The Church as a Self-Edifying Body

The Church as a Self-Edifying BodyText: Ephesians 4:11-16

There are several ways that the church is described in the New Testament. One way is in our text – the church is a self-edifying body What does this mean? Why did the Lord give this role to the church? How is this role carried out?

What Does This Mean?

  • Body – this is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23); Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23); the church submits to Him (Ephesians 5:24); in this context, this body is the local church (has pastors, functions as a unit)
  • Growth – increase; derived from a word that means growing in strength and maturity; not just any growth, it must be of God (Colossians 2:19)
  • Building up – “edifying” (KJV); what causes it to increase in “wisdom, piety, holiness, happiness” (Thayer)
  • So what does it mean for the church to be a “self-edifying body”? – without needing outside help/interference, the local church is able to strengthen itself and grow

How Did God Design the Church to Do This?

  • He gave” different “offices” or roles in the church – those that are found in God’s word (apostles and prophets, not living today); those that are found in person (evangelists, pastors, and teachers)
  • Apostles – Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20); revealed His will (Ephesians 3:4-5); part of the church’s foundation (Ephesians 2:20)
  • Prophets – revealed God’s will (Ephesians 3:4-5); one of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7, 10)
  • Evangelists – those who proclaimed the gospel (2 Timothy 4:2, 5); included teaching Christians (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • Pastors – those who shepherd the church (Acts 20:28); another name for elders (Acts 20:17; 1 Peter 5:1-2)
  • Teachers – elders taught (1 Timothy 3:2); but there were other teachers as well (Hebrews 5:12)

What Is the Result?

  • Saints equipped for the work of service (v. 12) – every member is able to be involved in the work
  • Body of Christ built up (v. 12, 16) – as individuals are strengthened, the local body is strengthened
  • Unity of the faith (v. 13) – division is destructive (Mark 3:25); unity facilitates growth; therefore, we must be diligent to preserve it (Ephesians 4:3)
  • Knowledge of the Son of God (v. 13) – spiritual maturity (v. 13)
  • Not carried about by every wind of doctrine (v. 14) – these are “destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1)

How Can We Accomplish This?

  • Study the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15) – this is where we’ll find the words of the apostles and prophets
  • Listen to teaching from the word of God (2 Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 13:7) – by the evangelists, pastors and teachers
  • Speak the truth in love (v. 15) – growth that is not based in truth is meaningless (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3-4); but we cannot be belligerent; we must maintain a humble attitude (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
  • Grow up in all aspects (v. 15) – by working together we will improve every aspect of our service to God (ex: worship, study, understanding, teaching, example, etc.)
  • Remember that we are part of a body (v. 16) – we need to function as this (1 Corinthians 12:14, 20)
  • Each individual part” must be working (v. 16) – every member of the body is important (1 Corinthians 12:14-26)


  • Being a member of a local church is not merely about having our name in a directory
  • It is about being a functioning member of the body – all are working together; all are important
  • We need to be working together in the cause of Christ as members of a local body (church)

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