Friday, August 12, 2016

Ephesians 4:1–6

1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as 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 above all, and through all, and in you all.

Vs. 1 "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called"

The Apostle Paul now addressing himself as the prisoner of the Lord, (also see 3:1), beseech's (i.e. exhort, encourage, NKJ margin) each and every one of us to walk worthy of the calling with which we are called. Now to walk worthy means living worthily, and not because of the Apostle Paul's imprisonment, rather because of the calling with which we are called. Now calling here is referring not just to salvation; though God first calls us to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ into His salvation (Rom 1:5-6; 1 Cor 1:9); calling here is the entirety of what we have and receive in belonging to Christ. For we have been called into a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1) which is also referred to as a holy calling (2 Tim 1:9). And so we don't just receive salvation through the grace of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and then go on living ungodly lives (consider 2 Tim 2:19). For God's calling us to Himself through Christ is calling us out of sin and death and into life, Christ's life. Who is dwelling in us, and is being manifested through us to the glory of God, when we walk worthy of this holy and heavenly calling, which itself will stir up opposition and persecution towards everyone who believes in and seeks to obey the Gospel of Christ. And so in this calling with which we are called there is both fullness of life and abundance of joys, but also trials, tribulations, and persecutions, which we all must patiently endure while we seek to faithfully follow Christ, who has called us and redeemed us for Himself. Therefore if you are being faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and are obeying His calling for you, and yet have run into strong opposition to your doing so, don't be discouraged, be encouraged, for just as they persecuted the Lord Jesus Christ (and all the saints down through the centuries) so they will also persecute you, but with Christ you will overcome.

Vs. 2  "with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,"

The Apostle Paul now tells us the manner of person and life that Christ is seeking to find in us all. Three things he then gives us that should mark our persons and fellowship and thus our relationships with each other and all. First up is lowliness, we might better understand this as humility which is the opposite of being arrogant, haughty, or proud, which only breeds contempt and scorn for others on the one hand (consider Prov 21:24), while often exemplifying ones own fierceness, impatience, and wrath through it on the other (consider Isaiah 16:6), all which only leads them into greater sins, which will end in their own fall and ruin (Prov 16:18, 18:12; 21:4; 29:23). And so rather than being proud which is the state of the ungodly (Psalm 10:4; 123:4) who will have the wrath of God visited upon themselves (Psalm 18:27; 101:5; Prov. 15:25; 16:5; Isaiah 2:10-12; 10:33; 13:11; Jeremiah 50:31; Ezekiel 18:49-50; Zephaniah 3:11; also consider Job 40:7-14, vs 11), we ought to take the path of lowliness (consider Isaiah 66:2; James 4:6). For truly our Lord and Savior led the way by first taking the path of lowliness for us all when He took on human flesh and dwelt amongst us, and not as one lording His Authority and Privilege over us, though He is Lord of us all, rather Jesus came in form of a Servant to restore us all who believe in Him back to God (see Mark 10:42-45).

In Philippians 2:3 the Apostle Paul gives us an exhortation which captures the essence of what he is saying here, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." The Apostle Peter likewise says that we should all be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5, also see Col 3:12). Now in commending us all to lowliness we should not think of this as being some sort of self imposed abasement (i.e. asceticism, see Col. 2:20-23). Rather true humility (and thus lowliness as it's outworking) begins within, when we have a right and sound perspective about ourselves and others in relation to God Himself. And thus we see ourselves and our own failings before we see and become critical or angry with others faults and failings. Thus lowliness is a state of mind by which God opens the door of our hearts to see not just the faults and failings of ourselves or others, but rather the uniqueness and great value He places on ourselves and others as all beloved by God, and thus all freely offered salvation from God through Christ.
Gentleness: Linked to lowliness is gentleness, because these two qualities are not only a perfect marriage, just like love and kindness are, but both represent and perfectly reflect the disposition of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in His dealings with us, and with all. And so if lowliness (humility) is the clear and unobstructed lens through which we are to see each other, then gentleness is how we are to reach out to each other, and handle each other (2 Cor 10:1; Gal. 6:1; 1 Tim 6:11).
Longsuffering: As much as lowliness and gentleness are wonderful traits that we all need to embrace and seek too exemplify in our own lives and relations, longsuffering (i.e. long suffering patience) is the mark of a mature and well grounded and balanced Christian (consider Ecc. 7:8). And so rather than being quick to wrath, which is the way of folly (Prov. 12:16), we need to follow the Scriptural counsel of the Apostle James who says, "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
Which leads us into: "bearing with one another in love" because neither you, nor I have attained, nor have we been perfected, yet (Phil 3:12-14). And so as we are all journeying homeward (and are at different stages in our faith and lives) we allow people to have their own personality quirks and nuances, likes and dislikes, and thus our love for them is not conditional on whether they are conformed to us, rather it is Christ whom we are all to follow. I like how the Believers Bible Commentary states it; "It means positive love to those who irritate, disturb, or embarrass."

Vs. 3 "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." 

If we remember that lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering patience and bearing with each other in love is how we are to conduct ourselves towards each other (vs. 2), then bearing (that is continually strive, work hard at) keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace becomes far more important than propagating ones own views and opinions about non-essential things. Now there is a unity that we who believe In Christ all have, it's inherent to us by indwelling Presence of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit, and so in Christ's Body there is no divisions or denominations, for we are all one people united with God through Christ who is the Head of the Body, that is His church and that's the Spiritual reality whose everlasting bonds cannot be altered, nor broken, by anyone or anything (Rom 8:31-39). That said there is the natural realm in which we currently reside with this hidden treasure of Christ inside us. And so that is the realm in which Satan and his emissaries seek to sow their discord, disruptions and disharmony amongst believers in every generation so as to try to undermine the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ, as well as interfere with the peaceful and fruitful fellowship and relationships with each other that we who believe In Christ all long for with each other. Thus we have the exhortation here to endeavor, (to continually strive) to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, because that our the front line of defense against Satan's schemes. And so it is we only have external divisions in Christendom when there is either heresy; that is false brethren break away from the true faith and seek to establish there own interpretations of it, and thus they pervert and distort it to their own ruin (2 Peter 3:14-16; 1 John 2:18-19; 2 John 9-11 etc.); or more often than not believers (whether in this generation or previous generations) have let their own opinions about non-essential things take a place in the local church, or in the faith, that such insignificant things they have no business taking, and thus we end up with needless divisions and denominations in the visible church through the doctrines, commandments, and traditions of men.
And so rather then holding fast to these as if ones salvation was linked to them, we all ought to hold onto the simplicity that is Christ, rather than them, and thus let us all endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, rather than the traditions, doctrines and commandments of men.

Vs. 4-6 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as 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 above all, and through all, and in you all.

Notice the theme of one, beginning with one body of believers of which everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ belongs too. There are then no exceptions if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ then you are a member of His Body, His Spirit inside us then giving the undeniable witness to this fact (Rom 8:16). One Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God who has regenerated us and is renewing us as new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17; Titus 3:4-7), for He has already brought us into everlasting life with Christ and each other, and sealed us all for eternity the moment we believed (2 Cor 1:21-22; Eph 1:13-14; 4:30). As well it is by the same Spirit of God that we are Spiritual equipped and enabled to serve Christ and each other with various Spirit given gifts (1 Cor 12:4-11). One hope and one calling, there is only One Gospel by which we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ have all received remission of all our sins and everlasting life the moment we believed. Anyone who preaches another Jesus, or another Gospel, is accursed by God (2 Cor 11:3-4, 13-15; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 John 9-11).
One Lord who is above all, over all, and is the Head of us all who believe in Him (1 Cor. 11:3; Col. 1:18). And so the Lord in the O.T. Scriptures is the same Lord in the New Testament Scriptures.
One faith, that does not change; just as the Lord Himself does not change (Heb. 1:12; 13:8). And so it there is just one faith that we are all commanded to believe, obey, and follow (John 3:35-36; 2 Cor 10:5-6; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 1:5; Rom. 16:25-26), whose commands, decrees and directives are clearly given to us all in the N.T. Scriptures that also reveal to us all God's eternal salvation is offered to one and to all through God's grace by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's Person (Eph 2:8-9). And so there is just one faith that we must all believe, obey, and proclaim, which again is given to us all in the New Testament Scriptures, and thus the New Covenant is how we are too minister the Gospel, for we are bound to God through Christ by it (2 Cor 3:5-6, 9; Heb. 8:13, 9:14-15; 12:24).
One baptism, not the mode or means of water baptism, but the baptism of the Spirit of the God who Baptizes us into Christ's Body, and unites us with Christ in His Death, Burial and Resurrection Life (Rom 6) so that not only have been been freed from the clutches of sin and death which found it's strength in the law (Rom 7:4-6; 1 Cor 15:56), but we have been brought into an entirely new sphere, the church, the fullness of Christ's Body who fills and all (Eph 1:23).
One God and Father of all (1 Cor 8:6), who is above all, and through all, and in you all. There is then just One God and Father of us all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 8:15; 1 Cor 8:6). Who is above all, that is God our Father is above every principality and power and dominion and might, (whether in the visible or invisible realms) not only in this age, but also in the age to come. Now just as He is above all things, since He created all things, and even creates all things (Isiah 45:7) so He is made known to all things through all things which He has created or creates. In this God is working through us all who believe in His Son, just as He is in us all who believe in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. For we are individually the Temple of the Lord who now dwells in our mortal bodies (1 Cor 3:16; 6:16). Thus the Oneness of fellowship with God our Father that was broken when Adam and Eve sinned has been restored to us all who believe in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:20-26). For Jesus Christ was Crucified for all our sins and three days later He rose from the dead for our justification, and thus Jesus suffered and died and was raised to life from the dead for our eternal redemption. Now if you have not yet received the Lord Jesus Christ for yourselves please do so now. By faith in the Lord Jesus' Person you can have remission of all your sins and everlasting life as well, all it takes is repentance and faith. Now repentance always begins with a change of mind (i.e. heart), for that is what begins ones turning away from ones own wayward ways and turning back too God just as the prodigal Son did (please read Luke 15:11-32). For God Himself is longsuffering and merciful towards us all and is not willing that any of us should perish but rather that we all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). The choice then is ours to turn away from our own wayward ways by which we have deceived ourselves into thinking we will be alright while we are openly and knowingly living hostile towards the Will and the Word of God by following our own sinful hearts wills and desires, which if we continue to pursue and justify in this world will only end up in our own eternal destruction and ruin (Matt. 18:7-9). And so rather than running headstrong against God, let us all who have eyes to see, and sense enough to believe, turn back too God while we can (Isaiah 55:6-7). For God is fully willing and totally able to not only forgive us of all our sins and transgressions, but He will also heal us and restore us to Himself, and life itself, through Christ Jesus Himself when we repent and believe in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ through His Gospel. Therefore if you want to begin a new life, cleansed and freed from all that once held you into sins bondage then please turn to God and by faith receive the Lord Jesus Christ for yourselves without any sort of reservations, or asking Him to meet any sort preconditions, and instead just open your heart to God through the Lord Jesus Christ by praying something like this: Dear Lord Jesus I believe in You and I want to receive You as my Lord and Savior, for You are the Lord and Savior and Redeemer of everyone who believes in You, who trusts only You Crucified for our sins and Risen from the dead for our justification. Therefore I now invite You into my heart and life to be my Lord and Savior for all eternity, because I want Life with You and from You and so I commit my whole person and life to You because I believe in You Lord Jesus Christ, therefore I now receive You as my Lord and Savior In Jesus' Name, amen.

Scripture Quotations 
The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Th 1:3–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Additional Resources Consulted
MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1933). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

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