Ephesians 4:13 – The Unity of the Faith
In Ephesians 4:11, Paul lists certain miraculously endowed offices in the early church — apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teaching pastors. These works were in the nature of supernatural “gifts” (v. 8).
The apostle declares that these gifts were for the maturing of the saints in their work of ministering, i.e., equipping them for service (Arndt & Gingrich, Greek Lexicon, p. 419), the design of which was to build up the body of Christ (v. 12).
In verse 12, Paul affirms that these special gifts will continue “till we all attain unto the unity of the faith.” What does that mean?
Some suggest that it denotes, “until all believers become united,” and since that obviously has not happened, these gifts must be continuing today.
That is not the significance of this clause.
“Till” is from the Greek mechri; it suggests a “specification of the time up to which this spiritual constitution was designed to last” (C.J. Ellicott, Ephesians, p. 95).
The word “unity” basically means “oneness” (Bagster’s Lexicon, p. 119), and it is used “in contrast to the parts, of which a whole is made up” (Arndt & Gingrich, Greek Lexicon, p. 230).
The expression “the faith” refers to the gospel system as made known in the New Testament revelation (see “Galatians 1:23 – The Faith”).
To sum up, the apostle was teaching that the fragmentary supernatural gifts would only remain in the church’s possession until they were united in the complete New Testament revelation. This is the same truth which was set forth in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.
Underline the phrase “unity of the faith,” and record this comment: Completeness of New Testament revelation; see 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. No miracles today.
Scripture references: Ephesians 4:11; Galatians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10