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Eph 4,25-5,2 - Immitators of Christ sh

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 Immitators of God

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood

and speak truthfully to his neighbor,

for we are all members of one body. 

26 “In your anger do not sin” a:

Do not let the sun go down

while you are still angry, 

27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

28 He who has been stealing

must steal no longer,

but must work,

doing something useful

with his own hands,

that he may have something to share

with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk

come out of your mouths,

but only what is helpful

for building others up

according to their needs,

that it may benefit those who listen.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,

with whom you were sealed

for the day of redemption. 

31 Get rid of all bitterness,

rage and anger,

brawling and slander,

along with every form of malice.

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,

forgiving each other,

just as in Christ God forgave you.

Be imitators of God, therefore,

as dearly loved children

2 and live a life of love,

just as Christ loved us

and gave himself up for us

as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Its good to be back from Holidays and to see all of you here today. We have enjoyed our time with Hedi’s parents, and then we spent some time with friends at their cottage. It was a really good time to relax from the daily routine, play games with the kids go fishing and find God also in nature.

But life, and especially the Christian life of discipleship, isn’t always an easy walk in the park. Sometimes it’s a real struggle. And you can just feel how the devil is having a hay day with us. Today’s text deals with the problem of anger and bitterness, and Paul tells the Ephesians that true love is the antidote for that.

The last few months we have looked at various teachings of Paul to the Christians in the Early Church. And as we look at the teachings of Paul to the early followers of Christ in first century Christianity, we recognize how true those teachings are also for us today.

In the letter to the Ephesians Paul wants his readers to make a connections between the new relationship they have with Christ and with each other as Jews & Gentiles in the church on the one hand, and specific behavior in real life, on the other hand.

Today’s text is far more than just a set of rules for living as a Christian. Paul’s teaching takes place in a very mixed context. There were people from many different cultural and religious backgrounds in the Ephesian church and it must have been a real challenge to keep the church focussed on its mission in the world.

As we revisit the letter to the Ephesians it becomes clear that the effectiveness of the witness of the church depends on the unity of the body. Ephesians is the “Body Book”. We are one body – Christ is the head. There is a rich diversity of gifts in the body, to build up the community of faith.

But there is also trouble!

The early followers of Christ came into the faith community from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. Many had been Gentiles and Pagans who came into the community of faith with a good deal of baggage. Some were undoubtedly business people who made their financial gain by misrepresenting themselves and the products they were selling. Some came from broken and shattered family situations where abuse and violence was the order of the day. Some were poor people who stole from others in order to eat or ware clothes. Some were rough tough kinds of people who dominated over others with their coarse language and swearing. Some were angry people who were unable to control their rage, and got themselves into all kinds of fights. Some had become bitter through years and years of bottled up anger, frustration, and resentment. And some had lived their lives slandering other people and spreading bad rumors about other people.

As the Good News of Jesus Christ spread through the land, these people were convicted of their evil ways and came into the church.

Breaking with their old habits and traditions meant that they would seek to live their life in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle warns them not to grieve the Holy Spirit by ignoring the true Christian virtues and continuing in their pagan vices. The immitation of Christ is an antidote to the sinful life.

Now,  lets get into the text a bit more.

Have you seen the cartoon where the wife comes home from her work and says to her husband: "Honey, I had a lousy day at work, so I'll just yell at you for a while." 

Anger is a very strong emotion that we are all familiar with.  Most people have some sort of escape valves built into their systems for a time when these emotions show up.  We use terms like "letting off steam", "hitting the roof", "blowing up", and... I'm sure you have your own way of describing what happens when your body tells you "red alert, red alert, evacuate immediately."

But, people are very different in how they deal with their anger.  Some people resent those who they perceive to be the cause of their anger.  They stop communicating and start blaming.  Sometimes the little evil voice inside their heads gets loose, and starts to plot a plan for revenge.  "I have been wronged, and I'll make it right.  I still don't know how, but it's coming. Just wait."  Perhaps you fit into this category.

There are others who deny their anger.  We may call them the sleeping lions.  He looks very innocent when he's asleep, but watch out when he wakes up and gets hungry.  You dare not even smile at him out of fear what might happen to you.

Then there are those people who let the pressure rise inside themselves, until suddenly you hear this whistling sound coming from them.  You look at the person... and sure enough... you can actually see the smoke coming out of their ears.  They're walking time bombs.  You want to be a world apart if the ticker isn't stopped in time.

Did I just hear an "Amen"?

Can you relate to some of the things I've been describing?  When we get angry, there seems to be a trap door that closes in our minds.  And in our thinking (which is hardly rational when we are angry), there is no doubt as to who is right and what is the right thing to do. "Make 'em pay."  I found a story from Marilyn Anderes of Fresno, California that illustrates this point:

"The arrangements had been made and I was excited.  My husband and I had not had a date for at least two months.  Our mutual birthday time had arrived and I had planned a surprise birthday party for him -- a small group of friends was to meet us at a familiar oriental restaurant.  With the babysitter armed with instructions and snacks, we headed for the car.  Behind the wheel, my husband suggested, "Let's go for Mexican food!"  That would have been a delightful idea -- except that our friends would be waiting at the other restaurant.  I tried to remain unruffled and said sweetly, "I think Chinese sounds better tonight!"  The retort came swiftly, "No. I want a big enchilada!"  After some haggling, it became apparent that he had chosen tonight to be demanding, unreasonable, and interested only in his own food cravings.  Dark thunderheads formed inside the car.  Finally, I screamed in frustration, "You dope!  I have a surprise party planned at the chinese restaurant.  We have to go there.  He laughed -- and that made me even angrier.  He laughed so hard it took him five minutes to tell me that he had planned a surprise party for me, too -- at the Mexican restaurant.  It was the one fact I didn't know.  Whenever I'm tempted to be impatient with someone I try to observe the "one fact rule": I have learned to look for at least one hidden fact that might offer a logical explanation for his obnoxious behaviour.  This always seems to help me give other people the benefit of the doubt and maintain my commitment to always believe the best about them.

Although most people have a way of working anger out of their system somehow, there are also many people who deal with it in less than healthy ways.  Some people internalize their anger and suppress it by trying to avoid the issues that have triggered the emotion in the first place.  There are those who become workaholics, alcoholics, abusers of family members, and so on.  You see, if anger is not dealt with properly and talked about in a rational way, it will probably come out in a variety of unhealthy ways. 

Look at your own anger for a moment.  What do you do with it?  Do you take it out on others in a hostile manner?  Maybe you feel vindicated if you cut someone off on the road after you had a major war with your teenage daughter.  Or maybe you come home from a church meeting or from work and just watch how your kids scatter into their rooms like cockroaches and stay out of sight until the storm is over.

Maybe you're more mature and decide that you can handle this.  You swallow the poison of anger and, would you know it, you develop an ulcer. 

Or maybe you feel like this little girl:  A little girl from the first grade came to school one winter day wearing a beautiful white angora beret with white mittens and a matching muff.  As she was coming through the door, a mischievous little boy grabbed the white muff and threw it in the mud.  After disciplining the little boy the teacher sought to comfort the girl.  Brushing the mud off of her soiled muff, the little girl looked up at the teacher and said in a quiet and responsible manner, "Sometime I must take a day off and tell him about God."  As far as the girl was concerned, everything that was wrong with the boy could be made right if she could just tell him about God.

Sometimes I wish it was that easy.  And maybe it is.  Maybe we just need to learn to see it that way, and reprogram our thinking about anger. 

You see, anger doesn't always have to come out with a big blast.  And I'm the first to confess that this is easier said than done.  But, when we look at Jesus we see that He had the ability to harness His anger and turn it into something good.

I want to read a passage from Mark 3:1‑6. Let's see what we can learn from Jesus about anger management.


1. Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there.

2  Some of them (Pharisees) were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.

3  Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."

4. Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent.

5. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

6  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.


Jesus had every reason in the world to be angry.  Verse 2 says that some were looking for a reason to accuse him.  The spectators were daring Jesus to heal this man with a crippled hand on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees did not doubt Jesus' power to heal.  But they wanted to see, if He would actually do it on a Sabbath. 

Jewish tradition prescribed that aid could be given to a sick person only in life and death situations.  That was obviously not the case here. 

Jesus' question to the Pharisees was ironic.  "Which is better, to preserve life by healing or to destroy life by refusing to heal?" While Jesus was ready to heal, the Pharisees were plotting to take His life.  It is obvious who was guilty of breaking the Sabbath. 

That is why their silence, their failure to see their mistake and to confess their sin made Jesus angry.  I can just see Him there, at the entrance of the church, kneeling down toward the man with the crippled hand, and this angry energy pumping through His body.

What I find amazing is that Jesus didn't blurt out at His persecutors.  He didn't tell them to go to hell.  He didn't "let off steam" by yelling at His disciples to do something about those stinky Pharisees.  He didn't let His anger out by punching the neighbourhood bully in the nose.

Jesus used His anger to give a crippled man a new lease on life.  He took that energy, which would have blown the top off any mortal human being and turned it into a divine healing event.

Jesus teaches us that there is a positive way of dealing with our anger.  What we need when our roof is caving in, is patience.  When we're frustrated because other people don't see things our way let us pray for wisdom.  I pray that we would use our angry energy to help others and to do what is right before God. 

Anger is alright.  It is OK to be angry, and to talk about our anger.  Even Jesus experienced righteous anger.  He was outraged at the injustice around Him.  But His anger found expression in giving health and life to others.

I pray for strength to be compassionate and kind to others, forgiving them just as in Christ God forgave us.  May Christ's example be our guide when our alarm system goes off. 

PEMar85 THE MAGIC EYES -- A LITTLE FABLE In the village of Faken in innermost Friesland there lived a long thin baker named Fouke, a righteous man, with a long thin chin and a long thin nose.  Fouke was so upright that he seemed to spray righteousness from his thin lips over everyone who came near him; so the people of Faken preferred to stay away.  Fouke's wife, Hilda, was short and round, her arms were round, her bosom was round, her rump was round.  Hilda did not keep people at bay with righteousness; her soft roundness seemed to invite them instead to come close to her in order to share the warm cheer of her open heart.  Hilda respected her righteous husband, and loved him too, as much as he allowed her; but her heart ached for something more from him than his worthy righteousness.  And there, in the bed of her need, lay the seed of sadness.  One morning, having worked since dawn to knead his dough for the ovens, Fouke came home and found a stranger in his bedroom lying on Hilda's round bosom.  Hilda's adultery soon became the talk of the tavern and the scandal of the Faken congregation.  Everyone assumed that Fouke would cast Hilda out of his house, so righteous was he.  But he surprised everyone by keeping Hilda as his wife, saying he forgave her as the Good Book said he should.  In his heart of hearts, however, Fouke could not forgive Hilda for bringing shame to his name.  Whenever he thought about her, his feelings toward her were angry and hard; he despised her as if she were a common whore.  When it came right down to it, he hated her for betraying him after he had been so good and so faithful a husband to her.  He only pretended to forgive Hilda so that he could punish her with his righteous mercy.  But Fouke's fakery did not sit well in heaven.  So each time that Fouke would feel his secret hate toward Hilda, an angel came to him and dropped a small pebble, hardly the size of a shirt button, into Fouke's heart.  Each time a pebble dropped, Fouke would feel a stab of pain like the pain he felt the moment he came on Hilda feeding her hungry heart from a stranger's larder.  Thus he hated her the more; his hate brought him pain and his pain made him hate.  The pebbles multiplied.  And Fouke's heart grew very heavy with the weight of them, so heavy that the top half of his body bent forward so far that he had to strain his neck upward in order to see straight.  Weary with hurt, Fouke began to wish he were dead.  The angel who dropped the pebbles into his heart came to Fouke one night and told him how he could be healed of his hurt.  There was one remedy, he said, only one, for the hurt of a wounded heart.  Fouke would need the miracle of the magic eyes.  He would need eyes that could look back to the beginning of his hurt and see his Hilda, not as a wife who betrayed him, but as a weak woman who needed him.  Only a new way of looking at things through the magic eyes could heal the hurt flowing from the wounds of yesterday.  Fouke protested.  "Nothing can change the past," he said.  "Hilda is guilty, a fact that not even an angel can change."  "Yes, poor hurting man, you are right," the angel said.  "You cannot change the past, you can only heal the hurt that comes to you from the past.  And you can heal it only with the vision of the magic eyes."  "And how can I get your magic eyes?"  pouted Fouke.  "Only ask, desiring as you ask, and they will be given you.  And each time you see Hilda through your new eyes, one pebble will be lifted from your aching heart."  Fouke could not ask at once, for he had grown to love his hatred.  But the pain of his heart finally drove him to want and to ask for the magic eyes that the angel had promised.  So he asked.  And the angel gave.  Soon Hilda began to change in front of Fouke's eyes, wonderfully and mysteriously.  He began to see her as a needy woman who loved him instead of a wicked woman who betrayed him.  The angel kept his promise; he lifted the pebbles from Fouke's heart, one by one, though it took a long time to take them all away.  Fouke gradually felt his heart grow lighter; he began to walk straight again, and somehow his nose and his chin seemed less thin and sharp than before.  He invited Hilda to come into his heart again, and she came, and together they began again a journey into their second season of humble joy.  From Forgive & Forget , by Lewis B.  Smedes, pp.  xiii-xv.+

SFJan86 TRANSIENT FORGIVENESS Two little brothers, Harry and James, had finished supper and were playing until bedtime.  Somehow, Harry hit James with a stick, and tears and bitter words followed.  Charges and accusations were still being exchanged as mother prepared them for bed.  The mother instructed, "Now James, before you go to bed you're going to have to forgive your brother."  James was thoughtful for a few moments, and then he replied, "Well OK, I'll forgive him tonight, but if I don't die through the night, he'd better look out in the morning."  Submitted by Thomas Holdcroft, Sumas, Washington.  98295+

SFMay85 ANGER When you're angry always count to ten before you say anything.  It'll give you more time to come up with the right insult.  Funny, Funny World+

PEApr87 PAYOFF If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.  Chinese Proverb+

PENov87 ANGER AND ELOQUENCE Speak when you're angry -- and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret.  Dynamic Preaching+

PEJun83 ANGER Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry.  Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following.  They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm.  They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be.  This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger but an anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake.  It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart.  If there is anything that makes the ministry look grim and dull, it is this dark, insidious anger in the servants of Christ.  From Henry Nouwen, The Way of the Heart as quoted by Joseph Bayly in his monthly letter Christian Education Trends.+

PEFeb88 ANGER Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else -- you are the one who gets burned.  Buddha+

SFMAR91 RESURRECT MY LOVE When love dies in me and I feel angry and bitter; judgmental and righteous, thinking that I have just cause not to love....come into my dead empty places where I have forbidden love to enter.  Resurrect me to the sure knowledge that you live in me only to the extent that love can live in me.  Raise me up to unconditional love that does not question cost nor withhold itself in judgment.  Raise me up so that the love in me is a clear likeness of You.  Amen  Submitted by Robby Robinson, McAlester, OK+

PEJUN92 Self-control/Moderation/Anger:  HOW TO RETHINK YOUR ANGER  Knowing how to manage your anger on the job can go a long way toward helping you deal effectively with customers, employees, bosses and colleagues.  RETHINK is an acronym to help you cope with anger.  It was developed by the Institute for Mental Health Initiatives, Washington, D.C.  R:  Recognize when you are feeling angry - or when it's a cover-up for fear, stress, shame or fatigue.  E:  Empathize with the person who is the target of anger.  T:  Think about what is creating anger in a particular situation.  Is there another way of thinking that might create humor?  A solution?  H:  Hear what the other person is saying.  When people are hurt, they want to be heard.  I:  Integrate respect and love with what you say about your anger.  N:  Notice how your body changes when you're angry.  For example, heartbeat quickens, hands perspire, teeth clench.  Practice a quick form of gaining control, such as counting to ten.  K:  Keep your attention on the subject on hand.  Don't bring up old grudges and wounds.  Taken from Communication Briefings, submitted by Byron Neufeld, Blaine, Washington+

PEJAN96 /Anger/Complaints/Dads/Fathers: LIVING WITH THE LIONS A little girl was showing a friend around her new house.  "This is the kitchen, here's my bedroom; here's the den.  Do you have a den in your house?"  "No, we don't", her playmate replied.  "My dad just growls all around the house."  Submitted by Diane M. Sickler, Unity Church of Peace, St. Louis, Missouri+

Anger vs. Exasperation

William Loader

Ephesians 4:25 - 5:2

The instructions begin with snippets of the Old Testament which are glossed with further interpretation. Speaking the truth (Zech 8:16) gets a new basis: we are each other's limbs. We need each other! Deliberate lying is much easier to avoid than giving false messages and representing oneself falsely. Many people struggle even to know their own truth; manipulation and self deceit have at some stage been the coping mechanism and then formed a habit of life. You need a lot of love to let go playing games and projecting false personae.

Get angry, but don't sin (Ps 4:5 - as the Greek version has it). In 5:31 we read that bitterness, temper, anger, rage are to be set aside. Jesus' instructions in Matt 5:21-23 that anger is like murder have led to much confusion in the Christian tradition, which also knows stories about Jesus getting angry. The issue is not semantics but mental health. People need to hear that it is not wrong to feel anger, any more than it is wrong to feel appetite, whether sexual or in relation to food. It is always useful to get people to reflect on the fact that anger is usually a second feeling, preceded by pain, hurt, grief or the like, and to teach them to make that self discovery so that they can understand their anger. But anger treated in any other way, such as uncontrolled or buried or allowed to build up or fester, is destructive both for the person and for others. Anger gets transferred to others, sometimes immediately, sometimes after long periods of build up until it is explosive and out of proportion. Or it gets swallowed, even forgotten, and we live in a state of self-directed anger, a recipe for depression and a form of self harm. Addressing immediate response to anger is also important, so that people can learn to take responsibility for how they respond to their feelings and not violate others. There is plenty of that. Not letting the sun go down on one's anger (5:26) is about dealing with anger: truthfully with ourselves and truthfully with others, but not destructively. It is worth opening up these issues because there is still much in Christianity which leads people to believe that Christian peace means lying about anger and hurt by always being 'nice'. Giving place to the devil is a stern warning that phoney treatment of anger and conflict sets us going in exactly the opposite direction to God and to love.

The exhortation about theft in 5:28 might seem quite uncontroversial, until we realise that it is pitting theft against generosity towards people in need. There is no middle position called goodness. There is only love or theft. Incorporation into the body of Christ is incorporation into a body that is bent on filling the world with love and compassion. Our engagement in theft is so much more subtle and complex that we prefer to describe it in terms which obfuscate the need, not least of the two-thirds world of have nots and of those disadvantaged within our own community. We need help to stop being thieves.

On responsible use of language and discourse the ancient world was very aware of the potential destructivity of human communication. We need to be using our communication for good not for harm (5:29). Speech is powerful. We should probably read the following verses, 5:30-32, as still part of this theme of human communication. Compassion, generosity, goodness need to become our way of life. 5:32 reminds us that the foundation is God's grace and generosity towards us. Grieving the Spirit is disappointing the Spirit. The Spirit is disappointed when we opt for the alternative way of life. Elsewhere we read of quenching the Spirit. It is the same idea: don't block the Spirit in your life. The Spirit wants to bear the fruits of love in you and through you. Fundamental to all of this is forgiveness. It means giving, not holding oneself back and holding something against people. Let it go, embrace them; God embraced us.

The foundation for all of these practical exhortations comes through most clearly in 5:1-2. Not only should we imitate God - what a thought! We should also be absolutely clear about what most characterises God: love. Otherwise our imitation could end up being a disaster! The author points to Christ's life his death as the defining moment. A life poured out in love is better than all the elaborate rituals of sacrifice and sweeter than all the finest incense. The use of this imagery belongs to the overall theme of moving the focus away from Israel and onto something new which now includes both Israel and the Gentiles. It becomes a form of holiness open to all - living in love which informs both our own sense of identity as individuals and together and gives us our common goal and meaning in life.

B. W. Johnson

The People's New Testament (1891)




The Unity of the Church.

SUMMARY.--The Exhortation to Unity. The Seven Bonds of Unity. The Various Gifts Given to the Church. The Offices for Its Edification. The Church Compacted in Christ. The Gentiles Called from Their Former Lives. A New and Holy Life Commanded.

      1-3. I, therefore. Practical duties are now urged which grow out of their glorious privileges in Christ. The prisoner of the Lord. See 3:1, and note. Compare Philemon 1:9. He was a prisoner because he was a servant of the Lord. Walk worthy of the calling. They had been called to a glorious calling, as he had shown in chapter 3. The Christian has been called to the highest calling with which man has ever been honored. 2. With all lowliness and meekness. Walk in humility and gentleness of spirit. These are characteristics of walking worthily. Other are long-suffering and forbearance. To take offense easily, and to seek to "pay back" any fancied injuries, are the opposite of these qualities. In love. If the heart is filled with love, the other qualities will be shown forth. Read 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. 3. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit. Forbearance and long suffering are essential to unity and peace. The unity of the Spirit. The unity of those who have the same Spirit, not merely an outward unity. In the bond of peace. An outward unity, which does not secure peace, cannot be the unity of the Spirit.

      4-6. There is one body. The Unity commanded has a basis in seven unities which existed in the church, and should exist in all ages. There was then only one body, the church, the body of Christ; not a Gentile body and a Jewish body. Modern denominations were unknown. Compare Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12, 13; Eph. 2:16. And one Spirit. The same Spirit bestowed upon Jew and Gentile, [196] and upon all saints. Called in one hope. Wherever called and from whatever state, all were filled with one hope, that of immortality. 5. One Lord. Christ, the Head of the church (1 Cor. 1:13; Eph. 1:10). All saints have one Master. One faith. One Lord who is the object of faith, and whom both Jews and Gentiles lay hold upon by faith in him. One baptism. All have been baptized into the "one Lord" upon the profession of the "one faith" by one rite. It would be utterly inconsistent with the Apostle's argument, if there could be anything divisive about baptism, as three different ways of administering itself. He is showing that there is unity in each one of seven essential features of Christianity, and hence all should seek to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." 6. One God. Not gods many, but one God for all; "The Father of all, above all, through all, in all." Meyer, upon this passage, says that the elements of church unity are: (1) The church itself constituted as a unity: One Body, one Spirit, one Blessed Hope. (2) The means by which this united church is built up: One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. (3) Over all one Supreme Ruler, the God and Father of all. Bishop Pearson, on the creed, notes "Points of Unity of the Church." He enumerates, (1) Unity of the Head; (2) Unity of the Spirit dwelling in it; (3) Unity of hope; (4) Unity of faith; (5) Unity of ordinance for admission; (6) Unity of the one Father; (7) Unity or organization, one Body.

      7-10. But unto every one of us. While all named above is common, the Lord has given grace to each one according to the measure of the gift of Christ. That is, there are special offices, and special gifts, that Christ deals to each. 8. Wherefore he saith. The citation is from Psalm 68:18. It is cited to show that Christ gives. When he ascended on high. Paul applies this to Christ's ascension to heaven. Led captivity captive. The captives, led captive by Christ, are sin, the curse of the law, and death. Gave gifts unto men. As a conqueror, returning in triumph, was wont to distribute gifts, so Christ signalized his ascension by gifts. 9. Now that he ascended. Paul, in applying this to Christ, shows that it implies that he must have descended from heaven, before his ascension to heaven. This must necessarily follow, if the one ascending is divine, and has a home in heaven, as the psalm indicates. 10. Above all heavens. The one who descended is now exalted to the right hand of God. God's throne is represented above the heavens, as God is above all. Compare Heb. 4:14; 7:26. That he might fill all things. And hence reach every place with his grace and glory.

      11-13. And he gave. It has just been shown that Christ "gave gifts to men" (verse 7, 8). Of these gifts were various offices. The object of all these offices was to promote "the unity of the faith" (verse 13). Christ has appointed the offices, and gives the men in the church who are fitted for these offices. In the matter of those offices that continue, it is the duty of the church to recognize and call out the men who meet the conditions Christ has given. Some to be apostles. The apostles were all chosen by Christ. All had to be witnesses of his resurrection (Acts 1:22). They, therefore, could have no successors, but their own office continues. They still remain teachers and in authority by their writings and example. And some, prophets. An inspired office, essential in the church for its teaching until [197] the New Testament was completed. And some, evangelists. Such as Philip (Acts 8:4-12; 21:8), Timothy, Titus, etc. This office is to preach the gospel, and will be necessary as long as the church continues on earth. As this office did not require extraordinary gifts, it is permanent. Pastors and teachers. These were not distinct offices. Bishops, or elders, and especially those "who labored in word and doctrine," came under this head. A pastor should always be an elder, but it is not certain that a teacher was always an elder. These offices were all given for the purposes indicated in the next verse. 12. For the perfecting of the saints. Helping them to higher and holier lives. For the work of the ministry. For carrying on the various works assigned to the ministry. For the edifying of the body of Christ. All was intended to minister to the upbuilding of the church, within and without. 13. Till we all come. These offices are given in order that all may come to a goal that is named just below. They must be continued in some form until that goal is reached. Unto the unity of the faith. This is one of the great objects to be attained through these offices. In verse 2, Paul, as an apostle and a prophet, exhorts to the same end. As an apostle and prophets, he so exhorts still. Every evangelist and pastor who is under God's spirit should labor to the same end. Not only "unity of the faith," but unity of the knowledge of the Son of God is aimed at. Full unity of the faith will be found when all alike know Christ. Unto a full-grown man (Revision). The second end to be attained is a noble manhood, fully developed, after the modes of life furnished in Christ Jesus. This must be the aim of all teaching, and of all living. If we cannot attain fully to it in the flesh, we certainly can aim at it and grow more and more into Christ's likeness.

      14-16. That we henceforth be no more children. This should be the aim; to reach a stature such that we are no more froward children. Children are feeble, inexperienced, and easily deceived. Tossed. Tossed about like a wave by every wind of doctrine. It is "doctrines," in great part, which have broken up unity. By the sleight of men. Their tricks. And cunning craftiness. Craft and cunning, employed by teachers of false doctrine in order to deceive. There can be little doubt that Paul refers to the false teachers against whom he warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:30. 15. Speaking the truth in love. Truth is never to give way to false doctrine, but it must be spoken in love. Some cling to the truth tenaciously, but forget to speak it in love. May grow. This continues the characteristics of those "who are no longer children." They should grow up into him in all things. In all their growth there should be a growth of Christ's traits, a growth into his likeness. In all their growth there should be a growth of Christ's traits, a growth into his likeness. 16. From whom. The Head of the body, the church. He is the source of all life, power and growth in the body. Fitly framed together. The body of Christ, composed of many individuals, is one, like a building composed of many parts framed together. Through that which every joint supplieth. As in the body every joint and part does its work towards compacting the body into a harmonious whole, and towards its growth, so in the body of Christ every member deriving life from the Head is to work in his place, and harmoniously, for the increase of the body. [198]

      17-19. This I say, therefore. Now, after the statement of the great principles named in verses 3-16, Paul returns to the exhortation of verses 1-3. Walk not as other Gentiles. Having come out from the heathen and abandoned all their sins. The vanity of their mind. Vanity of mind means what is a waste of life. 18. Having the understanding darkened. He shows how the Gentiles walk in vanity. They are in darkness, unenlightened by the gospel. Alienated. Without the spiritual life that comes from knowing God. Because of blindness of heart. The idea is a willful blindness. 19. Who being past feeling. Having trampled conscience under foot until it is calloused. Having silenced its admonitions, they give themselves over to licentiousness and evil. This description is not overdrawn. Purity of life was not even considered a virtue among the Gentiles of that period.

      20-24. But ye have not so learned Christ. You are Gentiles by birth, like those just described, but you have learned otherwise from Christ. 21. If so be that ye have heard him. This does not express a doubt that they had heard and been taught by Christ. The idea is: If ye have heard, etc., as I know you have, you have been taught the truth in Jesus, that (verse 22) ye put off concerning the former manner of life the old man and his deeds. "The old man" is the old sinful life, in contrast with "the new man," or new life in Christ. 23. And be renewed. That is, be made new by having a new mind, or spirit. See Rom. 12:2. 24. And that ye put on the new man. He who has a new mind within him is a new man. He who is born anew, "of water and of the Spirit" (John 3:5), is newly created in righteousness. This is still part of what they were taught (verse 21). The new creation described took place at conversion.

      25-28. Wherefore. Since you were so taught, putting away falsehood, speak the truth. We are members of one another. All members of one Christian household; hence every member has a right to the truth. 26. Be ye angry, and sin not. Quoted from Psalm 4:4, Septuagint Version. Do not sin through anger is the thought. If circumstances arouse your indignation, do not be led astray. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Let there be no long continuance of your wrathful mind. 27. Neither give place to the devil. By cherishing anger. A person under the dominion of anger is in a fit state to be tempted to evil deeds. 28. Let him that stole. All sorts of sinners had been [199] converted among the Gentiles, even thieves. In this exhortation, "To put off the old man and his deeds" (verse 22), this class is embraced also by name. Let him labor. Honest labor is the best antidote to a dishonest life. Every man is to labor in order that he may not only supply his needs, but have that which he can give.

      29-32. Let no corrupt communication. What is rotten. Anything that will demoralize others. Obscene, licentious, or immoral language is forbidden. All that the Christian speaks should be that which is good to the use of edifying, building the hearers up in Christ. 30. Grieve not the Holy Spirit. Such sins as those described above grieve the Holy Spirit, nor will he continue to dwell those addicted to them. Sealed unto the day of redemption. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is an earnest, a proof, an assurance of the final redemption. See 1:13. If we grieve him away, the seal will be gone. 31, 32. These verses enforce sundry duties essential to keeping "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" plain, every-day duties of life. Those of verse 31 are negative; those of verse 32 are positive.


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