“8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
We come now to the particular gifts of ministry mentioned in 11ff. There is much to be said in relation to these gifts, both as to the nature of them, and also to the purpose for which they have been given. We look first of all at the purpose of these gifts. Mention has already been made of our sharing in the exaltation of Christ, as expressed in 1:19ff, where Paul speaks of believers needing to know 'the exceeding greatness of His power' toward us. Here, Paul indicates the means whereby that prayer is to be answered - through the gifts of ministry that the exalted Christ gives to His Church. This is the way forward to maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ and to what we ought to be - which is what the word Paul uses in 12 (translated 'perfecting' in the AV and 'equipment' in some modern versions) means, having the force of 'bringing something or someone into its proper use, whether for the first time or after a lapse'. Such is the purpose of the gifts of ministry, and the verses that follow show us the scope and extent of that exercise - the bringing forth of maturity and the growth in maturity, toward the 'measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ', being no more children, but growing up into Him, with the resultant increase of the body. What a glorious view and aim! Does not this give us some conception of the grandeur of Paul's doctrine in these verses?