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Eph. 4, 5 and 6

Previous Section - Chapter 3 

ch. 4:1-16    h. 4:17 - 5:20

ch. 5:22-33     ch. 6:1-4    ch. 6:5-9    ch. 6:10-20    ch. 6:21-23

Unity In The Body Of Christ (ch. 4:1-16)

In chapter 4 verse 1 Paul clearly states that he is a prisoner because of Jesus. He now begins to lay out practical applications of what he has just taught.

The first of these admonitions is to "keep the unity of the Spirit". The way this is done is to "live your life worthy of the calling you have received, also by being gentle, humble, patient and bearing with one another".

There is now no distinction between Jew and Gentile. We are all part of one body. As a matter of fact Paul list a number of things that have to do with this oneness. They are; one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father. If there are one of all these things, then it is apparent that the Christian Church, or the Body of Christ should be one as well, and not divided into segments. We have not kept this oneness of Spirit. The Church has divided itself over and over again throughout the centuries. I wonder what Paul would tell us today.

In verse 7 Paul says that God has given each one a measure of grace. The definition of grace in this instance is "the God given ability to do His will". He has given us each a measure of grace to fulfill the calling He has for us. Or another way to say it is, Jesus has given us the ability to do what He has asked us to do.

Verse 5 may sound a little confusing. "He ascended on high" is easy to understand. It simply means that Jesus ascended back to be with His Father. Yet the phrase, "he led captives in His train" may seem harder to understand. We see in verse 9 that Jesus went down to the "lower regions" of the earth. There He freed the saints of Old Testament days and led them away to be with Him. This is the meaning of "leading captives in His train". He led these people out of captivity and brought them into the presence of God.

Back to verse 8. Paul says that Jesus gave gifts to men. These are often called the four fold ministries of Christ. They are , apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. There appears to be five gifts here, but most Greek scholars, due to the sentence structure combine pastor and teacher into one gift.

These gifts are given to the church to "prepare Godís people for works of service". These men help people to do what they should do. They help people to find their place in the church and function accordingly. It is my opinion that these leaders donít tell people what to do, but to help and encourage the people to do what God has called them to do.

We all need to do these works of service so the "body will be built up" as Paul puts it in verse 12. This activity is supposed to carry on until "we all reach the unity in the faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature, attaining the full measure of perfection found in Christ" (ch.4:13)

Because of verse 13 it is clear that we are not at the point of perfection, or at least the church wasnít back in Paulís day. Yet some day we will find unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Right now we are not there. We do not have unity in faith, or our trust in Jesus. We do not have unity in our knowledge of Christ. We have not attained to the full measure of perfection. It is my opinion that we will not attain this until Christ returns for us. Now some feel that we will attain it before Christ comes back, because that is why He will come back. When we finally become united in perfection, Jesus will say to Himself, "it is time to return for my bride". This is not my thinking.

Until that day comes, we will grow in perfection, or at least we should grow in perfection as the church and as individuals. Paul says in verse 14 that the closer we come to this place of maturity the less we will be caught up and influenced by every "wind of teaching", meaning, every new idea that comes along. And let me tell you, there are always people who want a following, so they will put forth some form of new thought to gather that following.

As "we speak the truth in love" we will grow up as the church as we ought. In context this is speaking about doctrinal issues, not moral issues. Paul has just mention the fact that when we are not mature we will be blown about by every wind of teaching. While in this situation we need to speak words of truth, yet in love, and correct those who find themselves caught up in these wrong ideas.

Verse 16 is important. It says, "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". Here we see the importance of each and everyone of us. We all have a place in the body of Christ. And since we have a place, we have a job to do. When we all do our job, the body will grow as it should. Yet the growth of the body doesnít depend on us alone, for Paul opens this verse by saying "from Him", (Jesus) the body is joined together. Jesus is the Head of the body. All body parts gets its signals and orders from the Head, the Brain, which is Jesus Himself. If as a hand, we are trying to act alone, apart from the rest of the body and apart from Jesus, what we do will not work out, especially for the good of the body. We act in conjunction with one another, yet our lifeís blood and the central nervous system comes from Jesus.

Living As Children Of Light (ch. 4:17 Ė 5:20)

Paul opens this section by saying, "I tell you, and insist on it". These are strong words. He tells them not to live as the Gentiles do, those Gentiles who donít know Jesus, because "their understanding is darkened and they are separated from the life of God". These verses are a reflection of his letter to the Romans. He says that "due to the hardening of their hearts" they "have lost all sensitivity", and have "given themselves over to Ö every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more". These sinners arenít merely happy in their sin, they have a great lust to sin even more. This should not be the case with Christians.

Paul goes on to say in verses 20 to 24 that "you didnít learn this way of life from Jesus. He taught you a different way, and that way was to "put off the old self that is being corrupted". (ch. 4:24) We have to always deal with our old self, our old nature. It is in the process of being corrupted. He goes on to say that we should be renewed in "the attitude of your mind". This also reminds me of his letter to the Romans. (see Romans 12:1-3)

It is in our minds that our lives are changed. We need to realize that without changes in our minds, we donít really change. We can have a spiritual awakening, but sooner or later that has to effect our minds, If not we will fall away, back into our sin.

Paul tells us in verse 25 "to put on the new self". We do have a "new self", or a "new nature". This new nature is the result of the Holy Spirit living within us. So as Christians we have two natures. The old nature and the new nature. We are to give into the new nature and not the old.

Yes, we are viewed as righteous and holy in Godís eyes, yet as Paul says here, we are to grow in this righteousness. So as Christians, we are viewed as righteous, yet have the ability to grow into what we are viewed as, at least to a measure, a certain degree. We will fully become righteous when Jesus returns for us.

Paul continues on with one admonition after another. In verse 25 he tells his readers to put off falsehood and speak honestly to your nieghbour. Why? Because you all are members of one body. He is obviously talking about neighbours in the church, not neighbours outside the church, since he says that we are part of one body.

Verse 26 may be hard to understand. It says, "in your anger, sin not". Later on in verse 31 he tells us not to get angry, yet in this verse he seems to say, be angry as long as you donít sin. He may well be speaking of justifiable anger here. We know that Jesus got angry. Weíve called it a holy anger. We can be righteously angered, yet we should not go overboard in our response so that we sin. We need to respond properly and righteously in our justifiable anger.

Then Paul goes on to say, "do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not let the devil have a foothold". He is saying at times anger is justifiable, but donít continue in the anger. Let it go by sundown. If the anger persists, it can turn into unholy anger and then the devil can have a foothold into your life.

Now this is interesting. Paul says that anger that stays with us can be used by the devil to get into our lives. So it is apparent that the devil can attack us at our weak points. For one it may be anger, even though it is justifiable, for others it may be something else. Whatever the case, the devil is still alive and can still have some influence on us as Christians, if we let him.

In verse 28 Paul says that we should no longer steal but work with our hands in order to have something to share with others. We should not be taking from each other. We should be giving to each other.

Paul says in verse 29 to not let "any unwholesome" talk come out of your mouth. The Greek word used here suggests word is "decay". Donít let rotten words come out of your mouth that will harm or poison another. Rather uses your words to build each other up.

Again Paul continues to give one admonition after another. The next admonition he gives is not to grieve the Holy Spirit. In context this means donít let the rotten words you say, or negative actions towards another grieve the Holy Spirit. You may expand your interpretation to mean, donít grieve the Holy Spirit in any way. There are many ways in which you can grieve Him. Simply refusing his power and existence could be a way of grieving him. The Greek word "lufeo" is the word translated here as grieve. It basically signifies pain, whether mental or physical. So it is clear that the Holy Spirit can experience mental pain. That only makes sense. We were created in Godís image. That means whatever emotions we have, God has as well. Grief is just one of these emotions.

Paul goes on to say, for the second time in this letter, that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day we are redeemed. Godís seal of approval is on, that is, His Spirit is within us. Therefore we should not do anything that would create grief with the Holy Spirit.

In verse 31 Paul lists a number of things we should not do. He also says that we should love one another and forgive one another as Christ forgave us. Christ forgave all our sins. We should do the same. Yet we should note that forgiveness that is not accepted is not complete forgiveness. We can forgive, but if the person doesnít accept our forgiveness it is like he has never been forgiven by us. Jesus forgave us all, yet if we do not accept His forgiveness he will judge us accordingly, as if He never forgave us in the first place.

Chapter 5 verse 1 continues on with the admonitions. Paul says to "imitate God", and "live the life of love, just as Christ did". Christís love extended to the cross as a sacrifice that was sweet smelling to God. Thus the admonition here is to love, which requires sacrifice on our part. Real love does not come natural to most of us, or maybe to any of us. Love in the way Jesus loved was a sacrificial love.

Paul goes on to admonish that there should not be "any hint of sexual immorality". Why? Because the people of God are holy. Part of the nature of God is loyalty. We also should be loyal to our spouses.

He goes on to say that we should not speak "foolishly, using obscenities and coarse language". Instead of speaking as the world does we should be giving thanks with our mouths. This would be in stark contrast to people of the world.

Paul goes on to say that any immoral or greedy person will not share in the inheritance of the Kingdom of God. Now whether you interpret this futuristically or in the present tense, it is clear these types of people wonít participate in the Kingdom of God. Let me suggest to you that it is not the sin of immorality that keep people out of the Kingdom. The reason why these people are immoral is that they are first unbelievers. They have not given themselves to Jesus, and it is for this reason they are not part of Godís Kingdom. Simply put, we are saved by faith, not good works. We stay saved by faith and not good works. If good works donít save us, then bad works donít unsave you. If faith saves us, then unbelief unsave us.

Yet we do need to understand that sin separates us from Jesus. We loose fellowship with Him. We may not loose the relationship right away, but we will loose His presence in our lives.

In verse 6 Paul tells his readers not to be deceived by people with "empty words". The Greek word "kenos" is translated as empty here, vain in the King James Version. Kenos means "empty in respect to quality". Many people in the world have little quality in what they say. They may have lots of quantity in their words but little quality. Just stay away from these people, Paul says.

Verse 8 continues with the admonitions. "Live as children of the Light", he says. We were once in darkness and did things in the dark. We now have the light of truth that comes from Jesus and we need to act accordingly. Remember, Paul is talking to Christians here. He knows that the carnal nature is still with us and we need to recognize this and keep it under control.

"Find out what pleases the Lord", Paul says. Pleasing the Lord doesnít come natural to us. We have to find this out. The main source for this is obviously Godís Word.

Paul goes on to say, "have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them". (ch.5:11) This is interesting. It should be clear to all of us that we should not live as sinners. Yet here Paul goes one step farther. He tells us to expose these sins of darkness. This may be something we donít do enough of as Christians. Maybe we are too afraid of exposing sin. Maybe we feel we are judging. Yet Paul tells us to expose these deeds of darkness. This means to tell the world that certain things are wrong in Godís eyes. The church is In a battle with the world on many fronts today, partly because we have neglected to tell the world about their sin. Now sin is more prevalent than ever, and almost impossible to stop. Christian activism has become stronger in the last couple of decades. This is a good thing if done in the right spirit.

Paul, in verse 12 says that "it is shameful just to mention the things done in secret". Yet in today's world we are moving out of the secret places. Things that were once done in secret are now done in the open. People are "coming out of the closet" so to speak. People have no shame anymore. They feel they can do what they want no matter how immoral it is in plain sight for the world to watch. You might say that the world has helped us in this respect. Paul says to expose these sins. In today's world these sins are done in the open. We need to expose them for what they are. This is what prophets of the Old Testament did. Maybe we need some modern day prophets.

In verse 14 Paul uses a quote to explain what to say in these case. He quotes, "wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you". This is a call to the sinner to repent and come to the light of Christ. This is not an Old Testament quote. "Christ will shine on you" is not to be found anywhere in the Old Testament. The conclusion is that this was a modern day saying that they used back then. Maybe it was part of a hymn they sang.

Paul goes on to say in verses 15 and 16 that we should be wise and make the most of every opportunity we have because the days are evil. Surely if the day in which Paul lived was evil, our day is evil as well. Paul was one that made the most of all opportunities he had. We probably have more opportunities than we think we have. We simply need our eyes and hears open in order to find them.

Once again, Paul continues with his admonitions. He says, understand what the Lordís will is, donít be drunk with wine, be filled with the Spirit, sing to one another, sing and make music to the Lord.

One note from the above. Paul says not to get drunk with wine. He does not say donít drink wine.

He also says "sing and make music" to the Lord. Make music, for so many years our churchís were limited to an organ and piano. Its good to see all sorts of instruments being used in our worship services today.

 

Wives and Husbands (ch. 5:21-33)

Paul continues with his admonitions but he zeroes in on the family at this point.

He says, "Wives submit to your husbands". The Greek word "hopotasso" is translated here as submit. "Hupotasso" means to "rank under". This word is a military word. I am not sure why Paul would use a military word in a family situation, but he does. I am not sure that would make the wives feel great. The reason why Paul tells the wives to submit is because he says that the husband is head over the wife, as Christ is head over the church. I am not sure that this is a popular Scripture these days, but it is Scripture.

All the above being said, "hopotasso" does mean "to rank under", but as is often the case in many writings, words take on a slightly different meaning.  This is my point.  The submission that the New Testament teaches is not a military, hard, harsh, dictatorial, submission.  It is a loving yielding to another out of love, concern, and respect.  Simply put; Paul is telling wives to yield in loving fashion to a husband who loves her.  

Paul doesnít stop there. He says that the husband should love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. This may not be a popular verse either. Husbandís who love there wives as Christ loved the church are probably few and far between.

Yet before Paul said these things concerning husbandís and wives, he says in verse 21 "submit yourselves to one another". There is a mutual submission here between the husband and the wife.  Again, this submission is not a cold hard and harsh subjection to one another.  It is a mutual yielding to one another out of love and respect. It means that we listen to each other as husbands and wives.  It means that we should consider what each others says.

Now Paul speaks of Christ making us holy, and cleansing us by the washing of the Word". The Greek word "loutron" is translated as "washing". This literally means taking a bath. According to this verse Christ has done two things. He has made us holy and has cleaned us by giving us a bath in His Word. When we accept His Word of Salvation, Jesus gives us a bath. We are made clean and holy in Godís sight through justification.

This taking a bath reminds me of what Jesus said in John 13:1 Ė 10. The story goes this way. He begins to wash the disciples feet and when He came to Peter, he did not want Jesus to wash his feet. Jesus responded to Peter by saying, "a person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet, his whole body is clean". That makes perfect sense. If youíve just taken a bath, you are clean. But, especially in Jesusí day, by walking around, you would get your feet dirty, and therefore would need to wash them from time to time. In salvation, we have taken a bath. Our body is clean, yet from time to time we need to wash our feet because they get dirty from the world around us. We donít need to take another bath. We donít need to get saved all over again. We only need to repent of our sin and carry on.

Jesus has washed us clean so that He can present the church as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle. In one sense of the word, we are already there. In Godís eyes we are that church, yet in reality we are far from that point. When Christ returns, he will make us what He now views us as being.

Some say that the church will become without stain and wrinkle before Jesus returns. This is not my view point.

Getting back to husbands and wives in verse 28, Paul says that in this very same way, in the way Christ loves the church, so husbands should love their wives. These are strong words for all husbands.

In verse 28 Paul says that husbands should love their wives in the same way they love their own bodies.  No man doesn't love his body Paul says.  Paul is right when he says that men care for their bodies and feeds their bodies.  Paul then says that in like fashion Jesus cares for the church because the church is His body.    

In verse 31 and following Paul says "for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife". It's important at this stage to think this through and not to put words into Paul's mouth as we often do at this point.  Paul is not saying here that the church is the Bride of Christ.  In fact he says that there is a mystery taking place here.  The mystery is Christ in us.  The mystery is that we are Christ's body, as stated a couple verses back.  Paul is not saying that we are the Bride of Christ.  He is saying we are the Body of Christ.   

Paul closes this section in verse 33 by beginning his sentence with the word "however".  That is to say, getting back to the topic at hand, men must love their wives as they love their own body.  Again, we're talking about husbands loving wives as their own body, just as Jesus love His body, who is the church. 

Paul closes by saying that wives must respect their husbands.  It sure helps the wife if the husband's character is such that a wife can honestly respect him.   

 

 

Children And Parents (ch. 6:1-4)

In chapter 6 Paul continues to speak about family relationships. He moves away from husbands and wives and speaks concerning our children. He tells the children to obey and honour their parents, especially because it is the first command with a promise to those who obey. If children obey their parents things will go well for them. This only makes sense. Parents should know more then their children and should be able to steer them in the right direction.

I find verse 4 interesting. It says, "fathers, donít exasperate your childrenÖ" To often fathers, and mothers as well, frustrate their children by constantly nagging then unnecessarily. There are also issues that we tend to make big deals over and cause unnecessary conflict over. This turns into a major frustration which tends to drive our children away from us. We should not make major issues out of minor issues. If we are going to get into a conflict, it should be over something that is important. Too often our conflicts are over minor issues, not worth conflicting over. We thus exasperate our children.

Instead of frustrating our children with our nagging, we should train them in the ways of Jesus. This is the positive side of raising children. The negative side would be the constant nagging resulting in no learning or training at all.

Slaves And Masters (ch.6:5-9)

Paul moves to a different type of relationship in the next section. He is speaking about slaves obeying their masters as if their masters were the Lord Himself. If they did this, God Himself would repay them for their obedience.

On the other hand Paul tells the slave owner to treat his slave properly. He is clearly talking to Christian slave owners here because he says that their (the slave) Master is the same Master that you have, meaning Jesus. For Jesus can repay you for your evil towards your slaves as He can repay the slaves obedience to you.

Paul does not give any hint here that slavery should be abolished. Slavery was an accepted practice in those days, yet it had its abuses. He is telling the slave owner how to treat his slaves with respect and love, thus abolishing the negative aspect of slavery.

The same principles can and should work in business today, even though we donít have slaves. We do have employees that we need to treat with respect.

The Armor Of God (ch. 6:10-20)

Verse 10 begins the ending of this letter. Paul says, "finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" The Greek word "endunamoo" is translated as strong in this verse. It reminds me of Paul speaking of those who are strong in faith in Romans 14. This word can also be translated as powerful. So Paul is saying that we should be strong or powerful in our trust in Jesus. We are not to be strong in our own strength but "in the mighty power" of God.

Paul goes on to say that we need to be fully armored in order to stand against the devil. It is clear then, that as Christians we do come in contact with the devil and his helpers. We cannot ignore this fact.

Paul says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. It is against all of the powers of darkness in that dark spiritual and invisible world around us. Paul obviously is in a struggle. I wonder if we can say that we have any struggles because we are Christians. Do we struggle against the devil? It may be possible that we are no threat to him, therefore he doesnít have to bother us. Yet for Paul, he says that he dose struggle in this warfare.

Paul was in a struggle. All was not nice and rosy for Paul because he became a Christian. Included in the John 10:10 "abundant life" that Jesus promised is a struggle against the powers of darkness.

In verse 13 Paul encourages us to put on the whole armor of God so that "when the day of evil comes" we can stand. Paul fully expected days of evil. Yet after that day is over, he also fully expected to be standing and not defeated by the devil or anyone else.

Most of us have heard many sermons on the armor of God. Paul lists a number of different types of armor that protect different parts of our body. The devil and his demon helpers will try to get a foothold into a life, yet this armor can protect against that.

The armor consist of a belt of truth (walking and living in truth and nothing else), a breastplate of righteousness (living our Godís righteousness), good shoes (ever ready to speak the gospel of peace to those wanting it), the shield of faith (a strong trust in Jesus which allows us to fight off the devil), the helmet of salvation (knowing you are secure in GodĎs salvation), and the sword of the Spirit (GodĎs word that we need to know and understand). All these things are important in fighting against the devil.

Paul closes off this list by telling us to "pray in the Spirit". This may mean "praying in tongues" as it does in 1 Cor. 14. At the least it means praying by the inspiration of the Spirit. He says to pray "on all occasions", with "all kinds of prayers and requests". There seems to be no limit of what we can ask or pray for. The condition is to pray in the Spirit.

In verse 17 Paul tells us to be alert. This in one problem that we have as Christians. We are too often not alert to the things of God. We are more alert to the things of every day living and therefore miss many opportunities, whether it be in our warfare against the devil, or an opportunity to share something of God to others.

Then Paul says, "pray for me" as well. Pray that every time I open my mouth words would be given to help spread the mystery of the gospel to others. Yet not just to say the words, but to say them "fearlessly", Paul says.

Paul had great reason to fear. His life was in danger because of the words that were coming out of his mouth.

Final Greetings (ch. 6:21 Ė 23)

Tychicus would deliver this letter to the Ephesians along with the letters to the Colossians and to Philemon. He would also deliver the slave named Onesimpus to Philemon as well. When he did this, he would fill the people in on just how Paul was doing in greater detail.

Paul closes this letter by saying, "peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love". See how specific Paul gets. He does not speak of God in general terms. He speaks of God our Father. He mentions the Lord Jesus Christ twice. We cannot be misunderstood. We believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no mistake when Paul puts it that way. Jesus is His earthly name. He has two titles. They are Lord and Christ, Lord of the universe, and Christ the Saviour for all who believe.

Paul says, love with faith. These are two words that Paul puts together a lot. Love is a result of true faith, true trust in Jesus. Love is not real love unless faith is involved. We hear so much of love in the world around us, but that is not love because it is not mixed with faith, or trust in Jesus.

Paul ends by saying, "Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love". This is a love that never fades away. This is a love for Jesus that will last until our last breath. May we all love our Lord Jesus Christ in such a way.

Closing Notes

Resoureces books used for this commentary Vineís Expository and R. C. H. Lenskiís Commentary on Ephesians. All quotes were from the NIV, 1972 edition.

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