Question:

Regarding Ephesians 4:11-16, can you help clarify the scope of this context with regards to the "spiritual gifts" mentioned in verse 11? Do all Christians in the Lord's one true church have spiritual gifts? If so, how does a Christian determine the gifts given to them? Also, why does it seem that most congregations of Christ's church teach very little about these gifts? Can the whole (Church) body be "joined and knit together by what every joint supplies" if we do not know or do not use our gifts?


Answer:

"He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:11-16).

The gift mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. They are gifts given by the Lord Jesus (see Ephesians 4:7-10). Spiritual gifts are only mentioned indirectly because the apostles and prophets of the early church had these gifts. As explained in the article "Apostleship," the apostles were direct witnesses of Christ who then laid the foundation for the church. Accomplishing their duty, they remain with us through their writings in the New Testament. The prophets existed to fill the gap between the establishment of the church and the recording of Christ's law. They too continue with us today through their writings, but as Paul stated there would not be new prophets once their work was completed. "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things" (I Corinthians 13:8-11). See the sermon outline "Prophets" for more details.

Evangelists (preachers, ministers), pastors (elders, bishops, overseers), and teachers continue to exist in the church teaching the things recorded by the apostles and prophets to build up the church.