Ephesians Episode 5

Beth's Notes

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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. 14 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 men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 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 4:1-16 (NIV)

For three chapters Paul unfolds for his readers the eternal purposes of God being worked out in His-story. Paul sees an alienated humanity being reconciled, a fractured humanity being united, even a new humanity being created. It is a magnificent vision. Having explained to his readers the unity of Jewish and Gentile believers, and having prayed for that unity through mutually experiencing Christ’s love, Paul now showed them how they were to walk in the unity of that body.
Input – what is taught – should equal output – the practical works done with what is taught. We must flesh out the head knowledge or it puffs us up and it is not edifying. We will simply sit, soak and sour. And remember God is infinitely patient with us and does not move on until we deal with whatever it is He is working on in our lives. Which means we must put into practice what we have learned and know to be true. As long as we are living He is in the process of conforming us into the image of Jesus until like Enoch, He simply tells us it’s time to come on home.      
All of Paul’s letters contained a beautiful balance between doctrine and duty and Ephesians is no exception to this pattern as it serves as a perfect example. The first three chapters deal with doctrine, our riches in Christ, while the last three chapters explain duty - our responsibilities in Christ. This is accomplished by gifted people given to the church by Jesus so that the body of Christ might grow up in all areas. And, BTW, we are all gifted – every believer – with a specific gift or gifts given for body works. The gift has been given to us but is not solely for us – it is to be used to build the body which is the church. The body will suffer when we do not do our giftings.  We are all necessary for kingdom works.
Again, Paul now turns from exposition to exhortation – from what God has done to what we must be and do. From doctrine to duty, from mind-stretching doctrine to concrete applications for everyday living. It reminds me of James’ words:
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 (NIV)

The command is clear, it is not sufficient to merely receive the Word; one must respond to it in active obedience. Again, mere head knowledge puffs up and becomes prideful and we are responsible to flesh out what we have been taught. We are all sojourners making our way through this dusty earth and further we all are equal at the foot of the cross.  What do we have that we did not receive, Amen? Knowledge turned prideful is no longer useful like the salt analogy Jesus uses in the Sermon on the Mount:
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

We are to be the salt of the earth – meaning we are to scatter His Truth and ways liberally.  Salt ought to maintain its basic character but if it fails to be salty, it has lost its purpose for existence and should be discarded.  Like collected and hoarded manna, due to greed, which turned to maggots for the Israelites. When we hoard knowledge we sour. There is nothing new under the sun, Amen? We are to do everything as unto the Lord – not for men. Remember God is fully aware of every motivation behind the action. Nothing remains out of His sight.  
Paul begins by addressing them by describing himself:  “As a prisoner for the Lord”, he then addresses them with a solemn appeal, “I urge you…”.  Aren’t we all to be following hard after Christ – whatever we believe our “prison” circumstances may be – we are to be Jesus there until He leads us further still. That’s convicting is it not? He is not into our complaining or arguing rather our contentment in all our circumstances be it prison or palaces. 
We are always seeking to get out of circumstances not of our choosing but oftentimes He is not seeking to change our circumstances rather He desires to change US in our circumstances. We are to live a certain way, a quality of life that demands an explanation because it is so other-worldly. There is to be something unassailable (unable to be attacked, questioned, or defeated)  about us. It goes against the worldly desires of the flesh.  “He must become greater, I must become less;” “Deny self, take up your cross and follow me;” “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did;” Scripture is clear, we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus as we are walking towards heaven. Do we leave the aroma of Christ in our every encounter or the stench of death? Is faithful instruction on our tongues?  Or do they wag with the imbecility of our times? Do we faithfully manifest His fruit? Do we walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel in all we say and do and think? It matters. 
The transformation of our minds is not an instantaneous act rather a process of growth. We are constantly exhorted in Scripture to press higher and deeper, not just in Christian graces but also in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:8 tells us:
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)

As we participate in the divine nature we escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires which will keep us ineffective and unfruitful.  With increasing maturity the Christian is able to answer the lies of the world and of our deceitful and often deluded hearts. The Christian life is not based on ignorance but knowledge, and the better we understand Bible doctrine, the easier it is for us to obey Bible duties. What we believe will determine how we will behave – make no mistake about it. God wants us to be manifestly different – to soar above our culture as lights dispelling darkness. We are to maintain a since of urgency without anxiety – living with an eternal perspective. There are only two days this day and the day of Christ. Who knows what tomorrow may bring. 

Paul next gives us five specific characteristics of the worthy life in verses 2-3. The first two are to be completely humble and gentle just as our Master. Remember Jesus tells us of Himself in Matthew:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

Indeed, humility and gentleness are marks of the Master and are to be present in our lives as well since we carry around in our jars of clay His great treasure. Humility is refusing to insist on our own rights and putting others interests before our own. Humility puts Christ first, others second, and self, last. It is the opposite of pride. Humility is the correct estimate of self.  

Gentleness, also called meekness, does not mean weakness rather power under control. It is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character. Jesus tells us the meek will inherit the earth.  

Paul next adds patience to the list. We acquire patience through the things that we suffer (UGH!). It is tribulation that works patience. Trials and tribulations are always for the good of the believer though painful. Jesus Himself suffers long with us, Amen?  If He did not, there would be no Christianity. Therefore we are to be patient with one another. Paul writes in Romans 5:2-5:
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2-5 (NIV)

The next Christlike characteristics Paul mentions is “bearing with one another in love”. That doesn’t sound easy either, does it? We are called to demonstrate a way of life superior to that of the ungodly world and show the special unity which is ours in Jesus Christ. It is responding in love to an uncharitable offense done towards us. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:12-14:
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)

Bearing with one another is looking through eyes of love and understanding toward those brothers/sisters in Christ who have harmed us or maybe just plain annoy us. This happens easier when we consider ourselves in the eyes of Jesus – how He so readily bears with our mishaps and our quirky personalities. “Bear” means to bear – to tolerate, endure, withstand and to do it in love. Remember, motivation is as important as the action. We are to do everything as unto the Lord – not man. Seek to look at everyone as if you were looking at Jesus’ and seeing His face. It’s super easy to love Him. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23-25: 
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.  Colossians 3:23-25 (NIV)

Lastly, Paul mentions unity.  Each of these characteristics is related to the others and have all been heading towards the direction of this great matter of unity which is Paul’s theme for the next thirteen verses.  Christians are to be one because, as Paul will state further in the next verses, “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.” (Verses 4-6).  

Even the most casual reader of these verses are struck by Paul’s repetition of the word “one” - in fact, it occurs seven times. The one body is the church, the body of Christ comprising Jewish and Gentile believers; and its unity or cohesion is due to the one Holy Spirit who indwells and animates it. It is our common possession that integrates us into one body.
Secondly, there is one hope belonging to our Christian calling, one faith and one baptism because there is only one Lord. For the Lord Jesus Christ is the one Object of the faith, hope and baptism of all Christian people. It is Jesus Christ who we have believed, Jesus Christ into whom we have been baptized, and Jesus Christ for whose coming we wait with expectant hope.

Thirdly, there is one Christian family, embracing us all because there is one God and Father …Who is above all and through all and in all. First the One Father creates the one family. Secondly, the One Lord Jesus creates the one faith, hope and baptism. Thirdly, the One Spirit creates the one body. John Stott writes:
“There can be only one Cristian family, only one Christian faith, hope, and baptism, and only one Christian body, because there is only one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You can no more multiply churches than you can multiply God’s. Is there only one God? Than He has only one church.  Is the unity of God inviolable? Then so is the unity of the church…it is no more possible to split the church than it is possible to split the Godhead.”   John Stott 

The church is God’s church. It is composed of God’s people, it is the result of God’s work, and it exists for God’s glory. So let that be our vision. The apostle Paul is at pains to stress the church’s unity yet it is a particular kind of unity. It is a unity that admits great diversity.

“As a church let us now draw near to the great Head of the one Church universal, and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of His name.” C. H. Spurgeon revised by Alistair Begg
In Ephesians 4:7-13 Paul now address Christ’s gifts to the church. Many commentators consider these verses the heart of the book for they describe how the church of Jesus Christ is to function. They talk about gifts and they begin by telling us that these gifts have come from Christ. Grace has been given to each one of us as Christ has apportioned it.  They are Christ’s gifts to His church and He has not overlooked anyone in the distribution.  Each believer has at least one spiritual gift no matter what natural abilities they may or may not possess. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve God and other Christians in such a way that Christ is glorified and believers are edified. We were not meant to live in isolation. We are members of one body and we need each other.  

Paul discusses the variety and individuality within the unity of the Spirit. God has given each believer at least one spiritual gift. These gifts are to be used for the unifying and edifying (building up) of the body of Christ.  There are three lists in Scripture of gifts given to the body none of which are exhaustive. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NIV)

 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (NIV)

Remember, too, while all the spiritual gifts are wonderful, the greatest gift is love which we all have.

And again Paul writes in Romans 12:6-9:
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere. Romans 12:6-9 (NIV)

And lastly this list in Ephesians 4:11-13:
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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 (NIV)

Paul taught that Christ is the Giver of these gifts, through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power. Christ Jesus ascended to heaven as Victor forevermore. The picture presented here is of a military conqueror leading his captives and sharing the spoil with his followers. Only in this case, the “captives” are not His enemies, but His own. Sinners who once were held captive by sin and Satan have now been taken captive by Christ. Even death itself is a defeated foe!  When Jesus came to earth He experienced the depths of humiliation, but when He ascended to heaven, He experienced the highest exaltation possible.  

Paul quoted Psalms 68:18 and explained that the Conqueror Jesus distributed_ _these gifts to His loyal subjects. The apostle applied that idea to Christ’s victory over the forces of evil and His granting spiritual gifts to those on His side. By this analogy Paul emphasized the greatness of believers’ spiritual victory in Christ. 

All believers are needed if the Body of Christ is to function properly.  Here, Paul named not so much “gifts” as the gifted men that God had and has placed in the church and there were five listed. Christ Himself gives these gifted people :
Apostles and Prophets –  These were the foundational gifts to the church. The word meaning of these is “one who is sent with a commission. A divinely appointed representative.” Jesus had many disciples, but He selected 12 apostles  Matthew 10:2-4 states:
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Matthew 10:2-4 (NIV)

“Apostles” also included others who were recognized as apostles, such as James, Barnabas, Andronicus and Junias, possibly Silas and Timothy, and Apollos. This latter group had the gift of apostleship but not the apostolic “office” as did the Twelve and Paul.  Apostles, then, were those who carried the gospel message with God’s authority.  Again “Apostle” means “one sent as an authoritative delegate – a divinely appointed representative.” 
New Testament prophets were gifts to the church to provide edification, exhortation, and comfort. They also proclaimed the Word of God. They probably revealed God’s will to the church when the biblical canon was incomplete. The Holy Spirit would share God’s truth with those possessing the gift of prophecy. Paul suggested in 1 Corinthians 13:2 that prophecy had to do with understanding “all mysteries, and all knowledge” meaning, of course, spiritual truths. The purpose of prophecy is edification, encouragement, and consolation.”  
Since the apostles and prophets were foundational, they did not exist after the first generation of believers.
Third mentioned are the Evangelists. Meaning “Bearers of good news.”  These men traveled from place to place preaching the gospel and winning the lost for Christ. Unlike Apostles and Prophets, the gift of Evangelism has not ceased. An evangelist is one who possesses a special ability to communicate the Gospel of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ. We all share that task as the Great Commission declares it. Yet that does not negate that some are especially gifted in this area. The apostles and prophets laid the foundation of the church, and the evangelists built on it by winning the lost to Christ.  
The last two mentioned are Pastors and teachers. “Pastor” refers to one who has pastoral oversight of others. It is based on the idea of shepherding and looks to Jesus, Who described Himself as “the Good Shepherd” of the sheep. It is his responsibility to feed and lead the flock under his care. He does this by means of the Word of God – the food that nourishes the sheep. The Word is the staff that guides and disciplines the sheep. The Word of God is the local church’s protection and provision, and no amount of entertainment, good fellowship, or other religious substitutes can take its place. As in the case of evangelists, many have this gift who are not ordained.
“Teacher” is self-explanatory. What should be said is that it is always a most important gift most needed at the present time. We see the importance of the gift of teaching when we recognize that this is the key thought of the Great Commission in Matthew. Clearly those brought to faith in Christ are to be discipled primarily through teaching. The Great Commission reads:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

“Nothing is more necessary for the building up of God’s church in every age than an ample supply of God-gifted teachers…It is teaching which builds up the church. It is teachers who are needed most.” John Stott

The purpose of all of Christ’s giftings is to serve God’s people. To prepare them for works of service – to build the body up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God becoming mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Every gifting is important. Christ does not squander His gifts. Every gifting is necessary and poured out in full measure. He gives us all we need to do His will.  When we don’t do our gifts, the body suffers. God wastes nothing and we are not to either.  

In the last three verses Paul deals with maturity desirous for every believer to grow up into Him who is the Head namely Christ. He does not want us easily duped rather grounded in God’s Word. This is uber important ladies. He desires for his readers to become Christlike.  

The church is to display love, unity, diversity, and growing maturity.  These are the characteristics of a life worthy of the calling to which God has called us and which the apostle begs to lead us. Christ, then, is the Source of a believer’s growth and also the Aim and Goal of his growth. 

Close by reading insights from With All Your Heart by Craig Troxel regarding our growth in Christ:
“The transformation of our mind is not an instantaneous act but rather a process of growth. We are repeatedly exhorted in Scripture to press higher and deeper, not just in Christian grace but also in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul prays that God would give the Christians in Ephesus “the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened,” so that they would know God better. Spiritual fruit must abound in the Christian’s life in order to keep us from being ineffective. With increasing maturity, the Christian is able to answer the lies of the world and the confusion of our deceitful hearts.  

Paul brings these two ideas together – maturity and knowledge - when he affirms one of the purposes for the ministry of the Word of God. God’s Word enables the church to grow in its spiritual discernment so that it will not be carried away by every wind of doctrine. Maturity facilitates sharpness. Neglecting the minds growth makes us vulnerable and easy prey for the evil one and the world’s wickedness. Like naïve children, it makes us helpless. Like a boat tossed along by the waves and carried by the winds of the sea. Keeping us unstable in all that we do. Innocence is to be praised in Scripture, naivete is not. God lays a heavy stress on wisdom. Those who listen to and apply God’s Word will be rewarded.” 

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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