Ephesians Teaching Series

This beautifully constructed letter can best be understood by paying attention to its amazing structure.

14. Eph 4:12-16 The Ephesians Sermon you Almost Never hear Preached

  • This passage speaks of a radical transformation of the church, from childhood to maturity, some time in the future.
  • It certainly hasn’t happened yet, so is it going to? and if so, when and how?

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The Ephesians Sermon you Almost Never hear Preached

Ephesians 4:12-16 (Part 14 of series) — Andrew Fountain: Sept 10, 2023

Please open the page showing this passage by Clicking here,
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  • Today I am going to speak on something quite radical.
    • Almost certainly you have never heard this kind of sermon before
    • I have wrestled long and hard with the Scriptures and have read just about all of the major commentaries on it.
    • But I can’t get away from this truth
    • So I have to preach it to you

This is a prophetic word from Paul that:

  • Something spectacular is going to happen in churches
  • and we can be part of it
  • we can be instrumental in it happening


We should all understand the radical teaching of this passage, and commit to doing our part in it

From Childhood to Maturity

  1. A Deep Dive into Eph 4:12-16
  2. Will it Happen? and if so, When?
  3. How Should we Respond?
  • Quick summary of last time:

Eph 4:11-12

  1. And he himself gave: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers
  2. for the purpose of equipping the saints
          for the work of serving,
                for building up the body of Christ
  • Who here is building the church?
  • Here is the million $ question: Who here is building the church?

The old reading

  1. He gave …gifted leaders:
  2. for the building up of God’s people,
    • and for the work of ministry,

and for building up the body of Christ”

  1. More accurate reading of the Greek:
  2. “For the building up of God’s people for the work of ministry and for the building up of the body of Christ:”
  • Today scholars virtually 100% agree that the old reading is wrong
    The specially gifted ones do not build the church directly
    They equip the whole body of believers to build it

It accords with v.7

  1. Now to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
  • Why is this important
    • It led to a top-down hierarchical church structure
    • Most people just sat in their seats and did no more than give their money
    • All the work was done by the leaders
    • Often they feel threatened by gifted people

1. A Deep Dive into Eph 4:12-16

Chiastic Structures in ancient writing: Truth and beauty combined

  • Starts and ends with the key issue being discussed
    • The starting statement leads to a second idea
      • And that leads to a third
        • Until a central turning point is reached
        • and resolved, often with a new idea
      • And then we can work back
    • through the ideas
  • And resolve the initial issue
  • Note this is all one sentence in the Greek!

Ephesians 4

…And he himself gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers
  1. πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων for the purpose of equipping the saints
εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, for the work of serving,
εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, for building up the body of Christ
  1. μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες until we all attain
εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, to the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, to one mature adult
εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
  1. ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι, that we should no longer be children
κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας wave-tossed and blown around by every wind of teaching
ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων by the trickery of people,
ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης, by craftiness in deceitful schemes
  1. ἀληθεύοντες δὲ ἐν ἀγάπῃ But speaking out the truth in love
αὐξήσωμεν εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα, ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή, Χριστός, we should grow up in every way into him who is the head, Christ
  1. ἐξ οὗ πᾶν τὸ σῶμα from whom the whole body,
συναρμολογούμενον καὶ συμβιβαζόμενον being joined together and held together
διὰ πάσης ἁφῆς τῆς ἐπιχορηγίας by every supporting ligament
κατʼ ἐνέργειαν from the proper working
ἐν μέτρῳ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου μέρους of the measure of each individual part
τὴν αὔξησιν τοῦ σώματος ποιεῖται produces the growth of the body
εἰς οἰκοδομὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ. for the building up of itself in love.

Translation and structure by Andrew Fountain

2. Will it Happen? and if so, When?

  • I have done a lot of research on this

The Question that is (almost) never asked: When?

  • Some assume it happened when the N.T. was completed
    • is the church mature? or blown around?
  • Many think it is fulfilled at the return of Christ
    • So what is the point of Paul trying to motivate them?
  • one exception

Harold Hoehner

“…if the potential of the fully mature church is not real for the present time, Paul offers a false hope.”
Ephesians An Exegetical Commentary (Baker 2002)

3. How Should we Respond?

  • Anywhere else in Scripture?
    • 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 —Now “children” but a new maturity is coming through love
    • John 17:21-23 A coming level of love that will result in a revelation of the love of God to the world.
    • Romans 11:15f A new level of life coming to God’s people

How Should we Respond?

  • Truth spoken in love
  • Every single part of the body using the measure of gifting Christ has given them

Truth without love

“Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God’s revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight.”
Ephesians, John Stott p.172

  • This is not just about truth in our teaching and doctrine, it is about our conversations as well
  • What is it like to have a conversation with someone who is going to tell you the truth about yourself but NOT in a loving way?

Personal conversations

  • Truth without love
  • Love without truth
  • Total love and faithful truth

Everyone involved

  • Every part of the body using the measure of gifting they have
  • How do we do this?
  • How many churches have succeeded and can give us a process to follow?
  • We are all in this together—I can do my part, but no more than that
  • Are you up for trying?

We have what we need

“…the exalted Christ has in fact supplied what is necessary for the Church to become what it is meant to be. His vision of the Church and of its calling in the world is not to be thought of as a totally impossible ideal. He maintains that the resources have been given for the Church to be able to demonstrate its unity, to proclaim the truth in love, and to attain to completeness in Christ.”
Ephesians Andrew Lincoln, p.264

  • This is possible! You and I could see this prophetic vision come to pass in front of our eyes.
  • If you are not a follow of Jesus today, you are not part of the body
    • But you can be by recognizing your need and asking for Jesus to take away your guilt and bring you into his body


  • As a church we need to use the gifts of every single member!
  • Pray that we are able to do this together as we grow
  • “Love is the lifeblood of this body, and therefore, the ultimate criterion for the assessment of the Church’s growth will be how far it is characterized by love.”
    Ephesians Andrew Lincoln, p.264

Updated on 2023-09-17 by Andrew Fountain

Last updated on 10 Sep 2023
Published on 10 Sep 2023