What does Ephesians 4:16 mean?
ESV: from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
NIV: From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
NASB: from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what 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.
CSB: From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.
NLT: He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
KJV: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
After describing Christ as the head, in verse 15, Paul now discusses the rest of the spiritual "body" of the church. Each individual part must work together, according to its design and purpose, and in the intended way, in order for the body to function properly. This means that when one person is weak, the rest of the body of Christ suffers.
A healthy body, functioning in harmony, also "makes the body grow." Spiritually speaking, when the members of the body of Christ work together in unity, as we should, the church "builds itself up in love." It attracts others to the gospel of Christ, and those people are added to the family of God (Acts 2:47). A church known for speaking the truth in love will be known as a healthy church, a healthy body. Those in the body all function and function together to accomplish the tasks of the church (Acts 2:42–47).
This is an important message for modern congregations. Church health, rather than church size, is what defines success within a congregation. Vibrant and lived-out Christianity was the critical factor in the rapid numerical growth and spread of the early church.
Ephesians 4:11–16 discusses both the gift of spiritual leaders and the importance of mature, loving, unified Christianity. Some people are endowed with gifts of teaching, preaching, and so forth. It is crucial to the health of Christian congregations that these members use their God-given talents appropriately. At the same time, different members of a church have different abilities. The community of believers functions best when all of those individual pieces are working together, through their unique roles. A healthy church is far more powerful than a ''big'' church.
Truly understanding saving grace, as Paul explained in prior chapters, is the Christian's first motivation for living a godly life. Here, Paul encourages believers to live in way which honors that gift. All saved Christians are part of a single, unified family, part of the ''body'' of Christ. At the same time, different believers are given different talents. Some are called to positions of leadership and authority. All Christians should turn away from the ''old self'' we were prior to being saved. Paul's explanation of the ''new self'' includes some basic, practical steps.
The first half of Ephesians focuses mostly on doctrine, setting up ideas related to the Christian faith. The last half, beginning in chapter 4, puts those theories into practice. Paul begins by emphasizing the ultimate unity of all Christians, regardless of individual spiritual gifts. Paul also begins to explain how knowledge of the truths should translate into action. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 feature specific, real-world applications of Christianity to daily life.
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:37:21 AM
© Copyright 2002-2023 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.