Ephesians overview – 4:1-3, The New Society: Unity through patience and forbearance.

Class Outline:

Thursday September 17, 2020


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


The partner of patience is forbearance. It is a mutual tolerance without which no group of human beings can live together in peace.


We saw last time that God is extremely patient with all the world in order to give them time for repentance and faith. The same word is to describe how we are with one another in the body of Christ, and of course with the unsaved, since we are to be imitators of our Father in love.


Forbearance - anecho (ana = up + echo = to have or to hold) = literally “to hold up,” means to bear with, endure, tolerate.


When the disciples could not heal the demon possessed boy who was mute, Jesus responded:


MAR 9:14 "O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!"


Paul accused the Corinthians of forbearing with fools and false teachers.


The sister passage to ours, COL 3:12-15, we are commanded to forbear one another and forgive one another.


Forbearance is also needed for situations, knowing that God will “repay” the wicked and deliver His saints.


2TH 1:1-4

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; 4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance [hupomone] and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure [anecho].


“The love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater.” This was in the midst of persecutions, afflictions (thlipsis: literally to be pressed into a narrow space), and suffering. All three words are used by Paul to describe their current situation. Yet they increased in their love for one another.


Thoreau once described a city as a place where many people are "lonely together." Residents of a high-rise apartment can be suffering greatly and the people in the next apartment know nothing about it. Our modern world can promote spiritual and emotional isolation and insulation, even to the point of our watching others suffer without really caring. But for the Christian, suffering can help to produce abounding love.


We do not become patient and tolerant by reading. We have to suffer and apply what we have read.


What type and how much suffering are up to God.


Naturally we have to read and understand the scripture. We must know the doctrines, but unless we suffer and are forced to be patient and forbearing when it is difficult, we will not know them as we should. Remember, we were called to this by God, and that calling was not of our choosing. Faith in the gospel was our choice, but what we were called to be was God’s choice. So our walk is not our choice, but God’s.


It will help us to mature much faster if we receive doctrines for doing rather than only knowing. There are cold, prideful, impatience, and intolerant believers who know a lot of doctrine. Rather than learning for the sake of checking off a list of accumulated doctrines, let us learn for the purpose of further living like God desires. Let us receive our current passage, and the rest of this book, with the clear intent of being what it tells us, and in that manner, we will carefully listen, and more so, soak it in.


Every promise and every virtue must be tested so that we will come to know them well and that they will be a part of our very fiber or fabric, meaning that they are such a part of us that they are spontaneous.


Help for endurance - God will deliver and give rest and He will repay them who do not know Him, disobey the gospel, and so persecute the righteous.


2TH 1:5-12

This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed —  for our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power; 12 in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.


God is holy and He must judge sin. The Thessalonians were faithful to the word and so they were persecuted by the wicked, the unbelievers. This will always be so, and always has been so in every generation of history. Believers will always be surrounded by evil and evil men, and certainly it will be worse in some times and in some places than others.


The comfort to us is that the wicked will be “repaid” by God. In some cases we may witness it. If we do, we must be careful not to rejoice but to mourn for our enemy, for we are to love them. I think in most cases we will not see the wicked repaid, but God promises they will be, either in private, in their own souls that burn with guilt and suffering, or after death.


The description by Paul in this passage leads us to conclude that he is writing of the second coming of Christ. “He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day,” and those who do not obey the gospel “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord.” So then, our rest and their destruction may not come in our lifetime, but so be it. We will find rest in the Lord because He has done it.


Believers must live for eternity as well as the present.


As we endure hardship, suffering, persecution, and pressure we know God’s righteous to faithfully perform, but it is not the destruction of the wicked that motivates us. We are not to love goodness because badness hurts and will be judged. We love our Lord and His righteousness and find it wonderful to have Him and His family name. And not on this, but the promise, iron-clad, that He will bring us into His peace. And so, we forbear with patience.