CONTEXT: Most commentaries break chapter 4 into four parts (MHCC) Exhortations to mutual forbearance and union. (1-6) To a due use of spiritual gifts and graces. (7-16) To purity and holiness. (17-24) And to take heed of the sins practised among the heathen. (25-32)
I however think it serves the modern reader better or is more helpful to break it down for study as follows:
- Encouragement in tolerating brethren and unifying fellowship (v.1-10)
- Spiritual Gifts and Graces that are given to selected leaders for unity (v.11-13)
- Reason for Unity (v.14-16)
- Focus on new life in Christ (v.17-24)
- Always be aware of sinful worldly practices (v.25-32.)
Note that I broke out v.11-13 as its own category, considering nearly every commentary and theologian historically agree the overarching theme is the unity of the body of believers (the church) it seemed necessary to focus on this point.
Paul could have easily left these verses out and the theme would still have worked. Yet he under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit places emphasis on church leaders (v.11). Their function is to train the saints for work in the ministry ( so much for the objection to seminaries or any formal training) and build up the body of local believers in knowledge, maturity, and unity.
As part of a body of believers, we should be praying daily that our leadership especially the pastors/elders, be Godly men dedicated to the training of saints for the ministry and building up of the church body as a whole.
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