Thursday, September 30, 2010

Paul and Prepositions.

It is almost a dogma that Paul depicted the relationship of those gifted individuals and the church members at large in Ephesians 4:11-16 as one of preparation alone. In other words the gifted individuals, namely, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastor / Teachers are to prepare the saints -- so that the saints undertake the work of ministry that builds up the body. Despite this widely accepted view, which in Southern Baptist circles is the foundation for almost all pastors, this reading is mistaken. In Ephesians already, Paul utilizes a main verb with coordinating prepositions for example in 1:3:

Who has blessed us
with [en] every blessing
in [en] the Heavens
in [en] Christ.

Also, more importantly, in close context, in 4:13:

Till we all reach
to [eis] the unity of faith and the full knowledge of the Son of God
to [eis] the perfect man
to [eis] the measured status of the fullness of Christ.

So Likewise, in Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul is not speaking about mere preparation, but more fully about the ministry of the gifted ministers just mentioned. In other words, Paul lists three tasks of the gifted persons:

He gave [gifted persons]
for [pros] equipping/preparing the saints
to [eis] work of ministry
to [eis] building of the body of Christ.

Exegetically, there is no compelling linguistic or grammatical reason to adopt the traditional reading. Maybe it is a fear of reducing the so-called laity to mere spectators that this tradition has emerged. There is, however, contextual evidence as to how Paul uses prepositions that permit an alternative understanding of Paul's approach, and more importantly, to Jesus' design for those gifted individuals.

En Christo,

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