Skip to content

The Work of Ministry in Ephesians 4:12

Lionel J. Windsor, “The Work of Ministry in Ephesians 4:12.” Pages 1–25 in “Tend My Sheep”: The Word of God and Pastoral Ministry. Edited by Keith G. Condie. London: Latimer Trust, 2016.

Download

pdf-download-icon

Download “The Work of Ministry in Ephesians 4:12”

Excerpted from ‘The Work of Ministry in Ephesians 4:12’, in “Tend My Sheep”: The Word of God and Pastoral Ministry ed. Keith G. Condie (London: Latimer Trust, 2016), pp. 1–25. Copyright © 2016.

Summary

The focus of this essay is on the phrase, ‘the work of ministry’ in Ephesians 4:12. The essay seeks some biblical precision and clarity about this phrase and draws out some implications for pastoral ministry today.

Message BringerOften it is claimed that the biblical word ‘ministry’ (διακονία) is based on an original usage involving ‘waiting at tables’, and therefore that the word in the New Testament always carries connotations of ‘humble service.’ John N. Collins, however, has demonstrated that this claim is false. While the word is sometimes used of table-waiters, a more fundamental concept is the ‘go-between.’ Thus ‘ministry’ does not necessarily mean ‘humble service’. In Ephesians 4:12, the work of ‘ministry’ is more a matter of ‘bringing’ the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to people.

Publication details

Tend My Sheep: The Word of God and Pastoral MinistryThe essay appears in the book ““Tend My Sheep”: The Word of God and Pastoral Ministry, ed. Keith G. Condie (London: Latimer Trust, 2016).

Publisher’s description:

What is the connection between the doctrine and exegesis of the Scriptures on the one hand, and the theology and practice of ministry on the other? The chapters of this book each reflect the belief that authentic pastoral ministry is grounded in the ministry of the word of God.

To oversee Christ’s flock is ‘a noble task’ but also a difficult task. The responsibilities and expectations of the job are numerous and weighty. Skills in leadership and management, the ability to communicate effectively in a variety of settings, the need to be a competent listener and counsellor – these things and more are required of those who exercise pastoral oversight, even of a small congregation.

And as pastors seek resources to assist them in their vocation, it is no wonder that many have found great benefit from the insights of the social sciences. The problem, however, is the seeming lack of connection between the doctrine and exegesis of the Scriptures on the one hand, and the theology and practice of ministry on the other.

The chapters that follow do not claim to offer an extensive critique or response to this issue. Rather, as they address some of its aspects, each reflects the belief that authentic pastoral ministry is grounded in the ministry of the word of God.

Each chapter was first delivered as a lecture at the 2015 School of Theology held at Moore Theological College.

The contributors are Lionel Windsor, Peter Orr, Mark Thompson, David Peterson and Keith Condie.

Published September 2016: 112 pages

ISBN: 978 1 906327 44 6

Contents:

  • Lionel Windsor, “The Work of Ministry in Ephesians 4:12”
  • Mark D Thompson, “The Sufficient Word”
  • David Peterson, “Pastoral Preaching”
  • Peter Orr, “The Comfort of God and Pastoral Ministry: An Exegetical Study of 2 Corinthians 1:3–7”
  • Keith Condie, “Richard Baxter’s Portrait of the Pastor”

Recent blog posts

  • Entering a tomb in PompeiiWe too: the offenders (Ephesians 2:3)
    Judgmentalism. It’s a bigger problem than we think. Judgmentalism is certainly a danger for God’s people. That’s because God’s people have God’s word. God’s word helps God’s people to see how wonderful God is, and how terrible humanity is in comparison. But Ephesians 2:3 contains two highly significant, emphatic words: “we too”. We too, says Paul, were the offenders. We, too, were the disobedient. These words aren’t talking about all those horrible people “out there”. They’re talking about God’s people. And it’s something we, too, need to hear. These words tell us something incredibly important—something that we ignore at our peril.
  • Photo by Daniel Lienert on UnsplashThe root of the problem (Ephesians 2:1–2)
    I hadn’t visited the dentist for years. Then I felt a tiny amount of pain in one of my teeth. But I ignored it. I didn’t want to bother with a dentist. Anyway, I had my own solution: I’d always brushed my teeth quite thoroughly, and was proud of it. So I just kept brushing. But after a while, the pain came back. This time, it was worse. So I finally visited the dentist. That was painful, too. The root had become so infected that I needed root canal surgery. That was a while ago. But last year, it flared up again, as these things apparently do. And yet I chose to visit the dentist again, even though I knew it might be painful. Why? Because I’d learnt something. I’ve learnt that if I have a problem that goes to the root, and if I know someone who has the solution to the problem, I shouldn’t ignore it or try to fix it myself. I should face up to the root problem, and get help. So I got help. Now, I don’t have a tooth in that spot at all. In Ephesians 2:1–2, Paul seeks to go deep, to the root of the problem. The problem Paul talks about here is incredibly serious. It can be very painful to admit. But Paul can and does admit it—because he also knows the person with the solution. According to Paul, this isn’t a problem to ignore or try to fix ourselves. It’s not something we can educate ourselves out of. This is a problem to face up to, and get help.
  • Captivated by ScriptureCaptivated by Scripture: A personal reflection on D. W. B. Robinson’s legacy for biblical studies
    What made Donald W. B. Robinson such an inspiring and influential teacher for generations of students? His commitment to being captivated by Scripture. This is a paper given by Lionel Windsor at the legacy day and launch of Donald Robinson Selected Works Volume 3: Biblical and Liturgical Studies & Volume 4: Historical Studies and Series Index. Moore Theological College, Sydney, 16 March 2019.
  • The first thing to say about church (Ephesians 1:22–23)
    Here in Ephesians 1:22–23, for the first time in his letter, the apostle Paul uses the word “church”. He’s taken quite some time to get to this point. That might make you think that the church isn’t very important to Paul. But actually, the reverse is true. This is a climactic statement. So far in Ephesians, Paul has poured out his praise to God for his blessings and plans and purposes. He has told his readers how he is praying for knowledge and hope and strength in God. Now, finally, at the highest peak of this amazing prayer, Paul names “the church”. So what is the first thing Paul has to say about the church? What is the word he associates most closely with the church? What matters most to Paul when it comes to the church? The answer is, in fact, obvious. It’s so obvious that you might think it doesn’t need to be said. You might even wonder why Paul bothers saying it, when there are so many other more practical things he could say about the church. But while it might seem obvious, it needs to be said first. Why? Because it’s so easy to assume it. Yet without it, nothing else about the church makes sense.
  • Grave of John BunyanStrength to live (Ephesians 1:19–21)
    What do we do when we feel weak in the face of the powers that be? One response might be just to shut down, close ranks and find a bitter satisfaction in our identity as victims. Another response might be to try to fight as hard as we can to exert our power and dominance over others, seeking to turn the tables so that we become the conquerors instead of the oppressors. Both of these responses involve seeking strength and power in ourselves. They are often the way that oppressed individuals and groups in our world respond to the powers that are oppressing them. But is that the way God wants his people to respond to our weakness in the face of power? In Ephesians 1:19–21, the apostle Paul gives us a far better way to respond. Paul’s response involves looking for strength. But it’s not a strength that comes from within ourselves. It’s a strength that comes from God himself.
  • Christ, the Cross and Creation Care ConferenceConference: Christ, the Cross and Creation Care
    I'll be speaking at the "Christ, the Cross and Creation Care Conference", Sydney. 8.30am to 3.30pm, Saturday 22 June 2019. A conference run by A Rocha Australia
  • Palatine Hill from Roman Forum with contrails – Black and WhiteWhat’s the point of theology? (Ephesians 1:17–18)
    The full name of the college I teach at is “Moore Theological College”. That word “Theological” says something important about who we are. It reminds us about what we're on about. Yes, the Bible is at the centre of everything we do. Yes, we seek to train people for ministry. Yes, we're driven by the worldwide mission of Jesus Christ. Yes, we're committed to learning together, and having our characters formed in loving Christian community. But our careful study of the Bible, and our pastorally-motivated ministry and mission training, and our encouragement of one another in our community, all matter because of something more basic: theology. Unfortunately, the word "theology" can be misunderstood. It sometimes gets used to mean something like “technical details about spiritual things that experts argue about and isn’t much practical use to regular people”. But that's just a caricature. It's not what theology is. Theology is something far more profound, far more life-changing, and far more fundamental—not just for people at a college, but for everyone. In Ephesians 1:17–18, Paul prays for his readers—people who have come to believe in and live for Jesus Christ. It's a prayer for more theology.
  • Youth praying, Finchale PrioryPrayer: What are we actually doing? (Ephesians 1:15–16)
    “A Muslim, a Jew and an Anglican Minister walk into a classroom”. This was the advertising blurb for a local Community College seminar I participated in a few years ago. I joined a Muslim educator and a Jewish academic (who is also a friend of mine) to give a series of presentations on different aspects of our three religions to interested people from the community. When we came to the topic of ‘prayer’, I was fascinated to hear what my co-presenters had to say. Even though we were all using the same word, ‘prayer’, the word meant very different things in the different religions. As a believer in Jesus Christ, what did I have to say about what prayer is? What would you have said? Christians, too, can often be a bit confused or unclear about what prayer actually is. That’s where the Apostle Paul really helps us. In these verses in Ephesians, Paul starts telling his readers about his own prayers for them.
  • Photo by Danielle Macinnes on UnsplashThe Holy Spirit: Our security (Ephesians 1:14)
    The Stanford Marshmallow Experiments are a favourite illustration of motivational speakers. The lesson is this: If you can learn how to delay gratification early in life, you’ll do better in later life. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But unfortunately, like many popular conclusions drawn from famous psychological experiments, it doesn’t stand up to closer scrutiny. The more up-to-date study demonstrates something far more mundane: if you grow up in a secure home where you know there will always be food on the table, you’re more likely to be able to put off eating a marshmallow. This isn’t a particularly useful lesson for motivational speakers. But it’s a great illustration of what it means to be a child of God.
  • Mission. Photo by Ben White on UnsplashThe message is the mission (Ephesians 1:13)
    What is God’s mission? What means is God using to bring about his purposes in Christ? What does that mean for our own mission as Christians and churches?

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor