It was once Jesus had ascended that he sent his Spirit as he promised the early disciples for the work of globally spreading the gospel and building his church. In doing so he gifted members of his church with diverse gifts. ‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.’ v11 The core roles or ministries for the church establishing a unity in the faith, knowledge of the Son of God and becoming mature as a Christian or as a church were all communicators of the word of God. These gifts of grace all continue to have core importance in the modern church although apostles in terms of eye witnesses of Jesus and authors of the New Testament were unique to the first century. Apostle means sent, in that broad sense many continue to be sent for gospel purposes but not as the uniquely authoritative biblical apostles. Their message is now contained in the New Testament. The purpose of these ministries of the word is to equip the whole church v12 for service. The objective of the service is to build up the body of Christ from the call to Christ to, ‘the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’ v13 The whole body of Christ is to minister to the whole body of Christ drawing upon the ministry of the word.
There were spiritual dangers to the early church arising from false teaching, evidence from the letters from the apostles is that this frequently occurred. False teaching was motivated by people’s self interest. Fashions in spiritual teaching were as common then as now and immature followers of Christ were liable to be deceived. The false teachers were clearly convincing and dedicated to their deception. Which is why Paul urges the Ephesians to persist in speaking the truth v15 (the apostolic gospel) to combat the divisions false teaching creates and enable the church to grow in Christian maturity.