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).


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 Jul 12 '12 at 12:54

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