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Pentecost Sunday: The Gift and the Gifts

May 28, 2023

Teacher: Daniel Baker
Topic: Pentecost
Scripture: Ephesians 4:7–16

Pentecost Sunday: The Gift and the Gifts

Eph 4:7–16 – Pentecost Sunday – Daniel Baker – May 28, 2023


Please stand... A reading of Ephesians 4:7–16. ...Thanks be to God.

On May 6th King Charles was crowned King of England. As part of that celebration he received significant and symbolic gifts. Philip alluded to one of these, a Bible given to him by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland. This was my favorite line of the ceremony: “Receive this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.” A scepter. Spurs. A “Sovereign’s Orb.” Of course, the crown. All housed in the Tower of London. And essentially priceless.[1]

But the King also gave gifts to people as part of the coronation. He gave over 400k people “coronation medals” made of nickel and designed for the occasion. It’s a tradition dating back centuries.

For those who receive these “coronation medals,” they’ll have some value. But it’s of limited value. It won’t be something that changes your life in a lasting and significant way.

At the crowning of this very earthly king with very limited power—he was given gifts, he gave gifts. That feels right, doesn’t it? Becoming king is not a private affair. It affects all his people.

In our passage this morning, we realize that what happened in a very earthly way with King Charles reflects what happened in a glorious heavenly way with King Jesus.

Except the King we’re talking about is no typical king in a long line of very earthly kings. And the gifts he gives are life-changing. They do bring change in a lasting and significant way.

This morning we’ll look at Four Things to Understand about the Gift and the Gifts of Pentecost.

Our text is from Ephesians: Paul’s writing from Rome during his 2-year house arrest. Luke is with him (Col 4:14). This is also when Luke is writing the book of Acts, where Paul is so prominent. There’s a good case to be made Luke is actually the amanuensis (secretary) for this epistle.[2] We sometimes imagine these two men as writing in different places and at different times, giving very different perspectives on the power of the Spirit in the life of the Christian. It’s better to picture them doing ministry together, producing some of their writings together, and writing from a very similar perspective on the Holy Spirit.

The sermon: Four Things to Understand about the the Gift and the Gifts of Pentecost: (1) The Source, (2) The Gifts, (3) The Purpose, (4) The Duration.


I.  The Source

We start with Ephesians 4:7–10. We’ll focus on the SOURCE.

The “gift” theology is evident in the vocabulary. Three different words for “gift/grace” (charis, dōrea, doma) and also the verb “to give” (didōmi).

And in verse 7, all these gifts are the overflow of “Christ’s gift,” poured out in divine generosity because of his great triumph (v. 8).

The SOURCE of all the gifts we receive is “Christ’s gift.” Christ is the source!

Christ’s gift is given “to each.” Because of God’s generosity, you weren’t left out. “Grace was given to each one of us...” (Eph 4:7). What gift is given and the amount of it, is up to God the Giver. But you weren’t left out!

Paul doesn’t elaborate much on the different gifts God gives. He emphasizes THE SOURCE: Christ!

Our gifts are given as part of “Christ’s gift” (Eph 4:7).

And then he retells the story of Pentecost in a very distinct way, borrowing from the book of Psalms.

He quotes from Psalm 68:18 (Eph 4:8), a Psalm of David that glories in YHWH the Champion and Savior of God’s people. He quotes from verse 18, but I’ll pick up the verse immediately before and after to give you a sense:

17 The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary. 18 You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there. 19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah (Ps 68:17–19)

An image of God’s triumph—and our blessing. He “daily bears us up.”

What Paul does is see Christ in this verse. And especially the Christ of the Ascension and Pentecost.

Paul explains Ps 68:18 by speaking of Christ’s ascension after he had “descended into the lower regions, the earth” (Eph 4:9).

Here we see the whole sweep of Christ’s ministry. He descends from heaven to earth in his INCARNATION. And especially his descent into the lower regions means his CRUCIFIXION and DEATH.

But then he ASCENDS “far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things” (Eph 4:10).

Luke 24 and Acts 1 describe Christ’s ascension. He was with his disciples and then ascended. They were looking at him and suddenly he rose into the air “and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).

At that point he goes to the right hand of the Father (Ps 110:1).

And then, as Paul tells us, “he gave gifts to men” (Eph 4:8). The Psalm passage tells us the victor received gifts. This is where Luke’s perspective really helps. Again, Luke and Paul are co-laborers in the gospel and you can imagine them as co-authors at various times, even in our passage.

Here’s what Luke records from the day of Pentecost:

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (Acts 2:33)

Christ “received” the “gift” of the Spirit from the Father—and then Christ “poured out” the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

Christ is the one who both RECEIVED and GAVE the great GIFT—The Holy Spirit! He received him as the Triumphant and Ascended King, he gave him to his people.

“Christ’s gift” is the Holy Spirit. There’s no greater gift. For Christ to give the Holy Spirit means he’s giving God himself.

And this one gift leads to all other spiritual gifts—so that “each one of us” is given “grace...according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

Playing off this idea that charis is one of the main words for “gift” and “grace” in the NT, Andrew Wilson says,

In an important sense, all Christian theology is charismatic. Every doctrine we have concerns a grace-gift of some sort, with the exception of our doctrine of God, which, of course, concerns the Giver....On every page of Scripture, we will find wisdom on how to identify God’s gifts, how to think about them, and how to respond to them. They are gifts, not rewards. They are to be received, not earned. They are to be enjoyed, not worshiped. Most obviously, they are always very good....Christian theology is a theology of gift. We are all, in that sense, charismatics.
Andrew Wilson, Spirit and Sacrament[3] 

II. The Gifts

Read Eph 4:11.

These gifts are given “to each” (Eph 4:7) but certain gifts are given “to the church” as a whole to help it mature and grow in fruitfulness. That’s what we have here in v. 11.

In verse 11 we see some of “the gifts” he gave. Before we saw that Christ gives gifts to people, and here we see that Christ gives people as gifts.

He gives apostles: those sent to plant churches and evangelize in new fields of ministry. The Twelve. Paul. Barnabas. Apollos. Timothy. Silas. Where we can get off with apostles is in thinking that they must have seen the resurrected Christ and must write Scripture. Some did these things. But not all of them. But all NT apostles were involved in planting churches and evangelizing in new fields of ministry. When you define what an apostle is, you want to define them by what’s true of ALL NT apostles, not just some of them.

He gives prophets: those who speak what God has spontaneously brought to mind. Some contribute to NT Scripture (Eph 2:20). Men like Luke or Jude fit this description. But some prophesy in church gatherings and are evaluated by the others present there (1 Cor 14:26–32).

He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. (Acts 21:9)

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. (1 Cor 14:29)

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thess 5:19–21)

Prophecy microphone:

He gives evangelists. Such people are not just occasional evangelists, faithful out of a sense of commitment to Christ. They are frequent evangelists, fruitful in this gift. Effective in turning conversations to Christ. Effective in seizing opportunities to share the gospel. They’ve seen conversions.

In our church a Phil Sasser, Ken Barnes, Forrest and Julie DeVita on college campuses, Katrina Walker, Martha Bastic.

May he raise up more!

He gives pastors. The ESV has translated it “shepherds.” The Greek word for “shepherd” and “pastor’ is exactly the same (poimēn). That speaks to the kind of work that pastoring is—it’s feeding, protecting, caring for sheep. The sheep that God has given to them:

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for (shepherd, poimanō) the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

This weekend. Gifts to me.

He gives teachers. There’s a close connection between pastors and teachers. The idea is that all pastors in the church are teachers, but not all teachers in the church are pastors.

And there are more besides—prophecy, tongues, gifts of healing, words of wisdom and words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, teaching, leading, serving, mercy (1 Cor 12:8–11; Rom 12:6–8).

And more besides:

4   Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. (1 Cor 12:4–6)

This summer we’ll be looking at 1 Corinthians 12–14 we’ll see these themes again. Especially the variety of gifts God gives, each though each is given a gift to serve the church (1 Cor 12:7–11).

III. The Purpose

Read Eph 4:11–12.

He explains the grace given, the people given. Then the PURPOSE they’re given to accomplish.

This isn’t easy to live out. Men are given as pastors and deacons to organize and lead the church. But within that leadership is equipping people for ministry. Real ministry.

A healthy church has strong leadership—but also vibrant and dynamic ministry being done by an army of volunteers and staff.

The purpose for all this ministry is “the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12). The church is built up. The members of the body are built up.

“BUILT UP” has a protecting side—Eph 4:14.

“BUILT UP” has a growing side—Eph 4:15–16.

The PURPOSE of the gifts helps us know how to PRAY FOR THE GIFTS.

  • They’re for us.
  • But they’re not JUST FOR US—they’re to help others.
  • You might not have faith to pray for the gifts for yourself, but maybe you can pray for more of the gifts so that others will be built up in the church!

IV. The Duration

Read 4:13 – “Until...” The gifts that are given do have an expiration date. But it’s not when the apostles die or the New Testament is written. The expiration date is when verse 13 is accomplished.

What is it describing? Our glorification. That day when we become like Christ because we will see Christ (1 John 3:3).

When that happens there will be no need for any of the gifts of the Spirit.

We sometimes refer to ourselves as Continuationists. Here’s what we mean by this:

Continuationism: All the gifts in the New Testament continue until the return of Christ.

We’re not saying we move in the power of the Spirit in the exact same way as the apostles Peter and Paul. Just that the same gifts we read about in the New Testament are available today.

We’re not the Giver. The Giver controls what gifts are given and how much of the gift. But we know from his word that any of the gifts we read about can occur in our churches and lives today.

That’s what we celebrate with Pentecost Sunday—our God the lavish Gift-giver pouring out his gifts on his needy people!


Pentecost Sunday helps us see the fullness of God’s generosity.

God doesn’t just give beautiful pieces of nickel you can show your grandchildren. His generosity is LAVISH!

His lavish generosity is there on Good Friday and Easter Sunday when we remember the crucifixion and rescurrection of Christ. And Christ is the great Gift given to us:

Christ himself the gift:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Cor 9:15)

There is no greater display of God’s generosity than that! But it’s not the final display of generosity. God keeps giving!

At Pentecost we celebrate God giving the Holy Spirit to the church in a greater, fuller, more diverse way than in the Old Testament.

“Each is given a gift.”

But the Spirit being given to the church also means a greater, fuller experience of God himself.

  • “Filled up with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19)
  • “Full of joy and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52)
  • “Joy that is inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8)

That’s what the apostle Paul prays for among his churches. It’s what he calls us to experience when he says:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit! (Eph 5:18)

Invitation for Prayer:

  • Gifts—great gifts to see greater growth in the church and in the lives of those you encounter
  • The Gift—the Spirit—Remember Luke 11:13, “how much more will he give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
  • Experience—joy, fullness of God
  • Healing—God is the healer of souls and the healer of bodies!

A benediction and prayer:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor 13:14)



[2] For Luke as the amanuensis of Ephesians see Frank Thielman, Ephesians, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), 9–11; Richard N. Longenecker, “Ancient Amanuenses and the Pauline Epistles,” in New Dimensions in New Testament Study (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1974), 294.

[3] Andrew Wilson, Spirit and Sacrament (Zondervan, 2018), 26, 31.

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