Ephesians overview – 4:1-3, The Way of Christ’s Life.

Tuesday September 15, 2020


Everything in Eph 1-3:13 was the background. Blessed, elected, predestined, graced out, redeemed, forgiven, wisdom, insight (understanding the mystery of His will), possessing an inheritance, seeing His glory, sealed by the HS, the fulness of Christ, made alive together with Him, risen together with Him, seated together with Him, made for good works, full access by the HS, of God’s household, new men, established in peace, enlightened by the mystery of Christ, knowing the unfathomable riches of Christ, and bold access to the throne of God.


For three chapters Paul has been unfolding for his readers the eternal purpose of God. Through Jesus Christ, the mystery unfolded – He died for sinners and was raised from the dead and by Him God the Father created something new: a new humanity and a new society for them. Paul sees the alienated humanity reconciled to God, the fractured humanity being united, and a new humanity being created.


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


He turns from what God has done in the indicative to what we must do in the imperative, from doctrine to duty. As one writer put it, from the credenda (creed) to the agenda. It is from mind-stretching theology to its down-to-earth, concrete implications in everyday living.


The first sentence of the way of the life of Christ: Eph 4:1-3.


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.


The first guideline drawn by Paul concerning lives worthy of our calling is mutual relations between members of the Christian society.


Worthy manner: first –  humility and gentleness in our dealings with one another, along with patience and mutual forbearance and tolerance.


As in many societies, the Greeks despised tapeinotes, humility. They never used the word in the context of approval, still less of admiration. They would however use it of slaves; abject, servile, subservient attitude. This they despised. It was inconsistent with that self-respect which every true man owed himself.


But then Jesus Christ came, God/Man, and revealed true humility. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Only He set before us the model of a little child, significantly revealing it in one of the only glimpses we have of Him as a child, at 12 years-old, sitting before the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.


The humility of Jesus led Him to empty Himself of the expression of His deity and become a servant, Phi 2:3-8.


A larger life than the individual is the harmony and unity of the Christian society, based upon faith in the doctrines exposed in the Bible.


Psa 110:1-3

The Lord says to my Lord:

"Sit at My right hand,

Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet."

2 The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying,

"Rule in the midst of Thine enemies."

3 Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power [not forced into service];

In holy array [common phrase for the dress of priests], from the womb of the dawn,

Thy youth are to Thee as the dew.


“They are like the dew sparkling in infinite goblets on every blade of grass, handing gems on every bit of dead wood, formed in secret silence, reflecting the sunlight, and, though the single drops be small and feeble, yet together refreshing a thirsty world. So, formed by an unseen and mysterious power, one by one insignificant, but in the whole mighty, mirroring God and quickening and beautifying the worn world, the servants of the Priest-King are to be “in the midst of many people like the dew from the Lord.”” [Alexander Maclaren]


Pride, conceit, and a low view of the truth all create an atmosphere rife with contention.


1Co 3:1-4

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men?


The man of lowly mind habitually feels his dependence as a creature and his unworthiness as a sinner before God. This spirit nourishes in him a wholesome self-distrust, and watch fullness over his temper and motives. 


Humility, lowliness of mind, is essential to unity. Pride lurks behind every discord.


Vanity is a key factor in all our relationships.


Conceit in Phi 2:3 is derived from a word that means to seek to win followers. It means ambition, self-seeking, and rivalry.


Phi 2:3-4

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.


If instead of maneuvering for the respect of others we give them our respect by loving them as God does, recognizing their intrinsic value as God’s children, and even in the case of unbelievers, God’s creatures, slaves in Adam for whom He died, then we promote harmony and peace. It is not a guarantee that they will respond with peace, but that is God’s problem and not ours.


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. Pastors are to use their authority only in a spirit of gentleness. All Christians in a position of authority are to do the same.


Humility and gentleness are obviously a natural couple. The meek man thinks little of his personal claims, as the humble man of his personal merits.


Jesus described Himself with these two words:


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.”


What is the yoke of the humble and gentle? Obedience to God and love of mankind. He promises that this will give rest to our souls.


Self-importance, the love of office and power, and the craving for applause must be put away, if we are to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  


Patience and forbearance are also a natural pair. Longsuffering toward people and mutual tolerance.


These two oppose a cause of division somewhat different from the last. A high Christian ideal and a strict self-judgment will render us more sensitive to wrong-doing in the world around us, and in the body of Christ. Unless tempered with abundant charity, they may lead to harsh and one sided reproof.


Humbleness and meekness are self-regarding virtues and can be found in a cold nature that is long and difficult to forgive others. A humble believer may have little patience with another’s infirmities.


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.


The verb parakaleo is in the first person singular, as it must be, but to it Paul adds the personal pronoun ego (I). In English we have to write the pronoun, but in Greek it is not necessary, which provides a marvelous vehicle for emphasis.


“ego” – I [entreat] = emphatic personal pronoun. He doesn’t need to use it, but does to emphasize his authority as apostle.


So Paul is not using the imperative here, command, but is calling to us as one member of the body to another, after completing his incredible first three chapters, exhorting us to live our lives in a worthy manner of our calling. It is obvious that we have to choose to do so, and Paul exhorts us as Christ’s prisoner to be diligent to do so.


As in 3:1, he again describes himself as a prisoner of the Lord. He is both a prisoner of Christ and a prisoner for Christ. In 3:1 Paul uses the genitive “of” the Lord or emphasizing belonging to the Lord, and in 4:1 he uses the dative, or indirect object with the preposition en, meaning “in the Lord.” He is a prisoner of Christ and for Christ, and in both ways bound to Christ by chains of love and in custody out of loyalty to Christ’s gospel. From this position he begs the church to live a life worthy of its calling.


“walk” – peripateo = our lifestyle. Walk worthy of God (1Th 2:12), of the Lord (Col 1:10), walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16), walk as children of light (Eph 5:8), walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4), walk by faith (2Co 5:7).


There are others.

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