January 13th 2019 – Ephesians 4:8-16

Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
    and he gave gifts to men.”

(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."

Ephesians 4:8-16

Secondly, the prophets. There seems no good reason for not assuming that these stand in integral relation and succession to the Old Testament prophets. In the Old Testament the norm of prophecy is Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). They 'forth-told' the Word of God, and sometimes in the course of this 'foretold' the future - a combination of proclamation and prediction. These we see likewise in the New Testament prophets as for example Agabus, in Acts 11:28; 21:10, 11, on the one hand, who foretold the future; and Judas and Silas in Acts 15:32, on the other, who exercised a ministry of the Word, exhorting and encouraging the brethren. While in the New Testament every Christian was a potential prophet - the pouring out of the Spirit carries with it this result, 'and they shall prophesy' (Moses had said 'would God all the Lord's people were prophets') yet there was a special class or group known as 'the prophets' as mentioned here and in 1 Corinthians 12:28. Theirs was a work of edification, exhortation and comfort. It is clear that in the New Testament they were an important group. With the apostles, they laid the foundation of the New Testament Church (Ephesians 2:20, 'built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets'). One all-important aspect of this was the establishing of apostolic doctrine, the formulation of the teaching of the gospel. In this respect, both apostles and prophets would necessarily pass from the scene, for there is a 'once-for-allness' about this. The New Testament canon was eventually completed, and no more 'revelation' was needed. It had all been given.