Ephesians– overview of 2:19-22; God’s Temple in Humanity, part 9 (churches fitted together).

Wednesday June 24, 2019

Eph 2:19-22 God’s Temple in Humanity.


Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,


Eph 2:20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [of the church age], Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,


Eph 2:21 in whom the [a] whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;


Eph 2:22 in whom you also [all the churches who receive this letter] are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.


1Co 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.


1Co 3:7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.


1Co 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.


1Co 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers [ordained authority in the church]; you are God's field, God's building [subject to that authority].


This passage is about church building. It is related to the individual building maturity within himself, as all churches that are successful according to the standard of Christ possess mature believers within them.


1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.


1Co 3:11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.


1Co 3:12 Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,


1Co 3:13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.


The context is still churches. The fire would therefore refer to the tests, tribulations, and pressures that the church would bear over time. All churches bear the pressure of the world upon them, persecution, and divisive behavior of some of its members.


The fire (pressure and tribulation within and without) will test the quality of that church.


“The day” will show the quality of the work built upon the foundation. Some have concluded “the day” to be the judgment seat of Christ, and if Paul has that in mind, he doesn’t reveal it here. It fits the context more that Paul is referring to the day when the pressure or adversity comes upon that church. The quality of the work done in that church will be revealed when adversity hits.


The house built upon the rock has its strong foundation revealed only when the wind and waves pound against it.


1Co 3:14 If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward.


1Co 3:15 If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. 


If the church crashes due to bad management, the manager’s salvation is not in question, but he shall suffer the loss of blessing that every successful church brings to the leaders and attendants.


In only eight years of existence, our church has impacted many people, and none of us really knows about most of them. But I know of some, they have told me how the product from this church has impacted them positively. Imagine then twenty or thirty years from now – if we stick to the foundation, the blueprints set down by the wise master builder (Paul), and only build on them – gold, silver, precious stones – then God will use us to His glory, impacting many and impacting history in a way that we will only see when we get to heaven. Church administration is up to us, there is nothing in the blueprint about it, but we must never stray from the blueprint.


We each possess this church. It is a gem in this world that lacks enough good things. We should each take care of it.


Think about the major areas where the church gained popularity, resulting in them being very influential centers for Christianity; Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Alexandria, and Rome. All of them were surrounded by different features, yet we don’t find the apostles designating or imposing a uniform administration. Paul and Peter and John all worked independently of one another. Their methods of church building and administration may have differed, but what did not differ was the foundation of Christ, the truth, the teaching, the service, the church discipline, and the authority. These many buildings, meaning the groups of people in the churches and not the building itself, were built on the foundation of Christ with the pillars composed of the apostle who built upon that foundation.


Methods of church administration were not dictated. The foundation (Christ), authority (pastor(s)), service (function of spiritual gifts), teaching (mind of Christ), and discipline were.


There is no instruction on what size a church should be, how many people should attend, how long they should conduct their services or how often, whether they should have one speaker or several, how often they should celebrate the Lord’s Supper, conditions on church membership, etc. I’m sure Peter, Paul, John, and all the others administered these things with differences between them.


Where there is the same Spirit and the same Lord, men do not need to be scrupulous about visible conformity. In fact, elasticity and proper individual initiative admit of entire harmony of principle.


Such was the catholicism of the apostolic age, catholic meaning universal church as a whole. Yet this was soon lost to the detriment of the church, lessening its impact.  


By the second century (2nd and 3rd generation) unity of administration and outward appearance were beginning to be strictly imposed.


Once the desire for outward conformity became entrenched, its enforcement increased greatly.


If someone from the second century, in the interests of catholic unity as it was then understood to be much more so in administration and outward appearance, had written verse 21, he would have never left out the definite article.


Eph 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;


Eph 2:22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.


2:21 literally reads “in whom ‘a’ whole building.” Paul did not attach a definite article to the subject which emphasizes the quality of the building over the identity of it.


In the next few centuries the church would become much more concerned with the identity of the building.


From that time onwards, as the system of the ecclesiastical hierarchy was developed, external unity was more and more strictly imposed.


The original “diversity of operations” became a rigid uniformity, enforced by an ecclesiastical hierarchy. The Church swallowed up the churches.


Finally, the spiritual bureaucracy of Rome gathered all ecclesiastical power into one center, and placed the direction of Western Christendom in the hands of a single priest, whom it declared to be the Vicar of Jesus Christ and endowed with the divine attribute of infallibility.


Had not Jerusalem been overthrown and the church in that city destroyed, then Jerusalem rather than Rome might have become the center of a church hierarchy. It was certainly the tendency of the Judaistic Christians to desire a center of their own where they could dictate conformity, which would have also imposed Mosaic Laws upon its members and other churches.


Paul was adamant in his ministry for the freedom of Gentiles not to conform to Jewish customs or any Mosaic Law ritual. Added to that, the fact that no church administration was given in the recorded scripture, you can see that God desired individual churches based on the same truth concerning Christ, based on grace, love, and all the essence of God, instructing all its members in the inerrant, inspired scriptures, reaching out to their neighbors with the one true gospel, and yet each one unique in the details of administration.


“built together” – sumarmologeo = fitly framed together. This word has the echo of Paul’s churches along with Peter’s, John’s, and others “fitting together” or being “framed together.”


Co-operation of the different parts of the body of Christ is essential to their collective growth. Let all churches beware of crushing dissent in unimportant things. Blows aimed at our Christian neighbors recoil upon ourselves. Undermining the foundation of other Christian churches, we shake our own.


Next to the corruption of doctrine and life, nothing hinders so greatly the progress of the kingdom of God as the claim to exclusive legitimacy made on behalf of ancient church organizations. It has presented to the world a divided church at war with itself.


Their representatives would have every part of God’s temple framed upon one administrative pattern. They refuse a place on the apostolic foundation to churches who do not conform to the rules that they themselves have received, however clear the marks those churches bear of the Spirit’s seal, however numerous and rich in faith are the good works that they do.


Mind you, we are not talking about differences in the foundational truths of the faith. These wars are fought on the basis of human conjecture doctrines, also known as fringe doctrines (baptism by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion).


Would one church’s rites and ministries be the only ones approved by Christ and authorized by His apostles in any given area? Some refuse the right hand of fellowship to others who are doing Christ’s work right by their side. The motive for this is often the selfish and prideful reason of wanting to believe that only you do things right and that all should do things your way.


Should we prefer conquest to peace within the body of Christ, God’s household?


Rom 14:1 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.


Rom 14:2 One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.


Paul is not saying that vegetarians are weak. The weak one is the person who alters his diet due to false doctrinal conclusions. He will learn, and because he is a believer, he is a child of God, a part of God’s household, and God has accepted him.


Meat from animals sacrificed to idols is no longer an issue in our part of the world. But there is always something that is at issue. Tee-totalism became one such issue


Rom 14:3 Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.


Rom 14:4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.


The Lord has the power to make him stand because he is a servant of God. One commentator adds “if you judge him,” to the truth that the Lord is able to make him stand. That is not necessary, nor is it stated as a truth that if discipline was coming my way for my good, and you judged me that my discipline was removed. Why would God do that when I need that discipline? We all reap what we sow. If we judge we will reap the consequences or corruption.


Rom 14:5 One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind.


Not: “Let each man conform with the other.”


Rom 14:6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.


Each are convinced that he is acting in accordance with the will of the Lord. If you lambast a man for “not eating” will he see the truth? Often people are shamed into conforming to non-important things, but without understanding, without seeing the truth, what I do or not do concerning unimportant things such as eating and drinking will always be done for the wrong reasons.


God must show us the truth and through Him alone we must become fully convinced in our own minds, but we must be ready, or changed enough, to see.


Rom 14:7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;


Rom 14:8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.


How could that be summed up any simpler or complete?


Rom 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.


Rom 14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.


Rom 14:11 For it is written,

"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,

And every tongue shall give praise to God."


Rom 14:12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.


Rom 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this —  not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.


Rom 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.


Rom 14:15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.


Rom 14:16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;


Rom 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.


Rom 14:18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.


Rom 14:19 So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.


Rom 14:20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.


Rom 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.


Rom 14:22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.


Rom 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.


© Grace and Truth Ministries / Pastor Joseph Sugrue • cgtruth.org • All rights reserved.