Multiple times, the scriptures describe the church as a body. Ephesians 4:4-6 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. ” The universal church of Christ is just one body throughout the whole world; we are from multiple congregations, multiple races, multiple countries, multiple languages, but we are still just one body of Jesus Christ. There is also just one Holy Spirit within each of us, one hope of eternal life, one Lord Jesus Christ, one baptism for the forgiveness of our sins, and one God and Father who has created everything, is over everything, and even within each of us.
Ephesians 4:11 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” Apostles were individuals like Peter and Paul who were selected by Jesus and sent to proclaim the gospel to the world. Prophets are those individuals who proclaim the divine message of God, whether that be to proclaim the message that has already been revealed or to foretell the purposes of God in the future. Evangelists are preachers of the gospel, especially to those who do not know the gospel. Pastors are the shepherds of local congregations who watch over the flock of believers; they are also called elders or overseers. Teachers are individuals who teach the word of God.
Each of these individuals has been given by God for a reason. Ephesians 4:12 “For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The first purpose is to provide each saint (Christian) with what he/she needs to perform works of ministry or service. Each of us is a minister or servant to those around us, just as Jesus came to serve (Matthew 20:28). The second purpose is to edify or build up the body of Christ, the church. Many things such as apathy, divisions and sinfulness can tear down the church; the job for each of us, instead, is to do what we can to make the church larger and stronger.
Ephesians 4:13-16 “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” The goal is that all of us in the church may become one in our faith, that we may have full knowledge of Jesus, that we become mature, seasoned children of God who are solid in our faith and not shaken by false doctrines or false teachers.
Those of us who are pastors, evangelists or teachers have a great responsibility to equip the brethren for the work of service and to edify the body of Christ. But each one of us needs to work for unity and strengthening of the church and provide service to our fellow believer.