Scriptures

Ephesians 4

Introduction

‘As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’ Ephesians 4:1-3

This chapter begins by Paul urging the reader to live a Christian life, to behave worthy of Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:27 / 1 Peter 1:14-15. When we come to Jesus, we change our name to Christian, are we living worthy enough to use this name? To live a life worthy of His name is living according to the Scriptures.

When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, it highlights that we have a problem with sin, the Supper speaks about our weakness. Although some well-intentioned Christians believe they must be good to take the Lord’s Supper and others refuse to partake in the Supper because they don’t believe their good enough. The truth is, none of us are worthy enough, that’s the very reason why we should partake of it, but our attitude and our motives should be right.

Paul describes how we should live, completely ‘humble’, this is the recognition that we aren’t what we should be, Romans 12:3 / Philippians 2:3-4 / James 4:10. ‘Gentleness’ is closely connected with submission, Numbers 12:3, and refers to moral authority and power issuing in restraint as far as human temptations are concerned.

The word, ‘patience’ is the same word which describes the patience of God with mankind, Romans 2:4 / Romans 9:22 / 1 Timothy 1:16 / 1 Peter 3:20 / 2 Peter 3:15. Christians should be tolerant, forgiving, and understanding of one another’s mistakes and sins.

‘Bearing with one another in love’ simply implies that Christians should accept our place with other Christians, having an attitude that allows everyone to have the same rights as everyone else, Colossians 3:12-13 / Galatians 3:26-27.

Unity is so important to the Lord and His church, John 17:20-21, there is no room for those who cause division, 1 Corinthians 1:10 / Philippians 1:27 / Philippians 4:6 / Philippians 3:1-3 / Philemon 9.

How can we maintain the unity of the Spirit?

By being ‘filled with the Spirit,’ Ephesians 5:18. When the Holy Spirit rules in a congregation, there is unity and peace. This unity must be maintained, ‘maintain’, ‘tereo’ and ‘watch over, keep, guard’ the ‘unity’ of the one body, the church. Notice, we’re not called upon or required to create unity, but maintain unity.

God provided us with everything we need, even when we’re tempted, He always helps us through, 1 Corinthians 10:13. He gave us everything needed to live according to His will, 1 Peter 1:3 / 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Because He has given us everything we need, this should motivate us to share the Gospel with others. God already provides us with everything we will need to serve Him in the areas He wants us to.

‘There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’ Ephesians 4:4-6

Paul now goes ahead and describes seven certain truths which help Christians maintain unity among themselves.

One Body

The body is the church, Colossians 1:18 / Ephesians 1:22-23 and notice there is only one, not many. This body is the church which God adds a person too at their baptism, Acts 2:47, we’re not baptised into the church, we’re baptised into the body. This church is the body of believers who belong to Christ, Ephesians 5:23 / Colossians 1:18, this is the same church which Christ died for, Acts 20:28.

It’s the same church where Christ is the head, Colossians 1:16, and if a person is a part of this church, then they will be rewarded with eternal life, Ephesians 5:23 / Ephesians 1:23 / Ephesians 2:16 / Romans 12:5 / 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 / Colossians 3:15.

The church is a living organism, with a variety of members, it’s made up of individuals who have their own personalities. There may be various differences between the members of the body, racial, cultural, historical etc. but we’re all a part of this one body, who continually work together as a unit, 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.

One Spirit

The Holy Spirit is very much at work before, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 / 2 Peter 1:20-21, and during baptism and it’s the Spirit of God who baptises us into the one body, 1 Corinthians 12:13. When we’re obedient to the word of God, Ephesians 2:18 / 1 Corinthians 1:10 / Philippians 1:27, the Spirit is at work and He creates and maintains the unity, Ephesians 4:3.

One Hope

Hope is the confident expectation that we will go to heaven, Hebrews 6:18-19, this is something all Christians share and have in common, Titus 1:2 / Ephesians 1:18 / Romans 5:2. We are sealed with the Spirit, which is the guarantee of heaven for those who are in Christ, Ephesians 1:13.

One Lord

There is only one Lord and His name is Jesus the Christ, 1 Corinthians 8:6, it’s Christ who has the authority over all things, Ephesians 1:20-22 / Matthew 28:18 / Acts 2:36 Acts 10:36 / Acts 10:43 / Romans 10:12 / 1 Peter 3:22.

All believers, all those who are a part of His church, have confessed that Jesus is Lord and submitted themselves as servants to the Lordship of Jesus, He is now Lord of our lives, Romans 10:9.

One Faith

Notice again that there is only one faith, not many, this faith doesn’t just involve the belief that Christ is Who He claimed to be, Romans 3:22, it’s also the faith which comes by hearing, Romans 10:17.

The one faith also includes the Scriptures, as a whole Jude 3. Christians are brought together into one body because of their common faith, Ephesians 4:13 / Romans 10:8 / Colossians 2:7.

One Baptism

Notice again there is only one baptism, not many, but which baptism is it? Is it Holy Spirit baptism? Is it baptism for the dead? Is it John’s baptism? Is it a baptism of fire? Which one is it?

The word baptism is the Greek word ‘baptizo’ and it means to dip, to plunge, or to immerse, this would exclude sprinkling. There is only one baptism in the Scriptures by which repentant believers have been buried with Jesus into His death and united with Him in His resurrection, Romans 6:3-6 / 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 / Colossians 2:12.

This is the baptism that people receive and end up in Christ where they receive an abundance of blessings, Ephesians 1:3-14 / Romans 6:3 / Galatians 3:26-27. This is the baptism where people are immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins and receive the gift, not gifts of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38 / Acts 22:16 / Romans 6:3-6 / 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Many people say that baptism isn’t necessary for salvation, but the New Testament teaches consistently that the only way to get into Christ is through baptism, Acts 2:38-41 / Acts 8:5-12 / Acts 8:26-40 / Acts 9:18 / Acts 10:47-48 / Acts 16:15 / Acts 16:16-33 / Acts 18:8 / Acts 19:3-5 / Acts 22:16.

It’s the birth of every Christian, John 3:3-8. It’s the one responsive act that we have to make. Without the birth, we don’t live. Baptism is a common universal experience what we all share in common. In the early days, it was always common that if you wanted to become a child of God, you needed to be immersed.

Every child of God has been baptised with the Holy Spirit, but this isn’t meant in a miraculous sense, it’s just the Spirit at work. At baptism everybody receives the Spirit, Acts 2:38, who will start dwelling in the person, as a deposit for the promise given, Ephesians 1:13-14.

One God And Father

There is only one God to whom everyone must worship, Deuteronomy 6:4 / Malachi 2:10 / 1 Corinthians 8:6 / 1 Corinthians 12:6. It’s in Him we live and move and have our being, Acts 17:28. He is our Father and we are His children, He who knows what we need and knows how to keep us safe, Matthew 6:9-13 / Matthew 7:9-11.

Being a part of the one body, receiving the one Spirit, sharing the one hope, submitting to the one Lord and embracing the one faith are all intimately associated with being baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19.

Unity isn’t only about believing in the same thing, but about the way we act towards one another. These verses provide the basis for us, it’s all about oneness, oneness with one another and oneness with the Father, with the Son and with the Holy Spirit, John 17:20-23.

‘But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.’ Ephesians 4:7

Here Paul reminds us that there is unity in diversity, although some people are more gifted, ‘grace’ more as others, we are still one. When we have more gifts, we also have more responsibility, but we’re obligated to use our gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 tells us there is one body but many parts. We are all sustained by the one Spirit and although members may look different, they all work together as one body.

When a person falls, they usually stretch out their hands to protect the rest of their body. Every member of the body should be concerned about the well-being of the whole body.

He says, ‘to each one of us’, meaning God gave every one of us our own abilities. If people say they aren’t good at anything, are they not saying that God didn’t enable them to do anything? We can say, I can do this or that well, because God has enabled us, and He has given us the ability to do this or that. All people are important, all have gifts, nobody should feel less important.

Notice that Paul says that it is Jesus who gives the gifts, not the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:18 / Acts 19:1-6 / Romans 1:11, which implies these gifts weren’t miraculous gifts, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. Remember not all gifts were miraculous, Romans 12:3-7, the gifts in which Paul speaks of here are mentioned in the next few verses.

‘This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.’ (What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)’ Ephesians 4:8-10

When we read Paul’s words, we have to imagine a Roman triumph, a great procession entering Rome led by a victorious king, returning from a great war, riding on a white horse. At the back of him, there is train of people, those who have been taken captive during the war and all the spoils the victorious king has gained and now brings with them. As the procession goes along, he gives gifts to men, some captives were set free, whilst others were executed.

It’s a picture of the victorious Christ who gave gifts to His people, God has blessed all Christians with at least one gift, if we read further on in the passage, we see that some gifts are mentioned, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

And notice that Paul quotes from the Psalms, Psalm 68:18. Here we have a picture of David looking forward into the future. It’s prophetic, David says, ‘received gifts’ but Paul says, ‘gave gifts’. This is David looking forward and Paul looking at the fulfilment of this passage.

But Who Are The Captives?

From the Psalm it’s clear that they were the enemies of Israel who were defeated when Jerusalem was captured. In Ephesians the captives are the enemies of Christ, namely, Satan, sin, and death, in other words, Christ had victory over Satan, sin and death and gives gifts of the Spirit to those who have been identified with Him, Colossians 2:13-15.

And please notice that Paul doesn’t mention the word, ‘hell’, he speaks about Christ ‘descending to the lower, earthly regions’. What does this mean? ‘Descended to the lower, earthly regions’ isn’t a reference to hell, but to His birth.

We find the Psalmist using similar words in Psalm 139:15. In other words, Paul is referring to Christ’s coming to earth as a baby, he’s speaking about Christ coming into Mary’s womb.

Paul is saying that Jesus, who went up to heaven, that is in His ascension, is the same Jesus, who earlier came down from heaven. Paul isn’t speaking about Christ going to ‘hell’, he’s speaking about Christ’s birth as human.

‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’ Ephesians 4:11-13

Here we find the gifts and the reason for the gifts given by Christ.

Apostles

The apostles are apostles of Christ, to be ab apostle you must have been someone who was continuously with Jesus, he should be called by Christ and be a witness of the resurrection of Jesus, Luke 24:48 / Acts 1:8 / Acts 1:21-22 / 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 / 1 Peter 5:1. Paul would be included as an apostle as he spent time with Christ, and was directly sent by Christ, 1 Corinthians 9:1 / 1 Corinthians 15:8.

An apostle should be able to do the signs of an apostle, i.e. miraculous healing etc, to confirm the message, Mark 16:20 / Acts 14:3 / 2 Corinthians 12:12. It was the apostles who laid the foundation of the church, Ephesians 2:20.

There are no witnesses of Christ’ resurrection today and nobody living now was continuously with Jesus, so there are no more apostles today. You could be an ambassador of the church, if you are sent out, but not an apostle.

Prophets

The prophets mentioned here were inspired preachers and teachers who ministered to local disciples in order to instruct them in the Word of God. Remember there was no written Bibles back then as we have today and so these prophets were given the task of reminding the church of the truth that was revealed through the Christ-sent apostles.

Evangelists

The word ‘evangelist’ is found only three times in Scripture, Acts 21:8 / 2 Timothy 4:5. From these other two passages we learn that they were preachers who travelled about preaching the Gospel to the lost. They preached the Good News to anyone who hadn’t heard it before.

Pastors

A pastor is the same as an elder, bishop, overseer or shepherd, these words are not titles but merely a description of their role within the local church. If a congregation had elders, there had had to be more than one, Acts 14:23 / Acts 20:28 and they had to meet certain qualifications, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 / Titus 1:5-9. They acted as the spiritual leaders of the church.

Teachers

Teachers function today in a similar way to the prophets, however, their source for edification of the church comes from God’s Word, not a direct revelation from the Holy Spirit, 2 Timothy 4:2. All apostles, prophets, evangelists and shepherds were teachers.

The Reason For The Gifts

The gifts were given ‘until’ we all reached unity in ‘THE faith’, remember the word ‘faith’ here doesn’t mean belief, it means the entire teaching and words we find within the Scriptures, Jude 3, and have ‘the knowledge’, 1 Peter 2:2 / 2 Peter 3:18.

Notice also how Paul contrasts and uses the same words as the Corinthian passage, and the same words which James uses, words like ‘mature’, ‘infants’ and ‘grow up’. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 / James 1:23-25.

The reason why Christ gifted the church with these men is simply to build His church up. When the body is being build up well, all parts of the body will work together, which makes it bigger and stronger. Our final goal is to become very mature.

God’s plan is to build and grow His church in order that He may receive the glory. He blessed His church with capable men who can assist us through teaching to become more like Him, Romans 12:3 / 1 Corinthians 12:7.

All Christians have a duty to grow and work in God’s church, Titus 3:8 / 1 Corinthians 15:10 / 2 Corinthians 4:15. The purpose for equipping the saints, is to spiritually feed the church so that each member can be trained and encouraged to work, 1 Corinthians 14:26.

Christians are to be equipped in order to be able to minister to the needs of every member, Galatians 6:10 / Ephesians 6:21 / Colossians 4:17. A minister is a servant of the Lord and it would be misleading to speak about ‘the’ one minister in the church, because all Christians should be ministers.

‘Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.’ Ephesians 4:14-15

Paul knew that when we finally got the Bible, God’s completed revelation to man, we won’t fall for every kind of doctrinal teaching that comes along, why? Because we can check it out for ourselves, we can measure what’s been taught with the Bible itself.

Now we can all grow and mature as we read and study the Bible, which has been entrusted or delivered once for all, Jude 3. When we are mature, we aren’t tossed up and down, like on the waves, but we’re stable and not easily influenced by others.

‘From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’ Ephesians 4:16

Every part of the body works together to build the body up, we all become more and more like Christ. Each part should grow in love, not a few parts but every part should grow up.

When we think about the human body, if one leg isn’t growing properly, you will use the other leg more and it could get overloaded and worn out because it has to do twice the work it normally should do, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Unity is important and the church should continue to grow with the emphasis on every part.

‘So, I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.’ Ephesians 4:17-19

Off With The Old And On With The New!

Paul now go on to explain how to put our new selves into practice in our daily lives. We should be walking worthy according to how we have been called. We should live in Christ, and don’t live any longer as the Gentiles do. We shouldn’t put some new colours on, like redecorating, but there should be a complete change, a complete rethinking is necessary.

The Gentiles have empty minds, they are darkened in their understanding, Matthew 7:22 / Romans 13:13 / 2 Corinthians 12:21 / Galatians 5:19 / 2 Peter 2:2 / 2 Peter 2:7 / 2 Peter 2:18 / Jude 4. They are blinded by ignorance through the hardening of their hearts and this is their own will, Romans 1:21-32 / Colossians 3:1-17.

They live lives according to their empty futile minds and lost complete contact with God. They are no longer tuned in to God and live lives of futility as a result, Acts 14:15 / Romans 1:21 / 1 Corinthians 15:10. This state starts with the hardening of the heart caused by themselves.

They are no longer sensitive to God and a good way of living. They have the principle of ‘if it feels good, it must be good’. They are now without morals and do their own things, they gave themselves over to lust and impurity, Acts 26:18 / Colossians 1:21 / 2 Peter 3:1.

‘That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.’ Ephesians 4:20-24

Paul says through their former way of life, they didn’t get to know Christ and he says that their former way of life will stop them from seeing. Yes, they heard of Him and were taught to put off their old selves which is corrupted by it deceitful desires but now as Christians, they should be completely reprogrammed, they need to get rid of their old way of living and start a complete new life, Colossians 3:1-11.

The way of Christ is completely new, Romans 12:2 / Romans 8:7 / Colossians 3:10, the world didn’t know it before but as Christians we don’t belong in this world anymore, we belong to another realm, Ephesians 1:3. The way of Christ is characterised in true holiness and righteousness, whilst the world’s characteristics are sensuality and lust.

It’s good to know what is going on in the world but this doesn’t mean that we should be attached to the world, John 17:14-16 / 1 John 2:15 / 1 John 4:5.

‘Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.’ Ephesians 4:25-28

Lying has no place in the Christian’s life, a little white lie is still a lie, Revelation 21:8, we should stay away from every lie. Is it good to be angry? If someone burns and slaughters fifty children, or when women are abused maybe during pregnancy and she loses her child, or if a child is left in a dirty room with only a little food and the child dies, this makes us angry. But this doesn’t give us the right to take things into our own hands.

Being angry isn’t sinful, its where that anger leads to, we need to learn to allow God to take care of certain things, Revelation 6:11. If some idiot on the road behaves very badly and causes a dangerous situation, we might get angry, but don’t let it lead to sin and don’t start taking revenge on that person, Romans 12:17-19, don’t let your behaviour be governed by anger!

There are situations that should make us angry and if we’re not getting angry in that situation, then something must be wrong with us. Paul says, don’t let the sun go down, when you are angry, in other words, work out the problem as soon as possible. Don’t let it go on and on because angriness causes you to sin and the devil loves it when you are angry, so end this situation very soon.

We must replace old habits, such as stealing, Galatians 5:13-14, with something positive like work, 1 Thessalonians 4:10-11 / 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 / Romans 12:18 / Titus 3:14. If we don’t replace it then there will be an emptiness, a good soil for the devil.

‘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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ Ephesians 4:29-32

As Christians we must use our words in a right way, it’s the motive behind the use of our words which are important. Some words can be used in a good or bad way, but there is no place for offence and insults. We must have the right attitude when we speak, we should speak what we mean.

We have been forgiven by a Holy and loving God and so we should be mature forgiving people. How difficult it is sometimes to forgive others, but if we confess to being in Christ, then we should follow Christ’s example. These are the characteristics of a person being in Christ, don’t hurt others! It’s better to live our life in forgiveness than having wrath or bitterness rule our lives.

We are to be imitators of God, Ephesians 5:1-2, we shouldn’t let our behaviour be governed by others around us, Titus 3:3. We should allow our lives to be governed by God the Father. We want to show the glory of God within us.

We should live a life that is focused on those around us which means we should always try our best for those around us, but we’re not living for our own benefit, but to serve others.

The Jews were too proud, they were God’s people, but they were not like the Gentiles. Jesus says we should bear much fruit, by this people will know who we are, John 15:1-8. If we are God’s people, then we should live like Him.

Do Not Grieve The Holy Spirit

When we read the context, we discover that Paul is talking about the things that people say. The things that Christians can say, the way we use our tongue. He’s saying,

‘Look, you have received the Holy Spirit as a token that God intends to redeem you outright one day, therefore watch your tongue, watch your language, watch the things you say, do not cause pain or sorrow but let your words give grace and not offence.’

Grieving the Holy Spirit relates to purity, purity of speech and thought. We have new life through the Spirit, we are sealed for the day of redemption, Ephesians 1:13-14, and the Spirit enables us to bear fruit, Galatians 5:22-23.

If we cause offence to the Holy Spirit, by doing things contrary to the things of the Holy Spirit and putting him down and not letting Him work in us, then we grieve the Spirit.

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DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."

Romans 12:1

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