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Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 4: 1-16 (NIV)
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 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.
According to the Apostle Paul, Christ gave gifts to the Church in order to build up the body of Christ (verses 11-12). This building-up referred not to numbers of people who would constitute the body but to Christian maturity. As Paul said, Christ’s intention is that all should reach unity in the faith and in knowing about Christ himself (verse 13).
Throughout his ministry to the Gentiles Paul seems to have battled endlessly against those who would try to preach “a different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11: 4; Galatians 1: 6), who would try to force Christian Gentiles to live under the Mosaic law or would try to convince them to return to pagan worship.
Christian Gentiles new to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour were vulnerable to being “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (verse 14). Paul’s intention was to continue to grow them in the faith through “speaking the truth in love” (verse 15). By speaking this truth, the Church would proclaim only one gospel, the gospel preached by Paul and his fellow workers, reinforcing the message until all believers were strong enough to resist and refute “deceitful scheming”.
“Speaking the truth in love” requires Christian men and women today to build up and encourage one another rather than tear down and criticise one another. Unintended error can be corrected if dealt with in love. Let us resolve to proclaim the truth of Christ in love.