“But unto each one of us was the grace given.”
What then? he saith, whence are those diverse spiritual gifts? For this subject was continually carrying away both the Ephesians themselves, and the Corinthians, and many others, some into vain arrogance, and others into despondency or envy. Hence he everywhere takes along with him this illustration of the body. Hence it is that now also he has proposed it, inasmuch as he was about to make mention of diverse gifts. He enters indeed into the subject more fully in the Epistle to the Corinthians, because it was among them that this malady most especially reigned: here however he has only alluded to it. And mark what he says: he does not say, “according to the faith of each,” lest he should throw those who have no large attainments into despondency. But what saith he? “According to the measure of the gift of Christ.” The chief and principal points of all, he saith,-Baptism, the being saved by faith, the having God for our Father, our all partaking of the same Spirit,-these are common to all. If then this or that man possesses any superiority in any spiritual gift, grieve not at it; since his labor also is greater. He that had received the five talents, had five required of him; whilst he that had received the two, brought only two, and yet received no less a reward than the other. And therefore the Apostle here also encourages the hearer on the same ground, showing that gifts are bestowed not for the honor of one above another, but for the work of the church, even as he says further on:
“For the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering unto the building up of the body of Christ.”
Hence it is that even he himself saith, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel.” (1 Cor. ix. 16.) For example: he received the grace of Apostleship, but for this very reason, “woe unto him,” because he received it: whereas thou art free from the danger.
“According to the measure.”
What is meant by, “according to the measure”? It means, “not according to our merit,” for then would no one have received what he has received: but of the free gift we have all received. And why then one more, and another less? There is nothing to cause this, he would say, but the matter itself is indifferent; for every one contributes towards “the building.” And by this too he shows, that it is not of his own intrinsic merit that one has received more and another less, but that it is for the sake of others, as God Himself hath measured it; since he saith also elsewhere, “But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased Him.” (1 Cor. xii. 18.) And he mentions not the reason, lest he should deject or dispirit the hearers.