principalities and powers,” Eph 1:21; Col 2:10. Christ has universal authority over all angelic hosts, as we have noted.
Col 2:10, “And in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.”
In our passage, Christ is the Head over the “Church,” which is the Greek word EKKLESIA, ἐκκλησία that means, “assembly, congregation or church.” It comes from the Preposition EK that means, “out or out from” and the verb KALEO that means, “to call.” Therefore, the believers in the Church Age are the “called out ones,” those summoned by God to Himself and being set apart from the world for God’s special purpose. All who have received the calling of God and believed in Jesus Christ as their savior are entered into the Body of Christ and are called “the Church.”
The sense in which Christ is the “Head of the Church” is that He is the source of its life, its supreme ruler, ever present with it, sympathizing with it, and loving it as a man loves his own flesh, Eph 4:15-16; 5:23, 29; Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:27. The main ideas expressed by this metaphor are that Christ and His Church have an intimate union, dependence and community of life.
Application of EKKLESIA.
The word “church,” EKKLESIA, means simply, “assembly,” such as any group of citizens who gather for a specific purpose. It is used 114 times in the N.T., 62 times by Paul, and 9 times in Ephesians. It can refer to a local church, 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thes 1:1, to several churches in a province or country, Acts 15:41; 1 Cor 16:1; Gal 1:2, 22, or to the universal church, 1 Cor 12:28; 15:9; Gal 1:13, as it does in all occurrences in Ephesians. The church is composed of believers who transcend cultural, language, ethnic, gender, and geographical domains.
EKKLESIA was first used in Attic Greek for an assembly of citizens convened to conduct the affairs of state. It is so used in Acts 19:25, 32 for the assembly of the Ephesians to handle the problems of their city- state. It was also used for citizens who gathered in the city to conduct business, Acts 19:30.
EKKLESIA is the Greek root word that was used in the second century B.C. translation of the LXX in the O.T. connotation for the assembly of Israel for example, Judges 20:2; Psa 149:1; Micah 2:5, cf. Acts 7:38, i.e., “the assembly or congregation.” It was used for the assembly of Jews in their synagogue, as in Mat 18:17. In fact, the book of Ecclesiastes is the Greek transliterated into English that comes from the Hebrew equivalent QOHELETH that means, “one who convenes and speaks at an assembly,” i.e., an ecclesiastic or preacher.
It is used for occasions when a group of believers in a particular geographical location got together, even as few as two or three. Such a group was called a local church, as in 1 Cor 11:18, 14:19, 28, 34‑35; Phil 4:15; 1 Thes 1:1; 2 Thes 1:1; Rev 2‑3.
It is used for the Church universal, composed of all members of the Royal Family of God, i.e., all believers in this dispensation of the Church Age, Eph 1:22‑23, 5:25‑27; Col 1:17‑18. As Chafer notes, it is “a company of saved people (who are, by their salvation), where called out from the world into living, organic union with Christ to form His mystical Body over which He is the Head,” (Systematic Theology). It is a reference to the “Body of Christ” made up of the whole company of the redeemed throughout this present dispensation, the Age of Grace / the Church Age, as prophesized by Christ in Mat 16:18. Therefore, you are “Church” as a member of the Royal Family of God in this dispensation.
There are two categories of “Church” in the Church Age.
- The Church universal, synonymous with the Royal Family of God or the Body of Christ, which is composed of all Church Age believers. You enter the Church universal at salvation through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the resultant Positional Sanctification by which the Royal Family of God is formed. The power which God gives to the Church is the omnipotence of God the Father related our Portfolio of Invisible Assets and the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit related to God’s Power System (GPS).
- The local church is an assembly of believers in a specific geographical location under the teaching ministry of their right Pastor, either face to face, or through some other system of communication. The local church has a policy and an administrative system based on doctrinal principles. This is why there are deacons and other administrative authority in a local church.
Jesus Christ is the ruler of the Church. It is you as an individual that He rules or does not rule, depending upon your volition. He is your ruler. But whether He is allowed to function in your life as your ruler depends upon whether you understand and apply the pertinent mystery doctrine. If you understand this doctrine, you have the basis for submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ as the ruler of the Church. If you are advancing in the spiritual life and living inside of God’s Power System (GPS), then you have accepted the authority of Jesus Christ as the ruler of the Church. But the majority of Christians have rejected our Lord’s authority as the ruler of the Church.
Jesus Christ has delegated the authority for the communication of Bible doctrine in the local church to the Pastor‑Teacher, 1 Cor 12:28-29; Eph 4:11 e.g., “joint(s)” in Eph 4:16; Col 2:19. If believers have rejected the authority of Jesus Christ over their personal lives, they will obviously reject the authority of any Pastor who communicates the Word of God, the mind of Christ. If you do not know God’s Word / Bible doctrine, you cannot accept the authority of Jesus Christ in your life.
In its relationship to Jesus Christ, the Church is called:
- The body of Christ on earth, 1 Cor 12:12; Eph 3:6; 4:12; 5:23.
- The bride of Christ in heaven,Rev 18:23; 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17.
Therefore, there are 3 main components to the study of Ecclesiology (the Church):
- The Church as Christ’s body and His fullness; That He is made full in them, and we in Him. (Positional and Ultimate Sanctification.)
- The local church, an assembly composed of those who in any locality profess to be followers of Christ and gather together under the delegated teaching authority of a Pastor-Teacher to learn God’s Word and serve Him.
- The high calling for a daily life in conformity with the position which the believer sustains being in Christ. (Experiential Sanctification)
In vs. 23 the Church, EKKLESIA, is called “His Body,” SOMA, which Jesus Christ is “Head,” KEPHALE, over. Therefore, we will note:
The Headship of Jesus Christ Over His Body
The Royal Family of God is one organic body with the Lord Jesus Christ as the head. There are three concepts of Christ as the head.
- Christ is the “Head of the Corner,” which means He has two crowns. Jesus Christ as the son of David is the ruler of Israel. He is also the ruler of the Church because of His victory on the Cross, Eph 2; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7.
- Christ is the supreme ruler over the Church as the body of Christ, Eph 1:22-23, 4:4, 15, 5:23.
- Christ is the ruler over angels, Col 2:10. Jesus Christ is the victor of the Angelic Conflict.
Therefore, the Lord has an authority over us. We can recognize it and have great blessing, or we can reject it and be the most miserable people in life.
The role of the Trinity in forming the Body of Christ.
- God the Father appointed the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of the Body, Eph 1:22.
- God the Holy Spirit is the active agent in the formation of the Body, 1 Cor 12:12-13. After salvation, the body is sustained by the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 6:16, cf. 1 Cor 6:19-20.
- Jesus Christ is the Savior of the Body, Eph 5:23, 25, 30, the sanctifier of the body, Heb 2:11, 13:12, as He is Head of the body, Eph 1:22-23, 5:23-25. So the function of Christ in the formation of the body is not as an active agent, but as the source of its life and as its ruler.
Jesus Christ as the head of the body refers to the integral relationship between our Lord and each member of the Royal Family. The head and body analogy indicates relationship. The Royal Family of God is one organic body with the Lord Jesus Christ as the head. Jesus Christ is the supreme ruler over the Church as His body, Eph 1:22-23, 4:4, 15, 5:23.
There is only one head to the body, and that head is the Lord Jesus Christ, Eph 4:4-6.
All precedence for the Church Age originates from Christ as the Head of the Church, and not from Israel and not from the Mosaic Law. This means that the analogy of Christ as the Head and the royal Family as the body emphasizes the life and activity of the Church Age believer as a new spiritual species, 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15, one of the results of the Baptism of the Spirit, cf. Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5; 11:16.
The analogy of Christ as the Head of the Body emphasizes the importance of the mystery doctrine of the Church Age, where the believer receives his thought pattern, mental attitude, and motivation from Bible doctrine, described in 1 Cor 2:16 as the mind or thinking of Christ.
Just as the function of the body is based on the mentality of the soul, so the way of life for the Church Age believer is based on the thinking of the head, which is our lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, all precedence comes from the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ and not from the dispensation of Israel.
Therefore, all Church Age believers have a common life based on the Plan of God provided for us. We also have a common purpose, which is to become spiritually mature and being invisible heroes. Though we have a common life and a common purpose, we all have different spiritual gifts, Rom 12:6.
All Church Age believers have a common life which is eternal life, received at the moment of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. John 3:16b, “For whosoever believes in Him shall never perish but have eternal life.”
- The Holy Spirit in regeneration created a human spirit for the imputation of eternal life.
- Eternal life is the life of Jesus Christ.
1 John 5:11-13, “And the witness (MATURIA – testimony) is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
1) The body derives its life from thinking. The body is not dead until the brain stops working.
John 10:28, “And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”
The source of our motivation and direction comes from the head, Jesus Christ, just as the real you is your soul.
Summary of the body and head analogy:
The analogy of the body of Christ emphasizes the organic union of the Royal Family, and therefore its common life and common purpose. Being in union with Christ, we are interrelated with Him just as the human body is interrelated with the head. In the analogy, the body is totally dependent upon the head to provide the thinking, motivation, decisions, and execution of the Plan. We have a common purpose; we have a common plan; and we have a common life being members of the Body of Christ of which He is the Head of.
Next we will note that Christ being the “Head of the Church, His body” is one of seven titles He has been given in relationship to the Church. From each of these analogies, certain things are taught about your relationship with Jesus Christ and your personal life as a Church Age believer.
The Head and Body is one of Seven Figures used of Christ in Relation to the Church
The Head and the Body, with its many members. In the head and the body analogy, Christ is the head and the Royal Family of God is the body. This speaks of Christ’s authority. The body emphasizes our differences in personality and spiritual gifts, Eph 1:22‑23, 2:16, 4:4‑5, 5:23; 1 Cor 12; Col 1:17‑18, 24, 2:19.
Eph 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.”
The Shepherd and the Sheep. The shepherd and the sheep analogy is found in John 10:1-18; Heb 13:20-21; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4. Christ is the shepherd and Christians are the sheep of His pasture.
This speaks to His care for us, and the helplessness of His sheep. The analogy connotes the security and great blessings that come to us as members of the Royal Family of God. For like us, sheep have no sense of direction, cannot fend for themselves, are helpless, and therefore need the guidance, sustenance and protection of the shepherd. The sheep must be guarded and fed by the under-shepherd, the Pastor of the local church who teaches the Word of the Great Shepherd.
1 Peter 2:25, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
Heb 13:20-21, “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
The Vine and the Branches. The vine and the branches analogy is taught in John 15:1‑8. Jesus Christ is the vine; we are the branches. This analogy speaks to our union with Christ, i.e., positional truth and/or positional sanctification as well as experiential sanctification resulting in Divine good production, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit. The vine represents stimulation and the supply of sustenance. The production of the branches is your advance to maturity in three categories; fruit, more fruit and much fruit. God the Father, as the gentleman farmer, protects the Church by separating the barren believer who produces no fruit from those willing to advance in the Plan of God.
The Chief Cornerstone and the Stones of the Building. The concept of Christ as the chief cornerstone, and the stones of the building as the Church was first taught by Christ in Mat 16:16‑18 when He told Peter, “You are blessed, Simon, Son of Jonas. And on this rock (PETRA, giant rock, Lord Jesus Christ) I will build my Church (the Royal Family of God). Therefore, your name is now (part or chip of a rock).” This reference to Christ as the chief cornerstone is found in Eph 2:20; 1 Peter 2:4‑8. Peter recognized that Christ, not himself or the Church, is the rock. The Church did not even exist in Mat 16. In addition, this analogy depicts Christ as the link between the two walls, Israel and the Church. He is the ruler of both. Christ is the chief cornerstone and Christians are the building, Zech 10:3-4, Psa 118:22 w/ Mat 21:42, 1 Peter 2:6-10, Eph 2:20-21.
Psa 118:22, “The stone which the builders rejected, has become the chief corner stone.”
The High Priest and the Kingdom of Priests. The rulership of Jesus Christ over the Church includes the fact that He is a ruler with another special title. He is our Royal High Priest, Heb 2:17; 3:1; 5:6, 10.
Heb 3:1, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.”
Heb 2:17, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
When the God‑Man ascended and was seated at the right hand of the Father He became a high priest, Heb 7:25, 10:10‑14.
As our High Priest in like form as man, He is qualified to be our advocate, Heb 2:18.
Heb 2:18, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
Because He is a Royal High Priest, every believer in the Church Age is a royal priest. Every believer in union with Christ is a royal priest. The analogy of the high priest and the royal priesthood is found in, 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6; 5:10, as we are called a kingdom of priests.
1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.”
In 1 Peter 2:5, we are called “holy priests” in the sense of being separated unto God for a special purpose.
And as royal people we are commanded to uphold the Royal Family Honor Code, grounded in impersonal unconditional love, James 2:8.
James 2:8, “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.”
The Last Adam and the New Creation. Jesus Christ is called the last Adam as the ruler of the Church, and the believers, the Church universal, is called the “new creation”, i.e., a new spiritual species, as found in 1 Cor 15:45‑47; cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15. The last Adam is Jesus Christ Himself, emphasizing His humanity. The “new creation” is important because it focuses attention on the Church during the intensified stage of the Angelic Conflict.
2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in (union with) Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Gal 6:15, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”
The Plan of God provided a bride for the first Adam. The first Adam had his right woman. She was made into a body from his rib. He fulfilled her and she completed him. God the Father said, “It is not good that Adam should be alone,” so He created a helpmate for him.
Likewise, the Plan of God provides a bride for the last Adam. So if the first Adam had a right woman, so should the last Adam. The right woman of the last Adam is the Church, “his body.” The rib in this analogy is the believers in union with Christ. On the Cross the last Adam was alone. The Father says, “It is not good that Adam should be alone.” Therefore, the Plan of God calls for the last Adam to have a body on the earth, a bride.
As such, Christ is the Head of a new creation and Christians are with Him in that creation as its vital members. We have a unique position and standing that had never occurred before. And based on our new creature status, we have not an earthly citizenship but a heavenly one, Phil 3:20.
Philp 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The first Adam was provided a woman by the Lord Jesus Christ. The last Adam, Jesus Christ, was provided by God the Father a body.
The Bridegroom and the Bride. The groom and the bride analogy is found in 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25‑27; Rev 19:6‑8.
2 Cor 11:2, “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”
This eschatological analogy speaks of the future of the Church as Royal Family of God. This will not be fulfilled until the wedding feast of the Lamb, just before the Second Advent. It takes seven years for the bride, the Church, to be prepared, including the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Rev 19:7, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”
And as His bride we will be displayed in our perfection and glory.
Rev 21:9, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb’.”
As the “Body of Christ” we are one body made up of many parts and members, which speaks to the variety and utilization of spiritual gifts, Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12-14; Eph 2:16; 4:4; Col 3:15; 1 Tim 4:14, Cf. Rom 11:29; Eph 4:7-8; Heb 2:4.
Eph 2:16, “And might reconcile them both (Jews and Gentiles) in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity (sin).”
Eph 4:4, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.”
Col 3:15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
1 Timothy 4:14, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift (found) within you.”
Rom 12:4-5, “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
1 Cor 12:12, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.”
Lists of spiritual gifts are given in Rom 12:6-8 and 1 Cor 12:28. A spiritual gift is a supernatural endowment of the Holy Spirit, whereby every Christian is empowered to perform a certain function which edifies the Church and glorifies God.
The distribution of spiritual gifts occurs at the moment of salvation and is necessary for the function of the Royal Family of God. They are utilized by the believer under the Filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 12:11.
1 Cor 12-14 tells us of the ordinances regarding the use of spiritual gifts, as Paul had to correct the church at Corinth for its abuse and misapplication of the gifts. In addition, 1 Cor 13:8-10 tells us that some of the gifts were temporary and only meant for the early church. When the “perfect comes,” meaning the complete canon of Scriptures, (i.e., the New Test.), many of the early gifts would cease to function as God’s Word would replace them. These temporary gifts are also called “sign” gifts, as they were a sign both to the early church and the Jews of God’s new administration called the Church Age.
1 Cor 13:8‑10 explains the temporary function of certain Spiritual Gifts, “Love is never phased out; but if the gift of prophecies, it will be cancelled out (KATARGEO – made idle, rendered inoperative, abolished, phased out, withdrawn); if the gift of tongues, it will be discontinued (PAUO – stop, cause to cease, rest from); if the gift of knowledge, it will be cancelled (KATARGEO). For we know in part (gift of knowledge), and we prophesy in part (gift of prophecy), but when the completed has come (New Testament canon), what is temporary (the temporary Spiritual Gifts) will be cancelled(KATARGEO).”
Therefore, there are two categories of Spiritual Gifts:
- Temporary Spiritual Gifts that were operational during the pre-canon period of the Church Age, i.e., from A. D. 30, the day of Pentecost when the Church Age began, to approximately A. D. 96 or sooner. On the day the Church Age began there was no New Testament. So temporary Spiritual Gifts were designed to take up the slack in the Church Age until the New Testament canon was completed and circulated, i.e., when the mystery doctrine of the Church Age was written down and able to be circulated.
The temporary gifts include the “sign gifts” of miracles, healings, tongues, interpretation of tongues and discerning spirits that are not found in the Body of Christ today, except in the counterfeit. In addition, the teaching / administration gifts of apostleship and prophet/prophecy no longer exist.
For example, it is significant that after the close of the “Acts” period, even at the end of the Apostle Paul’s earthly career, he wrote concerning a faithful saint in 2 Tim 4:20, “Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.” Apparently, Paul was not able to heal his close friend and companion later in his ministry. He wrote to Timothy in 1 Tim 5:23, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” In addition, he wrote in Phil 2:26-27 about his companion Epaphroditus, “he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” Therefore, we see that even the great apostle Paul was not able to apply the gift of healing in the later part of his ministry.
Furthermore, James 5:14 does not instruct the sick to look for a healer or for someone with the ability to heal. Rather it instructs the sick to call for the elders and they are to pray for him. This is basically in accordance with the procedure in non-charismatic churches, but is in direct contrast to what would be expected if the gift of healing were available for believers. Either the gift was not to be used to heal believers, or the only other option is that it had ceased.
- Permanent Spiritual Gifts that also functioned from the day of Pentecost and will continue until the Rapture of the Church, whenever that occurs. There are many permanent spiritual gifts still in full operation today and every believer of the Church Age receives one of these gifts, and maybe more, at the moment of their salvation.
The Permanent Gifts include: the gift of Pastor and Teacher, Evangelism, Administration / government / ruling, Ministering or Service, Helps, Exhortation, Giving, Showing Mercy, and Faith.
Before we understand the various gifts that are functioning today, I want to note the important passages of1 Cor 12:4-7 that tell us of the use and application of our gifts.
1 Cor 12:4-7, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
First note that all three members of the Trinity are actively functioning in the application of our spiritual gifts. As vs. 4 and 7 tell us, God the Holy Spirit is the giver and active agent in the application of our gifts as they are a manifestation of Him. In vs. 5, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ is actively involved in the ministry in which we apply our gift. And in vs. 6, we see that God the Father is involved in the effect (impact) of our ministry when we apply our spiritual gift. This also speaks to the Plan of God the Father for our lives.
“Varieties” is the Greek noun DIARIRESEIS, διαίρεσις that means “differences or distinctions,” and is a compound word from DIA meaning “through or because of” and AHIREO that means, “choose or prefer.” So we could say “through or because of preferences.” It means that which is divided and distributed on the basis of certain implied distinctions or differences.
This difference or distinction is not only in the spiritual gifts that we receive, but in the ministry and effect we have. So here we see that there are varieties of:
“Gifts,” CHARISMA, χάρισμα meaning, “a gift, grace or favor,” that speaks to the “spiritual gift” that is given to each believer that is a special ability, (not just a ministry or function), God gives to believers to strengthen the church so that it accomplishes His will in the world. It emphasizes God’s gracious role in the assigning of these gifts, Rom 12:3-8.
“Ministries,” DIAKONIA, διακονία meaning, “service, ministry, administrations, etc.” This too differs according to God’s decisions. It describes the tangible acts of service rendered to others as believers use their gifts. It is the functions and services of those having the “gifts” in the spiritual manifestation of God to help others and strengthen the Church. It is a useful service. Notice, it is always “the same Lord” who is served so it indicates the application of our spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ, Rom 12:9-21; Col 4:17.
Col 4:17, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
“Effects,” ENERGEMA, ἐνέργημα that means, “workings or operations.” It means the accomplishment of an act with an emphasis on the power to do it. All of the gifts, not just the miraculous ones, are graciously given, are intended to serve others and are accomplished by means of Divine power. “Workings” reveals both the availability and the effect of Divine power. It also speaks to the final results or “impact” of the application of your spiritual gift in a specific ministry by means of the power of God, (GPS) functioning within you, 2 Tim 4:5.
2 Tim 4:5, “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Therefore, the gift is the spiritual ability God has given to you in a specific area to use in a specific service or ministry that will have a specific outcome by means of the power of God to build and edify the body of Christ.
In 1 Cor 12:12-31 we have the analogy of body parts related to the application of our spiritual gifts, ministries and effects. It is likened to the team concept of sports teams. In comparison we see:
- Our spirit gift is like having a specific skill that qualifies us for a position on the team.
- Our service or ministry is like the position we have on the team to perform.
- Our operation or effect is like the responsibilities we have to be performed on the field or court.
Each variation has a different empowerment from the Godhead.
Gifts – the Holy Spirit, the giver and enabler. He gave us our gift; the skills needed to play on the team. (Using American football as an example: a person having good hands to catch the ball.)
Ministries – the Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of the humble servant in the prototype spiritual life. He determines the position we will play on the team. (For example a wide receiver.)
Effects – God the Father, the planner and designer, determines what the responsibilities of our position will be. (For example will this receiver be a deep threat or run short patterns over the middle.)
Overall, as noted in vs. 7, the indwelling Holy Spirit empowers each to perform to the fullest the task at hand in the position he has been given.
As such, the person with good hands will be a wide receiver and run short routes as ordained by God. Our job is then to use what we have been given, where we have been placed, in the manner in which we have been instructed with all the effort we can muster, body, soul and spirit, to do our job!
Even though we all have been given a spiritual gift in which we are to excel at in application of our spiritual life, 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God,” we are all commanded to exercise many of them in our daily walk even though they are not our gifts. This is called our “general service” as members of the body of Christ.
|Gifts given to some:||Command given to all for general service:|
|1. Teaching||1. Great commission, Mat 28:19|
|2. Evangelism||2. All witness, Acts 1:8|
|3. Ministering||3. Serve one another, Gal 5:13|
|4. Exhortation||4. Exhort one another, Heb 10:25|
|5. Giving||5. All give, 2 Cor 9:7|
|6. Showing Mercy||6. Be kind, Eph 4:32|
|7. Faith||7. Walk by faith, 2 Cor 5:7|
An interesting thing is that as you serve Christ generally in the application of these mandates, you will come to know what your specific spiritual gift is.
So there are several things you can do that will help you to discover your spiritual gift over time.
Educate yourself about the total package of gifts in your life, including:
- Your natural abilities. God-given at birth, they include things like I.Q., a measure of health and strength, musical talents, linguistic abilities, mechanical aptitudes, etc.
- Your acquired abilities. These include things like cooking, sewing, driving a car, learning a language, learning to play an instrument, etc. While we may tend to take such skills for granted, remember that many people in the world have few opportunities to acquire skills in these areas.
- Your spiritual gift(s). A believer should inform himself the function of each category of spiritual gift and try them out in general service.
Prepare yourself by taking every opportunity available to serve.
All believers have to perform inside the Plan of God for their lives under General Service / Ministry. It is our duty regardless of the spiritual gift we have been given. In fact, there are more scriptures regarding the general service we are to perform than there is regarding our particular spiritual gift and specific service. Unfortunately, many believers excuse themselves from general ministry because they say it is not part of their gift or specific service. Whether the service is applicable to your gift or not, is not the issue. The believer’s obligation is to obey the commands of Scripture. The imperatives of the Bible must be followed regardless of our spiritual gift or specific service. For example, the Pastor can help out from time to time in maintenance of the church, administration, personal evangelism, etc. He is not excused from general service just because he is a Pastor. Our spiritual gift equips us for a particular service or ministry that demands our attention, but it does not excuse us from every other service or ministry.
As Ryrie notes, “Gifts are both discovered and developed by activity. Practice brings perception of one’s total package of abilities, and practice develops those abilities. If you are seeking to discover your gift(s), then do not turn down opportunities to serve, even if you think they do not fall within the range of your abilities. God may be trying to tell you that you have abilities you do not recognize.”
The relationship between our responsibility toward general service and ministry and the exercise of your spiritual gift can be illustrated by my college education. In college, I majored in Human Resources Management. I took many courses in this field, but not all of my courses were in my major field. The University I attended prescribed a course of study that included a considerable number of “general requirement” courses as well, such as English, Mathematics, History, Sciences, Psychology, Sociology, etc. Even though my major was Human Resources Management these general courses helped to round me out as a professional and prepared me to better serve in my major field. And that is the key! Everything we do for God works together for good when we do it in love for Him. Our general service helps to round us out as believers so that our specific and overall service will be the best that it can be. But unfortunately, many believers want to minister only in the area of their gift, and they miss out on the important affects God has for them in performing general requirements as well. As a result, they will not be the best that God has intended them to be, even in their specific ministry and gift.
The benefit of general service or ministry is in discovering your specific spiritual gift(s) and specific ministry. By “testing the waters” you eventually discover what your specific gift and ministry is, also assuming you continue to grow spiritually through the consistent intake and application of the Word of God. Being obedient and faithful in general service / ministry will enable you to determine your spiritual gift(s) and specific ministry. This is so obvious many believers have overlooked it. The Spirit of God is at work in the life and (general) service / ministry of every believer. God is at work in you, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure,” Phil 2:13. It is only as you are growing spiritually and engaging in general service / ministry to one another that you will discover the God-given potential you have for your specific service / ministry.
My own personal experience has borne this out. I had an idea from my late teen years that I might have the gift of Pastor-Teacher, but in fact I did not become a Pastor until my 30’s. In between I served my church in a number of different capacities from painting walls, to removing old insulation, to passing out communion, to various plumbing work, to teaching in the prep / Sunday school, to substituting for my Pastor, etc. As a result, God focused my understanding of my gift and at the same time gave me a greater appreciation for what it takes to shepherd a church.
As Ryrie notes, “If you are active in doing what you can, then other opportunities may arise which will bring to light additional spiritual gifts. For example, when we first meet Philip in the Book of Acts we see him helping distribute the relief money to needy (and bickering) widows. (6:5). It is doubtful that before he undertook this ministry he sat down to decide whether or not he had that spiritual gift! Here was an opportunity to serve and he took it. He proved faithful in performing this menial task. The Lord then entrusted him with another ministry, that of evangelizing the Samaritans (8:5), and later, the Ethiopian eunuch. As he used that gift he became known as Philip the evangelist (21:8). But first he was Philip the helper of widows.”
Unfortunately, believers are going to seminars, reading books, and trying all kinds of fast track formulas to discover their gift or ministry when the key is found in living the Christian way of life by simply trusting and obeying God’s Word and just flat out serving generally. God’s Word tells us that every believer has a spiritual gift, 1 Cor 12:7, 11and 1 Peter 4:10 and if you are a born-again Christian, then you have at least one gift. Trust God and believe His Word and He will reveal it to you. And remember that among the many commands to minister, God’s Word instructs every believer to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 3:18; “admonish one another,” Rom 15:14; “encourage or exhort,” Heb 10:25; “witness,” Col 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15; and “help,” 1 Thes 5:14, one another. We must either obey these instructions and others like them as faithful servants of God or become unfaithful servants.
For every vital function of the Church, there are some who are specially gifted to perform that function. The way for you to discover your gift is to obey the Scriptures, carry out those functions to the best of your ability, and determine which of them God most blesses you to do. How then do you discover your spiritual gift? The answer: Grow in the grace and knowledge or our Lord Jesus Christ and obey the imperatives of the Bible related to general service / ministry.
Your Spiritual Gift is discovered on the basis of your specific ministry, and not that of others.
Each gift has a unique ministry application. Be careful not to think you do not have a specific gift and ministry because it is not like someone else’s. Attempting to discern your gift by comparing your service / ministry with those of others is a fatal flaw. Many times, believers try to define their spiritual gifts in terms of the ministry of well-known servants of God like Billy Graham who obviously has the gift of evangelism or the late Pastor Robert Thieme, Jr. who had the gift of Pastor-Teacher. Just because you may wrongly perceive that you do not measure up to the stature of others does not mean you do not have the same gift as they. Remember every gift has a unique ministry to perform and effect. Every believer possesses a spiritual gift; in addition, they have a specific ministry and a particular degree of effectiveness as ordained by God, 1 Cor 12: 4-7. For example, you might conclude that you do not have the gift of evangelism simply because you do not preach to large audiences from a stadium and have thousands respond. In this case you may be wrongly comparing your ministry and effectiveness with some of the giants of the Christian faith, 2 Cor 10:7-18.
Some specific action to discover your Spiritual Gift.
- Pray, ask God to make your ministry and your gift(s) evident, 1 Cor 14:13, (an example of prayer regarding a temporary gift); Phil 4:6and 1 Peter 4:4-10.
- Study the Scriptures, note the commands of the Bible, and ask God to give you insight into specific ways that you may put the imperatives of the Bible into practice, 2 Tim 2:15.
2 Tim 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”
- Look for needs about you, and consider how you may meet those needs, 1 Cor 10:24; 14:12.Take the initiative to get to know others and their needs and stop waiting for people to invite you in or have you over. Begin to proactively seek ways of serving others. Before you begin each day, consider a particular place that you are going to, pray about it and serve as the moment presents itself.
- Do not compare yourself with others. God has given you a spiritual gift with a unique ministry and effect. Just do what God has placed before you to do, and do it well.
- Always be sure you are filled with the Spirit when entering into service. You cannot exercise your Spiritual Gift without the filling of God the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18-21.
The following is a description of the Permanent Spiritual Gifts for the Church Age that make the body of Christ function. All other gifts have ceased with the completion of the Canon of Scripture, 1 Cor 13:8‑10.
Pastor-Teacher, POIMEN-DIDASKALOS, Shepherd and Teacher, Rom 12:7; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11-16, (“joint” is the P.T.); 1 Tim 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-3; John 21:15-17; Acts 18:24-28.
This is the ability to shepherd, provide for, care for, and protect God’s people. In Eph 4:11 teaching is linked to pasturing and in Acts 20:28 to ruling. It includes the ability to explain God’s truth to people. The Pastor-Teacher is one gift, (Granville-Sharp rule), having the supernatural ability to teach and to individually apply the truths of the Scriptures. This is the highest rank of authority for the communication gifts remaining in the Church Age today. There is no higher authority spiritual gift. It is given to male believers only, 1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6, and is designed to function primarily inside the local church. The pastor is not an administrator; he is a policy maker. One of his titles, as found in Eph 4:11, says he has the responsibility of seeing that the policy of administration lines up with the Word of God, and that it is a policy that fulfills the concepts of the New Testament. But he himself does not involve himself in administration. A Pastor should have nothing to do with the “handling” of money in the church, nor with the building and how it functions. He makes policy for the funds to be applied to and the building to adhere to, but the Pastor is not administratively responsible for the inter-workings. Every pastor is the dean of a Bible training school; which school is composed of those members in the Church of Christ committed unto him.
Application for the Gift of Pastor -Teacher in general service can be found in Rom 15:4-6, 14; Eph 5:25-27; 6:4; Col 3:16; Titus 2:3-4; 2 Thes 3:15; Prov 31:26.
Evangelism, EUAGGELISTES, an evangelist, a bringer of good news. From EU – good, well done and AGGELOS – a messenger, Eph 4:11; Acts 8:5-6; 26-40; 24:8 (Philip the Evangelist).
This is the ability to proclaim the Gospel message with exceptional clarity. Also included in this is the idea that the ministry of an evangelist was itinerant. It might also be done publicly or privately. Whether or not one has the gift of evangelism all believers are to be witnesses. The gift is the supernatural ability to effectively communicate the gospel and win the lost to Christ. While the gift of Pastor-Teacher communicates the whole realm of doctrine to the saved inside the local church, the gift of Evangelism is designed to communicate the gospel to the unsaved outside the local church. The male believer with the gift of Evangelism has the God-given ability to communicate the gospel in a manner that holds the unbeliever’s attention. This is the spiritual gift by which people will gather or assemble to listen to the presentation of the gospel. These unbelievers will give attention and listen to the evangelist, where they would not listen to anyone else. His gift is designed to reach the unreachable with the gospel message. He has the ability to teach and express the gospel so that unbelievers will listen and have a clear understanding of the issue of salvation; i.e., that faith in Christ means eternal life, and that rejection of Christ means eternal condemnation. Every evangelist must learn doctrine from his right Pastor-Teacher.
Often an evangelist will have a speaking talent that goes with his gift, but it is actually the gift that provides hearing from the unbeliever. When this spiritual gift functions, the unbeliever will listen to the gospel almost by compulsion. The man with this gift is sensational in his communication of the gospel to the unbeliever. He is a sensational speaker with a sensational personality; this is necessary in order to get a hearing from unbelievers. Such a person can hold the attention of unbelievers.
Application for the gift of Evangelism can be found in 2 Cor 5:19-20; Col. 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15.
Administration (a.k.a. LEADER, RULER), Rom 12:8; 1 Cor 12:28.
This is the ability to rule in the church. In Rom 12:8 the Greek word is PROISTEMI that comes from PRO meaning before and HISTEMI meaning to make to stand. Combined it means, “to put before, to stand before, to set over, to rule, or to preside.” He who leads must do so with diligence (SPOUDE – haste, eagerness, earnestness).”
In 1 Cor 12:28 the Greek word is KUBERNESIS, “to steer, guide, or govern.” It is used for “governments or administrations.”
The two Greek words describe the two parts of this gift. It entails both authority and leadership, and the function of administration. Therefore, the gift of Administration is the supernatural ability to lead others. This is the gift of administrative leadership. Those who serve in the local church who have this gift have delegated authority from the Pastor. Those with the gift of Administration will clearly understand the immediate and long-range goals of the local assembly and devise and execute effective plans for the accomplishment of those goals.
This spiritual gift is typically held by deacons and those on the Board of Directors. Likewise, those who fulfill administrative responsibilities on missionary boards; leaders of Christian service organizations; those who lead and administer the training of children in the local church; church officers and chairmen of standing committees or other organizations within the local church may have this gift.
Apparently, this gift is given to men only. Men with this administrative leadership spiritual gift must chair the various committees in the local church; such as the church office committee, finance committee, membership committee, missionary committee, nursery committee, prep school committee, property committee, and usher’s committee. (Those who serve on committees must have the gift of ministry or service.)
There are two kinds of Deacons: 1) Those with the administrative leadership gift and 2) those with the service administrative gift, called the gift of ministry or the gift of service, as we will see below.
It is the responsibility of the Pastor to identify men who have this gift and appoint them into the appropriate slot. The pastor who fails to do this eventually becomes the loser himself. The very existence of this gift emphasizes the fact that the primary responsibility of the Pastor is not administration. The gift of administration, then, is linked to the function of the local church.
One important distinction must be made. A person can be great in administrating some business or organization, but that does not necessarily mean he has this spiritual gift. The gift of administration calls for more than simply effective administrative function. It is a spiritual gift, which is sensitive to the needs of the local church and how they are best administered, coupled with the supernatural ability to lead others towards the accomplishment of those needs.
As a side note, in 1 Tim 3:4-5, 12, the Pastor and Deacons are to rule their household well as a qualification for their offices. In addition, those Pastors who rule their congregations well are to be honored (supported financially) by their local assembly, 1 Tim 5:17; 1 Thes 5:12, Heb 13:7.
Application for the gift of Administration can be found in 1 Cor 14:40, “All things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” See also Rom 16:1-2, (helper = PROSTATIS feminine of PROISTEMI); Eph 5:23-6:9; 1 Tim 1:4; also in Titus 3:8, 14, (i.e., maintain or engage).
Ministry / Service, DIAKONIA meaning, “service or ministry.” It is from DIAKONOS meaning, “a servant or minister,” Rom 12:7.
DIAKONIA is a spiritual gift of service given to both men and women. Some confusion arises because DIAKONIA resembles DIAKONOS, 1 Tim 3:8-10, 12-13, which is transliterated “deacon,” but DIAKONIA actually refers to the gift of service or ministering, where the person possessing it may or may not serve as a Deacon of the church.
DIAKONOS is the office in the local church, held by a man serving on the Board of Deacons, and as we noted above, the PROISTEMI and KUBERNESIS or the male DIAKONIA are the ones with spiritual gifts of Administrative Leadership or Service who serve on the Board of Deacons or Directors. The Deacon, who is the chairman of a committee, has the gift of Administration. Those who serve on the committee (male or female) have the gift of ministry or service. This makes for effective administrative function in the local church. Therefore, this gift, DIAKONIA, functions in the administration of the local church. Those who have this spiritual gift should serve on committees and in specific administrative functions in the local church, on mission boards, or in Christian service organizations. This spiritual gift is strictly administrative without the leadership function provided by the Holy Spirit
Although women cannot have the first three spiritual gifts, they can have this spiritual gift. This explains the feminine form, “deaconess,” (DIAKONON) in Rom 16:1. No woman has the gift of Pastor-Teacher, the gift of Evangelism, or the gift of Administration. But this should not keep ladies from teaching children, from personal witnessing, or from functioning in the administration of the church if they have the gift of service.
Application can be found in: 1 Cor 12:5; 2 Cor 6:4; 9:12; Gal 5:13; Eph 4:12; Rev 2:19; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:2-3.
Helps, is the noun ANTILEMPSIS that means, “help, support-gift, helpful deed or relief,” in 1 Cor 12:28 and comes from ANTI, “instead of,” and LAMBANO that means, “to take hold of or to support.” ANTILEMPSIS is the opposite of taking; it is giving or helping. It is a laying hold of, the ability to help, a helper, or one who aids. It also can mean perception with the sense of knowing what others need. It is a Hapaxlegomena, which means it is used only once in the New Testament.
The verb form is used three times in Scripture, Luke 1:54: Acts 20:35; 1 Tim 6:2. Thayer defines the verb ANTILAMBANOMAI as: 1) to lay hold of, hold fast to anything; 2) to take a person or thing in order as it were to be held, to take to, embrace, 3) to help, to be a partaker of, partake of (the benefits of the services rendered by the slaves). It is used in
Those with the gift of “helps” are not necessarily people in positions of authority. Instead, they are individuals with resources, (both spiritual and physical), which others lack. As such the gift of “helps,” involves the giving and sharing of those resources with those who can benefit from them.
This spiritual gift functions by helping and ministering to others including the sick, the afflicted, the handicapped, and the helpless. It is the supernatural ability to invest in the life and ministry of others, thereby enabling them in their ministry and effectiveness while increasing their success.
It is held by men and women. This gift is possessed by thousands of believers and is very important. It is this gift that makes the Royal Family tick. It is the most sustaining gift, and it provides the real stability in a local church. It is a marvelous thing to behold. It is this gift which functions by visiting the sick and those in hospitals. It is not the Pastor’s responsibility to call on the sick, but for those who have the spiritual gift of Helps. This is their great and magnificent function. This is the spiritual gift that really undergirds all the other spiritual gifts. It can be extended inside or outside the church. It can function to both believers and unbelievers. Possibly one difference between the gift of ministry or service and the gift of helps is that ministry or service functions within the church, whereas the gift of helps functions both inside and outside the local church.
Application can be found in: Acts 20:35, 1 Thes 5:14.
Exhortation, is the noun PARA-KLESIS or the verb PARAKALEO in Rom 12:8, that means, “exhortation, encouragement or comfort.” This involves the ability to encourage, comfort and admonish people.
PARAKALEO is the root verb meaning, “to call to or for, to exhort, to encourage; that is appeal, beg, or to call near.” It also can mean, “to invite, invoke (by imploration or consolation), beseech, call for, be of good comfort, desire, give exhortation, entreat or pray.” It is a compound word from PARA meaning, “near or nearby, beside, by the side of, by, etc.” and KALEO that means, “to call.”
The noun PARAKLESIS comes from the root verb and means, “a calling to one’s aid, i.e. encouragement, comfort, appeal, consolation, exhortation, urging, imploration, solace in the sense of comfort, and entreaty.”
A cognate of PARAKLESIS is used as a title for the Holy Spirit to describe His ministry in the Church Age; PARAKLETOS in John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7. It is translated “helper” but could also be translated “comforter or exhorter.”
In classical Greek it was used to mean, “one who is called or sent for to assist,” and was used in legal contexts where it referred to one who was called to assist or defend another who had been accused of something. The kind of assistance offered in a court of law was not part of the formal jurisprudence but a personal act of friendship. In non-legal contexts it was used in the same manner. For example, one who encouraged soldiers before a battle was called a PARAKLETOS. So we see further description and amplification of the role of the believer who has the Spiritual Gift of Exhortation.
Exhortation is the supernatural ability to encourage, counsel, comfort, admonish, warn, and advise others going through the spiritual warfare of the Angelic Conflict. This gift is also described as anyone who is honest with you as a friend. It is the special ability to minister words of comfort, consolation, encouragement and counsel to other members of the Body of Christ, so that they feel helped and healed. Being different from plain teaching, it is an appeal for action. It is the practical aspect of a preaching ministry. It leads people into the active realization of the will of God.
“The primary purpose of exhortation is not necessarily a call for the self-activity of the individual, but to encourage the individual’s affirmative response by faith to the sanctifying grace of Christ. Exhortations do not encourage believers to fight against sin in their own strength so they might conquer it. On the contrary, believers are exhorted to participate in their sanctification by faith, the evidence of which will be an actual separation from the reign of sin, cf. Rom 6:2, 12; Col 3:5.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary.)
It is Gal 4:16, “Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?” balanced with 2 Tim 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”
Applications of Exhortation can be found in: Acts 15:36f, 2 Cor 1:4; Phil 2:1-8; Heb 3:13; 10:25; 1 Thes 4:18; 5:11, 14; 1 Tim 4:13.
Giving, METADIDOMI is a compound word from the preposition META meaning, “with or among” and DIDOMI meaning, “to give.” So METADIDOMI comes to mean, “to give over, give a share of, share, impart, or bestow.” It indicates the giving or granting of something from the store or abundance of one’s resources. It is used for the spiritual gift in Rom 12:8, and is the ability to be very generous with what means one has. It should be exercised with “liberality,” i.e., simplicity: generously with no thought of return or self-gain.
This gift is the supernatural ability to contribute material resources to the work of the Lord with liberality and cheerfulness to meet the physical (mainly financial) needs of others. It is the ability to be very generous with the means you have, committing earthly possessions to the Lord for His use. It is primarily in the form of materialism but can be of time or talent as well, ergo the phrase, “time, talent or treasure.”
In Rom 12:8 this gift is to be exercised “with liberality.” Liberality is the Greek noun HAPLOTES, which comes to mean, “singleness, simplicity, liberality, sincerity, mental honesty, purity, or generosity, and the virtue of one that is free from pretense and hypocrisy. It means not self-seeking and openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity, copious bestowal and bountifulness. This means that giving should be exercised with simplicity, which means with no thought of return or self-gain and with no strings attached.
HAPLOTES comes from the adjective HAPLOUS meaning, “simple, single or clear.” This is a compound word from the Greek Negative A and PLOOS meaning, “voyage,” which is from PLEO meaning, “to sail.” So it comes to mean, “not to sail away.” In other words, to not take the materialistic blessings God has given to you singularly for your own adventure or voyage, but to share those blessings with others.
This is a special spiritual gift given to both rich and poor for the extravagant use of their earthly possessions in providing for the needs of both believers and Christian institutions. This would include their local church, missions, Christian service organizations, the destitute and needy, and those who are financially helpless.
A person with the spiritual gift of giving will give sacrificially. There are two types of believers who have this gift: rich and poor. If you have this gift, you will give sacrificially, assuming you are growing spiritually on a consistent basis. If you have the gift, God will provide for the poor and for the rich to give sacrificially. If you do not have this gift, you are still obligated under general service to have the mental attitude desire to give, whether you are able to give or not, and to do so without compulsion or obligation, 2 Cor 9:7.
The application of this gift can be found in: Mark 12:41-44, (the widow’s mite); 1 Cor 9:9f; 1 Cor 9:14; 2 Cor 8:1-9; 9:1-15; Gal 6:6; 1 Thes 5:12-13; 1 Tim 5:17-18; 6:18-19.
Showing Mercy, is the verb ELEEO, (el-eh-eh’-o) in Rom 12:8, that means, “have mercy or pity on (someone) or show mercy.” It means to help someone afflicted or seeking aid, and to bring help to the wretched. Its noun usage is ELEOS, which means, “mercy, pity or compassion,” that is kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them. It also means, “to exercise the virtue of mercy, and to show yourself merciful.” The word focuses upon acts of kindness between individuals who have a mutual relationship. The closer the relationship, the more mercy is expected when needed. Like the gift of serving and helps, this involves aiding, particularly those who are sick and afflicted.
Showing Mercy is the supernatural ability to visibly demonstrate love and compassion to the unlovely. This person will feel genuine empathy and compassion for individuals, both Christian and non-Christian, who suffer distressing physical, mental or emotional problems, those who may be suffering persecutions and for those who are victims of tyranny. They translate their compassion into cheerfully done deeds, which reflect Christ’s love, in order to alleviate the suffering. It is similar to the gift of Helps, which also focuses on the weak, sick, needy and poor, whereas Showing Mercy is directed toward those who are sick, afflicted or persecuted. Therefore, it is perhaps more dramatic than the gift of helps.
Rom 12:8 carries with the gift an implication that the person with this gift may not like what they are challenged with or face. That is why we have the addition of the phrase, “with cheerfulness.” Cheerfulness is the Greek noun HILAROTES used only here in the New Testament, (a Hapaxlegomena), that means, “cheerfulness or graciousness.” Thayer adds to the definition, “readiness of mind,” which is why we say virtue is necessary for the application of this gift.
HILAROTES comes from the adjective HILAROS used in 2 Cor 9:7 to describe the mental attitude of the giver. It means, “cheerful, joyous, prompt to do anything, propitious, merry or graciousness.” It is where we get our English word hilarious from, and the Latin HILARITAS, but the meaning is quite different. The root word for both of these is the adjective HILEOS meaning, “propitious, gracious, kindly, gentle or merciful,” as in Heb 8:12. Adverbially it was a Hebraism used to say “God be gracious!” or “far be it!” or “God forbid!” as in Mat 16:22, with the sense of averting some calamity.
So this “cheerfulness” or virtue is necessary because when we are faced with the unlovely of this world, it can be depressing and discouraging on many levels. But we are not to look at the condition for our happiness or as motivation for service. We are to apply God’s Word, resting in Him and relying on the inner peace and happiness we have gained through His Spirit and Word, in order to serve in this gift or even generally. We are to operate with the virtue of God in us. That is why Rom 12:8 commands that “cheerfulness” accompanies the function of this spiritual gift using the Dative of Manner. Therefore, showing mercy is a virtue that all believers can possess under grace, but the gift of Showing Mercy is the supernatural ability to deliver mercy to those who otherwise may not receive it from man, yet still calls for a cheerful mental attitude. When Rom 12:8 was written, it was dangerous to help Christians who were imprisoned or under persecution because of their belief. Hence, this spiritual gift is always related to courageous acts of mercy.
The application of this gift can be found in: Mat 5:7; 18:21-33; 25:34-40, Luke 10:33-37; Acts 16:33-34; 2 Cor 4:1; Gal 6:16; 1 Tim 1:16; 2 Tim 1:16; Heb 4:16; James 1:27; 2:13; 3:17; 1 Peter 2:10-12; Jude 1:2, 17-23.
Mat 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled worship in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Faith, is the Greek noun PISITS that means, “faith or faithful” and sometimes Bible doctrine. It is used for the spiritual gift in 1 Cor 12:9; 13:2. Its root word is the verb PEITHO meaning, “to persuade, to have confidence or to be assured.” PISTIS can also mean conviction of the truth of anything, with the idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. So it is belief with the predominate idea of trust or confidence, whether in God or in Christ, or in His Word, springing from faith in the same. It can also mean the character of one who can be relied on.
This gift is the supernatural ability to believe God for the supply of specific needs. Every believer should walk by faith and each has a measure of faith, but not all have the gift of faith. This gift has been debated as to being a permanent verses temporary gift, but here we are treating it as a permanent gift.
The person with this gift discerns with extraordinary confidence and conviction the will and purpose of God for his service or ministry. It manifests itself not so much in the trust of Jesus Christ as Savior, but more so by having unalterable confidence in God in respect to His power and love working in the details of their lives, supplying their every need and guiding their steps. Having this confidence in their own affairs, they are able to share that confidence with those around them.
This must be distinguished from the Faith‑Rest Drill. This is a special spiritual gift whereby a believer demonstrates faith while being in a group that is being persecuted or under some special pressure. While others are fearful and without faith, this believer exercises great conviction in deliverance by God or in confidence that God’s will, will be done. In the process they encourage the group to do the same.
This person exercises his gift of Faith on behalf of the group to comfort them with Biblical promises and doctrine. If a group of believers is about to go to the lions, the one with the gift of Faith stands up and demonstrates great courage, confidence and peace. This in turn positively affects the courage and faith in God of the others.
It is more than claiming promises from the Word to apply. It is complementary to the promises and doctrines of the Bible, so that others will learn how to apply the Faith‑Rest Drill. This is noted by extension in 1 Cor 13:2, “If I have all faith so as to remove mountains.” One definition of the moving of mountains is the removal of fear, worry, and anxiety from the soul caused by giving over to the temptations of the sin nature during times of adversity, disaster, trials and tribulations. Those with the gift of Faith will greatly encourage others by demonstrating great courage and exhorting them to walk in faith too while under pressure.
In addition, the believer with this gift may be a “prayer warrior,” someone who is faithful in offering up prayers for those around them who are in need. By demonstrating confidence in prayer they will lead others to have confidence in prayer and to wait patiently on the timing of the Lord for the answers to their prayers.
The application of this gift can be seen in the general service principles found in: Acts 27:21-25; Rom 4:18-21; 2 Cor 5:7; Eph 4:13; 6:16; Phil 1:21-30; Titus 2:10; Heb 11:all; James 1:5-7.
2 Cor 5:7, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”
Titus 2:10, “…showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”
We conclude Chapter One with “The fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
“Fullness” is the noun PLEROMA, πλήρωμα and “who fills” is the Present, Middle, Participle, (in the Genitive Singular) of the verb PLEROO, πληρόω.
PLEROMA means, “That which fills, complement, fulfillment, that which makes something complete, full number, abundance, and fullness.”
PLEROO is the root verb that means, “Fill, make full, supply fully, complete, accomplish, bring about, bring to completion, or fulfill.” In the Middle voice it means Christ, the Head of the body, fills (for Himself) the Church with blessings.
In this passage the context is the Church, the body of Christ which is “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” It means that Christ’s body, the Church, is to be the full expression of God in the present world. And as individual members of His body, we have been given spiritual gifts which are to be used as the manifestation of God here on earth. Therefore, the Church, (all believers in any given generation), is the manifestation of God on earth that fills “all in all,” which means we are the physical working and functioning ministry of God here on earth during the Church Age. It indicates that the Church is filled with God’s Divine attributes and that the Church receives its fullness from Christ, who is receiving complete fullness from God, as He builds the body of Christ through the Church. It also speaks of Christ giving all things, namely gifted people, to the Church.
This is a somewhat difficult verse to translate from the Greek, as the verb can be rendered Middle or Passive, the double use of PLEROO and PAS for “all” and “all things.” So we let the Bible interpret itself as we compare this with Eph 4:10-13.
Eph 4:10-13, “He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. 11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
In addition, we note that PLEROO has four emphases within Scripture that relate here.
- It means to fill up a deficiency. The lack of a right woman for the last Adam is fulfilled by the Church. The whole purpose of the Church Age is to give the last Adam His right woman.
- It means to fully possess. Jesus Christ as the right man fully possesses the Church which is His body, His bride.
- It means to fully influence. Jesus Christ fully influences His body on earth through Bible doctrine. Jesus Christ makes love to the believer through Bible doctrine only. As a believer responds to doctrine, he responds to the love of Jesus Christ.
- It means to fill with a certain quality. Through Bible doctrine, Christ fills the believer with the perfect quality of spiritual maturity by means of grace.
And “all” means there are no exceptions among believers; the filling is “by means of all (believers of the Church Age.) It takes all believers to make the body of Christ in the Church Age.
This ends Paul’s prayer. He prayed that the believers might know God more personally and intimately. After demonstrating that believers have all spiritual blessings, Eph 1:3-14, Paul prayed, vs. 15-16, that believers would come to know God intimately, vs. 17, in order that they might know three facts:
- That they might know the hope of His calling, which looks at the past. This is the past call of salvation that produced hope in us, 18a.
- The wealth of God’s glorious inheritance in the believers, which looks to the future. This is the future inheritance that God has in His saints, 18b.
- The greatness of His power, which looks at the present time, 19-22. This is the present power of God that is available to believers, which:
- Was manifested in the past in Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension, 20.
- Will be manifested in the future in Christ’s headship over creation, by subjecting all things under Christ’s authority, 21-22a.
- Is presently manifested in Christ’s headship over the Church, by giving Him to the Church, 22b.
This prayer is built upon God’s enrichment of believers with every spiritual benefit for their spiritual well-being. Paul was not asking God for these three items, for the Ephesians or for us today, as they and we already possess(ed) them. Rather, He was asking that the believers might grasp these concepts as a result of knowing God more intimately, and that they might deepen their relationship with God by knowing Him more intimately through being filled with His moral excellence and power by means of His Word resident with our souls. He prayed that believers, who enjoy intimate fellowship with God, will experience a life full of joy and power, just as they will enjoy the benefits of being God’s inheritance.