How to be Part of the Body

And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, assuming you heard Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus: you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new man, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.                                                   Ephesians 4:11-32
(Holman Christian Standard Bible®© Holman Bible Publishers)

A popular means of attempting to control what we think or teach is to raise the rule against taking Scripture out of context. It seems reasonable to impose that restriction on how we use what is written in the Book. A problem that is exposed with it by the Scriptures themselves is the number of times those writing the Scriptures took passages they were quoting and applied them very much out of context. See examples in this article: Using the Bible.

Examples of popular non-contextual uses of Scripture include preaching from 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings. Chapter 13 is wedged between Paul’s instructions about the unity that should be present among the various manifestations of spiritual work by the one Holy Spirit in chapter 12 and its continuation in chapter 14 with regard to prophecy and tongues. The last verse of chapter 12 introduces chapter 13 as a “more excellent way” of walking in that unity as we learn to minister together as the church.

This passage (Ephesians 4:11-32) is another description of that “excellent way.”