Re: Eph 4:11-12

On Mon, 11 Jul 1994, Dan G. McCartney, Westminster Semin wrote:

> I am surprised that in discussing this passage no one has mentioned or
> interacted with the interesting article on this very matter by David
> Gordon in the March 1994 edition of JETS (37:1).  I think it rather
> forcefully challenges the au courant view.  katartismos does not mean "equip"
> here, the three purpose clauses are parallel not sequential, and diakonia 
> here does not mean "ministry."  I'd be interested in how people react
> to this article.

Thank you, Dan, for calling David Gordon's article, "`Equipping' Ministry
in Ephesians 4?" to our attention.  It is certainly well worth reading and
I agree with Gordon's main exegetical conclusions.

What I found surprising was the strongly negative tone Gordon adopts
with regard to those who hold a different view.  He believes their
view to "never have been exegetically motivated" and their adoption of
Eph. 4:11-12 to be "simply a convenient prooftext for what they wished to
believe anyway" (69).  And he states that "this error is indeed of
sufficient magnitude to warrant rebuttal" (78).  In my experience, those
who advocate the popular view of Eph. 4:12 do so from the finest of
motives--in a bid to activate an inactive laity (rather than in order to
dishonor clergy).  The tone Gordon adopts reminds me of that employed by
Barth in his strong support of the popular concept (He believes that the
now usual view "challenges both the aristocratic-clerical and the
triumphalistic-ecclesiastical exposition of 4:11-12.  It unmasks them as
arbitrary distortions of the text" (_Ephesians 4-6_, AB 34A, 479)).

And Gordon's understanding of Eph. 4:12 (with which I agree) could be
taken to extremes--extremes which the passage itself guards against in the
following ways:  "(a) the reminder that the ministers are themselves
Christ's gift to the church, not authority figures in their own right, (b)
the caution that they also are 'under his control' (verse 16) and are
themselves part of the body, not separate from it, and (c) the wording of
verse 16d: the `whole body grows and builds itself up _through love_'"
(Ralph P. Martin, _The Family and the Fellowship_, p. 79). 

One closing observation--Gordon holds that the body metaphor in Eph. 4
presents "the great tripartite picture of Christ the Head, the `gifted
ones' as his special ascension gift to the Church and the `parts'" (72). 
I agree, though the picture may be more complex than that.  There are
several questions that could be posed here.  One of them is, Are the
"parts" (merous) to be entirely distinguished from the "joints" (pases
haphes) in v. 16 or does the parallel phraseology with v. 7 indicate that
"parts" is a category that includes each church "member," inclusive of the
gifted persons described in v. 11? 

Again, thanks to Dan for calling our collective attention to a fine article.

John McVay
Asst. Prof. of Religion
Pacific Union College
Angwin, CA  94508