the weblog of Alan Knox

What is edification?

Posted by on Jan 13, 2011 in edification | 10 comments

During my series on mutual edification last week, Jeremy from “Till He Comes” asked a great question: “What is Mutual Edification?

I’ve stated several times (and it’s the topic of my PhD dissertation) that I believe that mutual edification is the reason that believers should come together. In other words, when we get together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, I believe that we should edify one another.

Now, the “one another” is the “mutual” part of “mutual edification.” So, edification is not left to the work of one person or a few people. Edification is the responsibility of all who gather – even if all do not take part every time they get together, the opportunity and expectation should be there.

But, what about the “edification” part of “mutual edification”? I’ve written a post here or there discussing edification, but I’ve never tried to define “edification” per se.

However, I’m now working on a series that will (perhaps) be published next week examining the different aspects of edification.

But, I thought I would start by asking you – my readers – the following question: What is edification? (By the way, “build up” is not a definition of “edify.”) What is included in “edification”?


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  1. 1-13-2011

    ‘To improve and encourage morally and intellectually’ – that’s a ‘secular’ definition….but it works pretty well IMO. I can see where ‘build up’ come from as the ‘efify’ bit has to do with the Latin for buildings (as ‘edifice’). Will that do for starters….?

  2. 1-13-2011

    This is one of those words I use a lot but only have a foggy idea of the meaning (others include worship, church, glorify). I have a problem with doing that!

    So I looked and found the definition alan referenced above. I also looked quickly to see where it was used in Scripture. So, my definition is sort of, well, not very studied out, but I would say it has something to do with sanctification, helping someone along in that process. So if things are edifying they encourage someone’s spiritual growth.

    I don’t know. Just some thoughts.


  3. 1-13-2011

    Alan and Dan,

    Thanks for the comments. What kinds of things would you include in the “improvements” or “sanctification” when talking about edification? Are we only talking about someone’s understanding of God/Jesus/theology?


  4. 1-13-2011

    Well, I might tend to think that all growth is ultimatly a growth in our understanding of God. In the Data Warehouse we call it “actionable intelligence,” or data that inspires change or affects decision making.

  5. 1-13-2011


    I am really looking forward to these posts.

    And though “to build up” may not be a definition of edify (I haven’t checked a dictionary yet), the word comes from the Latin aedificare, which is a construction term for building.

    And the Greek behind “edify” is oikodomeo which definitely refers to building a house or constructing a building.

    So I think edification happens when believers are together for pretty much anything: teaching, serving one another or others, sharing a meal, or just living life together. In this way, edification is a natural by-product of being together, but can be intentionally amplified through prayerful planning and preparation.

  6. 1-13-2011


    I guess I should asked if edification only affects that way someone thinks about God? Is it only a mental exercise?


    “Edify” and “build up” are really the same terms. One comes to us through Latin, and the other through another language. (I’m not sure where the term “build” comes from.) So, to me, saying that “edify” means “build up” simply leads to the question, “What does ‘build up’ mean?”


  7. 1-14-2011

    I asked myself a question. When I am edified what caused it or preceded the edification? Phil 4:8 came to mind, but more specifically whenever I feel I have been in the presence of God. Whenever God’s Word is shared. When you see someone blessed. Experiencing the love of the brethren.

    There is a purity that comes with edification. It is very hard to put into words. It is not just a feeling, it is much deeper than that. Edification is the peace of God that passes all understanding.

  8. 1-14-2011

    I believe that edification and progressive sanctification are intimately connected. God’s stated purpose in Christ is to conform us into the image of His Son. When we gather together around Christ as His church in order to build each other up in the faith, we are using the gifts He has distributed amongst us to help each other as a community to grow in Christ likeness. And I mean this in a very real and practical way in which our attitudes and every day actions become more and more Christ like. More loving, more caring, more concerned about the physical and spiritual needs of others, more patient, more joyful, more peaceful, gentler etc.

    This IMO should be the goal and by-product of our meeting together whatever the format.

    Again, I can worship God alone on any day, I can pray to God alone on any day, I can study God’s written word alone on any day, but I need other sisters and brothers through their gifts to help build me up in Christ, edification is a vital part of sanctification.

  9. 1-14-2011

    when we edify another, we are saying, “yes, i recognize the Christ in you”.

  10. 1-15-2011


    Thanks for the input. There are many ways to edify others, isn’t there?


    I like this alot: “And I mean this in a very real and practical way in which our attitudes and every day actions become more and more Christ like. More loving, more caring, more concerned about the physical and spiritual needs of others, more patient, more joyful, more peaceful, gentler etc.” Thanks!


    So, edifying the church would be saying, “Yes, I recognize Christ in y’all”?