Interesting tidbits on Ephesians 4
v. 12 equipping of the saints (KJV perfecting of the saints) Strong’s: katartismos–complete furnishing
The word was used in the sense of mending rather than of creating. It was used to describe the process of putting a disjointed arm back in place or mending holes in fishing nets. It means to restore something, to make it possible for it to fulfill its original purpose.
I like that thought. Our original function was to glorify God and serve Him. We’ve been corrupted by the sin of this world, so God is now restoring us to that purpose. And I think, then why is it so hard? If we’re just going back to being what He created us to be, then it should feel normal and right? Sin shouldn’t be such a temptation.
But then I rememeber one evening when our son hurt his arm. He was only a baby–maybe a year or so–so he couldn’t tell us what was wrong, but he cried and cried. We called the doctor and described what was happeneing. He told how to carefully position the arm, then said to straighten the elbow. It was hard to keep the arm in the proper position, since it obviously hurt to move it, but once we gently pulled the arm straight, there was a small pop, and suddenly our little boy quit crying. From that moment on, he acted quite normal, and all was well. His elbow had been out of joint.
Had we not been talking to a doctor and carefully instructed, we would never have moved the arm at all because it was painful and it seemed better to leave it alone. The “fix” was painful for a moment, but afterwards it was immediately better. Since this was a small child and the injury was new, it wasn’t a big deal, but think how difficult that might be if the joint had settled that way for a long time. It would definitely hurt much more to move it back to the proper place, and it might even tend to revert to the incorrect position, since after a time, that would start to feel “normal.” *
However, even if it had begun feeling “normal,” it wouldn’t work properly. The joint would not be functional. Isn’t that how we are sometimes in the body of Christ–dysfunctional? What we do seems normal to us, but it just doesn’t seem to work right. And the pain when God pulls us back into place can be excruciating.
So don’t just read blithely over “the equipping of the saints.” It’s not just a matter of supplying camping equipment for an overnight hike. It’s more a matter of straightening us out, perfecting us, and that may be a rather painful process.
*My medical knowledge is practically nonexistent, so maybe I am wrong on these surmisings. If you have better information, do let me know.
v. 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
Sleight of man? Odd phrasing. It makes me think of a magician. The NAS uses the term trickery. The original word refers to dice and gambling, especially the practice of using loaded dice in order to cheat someone. I think that makes a really good word picture. Don’t let pretty words and exciting ideas cheat you out of the much more beautiful relationship with Christ.
v. 15 speaking the truth in love
Did you know that the word “speaking” is not actually in the original Greek? I think that’s interesting. It’s a matter of simply being true. Living a true life. That is how we grow up into Christ.
I guess this struck me because I have seen people speaking truth and assuming that because it is true that it is loving. I think that’s not always the case. I think maybe sometimes truth does not need to be spoken. Sometimes it is hurtful and should be forgotten. Being true, on the other hand, will always be loving. It is a matter of being faithful.
That’s not to say that no hard thing should ever be spoken. I don’t believe that at all. But I do think there are times when we do not need to actually speak the truth. Perhaps it is not my truth to speak, or perhaps the time is not right. Perhaps the agape (love) at that particular time is not to speak at all.
And one more thing that I thought was neat. After the discussion of perfecting/equipping/restoring of the saints in v. 12, it continues in verse 13 with “until we all attain to the unity of the faith…”
So maturity leads to unity. I love that thought. But I can also see that it’s one that will be easily corrupted. Yes, as we grow to be mature Christians, to the “measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” we will obviously be united with other believers simply as a matter of course. If we are growing to be more like Him, then we will grow closer to each other.
BUT the problem is that many Christians today are trying to achieve “unity of faith” by their own powers. If we simply try to grow more like each other, we will not necessarily be growing more Christlike. We can’t focus on being more ecumenical. That is a snare. Just because a lot of paths lead the same direction does NOT mean that direction is the right one.
But if we are all walking toward Christ, our paths will merge IN HIM. There is only one path to the Father, and that is Jesus Christ. We must all enter by Him, and as we mature and grow closer to Him, we unite with one another.