12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
To perfect something is to complete it, to finish it.
2Chronicles 8:16 Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected.
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Based on the context, to perfect something can be slightly different than to be perfect. For instance in its first use it defines that Noah was a just man in that he had none of the taint, perhaps, presented by the intrusion of the spiritual creatures called the sons of God who took on human form and produced abnormally large offspring who had a great influence on the pre-Flood world of men. This genetic purity can also be related to us in the form of not being tainted by the world and adopting its values. Noah completely went against his generation as one man standing against the multitude. They must have thought him insane. He also walked with God.
Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.(for “men of renown” see Numbers 16:2 to see men of influence and the ability to lead others).
Or in the case of Asa.
1Kings 15:14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
The definitions, then, of perfect have to do with being completed, finished, having all you need from the builder to be useful for the purpose he intended. It also carries a notion in some contexts as being just or righteous (Psalm 7:9; Ecclesiastes 8:14 for just and righteous having similar meanings), untainted from the world, and walking with God. This is also something that can only be accomplished by the Master Builder lest your good works be just humanistic effort or the results of a nice personality. I’m sure Hell will be filled with nice people, however.
The callings of evangelist, pastor and teacher, then, are to be used for providing the saints, the believers (1 Corinthians 14:33 for the churches containing saints), with part of what they need to be completed, finished, a building for God to dwell in.
The body of Christ, the church, is a spiritual building in which God dwells.
Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The body of the believer is a temple where God dwells.
1Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
It will not be finished and completed, perfected, until we are in the presence of God, when our physical bodies as we know them now, have died.
God sanctifies us, sets us apart for His purpose, through His word.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
These callings mentioned in these verses of evangelist, pastor, and teacher are to work under the direction of the Holy Spirit to do their part in finishing this building of God. We are to be edified, not indoctrinated. It is not the purpose of evangelists, pastors, and teachers to deliver politically charged harangues or to speak great swelling words about how great their country is or how to live the way they live with the values they have is Godly. They are to speak God’s word, show their congregants how to access its rich treasure and be fed on their own, and to teach and explain its precepts, its principles, and its values.
Any pastor or teacher or evangelist who, by twisting the words or using them out of context to prove a point leaves the body bewildered, confused, or thinking they might as well not read and study God’s word on their own because they have no hope of understanding it, is not doing the work of the ministry but doing the work of the Devil.
The Bible is God’s finishing tool, his plane, his hammer, his saw, with which He makes perfect the building He has built for Himself. Apart from it the church is a social or political club, something to do on a Sunday or a Wednesday with no particular value to God, although in times past a great value to the state in teaching submission to wicked political leaders and the wealthy and powerful.
God has given us people who have a calling to lead us on spiritually. What is the goal of these callings? Their purpose?
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
The goal is the unity of the faith, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, being complete, just, and righteous, in the abundant grace and power of Christ Himself.
Previously in this chapter of Ephesians we have discussed unity.
Ephesians 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
David noted in the Psalms;
Psalm 133:1 « A Song of degrees of David. » Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
The bond of peace referred to in verse 3 is our commitment to bind ourselves in peace. The preaching of the word should produce unity in the body of Christ, drawing us together to focus on Him and not ourselves. Our differences and the conflict those varying opinions will cause fall off like dead skin when we are truly focused on Christ Himself, following Him rather than the most dominant personality in the church building.
Philippians 2:1 ¶ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
We can know that there is a God, there is an intelligent designer, by simply looking at creation and being honest with ourselves. We can’t have a knowledge of God, who He is, what His expectations and will is, or how He loves us but through His words in His Book. Having God’s word preached and taught, and then feeding on it ourselves is the surest way we have of gaining knowledge of God.
God is not the subject of laboratory experiments. He cannot be conjured up by either priest, prophet, or scientist. God is a person with self-identity and a will who will reveal Himself to whom He will. He has revealed Himself to all mankind through His Bible.
It is by Christ that all things were created and it is by Christ that all things are sustained and held together.
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Earlier, in chapter 3, Paul said, with the wisdom given to him by the Holy Spirit;
Ephesias 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ…
Knowing who made you and having a knowledge of them, and having a relationship with them, letting God speak to you through His words in His Book and you speaking to Him in prayer is essential. Bible believers have already gone way beyond the arguments between militant evolutionists and those who promote intelligent design. We know the designer and have an intimate walk with Him. The others will argue about whether or not we were designed by intent or just happened as a result of a random accident of nature until they settle down to the eternal destiny at death.
Preaching and teaching must give us a knowledge of Christ, draw us together in the unity of faith, teach us to be complete, just and righteous…
Titus 2:11 ¶ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
We will never arrive at that fullness of Christ until we are with Him in Heaven itself, a called out assembly, a church made perfect in Christ.
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,