12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Having presented gift categories in verse 11, Paul now gave the purpose behind those leadership gifts. The idea of this verse is that God gave gifted men to prepare God’s people for building up His body—namely, the building up of the corporate body of Christ.
Verses 11 to 16 are one long sentence that takes up two ideas: (1) ministry within the body of Christ (the church) and (2) the goal of maturity of the corporate body called the church.
Verse 12 describes three synchronized purposes for the church. The word “for” repeated three times indicates these purposes.
12 for [with a view to] the equipping [furnishing] of the saints
The first of three uses of “for” here states the first reason why God gave gifted men to the church (4:11). This purpose is “for the equipping of the saints.”
“Equipping” is a noun only occurring here in the New Testament. Secular Greek uses this word medically for setting a broken bone. The verb carries ideas such as for mending nets (Mt 4:21), bringing the church into harmony (1 Co 1:10), correcting problems in the church (2 Co 13:11), restoring a backslidden believer to fellowship (Ga 6:1), making up what a church lacks (1 Th 3:10), and equipping believers so that they can do the will of God (He 13:21). The idea of “equipping” is the preparation of the church so that it will fully qualify for serving the Lord.
for the work of ministry [service],
God’s second purpose for providing gifted leaders to the church is to minister to others. “Ministry” here refers to service for the Lord. Gifted men enable the church to do ministry; they do not minister to the exclusion of the saints.
A purpose for the church is to be fully qualified to serve our Lord.
God’s purpose is to provide gifted men so that individuals in the church can serve. Women, of course, receive multiple gifts as well. No gifted person can do all that is necessary to execute God’s plan for the church. That is why the primary role of the leaders is to equip the saints so that they can do the ministry.
All God’s people are to do the work of ministry. Pastor-teachers cannot fill all the roles necessary for a church to do its work. When a maximum number of people become willing to work in the church, ministry will become dynamic.
The task of gifted people is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. The evangelist helps people understand how to present the gospel. The pastor-teacher strengthens people in the principles of the Word and how to apply them to experience. The pastor-teacher admonishes and teaches every man with all wisdom to bring them to a point of completion in Christ (Co 1:28).