Eph 4.11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

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 argument for including tradition in the corpus of authority sources is based on one answer to this question: That unity of the faith is to be enforced.

The other answer appears to accept schism until Christ returns and produces unity (along with complete sanctification/glorification), along the same reasoning that divorce was tolerated by God, but the officers will somehow keep the church corralled.

What does the text actually say about it? Since two doctrinal positions have been stated in the question, I am looking for the hermeneutic justifications for one or both (or a third).

2 Answers 2


I have never imagined these verses to mean either of the two options you have identified, so I guess I must post the third which is the one that I have always believed.

Whenever I encounter the read ‘perfect’ as a description of a believer I have always considered it to mean simply ‘mature’ or ‘well rounded’ because there is no such thing as Christian perfection in this world in the ‘sinless’ sense.

Upon looking up the Greek translated as perfect in this verse it is τέλειον (teleios) which according to Strong’s is (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age, (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character.

So Paul is saying these offices were given until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a matured faith. This would be in contrast to with what is latter written in the letter as “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Therefore Paul meant a matured faith when he says ‘unity of the faith’ not a perfect faith in heaven, or a ridged forced external faith on earth. He meant a real faith that genuinely joins believers in love to one another even if outwardly there are many divisions. These type of believers he calls men.

It does not matter how divided in our visible profession, by the many differences among us, or differenced by the several measures of gifts and graces we have received, so long as by faith and love we are brought to the perfection aimed at. Until we are brought there we are just children and babes in Christ. Actually those who force external unity through their traditions upon others, causing those divisions among us to increase, would are deemed by Paul as being still infants in Christ and carnal on account of it:

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly —mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

  • "These type of believers he calls men." Are you intentionally or accidentally supporting the SP metaphor that woman represents those who don't see clearly, or the blind, and men represent those who understand (the seeing)?
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 12:54

The different offices are mentioned in vers 11 apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Vers 13 does not describe a job title.

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:

Unity of the faith refers to be of one faith in Christ regardless our prior experiences or knowledge we are of one faith.

Both to be in unity and maturity is spiritual growth which is to be the perfect man, which includes increases in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) and our love for both God and others (Matthew 22:37–40) that a man is perfect means that he ahs mature in faith e.g that vall Christians should be together as one church, ultimately attaining a state of oneness of the contents of faith and acceptance and possession of complete, correct and full understanding of Christ

MacLaren's Expositions;

I. The true unity is oneness of relation to Christ.

[..] what is meant is the unity of all believers in regard to their faith, and in regard to their knowledge. It is to be noted that the Apostle has just said that there is one faith, now he points to the realisation of that oneness as the very end and goal of all discipline and growth. I suppose that we have to think here of the manifold and sad differences existing in Christian men, in regard to the depth and constancy and formative power of their faith. [..]

II. Oneness in faith and knowledge knits all into a ‘perfect man.’

‘Perfect,’ the Apostle here uses in opposition to the immediately following expression in the next verse, of ‘children.’ It therefore means not so much moral perfection as maturity or fulness of growth. So long as we fall short of the state of unity we are in the stage of immaturity. When we come to be one in faith and knowledge we have reached full-grown manhood. The existence of differences belongs to the infancy and boyhood of the Church, and as we grow one we are putting away childish things. What a contrast there is between Paul’s vision here and the tendency which has been too common among Christians to magnify their differences, and to regard their obstinate adherence to these as being ‘steadfastness in the faith’! How different would be the relations between the various communities into which the one body has been severed, if they all fully believed that their respective shibboleths were signs that they had not yet attained, neither were already perfect! When we began to be ashamed of these instead of glorying in them we should be beginning to grow into the maturity of our Christian life. [..]


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