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Ephesians Chapter Four


Ephesians 4

The faithful were to seek-in the dispositions mentioned above-to maintain this unity of the Spirit by the bond of peace. There are three things in this exhortation: first, to walk worthy of their calling; second, the spirit in which they were to do so; third, diligence in maintaining the unity of the Spirit by the bond of peace. It is important to observe, that this unity of the Spirit is not similarity of sentiment, but the oneness of the members of the body of Christ established by the Holy Ghost, maintained practically by a walk according to the Spirit of grace. It is evident that the diligence required for the maintenance of the unity of the Spirit relates to the earth and to the manifestation of this unity on the earth.

The apostle now founds his exhortation on the different points of view under which this unity may be considered-in connection with the Holy Ghost, with the Lord, and with God.

There is one body and one Spirit; not merely an effect produced in the heart of individuals, in order that they might mutually understand each other, but one body. The hope was one, of which this Spirit was the source and the power. This is the essential, real, and abiding unity.

There is also one Lord. With Him was connected "one faith" and "one baptism." This is the public profession and recognition of Christ as Lord. Compare the address in 1 Corinthians.

Finally there is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.

What mighty bonds of unity! The Spirit of God, the lordship of Christ, the universal ubiquity of God, even the Father, all tend to bring into unity those connected with each as a divine centre. All the religious relationships of the soul, all the points by which we are in contact with God, agree to form all believers into one in this world, in such a manner that no man can be a Christian without being one with all those who are so. We cannot exercise faith, nor enjoy hope, nor express christian life in any form whatever, without having the same faith and the same hope as the rest, without giving expression to that which exists in the rest. Only we are called on to maintain it practically.

We may remark, that the three spheres of unity presented in these three verses have not the same extent. The circle of unity enlarges each time. With the Spirit we find linked the unity of the body, the essential and real unity produced by the power of the Spirit uniting to Christ all His members: with the Lord, that of faith and of baptism. Here each individual has the same faith, the same baptism: it is the outward profession, true and real perhaps, but a profession, in reference to Him who has rights over those that call themselves by His name. With regard to the third character of unity, it relates to claims that extend to all things, although to the believer it is a closer bond, because He who has a right over all things dwells in believers. [1] Observe here, that it is not only a unity of sentiment, of desire, and of heart. That unity is pressed upon them; but it is in order to maintain the realisation, and the manifestation here below, of a unity that belongs to the existence and to the eternal position of the assembly in Christ. There is one Spirit, but there is one body. The union of hearts in the bond of peace, which the apostle desires, is for the public maintenance of this unity; not that there might be patience with one another when that has disappeared, Christians contenting themselves with its absence. One does not accept that which is contrary to the word, although in certain cases those who are in it ought to be borne with. The consideration of the community of position and of privilege, enjoyed by all the children of God in the relationships of which we have now been speaking, served to unite them with each other in the sweet enjoyment of this most precious position, leading them also, each one, to rejoice in love at the part which every other member of the body had in this happiness.

But, on the other hand, the fact that Christ was exalted to be in heaven the Head over all things, brought in a difference which appertained to this supremacy of Christ-a supremacy exercised with divine sovereignty and wisdom. "Unto every one of us is given grace [gift] according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (that is to say, as Christ sees fit to bestow). With regard to our position of joy and blessing in Christ, we are one. With regard to our service, we have each an individual place according to His divine wisdom, and according to His sovereign rights in the work. The foundation of this title, whatever may be the divine power that is exercised in it, is this: man was under the power of Satan-miserable condition, the fruit of his sin, a condition to which his self-will had reduced him, but in which (according to the judgment of God who had pronounced on him the sentence of death) he was a slave in body and mind to the enemy who had the power of death-with reservation of the sovereign rights and sovereign grace of God (see chap. 2:2). Now Christ has made Himself man, and began by going as man, led by the Spirit, to meet Satan. He overcame him. As to His personal power, He was able to drive him out everywhere, and to deliver man. But man would not have God with him; nor was it possible for men, in their sinful condition, to be united to Christ without redemption. The Lord however, carrying on His perfect work of love, suffered death, and overcame Satan in that his last stronghold, which God's righteous judgment maintained in force against sinful man-a judgment which Christ therefore underwent, accomplishing a redemption that was complete, final, and eternal in its value; so that neither Satan, the prince of death and accuser of the children of God on earth, nor even the judgment of God, had anything more to say to the redeemed. The kingdom of Satan was taken from him; the just judgment of God was undergone and completely satisfied. All judgment is committed to the Son, and power over all men, because He is the Son of man. These two results are not yet manifested, although the Lord possesses all power in heaven and in earth. The thing here spoken of is another result which is accomplished meanwhile. The victory is complete. He has led the adversary captive. In ascending to heaven He has placed victorious man above all things, and has led captive all the power that previously had dominion over man.

Now before manifesting in person the power He had gained as man by binding Satan, before displaying it in the blessing of man on earth, He exhibits it in the assembly, His body, by imparting, as He had promised, to men delivered from the enemy's dominion gifts which are the proof of that power.

Chapter 1 had laid open to us the thoughts of God; chapter 2 the fulfilment, in power, of His thoughts with regard to the redeemed-Jews or Gentiles, all dead in their sins-to form them into the assembly. Chapter 3 is the especial development of the mystery in that which concerned the Gentiles in Paul's administration of it on earth. Here (chap. 4) the assembly is presented in its unity as a body, and in the varied functions of its members; that is to say, the positive effect of those counsels in the assembly here below. But this is founded on the exaltation of Christ, who, the conqueror of the enemy, has ascended to heaven as man.

Thus exalted, He has received gifts in man, that is, in His human character (compare Acts 2:33). It is thus "in man," that it is expressed in Psalm 68, from whence the quotation is taken. Here, having received these gifts as the Head of the body, Christ is the channel of their communication to others. They are gifts for men.

Three things here characterise Him-a man ascended on high-a man who has led captive him who held man in captivity-a man who has received for men, delivered from that enemy, the gifts of God, which bear witness to this exaltation of man in Christ, and serve as a means for the deliverance of others. For this chapter does not speak of the more direct signs of the Spirit's power, such as tongues, miracles-such as are usually termed miraculous gifts. But what the Lord as Head confers on individuals, they are the gifts, as His servants for forming the saints to be with Him, and for the edification of the body-the fruit of His care over them. Hence, as already remarked, their continuance (till we all, one after another, grow up to the head) is stated as to power, by the Spirit; in 1 Corinthians 12 it is not.

But let us pause here for a moment, to contemplate the import of that which we have been considering.

What a complete and glorious work is that which the Lord has accomplished for us, and of which the communication of these gifts is the precious testimony! When we were the slaves of Satan and consequently of death, as well as the slaves of sin, we have seen that He was pleased to undergo for the glory of God that which hung over us. He went down into death of which Satan had the power. And so complete was the victory of man in Him, so entire our deliverance, that (exalted Himself as man to the right hand of God's throne-He who had been under death) He has rescued us from the enemy's yoke, and uses the privilege which His position and His glory give Him to make those who were captives before, the vessels of His power for the deliverance of others also. He gives us the right, as under His jurisdiction, of acting in His holy war, moved by the same principles of love as Himself. Such is our deliverance that we are the instruments of His power against the enemy-His fellow-labourers in love through His power. Hence the connection between practical godliness, the complete subjugation of the flesh, and the capacity to serve Christ as instruments in the hand of the Holy Ghost, and the vessels of His power.

Now the Lord's ascension has immense significancy in connection with His Person and work. He ascended indeed as man, but He first descended as man even into the darkness of the grave and of death; and from thence-victorious over the power of the enemy who had the power of death, and having blotted out the sins of His redeemed ones, and accomplished the glory of God in obedience-He takes His place as man above the heavens in order that He may fill all things; not only as being God, but according to the glory and the power of a position in which He was placed by the accomplishment of the work of redemption-a work which led Him into the depths of the power of the enemy, and placed Him on the throne of God-a position that He holds, not only by the title of Creator, which was already His, but by that of Redeemer, which shelters from evil all that is found within the sphere of the mighty efficacy of His work-a sphere filled with blessing, with grace, and with Himself. Glorious truth, which belongs at the same time to the union of the divine and human natures in the Person of Christ, and to the work of redemption accomplished by suffering on the cross!

Love brought Him down from the throne of God, and, being found as a man, [2] through the same grace, into the darkness of death. Having died, bearing our sins, He has gone up again to that throne as man, filling all things. He went below the creature into death, and is gone above it.

But while filling all things by virtue of His glorious Person, and in connection with the work which He accomplished, He is also in immediate relation with that which in the counsels of God is closely united to Him who thus fills all things, with that which has been especially the object of His work of redemption. It is His body, His assembly, united to Him by the bond of the Holy Ghost to complete this mystical man, to be the bride of this second Man, who fills all in all-a body which, as manifested here below, is set in the midst of a creation that is not yet delivered, and in the presence of enemies that are in the heavenly places, until Christ shall exercise, on the part of God His Father, the power that has been committed to Him as man. When Christ shall thus exercise His power, He will take vengeance on those who have defiled His creation by seducing man, who had been its head down here and the image of Him who was to be its Head everywhere. He will also deliver creation from its subjection to evil. Meanwhile, personally exalted as the glorious man, and seated at God's right hand until God shall make His enemies His footstool, He communicates the gifts necessary for the gathering together of those who are to be the companions of His glory, who are the members of His body, and who shall be manifested with Him when His glory shines forth in the midst of this world of darkness.

The apostle shews us here an assembly already delivered, and exercising the power of the Spirit; which on the one side delivers souls, and on the other builds them up in Christ, that they may grow up to the measure of their Head in spite of all the power of Satan which still subsists.

But an important truth is connected with this fact. This spiritual power is not exercised in a manner simply divine. It is Christ ascended (He however who had previously descended into the lower parts of the earth) who, as man, has received these gifts of power. It is thus that Psalm 68 speaks as well as Acts 2:33. The latter passage speaks also of the gifts bestowed on His members. In our chapter it is only in the latter way that they are mentioned. He has given gifts unto men.

I would also remark, that these gifts are not here presented as gifts bestowed by the Holy Ghost come down to earth, and distributing to every one according to His will: nor are those gifts spoken of which are tokens of spiritual power suited to act as signs upon those that are outside: but they are ministrations for gathering together and for edification established by Christ as Head of the body by means of gifts with which He endows persons as His choice. Ascended on high, and having taken His place as man at the right hand of God, and filling all things, whatever may be the extent of His glory, Christ has first for His object to fulfil the ways of God in love in gathering souls, and in particular towards the saints and the assembly; to establish the manifestation of the divine nature, and to communicate to the assembly the riches of that grace which the ways of God display, and of which the divine nature is the source. It is in the assembly that the nature of God, the counsels of grace, and the efficacious work of Christ are concentrated in their object; and these gifts are the means of ministering, in the communication of these, in blessing to man.

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers: apostles and prophets laying, or rather being laid, as the foundations of the heavenly building, and acting as coming directly from the Lord in an extraordinary manner; the two other classes (the last being sub-divided into two gifts, connected in their nature) belonging to ordinary ministry in all ages. It is important to remark also, that the apostle sees nothing existing before the exaltation of Christ save man the child of wrath, the power of Satan, the power which raised us up (dead in sins as we were) with Christ, and the efficacy of the cross, which had reconciled us to God, and abolished the distinction between Jew and Gentile in the assembly, to unite them in one body before God-the cross in which Christ drank the cup and bore the curse, so that wrath has passed away for the believer, and in which a God of love, a Saviour God, is fully manifested.

So the existence of the apostles dates here only from the gifts that followed the exaltation of Jesus. The twelve as sent out by Jesus on earth have no place in the instruction of this epistle, which treats of the body of Christ, of the unity and the members of this body; and the body could not exist before the Head existed and had taken His place as such. Thus also we have seen that, when the apostle speaks of the apostles and prophets, the latter are to him those exclusively of the New Testament, and those who have been made such by Christ after His ascension. It is the new heavenly man who, being the exalted Head in heaven, forms His body on the earth. He does it for heaven, putting the individuals who compose it spiritually and intelligently in connection with the Head by the power of the Holy Ghost acting in this body on the earth; the gifts, of which the apostle here speaks, being the channels by which His graces are communicated according to the bonds which the Holy Ghost forms with the Head.

The proper and immediate effect is the perfecting of individuals according to the grace that dwells in the Head. The shape which this divine action takes, further, is the work of the ministry, and the formation of the body of Christ, until all the members are grown up into the measure of the stature of Christ their Head. Christ has been revealed in all His fulness: it is according to this revelation that the members of the body are to be formed in the likeness of Christ, known as filling all things, and as the Head of His body, the revelation of the perfect love of God, of the excellency of man before Him according to His counsels, of man the vessel of all His grace, all His power, and all His gifts. Thus the assembly, and each one of the members of Christ, should be filled with the thoughts and the riches of a well-known Christ, instead of being tossed to and fro by all sort of doctrines brought forward by the enemy to deceive souls.

The Christian was to grow up according to all that was revealed in Christ, and to be ever increasing in likeness to his Head; using love and truth for his own soul-the two things of which Christ is the perfect expression. Truth displays the real relation of all things with each other in connection with the centre of all things, which is God revealed now in Christ. Love is that which God is in the midst of all this. Now Christ, as the light, put everything precisely in its place-man, Satan, sin, righteousness, holiness, all things, and that in every detail, and in connection with God. And Christ was love, the expression of the love of God in the midst of all this. And this is our pattern; and our pattern as having overcome, and, as having ascended into heaven, our Head, to which we are united as the members of His body.

There flows from this Head, by means of its members, the grace needed to accomplish the work of assimilation to Himself. His body, compacted together, increases by the working of His grace in each member, and edifies itself in love. [3] This is the position of the assembly according to God, until all the members of the body attain to the stature of Christ. The manifestation alas! of this unity is marred; but the grace, and the operation of the grace of its Head to nourish and cause its members to grow, is never impaired, any more than the love in the Lord's heart from which this grace springs. We do not glorify Him, we have not the joy of being ministers of joy to each other as we might be; but the Head does not cease to work for the good of His body. The wolf indeed comes and scatters the sheep, but he cannot pluck them out of the Shepherd's hands. His faithfulness is glorified in our unfaithfulness without excusing it.

With this precious object of the ministration of grace (namely, for the growth of each member individually unto the measure of the stature of the Head Himself), with the ministration of each member in its place to the edifying itself in love, ends this development of the counsels of God in the union of Christ and the assembly, in its double character of the body of Christ in heaven, and the habitation of the Holy Ghost on earth-truths which cannot be separated, but each of which has its distinctive importance, and which reconcile the certain immutable operations of grace in the Head with the failures of the assembly responsible on the earth.

Exhortations to a walk befitting such a position follow, in order that the glory of God in us and by us, and His grace towards us, may be identified in our full blessing. We will notice the great principles of these exhortations.

[4] between the ignorance of a heart that is blind, and a stranger to the life of God, and consequently walking in the vanity of its own understanding, that is, according to the desires of a heart given up to the impulses of the flesh without God-the contrast, I say, between this state, and that of having learnt Christ, as the truth is in Jesus (which is the expression of the life of God in man, God Himself manifested in the flesh), the having put off this old man, which is corrupt itself according to its deceitful lusts, and put on this new man, Christ. It is not an amelioration of the old man; it is a putting it off, and a putting on of Christ.

Even here the apostle does not lose sight of the oneness of the body; we are to speak the truth, because we are members one of another. "Truth," the expression of simplicity and integrity of heart, is in connection with "the truth as it is in Jesus," whose life is transparent as the light, as falsehood is in connection with deceitful lusts.

Moreover, the old man is without God, alienated from the life of God. The new man is created, it is a new creation, [5] after the model of that which is the character of God righteousness and holiness of truth. The first Adam was not in that manner created after the image of God. By the fall the knowledge of good and evil entered into man. He can no longer be innocent. When innocent, he was ignorant of evil in itself. Now, fallen, he is a stranger to the life of God in his ignorance: but the knowledge of good and evil which he has acquired, the moral distinction between good and evil in itself, is a divine principle. "The man," said God, "is become as one of us, to know good and evil." But in order to possess this knowledge, and subsist in what is good before God, there must be divine energy, divine life.

Everything has its true nature, its true character, in the eyes of God. That is the truth. It is not that He is the truth. The truth is the right and perfect expression of that which a thing is (and, in an absolute way, of that which all things are), and of the relations in which it stands to other things, or in which all things stand towards each other. Thus God could not be the truth. He is not the expression of some other thing. Everything relates to Him. He is the centre of all true relationship, and of all moral obligation. Neither is God the measure of all things, for He is above all things; and nothing else can be so above them, or He would not be so. [6] It is God become man; it is Christ, who is the truth, and the measure of all things. But all things have their true character in the eyes of God: and He judges righteously of all, whether morally or in power. He acts according to that judgment. He is just. He also knows evil perfectly, being Himself goodness, that it may be perfectly an abomination to Him, that He may repel it by His own nature. He is holy. Now the new man, created after the divine nature, is so in righteousness and holiness of truth. What a privilege! What a blessing! It is, as another apostle has said, to be "partakers of the divine nature." Adam had nothing of this.

Adam was perfect as an innocent man. The breath of life in his nostrils was breathed into him by God, and he was responsible for obedience to God in a thing wherein neither good nor evil was to be known, but simply a commandment. The trial was that of obedience only, not the knowledge of good or evil in itself. At present, in Christ, the portion of the believer is a participation in the divine nature itself, in a being who knows good and evil, and who vitally participates in the sovereign good, morally in the nature of God Himself, although always thereby dependent on Him. It is our evil nature which is not so, or at least which refuses to be dependent on Him.

Now there is a prince of this world, a stranger to God; and, besides participation in the divine nature, there is the Spirit Himself who has been given to us. These solemn truths enter also as principles into these exhortations. "Give no place to the devil," on the one hand-give him no room to come in and act on the flesh; and, on the other hand, "grieve not the Holy Spirit" who dwells in you. The redemption of the creature has not yet taken place, but ye have been sealed unto that day: respect and cherish this mighty and holy guest who graciously dwells in you. Let all bitterness and malice therefore cease even in word, and let meekness and kindness reign in you according to the pattern you have in the ways of God in Christ towards you. Be imitators of God: beautiful and magnificent privilege! but which flows naturally from the truth that we are made partakers of His nature, and that His Spirit dwells in us.

These are the two great subjective principles of the Christian-the having put off the old man and put on the new, and the Holy Ghost's dwelling in him. Nor can anything be more blessed than the pattern of life here given to the Christian, founded on our being a new creation. It is perfect subjectively and objectively. First, subjectively, the truth in Jesus is the having put off the old man and put on the new, which has God for its pattern. It is created after God in the perfection of His moral character. But this is not all. The Holy Spirit of God by which we are sealed to the day of redemption dwells in us: we are not to grieve Him. These are the two elements of our state, the new man created after God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit of God; and He is emphatically here called the Spirit of God, as in connection with God's character.

And next objectively: created after God, and God dwelling in us, God is the pattern of our walk, and thus in respect of the two words which alone give God's essence-love and light. We are to walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us a sacrifice to God. "For us" was divine love; "to God" is perfection of object and motive. Law takes up the love of self as the measure of love to others. Christ gives up self wholly and for us, but to God. Our worthlessness enhances the love but, on the other hand, an affection and a motive have their worth from the object (and with Christ that was God Himself), self wholly given up. For, so to speak, we may love up and love down. When we look upward in our affections, the nobler the object the nobler the affection; when it is downwards, the more unworthy the object, the more pure and absolute the love. Christ was perfect in both, and absolutely so. He gave Himself for us, and to God. Afterwards we are light in the Lord. We cannot say we are love, for love is sovereign goodness in God; we walk in it, like Christ. But we are light in the Lord. This is the second essential name of God and as partakers of the divine nature we are light in the Lord. Here again Christ is the pattern. "Christ shall give thee light." We are called on, then, as His dear children to imitate God.

This life, in which we participate and of which we live as partakers of the divine nature, has been objectively presented to us in Christ in all its perfection and in all its fulness; in man, and in man now brought to perfection on high, according to the counsels of God respecting Him. It is Christ, this eternal life, who was with the Father and has been manifested unto us-He who, having then first descended, has ascended now into heaven to carry humanity thither, and display it in the glory-the glory of God-according to His eternal counsels. We have seen this life here in its earthly development: God manifest in flesh; man, perfectly heavenly, and obedient in all things to His Father, moved, in His conduct to others, by the motives that characterise God Himself in grace. Hereafter He will be manifested in judgment; and already, here below, He has gone through all the experiences of a man, understanding thus how grace adapts itself to our wants, and displaying it now, according to that knowledge, even as hereafter He will exercise judgment with a knowledge of man, not only divine, but which, having gone through this world in holiness, will leave the hearts of men without excuse and without escape.

But it is the image of God in Him, of which we are now speaking. It is in Him that the nature which we have to imitate is presented to us, and presented in man as it ought to be developed in us here below, in the circumstances through which we are passing. We see in Him the manifestation of God, and that in contrast with the old man. There we see "the truth as it is in Jesus," save that in us it involves the putting off of the old man and putting on the new, answering to Christ's death and resurrection (compare particularly as to His death, 1 Peter 3:18; 4:1). Thus, in order to attract and to lead on our hearts, to give us the model on which they are to be formed, the aim to which they should tend, God has given us an object in which He manifests Himself, and which is the object of all His own delight.

The reproduction of God in man is the object that God proposed to Himself in the new man; and that the new man proposes to himself, as he is himself the reproduction of the nature and the character of God. There are two principles for the Christian's path, according to the light in which he views himself. Running his race as man towards the object of his heavenly calling, in which he follows after Christ ascended on high: he is running the heavenward race; the excellency of Christ to be won there, his motive-that is not the Ephesian aspect. In the Ephesians he is sitting in heavenly places in Christ, and he has to come out as from heaven, as Christ really did, and manifest God's character upon earth, of which, as we have seen, Christ is the pattern. We are called, as in the position of dear children, to shew our Father's ways.

We are not created anew according to that which the first Adam was, but according to that which God is: Christ is its manifestation. And He is the second Man, the last Adam. [7] In detail we shall find these characteristic features: truthfulness, the absence of all anger that has the nature of hatred (lying and hatred are the two characteristics of the enemy); practical righteousness connected with labour according to the will of God (man's true position); and the absence of corruption. It is man under the rule of God since the fall, delivered from the effect of the deceitful lusts. But it is more than this. A divine principle brings in the desire of doing good to others, to their body and their soul. I need not say how truly we find here the picture of the life of Christ, as in the preceding remarks it was the putting off of the spirit of the enemy and of the old man. The spirit of peace and love (and that, in spite of evil in others and the wrongs they may do us) completes the picture, adding that which will be easily understood after what has been said, that, in "forgiving one another," we are to be imitators of God, and to walk in love as Christ has loved us, and has given Himself for us. Beautiful picture, precious privilege! May God grant us so to look at Jesus as to have His image stamped upon us, and in some sort to walk like Him.


[1] To recapitulate, there is, first, one body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling; second, one Lord, with whom are connected one faith and one baptism; third, one God and Father of all, who is above all things, everywhere, and in all Christians. Moreover, while insisting upon these three great relationships in which all Christians are placed, as being in their nature the foundations of unity, and the motives of its maintenance, these relationships extend successively in breadth. The direct relationship applies properly to the same persons; but the character of Him who is the basis of the relationship enlarges the idea connected with it. With regard to the Spirit, His presence unites the body-is the bond between all the members of the body: none but the members of the body-and they, as such-are seen here. The Lord has wider claims. In this relationship it is not the members of the body that are spoken of; there is one faith and one baptism, one profession in the world: there could not be two. But although the persons who are in this outward relationship may stand also in the other relationships and be members of the body, yet the relationship here is one of individual profession; it is not a thing which cannot exist at all except in reality (one is a member of Christ's body, or one is not). God is the Father of these same members, as being His children, but He who maintains this relationship is necessarily and always above all things-personally above all things, but divinely everywhere.

[2] The descent into the lower parts of the earth is viewed as from His place as man on earth; not His coming down from heaven to be a man. It is Christ who descended.

[3] Verse 11 gives special and permanent gifts; verse 16, what every joint supplies in its place. Both have their place in the forming and growth of the body.

[4] I have already noticed, that contrast of the new state and the old characterises the Ephesians more than Colossians, where we find more development of life.

[5] In Colossians we have "renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created us."

[6] There is a sense in which God is, morally, the measure of other beings-a consideration that brings out the immense privilege of the child of God. It is the effect of grace, in that, being born of Him and partaking of His nature, the child of God is called to be the imitator of God, to be perfect as His Father is perfect. He who loves is born of God, and knows God, for God is love. He makes us partakers of His holiness, consequently we are called to be imitators of God, as His dear children. This shews the immense privileges of grace. It is the love of God in the midst of evil, and which, superior to all evil, walks in holiness, and rejoices also together, in a divine way, in the unity of the same joys and the same sentiments. Therefore Christ says (John 17), "as we are," and "in us."

[7] It is useful to note here the difference of Romans 12:1, 2, and this epistle. The Romans, we have seen, contemplates a living man on earth; hence he is to give his body up as a living sacrifice-alive in Christ, he is to yield his members up wholly to God. Here the saints are seen as sitting in heavenly places already, and they are to come out in testimony of God's character before men, walking as Christ did in love, and light.

── John DarbySynopsis of Ephesians


Ephesians 4

Chapter Contents

Exhortations to mutual forbearance and union. (1-6) To a due use of spiritual gifts and graces. (7-16) To purity and holiness. (17-24) And to take heed of the sins practised among the heathen. (25-32)

Commentary on Ephesians 4:1-6

(Read Ephesians 4:1-6)

Nothing is pressed more earnestly in the Scriptures, than to walk as becomes those called to Christ's kingdom and glory. By lowliness, understand humility, which is opposed to pride. By meekness, that excellent disposition of soul, which makes men unwilling to provoke, and not easily to be provoked or offended. We find much in ourselves for which we can hardly forgive ourselves; therefore we must not be surprised if we find in others that which we think it hard to forgive. There is one Christ in whom all believers hope, and one heaven they are all hoping for; therefore they should be of one heart. They had all one faith, as to its object, Author, nature, and power. They all believed the same as to the great truths of religion; they had all been admitted into the church by one baptism, with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as the sign of regeneration. In all believers God the Father dwells, as in his holy temple, by his Spirit and special grace.

Commentary on Ephesians 4:7-16

(Read Ephesians 4:7-16)

Unto every believer is given some gift of grace, for their mutual help. All is given as seems best to Christ to bestow upon every one. He received for them, that he might give to them, a large measure of gifts and graces; particularly the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not a mere head knowledge, or bare acknowledging Christ to be the Son of God, but such as brings trust and obedience. There is a fulness in Christ, and a measure of that fulness given in the counsel of God to every believer; but we never come to the perfect measure till we come to heaven. God's children are growing, as long as they are in this world; and the Christian's growth tends to the glory of Christ. The more a man finds himself drawn out to improve in his station, and according to his measure, all that he has received, to the spiritual good of others, he may the more certainly believe that he has the grace of sincere love and charity rooted in his heart.

Commentary on Ephesians 4:17-24

(Read Ephesians 4:17-24)

The apostle charged the Ephesians in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus, that having professed the gospel, they should not be as the unconverted Gentiles, who walked in vain fancies and carnal affections. Do not men, on every side, walk in the vanity of their minds? Must not we then urge the distinction between real and nominal Christians? They were void of all saving knowledge; they sat in darkness, and loved it rather than light. They had a dislike and hatred to a life of holiness, which is not only the way of life God requires and approves, and by which we live to him, but which has some likeness to God himself in his purity, righteousness, truth, and goodness. The truth of Christ appears in its beauty and power, when it appears as in Jesus. The corrupt nature is called a man; like the human body, it is of divers parts, supporting and strengthening one another. Sinful desires are deceitful lusts; they promise men happiness, but render them more miserable; and bring them to destruction, if not subdued and mortified. These therefore must be put off, as an old garment, a filthy garment; they must be subdued and mortified. But it is not enough to shake off corrupt principles; we must have gracious ones. By the new man, is meant the new nature, the new creature, directed by a new principle, even regenerating grace, enabling a man to lead a new life of righteousness and holiness. This is created, or brought forth by God's almighty power.

Commentary on Ephesians 4:25-28

(Read Ephesians 4:25-28)

Notice the particulars wherewith we should adorn our Christian profession. Take heed of every thing contrary to truth. No longer flatter or deceive others. God's people are children who will not lie, who dare not lie, who hate and abhor lying. Take heed of anger and ungoverned passions. If there is just occasion to express displeasure at what is wrong, and to reprove, see that it be without sin. We give place to the devil, when the first motions of sin are not grievous to our souls; when we consent to them; and when we repeat an evil deed. This teaches that as sin, if yielded unto, lets in the devil upon us, we are to resist it, keeping from all appearance of evil. Idleness makes thieves. Those who will not work, expose themselves to temptations to steal. Men ought to be industrious, that they may do some good, and that they may be kept from temptation. They must labour, not only that they may live honestly, but that they may have to give to the wants of others. What then must we think of those called Christians, who grow rich by fraud, oppression, and deceitful practices! Alms, to be accepted of God, must not be gained by unrighteousness and robbery, but by honesty and industry. God hates robbery for burnt-offerings.

Commentary on Ephesians 4:29-32

(Read Ephesians 4:29-32)

Filthy words proceed from corruption in the speaker, and they corrupt the minds and manners of those who hear them: Christians should beware of all such discourse. It is the duty of Christians to seek, by the blessing of God, to bring persons to think seriously, and to encourage and warn believers by their conversation. Be ye kind one to another. This sets forth the principle of love in the heart, and the outward expression of it, in a humble, courteous behaviour. Mark how God's forgiveness causes us to forgive. God forgives us, though we had no cause to sin against him. We must forgive, as he has forgiven us. All lying, and corrupt communications, that stir up evil desires and lusts, grieve the Spirit of God. Corrupt passions of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking, and malice, grieve the Holy Spirit. Provoke not the holy, blessed Spirit of God to withdraw his presence and his gracious influences. The body will be redeemed from the power of the grave at the resurrection day. Wherever that blessed Spirit dwells as a Sanctifier, he is the earnest of all the joys and glories of that redemption day; and we should be undone, should God take away his Holy Spirit from us.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Ephesians


Ephesians 4

Verse 1

[1] I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord — Imprisoned for his sake and for your sakes; for the sake of the gospel which he had preached amongst them. This was therefore a powerful motive to them to comfort him under it by their obedience.

Verse 3

[3] Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit — That mutual union and harmony, which is a fruit of the Spirit. The bond of peace is love.

Verse 4

[4] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

There is one body — The universal church, all believers throughout the world.

One Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father — The ever-blessed Trinity.

One hope — Of heaven.

Verse 5

[5] One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

One outward baptism.

Verse 6

[6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

One God and Father of all — That believe.

Who is above all — Presiding over all his children, operating through them all by Christ, and dwelling in all by his Spirit.

Verse 7

[7] But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

According to the measure of the gift of Christ — According as Christ is pleased to give to each.

Verse 8

[8] Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Wherefore he saith — That is, in reference to which God saith by David, Having ascended on high, he led captivity captive - He triumphed over all his enemies, Satan, sin, and death, which had before enslaved all the world: alluding to the custom of ancient conquerors, who led those they had conquered in chains after them. And, as they also used to give donatives to the people, at their return from victory, so he gave gifts to men - Both the ordinary and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. Psalms 68:18.

Verse 9

[9] (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

Now this expression, He ascended, what is it, but that he descended — That is, does it not imply, that he descended first? Certainly it does, on the supposition of his being God. Otherwise it would not: since all the saints will ascend to heaven, though none of them descended thence.

Into the lower parts of the earth — So the womb is called, Psalms 139:15; the grave, Psalms 63:9.

Verse 10

[10] He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

He that descended — That thus amazingly humbled himself.

Is the same that ascended — That was so highly exalted.

That he might fill all things — The whole church, with his Spirit, presence, and operations.

Verse 11

[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

And, among other his free gifts, he gave some apostles - His chief ministers and special witnesses, as having seen him after his resurrection, and received their commission immediately from him.

And same prophets, and some evangelists — A prophet testifies of things to come; an evangelist of things past: and that chiefly by preaching the gospel before or after any of the apostles. All these were extraordinary officers. The ordinary were.

Some pastors — Watching over their several flocks.

And some teachers — Whether of the same or a lower order, to assist them, as occasion might require.

Verse 12

[12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

In this verse is noted the office of ministers; in the next, the aim of the saints; in the 14th, 15th, 16th, the way of growing in grace. And each of these has three parts, standing in the same order.

For the perfecting the saints — The completing them both in number and their various gifts and graces.

To the work of the ministry — The serving God and his church in their various ministrations.

To the edifying of the body of Christ — The building up this his mystical body in faith, love, holiness.

Verse 13

[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:

Till we all — And every one of us.

Come to the unity of the faith, and knowledge of the Son of God — To both an exact agreement in the Christian doctrine, and an experimental knowledge of Christ as the Son of God.

To a perfect man — To a state of spiritual manhood both in understanding and strength.

To the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ — To that maturity of age and spiritual stature wherein we shall be filled with Christ, so that he will be all in all.

Verse 14

[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;

Fluctuating to and fro — From within, even when there is no wind.

And carried about with every wind — From without; when we are assaulted by others, who are unstable as the wind.

By the sleight of men — By their "cogging the dice;" so the original word implies.

Verse 15

[15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Into him — Into his image and Spirit, and into a full union with him.

Verse 16

[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.

From whom the whole mystical body fitly joined together - All the parts being fitted for and adapted to each other, and most exactly harmonizing with the whole.

And compacted — Knit and cemented together with the utmost firmness.

Maketh increase by that which every joint supplieth — Or by the mutual help of every joint.

According to the effectual working in the measure of every member — According as every member in its measure effectually works for the support and growth of the whole. A beautiful allusion to the human body, composed of different joints and members, knit together by various ligaments, and furnished with vessels of communication from the head to every part.

Verse 17

[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,

This therefore I say — He returns thither where he begun, Ephesians 4:1.

And testify in the Lord — In the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

In the vanity of their mind — Having lost the knowledge of the true God, Romans 1:21. This is the root of all evil walking.

Verse 18

[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:

Having their understanding darkened, through the ignorance that is in them — So that they are totally void of the light of God, neither have they any knowledge of his will.

Being alienated from the life of God — Utter strangers to the divine, the spiritual life.

Through the hardness of their hearts — Callous and senseless. And where there is no sense, there can be no life.

Verse 19

[19] Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Who being past feeling — The original word is peculiarly significant. It properly means, past feeling pain. Pain urges the sick to seek a remedy, which, where there is no pain, is little thought of.

Have given themselves up — Freely, of their own accord. Lasciviousness is but one branch of uncleanness, which implies impurity of every kind.

Verse 20

[20] But ye have not so learned Christ;

But ye have not so learned Christ — That is, ye cannot act thus, now ye know him, since you know the Christian dispensation allows of no sin.

Verse 21

[21] If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

Seeing ye have heard him — Teaching you inwardly by his Spirit.

As the truth is in Jesus — According to his own gospel.

Verse 22

[22] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

The old man — That is, the whole body of sin. All sinful desires are deceitful; promising the happiness which they cannot give.

Verse 23

[23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

The spirit of your mind — The very ground of your heart.

Verse 24

[24] And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

The new man — Universal holiness.

After — In the very image of God.

Verse 25

[25] Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Wherefore — Seeing ye are thus created anew, walk accordingly, in every particular.

For we are members one of another — To which intimate union all deceit is quite repugnant.

Verse 26

[26] Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Be ye angry, and sin not — That is, if ye are angry, take heed ye sin not. Anger at sin is not evil; but we should feel only pity to the sinner. If we are angry at the person, as well as the fault, we sin. And how hardly do we avoid it.

Let not the sun go down upon your wrath — Reprove your brother, and be reconciled immediately. Lose not one day. A clear, express command. Reader, do you keep it?

Verse 27

[27] Neither give place to the devil.

Neither give place to the devil — By any delay.

Verse 28

[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.

But rather let him labour — Lest idleness lead him to steal again. And whoever has sinned in any kind ought the more zealously to practise the opposite virtue.

That he may have to give — And so be no longer a burden and nuisance, but a blessing, to his neighbours.

Verse 29

[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.

But that which is good — Profitable to the speaker and hearers.

To the use of edifying — To forward them in repentance, faith, or holiness.

That it may minister grace — Be a means of conveying more grace into their hearts. Hence we learn, what discourse is corrupt, as it were stinking in the nostrils of God; namely, all that is not profitable, not edifying, not apt to minister grace to the hearers.

Verse 30

[30] And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Grieve not the Holy Spirit — By any disobedience. Particularly by corrupt discourse; or by any of the following sins. Do not force him to withdraw from you, as a friend does whom you grieve by unkind behaviour.

The day of redemption — That is, the day of judgment, in which our redemption will be completed.

Verse 31

[31] Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Let all bitterness — The height of settled anger, opposite to kindness, verse 32.

And wrath — Lasting displeasure toward the ignorant, and them that are out of the way, opposite to tenderheartedness.

And anger — The very first risings of disgust at those that injure you, opposite to forgiving one another.

And clamour — Or bawling. "I am not angry," says one; "but it is my way to speak so." Then unlearn that way: it is the way to hell.

And evil speaking — Be it in ever so mild and soft a tone, or with ever such professions of kindness. Here is a beautiful retrogradation, beginning with the highest, and descending to the lowest, degree of the want of love.

Verse 32

[32] And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

As God, showing himself kind and tenderhearted in the highest degree, hath forgiven you.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Ephesians


Eph. 4:11

The need for diversity as the basis of unity in the body of Christ is well illustrated by a jigsaw puzzle. All the parts of the puzzle are of equal importance to the completed puzzle, and without all of the parts the puzzle would be incomplete. However, when building the puzzle, one looks first for the four corner pieces that are foundational to the completion of the rest of the puzzle. So, too, the four gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 are foundational to the completion of the mature body of Christ. When the jigsaw is finished, the four corner pieces are of no more value than the rest of the pieces.


Eph. 4:26 Anger Without Sin

Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, and in the right way—that is not easy.


Chapter 4. Build Up Christ

Prepare God's People
Works of Service

I. Testimony of Unity in the Body

  1. Urge to Unite
  2. Unity of the Spirit
  3. The Basis of Unity

II. Attain the Fullness of Christ

  1. Five Gifts
  2. Build Up the Body
  3. Reach Unity

III. Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit

  1. Put On the New Self
  2. Put Off Falsehood
  3. Be Kind to One Another
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Four General Review
1) To see the importance of walking in unity and purity
2) To appreciate the gifts Christ has given the church for our 
   edification, and the need for each one to do their share
Beginning with this chapter and proceeding through the rest of the
epistle, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of their
calling.  Having described earlier how Jesus attained unity between Jew
and Gentile through His death on the cross, Paul now pleads with them 
to "walk in unity".  With humility, gentleness, longsuffering, 
forbearance and love, they should be diligent to maintain the unity of 
the Spirit in the bond of peace.  The unity of the Spirit is then 
defined as consisting of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one 
faith, one baptism and one God (1-6).
Perhaps as motivation, Paul reminds them of the gracious gifts Christ 
gave His church following His ascension to heaven.  Such gifts included
the offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, 
which are designed to equip the saints for ministry and bring the body 
of Christ to maturity.  In this way, it should not be misled by false 
doctrine, but instead by speaking the truth in love should grow in 
Christ as each member does it share (7-16).
The last half of this chapter addresses the need to "walk in purity".
Contrasting how they once walked as Gentiles in licentiousness and 
greediness, they are reminded of the truth which is in Jesus.  This 
truth calls upon them to put off the old man with its deceitful lusts,
to be renewed in the spirit of their mind, and to put on the new man 
that is created in righteousness and holiness.  Therefore they are 
called upon to put away lying, anger, theft, and all forms of evil 
speaking, lest they grieve the Holy Spirit by whom they were sealed for
the day of redemption.  Instead, they are to speak with truth and 
grace, work hard to help those in need, and be kind, tender-hearted, 
and forgiving just as God has forgiven them in Christ (17-32).
      1. To walk worthy of our calling (1)
      2. With the proper attitudes (2-3)
         a. Lowliness and gentleness
         b. Longsuffering, bearing with one another in love
         c. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
      3. The unity of the Spirit defined (4-6)
         a. One body
         b. One Spirit
         c. One hope of your calling
         d. One Lord
         e. One faith
         f. One baptism
         g. One God and Father of all
      1. For to each one grace was given as measured out by Christ
         a. As foretold in Scripture
         b. Having ascended far above all the heavens to fill all
      2. Gifts Christ gave to His church (11)
         a. Apostles
         b. Prophets
         c. Evangelists
         d. Pastors
         e. Teachers
      3. Purpose of such gifts (12-16)
         a. Equipping the saints for the work of ministry
         b. Edifying the body of Christ, till we all come to:
            1) The unity of the faith
            2) The knowledge of the Son of God
            3) A perfect man
            4) The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
         c. That we might no longer be children...
            1) Tossed about by every wind of doctrine
            2) Tricked by the cunning craftiness of those who lie in
               wait to deceive
         d. That we speak the truth in love...
            1) So we may grow up in all things into Christ, the head
            2) To cause growth of the body for the edifying of itself
               in love
               a) As we are joined and knit together by what each joint
               b) As every part does its effective work in doing its
      1. Who walk in the futility of their mind (17-18)
         a. With understanding darkened, being alienated from the life
            of God
         b. With ignorance, because of the hardening of their heart
      2. Who have given themselves over to licentiousness (19)
         a. Being past feeling
         b. To work all uncleanness with greediness
      1. Having heard and been taught by Him, and the truth which is in
         Him (20-24)
         a. To put off the old man which grows corrupt in its deceitful
         b. To be renewed in the spirit of one's mind
         c. To put on the new man which was created according to God in
            righteousness and holiness
      2. Therefore putting away things of the old man (25-31)
         a. Such as lying, instead speaking truth
         b. Such as anger, giving place to the devil
         c. Such as stealing, instead working to give to those in need
         d. Such as corrupt speech, instead speaking with grace to
            edify those who hear
         e. Such as grieving the Holy Spirit, by whom we were sealed
            for the day of redemption
         f. Such as all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil 
            speaking, all malice
      3. Instead be kind to one another (32)
         a. Tender-hearted, forgiving
         b. Just as God in Christ forgave us
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - A call to walk in unity (1-16)
   - A call to walk in purity (17-32)
2) How is the Christian to walk? (1)
   - In a manner worthy of our calling
3) What attitudes are consistent with the Christian walk? (2-3)
   - Lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing with one another in
   - Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
4) What seven facets make up the unity of the Spirit? (4-6)
   - One body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one 
     faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all
5) What gracious gifts has been given by Christ to His church? (7-11)
   - That which enabled some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists,
     pastors and teachers
6) What is the purpose of such gifts or functions? (12-14)
   - To equip the saints for service
   - To edify the body of Christ
   - To help all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of
     the Son of God
   - To help all mature and no longer be children, troubled by false
7) As we speak the truth in love, what are we to be doing?  What 
   assists us in this? (15-16)
   - Growing up in all things in Christ
   - Our connection to Christ as the head, and the effective working of
     every member doing its part
8) How should we no longer walk? (17)
   - As the rest of the Gentiles
9) How are those in the world walking? Why? (17-19)
   - In the futility of their mind and being past feeling, they are
     given to licentiousness, uncleanness and greediness
   - Their understanding is darkened, being alienated from God because
     of the ignorance in them due to the hardness of their heart
10) In contrast, what truth have we learned from Christ? (20-24)
   - To put off the old man which grows corrupt according to its
     deceitful lusts
   - To be renewed in the spirit of our minds
   - To put on the new man that was created by God in righteousness and
     true holiness
11) What sort of things are we to therefore put away? (25-32)
   - Lying, anger, theft, corrupt and evil speech, bitterness, wrath
12) What sort of things should we be doing instead? (25-32)
   - Speaking with truth and grace, working to help those in need,
     being kind, tender-hearted, forgiving others as God in Christ
     forgave us
13) Why should we be concerned about doing such things? (30)
   - Lest we grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom we were sealed for the day
     of redemption


Walking Together In Unity (4:1-16)
1. For three chapters, Paul has dealt with "doctrine" in which he has 
   described both:
   a. Our spiritual "possessions" in Christ (1)
   b. Our spiritual "position" in Christ (2,3)
2. In the remaining three chapters of this epistle, Paul will focus on
   "duty", i.e., responsibilities that are ours because of the blessings
    we enjoy as described in the previous chapters
3. Of the blessings described, one upon which Paul elaborated is the
   "unity" that we have in Christ by virtue of His work on the cross...
   a. He has reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God in "one body" -
      Ep 2:14-16
   b. Now, Gentiles can be fellow heirs, of the "same body" - Ep 3:6
4. It should not be surprising, then, that the first duty that Paul 
   exhorts us to fulfill is "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond
   of peace" - Ep 4:3
   a. Christ "attained" this unity by His work on the cross
   b. Our task is to "maintain" it
[Beginning, then, with a charge to "walk worthy of the calling with 
which you were called" (Ep 4:1), Paul describes how to have a "worthy 
walk", and that is by displaying...]
      1. This word means:
         a. The having a humble opinion of one's self
         b. A deep sense of one's (moral) littleness
         c. Modesty, humility, lowliness of mind
      2. This virtue is necessary in order in order to properly value 
         others around you - cf. Ph 2:3-4
      3. Without this virtue, members in the body begin trying to be the
         "head" of the body, a role reserved only for Christ
      1. This word can be translated as gentleness, mildness, meekness
      2. It is not a quality of weakness, but of power under control
         a. Moses was a meek man (Num 12:3), but capable of great
            strength and boldness
         b. Jesus was "meek and lowly in heart" (Mt 11:29), but we see
            where He drove the money changers out of the temple
      3. Thus it is being gentle, even when there is the potential for 
         being harsh, but gentleness is more conducive for maintaining 
      1. The idea here is one of patience, forbearance, longsuffering, 
         slowness in avenging wrongs
      2. When the body consists of members who are not perfect, and 
         often sin against each other, maintaining unity is not possible
         unless they are willing to endure each other's imperfections
      1. Similar to longsuffering, "bearing" means to sustain, to bear,
         to endure
      2. What makes such "longsuffering" and "forbearance" possible is 
         another virtue:  "love"
      3. As Paul wrote in his chapter on love:  "love suffers long...is
         not provoked" - 1 Co 13:4-5
      4. Indeed, the virtue of love is the "tie" that binds all these 
         virtues together - cf. Co 3:12-14
      1. Displaying these virtues does not come naturally nor easy, nor 
         does maintaining unity
      2. Thus the need for much effort, as Paul uses a word which means 
         "to exert one's self, endeavor, give diligence"
[Only by giving diligence to display ALL these virtues, can we hope to 
"keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ep 
But just as important as having the right "attitudes", is understanding
and holding to...]
   A. ONE BODY...
      1. This refers to the body of Christ, the church - Ep 1:22-23
      2. Of course, Paul speaks here of the church in the "universal" 
         a. The "body" of saved believers throughout the world
         b. Of which Christ is the "head", and "savior of the body" - 
            Ep 5:23
      3. While there may be many "local" churches (congregations), there
         is only ONE "universal" church, with ONE "head" - Jesus Christ!
      1. This would be the Holy Spirit
      2. Who has already been described in this epistle...
         a. As "the Holy Spirit of promise" - Ep 1:13
         b. As "the guarantee of our inheritance" - Ep 1:14
         c. By Whom both Jew and Gentile have access to the Father - 
            Ep 2:18
         d. In Whom God habitats those who are being built a "holy 
            temple" - Ep 2:21-22
         e. By Whom the "mystery of Christ" was revealed to the apostles
            and prophets - Ep 3:5
         f. Through Whom God strengthens with might the inner man - 
            Ep 3:16
         g. As the One whose "unity" is to be maintained in the bond of 
            peace - Ep 4:3
      1. For Paul, this pertains primarily to "the resurrection of the 
         dead" - Ac 23:6; 24:15; Ro 8:23-24; cf. 1 Co 15:19-23; Ph 
      2. Which necessarily includes such concepts of "salvation" (1 Th
         5:8) and "eternal life" (Ti 1:2; 3:7)
   D. ONE LORD...
      1. This refers to Jesus, of course - 1 Co 8:5-6
      2. Whom God has made "both Lord and Christ" - Ac 2:36
   E. ONE FAITH...
      1. This the body of truth, "the faith", which Jude says was "once
         for all delivered to the saints" - Jude 3
      2. It is that "pattern of sound words" of that Paul taught Timothy
         (2 Ti 1:13), and which he was to commit to faithful men (2
         Ti 2:2)
      3. We find this "pattern of sound words" in the pages of the New 
         Testament, which contains that which all Christians must 
      1. This is the baptism...
         a. Commanded by Jesus - Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16
         b. Preached and commanded by His apostles - Ac 2:38; 10:48
         c. By which those who submit to are added to the Lord's body, 
            the church - Ac 2:42,47
      2. I.e., the baptism in which a penitent believer is immersed in 
         water for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit
         - Ac 2:38; 10:47-48
      1. The Father, Who together with the Son and Holy Spirit, makes up
         the "Godhead"
      2. Note that Paul emphasizes both:
         a. His personality ("Father of all")
         b. His transcendence and omnipresence ("who is above all, and 
            through all, and in you all")
[These "seven ones" constitute "the unity of the Spirit" that as 
Christians we must be so diligent to keep "in the bond of peace".  Not 
one of these is "non-essential"!  E.g., just as crucial as maintaining 
who the "One Lord" is, so we must be steadfast in holding to the "One 
To assist us in our efforts to "keep the unity of the Spirit", Christ 
has given to His church certain "gifts".  Let's now consider ...]
      1. They come from the bounty of Christ's grace (7)
      2. As prophesied, they were given after Christ ascended to heaven
      1. Is Paul referring to "spiritual gifts" (cf. 1 Co 12:1-11), or
         a. If "spiritual gifts", then we should read verse 11 to say 
            "gave some to..."
         b. If "functions", then verse 11 should read "gave some to 
         c. The use of "doreas" and "domata" instead of "charismata" in 
            verses 7-8 suggests Paul has in mind "functions", and not
            "spiritual gifts"
      2. Understanding it as "functions", we see that Christ gave some
         to be...
         a. APOSTLES
            1) Those who were to be eye-witnesses of the resurrection 
               - Ac 1:15-22
            2) Their role in the church was foundational, necessary to 
               the establishment of the church - Ep 2:20
            3) As such, their work or function was temporary
         b. PROPHETS
            1) These were inspired men and women used in the process of 
               revelation - Ep 3:5; cf. Ac 2:17; 11:28; 21:9
            2) As with the apostles, their role was foundational, 
               necessary to the establishment of the church - Ep 2:20
            3) Just as apostles were not replaced, so the prophets' role
               was temporary - cf. 1 Co 13:8
         c. EVANGELISTS
            1) Literally, "bearers of good news"
            2) These are individuals like Philip (Ac 21:8), who 
               proclaimed the gospel of Christ both publicly and 
               privately - cf. Ac 8:5-13,26-40
            3) Timothy was charged to "do the work of an evangelist" 
               - 2 Ti 4:5
            4) Unlike apostles and prophets, their work does not involve
               "laying the foundation", but rather building upon that 
               which is already laid, which they do every time they lead
               someone to Christ
            5) Therefore, their work or function continues to the 
            1) It may be that Paul intended these terms to describe one
               function (because "some" is not repeated)
               a) The role of "pastor" (shepherd) certainly requires
                  "feeding" or teaching
               b) While there is indication elsewhere that there was a
                  special function of "teachers" in the local church -
                  Ac 13:1; 1 Co 12:28-29; 2 Ti 1:11; Ja 3:1
            2) The term "pastor" is found only here in the Scriptures,
               but from Ac 20:17,28 and 1 Pe 5:1-2 it becomes clear
               that "pastors, shepherds, elders, presbyters, bishops,
               overseers" are simply different terms describing the
               spiritual leaders of local congregations
            3) The nature of the work of "pastors and teachers" (i.e.,
               overseeing and feeding the flock of God) naturally
               follows the work of the evangelists
            4) And like the function of evangelist, continues to the
         d. What about DEACONS?
            1) Clearly Paul does not intend this passage in Ephesians to
               be an exhaustive list of functions in the Lord's church,
               for he does not mention deacons - cf. Ph 1:1; 1 Ti 3:8
            2) But the list is adequate to illustrate the point:  Christ
               has given "gifts" to His church!
      1. To prepare members of the body for service ("equip the saints 
         for work of ministry")
      2. To build up the members of the body ("edify the body of 
         Christ"), so they...
         a. Can grow to maturity (13)
            1) Possessing the unity of the faith
            2) Having the knowledge of the Son of God
            3) Measuring up to the stature expected of those in Christ
         b. Will not be children (14)
            1) Tossed to and fro by every doctrine that comes along
            2) Easily deceived by cunning and false teachers
         c. But instead will be "growing upward" as the body of Christ 
            1) Growing up in all things into the Head, Christ
            2) From which the whole body can grow, provided every part 
               does it share
            3) Made possible also as we "speak the truth in love" and 
               "edify itself in love"
1. If we can just...
   a. Display the "attitudes" necessary for unity
   b. Hold fast to the "basis" upon which our unity rests
   c. Utilize the "gifts" Christ has given to assure we all come to the 
      unity of the faith
   ...then Christ's work on the cross will not be in vain! - cf. Ep 
2. Not only that, but then we will also truly conduct ourselves in a 
   manner "worthy of the calling with which you were called" - Ep 4:1
   a. We were called to be "fellow citizens with the saints and members
      of the household of God" - Ep 2:19
   b. We were called to be "a holy temple in the Lord", "a habitation of
      God in the Spirit" - Ep 2:21-22
   c. We were called to "make known the manifold wisdom of God" - Ep
Are you doing all you can as a member of the body of Christ to "walk
together in unity", and by so doing walk in manner worthy of our


Walking In Truth And Holiness (4:17-32)
1. In the previous lesson, we saw where Paul began to describe our
   "duty" to "walk worthy of the calling with which you were called"
   - Ep 4:1
2. In doing so, he first called us to "walk together in unity" by 
   admonishing us to...
   a. Display the "attitudes" crucial for maintaining unity - Ep 4:2-3
   b. Understand the "basis" of the unity we have in Christ - Ep 4:4-6
   c. Utilize the "gifts" given by Christ to His church that serves to 
      keep the body of Christ together and growing - Ep 4:7-16
3. In the last half of chapter four (Ep 4:17-32), Paul continues to 
   describe the sort of "walk" that is worthy of our calling, especially
   as "a holy temple in the Lord" (cf. Ep 2:21-22)
   a. Whereas the first half emphasized "Walking Together In Unity"
   b. This section emphasizes "Walking In Truth And Holiness"
[We begin, then, in verse 17 with...]
      1. They walk "in the futility of their mind" - How so?
         a. It starts with the "hardening of their heart" 
         b. Which leads to "ignorance that is in them"
         c. Because of such ignorance they are "alienated from the life
            of God"
         d. And that results "having their understanding darkened"
         -- Notice where Jesus describes this same process - cf. Mt 13:
      2. Their walk is "past feeling" - as indicated by the fact they...
         a. "have given themselves over to licentiousness" (i.e., 
            unbridled lust, excess)
         b. "work all uncleanness with greediness"
         -- Desensitized, they seek after ever-increasing forms moral 
            depravity - cf. Ro 1:18-32
      1. This is how you learned Christ
         a. As you heard Him and were taught by Him (through His 
            apostles, of course - cf. Mt 28:19-20)
         b. In Whom is the truth - cf. Jn 8:31-31; 14:6
      2. For you were taught to "put off" the "old man"
         a. That is, your "former conduct", how you behaved before you 
            were saved - cf. Co 3:5-9
         b. Putting off the old man is needed because it is never 
            content, but "grows corrupt according to the deceitful 
            lusts" (like addictive drugs, you always need more)
      3. And to "be renewed in the spirit of your mind"
         a. Which is the key to true "transformation" - cf. Ro 12:1-2
         b. You "renew" your mind only as you "set your mind on things 
            above" - cf. Co 3:1-2
      4. And to "put on the new man"
         a. A new man "which was created according to God" - cf. Co 
         b. A new man, "in righteousness and true holiness" - cf. Co 
[In giving the admonition "No longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles",
Paul has made it clear that it involves both a "putting off" and a 
"putting on".  I.e., our "Walking In Truth And Holiness" is not just a
bunch of "Thou Shalt Not's", there are also some "Thou Shalt's".
To illustrate further the difference between the "old man" (how the rest
of the Gentiles walk) and the "new man" (how Christians are to walk), we
find Paul making...]
   A. CASE IN POINT:  LYING... (25)
      1. The "old man" thinks nothing of lying
      2. The "new man" puts away lying, and in its place speaks truth 
         with his neighbor (especially to those who members of the same 
   B. CASE IN POINT:  ANGER... (26-27)
      1. The "old man" gets angry and lets it linger, or get out of 
      2. The "new man" may get angry, but does not...
         a. Let it linger ("do not let the sun go down on your wrath"
         b. Allow it to prompt sinful behavior ("nor give place to the
      1. The "old man" is willing to steal
      2. The "new man" not only stops stealing, but works so he can help
         others in need!
      1. The "old man" doesn't worry or care what comes out of his mouth
      2. The "new man" not only avoids "corrupt communication", but
         seeks to speak that which is uplifting to those who hear
   E. SUMMARY... (30-32)
      1. Why be concerned about putting off the "old man" and putting on
         the "new man"?
         a. When Christians act like the "old man", it grieves the Holy 
         b. By the Holy Spirit we were sealed for the day of redemption 
            - cf. Ep 1:13-14
      2. Therefore, we ought to put away those things befitting the "old
         man" (bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, malice)
      3. And in it's place we need to put on those things befitting the
         "new man" (being kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another 
         just as God forgives us in Christ)
1. What a contrast there would be if all those in the church truly 
   carried out the admonition to "Walk In Truth And Holiness"!
   a. The church would stand out like "a city that is set on a hill"! 
      - cf. Mt 5:14-16
   b. And the world, though it now has "their understanding darkened", 
      might be more likely to come to see the truth that is in Jesus
   c. But what hope is there if the church is more like the world than 
      the "holy temple" it is to be?
2. Brethren, are we "grieving the Holy Spirit of God"?
   a. While the increasing worldliness in our society naturally concerns
   b. Let's be careful not to react with attitudes that are more in
      keeping with the "old man"
   c. But having been "sealed for the day of redemption", let's be sure
      to react in "righteousness and true holiness"
In our next lesson, we will see that "walking worthy of our calling"
also involves "Walking In Love, Light, And Wisdom"...


--《Executable Outlines