After describing who God is and, consequently, what we are—one body—he now turns to show us what makes us individually important in the body of Christ. Δε, the first word in verse 7, can be translated “but” or “now.” Now, to each one of us grace was given. Christ determines the measure of grace each one receives. Notice, this grace isn’t the grace unto salvation, which is the same for every Christian. This grace is given in measures according to Christ’s will. Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 to say that God gives gifts to men. Psalm 68:18 places the ownership of God’s gifts with Him, not people. So our gifts belong to God. We are stewards. Christ is the one who fills all things through His Spirit, so our gifts are a manifestation of Christ in the Spirit. Each saint receives a gift, a manifestation of Christ.
Paul names the gifts. God gave some as apostles, a word meaning “missionary,” one who is sent. He gave some as prophets, a word referring to one who proclaims the word of God (a preacher). He gave some to be evangelists, to share the gospel to large numbers of people. He gave some to be pastors and teachers, those who care for and teach the congregation of God. Paul’s description, here, is one of the verses that lead me to believe that the pastoral position is a position of a pastor-teacher, not a chaplain. God gifts certain individuals for this work in His body according to His own will. This list of gifts is not exhaustive. Paul does assert that people are given gifts as missionaries, preachers, evangelists, and pastor-teachers for the sake of equipping all the saints for the work of service. Thus, all the saints are ministers to one another and their communities, and each of the particularly mentioned gifts prepare the congregation for ministry. God designed the church this way so that the body of Christ will be built up rather than torn down. The body of Christ, the saints, must be built up until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Our goal is to become like Christ as we do church together.
If we are honoring the gifts that God has given to each one and if the body of Christ is being trained for the work of ministry, the result is maturity such that we are no longer swayed by every wind of doctrine. Instead, we become able to speak the truth in love and grow up in all aspects into Christ. I find it interesting that those who honor the spiritual gifts God gives and are interested in being trained for their work of ministry find peace in the church rather than controversy. If there are quarrels, it is because we have not honored God’s design for His own church.
From Christ, then, we are one body being fitted and held together by what every saint provides according to the proper outworking of every individual’s spiritual gift(s). This is how the body of Christ is built up in love.