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A meditation on Ephesians 4:7-16 


While Christians are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’ [Galatians 3:28], without difference in either our sinfulness or our justification [Romans 3:22-24], yet there is diversity, difference and distinction.  

This diversity and differentiation does not compromise our equality in Christ. It is not a distinction of quality or quantity, because all Christians are equally blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing [Ephesians 1:3]. It is, rather, a diversity of gifting and a diversity of responsibility, and as such is a God-given diversity, not a diversity generated by our levels of personal obedience or spirituality.  Paul teaches in Ephesians 4:7-11 that the ascended Christ gave gifts to men. Some of these gifts are listed in verse 11, and their purpose stated in verses 12 to 16.

As we look into this purpose we realize that the diversity of gifts is not to enrich and exalt the individual recipient of a gift, but to enhance and enable the expression of the already existing unity of Christ’s people. 


Notice the progression [4:12-13]:

Christ gave people the necessary gifting to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers.

The responsibility of these people was to prepare God’s people for works of service.

The purpose of that was so that the body of Christ would be built up.

The goal of being built up is ‘unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God’ and maturity in Christ.


This unity in faith and knowledge of Christ expresses itself in [4:14-16]:

Stability and discernment in the presence of false teaching.

Loving affirmation of God’s truth.

Increasing likeness to Christ, our Head.

Dependence on Christ.

A loving, mutually supportive organic community in which each part does its God-given work for the good of the whole.


Thus diversity, differentiation and distinctions within the church are not enemies, but servants, of the essential unity which we have in Christ.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2011.