Ephesians overview – 4:1-3, The New Society: Unity

Class Outline:

Wednesday September 16, 2020

There is only way we will know for sure that humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and love will make for peace. We have to diligently be and do them, knowing the HS will accomplish it.


Malachi prophesied about 100 years after Judah returned from her Babylonian exile. The Temple was rebuilt and the hope was that Israel would learn from her error and discipline and finally be the nation that God willed. They were not. The exile taught them nothing. They returned to unfaithfulness.


Through Malachi, God makes various claims to which they respond and God counters. For example, He says that He loved them, and they say how? God responds that He loved and chose Jacob and rejected Esau.


God says that they defiled His Temple, to which they respond, “How?” God responds that they bring Him sick and worthless animals as offerings.


There are six of these, and in one, God says, “Test Me to see if I will not bless you.”


MAL 3:8-12

"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed Thee?' In tithes and offerings. 9 "You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! 10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. 11 "Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes," says the Lord of hosts. 12 "And all the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land," says the Lord of hosts.


In the age of the church we give as we purpose in our own hearts, yet even in that, God responds similarly.


2CO 9:6-11

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. 7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9 as it is written,


"He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor,

His righteousness abides forever."


10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.


One can hear in these words God saying, “Test Me and see if I will not have you reap bountifully and make all grace abound to you.”


MAT 11:29

“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.”


The point I’m making is the same in gracious giving as it is in humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and love. When we do it, God promises blessing, and in the case of the latter, the blessing is peace in our hearts and in our community of believers.


It needs to be stated, that in both promises, the blessing is always in service of God. What I mean is that the giver receives an increased harvest “for all liberality,” i.e. for continued giving. The humble and meek Christian who is patient and tolerant receives peace that he may continue in humility and meekness, and deeper in them even so, and continue to be patience and forbearing, and in  them even more so.


1TH 4:1

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.


The person who concludes that he will sow bountifully so that he may reap bountifully so that he will spend this reaping upon himself has missed it entirely and God knows the heart. The person who says he will be humble for a while in order to gain peace that he may then live in pride and sin and always be accompanied by peace is a fool who thinks God doesn’t see and that our relationship with God is one of transaction, like on Wall St.


This is why the promises from God of blessing for faithfulness and obedience is not a works program. We don’t get rewarded as payment for services rendered. We get rewarded so that we may further serve. Faithfulness breeds more faithfulness. Humility and meekness make for inner peace, which peace breeds more humility and meekness making our relationship with God richer and more satisfying. Patience and forbearance make for unity, which breeds more patience and forbearance making the impact of our gospel and our truth greater upon the world.


In essence, the reward from God for obeying Him is experiencing more of Him. Test Him and see if it is so.


And when we say test Him, we mean for more than an hour. Give it a year of making every effort (diligent) to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace by being humble and meek as well as patience and tolerant.


Paul moves from the new humanity and his new society to the standards that are expected of it. He turns from exposition to exhortation.


EPH 4:1-3

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Paul turns from what God has done in the indicative to what we must do in the imperative, from doctrine to duty.


Last time we began looking at these five foundational stones of Christian unity: humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and the capstone love.


What we will see in this section; 4:1 - 5:21, is the unity of the Christian society and also its purity or holiness.


The family of God must manifest their unity and purity. Unity in EPH 4:1-16; purity in EPH 4:17 - 5:21.


Desire for unity in the church has led to various movements like the World Council of Churches in 1948. Such movements are false and only lead to ruin as they are man’s attempt at doing what only God can do. Creating an organization and giving it a charter and a creed do nothing to the hearts of men. The unity that Paul calls for is based on love. The doctrine that is to be agreed upon is plainly written out in the first three chapters. We are not to concern ourselves with unity simply for the sake of appearances. We all need to understand that we are bound to the authority of the scripture and not the conjectures of man. We all need to understand that we were all baptized by one Spirit at the moment of salvation, made to drink of that one Holy Spirit when by faith we believed in Christ as our Savior.


The oneness of God’s new society:

Depends upon the charity (love) of our character and conduct (vs. 2).

Arises from the unity of God (vv. 3-6).

Is enriched by the diversity of our gifts (vv. 7-12).

Demands the maturity of our growth (vv. 13-16).


Let’s read through that and mentally label these sections. I remind you that a consistent reminder and repeated reading through with introspection and intent of knowing more fully is required over many years to come to fully know truths like these. What we now know we are to apply with all diligence, but continued study and prayer, empowered and led by the Holy Spirit within, will deepen our understanding and experience of them.


Oneness depends upon the charity of our character and conduct.

EPH 4:1-2

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,


Oneness arises from the unity of God:

EPH 4:3-6

being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.


Oneness is enriched by the diversity of our gifts:

EPH 4:7-12

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,


"When He ascended on high,

He led captive a host of captives,

And He gave gifts to men."


9 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;


Oneness demands the maturity of our growth:

EPH 4:13-16

until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


EPH 4:17 then begins our purity.


EPH 4:1-3

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Humility is lowliness of mind, which was despised by the Greek world or Hellenistic world, but was revealed in power by Jesus Christ, Phi 2.  


Meekness is the gentleness of the strong. It is not weakness. It is the quality of a strong personality who is nevertheless master of himself and the servant of others.


It is the absence of disposition to assert personal rights, either in the presence of God or men.


Humility and gentleness are obviously a natural couple and are self-regarding virtues. They oppose division, but are not enough. A humble person can find himself intolerant of others who are proud and weak. Humility and meekness must be accompanied by patience and forbearance and all under the umbrella of divine love.


So, to the self-regarding virtues (humility and meekness) must be added the virtues that regard others - patience and forbearance.


And all four crowned with love.


Patience, makrothumia, is longsuffering towards aggravating people. God has this for us.


ROM 2:4

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?


1TI 1:15-16

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.


All of us, worthy of judgment, were treated with patience. “Why doesn’t God get-em!?” Patience, which you and are must have to live worthy.


2PE 3:9

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient [verb of makrothumia] toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.


2PE 3:14-15

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things [new heaven and new earth after the old ones are destroyed], be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation;


Patience, makrothumia, is a fruit of the Spirit, GAL 5:22.