A Mini Commentary, Pt. 16 (Ephesians 4:16)

Sorry for the delay, but here is the final instalment of the mini commentary on Ephesians 4:1-16. I pray the whole series has been informative and a blessing in some way.


4:16 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.

From whom the whole body fitly joined together

            Here is where the metaphor of the body can get a little tricky, at least compared to the way things naturally work. When a human is conceived, his DNA is already present, passed from both the mother and the father. The “blueprint of life” dictates how a child will look, how big he will be, his color of skin, etc. But Jesus, the Head of the Body, is the one who oversees the construction and placement of body parts. The mind, the Person of God, is eternal; the Body – both when He walked the earth and when He left and sent His Spirit – came into being by the will of God. There is no accidental deformity withing the Body of Christ! There are no mutations, missing parts, or inadequate ones! The WHOLE body is FITLY joined together! Hallelujah!

            Are you intimidated, discouraged, or feel out of place in the Body of Christ? Don’t feel that way! You were designed and created to fit exactly where the Head wants you. You have a purpose for which no other part in the body can fill. You are unique and designed by God.

and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,

             Here we see that not only is every person who is part of the Body a specially designed member created for a particular purpose in the overall growth of the Body, but each has a part in the unifying of the Body into a cohesive whole.[1] Paul implied this same thought in his letter to the Colossians: “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ” (Colossians 2:2).

according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,

            Now, despite the lofty example of Jesus, God “knows our frame,” that we are nothing but dust (Psalm 103:14). Therefore, notice that Paul says, “…the measure of every part.” The measure of one part of the Body, one Christian, is not going to be the same measure of another one. Too often we find ourselves comparing our spirituality to that of other more “godly” believers. In doing so we often find ourselves discouraged from not measuring up to their likeness. Look, we are all dust, and the most that we can ever be is only because of God’s grace.

            But the encouraging hope is this: what we have and all that we are, yielded to the will of the Head of the Body, is guaranteed to be effective toward the purpose for which we have been designed.

maketh increase of the body

            Simply put, a healthy member of the body, no matter the importance, will, if effectually being used, make increase to the Body. Does that mean that one must lead others to Christ in order to “make increase”? Possibly, but whatever the purpose, if doing what it’s designed to do, will contribute to the other members’ edification.

unto the edifying of itself in love.

            Herein lies the overall purpose of the gifts God gives in Christ through the Spirit: the edifying of the Church – the building up into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there are many within the Body of Christ who think the edification of the individual member takes precedent over the body as a whole. This can be seen in the doctrine that promotes “prayer language,” or private times of prayer that consist of ecstatic speech, unknown tongues, or what is technically referred to as glossolalia. Yet, Paul addressed this very topic in 1 Corinthians 14:14-19.

            Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:14: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” He did not argue that it could never happen; he just said that if he did pray in such a way, he would not understand what was being said. Furthermore, in verses 15 and 16 he states that he would rather speak and sing in an understandable language so that everyone could benefit, especially those who “understandeth not” (v. 16). But it is in verse 17 where the letter to the Ephesians and the letter to the Corinthians cross paths: speaking in a prayer language might encourage the one praying, but “the other is not edified.” He gave (v. 11) … for (v. 12) … till (v. 13) … that (v. 14) … may (v.15) … edify (v. 16).


[1] Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1675.

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