EDIFICATION (Gk., oikodomē , "building up," oikodomein, ekoikodomein, "to build up"): In a metaphorical sense a term peculiar to Christianity, occurring in the New Testament, in Matt. xvi. 18; Acts ix. 31, xx. 32; I Pet. ii. 5; Jude 20, and especially in Paul. The notion goes back to the conception of the congregation (Eph. ii. 21-22; I Cor. iii. 9, 16) and the individual Christian (I Cor. vi. 19; Gal. ii. 20; Eph. iii. 17) as the "temple of God"; but it transcends the literal significance of the word in so far as the subject in whom the edification takes place receives his origin through edification in the literal sense, but in the metaphysical sense is already in existence before the edification (so in I Pet. ii. 5). Pagans are not "built up" to a congregation of Christ, nor do individual Christians by their union "build up" the congregation, but the existing congregation of Christ is "built up" into the congregation of Christ, a member of the congregation into a member of the congregation of Christ, by edification the congregation and the individual Christian becomes that which it (or he) already is. By faith in Christ the congregation like the individual Christian has entered into the status perfectionis; more than the congregation of Christ it can not become as the individual Christian can not become more than a child of God. But the task is to become perfectly that which they are, and to realize fully the principle of the new life: the activity by which this is accomplished is "edification."
According to Matt. xvi. 18 Christ is the subject, and Christians as a whole are the object of the "edification"; according to Eph. iv. 16 Christians as a whole and according to Rom. xiv. 19 the individual congregation are the subject and object of the "edification; " according to I Cor. xiv. 4, "he that prophesieth," according to Eph. iv. 29 every Christian in every word is the subject and the congregation the object, of the "edification"; according to Rom. xv. (I Thess. v. 11; 1 Cor. xiv. 17) the individual is to "edify " the individual; according to I Cor. xiv. 4, "he that speaketh in a tongue" "edifieth" himself (only). But whether the congregation edifies itself, or an individual the congregation, or another individual, or himself, the supreme subject of all "edification" is Christ the Lord, who exercises his edifying activity through his Gospel, through the gifts of his Spirit, through the new life (especially through love, I Cor. viii. 1), which he has awakened and preserves in his congregation. Christ himself leads his congregation and its individual members unto perfection.
E. C. ACHELIS.