Equipping the Saints

Paul opens our eyes to God’s leadership strategy in Ephesians 4. Jesus leaves earth, and He bestows five different kinds of leaders upon the kingdom that function to prepare and position the members of His Ecclesia. Paul uses the body metaphor to explain how these leadership dynamics function, the measurement of success we should use, and observable results that leadership function brings to the kingdom’s Ecclesia.

In one particular phrase, Paul uses the Greek word, katartizo, to define what these leadership dynamics accomplish. Jesus gave the five dynamics of leadership to “katartizo” the holy ones so they can work the ministry within the Body of Christ.

So, equipping the saints becomes a fundamental health issue for the Ecclesia, and the meaning of the term becomes essential to a good understanding of kingdom leadership dynamics.

Like many words, this term has different facets of meaning depending upon the context in which it is used. For example, when the word is used in a medical sense, it can have the meaning of setting a bone so that it will heal properly. When it is used to speak of fishermen working on their nets, it means the nets are being repaired so that fish won’t slip through holes torn in the nets by previous use or strains from daily use. When the word is used to speak of military preparation, it speaks to position and provision for soldiers, lining up archers with bows and arrows, putting horsemen who can ride on horses would be a way of understanding how the term fits military “equipping.”

Luke 6:40 says, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” “Fully trained” being katartizo used in the context of discipling.

Should we use the medical context because Paul discusses the Ecclesia in the metaphor of a body? Should we use the military context since the Ecclesia has a warfare assignment that the gates of hell cannot withstand? Should we use the “perfecting” translation as if the context calls for a “maturing” of individual members of the Body? Or, should be use the discipling context because we are speaking of kingdom leadership dynamics bestowed by Jesus upon His kingdom Ecclesia?

Contextual Meaning

I propose that this term means, “prepare and position,” in this context, and that this dual meaning best describes what Paul intends to convey. I see Paul’s point as “leaders position members of the Body to function, preparing them to function at optimum levels in ways consistent to and in coordination with the systems of the spiritual Body, the Ecclesia.

I propose that we cannot see the results Paul describes, through the function of the leaders Jesus bestows, without both concepts, “prepare and position.” Study of the uses of the term all point to both aspects.

Medically, preparation and positioning is needed for proper healing. Militarily, preparation and positioning is needed for proper battle plan execution. Leadership wise, preparation and positioning is needed to realizeĀ the end results Paul describes, given the context of leadership by which he introduces this word.

This leads me to conclude that a great deal of the discussion about “equipping the holy ones” merely hammers this important revelation into modern church growth structures and institutional organizational charts, as if teaching people to greet, usher, host, or watch the kids resembles what this Scripture pictures.

If you begin with the modern definition of “church,” you end up with a picture of “equipping” that Paul would not recognize as consistent with this Scripture. Paul would ask, “Nice, but where’s the Ephesians 4 implementation I wrote about in Ephesians 4?”

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