The Book of Ephesians ~ Chapter 4:16-17 ~ The Proper Working of our Spiritual Gifts Causes the Body of Christ to Grow; Do not Walk as the Unbeliever Walks

Vol. 15 No. 35 – September 18, 2016

 eph-4-vs-16-for-09-18-16-wordThe Believer’s Walk Based on His High Calling

Vs. 16

Eph 4:16, “From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

Doctrine of Joints or Ligaments

  • Definition and Description. HAPHE, “joint or ligament,” is used metaphorically for the Pastor-Teacher who teaches the Word of God that fits and holds together the Body of Jesus Christ, and allows for motion and coordination.
  • Joints are the basis for exercise and building strength in the body.
  • Joints provide body action. By analogy, every function and action in life must be motivated by thought energy. For the spiritual life, it is Divine viewpoint established in your soul from metabolized Bible doctrine: EPIGNOSIS and SOPHIA Doctrine. Body action can be described in terms of expending tremendous energy. The Pastor provides the omnipotent Word of God to produce spiritual power in your life.
  • Joints provide body coordination. Without the function of the joints, there would be neither body action nor body coordination. Without the faithful teaching of the Pastor, there would be no fulfillment of the Plan of God, no invisible heroes to have impact: Personal, Historical, International, Angelic, or Heritage.

Next, we have, “according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

In the second half of the final verse of our section, we see that in addition to the fact that a mature Christian will be stable and obedient, it also will result in a coordinated “body” with each member fulfilling his function. Just as the human body grows as a total organism with each part being involved, so the body of Christ grows when believers allow Christ His rightful place in their hearts, as they do their part in the total process.

According to the proper working of each individual part,” tells us that the Pastor does not build the Church on his own, but that it takes all of us working together to build the body of Jesus Christ. The Pastor has an important role to play by teaching the truth of God’s Word and nothing but the truth, yet every individual member must do their part as well.

According to” is the Preposition KATA that tells us of God’s Plan for the building of the body of Christ through each individual believer working in conjunction with the other members of the body.

The proper” is the Dative singular of EN METRON that means, “measure.”

The broad meaning of this word  includes the standard by which something is measured. We noted this word in vs. 13, regarding the standard measurement for our spiritual growth being that of Jesus Christ’s, which we are able to emulate. Here, it represents the standard that God has assigned or allotted to each individual part in the exercise of their spiritual gift. In other words, God has a plan for your life and the exercise of your spiritual gift. We are to follow that plan, and never think we need to do more or less, than what God has planned for us. That is what Paul was saying in 2 Cor 10:13, “But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you.”

Two things come from this.

  • First you should never fool yourself, if you are living inside of Satan’s cosmic system and not having much spiritual impact that that is all God has designed for you to do, thereby remaining in the cosmic system and not advancing spiritually and not having much impact.
  • Second, if you are living inside of God’s Plan for your life and having impact, you should never think that you are a failure because you are not doing more.

God has allotted or assigned our gift, service for application of our gift, and the effect or impact we would have utilizing our gift inside of His Plan, 1 Cor 12:4-7.

“Proper” also means to utilize your spiritual gift in the way God has designed it for the Church Age. Remember there are pre-Canon gifts and post-Canon gifts. We should not claim or try to use pre-Canon gifts in the post-Canon era. Likewise, we are not to bastardize, abuse or wrongly apply our spiritual gifts. Tongues is a great example of a pre-Canon gift that some try to apply in the post-Canon era. In trying to apply that gift today, they do not even use it in the right way, that is, to speak in a legitimate foreign language for today, one that they never learned or spoke before, so that those whose native tongue it is, can understand their message, which should be the gospel of Jesus Christ or the truth of Bible doctrine principles found in the Word of God. But because we have the completed Canon of Scripture that is translated into just about every language in the world, this gift is no longer necessary. But as always we leave room for the grace of God, where there may be a tribe deep in the jungle somewhere who do not have a Bible translation or anyone who can speak that language, where a missionary could come in and speak their language to give them the gospel. If this were to occur, it would be extremely rare. However, if you ask any missionaries today, the first thing they do is try to learn the native language. Therefore, “proper” also means doing a right thing in a right way.

Then we have “working” which is ENERGEIA, ἐνέργεια that means, “working, power, or efficiency.” We have noted this word twice previously in Eph 1:19; 3:7. In both of those instances, it was concerning the power of God working in our lives, including the giving of spiritual gifts cf. Phil 3:21; Col 1:29; 2 12; 2 Thes 2:9, 11.

It should be translated, “according to the operational power.” The operational power is God the Holy Spirit controlling the Pastor-Teacher in his preparation and teaching, and controlling the Royal Priests in their listening and learning of God’s Word. God the Holy Spirit is the One who makes every part of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP), function from the deliverance to the reception.

In our passage, ENEREGIA refers to the application of our spiritual gift, which, as you know, can only be accomplished through the power of God working in us. That means that the Word of God must be resident and applied within our souls and we must be filled with the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit.

Col 1:28-29, “And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

When we are in line with the Word and Spirit, the power of God is “working” inside of us and in the appropriate application of our spiritual gifts.

This “proper working” is “of each individual part,” which is from the Adjective HEKASTOS, “each or every,” the Cardinal number HEIS, “one,” and MEROS, “part, portion, piece, or allotment.” Therefore, the whole is benefited when each individual part does their job. God has a Plan for each one of us. When we execute and fulfill that Plan, the whole body is blessed and God’s Plan for the overall body is fulfilled. This does not say that if we do not fulfill God’s Plan for our individual lives, His overall Plan fails too. We have to keep in mind God’s Omniscience and Omnipotence. If one member fails, God will raise up another so that His overall Plan is fulfilled.

However, in our passage, when we do our part inside the body of Christ it, “causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

“Causes the growth” is POIEO, “to do or make,” Ho AUXESIS that means, “growth or increase.”

POIEO, ποιέω is in the Present, Middle, Indicative. The Extending from Past Present tense is for action begun in the past that continues into the present, with the emphasis being on the present times. The Middle Voice says the action has an effect or benefit back to the one who is producing the action. The Indicative mood is for the reality that when we do our jobs individually, the collective body of Jesus Christ grows. So this encompasses the overall process of the provisions from Jesus Christ giving His Church prepared Pastor-Teachers who do their job so that each individual member can to their job too. When all is in coordination, the body of Christ grows. Therefore, when we function in our spiritual gifts towards others, it has a benefit back to us as members of the Body of Christ, in that we too will grow spiritually and be part of a stronger body.

Growth,” is the noun AUXESIS, αὔξησις that refers to the increase or growth of that which lives either physically or spiritually. But, in the NT only, in regard to spiritual growth, it is used for the spiritual growth of the members of the Church as the body of Christ. It is used only here and in the parallel verse of Col 2:19, where both the Verb AUXANO and the Noun AUXESIS are used and states that the Church “grows as God causes it to grow.” Therefore, the exhortation in our passage is that we individually, in the exercise of our spiritual gift, have an impact on the overall body of Christ, to increase its numbers and increase its level of spiritual maturity. God uses us all in that endeavor, not just the communication gifts.

This growth is “of the body,” HO SOMA meaning the body of Jesus Christ, of which He is the head, and “for the building up,” which EIS, “unto,” and OIKODOME, “building, edifice, or edification.”

This building up or edification that means, “spiritual growth,” that also has a benefit back to ourselves using the Middle voice, goes with  the next words, “of itself,” which is the personal Pronoun, HEAUTOU, meaning “himself, herself, or one’s self.” Therefore, the individual who serves others with their spiritual gift has an impact on the overall body of Jesus Christ and on themselves. Both increase or grow spiritually.

Our last words tell us of the sphere in which we apply our spiritual gifts, “in Love,” the Dative case of EN plus AGAPE, that means impersonal and unconditional love, as we noted above in 1 Cor 13:4-7. The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, says that AGAPE, “Expresses a love that wills to initiate a relationship and shows kindness and self-sacrifice regardless of whether the object of the love is worthy or even likable. Thus, it is a love that does not depend on emotional response. Rather, it is an expression of the nature and character of the one who loves.”

As a believer Priest and Ambassador, as well as, a member of the Royal Family of God, AGAPE love can only be expressed through us when we are saturated with God’s Word and are filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in the exercise of our beneficial spiritual gift, we are to do so in the sphere of God’s AGAPE love, 1 John 4:16.

1 Cor 13:1-3, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

1 Cor 13:13, “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Pastor-Teachers are placed in the Church by Christ to help equip the saints so they in turn can minister and help others mature in the Lord. Even the Apostles were concerned about being able to give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word, Acts 6:4, and a careful study of chapter 6 will show that the Apostles considered themselves, “in the service of the Word” or “the deacon of the Word.” The first obligation of Shepherd-Pastors is to pray and expound God’s Word. If the Pastor is not allowed to focus in those areas, the congregation can grow only to a certain point, because one person can accomplish only so much. However, it is refreshing to see a local assembly where most of the members are involved in some kind of ministry. That church will be a growing assembly, meeting the needs of people in the area and reaching the lost for Christ. They will personally grow spiritually, and at the same time grow and edify the overall body of Jesus Christ.

We now begin the second half of Chapter 4 that includes vs. 17-32.

By way of review, in the first half of Chapter 4 the main theme was, “The Believer’s Walk in Unity; God’s Plan for Faithful Living in the Church to Build the Church,” Eph 4:1-16.

Concerning our “walk in unity,” this half was broken down into three sections including:

  • The Appeal to Preserve Unity, walking worthy of the calling by which we have been called, Eph 4:1-3.
  • The Basis for Unity, The seven unities given to us by God, Eph 4:4-6.
  • The Means of Unity, The ministry gifts of Christ given to His body, Eph 4:7-16, where we also noted two sub topics including:
  • Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension proclaimed, as well as being the giver of gifts, vs. 8-10.
  • The purpose of our gifts; building up of the body of Christ, individually and collectively, vs. 12-16.

Now in the second half of Chapter 4, we will note, “The Believer’s Walk in Righteousness; God’s Pattern and Principles for Members of the Church and His Standards for Faithfulness in the Church,” Eph 4:17-32.

This half is broken down into two sections:

  • The Previous Walk of the Old Life, Eph 4:17-19.
  • The Present Walk of the New Life, Eph 4:20-32, that has two points.
  • The New Man in Christ Jesus, vs. 20-29.
  • The Believer as Indwelt by the Spirit, vs. 30-32.

Having seen in the first half, God’s prescription for “The Practice of Believers,”

  • In Relation to Other Believers, Eph 4:1-6.
  • In Relation to Spiritual Gifts, Eph 4:7-16.

Now we will note the practice of believers:  In Relation to the Former Life, Eph 4:17-32.

In addition, as we have seen, our spiritual walk in Christ should be:

  • A walk that is worthy, Eph 4:1-3.
  • A walk that expresses doctrinal unity, Eph 4:4-6.
  • A walk in application of our ministry of gifts, Eph 4:7-16.

Now in the second half we see that our spiritual walk should also be:

  • A walk as a regenerated man, Eph 4:17-29.
  • A walk as indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Eph 4:30-32.

Therefore, we begin the second half of Chapter 4 with the backdrop theme:

The Believer’s Walk in Righteousness: God’s Pattern and Principles for Members of the Church and His Standards for Faithfulness in the Church, Eph 4:17-32.

Section 1: The Previous Walk of the Old Life, Eph 4:17-19.

Here we will note the practice of believers in relation to the former life, Eph 4:17-32, and that our spiritual walk should be as a regenerated man, Eph 4:17-29.

Vs. 17

Eph 4:17, “This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind.”

It begins in the Greek with a demonstrative Pronoun HOUTOS that means, “this, this one, he, or and at that.” It is translated “this” here to introduce the second half of the Chapter, but more importantly Paul’s conclusion and exhortation now that we have noted all that God has given to us and His desired goals for us in the first half of the Chapter. In other words, because we have received so many great things, “this” is how we should walk going forward.

Then we have the post-positive inferential Conjunction, OUN meaning, “therefore, so, consequently or then,” which in English could come first in the sentence, but in the Greek language, it never does. It means that certain conclusions are being drawn from the previous information. It introduces Paul’s conclusion and exhortation as to how we should walk given the tremendous grace God has given to us, by resuming the exhortation of vs. 1-3.

Then we have “I say,” in the Present, Active, Indicative of LEGO to authoritatively introduce Paul’s con-cluding exhortation. As an apostle to the Church, he was given this authority by God to provide mandates to the Church. But he does not just rest in his laurels, he also invokes the name of the Lord, “and testify in the Lord,” KAI MARTUREO EN KURIOS.

MARTUREO μαρτυρέω means, “bear witness, be a witness, or testify.” It is in the Present, Middle, Indicative, which too adds to the view of Paul’s God given authority and it means that he too is receiving a benefit by this testimony that he is giving. It is a solemn declaration of the nature of an appeal to God. Therefore, this word means to testify, but it means more than that, it means that Paul is intellectually honest. Today we have a rise of liberalism, a rise of reversionism, in Christianity. As a result, we find people who are intellectually dishonest. There are those who are afraid to give the true explanation of a passage because it might hurt someone’s feelings and that person will leave and no longer be a member of the congregation. They are more interested in catering to people than they are in doing their job as unto the Lord. Every Pastor-Teacher must testify, and that means every time he stands in the pulpit he is under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help him God, cf. Gal 4:16. Finally, this word reminds us that we are all a part of the Angelic Conflict and are to be witnesses for the Prosecution, (God), on the witness stand of the appeal trial of Satan and his fallen angels. We could translate this “I myself solemnly testify.”

In the Lord” is the in the Instrumental Dative Case also noting the sphere in which Paul is proclaiming these things, “by means of and in the sphere of the Lord,” which also speaks to the Divine inspiration he has received to be able to communicate the mind or thinking of Jesus Christ. He is identifying himself with Christ and giving the exhortation as one made by Christ Himself, as Christ was the giver of his communication spiritual gift.

So far, we have, “Therefore, this I say (mandate) and I myself testify in the sphere of the Lord.”

Next, we have the concluding mandate, “that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk.”

“That” is added to introduce the inferential concluding mandate. “You” is the personal Pronoun HUMEIS in the Second Person Plural, as he is speaking to every member of the Church. Then we have the Adverb of Negation MEKETI, which we have noted previously for “no longer, no more, or no further.” Here it means to stop doing something we were previously doing. What we are to stop doing is “to walk,” PERIPATEO in the Ingressive Futuristic Present, Active, Infinitive that is a metaphor for a certain type of lifestyle. It means, “to conduct one’s self, or order one’s behavior.” Previously in our chapter, it was used for the Christian way of life, where we learned about living according to the Royal Family Honor Code in our Christian conduct. Here it is used for an ongoing lifestyle the believer in Jesus Christ is no longer to be living now, and on into the future. It means to get off that old road you have been walking on and get on to the new road of the super-grace life. It is doubly emphasized with KATHOS that means, “as, just as, to the degree that, or according as,” and KAI, “and, even, or also.” The lifestyle we are doubly not to be living is demonstrated in HO ETHNOS in the Plural for, “the Gentiles.” “Gentiles” is used several ways in scripture. In Ephesians Paul previously used it to point out that he was sent to preach God’s Word to the “non-Jews,” i.e., “the Gentiles,” and that Gentiles, when they become believers in Jesus Christ, are fellow heirs with the Jews, Eph 2:11; 3:1, 6, 8.

However, sometimes it is used more harshly, as in our passage, which does not just identify an ethnic group, but instead is used to deride some as unbelievers, pagans, or heathens. Remember, the book of Ephesians is written predominately to Gentile peoples who used to have all kinds of sins, false gods, and pagan worship in their lives, and some had no religion at all. This was their “former manner of life,” Eph 4:22. As such, in our passage, Paul is calling out the pagan or even heathen lifestyle the Gentiles, “are walking” in, which is the Customary Present, Active, Indicative of PERIPETATEO once again, to reflect the current, an ongoing lifestyle of the pagan Gentiles. He is saying that these believers once lived as unbelievers, and to stop living that way going forward.

As you know, unbelievers only truly live one lifestyle, and that is one led by their Old Sin Natures, (OSN), as they function and reside inside of Satan’s cosmic system. Therefore, Paul uses the term “Gentile” here in contrast to the Christian way of life. The rest of this chapter is devoted to giving us examples or details of what the contrasting pagan lifestyle is like so that we would not live like that. In fact, we are to do the opposite of these things in order to live the Christian way of life.

We translate this portion, “that you absolutely no longer walk as the Gentiles walk,” or “that you no longer walk just as also the Gentiles walk.”

The first detail of the negative type of “walk,” unbelieving lifestyle, is also the overarching concept of doing any of the following sinful things noted in the rest of this chapter under, “in the futility of their mind,” which is, EN MATAIOTES HO NOUS AUTOS. MATAIOTES, ματαιότης in the Dative of Sphere means, “vanity, futility, worthlessness, or depravity.” It is used here and in Rom 8:20; 2 Peter 2:18.

Rom 8:20, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.” (A reference to sin coming into the world because of Satan.)

2 Peter 2:18, “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error.” (A reference to the KUBIEA; false teachers of false doctrines; teachers and doctrines of Demons, cf. Titus 3:9.)

The general sense of MATAIOTES indicates a lack of or attainment of true purpose, pertaining to being useless on the basis of being futile and lacking in content. It comes from MATAIOS, “folly, or fault,” cf. James 1:26; 1 Cor 3:20, and MATIA, “vain effort,” and can mean “deceptive, fictitious, or groundless.”  MATAIOTES can also mean “in vain, ineffectual, purposeless, or pointless.”

James 1:26, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.”

1 Cor 3:20, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” Cf. Psa 94:11.

It implies a particular set of values, a false religious or moral standard, a norm by which the truth is measured, as Paul points out in the rest of our Chapter. When something is MATAIOTES then, it is by implication something contrary to the norm of truth, unexpected, and something that ought not to be. In addition, it refers to something that is worthless due to its deceptive or ineffectual quality. That is what the following description of the “Gentile lifestyle” is to the believer and the Christian way of life. Paul earlier warned them of this in Acts 14:15.

It is used in the LXX in Ecclesiastes for the Hebrew HEVEL that means, “breath, vanity, worthlessness, nothingness, or even an idol.” In Ecclesiastes, Solomon is keenly aware of the futility and vanity of the human life and thought that ignores God and His Word. A tone of lamenting tragedy for the vanity of everything runs through the book as he begins and ends the book lamenting the vanity or nothingness of human life without God and His Word.

Eccl 1:1-2, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity”.”

Eccl 12:8, “”Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”

In contrast, he noted the importance of Bible doctrine for the fulfillment of the soul and life.

Eccl 12:11-14, “The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. 13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

Therefore, in our verse it is used for the perverseness or depravity of mind, NOUS, νοῦς that means, “attitude, intellect, mind, thought, or understanding.” We call it the left lobe of our soul, which affects your way of life. NOUS is not merely the intellectual faculty or understanding, but also the staging area of the soul that provides the faculty for recognizing good and evil, spiritual truth or the lie. So here, MATAIOTES of the mind, (vanity, worthlessness), is a characteristic of those who are alienated from the life of God because they have no understanding of Him in their NOUS nor in their KARDIA, “heart,” the right lobe of the soul. Rom 1:18-32, also describes this type. Expositors says: “It is a description of the walk of the heathen world generally—a walk moving within the limits of intellectual and moral resultlessness, given over to things devoid of worth or reality.” (Expositors Commentary.) That is why Paul exhorts believers to live no longer as those marked by such vanity and instead live with “Christ being at home in your heart,” putting on the Christ-like nature, and living the Christian way of life.


If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#’s 16-103 through 16-105



If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you.  He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins.  He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life.

To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.

So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:

“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”

If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!

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