Ephesians, Chapter 4
© Copyright 1998 Darroll Evans-all rights reserved
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
The Greek word translated “beseech” is extremely close in meaning to the English. Beseech is a very good translation.
The Greek word translated vocation is another matter. In Modern English, a person's vocation is his or her occupation, profession, job or calling. The Greek word translated vocation indicates a calling. It also indicates an invitation such as an invitation to a feast.
Paul is exhorting the Ephesians (and us) to live in a manner that is worthy of one that has received an invitation to attend the marriage feast of Christ.
Ephesians 4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
The Greek literally says that we are to "put up" with one another. That is blunt, but true. We are to put up with one another "in love." Love is the hallmark of a godly life in Christ.
Christ Jesus gave us an old, new commandment. He said, "A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you so that you also love one another" (John 13:34).
When Adam was placed in the garden, he and Eve had only one commandment. They were told not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That was it.
So, do you know what they did?
They eat the fruit. Now, we have one basic commandment, "This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). You would think it would be easy.
But look around, are we really doing a good job of following our one commandment?
Many cannot accept Christ because they cannot accept themselves. You are accepted in Christ because of who He is, and not because of what you are. The love of Christ is not what some teach. Godly love is not based on fickle emotions. It is based in Christ Himself.
Ephesians 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Unity in Christ is only achievable when the followers of Christ come into agreement that He is the head. As long as some seek to become the served instead of the servants, Christianity will never come into unity.
As we go through the next few verses in Ephesians, look for the unity in God. We will see unity in the body, Spirit, and hope. There is one Lord, Faith, and baptism. There is one God and Father.
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
This verse points directly to unity in the Spirit. We have been called into a unity of the Spirit to achieve God's purposes. You have been called to unity in Christ. The Roman, Methodists, Presbyterian, or Baptist denominations did not go to the cross for you. Christ Jesus did!
God has called you into liberty exhibited in Christ. He has called us into a unity of hope.
Ephesians 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
The title "Lord" denotes proprietorship. Christ paid the price for our redemption. Therefore, we have one owner, Jesus Christ. The unity of faith brings about a unity in baptism. Our baptism is not a universal baptism in water. Our baptism is the baptism in Christ Jesus.
We who call upon the name of Jesus Christ are unified in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We are one body, in one Spirit, called to one hope. That body, Spirit and hope were manifested in Christ Jesus.
The unity of God shall be displayed in all creation. There is one LORD. God alone is worthy of our one faith. Faith outside of God may be terribly misplaced. In our theology, and minds we separate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Such separation is artificial, but necessary for our understanding.
Let me take time to explain "echad." The greatest confession in Judaism is the Shema.
Deuteronomy 6:4--Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is One.
The Hebrew word translated One is Echad. It means one, but it does not mean single. Echad indicates one group, or one bunch. The Shema speaks of God being a multiple Being.
In Genesis, we find that God is more than one!
Genesis1:26--And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three entities working in complete unity of purpose. It was that way in the beginning, and unity shall be the way in the Age of ages.
Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. The translation of “Father” (Gr. Pateer-Pathr) is unfortunate. Paul did not write that God is the “Father” of all, believer and non-believer. This is NOT an appeal for the brotherhood of man.Instead, Paul was telling us that God is the Originator or Creator of all. That is evident in the word “you.” If this verse was written to all people it would mean that the Holy Spirit in the believer and heathen alike. Such a concept is anti-biblical and ridiculous. Christ Jesus rejected the universal father concept.
John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. (NKJ)
Those to whom Christ spoke were NOT children of God. They were unsaved Jews. Those Jews who trusted Christ became children of God.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (NKJV)
Certain Muslims use that “father” concept to deceive Christians who do not know the gospel. There is no “universal” adoption into the family of God without His adoption.
Paul told us that God the Father is the Father of Christ Jesus. And since, we who believe have been baptized into Christ Jesus; He has also become our Father. To attempt to twist and mangle Scripture to prove the brotherhood mankind (i.e. that both the lost and the saved are the) children of God is a travesty.
Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Here is where I must again deal with words and their meanings. In today's Christianity, we have a group that is referred to as charismatic Christians and Pentecostal Christians. Usually the two groups are lumped together by those who do not understand the respective positions.
Are you a Christian?
If the answer is yes, you have within you the Holy Spirit. I am not referring to quantity, but quality. If you have the Holy Spirit, you are Pentecostal. There are no non-Pentecostal Christians. A Christian without the Holy Spirit is a spiritual contradiction.
Let me ask again, are you a Christian?
If the answer is yes, you are charismatic. Charismatic means "gifted." There are not non-gifted, non-charismatic Christians. There are Christians who do not speak in tongues, or prophesy, or work miracles, but there are no non-gifted, non-charismatic Christians.
Anyone that rejects Christ's gifts or Pentecost may be many things, but Christian is not one of them. There are numerous gifts from Christ, and nobody has them all. Faith is a gift, and without it you could not have accepted Christ.
We are saved in accordance to the “measure” of the Gift of Christ Jesus, The Holy Spirit. All people do not now possess the Holy Spirit and are therefore not saved. Let me make this point clear and obvious: All people are not now saved. Salvation is a gift. Showing mercy is a gift (Romans 12:6-8).
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Jesus Christ descended into the "lower parts" to perform a task. His task was to preach those held in captivity due to their disobedience.
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.
Many will tell you that physical death ends the chance for salvation. That is not biblical. Those held captive in this section of Scripture were being held as a result of their sins. Christ preached to them.
Verse 8 says, “he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” What does that mean?
There may be two explanations. Under Roman tradition when a returning general entered Rome, his parade through Rome included the leaders of whatever nation he defeated. During that celebratory entrance the General gave gifts to the Romans.
Then there is the Hebrew idiomatic meaning!
Psalms 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
In the Idiomatic Hebrew leading captivity captive refers to the restoration of Israel. But, Christ Jesus (Yahshua HaMessiach) died for all! Having accomplished that task, setting those captives free, the Bible says He gave "gifts" to men. Christ ascended so that He might "fulfill" all things that have been spoken by the Father. He did it to bring creation into unity, and to fulfill “the all (Gr. ta panta-ta panta) .”
Question: Can Christ Jesus fulfill “the all” without fulfilling the all?
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Christ Jesus gave gifts to men. He appointed some men to be Apostles. He appointed some to be Prophets. Christ Jesus appointed others to be Evangelists, some to be Pastors and still others to be Teachers.
The Church as a whole does not endorse, or honor all those gifts to the Church. Most denominations teach that all the New Testament Apostles and Prophets died in the first century. That teaching is anti-biblical.
The very next verse describes why these Church offices came into existence. Recently a pastor who aspires to the position of Apostle was referred to the “king” of the Church he serves. That statement, in a public meeting, was uttered by a spiritually ignorant, demonically oppressed Pretender who has no business being allowed into a position of prominence in any Church of Jesus Christ.
Both the speaker and the pastor, who did not challenge that absurd claim, are self-seeking self-glorifying pretenders. They do not worship Christ. They worship themselves. God will not share His glory with another.
The list of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers is a list of Church servants. When they lose sight of the fact that a servant is not above his Lord, they also lose their effectiveness in revealing the truth of Christ Jesus.
The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29), but the blessings of service are not irrevocable. They are dependent on the obedience of the servant. God Does not call us to a live of egotism, but a life of service.
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
The offices of the Church were given for the maturing of the saints who in turn are supposed to do the "work of the ministry." The Pastor is a Pastor, but you, as a Christian, are a minister. There are NO laymen in the body of Christ.
The next verse tells us, in detail, how long these offices are to be in operation!
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:
The Church offices instituted by Christ Jesus are to be operational "until" we are unified in maturity.
How long have "we" been unified?
How mature are "we?"
For the record all we need to do is look around to see that there is no unity in Christianity. In the "religious" world, Moslems are killing Moslems and Buddhists are killing Buddhists. Even among those who do not believe in any God or god: Atheists are killing atheists.
Unity within Christ may be lacking, but unity outside Christ is unachievable. Churches have difficulty finding agreement concerning the color for the sanctuary carpet. Many times the disunity is due to the fact that we cannot agree on the leadership of a unified Church. Many “leaders” cannot bring themselves to agree that Christ Jesus is the head of the Church. The Pope thinks that he is the head, and Popes have murdered thousands of Christians to prove his point. Pope is not a Christ appointed office!
How in the world are we ever going to agree on which building to use Sunday morning, or even if we should meet Sunday morning?
God has not rejected the Christ-given offices. Those that claim to be Church leaders have abandoned the Bible in this matter. If the Father had rejected the church offices it would indicate disunity within the Godhead, and that is not possible. The only limiting factor in this issue of the five-fold ministry is found in the word "till."
Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
The purpose of the all the gifts of God is to bring us into maturity. If properly understood, the purpose will strengthen the Church. If allowed to fall into ruin, the gifts and the Church will suffer a spiritual atrophy.
All motion is not forward progress! For centuries the Church has been on a spiritual treadmill. Running on a treadmill resembles running, but it doesn't get anywhere. One year repeated 20 times is not twenty years’ experience. It is one year repeated 20 times.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Another aim of mature unity is so we may speak the truth "in love." Speaking the truth is not the point. Speaking the truth "in love" is a sign of maturity in Christ. The objective we aspire to is not to grow up in "us." The objective is that we grow up in Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)
Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
He is the Vine, we are the branches (John 15:5). He supplies the whole body with what is necessary to function properly. It is only through Him that we are effective.
As we function properly within the body, the body of Christ increases to the place of edifying itself in love. We become self-sufficient, when the "self" becomes Christ. If we are Christ-sufficient we become nurturers, motivators, cheerleaders, and exhorters for others within the Church, edifying the Church in love.
Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Why shouldn't we conduct our lives as "other Gentiles?"
As Christians, we are no longer Gentiles. We are adopted members of the family of God.
1 Corinthians 12:2--Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
When Paul speaks of our former Gentile persuasion, he uses past tense. We "were Gentiles." Now we have experienced rebirth. We have been born again. Our lives should reflect the truth of Christ.
The term Gentile reflects a state of non-belief. I submit to you that there are, percentage wise, more Gentiles in modern Israel that there are in America. God shall change that.
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Every tongue shall give an openly proclaim that Jesus is Lord. Jew and Gentile shall stand side by side in this proclamation.
Ephesians 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Sin is a matter of sight. Eyes that have not been opened to the beauty of Christ cannot see the truth contained within Him. Before the Spirit opened my eyes, I could not see Christ. It is the same with all people.
Let me show you an amazing verse:
Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
Let's concentrate on the word "ashamed." In the Greek text we find the word aischuntheesomai-aiscunqhsomai. It indicates a disgrace, deformity, or handicap.
Have you ever thought of sin as a disgraceful deformity within the human soul or spirit?
Those that have not accepted Christ have one glaring deformity. They are spiritually blind. There are other handicaps that they have. Those handicaps are called unrepentant sins. Spiritual ignorance is a spiritual handicap.
Jesus is the only way to life. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
Do you believe Him?
Ephesians 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Paul speaks of those without Christ as being "past feeling," apathetic toward God's love. Sin is sustained due to spiritual apathy.
Let's carry "lasciviousness" to its full meaning. It means licentiousness, lechery, lewdness, wantonness, depravity, sexual immorality, corruption, iniquity, and/or debauchery. It is not a good thing.
Then, Paul writes....
Ephesians 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
We did not learn sin from Christ Jesus. That is our inheritance from Adam. We inherited sin leading to death from our ancestor. In Christ we gain life.
1 Corinthians 15:22--For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Christianity has its roots in extreme love. The Bible tells us that love is patient, kind, and not jealous. Love does not brag about itself, is not egotistical, or rude. Love is not self-seeking, or easily provoked. Love does not think evil, or rejoice in sin. Instead, love rejoices in the truth.
Love bears all things, and hopes and endures all things. Above all that love never ever fails.
Do you honestly believe that love never fails?
Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Putting off the life-style of the old you, that is a wonderful idea, but how did we do it? I must admit that asking questions is much easier than answering them.
You were born as a human being. As you grew into a mature human, you went through several stages. You did not start out life walking. You did not start out crawling. At first, you would just lay around drinking milk. You began life (physical and spiritual) being nurtured by another, more mature human being.
That doesn't seem too difficult to grasp does it? (Consider that rhetorical.)
Somewhere along the way, Christianity lost the art of nurturing. We look at a person's physical, chronological age and expect them to act mature in Christ from the first day they are "born again." That is an unrealistic expectation.
Would you put a child in charge of the Pentagon?
Of course not!
It's too much, too soon. We should never put child-like Christians in charge of the Church, but we do. At one Church, a man joined by accepting Christ. He was baptized, and a month later was ordained as a Deacon. It turned out to be too much too soon.
Chronologically he was old enough, but spiritually he was in desperate need of nurturing. In a large city, I had to explain grace to a Baptist ministerial student. He was studying at a large seminary to become a Pastor, and knew nothing about grace.
"Conversation" points to social behavior. We are to conduct our lives in a Christ-like manner.
Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
These verses (22-24) are progressive for a reason. We begin our Christian lives bound up in the "old man." As we mature in Christ, we renovate the spirit of our mind. This is a process each Christian must experience. Without a renewing of the spirit of the mind, a person will never realize his/her potential in Christ.
Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
We are at the final of the three stages. We started in the "old" man, and progressed through the renewing of the spirit of the mind. Only then do we put on the "new" man.
"Put on" presents a "picture" word. It is easier to describe than to translate. Picture getting out of a hot shower, and putting on an extremely comfortable bathrobe. As you feel the warmth and comfort of the robe around you, you "sink" into it. You have "put on" that robe.
In the same manner, we are to "put on" the righteousness of Christ. We are to "put on" our "new" being. Being "born again" is not a restructuring of that which is old. We are "born again" as a new creation. Christians are the vanguard of creation.
In the consummation, God says, "I make all things new" (Rev 21:5). Most Christians have never been taught the significance of that statement. The new man is not a recycled being. The new man is created anew in righteousness and true holiness.
The new heavens and new earth are not recycled. They are created anew in righteousness and true holiness.
Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
As new creations, we are to avoid the old ways. Many new Christians try to hang on to old dead ways. It simply does not work.
Would you put a Model T engine in a new car?
It is not advisable!
Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Many people assume that anger is a sin. It is not! Anger may lead to sin. However, anger is not sin.
Don't let the sun go down upon your anger. If allowed to fester, anger can cause spiritual and physical degeneration.
Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.
The Bible tells us that Satan, our adversary walks around as a lion seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Clinging to Christ is the only way to avoid being "lion" food.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Paul was a tent maker. He was accustomed to hard work. His vocation was Apostle. He earned his livelihood as a tent maker. People are usually happiest when busy doing something.
Our work is the main method God uses as an avenue of financial blessing. I know many retired people. However, I don't know many retired people who are not busy doing something.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Many years ago, I heard it explained this way. The rules are, don't cuss and don't chew, and don't go out with girls and boys that do. Another way we show a renewed spirit is by the words we use. Some men have great difficulty in stopping the use vulgar language, but that is not totally what this verse is describing.
I know many Drug addicts and alcoholics. The ones who speak about their days on drugs and alcohol with a twinkle in their eyes never seem to quit.
When you talk about the "old" days in sin, do you speak with delight in your voice?
Do you miss the old days?
The person who misses them will revert to them. The "good old" days in sin were not that good.
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. This verse is not meant for unbelievers. It is a verse written especially for those of us that have accepted Christ.
Look closely at this verse!
It says, "grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." It was written to those that were "sealed unto the day of redemption." Here is something many have difficulty accepting.
Romans 11:29--For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
To many, backsliding is the loss of salvation. That is inaccurate, and anti-biblical. God has given us instructions about how He wants us to conduct our lives. He does not cast us aside when we fail.
It was in a Synagogue that I heard a Rabbi bemoaning the many times the children of Israel fell away from obedience to God. When I heard that, I thought that we Gentiles have not done too well.
We must be continuing an old family tradition. Let me show you a verse that I have never heard used in a sermon.
They Jews were purposely blinded to Christ for a reason and a season.
Romans 11:11--I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Some things Christians should not do. Harshness, rage, anger, agitation, and repugnant speech are a few things that we are to avoid.
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Some things should be our way of life. Here we find a few of those things. We don't act this way to impress others with our goodness. We are good because He has forgiven us. God has not forgiven our sins for our sakes. He has done it because of the cross of Jesus Christ. For Christ's sake He has forgiven us.