The title of this passage is unity among the plurality of the gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes and that are various but do not separate between us. Christ is the distributer of graces. A person gets a certain amount and the other gets a different one. The gift of a person complements the gift of the other for the unity of the Church.

Paul’s return in his words to “When he ascended on high…etc” is taken from the Psalms and is applied on Moses’ ascension to Mount Sinai where he took the Law and gave it to people. The apostle here hints that his intention by quoting the words of the Psalms is Christ’s ascension to the heavens. Then he explains the divine intentions as he says that He, who ascended, is the one that descended in incarnation. He descended in the Jordan River. This is why these words are read on the Sunday that comes after the Divine Theophany. And for He was incarnated and baptized, His purpose is to fill all things.

After that, the apostle lists the roles that people are invited to do in Christ’s body. Descending to “earthly regions” in addition to incarnation refers to the descent to hell through death.

“Apostles and Prophets” seem to be the two main functions in every local Church. The word “apostles” doesn’t refer here to one of the twelve. It refers to the person that preached the nations and therefore brought new people to Church. Prophets are the people that transfer God’s will to the gathered community through a divine inspiration. He doesn’t use the word bishops but pastors. He doesn’t mention the role of the bishop or elder (priest). This became clearer for St. Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Rome a while after writing this epistle (around 90 and 100 A.D.).

The teachers are not the preachers. A preacher works in the liturgy while a teacher gives organized lessons that are coordinated and continuous.

“The building up of Christ’s body”, the Church, is the purpose of the existence of these mobile functions. The aim of the gathered Church is for all of us to come in the unity of the faith that combines us and make us one and is known though the knowledge of the Son of God i.e. through entering Christ’s depths. The word knowledge means the great unity.

This way, we become together a perfect man, one man in the plural sense. And therefore we achieve “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. The measure of the Lord is our measure. This is a complete unity.

In this passage of the epistle to the Ephesians, the image of the Church is neither the vine nor the temple as in other places. It is the image of the man that is composed of many people that become, in Christ, one man having His measure. This is the high spirituality where we do not differentiate between Christ and Church.

After this image that we extracted from the epistle to the Ephesians, it is not acceptable to say “I am sitting home on Sunday morning and there is no need to join the others”. Know that you and the others compose the one Christ.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “مواهب الروح القدس” –Raiati 02- 08.01.2012