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 4:14–16 (ESV)
What is the purpose for which pastors labor and strive in serving the Lord in their local church? What are pastors looking forward to witnessing among their congregations? The Apostle Paul provides the answer in Ephesians 4:14-16, in both negative and positive terms.
The equipping ministry of pastors is important because when congregations 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, a discernable pattern of character and behavior will appear in people.
First, Paul concludes that congregations will no longer be children, in the spiritual and biblical sense of the word. In other words, they will become mature, spiritual adults.
Second, the apostle then states that mature Christians will also grow up in every way in Christ. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”
The word rather (δέ; de) is another word for the contrasting conjunction but. Mature believers in Christ, along with no longer being children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes, will grow up.
The phrase we are to grow up (αὐξάνω; auxano) means to increase. This pertains not only to plants and animals, but in this context to humans (Luke 2:40; 12:27; Col. 2:19; Matt. 6:28). Believers in Christ are not be stationary in their relationship in Christ. We are commanded to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of God (2 Peter 3:18).
The text says we are to grow up in every way (πᾶς; pas). This entails our entire life. In other words, this refers to the totality of our life in Christ.
This perpetual perspective in our growth in Christ is prefaced by the phrase speaking the truth in love (ἀληθεύω ἀγάπη; aletheuo agape). Rather than this being a personal comment by Paul to the Ephesians, it is rather a perspective on life from God. It literally means truthing in love. This has the idea of maintaining truth in self-sacrificial love of the will in both speech and life. This refers to not only speaking the Gospel, but also living out the Gospel.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Evangelism is most effective when the truth is proclaimed in love. This can be accomplished only by the spiritually mature believer who is thoroughly equipped in sound doctrine. Without maturity, the truth can be cold and love little more than sentimentality. Christians are to be completely yielded and obedient to the Lord’s will, subject to his controlling power and Christ like in all areas of their lives (cf. Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21).”
Soli deo Gloria!