- General Context: Ephesians 4:1 - walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called
- Current Discussion: Ephesians 4:7, 12, 13 - We have all been given a gift for the ultimate building up of the body of Christ until we reach a state of complete spiritual maturity
- Current Point: Ephesians 4:14ff - We are to live in a certain way so that we fulfill our purpose in Christ
- Last time we focused on how we are to grow out of spiritual childhood and leave behind its doctrinal instability
- Tonight we are going to focus on how we should live instead
But speaking the truth (being truthful) in love
Begins with the strong contrasting - but. This next section is in contrast to the previous verses.
This first word is unusual - only used here and in Galatians 4:16
It can mean "speak the truth" or "be truthful"
In this context it probably has the latter sense, in contrast with Ephesians 4:14 (trickery of men, craftiness, deceitful scheming - all of which are not limited to speech).
Q: What is the significance of translating this word as "being truthful" instead of "speak the truth"?
The word "truth" means that it corresponds to reality. We are to correspond to reality with those around us in everything.
"Trickery of men, craftiness and deceitful scheming" are all nouns. "Being truthful" is a participle!
Q: What is the significance of this section being a participle instead of a noun?
Deception is something you do. Being truthful is something you are.
Our truthfulness is to be governed by love.
This is agape love - a love that seeks the best for the other.
Q: How should this kind of love control our truthfulness? (What we saydo, how we saydo, when we saydo, why we saydo?)
This phrase modifies the following phrase. We are to grow up into Christ, but we can only do that if we are being truthful with one another in love.
We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ
The very "to grow" here is an aorist subjunctive - indicating something we should do but not giving full certainty like an indicative
Q: What is the significance of Paul writing that we should grow rather than that we will grow?
Growth is the proper condition for the believer, but it is not one which will happen without effort.
Children are supposed to grow. To remain a child, easily affected by deceptions, or participating in them, is unnatural! We are supposed to be growing, changing, enlarging our hearts and our souls.
In all aspects
Our growth should not be limited to certain areas of our life. The Greek here (panta) is in reference to every area and all of each area. We are to be totally and completely absorbed and devoted to this task of growing. And what are we growing towards? Christ!
Into Him who is the head, Christ
Christ being the head has reference to Him being the source as well as the goal of the church. (Cf. Colossians 1:15-18)
Christ isn't just head of the church, though. He is the head of all things. This involves His authority as well. (Cf. Ephesians 1:22)
People have understood this phrase different ways. Some think that it means we are to grow as Christ grew, others that we are to become part of Christ, and still others that we are to grow in the direction of Christ.
I think the third option is the best. Christ is a fixed point, the only fixed point, in the universe. Everything else changes around Him. Also, at the moment of salvation we are "in Christ," so that doesn't seem to be the best understanding here. However, in contrast to letting our lives be characterized by deception and hypocrisy, Christ should be the perfect model for us to direct our lives toward.
Illustration - Plant growing
Plants always seek the sun. Light is the object of their growth. If you move the plant, they will grow in new directions so as to reach the light. Wherever God puts us in this world, we are to direct our growth towards the sun.
From whom the whole body
Q: What is the significance of "from whom?"
You could also translate this as "out of whom." Christ is the source of the body.
Q: What is the significance of "the whole body?"
God isn't leaving any part of His church out. Each member is involved in this process. God will complete His work in each of us. (Cf. Philippians 1:6)
Being fitted and held together by why every joint supplies
Fitted and held together
These words are quit interesting. The first is only used one other place, and that is here in Ephesians. (Cf. Ephesians 2:21)
It has the idea of putting together like stones for a wall. This was a time in which mortar was not frequently used, and stones had to be perfectly shaped in order to form a solid structure.
The second word actually comes from the background of debates and arguments. It means to holy diverses things together in one place. Just like a lawyer brings all kinds of different lines of argument together to prove his case, the church is made up of many unique people functioning using their special gifts but forming one great body.
By what every joint supplies
This section starts to explain how the body manages to accomplish the fitting and holding together we just discussed.
The phrase here is very unusual. It has the idea of everything that is in contact with something else. We might picture the image of the cells in a body. They are all unique and separate, and yet because they are all in contact with each other they are able to live, grow, and cause the whole body to function.
Q: What happens to cells that get separated from the body? What happens to a body if the cells stop adding to the whole?
According to the proper working of each individual part
This could also be translated "according to the measured energy of each individual part." There are a few things that we can learn from this.
- The body relies on each part
- It is about the body as a whole though, not about the parts
- Have an energetic power is not enough, it must be measured - properly working
Causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love
This is an interesting section.
Q: Who causes the growth of the body?
The body causes its own growth! How? By each individual part functioning in connection with every other part in a truthful, loving fashion. Love is the sphere in which the church operates as well as the glue that holds it together.