12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Edification is an important concept in Ephesians 4:12, 16, 29. Paul used the word 15 times in his epistles (18 in the NT). He used the verb 9 times as well.
for the edifying [building up]
Now we come to the third purpose for gifted men in this verse—they are to build up the church so that it develops an edification construct, a church that is mature in the Word and action.
“Edifying” means to build up, to construct. This word comes from a compound of two words: house and build. Literally, the idea is to construct a building or edifice. Note the previous building metaphor in Ephesians 2:20-22. The word is also used for edification in these verses: Ro 14:19; 15:2; 1 Co 14:3, 5, 12, 26; 2 Co 10:8; 12:19; 13:10; Eph. 4:12, 16, 29.
The word “edifying” is used both for the process and the product, for the erecting and the edifice.
As an action: the process of building, constructing (1 Co 14:12; 2 Co 13:10).
As a result: an edifice that has been built, a construction; it is the result of God’s activity. The believer is God’s construction (1 Co 3:9; 14:5, 26; 2 Co 12:19; Eph 2:21).
Our passage uses “edifying” in the second way—for a church that attains the result or the edification construct of maturity, where the church reaches a completed stage of maturity.
Second Corinthians uses this term for the state of being made complete (2 Co 13:11). God views the church as a “spiritual house” (1 Pe 2:5) and “God’s building” (1 Co 3:9). It is a house that God builds (Ac 20:32).
In this verse the focus is on the body of the church rather than the individual believer (vv. 4-6). Here the idea is the edifice of the church so that it becomes spiritually strong.
The thought is of spiritual construction. The idea is to construct the believer and the church into something strong in maturity before God. Paul elsewhere used this word for the church as a construction by God (1 Co 3:9). “Edifying” is also used figuratively of the establishment and increase of a Christian community known as the house that God built, established (1 Pe 2:5).
of the body of Christ,
The “body” of Christ or the church as a whole needs spiritual construction to reach maturity. The focus in this verse is on the body of the church, not individuals. However, this body comprises individuals in need of spiritual growth.
The need of the local church is always spiritual maturity.
No pastor-teacher can help his congregation grow through organization or any extrinsic method. God’s method is always teaching the Word to help people move toward maturity. Solid teaching requires significant study of the Word. Churches need to take note of this before they require their pastors to do everything in the church (Acts 6:2,4). It takes time to study the Word so that pastors can form principles of life from Scriptures. A church will decline into stunted growth without this.
Edification is the goal of both personal growth (Ro 14:19) and the corporate body (1 Co 14:26). It was a purpose of Paul’s own personal ministry (2 Co 10:8). The focus is to bring the church to core strength by edification.