3/12/17 Ephesians 4:1-10 “The unity of the Spirit for all Christians”
Ephesians 4:1 – I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
beseech – to call for; admonish; exhort; beg; entreat; beseech; comfort; be comforted; encourage; teach; instruct. See use in Romans 12:1.
walk – live or control your life
vocation – or calling
Matthew 1:25b – and he called his name JESUS.
The same word is used in Romans 8:30 – Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. where “called” refers to a naming, or a calling to bear a name or title (or office).
This is not the same “called” as used in Romans 8:28 where the word used is kletos (called; invited [to a banquet]; invited [by God in the proclamation of the Gospel] to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom through Christ; called to the discharge of some office.)
“I (Paul) therefore (as a result of what I wrote before this), the prisoner (in bonds) of (in) the Lord, beseech (exhort) you that you walk (live or control your life) worthy of the vocation (calling) wherewith (whereby) you are called (by name; to ministry; to service [for God]),”
Paul is exhorting the Ephesians (in particular the Gentiles) to keep in mind that, because they have been given so much (as per Ch.3), they need to act accordingly. If you have been given something of great value, then treat it as such! (Note the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-46) Appreciate the blessings that God has bestowed upon you by His grace (undeserved favours).
If God has given you so much, then it’s for a good reason: that you would use such blessings in service to the God who gave them to you. Don’t waste your gifts!
Ephesians 4:2 – With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
lowliness – have a humble opinion of one’s self; modesty; humility; lowliness of mind.
meekness – or gentleness
longsuffering – patience; endurance; perseverance; slowness in avenging wrongs.
forbearing – enduring (as in putting up with irritations etc)
“With all lowliness (humility) and meekness (gentleness), with longsuffering (patience; slowness to pay-back or avenge wrongs), forbearing (enduring; putting up with) one another in love (agape).”
This is leading into the teaching on how to get along with one another and, in doing so, develop a unity (one-ness) between all the brethren. Clearly a major aspect of this plea for unity is to get the Jews and Gentiles to see one another as the same as themselves, putting up with the ethnic irritations and annoyances that are common to multi-cultural societies.
Philippians 2:2-4 – 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind. 3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Colossians 3:11-12 – 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
John 13:34-35 – 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Ephesians 4:3 – Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
bond – sundesmos (that which binds many together; a band; bond) from syn + desmos (band; bond)
“Endeavouring (giving diligence) to keep the unity (one-ness) of the Spirit in the bond (that which binds the many together to make one) of peace.”
They were to work at (give diligence to) making unity happen; it just wasn’t going to happen unless they did something about it! It was quite possible to be as one as long as that which bound them together was a common desire for peace (that is, to keep the peace). They were to be peace-makers, peace-keepers. As noted previously, there were different cultures to accommodate here, Jew and Gentile (which also could include many different nationalities and cultures). A recipe for all-out war would have to be turned into a unity in the Spirit through the application of the requirements that would keep the peace (in the bonds of peace).
Although, note that the exhortation to live in peace with others wasn’t always only to fellow-Christians.
Romans 12:18 – If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Ephesians 4:4 – [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 – 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
“There is one body (the Church; the body of Christ), and one Spirit (by which we have all been baptised into that one body), even as (just as) you are called (by name; to ministry; to service [for God]) in (or through) one (only one) hope of your calling (called; invited [to a banquet]; invited [by God in the proclamation of the Gospel] to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom through Christ).”
“unity” comes from the word “one”, and Vs 4-6 are spelling out in very clear terms just what that “unity of the Spirit” of Vs 3 means. This is a major theme of Ephesians (and other epistles, too), that we are one in Christ. Over and over we have Paul teach that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, that the gospel is equally applicable to both groups.
Romans 10:12 – For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Also note Romans 1:16; Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 12:13.
And all have the same (“only one”) hope of their calling (to salvation).
Titus 2:13 – Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Ephesians 4:5 – One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
This relates to the “only one” hope of their calling: one Lord, one faith, only one baptism. Why are two different terms used for “one”? Interesting that the “only one” term is the 3rd and last “one” in each verse (see Vs 4). (Is there a reason?)
One commentary (Expositors) questions why there should be one baptism when communion isn’t included. However, I think what’s said in the above verse is what was meant to be said!
1 Corinthians 10:17 – For we [being] many are one bread, [and] one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
One Lord who is Christ. There is one God, plural yet singular.
Deuteronomy 6:4 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord (singular) our God (plural) [is] one Lord (singular):
One faith, that is, one doctrine of belief in God: Christianity.
Acts 6:7 – And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Jude 3 – Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Faith (as a belief in Christ) can also be that which should be common to all Christians.
Philippians 1:17 – Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Baptism was clearly defined, especially with respect to when it was required, but also the purpose of baptism was defined.
Matthew 28:19 – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Acts 2:38 – Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Baptism symbolised the Christian’s identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Colossians 2:12 – Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Romans 6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
All these “one”s represented their unity in the Spirit: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and then, in the next verse we have one God and Father of all. All these were evidences of their unity, their one-ness with each other.
Ephesians 4:6 – One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all.
One God meant a commonality of worship; whereas many gods would lead to much variety of worship.
One Father meant that they were all of the same family; whereas many fathers (false gods) would have emphasised the differences between the worship “families”. just as there are differences between physical families in our society. Even DNA defines family connections through common patterns.
above all, and through all, and in you all – An all-encompassing presence of God who is all majesty, yet always present with all His people; for they are His dwelling place.
Ephesians 2:22 – In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Some commentaries question the authenticity of “you” (“in you all”), thus emphasising the presence of God in all His creation, (note Psalm 139:7 – Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?) but the context in Ephesians 4:6 does suggest this presence as being one with God’s people. See also
Ezekiel 37:27 – My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ephesians 4:7 – But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
measure – metron (measure; an instrument for measuring; determined extent; portion measured off; measure or limit; the required measure) Also used in Ephesians 4:13 – Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
“But unto every (or each) one of us grace is (was?) given according to the measure (the determined extent) of the gift of Christ.” (Some teach that this is in the past tense.)
Paul told the Romans that each had been dealt (divided or distributed) such a measure of faith, but not faith as in belief, but faith as in the doctrines of Christianity.
Romans 12:3 – For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
But grace, on the other hand, is clearly defined as a gift of God (Ephesians 3:7). In the above verse grace is given according to the measure determined by how much Christ would give to each person.
Paul was told that the grace given to him would be sufficient for his needs; thus, it appears that grace is given according to the needs of each person for such grace.
2 Corinthians 12:9a – And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Paul told the Corinthians that Christians had been given various gifts, but not the same to each person. Different callings, different provisions!
1 Corinthians 12:4 – Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
Note that these gifts are called charisma, a word derived from grace (charis). Thus the gifts of the Spirit could be termed the grace(s) of the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:8 – Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive (or “a body of captives”?), and gave gifts unto men.
Psalm 68:18 – Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for (or “of”) men; yea, [for] the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell [among them].
When he ascended on high – clearly this is the resurrection after Jesus had firstly descended into hell (hades, usually known as the abode of the wicked).
Acts 2:30-32 – 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (hades), neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
he led captivity captive – Some hold that this refers to God’s saved people being led from Paradise into heaven, that is, those who were captive (under satan’s rule) have now been taken on high with Christ. This is a possible interpretation.
Others teach that this actually says that it is Christ’s victory over the wicked ones.
he led captivity – to make captive; take captive; capture. Thus, it could read that Christ made captives of the captivity.
That is, He led as captives those who had been captured (or vanquished) by His victory in the resurrection. The context of the original in Psalm 68:18 does appear to show that many hostages or captives have been taken, and that tribute seems to have been paid to the Lord God in Zion. Thus, Christ triumphed over His enemies.
gave gifts unto men – After Vs 8, Paul puts in an aside (shown in parentheses) on the ascension of Christ after His descent into hell; this is followed in Vs 11-12 by what appears to be a list of those gifts to men.
Ephesians 4:11-12 – 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Were those gifts to men related to the tribute received from men (in Psalm 68:18) and then possibly given in turn to those who assisted with the victory. It was a custom for the victors to take from the vanquished any property that they wanted. It was their right as victors to share in the plunder. And, the king or ruler would give gifts to those who were instrumental in winning the battle. Note how so many of Britain’s Lords (dukes, earls, barons etc) were given as rewards after a victory.
Also note the following passage:
1 Peter 3:18-22 – 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Paul tells the Colossians about the victory over Christ’s enemies on the cross.
Colossians 2:14-15 – 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Ephesians 4:9 – (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
That Christ ascended must assume that he had to have firstly descended into the lower parts of the earth (the grave, Sheol, hades).
Ephesians 4:10 – He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
He that ascended far above all heavens is the one who firstly descended from the Father.
John 6:38 – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
fill all things – pleroo pas
Ephesians 1:22-23 – 22 And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth (pleroo) all in all (pas en pas).
These last two verses are seemingly written out of chronological order. The one who ascended to heaven was the one who had previously descended into the earth, and the one who descended from heaven (in order to descend into the earth) was also the one who ascended far above all heavens, that is, far above all other power and authority.
Ephesians 1:19-21 – 19 And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Now, that is a statement of the sovereignty of God. It seems to me that any effort to redefine God’s sovereignty on the basis of whether man has been allowed some measure of free will or not is ludicrous! For example, calvinists mainly base their doctrine of the sovereignty of God upon this very issue: that, in their view, a sovereign God would not permit any other being to have any measure of freedom of choice, for that would be an undermining of their God’s will. But the Bible defines God’s sovereignty as being in authority over all else in the universe. And, if God desires man to have some freedom of will, and then to judge all mankind for every free will choice made, then that’s His decision! That is real authority, and therefore real sovereignty!