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Walking Worthy of Your Calling

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I.       Introduction

          Illustration: Napoleon Bonaparte – man of humble beginnings who went on to be a General, stated the following after making rounds about his different post and finding a soldier asleep at his post, “Soldier what is your name, the soldier replied, “My name is Napolean, Bonaparte replied what did you say your name was, he responded the second time, Napoleon. Then Bonaparte stated, “Soldier my name is Napoleon, and you suggest that you either change your name or start living up to it.”

I want to speak to you on this subject:

Walking Worthy of Your Call

I will invite you to turn with me in your copy of God’s word to

Ephesians 4:1-6

                   

II.      We are encouraged to walk worthy of our calling (vs. 1-3)
          Explanation:

·        worthy (Axios) means to balance the scales-what is on one

      side should be equal to the other.

·        We are walk in humility or lowliness/ (this was considered to

      derogatory toward Christians from the pagan society).

·        We are to walk with longsuffering (patience) – long patience;

      the endures negative circumstances, but never gives into to

      them.

 * Abraham waiting for Isaac

·        We are to walk with a forbearing love

       *Agape love – continuous and unconditional
 

·        We are to walk in the Spirit
 

Illustration:

·        Paul being a prisoner knew the cost of this worthy calling.

·        Humility-Moses-most humble of all the earth-(Num 12.3)

·        Patience – Abraham waiting for Isaac(Gen 17, 21)

 

 

Argumentation

·        John 15:16 16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give  

·        2 Tim 1:8-9 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began

                   Application:

·        A person’s practical living matches their spiritual living (consistency 24/7).
 

·        Coca Cola is recognizable everywhere it is sold, regardless of what country it is sold
in. People may not be able to tell at distance that we are a believer; however, as they gets to know us there should be some distinguishable about us that set us apart.

III.     We are encouraged to walk in the hope of our calling [4-6]

                   Explanation:

·        There is one body(believers) / one Spirit / one Hope unity in the Spirit(Eph 1:14)

·        There is one Lord / one Faith / one Baptism, believer’s baptism,  (Acts 4:12) / (Eph 2:8-9)

·        There is one God and Father(James 2:19)

 

                   Illustration: Jonah/Josh 


Argumentation: Eph 1:14; Acts 4:12; Eph 2:8-9; James 2:19

·        Eph 1:14

·        who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory

·        Acts 4:12

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved

 

·        Eph 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

·        Jas 2:19

·        You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble       
           

Application: Regardless of, what ministry we serve in or what job we

 work at we are called to be witnesses for the cause of Christ.

·        We have one purpose – serve the Lord by leading others to Him and we have one Enemy – Satan, not each other.

IV.              Closing
Tonight we have seen three encouragements expressed by the Apostle Paul:

a.      We can walk WORTHY of our calling

b.     We can walk in the HOPE of our calling

Commentary:

 

Authorship

Twice in this epistle Paul referred to himself by name as the author of the book (1:1; 3:1). Yet the Pauline authorship of Ephesians has been greatly disputed in recent years. Some critics think that the book reflects aspects of vocabulary, style, and doctrine that differ from Paul’s writings. Though the book has a close affinity with Colossians, critics claim that Ephesians is uncharacteristic of Paul. They suggest that the book was pseudonymous, that is, it was written by someone who did not use his own name but who instead claimed to be Paul.

However, pseudonymity was not practiced by the early Christians. Also this book is regarded by many as the crown of all Paul’s writings. Thus it seems strange that a disciple of Paul would be greater than Paul in theological and spiritual perception. Furthermore, Ephesians was extensively and undisputably accepted in the early church as Paul’s letter. There is no strong reason for rejecting the Pauline authorship of Ephesians.

Destination.

Some scholars view this epistle as encyclical, a circular letter to be distributed to several undesignated local churches in the province of Asia or some other area. This is supported by two observations: (1) the words “in Ephesus” (1:1) do not appear in three early Alexandrian Greek manuscripts, and (2) it is strange for Paul not to mention by name any of the individuals in a church where he had lived and worked for three years (Acts 20:31). However, it seems better to accept “in Ephesus” as genuine because of the wide geographical distribution of the Greek manuscripts that do include those words. Also no manuscripts of this epistle mention any other city, and none have only the word “in” followed by a space to insert a city’s name. The prescript or title “To the Ephesians” appears in all manuscripts of this epistle. Furthermore, all the letters Paul wrote to churches mention their destinations.

With regard to the absence of names of individuals in Ephesus, it may be that Paul did not want to single out certain persons in this short epistle since he knew so many people there.

Even so, the epistle may still be considered a circular letter, with Ephesus being the primary church addressed since Paul had stayed there so long and since it was the capital city of the province of Asia. This helps explain the absence of personal names of Ephesian believers. If this epistle were routed to other churches after the Ephesians read it, it may have gone to Laodicea and Colosse, for Paul in writing Colossians urged the believers there to “read the letter from Laodicea” (Col. 4:16), possibly a reference to the Ephesian epistle. (For the locations of Ephesus, Asia, Laodicea, and Colosse see the map between Acts and Rom.)

Ephesians was probably delivered by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21-22), who also took Paul’s letter to the Colossians (Col. 4:7-9).

Ephesus was a leading center in the Roman Empire. Paul had spent a short time in Ephesus on his way back to Antioch from his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19-22). On his third missionary journey he stayed in Ephesus three years (Acts 20:31). Several remarkable things happened in Ephesus. Paul baptized a dozen of John the Baptist’s followers (Acts 19:1-7). He had discussions in the hall of Tyrannus (19:8-10). Unusual miracles occurred (19:11-12), strange events took place (19:13-16), sorcerers were converted (19:17-20), and the city rioted over silversmith Demetrius’ loss of business because of people who turned to Christ from worshiping the great Ephesian goddess Artemis (19:23-41). On Paul’s return to Jerusalem from his third missionary journey he gave a moving farewell address to the Ephesian elders at the coastal town of Miletus (20:13-35). That was his last time to see them (20:36-38), unless Paul visited Ephesus after he was in Rome (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3 with 3:14).

Place and Date.

Paul was a prisoner at the time he wrote this letter (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). Scholars differ on whether Paul wrote this letter while he was imprisoned in Caesarea (Acts 24:27) in a.d. 57-59, or in Rome (28:30) in a.d. 60-62. All things considered, the Roman imprisonment seems more likely. Along with Ephesians, the Books of Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are thought to have been written during the same time period and hence are called the “Prison Epistles” (cf. Phil. 1:7; Col. 4:10; Phile. 9). Since Ephesians gives no hint of his release from prison, as do Philippians (1:19-26) and Philemon (v. 22), it is reasonable to think that he wrote it in the early part of his stay, or about a.d. 60. This would have been when Paul was kept under guard in rental quarters (Acts 28:30). Following his release he traveled, wrote 1 Timothy and Titus, was arrested again, wrote 2 Timothy, and was martyred in Rome.

Purpose.

Though no particular problem is raised in the book, the reason for writing this epistle becomes clear when one considers the contacts the apostle had with the Ephesians. On the return from his third missionary journey Paul told the Ephesian elders at Miletus (a.d. 57) to beware of evil teachers from without and of professing believers within who would teach perverse things (Acts 20:29-30). From Revelation one can see that the Ephesian church had succeeded in keeping out the false teachers (Rev. 2:2) but had failed to maintain the vibrancy of their first love for Christ (Rev. 2:4). This is substantiated in 1 Timothy 1:5, when Paul wrote from Macedonia to Timothy at Ephesus (ca a.d. 62) that the goal of his instruction was “love which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Thus the theme of love needed to be stressed for the saints at Ephesus.

This is in harmony with the contents of Ephesians, for the verb form of “love” (agapaō) is used 9 times in Ephesians, whereas Paul used it only 23 times in all his other letters. Paul used the noun (agapē, “love”) 10 times in Ephesians compared with 65 times in his other epistles. Therefore, of the 107 times Paul used the verb or noun “love,” 19 are in Ephesians. Thus more than one-sixth of his references to “love” appear in this small epistle to the Ephesians. This letter begins with love (Eph. 1:4, 6) and ends with love (6:23-24).

Also Ephesians teaches that Jewish and Gentile believers are one in Christ, which is demonstrated by their love for one another. This love can come only from God. Possibly Paul, realizing they were starting to forsake their first love, wrote this epistle to encourage them to love both God and their fellow saints. [1]

4:1. Paul exhorted them to walk (live a life) worthy of their calling. The NIV gives the impression that this walk should be on the basis that Paul was a prisoner for the Lord. However, the Greek does not connote this. Rather it is, “Therefore (rather than then) I, the prisoner of the Lord (as already stated in 3:1), beseech you to walk worthy of your calling.” Thus on the basis of what Paul wrote in chapters 1-3 he implored them to walk worthily. The word “worthy” (axiōs) means “equal weight”; one’s calling and conduct should be in balance. “The calling” refers not only to believers’ salvation (cf. Rom. 1:5-6; 1 Cor. 1:9) but also to their union in one body. Therefore a Christian’s conduct concerns both his personal life and his responsibility to other believers in the church.

4:2-3. Believers’ attitudes are also important. Paul listed three virtues that are to enhance a believer’s walk. The first of these is humility. In Greek culture, humility was thought of as a vice, to be practiced only by slaves. But Paul stated that saints should be completely humble in their daily walks. This is the opposite of pride. On the other hand Christians should not promote false humility, but should recognize who they are in God’s program (cf. John 3:30; Rom. 12:3). This virtue is listed first because of Paul’s emphasis on unity (pride promotes disunity; humility promotes unity) and to counteract their past pride, so as to facilitate obedience to and dependence on God. Christ was the supreme example of humility (Phil. 2:6-8).

Second, a believer is to be gentle or “meek” (prautētos; cf. the adverb of this word in Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:25 and the noun in Gal. 5:23; Col. 3:12; 1 Peter 3:16). This is the opposite of self-assertion, rudeness, and harshness. It suggests having one’s emotions under control. But it does not suggest weakness. It is the mean between one who is angry all the time and one who is never angry. One who is controlled by God is angry at the right time but never angry at the wrong time. Moses was known as the meekest of all men (Num. 12:3, kjv). Yet he got angry when Israel sinned against God (Ex. 32). Christ was meek and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29). Yet He became angry because some Jews were using the temple as a place for thieves (Matt. 21:12-13).

Third, believers should exhibit patience (makrothymias). Patience is the spirit which never gives up for it endures to the end even in times of adversity (James 5:10). It is the self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong (cf. Gal. 5:22; Col. 1:11; 3:12; 2 Tim. 4:2).

Attitudes of humility, gentleness, and patience foster unity among Christians. Having stated these three virtues, Paul then stated the manner in which they are to be carried out in one’s conduct: bearing with one another in love and making every effort (the Gr. has a participle, “making every diligent effort”) to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Christians are not to make unity but to keep or guard what God made in creating the “one new man” (Eph. 2:15-16). They are to keep this unity “through the bond” which consists of “peace.” Concern for peace will mean that Christians will lovingly tolerate each other, even when they have differences.

b.     Elements of unity (4:4-6).

4:4. Without a conjunction Paul listed the seven elements of unity centered on the three Persons of the Trinity. These provide the basis for the spirit of unity that should exist in the body of believers. One body refers to the universal church, all believers (1:23; 2:16; 3:6). One Spirit is the Holy Spirit who indwells the church (2:22). The words, just as you were called to one hope when you were called, indicate that all believers have a common hope regarding their future with God (cf. 1 Peter 1:3; 3:15), a confidence that began at the time they were “called” to salvation (Eph. 1:4, 18; 2:7; 4:1).

4:5. One Lord (cf. Rom. 10:12) refers to Christ, the Head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). One faith speaks, most likely, not of objective faith, that is, the body of truth believed by Christians (as in Acts 6:7; 1 Tim. 3:9; 4:1, 6; Jude 3) but subjective faith which is exercised by all Christians in Christ their Lord (cf. Col. 2:7). One baptism may refer to water baptism, the outward symbol of the inward reality, or it may refer to a believer’s identification with Christ and His death (Rom. 6:1-11; Gal. 3:27). It seems unlikely that this refers to the latter, Spirit baptism, because it is in the triad of elements that pertain to Christ, the second Person of the Trinity. Also nothing in the broader context (Eph. 4:1-16) suggests that this is the Spirit’s baptism. If it refers to water baptism, then the idea is that by this single act believers demonstrate their spiritual unity.

4:6. One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all refers to God the Father and His relationship to all believers. The fourfold use of “all” refers to “all believers,” not “all mankind.” Certainly these characteristics are not common to all people. God is the Father “of” all who believe; they are His children (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26). And He is “over” all them as their Sovereign. He lives “through” them and manifests Himself “in” them.

Two observations should be noted about this list of seven unifying elements (Eph. 4:4-6). First, the Trinity is an integral part of the list. The one body of believers is vitalized by one Spirit, so all believers have one hope. That body is united to its one Lord (Christ) by each member’s one act of faith, and its identity with Him is depicted by one baptism. One God, the Father, is supreme over all, operative through all, and resides in all. All seven components are united in the Trinity.

Second, the order in the listing of the three Persons of the Trinity is interesting. Paul began with the Holy Spirit rather than with the Father. The reason for this is that in the preceding verses he was discussing “the unity of the Spirit” (v. 3) and in verses 7-13 he discussed the gifts of the Spirit. The same order of Trinity Members is given in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, where Paul also discussed the gifts of the Spirit. [2]


 

CHAPTER 4

Eph 4:1–32. Exhortations to Christian Duties Resting on Our Christian Privileges, as United in One Body, though Varying in the Graces Given to the Several Members, that We May Come unto a Perfect Man in Christ.

1. Translate, according to the Greek order, “I beseech you, therefore (seeing that such is your calling of grace, the first through third chapters) I the prisoner in the Lord (that is, imprisoned in the Lord’s cause).” What the world counted ignominy, he counts the highest honor, and he glories in his bonds for Christ, more than a king in his diadem [Theodoret]. His bonds, too, are an argument which should enforce his exhortation.

vocation—Translate, “calling” to accord, as the Greek does, with “called” (Eph 4:4; Eph 1:18; Ro 8:28, 30). Col 3:15 similarly grounds Christian duties on our Christian “calling.” The exhortations of this part of the Epistle are built on the conscious enjoyment of the privileges mentioned in the former part. Compare Eph 4:32 with Eph 1:7; Eph 5:1 with Eph 1:5; Eph 4:30, with Eph 1:13; Eph 5:15, with Eph 1:8.

2, 3. lowliness—In classic Greek, the meaning is meanness of spirit: the Gospel has elevated the word to express a Christian grace, namely, the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so; the thinking truly, and because truly, therefore lowlily, of ourselves [Trench].

meekness—that spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us without disputing and resisting; and also the accepting patiently of the injuries done us by men, out of the thought that they are permitted by God for the chastening and purifying of His people (2Sa 16:11; compare Ga 6:1; 2Ti 2:25; Tit 3:2). It is only the lowly, humble heart that is also meek (Col 3:12). As “lowliness and meekness” answer to “forbearing one another in love” (compare “love,” Eph 4:15, 16), so “long-suffering” answers to (Eph 4:4) “endeavoring (Greek,earnestly’ or ‘zealously giving diligence’) to keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit (the unity between men of different tempers, which flows from the presence of the Spirit, who is Himself ‘one,’ Eph 4:4) in (united in) the bond of peace” (the “bond” by which “peace” is maintained, namely, “love,” Col 3:14, 15 [Bengel]; or, “peace” itself is the “bond” meant, uniting the members of the Church [Alford]).

4. In the apostle’s creed, the article as to the Church properly follows that as to the Holy Ghost. To the Trinity naturally is annexed the Church, as the house to its tenant, to God His temple, the state to its founder [Augustine, Enchiridion, c. 15]. There is yet to be a Church, not merely potentially, but actually catholic or world-wide; then the Church and the world will be co-extensive. Rome falls into inextricable error by setting up a mere man as a visible head, antedating that consummation which Christ, the true visible Head, at His appearing shall first realize. As the “spirit” is mentioned here, so the “Lord” (Jesus), Eph 4:5, and “God the Father,” Eph 4:6. Thus the Trinity is again set forth.

hope—here associated with “the Spirit,” which is the “earnest of our inheritance” (Eph 1:13, 14). As “faith” is mentioned, Eph 4:5, so “hope” here, and “love,” Eph 4:2. The Holy Spirit, as the common higher principle of life (Eph 2:18, 22), gives to the Church its true unity. Outward uniformity is as yet unattainable; but beginning by having one mind, we shall hereafter end by having “one body.” The true “body” of Christ (all believers of every age) is already “one,” as joined to the one Head. But its unity is as yet not visible, even as the Head is not visible; but it shall appear when He shall appear (Jn 17:21–23; Col 3:4). Meanwhile the rule is, “In essentials, unity; in doubtful questions, liberty; in all things, charity.” There is more real unity where both go to heaven under different names than when with the same name one goes to heaven, the other to hell. Truth is the first thing: those who reach it, will at last reach unity, because truth is one; while those who seek unity as the first thing, may purchase it at the sacrifice of truth, and so of the soul itself.

of your calling—the one “hope” flowing from our “calling,” is the element “in” which we are “called” to live. Instead of privileged classes, as the Jews under the law, a unity of dispensation was henceforth to be the common privilege of Jew and Gentile alike. Spirituality, universality, and unity, were designed to characterize the Church; and it shall be so at last (Is 2:2–4; Zep 3:9; Zec 14:9).

5. Similarly “faith” and “baptism” (the sacramental seal of faith) are connected (Mk 16:16; Col 2:12). Compare 1Co 12:13, “Faith” is not here that which we believe, but the act of believing, the mean by which we apprehend the “one Lord.” “Baptism” is specified, being the sacrament whereby we are incorporated into the “one body.” Not the Lord’s Supper, which is an act of matured communion on the part of those already incorporate, “a symbol of union, not of unity” [Ellicott]. In 1Co 10:17, where a breach of union was in question, it forms the rallying point [Alford]. There is not added, “One pope, one council, one form of government” [Cautions for Times]. The Church is one in unity of faith (Eph 4:5; Jud 1:3); unity of origination (Eph 2:19–21): unity of sacraments (Eph 4:5; 1Co 10:17; 12:13): unity ofhope” (Eph 4:4; Tit 1:2); unity of charity (Eph 4:3): unity (not uniformity) of discipline and government: for where there is no order, no ministry with Christ as the Head, there is no Church [Pearson, Exposition of the Creed, Article IX].

6. above—“over all.” The “one God over all” (in His sovereignty and by His grace) is the grand source and crowning apex of unity (Eph 2:19, end).

through all—by means of Christ “who filleth all things” (Eph 4:10), and is “a propitiation” for all men (1Jn 2:2).

in you all—The oldest manuscripts omit “you.” Many of the oldest versions and Fathers and old manuscripts read, “in us all.” Whether the pronoun be read or not, it must be understood (either from the “ye,” Eph 4:4, or from the “us,” Eph 4:7); for other parts of Scripture prove that the Spirit is not “in all” men, but only in believers (Ro 8:9, 14). God is “Father” both by generation (as Creator) and regeneration (Eph 2:10; Jam 1:17, 18; 1Jn 5:1). [3]


4:1–6:20 Encouragement to live out the gospel of cosmic reconciliation and unity in Christ

The second part of the letter explores the application of the gospel of reconciliation and unity in the life of the church. Most of it comes in the form of a direct appeal, but this is built on the foundation of what has been said in the earlier chapters, and the content is regularly informed by what Paul has said in his opening thanksgiving, prayer-report and teaching. The recurrent theme of how to ‘live’ (Paul actually uses the Hebrew metaphor ‘to walk’) in the light of the gospel appears as a scarlet thread from 4:1 onwards (4:17; 5:2; 8, 15).

4:1–6 Opening appeal to a life that expresses new-creation harmony

Here Paul speaks of our calling as one to live together in a way that embodies the cosmic unity God has inaugurated. This passage thus sets the tone for the remainder of the letter, and provides the link with what has gone before. That link is made not only in the summarizing theme of unity in these verses but specifically in the ‘therefore’ (niv then) of v 1 which (as at Rom. 12:1) grounds the appeal in the earlier teaching. (niv has somewhat obscured this; but cf. the other major translations.) The passage consists of two parts: the appeal to unity (vs 1–3, partly expanding Col. 3:12–15) and a seven-fold confession emphasizing it (4–6).

1–3 By introducing himself here, again, as a prisoner for the Lord, Paul implicitly points to the level of commitment he expects of himself and of others. His readers will not have failed to note that he was a prisoner precisely because of his zeal for the sort of unity he now requests of them (see on 3:13). But first his appeal is the more general one to live in a way that is worthy of God’s calling (see 1 Thes. 2:12; Rom. 12:1; Col. 1:10). The calling in question is to share in Christ’s rule over the new creation (1:20–22; 2:6), and to be part of the heavenly temple (2:19–22). Such a calling carries its own responsibilities: Barth summarizes it thus—‘Royal princes are treated by their educators not with the stick, but with an appeal to their rank and standing’. Perhaps he is right but the appeal here is not to the aristocratic qualities of imperious resolve, tenacity and authority. It is a call, rather, to the corporate humility, gentleness and patient, forgiving love that exemplifies reconciliation (2; cf. Col. 3:12–13). 3 (cf. Col. 3:14–15) then clarifies this as the appeal to a life that promotes unity.

The appeal is couched in urgent terms not easily translated into English: ‘the imperative … excludes passivity, quietism, a wait-and-see attitude .… Yours is the initiative! Do it now! Mean it! You are to do it! …—such are the overtones in verse 3’ (Barth). This is not a call for men and women to build God’s kingdom; it is a warning to keep, stay within (‘Maintain!’) the unity God has already inaugurated in Christ (by the events of 2:11–22) and into which we are brought by the Spirit who brings us Christ and his benefits. The Spirit brings us the Messianic peace of God-given harmony as a uniting bond. It is a bond, however, that the author is well aware may be severed by the arrogance, falsehood, pride and selfish assertiveness he will address in 4:17–5:14.

4–6 reminds us of the centrality of the call to unity with a sevenfold repetition of the word ‘one’. V 4 is reminiscent of Col. 3:15b, but spelled out in terms of the major themes of Eph. 2:14–17 (one body); 2:18–22 (one Spirit) and 1:11–14; 18–23 (one hope). This triad of unities seems to progress from the visible ‘body’ (the one church universal reconciling Jew and Gentile) to the invisible Spirit who gives it harmony and peace in Christ (3), and thence to the future hope of full cosmic harmony of which the Spirit is now received as but the first instalment (1:13–14). The second triad (5) could well be a traditional baptismal affirmation sparked by the last thought. (Faith in Jesus as the one Lord was regularly the focus of baptismal confession (e.g. Acts 2:34–39; 19:5), though there is no reason to assume it was confined to that occasion. For a Jew to confess Jesus as the one Lord was tantamount to confessing him as one with the Father, for Jews daily prayed the Shema (Dt. 6:4; cf. Rom. 10:9–12; 1 Cor. 8:4–6). V 6 naturally climaxes with the Judeo-Christian affirmation of the one God totally sovereign over and in creation. It is on this supposition that all hope for final cosmic unity is built (cf. Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:4b–6; Col. 1:15–20), and it points back to the God of 1:3–10.

It is worth noting that all this addresses unity both within the local congregation and, more especially, as a universal church. Many Christians have often been more keen to promote the loving harmony of a single congregation (even sometimes, alas, only of cliques within it!) than to deal with the divisions between churches. [4]


The Author (Eph. 1:1a)

Some names in history we identify immediately, and “Paul” is one of them. His name was originally “Saul” (Acts 7:58); and, since he was from the tribe of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5), it is likely he was named after the first king of Israel (1 Sam. 9). Unlike his namesake, however, Saul of Tarsus was obedient, and faithfully served God. As a devoted rabbi, Saul became the leader of the antichristian movement in Jerusalem (Acts 9:1–2; Gal. 1:13–14). But in the midst of this activity, Saul was “arrested” by Jesus Christ and was converted (Acts 9:3ff; 26).

Saul of Tarsus became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). While he was ministering in the church of Antioch, he was called by the Spirit to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, and he obeyed (Acts 13:1–3). The Book of Acts records three missionary journeys that took Paul throughout the Roman Empire in one of the greatest evangelistic endeavors in church history. About the year 53, Paul first ministered in Ephesus but did not remain there (Acts 18:19–21). Two years later, while on his third journey, Paul stayed in Ephesus for at least two years and saw that whole vast area evangelized (Acts 19:1–20). During these years, he founded a strong church in the city that was dedicated to the worship of the goddess Diana. For a description of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, read Acts 20, and for an explanation of the opposition to Paul’s ministry there, read Acts 19:21–41.

It was nearly ten years later when Paul wrote to his beloved friends in Ephesus. Paul was a prisoner in Rome (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20), and he wanted to share with these believers the great truths the Lord had taught him about Christ and the church. Compare Ephesians 6:21–22 with Colossians 4:7–9 and Philemon to get a better understanding of the historical background. Onesimus, a slave, ran away from Philemon, his master, who lived at Colosse. While in Rome, Onesimus met Paul and was converted. Tychicus, one of the pastors of the church at Colossae, which may have met in Philemon’s house, was also in Rome to discuss some problems with Paul. So Paul took advantage of the presence of these two men to send three letters to his friends: the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Epistle to the Colossians, and the Epistle to Philemon. At the same time, he sent Onesimus back to his master.

So, the letter was written from Rome about the year a.d. 62. Though Paul was on trial for his life, he was concerned about the spiritual needs of the churches he had founded. As an apostle, “one sent with a commission,” he had an obligation to teach them the Word of God and to seek to build them up in the faith (Eph. 4:11–12).

The Assembly (Eph. 1:1b-2)

Are you surprised to find Paul addressing his letter to saints?After all, saints are dead people who have achieved such spiritual eminence that they have been given that special title, saints.Or are they?

No word in the New Testament has suffered more than this word saint. Even the dictionary defines a saint as a “person officially recognized for holiness of life.” Who makes this official recognition? Usually some religious body, and the process by which a person becomes a saint is technically known as canonization. The deceased person’s life is examined carefully to see whether he qualifies for sainthood. If the candidate’s character and conduct are found to be above reproach, if he has been responsible for working at least two miracles, then he is qualified to be made a saint.

As interesting as this procedure is, we do not find it authorized in the Bible. Nine times in this brief letter, Paul addresses his readers as saints (Eph. 1:1, 15, 18; 2:19; 3:8, 18; 4:12; 5:3; 6:18). These saints were alive, not dead, though once they had been “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1–3). And it is clear that they had never performed any miracles, though they had experienced a miracle by trusting Christ as Saviour (Eph. 2:4–10). The word saint is simply one of the many terms used in the New Testament to describe “one who has trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour.” The person is “alive,” not only physically, but also spiritually (Eph. 2:1). You will find Christians called disciples (Acts 9:1, 10, 19, 25–26, 36, 38), people of the Way (Acts 9:2) and saints (Acts 9:13, 32, 41).

The word saint means “one who has been set apart.” It is related to the word sanctified, which means “set apart.” When the sinner trusts Christ as his Saviour, he is taken out of “the world” and placed “in Christ.” The believer is in the world physically, but not of the world spiritually (John 17:14–16). Like a scuba diver, he exists in an alien environment because he possesses special equipment—in this case, the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. Every true believer possesses the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19–20), and it is through the Spirit’s power that the Christian is able to function in the world.

Now for the important question: How did these people at Ephesus become saints? The answer is found in two words: “faithful” and “grace” (Eph. 1:1–2). When Paul addresses his letter to the “saints... and faithful in Christ Jesus” he is not addressing two different groups of people. The word faithful carries the meaning of “believers in Christ Jesus.” These people were not saved by living faithful lives; rather they put their faith in Christ and were saved. This is clear from Ephesians 1:12–14, 19.

The word grace is used twelve times in Ephesians, and refers to “the kindness of God toward undeserving people.” Grace and mercy often are found together in the Bible, and they certainly belong together in the experience of salvation. Grace and faith go together, because the only way to experience grace and salvation is through faith (Eph. 2:8–9).

The phrase “in Christ Jesus” is used twenty-seven times in this letter! It describes the spiritual position of the believer: he is identified with Christ, he is in Christ, and therefore is able to draw on the wealth of Christ for his own daily living.

The Aim (Eph. 1:3)

Each book in the Bible has its own special theme and message, even though it may deal with many different topics. Genesis is the book of beginnings;Matthew is the book of the kingdom; Galatians is the book of liberty.Ephesians 1:3 states its theme: the Christian’s riches in Christ.

The source of our blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God the Father has made us rich in Jesus Christ! When you were born again into God’s family, you were born rich. Through Christ, you share in the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7; 2:7), God’s glory (Eph. 1:18; 3:16), God’s mercy (Eph. 2:4), and “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). Our Heavenly Father is not poor; He is rich—and He has made us rich in His Son.

J. Paul Getty, one of the richest men in the world, was worth an estimated $1.3 billion. The weekly income of some of the “oil sheiks” runs into the millions. Yet all of this wealth is but “pennies” when compared with the spiritual wealth we have in Christ. In this letter, Paul explains to us what these riches are and how we may draw on them for effective Christian living.

The scope of our blessings. We have “all spiritual blessings.” This can be translated “all the blessings of the Spirit,” referring to the Holy Spirit of God. In the Old Testament, God promised His earthly people, Israel, material blessings as a reward for their obedience (Deut. 28:1–13). Today, He promises to supply all our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19), but He does not promise to shield us from either poverty or pain. The Father has given us every blessing of the Spirit, everything we need for a successful, satisfying Christian life. The spiritual is far more important than the material.

The Holy Spirit is mentioned many times in this letter, because He is the one who channels our riches to us from the Father, through the Son. Not to know and depend on the Holy Spirit’s provision is to live a life of spiritual poverty. No wonder Paul began his Ephesian ministry asking some professed Christians if they really knew the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1–7). We might ask professed Christians today, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? If the answer is no, then you are not saved.” “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). Unless you have the witness of the Spirit (Rom. 8:15–16), you cannot draw on the wealth of the Spirit.

The sphere of our blessings. Our blessings are “in heavenly places in Christ.” Perhaps a clearer translation would be “in the heavenlies in Christ.” The unsaved person is interested primarily in earthlies, because this is where he lives. Jesus called them “the children of this world” (Luke 16:8). The Christian’s life is centered in heaven. His citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20); his name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20); his Father is in heaven; and his attention and affection ought to be centered on the things of heaven (Col. 3:1ff). Evangelist D.L. Moody used to warn about people who were so “heavenly minded they were no earthly good,” but that is not what Paul is describing. “The heavenlies” (literal translation) describes that place where Jesus Christ is right now (Eph. 1:2) and where the believer is seated with Him (Eph. 2:6). The battles we fight are not with flesh and blood on earth, but with satanic powers “in the heavenlies” (Eph. 6:12).

The Christian really operates in two spheres: the human and the divine, the visible and the invisible. Physically, he is on the earth in a human body, but spiritually he is seated with Christ in the heavenly sphere—and it is this heavenly sphere that provides the power and direction for the earthly walk. The President of the United States is not always seated at his desk in the White House, but that executive chair represents the sphere of his life and power. No matter where he is, he is the President, because only he has the privilege of sitting at that desk. Likewise with the Christian: no matter where he may be on this earth, he is seated in the heavenlies with Jesus Christ, and this is the basis of his life and power.

When she was young, Victoria was shielded from the fact that she would be the next ruling monarch of England lest this knowledge spoil her. When her teacher finally did let her discover for herself that she would one day be Queen of England, Victoria’s response was, “Then I will be good!” Her life would be controlled by her position. No matter where she was, Victoria was governed by the fact that she sat on the throne of England.

The fact that Paul is writing about wealth would be significant to his readers, because Ephesus was considered the bank of Asia. One of the seven wonders of the world, the great temple of Diana, was in Ephesus, and was not only a center for idolatrous worship, but also a depository for wealth. Some of the greatest art treasures of the ancient world were housed in this magnificent building. In this letter, Paul will compare the church of Jesus Christ to a temple and will explain the great wealth that Christ has in His church. Paul has already used the word riches; but you may want to check other “financial” words such as inheritance (Eph. 1:11, 14, 18; 5:5) and fullness, or filled (Eph. 1:10, 23; 3:19; 4:10, 13; 5:18). Paul is saying to us, “BE RICH!”

The Analysis

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is as carefully structured as that great temple of Diana, and it contains greater beauty and wealth! We inherit the wealth by faith and invest the wealth by works. Without this balance, our spiritual riches do us no good.

CHAPTER TWO

HOW RICH YOU ARE!

Ephesians 1:4–14

One of the funniest cartoons I ever saw showed a pompous lawyer reading a client’s last will and testament to a group of greedy relatives. The caption read: “I, John Jones, being of sound mind and body, spent it all!”

When Jesus Christ wrote His last will and testament for His church, He made it possible for us to share His spiritual riches. Instead of spending it all, Jesus Christ paid it all. His death on the cross and His resurrection make possible our salvation.

He wrote us into His will, then He died so the will would be in force. Then He arose again that He might become the heavenly Advocate (lawyer) to make sure the terms of the will were correctly followed!

In this long sentence, Paul names just a few of the blessings that make up our spiritual wealth.

Blessings from God the Father (Eph. 1:4–6)

He has chosen us (v. 4). This is the marvelous doctrine of election, a doctrine that has confused some and confounded others. A seminary professor once said to me, “Try to explain election and you may lose your mind. But try to explain it away and you may lose your soul!” That salvation begins with God, and not with man, all Christians will agree. “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). The lost sinner, left to his own ways, does not seek God (Rom. 3:10–11); God in His love seeks the sinner (Luke 19:10).

Note that God chose us even before He created the universe, so that our salvation is wholly of His grace and not on the basis of anything we ourselves have done. He chose us in Christ, not in ourselves. And He chose us for a purpose: to be holy and without blame. In the Bible, election is always unto something. It is a privilege that carries a great responsibility.

Does the sinner respond to God’s grace against his own will? No, he responds because God’s grace makes him willing to respond. The mystery of divine sovereignty and human responsibility will never be solved in this life. Both are taught in the Bible (John 6:37). Both are true, and both are essential.

You will note that all three Persons in the Godhead are involved in our salvation (see also 1 Peter 1:3). As far as God the Father is concerned, you were saved when He chose you in Christ in eternity past. But that alone did not save you. As far as God the Son is concerned, you were saved when He died for you on the cross. As far as God the Spirit is concerned, you were saved when you yielded to His conviction and received Christ as your Saviour. What began in eternity past was fulfilled in time present, and will continue for all eternity!

He has adopted us (v. 5). Here we meet that misunderstood word predestination. This word, as it is used in the Bible, refers primarily to what God does for saved people. Nowhere in the Bible are we taught that people are predestined to hell, because this word refers only to God’s people. The word simply means “to ordain beforehand, to predetermine.” Election seems to refer to people, while predestination refers to purposes. The events connected with the crucifixion of Christ were predestined (Acts 4:25–28). God has predestined our adoption (Eph.1:5), and our conformity to Christ (Rom. 8:29–30), as well as our future inheritance (Eph. 1:11).

Adoption has a dual meaning, both present and future. You do not get into God’s family by adoption. You get into His family by regeneration, the new birth (John 3:1–18; 1 Peter 1:22–25). Adoption is the act of God by which He gives His “born ones” an adult standing in the family. Why does He do this? So that we might immediately begin to claim our inheritance and enjoy our spiritual wealth! A baby cannot legally use this inheritance (Gal. 4:1–7), but an adult son can—and should! This means that you do not have to wait until you are an old saint before you can claim your riches in Christ.

The future aspect of adoption is found in Romans 8:22–23, the glorified body we will have when Jesus returns. We already have our adult standing before God, but the world cannot see this. When Christ returns, this “private adoption” will be made public for everyone to see!

He has accepted us (v. 6). We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God; but He, by His grace, makes us accepted in Christ. This is our eternal position which will never change. Some translations read “which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (nasb). Or, “He has be-graced [literal translation] us in the Beloved.” The idea is the same. Because of God’s grace in Christ, we are accepted before Him. Paul wrote Philemon to encourage him to accept his runaway slave, Onesimus, using the same argument. “If he owes you anything, I will pay it. Receive him as you would receive me” (Phile. 17–19, paraphrased). The parallel is easy to see. [5]

4:1–16
One Body, Many Members

Ancient persuasive speeches and letters often engaged in a detailed argument, but Paul to this point has mainly used “epideictic,” or “praise” rhetoric. He has praised the church, calling it to be what God had planned for it to be. He now turns to a standard part of persuasive rhetoric, however, the exhortatio, or exhortations. This type of argument fills the rest of the book until the closing peroratio, or rousing conclusion, of 6:10–20.

4:1–2. Although gentleness was a recognized virtue, most Greek writers viewed “meekness” in the sense of “humility” negatively, unless it was the socially appropriate self-abasement of a social inferior to a superior. On Paul’s captivity (probably in Rome), see comment on 6:20.

4:4–6. Some Jewish texts (especially in Philo and 2 Baruch) suggested that Israel was united because God was one. These texts would never have united Jew and Gentile in one people, however, even though all the nations were admittedly joined in common humanity. Paul’s language sounds closer to Stoic philosophical language about the unity of creation. But even the common Greek rhetorical theme of concord (unity, peace) does not match Paul’s emphasis on the unity that believers in Jesus share and must live out.

his descent from heaven to become a servant at his incarnation (Phil 2:7; cf. Ps 139:15). [6]

 


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cf. confer, compare

v. verse

[1]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

NIV New International Version

cf. confer, compare

Gr. Greek

v. verse

[2]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

[3]Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. 1997. A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor, WA

niv New International Version

cf. compare

[4]Carson, D. A. 1994. New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) . Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA

[5]Wiersbe, W. W. 1996, c1989. The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.

rhetoric *Rhetoric. The art or study of proper forms and methods of public speaking, highly emphasized in antiquity. Although only the well-to-do had much training in it, the rhetorical forms and ideas they used filtered down to the rest of urban society through public speeches, in a manner similar to that in which television permeates modern Western society.

church *Church. The Greek term used in the New Testament reflects the terms often used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word for the “congregation” (qahal) of Israel: “church” (assembly) and “synagogue” (gathering). Although some scholars have suggested that Jesus could not have spoken about the church during his earthly ministry, the Dead Sea Scrolls used the Hebrew term for God’s community; hence Jesus could use this word in talking about his future community (Mt 16:18; 18:17). The term was in common use in Greek culture for “assemblies,” especially citizen assemblies in cities. (The popular modern surmise that the Greek word for “church,” ekklēsia, means “called-out ones” is thus mistaken; that sense is actually more appropriate for “saints,” i.e., “those separated [for God].”)

Philo *Philo. A first-century Jewish philosopher committed to both Judaism and Greek thought; he lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and held a position of great influence and prestige in the Jewish community there.

2 Baruch 2 Baruch. A Jewish apocalypse from the late first or early second century a.d.

Gentile *Gentile. Anyone who is not Jewish. In ancient Jewish parlance, this was often the equivalent of “pagan.”

Stoic Stoicism. The most popular form of Greek philosophy in Paul’s day. Although most people were not Stoics, many Stoic ideas were widely disseminated. For more detail, see comment on Acts 17:18.

[6]Keener, C. S., & InterVarsity Press. 1993. The IVP Bible background commentary : New Testament . InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, Ill.

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