Like Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:13 -- By: Richard L. Strauss

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 143:571 (Jul 1986)
Article: Like Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:13
Author: Richard L. Strauss


Like Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:13

Richard L. Strauss

[Richard L. Strauss, Pastor, Emmanuel Faith Community Church, Escondido, California]

When starting on a trip, it is normally good procedure to have the final destination clearly defined. This is also true in the spiritual realm. The Christian life is likened to a pilgrimage (1 Pet 2:11), and it would be advantageous for everyone involved in Christian ministry to have the terminus point of the pilgrimage in clear focus. Ministry is most effective when the goal is kept in plain view.

The Apostle Paul had a lucid understanding of what God wants to accomplish in the body of Christ and in the lives of its members. He always kept that goal before him and shared it with others on a number of occasions. One verse in his Epistle to the Ephesians sums it up concisely yet cogently, a verse appearing in a powerful statement on Christian unity (Eph 4:1–16). The passage begins with an impassioned plea to guard the unity that the Spirit of God has produced in the body of Christ (v. 3). Then it describes that existing unity in graphic detail (vv. 4–6).

But unity does not necessarily mean sameness. The parts in the body of Christ are not all identical to each other. The genius of this body is the wide variety that exists among its members and the great diversity of spiritual gifts they possess. This is unity in diversity. The Lord Jesus in His sovereign grace gives to every member the ability to make a unique and profitable contribution to the whole (v. 7). Furthermore He provides gifted leaders to help the other members develop their gifts, thus better equipping them for meaningful service (vv. 11–12). As they all use the abilities God has given them, the body of Christ is built up.

But what does it mean for the body to be built up? How is it possible to know when true edification is taking place? That is the point of the next verse. Paul was at one and the same time explaining the meaning of edification and defining the end of this entire process. Here is the goal of ministry: “until 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 fulness of Christ” (v. 13).

The word “attain” (καταντάω) means “to reach, to arrive at...

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