The other day a brother wrote and asked me if I was a prophet. I have come to the place where I believe that all the so-called “five-fold” gifts given unto men are all about Jesus and His graces given to all who are in Christ and not about us as individuals, but are rather about Him in us collectively. Like Paul said, “I can do ALL things through Christ who is my strength.” Was Paul extra special? Not according to his own words. So, I try not to limit Christ in me by saying, “I am a prophet, or I am teacher, or I am an apostle, etc.” No, “I am IN Christ and it is from there that HE can do all things,” IF I don’t limit Him by my flesh or preconceived ideas as to what my “calling” is. We limit Christ in us when we try to put Him in a box, whether that box be a church building and our church doctrines or even saying within ourselves, “I am an Apostle!” or “I am God’s Prophet!”, I, I, I, blah, blah, blah.
This Ephesians chapter four verse eleven is right smack dab in the middle of a chapter that has terms that are about ALL of Christ’s body, not an exclusive few. It speaks of being equal as we abide in HIM; “you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness,” [where is “all lowiness and meekness” if we claim an “office” that elevates us above the rest of the body of Christ?] words like all– “God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all,” words like one, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all,” words pointing to Christ as gift given to every one, “unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ… that he might fill all things,”
But now we get to this mystery verse eleven which all of Christendom uses to justify church “offices” (another word placed in the N.T. translation that has no Greek equivalent in the text) and elevated king like authority. Here in verse eleven instead of ALL we read the exclusive term “some.” This word translated by the king’s bishops as “some” is the same Greek work that was translated in John chapter one as “the.” “In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God.” How would this read with the word “some?” “In the beginning was some Word, and some Word was with God and some Word was God…” Not quite the same. You see, the translators took quite a bit of license with this Greek word for, the definite article “ho” (a close look at the Greek in Matt. 28:11 will show the proper Greek word to be used for “some” is “tis” where it is used with the definite article “ho,” “…some of the watch came into the city…”).
The English Standard Version comes much closer in its translation of this passage, “He [Christ] who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the [ho- the not some] saints for the work of ministry [service], for building up the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:10-12 ESV). When you look at the Greek for each of these five Spiritual manifestation of grace they are all in the singular, not plural; apostolos – one sent forth, prophetes – one who speaks for God, euaggelistēs – one who brings good tidings, poimen – one who shepherds and feeds, and didaskalos – one who teaches. It is Jesus that does all these things and many places in the New Testament refer to Him with these tiles!
So now let’s translate Ephesians 4:10-12 as it should be, “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, THAT HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS. And he gave THE apostle; and THE prophet, and THE evangelist, and THE shepherd and THE teacher, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of service, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
THE Word, Jesus Christ, fills ALL things, in this case He fills ALL the body (not just some) with THE Apostle, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Prophet, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Evangelist, Jesus Christ. He fills ALL the body with THE Shepherd, Jesus Christ. And He fills ALL the body with THE Teacher, Jesus Christ through HIS Spirit that abides IN ALL who are His. Why? Because God is NOT a respecter of persons and He desires that we ALL might be made perfect and be built up into the fullness of His Son… “to equip the saints for the work of ministry [service], for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge [perfect knowing] of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to GROW UP IN EVERY WAY INTO HIM who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:12-15 ESV – emphasis added)
Dear saints, this whole “five-fold” hierarchic invention of the ecclesiarchs in the Christian religion has yet to build up the saints into the fullness of Christ and it never will. Why? Because by its very nature it divides the body of Christ against itself into two classes, the haves and the have-nots. the clergy and the laity, the clean untouchables and the unwashed masses. It is a system designed in hell itself, not in heaven. But like Paul brought forth in his letter to the Corinthians…
“For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife [divisions] among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed… Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:3-23 ESV).
All things are ours as we abide IN Christ who is our strength. Let us live accordingly as we surrender to Him and if we are being led to minister Christ Himself to others, let us do it in all simplicity and humble ourselves as He did, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.“
Reblogged this on Ekklesia Koinonia "Fellowship of the Called-out ones".
Here in verse eleven instead of ALL we read the exclusive term “some.” This word translated by the king’s bishops as “some” is the same Greek work that was translated in John chapter one as “the.”
Dear saints, this whole “five-fold” hierarchic invention of the ecclesiarchs in the Christian religion has yet to build up the saints into the fullness of Christ and it never will. Why? Because by its very nature it divides the body of Christ against itself into two classes, the haves and the have-nots. the clergy and the laity, the clean untouchables and the unwashed masses. It is a system designed in hell itself, not in heaven
Excellent dissertation brother… we are all “brothers” and not Christ told us “…but you shall not be so” with regards to the “heirarchal structure” etc. And yes, we can co-labor with Christ…but He IS THE Apostle, THE Prophet, THE Evangelist, THE Shepherd, THE Teacher….. HE IS and only came we live, move, and have our being IN Him…and the “function” can only be at His leading as well. And as you said so well, to “call ourselves” some, only limits Him in us…
Very good I like the way you corrected that translation..it never ceases to amaze me how we keep finding ways to replace Christ in his very being with other things..you are so right about the definite article deal–I have a saying that I got from Thomas Torrance…when you don’t have your ontological relationship straight your epistemological figuring will be off kilter..you guys are right on ontologically.
What he said! 🙂
Amen, Michael. Period. 😉
Very good article. Enjoyed it. To many of us Christians today seem to focus on leadership and authority, as you mentioned, clergy and laity. I think this article hits the nail on the head in regard to the ministry ‘positions’ mentioned in the word. The fact is Christ is everything. He is the all in all. As you said, He lives within us and He does the work through us. Not out of a position of authority in a man-made way, but through love and strength of the Spirit.
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Love this so much!!! HE is the fulfillment of all things.. our Shepherd, our Bishop, our Evangelist, our Pastor, our Teacher, our All in All.. no longer “I” that lives but Christ that lives in me.
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Reblogged this on spiritualabusesanctuary.
Excellent my bruthaah!
Agreed wholeheartedly, it is The Apostle, the Prophet etc. that was given. My question is: Act_21:10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. and
Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Here we see the Spirit using these terms to identify the primary work of these brothers. He is clearly not using it in the sense of a title but in the sense of work performed as in, John the plumber or Peter the fisherman. These aspects of Jesus are expressed through his body and it is appropriate to say Phillip the evangelist but it would be inappropriate to say Evangelist Phillip or Pastor Michael. The particular gift or aspect of Christ which is manifested through a brother or sister on a regular basis in their service may result in them being referred to by the work they are known for. Not as a title but as a service or “trade”.
1Pe 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
1Pe 5:2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
1Pe 5:3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
1Pe 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Here we see the older ones or elders(representing the person) being asked to shepherd(representing the task). An elder who had a real heart for evangelism may find himself being referred to as Frank the evangelist or one who prophesied as a prophet named Robert. Never entitled with Evangelist Frank or Prophet Robert. Just older mature brothers or sisters who are expressing an aspect of Christ as a service to his body.
We do not want at all to insinuate a hierarchy but the word identifies the functions we perform at times and correlates these functions at times with specific people in the body.
Matt, it is interesting to me how Paul’s so called “titles” morphed from “apostle,” to “least of the apostles,” to “servant” to being “least of all the saints,” as he matured and measured himself to Christ. It is also interesting how the Greek word “apostolos” is made into a similar sounding word in English, “apostle,” without being translated at all! If it was translated Romans one would read “Paul, a slave and one sent of Jesus Christ…” The KJV translators did the same thing to make another title… Deacon. They invented this title from the Greek word, “diakaneo”, a waiter upon tables or servant, and only translated the word into “servant” when it applied to Jesus and a sister in the church who served named Phoebe. The Church of England over which King James ruled by the power of his bishops, was an extension of His top down authority and it is no wonder to me that the Bible translation they came up with is filled with eccleastical titles to set them apart from the mass over which the king ruled with an iron hand.
Men love titles that set them apart from others and if they don’t take them to themselves the people who want a king to rule over them will give them titles that elevate them above the rest of Christ’s body. Paul was very careful to not divide up the body of Christ, but rather to insist that it is ONE IN Christ where there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free (laity or clergy), male nor female, but a NEW Creation that is NOT patterned after the Old Covenant where men had titles, but rather after the Kingdom of Heaven where multitudes are all standing on a flat sea of glass, where JESUS is the One who is high and lifted up and HIS train fills the temple.
What part of “Christ is ALL in ALL” is it that we don’t understand? I am sorry, but the church is yet carnal. John the Baptist refused to take a title. When pressed by the Jewish authorities he identified himself as “a voice of one crying in the wilderness” not “the last great Prophet of the Old Testament.” He knew that he had to decrease and that only Christ must increase. Oh, that the saints of God all had that same attitude toward and love for Jesus today.
Hey, thanks a lot for your well measured reply brother. I am in complete agreement with the “no title” thing and agree with your thoughts on apostolos.
During the construction of a large home there are various tradesman using their gifts as plumbers, carpenters, or electricians. An older experienced tradesman may take on the task of oversight of the construction….if any desire the task of an overseer….none of these tasks need be hierarchal. These are just men doing there tasks but the job proceeds much better if there are those who specialize at such tasks. There is certainly crossover amongst the tasks but generally a tradesman sticks to his skillset and will become known by that skillset. In our fellowship no one is commonly referred to by their skillset but occasionally it may be brought up that evangelism or teaching is a brothers heart or gifting. I guess I am just trying to find that balance between not giving man the glory and still using language in a functional and practical way that reflects God’s ways. To say Agabus is a prophet is not to entitle him but to explain the gifted task he performs. It would be correct to say you are a teacher in the functional sense but incorrect to say you are the teacher in the official sense?
Matt, where is your fellowship at? Glad to be getting to know you, my brother,
I am in Quesnel which is located in central British Columbia Canada. I have been enjoying and passing on your writings for a number of years now. They have been a really big blessing, thank you Jesus!
Well, we are almost neighbors (we are two hours south of B. C.). How far are you from Cranbrook? Have you ever met George Warnock? He has written some great books.
Yes I have met George Warnock. Another great big blessing in my life. I believe I have read most of all his books. I am probably a good 10 hrs by car from cranbrook. I live 1 hr south of Prince George .
Bro. Michael, thank you, thank you.
Great teaching. Thanks. Tons of things like this in the bible – the translators were more interested in translation than Truth, KJV more than most probably.
I’m not convinced that God does not appoint the function of apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor/teacher within the body to specific individuals. I could say that the members of one’s family also seem to constitute a hierarchy as well, especially when there is a special emphasis therein for the wife to submit to her husband and the children to their parents. Paul was specifically was called and did call himself an apostle. That didn’t constitute a hierarchy did it?
I certainly do agree that the manner this passage is often used is improper in the least. Even where I do believe these functions through people (specific individuals or other) are utilized for building up the body, there is no warrant in using titles, whether one does so or allows others to use them toward them. Either one is sinful.
That said. it appears that the passage in Ephesians has both local and extra local functions in mind. For example, a shepherd (pastor if you must) generally resides within the confines of a local ekklesia. This is the place you find that person (as the gift functioning). In the case of apostle, prophet and evangelist, they generally function outside of the local body and have more of a universal function among the entire body of Christ. Pastors are not sent per say, they merely function in the place they have been planted. The others are sent on behalf of the body itself (the entire body) and in the name of Jesus alone. There are exceptions, as we seem to find prophets within the local gathering of the saints in 1 Corinthians 14. One of the reasons we rarely see true apostles and prophets today is the same reason so many fall for the one’s claiming to be so: They’re allegiance isn’t exclusively to Jesus and His body alone. When anyone has a divided allegiance, to a church, institution, “ministry” or even a select group of believers over and against others, that individual is not acting in the manner of a true apostle, prophet or evangelist, nor could they be.
Here’s my point. It seems that in scripture we find Paul not only defending his personhood and call, but also making it clear to others who he was sending to others on his behalf. In light of the falsehoods that even then existed, this safeguarded the saints who were prone to be let astray and back into error by various people. It was important that they knew ahead of time who was who and who could be trusted with the truth.
People are who they are- if they function as a prophet then they are a prophet, if they function as an apostle or as an evangelist then that’s who they are- no mystery there. No one needs to boast about these things, unless of course they want to boast in the sufferings that so often accompany them.
If someone asked me about another believer, I don’t need to tell them who I think they are, but I can tell them how that person might be able to help them. Like you, I do believe God can use whoever, whatever and whenever He wants, as I too have been used in a variety of ways over the years. That said, I still choose not to call myself anything and simply allow God to use me as He will.
I still can’t agree with your take on Galatians 3:28 as I believe there are very specific roles and restrictions for both men and woman in scripture. Obviously there’s no need to go over that here as we have both studied this more than once. To me, that in no way diminishes the reality of “all are one in Christ Jesus,” nor does having specific individuals carry out specific functions within the family or corporate body.
May we boast in our weaknesses……claiming Christ alone.
I read your piece then I started thinking on the damage done by this false hierarchy construct and how, by default, errors start germinating to mislead the folks.
If any man defile the temple …..
1Cor.3:17 if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy…’
For years. Michael, I followed the conventional church teaching that this was speaking about the individual, who’s body is the temple, and if you smoke, drink, or do drugs or tattoo and pierce yourself into a monster, you were defiling the temple…..and I still hold to this, but its much worse than that.
The Greek for defile is phtheiro. It means to lead astray, to corrupt the temple.
Now this speaks to the individual and to the corporate body of Christ. The word warns us that doctrines of men and of demons, traditions of men that cancel out His truth, hirelings, false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, and wolves would be in abundant supply in the ‘church’ (ekklesia) twisting the scriptures for their own gain, making merchandise of the folks, stealing the wool, eating the fat, devouring widows houses which means making poor widows pay the ungodly tithe if they want to sit in the pew, in a word….phtheiro, defiling: leading astray with their deception and lies, corrupting the temple, the body of Christ.
One verse, where there are many, is 1Cor.3:3 ‘for you are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men?’
Divisions is what the clerical/ laity system is. 2 groups. The upper special control freaks and the lower unwashed masses, the paying folks. This should not be. Jesus said that the world has its despots and controlling leaders but ‘it shall NOT be so among you’. Well….its among us. This divides. A house divided cannot stand. The church is deader than dirt and its because of this division, men appointing themselves as a hierarchy and then teaching from a fleshly effort and view point, for His Spirit has been quenched because of this worldly upmanship. This leads the folks astray and corrupts their relationship with the Father. Sleeping in the pew, dying on the vine.
Again, we are told not to defile, lead astray His temple, the people, and that’s exactly what’s going on when a self elevated, arrogant, greedy, man opens his mouth from behind the Grecian pulpit.
Wake up ekklesia. Hear what the Spirit is saying unto the body of Christ. Time is running out.
Another interesting thing Michael is the word destroy in ‘God shall destroy…’ is the same Greek word. So he who leads astray the folks, will be led astray by God. There persistent, willful error will be judged.
Paul wrote, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall grow worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13 KJ2000). This speaks of the day we are in, for sure. Persecution is not something to be afraid of, but deception is. We are watching many anti-christs rise up in this hour who seek to deceive others and infect them with the very infections that drive them. Our strong defense against all this deception is to be totally given over to Christ without holding anything back. Anything in us that is not of Him will be used by the wicked one to throw us off on the wrong coarse.
Paul was speaking of this again when he wrote, “And then shall that Wicked One be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deception of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 KJ2000). Why are we deceived? It is because of what is in our “pleasure zones”… that place in our hearts that we hold back from God because we enjoy the sin that feeds it. We take pleasure in unrighteousness. How long will men be able to play this game on God? Not for long, “for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
Let this be our constant prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24 KJ2000). May we all be found standing IN Christ and be able to say with Him, “The Prince of this world is come and he has found nothing in me.”
God will send them strong delusion because ‘they love it so’. They simply refuse to listen to someone like you or the folks on this site that have been through the solid rock of rejection and heartache in order to discover the precious truths discussed on sites like this one. There’s a high price to pay to receive His secrets, His true perspectives. Oh but the glorious prize there is to be had. A high price for that high prize. Wrote a song about that once. God continue to nourish everyone with His riches.
Like Jeremiah said so long ago when Israel was in a similar fallen state as the church is today, “A wonderful and horrible thing is come to pass in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31 ASV). We are seeing in the in this great falling away what they will do in the end.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 RSVA)
wondering for what Greek New Testament source has these 5 as “singular”?
observing from more than one interlinear of Ephesians 4:11, αποστσλους, προφητας, ευαγγελιστας, ποιμενας, διδασκαλους… all plurals.
Marshall, I assume you are referring to the sigma on the end of these Greek nouns. In the Greek a sigma at the end can be found on both plural and singular uses of a noun. Look up each of these so-called “five fold’ nouns in both plural and singular cases in the New Testament in your Thayer’s or Strong’s and you will find that they are the same word for both cases whether they are singular or plural. You can do a search on this on the net and find out that determining the number intended by a nouns usage is a bit more complicated than adding an “s” on the end like we do in the English language. Thanks for writing.
[…] For a great treatise on this, see: https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/thoughts-on-the-five-fold-minestry/ […]
Do you see the clergy and the laity in the 5 I wills of Lucifer??
Gary, you asked about this passage:
Yes, it is not hard at all to see that spirit of anti-christ rising up and ruling over the people in “the name of Christ.” The doctrine of the Nicolaitans has taken over in the church systems of men. Jesus said,
Nicolaitan – Greek – Nikolaitēs from:
2) to utterly vanquish
1) a people, people group, tribe, nation, all those who are of the same stock and language
2) of a great part of the population gathered together anywhere
“To utterly vanquish the people”
there are moments where I want to hide under my quilt and weep.
nothing makes sense.
the world, the wickedness, “the church” – (sunday religious social club).
i get it now.
at least i think i do.
the questions i have… get answered online.
just had another answer.
from Michael, a prophet, haha.
not THE PROPHET MICHAEL.
thank you for proclaiming these things in “prophet like fashion” Michael.
You’re a shepherd.
That is… HE is a shepherd through his lowly humble servant.
oh what a God.
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I am pleased to hear that you were helped by what I have shared on here. I KNOW that if we will just lift HIM up before all men, HE will draw all men nigh unto Himself, the ONE Good Shepherd of His sheep. It is this fact that I try to live by.
God bless you as you continue to listen to the voice of your Shepherd and seek His face.
Just read this and tears are welling up.
This week I was wrestling with that ‘some’ passage in Ephesians.
Still struggling to make sense of churches plural in many NT passages.
Still so many questions.
Have you thought of including a page with passages ‘the king’s bishops’ ‘took license’ with?
I know TGEC covers many but I’m sure there are plenty more dirty nuggets in there we are yet to realise!
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Excuse me for being a bit slow, Liz. I finally put your comments together with our previous correspondence. We have not compiled all the “red flag” verses where the bishops took liberty to translate the KJV according to their own traditions and the wishes of the king, but there are many. I know that the RSV caught a lot of them, but even in that “translation” they sometimes caved to the traditions of men and used the fabricated titles of “bishop” and “deacon” instead of translating the original Greek from the oldest manuscripts like they purported to. The Concordant Literal Translation is closer than most…
“Now to each one of us was given grace in accord with the measure of the gratuity of Christ. Wherefore He is saying, Ascending on high, He captures captivity And gives gifts to mankind. Now the ‘He ascended,’ what is it except that He first descended also into the lower parts of the earth? He Who descends is the Same Who ascends also, up over all who are of the heavens, that He should be completing all. And the same One gives these, indeed, as apostles, yet these as prophets, yet these as evangelists, yet these as pastors and teachers, toward the adjusting of the saints for the work of dispensing, for the upbuilding of the body of Christ, unto the end that we should all attain to the unity of the faith and of the realization of the son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the complement of the Christ,” (Eph 4:7-13, CLV)
Notice that the context of this passage is about Christ giving graces to all mankind, “that He should be completing all,” not just a privileged few or “some.” I prefer to literal-ize the meanings of the 5 titles spoken of here as well, though, and the last thing they are is “offices.”
Like I said before, you need to listen to the Spirit as you read any translation, book or blog and let Him lead you into all truth just a Jesus promised He would. If you read something and it confuses you, put it aside, for God is not the author of confusion. And remember,
“for the wisdom of this world is stupidity with God. For it is written, ‘He is clutching the wise in their craftiness.’ And again, The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are vain. So that, let no one be boasting in men, for all is yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or the present, or that which is impending — all is yours, yet you are Christ’s, yet Christ is God’s.” (1Cor 3:19-23, CLV)
All things are YOURS in Christ, dear sister. Just keep following the Spirit’s leading in your life and embrace the cross God has given you and He will lead you into all truth.
“The Concordant Literal Translation is closer than most…”
yes, the CLT/CLV appears to have handled Ephesians 4 more carefully. Possibly also “yet these of” (rather than “yet these as”) may be a smigent better still.
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Thanks, Marshall. Good to hear from you again.