It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
… speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (verses 11-13, 15)
There is a little Greek word that Paul uses in these verses six times. It’s not an accident. It’s a word that shows direction and forward movement, pointing to a goal. This little word means “into.” In the English text it’s not literally translated this way every time, but its purposeful sense flavours the whole passage.
Here, then, are the six things mentioned in this passage “into” which Christ Jesus wants us to move:
(1) “into works of service” (verse 12)
Before the foundation of time, the Father prepared things for us to do (Ephesians 2:10) – good works that we would walk in, expressing his will on earth, just as in heaven. These very things are what the Lord Jesus wants us to move into.
(2) “into the building up of the Body of Christ” (verse 12)
Like a house under construction, the Body of Christ, in all its local expressions, is to be built, brick upon brick, rising in function and beauty. The building is to become stronger and better and more complete, growing into the shape of the Architect’s design.
(3) “into unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (verse 13)
We’re meant to be united. Truly. Deeply. It’s a goal that seems almost impossible. We won’t agree on everything. But, true harmony springs from holding firmly to the centrality of the Gospel, and from nurturing real, intimate, life-giving relationship with Jesus.
(4) “into a mature man” (verse 13)
This is a strong word, meaning to be “perfect” or “complete.” We’re to grow into well-rounded spiritual adulthood, leaving childishness behind, knowing who we are in Christ, and having spiritual limbs developed and strong, with gifts and abilities established and growing.
(5) “into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (verse 13)
What an eye-popping goal! Earlier Paul said we were to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (3:19). Here, the fullness is in Christ. Wow. Talk about “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”!
(6) “into him who is the head – Christ” (verse 15)
Here’s what it’s all about. This is where it’s all heading. Here we see the main goal. It’s Jesus himself. Of course. Growing into him – that’s the point.
Yes, Lord – I’m all in!
Lord Jesus, draw me into all that you have for me. Into works of service. Into building up the Body of Christ. Into unity of faith and knowledge. Into maturity. Into your fullness. Into you.
Lord, may it be.
Reflect and Pray: Which of the into phrases inspires you most at this moment? Pray it for yourself all day.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash