Tuesday, June 19, 2018
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).
What does “perfecting” mean here?
The Lord Jesus has just begun His public ministry. Walking by the Sea of Galilee, He sees some familiar entrepreneurs. Out of His 12 disciples—later called “apostles” (Matthew 10:1-8)—four were fishermen. They were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew (Matthew 4:18-20), and James and John the sons of Zebedee (verses 21,22). Notice what James and John were doing when Jesus called them in Matthew 4:21, “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them” (cf. Mark 1:19).
Fishing nets, obviously handmade in those days, were crude. They also endured a lot of abuse. Constantly wet or underwater, the heavy fish violently thrashing against and stressing the knots, and rocks cutting and fraying the ropes, the nets were deficient and thus needed “mending.” Fishermen could not perform their task without intact webbings. Something was lacking in those nets, so James and John were patching them. What could this have to do with today’s Scripture?
The Greek word rendered “perfecting” in today’s Scripture appears that sole time in the King James Bible’s underlying text. It is “katartismos,” derived from “katartidzo.” “Katartidzo” is the word our 1611 scholars translated “mending” in Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19. This is what God intends the local church to accomplish.
At the time Paul the Apostle wrote Ephesians 4:11, the giving of spiritual gifts had passed (very few notice this most important detail but it will be brought to your attention here). Jesus Christ “gave”—not “is giving,” “will give,” “may give,” “has been giving,” et cetera—those spiritual gifts. The action is past tense. Those spiritual gifts were to “perfect” the saints. Something was missing in these people, and God would supply the tools and materials needed to complete the task. In light of the verses we have just discussed, we see that Ephesians 4:12 is really describing a repairing process….
Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did the Lord Jesus tell parables?”