The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
July 22, 2012


1) Ephesians 4:1-4 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Ephesians 4:1-4
by Tom Edwards

In view of God who can do abundantly more for us than all we could ask or think, Paul gives this following exhortation: "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:1-3).  

As noted recently, Paul is a "prisoner of the Lord" in the sense of being under house-arrest for serving Christ, and it was during that two-year period in Rome that Paul wrote this "prison epistle."

He begins this chapter by exhorting the Ephesians to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling...."  The term "walk" is often used in the gospel to figuratively express how we are to live.  For instance: We are to "not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).  We are to "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7).  We are to "walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma" (Eph. 5:2).  We are to "walk according to the pattern..." (Phil. 3:17), and we are to "walk in the light as He Himself is in the light..." (1 Jn. 1:7).  We are to "walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 Jn. 2:6) by "walk[ing] according to His commandments..." (2 Jn. 1:6).  This is how the Christian grows in the Lord.  It is what will make his life complete; and, therefore, what Paul had prayed for the brethren that they would "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col. 1:9,10).  

In Ephesians 4:2, Paul shows some other things that are to characterize our walk.  He first mentions that it is to be "with all humility."  Many versions also render this as "lowliness."  Even though he could perform incredible miracles by the power of God, the apostle Paul still demonstrated humility in his life.  He had not become egotistical nor arrogant.  Notice, for example, Acts 20:18-21: "...'You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."   In 2 Corinthians 12:7, we see of one way in which God had helped Paul to remain humble, after he had been "caught up to the third heaven...into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak" (vv. 2,4): "Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!"

Think, too, of what a great man Moses was.  He had a couple million people under his leadership.  Yet, the Bible refers to him in Numbers 12:3 as being "very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth."

Humility is to govern our lives as well: "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3,4).  So we have the responsibility of developing humility, along with various other good qualities, as also seen in Colossians 3:12-14, where the instruction is to "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity."

The importance of humility can also be seen in 1 Peter 5:5-7: "You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."  We should not want to disappoint our heavenly Father.  

Along with the humility is "gentleness" (Eph. 4:2), which some versions render as "meekness."  Thayer defines the Greek word (prautes) as "mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness."  Also commenting on this word, Albert Barnes writes: "Meekness relates to the manner in which we receive injuries. We are to bear them patiently, and not to retaliate, or seek revenge. ...we adorn the gospel when we show its power in enabling us to bear injuries without anger or a desire of revenge, or with a mild and forgiving spirit...."

This is certainly how meekness was demonstrated in the life of Jesus.  Rather than lashing out at those who were ridiculing Him while suffering on the cross, or just saying the word that would have destroyed them all, Jesus prayed, "...'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing'..." (Luke 23:34).  In speaking of the Lord, Peter declares, "and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Pet. 2:23).

Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23), and it is also needful in restoring the fallen and correcting others.  For instance: "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted" (Gal. 6:1).  Also, 2 Timothy 2:24-26: "The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will."

Gentleness is also necessary when setting forth a good reason for why we believe in God and His promises, according to 1 Peter 3:15.  It states, "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."

Also mentioned, along with humility and gentleness, is "patience" (Eph. 4:2), which, too, is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).  The primary meaning of "patience" is "the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, or anger" (Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary). 

We often think of Job as being a wonderful example of patience.  For after he had lost so much -- his children, his servants, his livestock, his health -- and his body was sore with boils from head to toe, Job still maintained his faith in God.  After the first set of tragedies, which included the death of Job's children, notice how Job reacted in Job 1:20: "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped."  As you read that verse, you almost expect the last word to be "wept" or "mourned" (which is not to say that he didn't); and if Job had simply been like many people today, it might say "cursed" or "blamed God"; but what is emphasized that Job did?   He "worshiped."  Note what the passage goes on to say in Job 1:21,22: "He said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.'  Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God."  And when Job himself was in such a deplorable state with sore boils from head to toe, to the point that his friends did not even recognize him (Job 2:12), and his own wife wanting him to simply end his life, look at the godly attitude he still maintained in Job 2:9,10: "Then his wife said to him, 'Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!'  But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?'  In all this Job did not sin with his lips."

Paul then also instructs in Ephesians 4:2 that we are to show "tolerance for one another in love."  This is also implied in other passages as well.  For instance, Romans 15:1: "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves." Galatians 6:2: "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ."

In Ephesians 4:3, Paul focuses on "the unity of the Spirit."  Notice the care they are to have in sustaining that.  He tells them to be "diligent to preserve" it.  So it is something that needs to be fervently and continually maintained.  

Note, too, that the "bond of peace" is needful for that unity.  So though it is important to be doctrinally sound and united in that, it is also important to have harmonious peace in maintaining that, which also requires love.  For Paul shows that we are to serve one another "through love" (Gal. 5:13), which is "the perfect bond of unity" (Col. 3:14).  

In realizing that Jesus prayed for unity among His people (John 17:20-22), and that He also died to make that unity possible (Eph. 2:14-16), one should have even more incentive toward striving to maintain that among the brethren.  But that hasn't always been the case.  For example, the Corinthians had had a divisive, party spirit, for which Paul rebuked them: "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10).  

Notice what Paul now goes on to say in Ephesians 4:4-6: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."

This passage surely makes a good argument for why peace and love should prevail between Jew and Gentile in the church -- for we are all of the one body, the one Spirit, the one Lord, the one hope, the one God and Father, and the one faith. Christians are to be one in Christ.  

Almost universally, people (who say they believe the gospel) state that there is only ONE GOD, ONE LORD, and ONE SPIRIT.   But just as this passage teaches that truth, it also shows there is just ONE BODY, ONE HOPE, ONE BAPTISM, and ONE FAITH.  But these are what many people have wrongfully changed (according to their beliefs) to "many different bodies," "many different hopes," "many different baptisms," and "many different faiths." 

What is the "one body" that Paul is speaking of in Ephesians 4:4?  It is the church.  Paul declares, "He [Christ] is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything" (Col. 1:18).  "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" (v. 24).   "...and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body..." (Eph. 1:22,23).  

As we think about the singular nature of the "one body, the church," consider what Jesus states in Matthew 16:18: "...I will build My church...."  How many churches did Jesus say He would build?  Just one.  We can also see from Ephesians 5:23 the urgent need everyone has  to be in this "one body, the church."  For "...the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."  Since Christ is the Savior of the body, then shouldn't each person be concerned about being in that body?  For the church is the saved, those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  

From what the Bible teaches, we must strive for unity and help people out of the error of denominationalism and into the oneness of the gospel.  As we saw in 1 Corinthians 1:10, "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment."  Though Paul said this before the time of any denominations, the point is still applicable.  Since this is what God teaches toward divisions in the church, how much more so does the Lord disapprove of the numerous denominations of our time, with their own particular man-made creeds?  There are so many conflicting teachings that abound in the religious world today -- but "...God is not the author of confusion..." (1 Cor. 14:33).   It should, therefore, be the desire of every person to want to discard the human creeds and get back to just the Bible for what is to be believed and practiced, so that we may all be of that one church that the Bible sets forth.  Note also the context of 1 Corinthians 1:10, verses 11-13: "For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.'  Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"  Doesn't this remind you of those who would call themselves "Lutherans," or "Wesleyans," or after some other man, rather than after Christ? Paul was striving to help the Corinthians be aware of the wrongful division that existed among them and to help them back to the way of unity in Jesus.  We need to each be concerned about that as well.

So, in view of these passages, how could anyone ever justify denominationalism? Remember, Jesus prayed for unity (Jn. 17) and even died a torturous death in order to make that possible (Eph. 2).  Therefore, if denominationalism is okay, with all its different and conflicting doctrines, then there was no need for Jesus to pray for unity. But did He pray that for no reason at all?

One more thing to note about most denominations, in general, is that they are not even teaching what a sinner must actually do to be saved.  For they are not teaching the correct purpose for water baptism, which, according to the Scriptures, is essential for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), to be put into Christ and become a new creature (Gal. 3:26,27; 2 Cor. 5:7; Jn. 3:3-5), to be able to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3,4), and to be saved from past sin (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  So how could a group be a church of the Lord, if they are not even teaching what God's word shows is necessary to have sins forgiven and become a Christian?  

May we each, therefore, look intently into God's word, understand it, believe it, accept it, and obey it.  In order that we will become simply Christians who have been cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus and added to His church by God Himself (Acts 2:47).  And then, in beginning that new life in Christ, find a sound congregation to be a member of and work with, and strive to maintain a faithful relationship with God on that road that leads to eternal life (cf. Rev. 2:10; Heb. 10:36-39).    


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be praying for Cheryl Crews who has been having various health problems.  And also for Jean Calloway who is healing from a foot injury, Jean's son Chucky who broke his leg, Shirley Young who has fibromyalgia, and Kelly Anderson who is seeking employment and having job interviews.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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