Perfecting the Saints

"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12, KJV).

Ephesians 4:12 is a verse of fundamental importance. There, in these few sentences, the objective of the service of ministers of the word is expressed: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Within this verse, the word 'perfecting' is key. What does 'perfecting' mean in Greek? Its meaning is very interesting and very extensive.

In its simplest form, the Greek adjective artios is the root of the late Middle English word 'artifice’ (workmanship; the one who creates or forms with his hands), and provides the idea of composing, organizing, dimensioning. In 2nd Timothy the tool for this work is the word of God. In Ephesians 4:12, Paul used the noun katartismós, which is a reinforced form of the previous Greek word.

The first mention of a word in the New Testament with this root (katartizó) is in Mat. 4:21: "mending their nets." The second is "perfected praise" (Mat. 21:16). Here it means legitimizing, purifying, authenticating, etc. A third mention is "everyone who is perfect" (Luke 6:40), that is, equipped. A fourth is in 2 Cor. 13:9: "we wish, even your perfection", in the sense of spiritual restoration.

William Barclay says this word has two sets of meanings: a) Adjust, restore, put in order and b) Equip or enable something for a particular purpose. For example, it is used with regards to the enablement of a ship or an army, when they are fully equipped, armed and formed in order of battle. He constructs a picture with the term 'perfecting' in the same sense as Paul and recognizes the following four meanings: a) Provide with what is necessary (as a father, 1 Thes. 3:10). b) Heal joints and tissues (such as a doctor, 1 Cor. 1:10). c) Repair or restore to a position (such as a constructor, Gal. 6:1). d) Feed for homogeneous growth (as a shepherd, Eph. 4:12).

As we can see, the significance is thorough and varied, and all this points to the role of the ministry of the Word. How important it is! They must take every believer who comes to the faith, and do a "jewelry" work with him. From healing his wounds, restoring him, feeding him, providing him with the necessary spiritual resources, and equipping him so that he is able to do the work of the ministry – the building up of the body of Christ.

Because, certainly, this final mission is not that of ministers, but that of every believer. Once healed, restored, fed, and equipped, he will be able to fulfill God's purpose for him in the midst of the body. How will the minister of the word do this work? Precisely through the ministering of the word. With the grace of God, with the patience of Christ, with the discernment of the Holy Spirit. Beautiful ministry!

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