13 The body of Jesus, or of the Lord, denotes His physical frame. The body of Christ. however, is quite a distinct thought. Christ, or the Anointed, is a title rather than a name. It suggests official position. We are not united to Him by physical ties, as Israel was, but by purely spiritual relationships. This is forcibly suggested by the two figures used, baptism, or dipping, and drinking. One spirit, within and without, binds us together and unites us to Christ. The true ecclesia, or "church", today is not to be seen in the multitudinous organizations of Christendom with their many heads, but in the one spiritual, invisible unity, composed of all who have God's Spirit, by which they are vitally joined to the living organism of which Christ Himself is Head.
All the members of this spiritual body are mutually dependent on one another. Some perform one function, some another, but none can be dispensed with. No one can choose his own place in the body, for God reserves this entirely within His own power. It is futile to usurp some function for which we are not divinely endowed. It is failure when we do not exercise the function for which the Spirit of God has fitted us. Each one should be deeply exercised to discover his own place in the body, whether high or low, respectable or mean, and seek, by God's grace, to fill it. None can be apostles or prophets now, for their work has been accomplished. Few can be teachers, but the work of a pastor, who shepherds the saints, or an evangelist, who proclaims the evangel, is, in measure, open to all in a private, if not in a public way.
25 It is the privilege of all who love God to cooperate with Him in avoiding schism in the body of Christ, by cultivating a due sense of their dependence on all other members, and a godly solicitude and sympathetic regard for their welfare; and this, too, even when fellow members despise and oppose them and persecute them. The body is one. We need only act accordingly. Christ is its Head. We need only accord Him His place.
28 In the later revelation (Eph.4:11) "suited to transcendence" (12:31), we have a revised list of the gifts. There the lesser graces, such as powers, healing, and languages are omitted. That this would be the case is predicted in the next chapter (13:8), where we are told of a time when the gift of languages would cease. The revised list given in Ephesians, however, looks backward as well as forward. Apostles and prophets are no longer necessary to the edifying of the body of Christ. We are distinctly told that prophecies will be abrogated (13:8) when maturity arrives. They were needed only so long as God's written revelation was incomplete. So that, today, the special gifts have narrowed down to three: evangelists, pastors and teachers.
31 Most of the graces were transient, suited to immaturity, hence the apostle seeks to lead them up to those which will remain in the impending transcendent administration, in which we find ourselves today.
1 The "gift of tongues", even when it was a reality, was nothing but a noise unless impelled by the power of love. Even those high endowments, such as prophecy and knowledge, amount to nothing unless love regulates their exercise. Yes, and every personal sacrifice, even martyrdom itself is without value apart from the spirit of love.
8 It would seem that a few were already mature (2:6), but the secret wisdom into which they were initiated was not made public until Paul wrote his Perfection Epistles, Ephesians (Eph.4:13), Philippians (Phil.3:15), and Colossians (Col.1:28, 4:12). The writing of these epistles was the signal for the abrogation of the gift of prophecy, as they completed the word of God (Col.1:25), for the cessation of the gift of languages, as it was a sign of earthly powers in the coming eon, and we are blessed among the celestials (Eph.1:3), and for the abrogation of the gift of knowledge (directly revealed), as there was a final written revelation.
9 These gifts belonged to the time of transition, when the full orb of truth was not revealed. When it was, there came the necessity of withdrawing much which did not accord with its final form.