Pastor Jeremy M. Thomas
Fredericksburg Bible Church
107 East Austin
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
C0447 -- Dec. 08, 2004 – book Eph. 4:1-6 – Exhortation toward and Basis of Unity
Chapters 4-6 introduce the practical section of Ephesians while chapters 1-3 were doctrinal. Paul always gives the doctrine first and then follows that with the practical. For example, this is his structure in the book of Romans. Chapters 1-11 are doctrinal and chapters 12-16 are the practical outworking of the doctrine. In Ephesians chapters 1-3 Paul gives only 1 command, in chapters 4-6 he gives 40 commands. There is a clear shift. However, “In the mind of Paul doctrine and ethics go hand in hand.”i One cannot separate doctrine from ethics in such a way as to give the idea that one is sufficient without the other. One must not merely study doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, but he must balance this with a study of the practical outworking of the doctrine. Doctrine and practice must go together. Throughout chapters 4-6 Paul stresses the believer’s “walk” which is a metaphor for Christian conduct or lifestyle. Rather than looking at the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous we might say this is Paul’s portrait of the Lifestyle of the Christian.
Paul’s teaching on the unity of Jew and Gentile in one body is the primary stimulus for the practical ramifications of this union here on earth. We must have the knowledge of the unity of Jew and Gentile if we are to be able to practice the following commands. Paul is not presenting some abstract morality; something that you can remember and live out independent of history. Paul is grounding Christian ethics firmly in history. The way you want to think about Ephesians is basically in terms of several key historic events mentioned in chapters 1-3. 1) The Eternal Plan of God and His Sovereignty, 2) God’s Pre-Planned World History (1:3-14), 3) the Fall of Satan and Man which caused division and strife among the human race (2:1-3), 4) the hostility between Jew and Gentile (2:11-12) 5) the Cross and Man’s Salvation which restores unity for believing Jews and Gentiles (2:13-23; 3:2-13). These historic events are the pegs you want to hang the practical applications on. We might put it this way, when you are struggling to “love” your fellow Christian you ought to train yourself to think back to the hostility between Jew and Gentile that preceded the cross of Christ and how Christ created unity between Jews and Gentiles. The death of Christ is the historic event that should come to mind. That’s the historic peg you should hang your hat on so that you can get re-oriented in your thinking and “loving” your fellow Christian.
There is a lot of practical stuff in Ephesians. “In fact, Ephesians contains more specific practical applications for daily life than any other NT book.”ii
A. Walking in Unity (4:1-16)
Now, in chapter 4:1-6, in light of our positional unity with believing Jews and Gentiles Paul exhorts us to walk in unity with one another. Then he reveals the basis for this unity in vv. 4-6 as the Triune God. Next week we will look at vv. 7-16 where the topic is diversity within the church. Just like there is unity and diversity in the Trinity there is unity and diversity in the church. The church is a reflection of the Triune God.
1. Exhortation to Unity (4:1-3)
Greek Text 4:1 Parakalo (verb 1SPAI) oun (coord conj) humas (pronoun 2PPP) ego (verb 1SPAI) ho desmios (adj NSM) en (prep) kurio (noun DSM) axios (adverb) peripatesai (AAInf) tes kleseos (noun GSF) es (relative pronoun) eklethete (verb 2PAPI),
Translation 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, exhort you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called,
Parakalo oun humas ego, “Therefore I exhort you”. The first three Greek words are also used in Romans 12:1 and 1 Cor. 4:16. In Romans 12:1 it follows a doxology (11:33-36) just like here in Ephesians (2:20-21). Whenever we see oun “therefore” we have to ask what is it there for. It is there to refer back to everything in chapters 1-3. This is Paul’s way of linking what follows to the previous doctrinal discourse. Paul wants to draw inferences from the doctrine. If X is true then Y should follow. The ego “I” obviously refers to Paul and personalizes the exhortation. Paul is the one who is in prison because of the will of God. Most translations say something like I implore you or I entreat you. This is not as strong as the Greek intends. To get the full flavor of the original text it would be better to translate it I exhort you urgently. The key idea here is that Paul is authoritatively exhorting the Ephesian believers toward action. In light of what you now know I exhort you to act on that knowledge. These are Paul’s friends but just because people are friends does not remove the need for authoritative exhortation. Indeed, close friendship makes authoritative exhortation more effective!
ho desmios en kurio, “the prisoner in the Lord,”. This is similar to Paul’s designation in 3:1 as the prisoner of Christ Jesus but is a little different because he doesn’t use Christ Jesus here but Lord and doesn’t use the genitive (of) but the dative (in). The difference is that in 3:1 Paul was emphasizing that he was a prisoner because of Christ whereas here in 4:1 Paul is emphasizing his union with the Lord. Lord refers to the person of Christ throughout the epistle (2:21; 4:17; 5:8; 6:1, 10, 21). In other words, Paul’s union with the Lord (4:1) led to obedience to the Lord which in turn led to being imprisoned because of Christ (3:1). Because Paul’s readers are united with Christ they too should learn to be obedient to Christ whatever it may cost them! No Christian should ever compromise the will of God!
axios peripatesai tes kleseos es eklethete, “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called,”. to walk is the Greek infinitive peripateo and is a metaphor for “conduct or lifestyle”. Paul clearly has in mind a change of “lifestyle or conduct” that should result from the doctrine in chapters 1-3. Christians are not to go on living the same way they lived before they became Christians (2:1-3). Nor are they to attain some level of maturity and then stabilize. They are to continually be undergoing a change of “lifestyle or conduct”. No living Christian has attained total perfection. The adverb axios (in a manner) speaks about the way in which we’re supposed to walk. We’re supposed to walk in a suitable manner or in a manner worthy of our calling. Our conduct should be consistent with our calling, our life with our lip, our duty with our doctrine, our walk with our talk, works with our words. It seems obvious that a Christian should live as a Christian and not like the world but it seems we need a never-ending reminder of this principle. The noun calling (klesis) and its verbal form appears in 4:1 and in 4:4. We first saw this noun in Paul’s first prayer in 1:18 where he prayed that we might know the hope of His calling. Calling means “to be invited or summoned” and is closely related to election. The difference is that election occurs outside of time and calling occurs within time. Calling is the in time manifestation of God’s before time choice. For example, if you were planning a party election would correspond to who you decided to invite to the party. Then you would make the invitations and send them in the mail. Calling would correspond to the moment the individual received the invitation. The call to come to the party was actually made when the person received the invitation and not when the decision was made to invite them to the party. In this context calling refers not only to our call to salvation but also being called into one body, the Church since you were put in the church at the moment you believed. Therefore, the call to walk in a manner worthy of the calling refers not only to the individual believer but to the corporate body of believers. with which you were called is passive in voice meaning that the call to salvation came from outside of you. God is the one who actively calls individuals to salvation and into the one body, the Church. you were called is an aorist ingressive signaling that a change is supposed to take place in your lifestyle because you were called.
Greek Text 4:2 meta (prep) pases (adj GSF) tapeinophrosunes (noun GSF) kai (conj) prautetos (noun GSF), meta (conj) makrothumias (noun GSF), anekomenoi (PMPart NPM) allelon (pronoun GSM) en (prep) agape (noun DSF),
Translation 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, enduring one another in love,
meta pases tapeinophrosunes kai prautetos, “with all humility and gentleness,”. In this verse Paul uses two prepositional phrases. Both begin with the preposition with. He’s describing the quality of walk and rather than using imperative verbs he uses prepositional phrases which function like imperatives. He uses the preposition meta which is almost identical to the preposition sun but sun is more related to intimate personal communion (Col. 3:4) and meta with close association or attendant circumstances (1 Thess. 3:13). In other words, our walk should be characterized by humility and gentleness. These words have English meanings that do not necessarily correspond to what Paul intended to communicate so these word studies are helpful. We can’t read our English understanding into these words or we’ll get confused.
Humility was not considered a virtue in the ancient world. In fact, this word did not even exist before NT times. Epictetus said that humility was “first among the qualities not to be commended.”iii But Paul mentions humility first of all. Humility stands in contrast to pride. Humility produces unity, pride produces division. Why does Paul mention humility first in his list? Probably to emphasize unity. Humility engenders unity and the Church was formed because Our Lord displayed humility by going to the cross (Eph. 2:16; Phil. 2:5-8). (Word Picture - Obedience to Point of Death)
Philippians 2:5-8 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 6 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
There can be no Church apart from the cross of Christ and their can be no cross of Christ apart from Christ’s humbling Himself. Therefore, Paul mentions humility first of all because humility engenders unity. Christ is the supreme example of humility. He demonstrated humility by being obedient. We also demonstrate humility by being obedient. Obedience to a higher authority produces harmony and unity. When we disobey we demonstrate pride which causes strife and division.
POINTS OF IMPORTANCE
1. Supreme example of humility is Christ
2. Humility is demonstrated by obedience to one’s authorities
3. Humility results in harmony and unity
* The opposite of humility is pride
1. Supreme example of pride is Satan
2. Pride is demonstrated by disobedience to one’s authorities (it says “I know better than my authorities”)
3. Pride results in strife and division
Secondly, Paul lists gentleness (Gk. prautes). Gentleness is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:23. However, gentleness is not to be confused with weakness. This is a common fallacy. Again, the supreme example of gentleness is Jesus. Jesus was both gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29) but He was not weak. (Word Picture – Jesus Cleansing His Father’s House) Jesus illustrated this when He drove the moneychangers out of His Father’s House in John 2:13-16. The tables that Jesus overturned often weighed more than 1,000 pounds. But notice in John 2:16 that when He comes to the doves he tells them to take them away. So, Jesus had self-control in the situation. I think many Christians have wondered about this incident and how we can be angry and not sin. We are told in Ephesians 4:26 that in our anger do not sin. Well, this incident of cleansing His Father’s house is a prime example of gentleness. You say what, “how can that incident teach gentleness”. Indeed I would say that event is probably the best illustration of gentleness in the Bible. Biblically, gentleness does not mean weakness but rather self-control. But we cannot control ourselves so it is better to say that when we are gentle we are God-controlled. Barclay states it this way, “The man who is praus [i.e. gentle] is the man who is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time”iv (brackets mine). “Only the person who is controlled by the Spirit of God can truly be gentle—angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time.” v Jesus displayed this perfectly when He cleansed the temple. He was angry because of what they had turned His Father’s house into—a den of thieves. He was angry at the right time! But he also displayed self-control when He came to the doves. Jesus was showing us how to be gentle.
meta makrothumias, “with patience”. The third characteristic of a believer walking consistently with his calling is patience (Gk. makrothumia). Patience is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). patience is long-suffering or endurance that does not abandon hope. God is the supreme example of patience (Rom. 2:4; 9:22). (Word Picture – Delay and Shortness of Tribulation) God has put up and put up with man’s ethical rebellion against God and yet God has delayed and delayed pouring out His vengeful wrath upon them. The fact that the Tribulation has yet to come and the fact that the Tribulation is relatively short (7 years) demonstrates the patience of God. The Christian walk is to be characterized by patience. When a Christian is wronged by another Christian we are to withhold our vengeance/revenge by being patient with them, hoping, like God, that they will come to repentance (2 Pt. 3:9). In light of the context here, Jew and Gentile in one body, those who were formerly hostile to one another, you can see how important patience would be for the Ephesian believers. It is a necessary component of a believer in the body of Christ. patience is therefore cautious endurance through a situation that does not abandon hope.
anekomenoi allelon en agape, “enduring one another in love,”. Paul just used two prepositional phrases (with….with…) and now he adds to participial phrases (showing….being…). These two participles are added to show us how to walk in humility, gentleness, and patience. The NASB translates this showing tolerance and A.T. Robertson says this is a direct middle meaning that we should hold ourselves back from one another. In other words we should tolerate differences between believers. But it might be better translated as enduring one another. It’s closely related to being patient. We might say we should “put up with one another for a long time”. How are we to put up with other believers? Paul says we are to put up with one another in love (Gk. en agape). The word for love here is agape and means that we unconditionally seek the will of God for the one loved, that is always the highest good. It’s important that Paul adds in love as the way in which we are to put up with one another when we have differences. If Paul did not add the words in love then we could endure one another but with resentment. But enduring one another with resentment is not an option for the Christian who lives in conformity to his calling.
In conclusion of v. 2, though there was positional unity between Jewish and Gentile believers in one body, the Church, there was also tension in the real world. Differences between Jewish and Gentile believers existed then as they do today (e.g. the Messianic Congregation Movement). Therefore, Paul explains what our Christian walk should look like. It should be exemplified by humility, gentleness, patience, and endurance in love so that resentment does not boil. These qualities can only be accomplished by the power of the Spirit. This is why Paul prayed that God would strengthen our inner man through the Holy Spirit in 3:16. We must be strengthened individually and corporately (2:22) if we are to display these qualities.
Greek Text 4:3 spoudazontes (PAPart NPM) terein (PAInf) ten enoteta (noun ASF) tou pneumatos (noun GSF) en (prep) to sundesmo (noun DSM) tes eirenes (noun GSF).
Translation 4:3 making every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace.
spoudazontes terein ten enoteta tou pneumatos, “making every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit”. Paul’s second participial phrase begins with the words being diligent or better making every effort. Believers are to make every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit. We are not to create unity. Unity already exists! That unity was established by Christ on the cross. Peace has already been established by the cross of Christ (2:15). Jew and Gentile have already been reconciled to one another and to God (2:16). Jew and Gentile have access to the Father in one Spirit (2:18). Unity has already been established. However, believers are to preserve that unity. The Greek tense for the word keep indicates that we are to be continually making every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit. We are never to let an opportunity pass us by to help maintain unity. We are not to simply overlook those who have differences but we are to reach out and do all that we can to maintain unity. of the Spirit refers to the One who produced this unity. Humans cannot bring about unity, on the Spirit of God brings about unity. The world is desperately trying to bring about unity. In fact, the entire world is heading toward a one world government with one currency, one religion, and one Politician, but this is a false unity. A unity that will crumble. The only true unity is formed by the Holy Spirit (2:22; 1 Cor. 12:13). The basis of this unity will be explained more fully in terms of the Trinity in 4:4-6.
en to sundesmo tes eirenes, “in the bond of peace.” The place or location of unity is defined as in the bond of peace. That is where true unity is located. When Paul uses the word bond he is using a play on words with 4:1 where he calls himself a prisoner. A prisoner (desmios) is one who is in bonds (sundesmos) or in chains. Paul was a prisoner of the Lord; we are to maintain unity being bonded by peace. Unity is to be maintained in the bond which is peace. Peace is a genitive of apposition meaning that the bond is peace. Christ Himself is our peace (2:14). He established peace between believing Jews and Gentiles through His cross (2:15-16). And it was established peace that was preached by the Holy Spirit through the NT apostles and prophets throughout the book of Acts (2:17)!
In summary, believers are to make every effort to preserve unity among themselves. This unity has already been established by Christ through the Holy Spirit. But believers ARE NOT to try to establish peace with the world system. This is one of the objectives of many supposedly Christian organizations (e.g. the World Council of Churches). But we are not called to establish peace with the world or the world system. These organizations are only compounding the problem and leading the world toward accepting the Antichrist who will promise peace (Dan. 9:27) but will make war against the saints. The world is anti-God. Do not give money to the world. You’re not doing a good deed. You are funding anti-God and anti-Christian organizations. Give your money wisely in the pursuit of preserving unity among believers. Since believing Jews and Gentiles are the only one’s who have peace as a possibility then we might say that when we are removed at the pre-trib rapture there will be no hope of peace in the world. It will crumble into utter chaos during the 7-year tribulation until our Lord returns at the 2 Advent.
2. The Basis of Unity (4:4-6)
In this section Paul reveals the basis of unity among believers as the Trinity. v. 4 mentions the Spirit, v. 5 the Son who is Lord, and v. 6 the Father. Ephesians is known as the Trinitarian epistle because the Trinity is intertwined throughout. Seven times Paul mentions the word one (en, mia, eis) in this section to emphasize unity.
Greek Text 4:4 En (adj card NSN) soma (noun NSN) kai (conj) en (adj card NSN) pneuma (noun NSN), kathos (conj sub) kai (conj) eklethete (verb 2PAAI) en (prep) mia (adj card DSF) elpidi (noun DSF) tes kleseos (noun GSF) humon (2PPP GP).
Translation 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
The text here is an abrupt change. No transition words are used here (Paul usually used a word like For in transition but not here). Paul just immediately starts talking about the Trinity. He does this to show the close connection between the Trinity and unity.
En soma kai en pneuma, “There is one body and one Spirit,”. The sevenfold use of one (en, mia, eis) emphasizes unity. First, there is one body. This refers to the universal church. The universal church is composed of all believers in Christ from the day of Pentecost until the pre-trib rapture. There is only one body of believers during the Church age. As chapter 2 taught, when Gentiles become believers they do not become Jews, nor do Jews become Gentiles, but Jewish and Gentile believers become a part of “one new man”, the Church.
Second, there is one Spirit. He’s talking about the Holy Spirit. The Church is being built person by person as they believe in Christ and they are being built into a dwelling of God the Holy Spirit (2:22). There is unity in the Spirit.
kathos kai eklethete en mia elpidi tes kleseos humon, “just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;”. Third, there is one hope. Paul is referring back to our calling that he spoke of 4:1. This is an illustration of the unity of the one body and one Spirit. We were called is aorist passive refers to God’s sovereign calling of us at an undefined past point in time. When we were called we were called into one hope. All believers have a common hope. hope in the Bible does not mean “I hope so” with an air of uncertainty. Biblically, hope means “certainty” that something will come to pass. In Ephesians hope refers to the future plan of God when all things will be united under one head, Christ (Eph. 1:9-10). Before we were called we were without hope and without God in the world (2:12). But now we do have hope, absolute certainty, that God’s plan will be fulfilled and all things will be united under Christ in His Kingdom. Since we all have one hope this should reinforce unity. you were called in one hope of your calling. your calling refers to the moment God summoned you or invited you to salvation. Biblically it is closely related to God’s election. But election has to do with the before time choice of you. Your calling has to do with the in time invitation to you. When you responded to this call God’s choice of you and adoption into His family became a reality. The next verse introduces the second person of the Trinity, the Son.
Greek Text 4:5 eis (adj card NSM) kurios (noun NSM), mia (adj card NSF) pistis (noun NSF), en (adj card NSN) baptisma (noun NSN),
Translation 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Fourth, there is one Lord. Lord refers to the second person of the Trinity, the Son, throughout the book of Ephesians and this fits nicely since the Father is mentioned in v. 6. That Jesus is Lord was a common confession in the early church. The Greek word for Lord is kurios and is found in the Latin as Caesar, in the German as Kaiser, and in the Russian as Czar. It means He is the sovereign over all, He is the Master. He is Lord over every area of life. Nothing is hidden from Christ or found outside of Christ. In Christ are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). Jesus Christ is the Lord of both believing Jews and Gentiles. This should bring about unity.
Fifth, there is one faith. This does not mean there is just one religion or one way of salvation, although that is true. What this is referring to is that there is one faith that is exercised by all Christians. All Christians share a common belief in Christ. Since we share a common faith this should foster unity.
en baptisma, “one baptism,”. Sixth, there is one baptism. What this baptism is referring to has been debated. There are three basic views. 1) Water baptism. This doesn’t have any support in the context. This would not promote unity because not all believers are water baptized anyway. This would produce disunity. 2) Spirit baptism. all believers do have Spirit baptism but the context here is Jesus Christ not the Spirit. The Spirit was talked about in v. 4. 3) This is a metaphor for being identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. This seems like the best view. Baptism simply means “identification” and all believers have been identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. Since v. 5 is focusing on Christ then it seems best to see this as a reference to being identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. This actually takes place at the moment a person believes and this inward reality becomes the basis of the external ritual of water baptism by immersion. This would foster unity since all believers, Jew and Gentile, have been identified with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Greek Text 4:6 eis (adj card NSM) theos (noun NSM) kai (conj) pater (noun NSM) panton (adj GPM), ho (art NSM) epi (prep) panton (adj GPM) kai (conj) dia (prep) panton (adj GPM) kai (conj) en (prep) pasin (adj DPM).
Translation 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
eis theos kai pater panton, “one God and Father of all,” Finally, verse 6 introduces the first person of the Trinity, the Father who is the seventh “one”. There is one God and Father of all. of all here refers to believers only. God is not the Father of all men without distinction (no Universal Fatherhood of God). He is the Father only of those who believe. The context is about believers and not about all men without distinction. Since there is only one God and Father of all believers then this will also foster unity.
Three addition things are said about this God, that He is over all and through all and in all.” (ho epi panton kai dia panton kai en pasin). First, God is over all, meaning He is sovereign. God has control over every aspect of a believers life. “If believers take God’s sovereignty seriously, the result is unity and contentment and joy for believers, even in the midst of trials. The believer will trust God in his wisdom and care for all things that transpire in life.”nd
Second, God is through all, meaning God is immanent. This means he works through believers. Believers are not the source of good works. Eph. 2:10 said that God created these works beforehand that we should walk in them. Here Paul is picking up that idea by saying that it is this one God who is working these good works through all believers. God is the source of the good works and He is the one who is to receive all glory for them. God is alive and active through believers lives.
Third, God is in all, meaning God indwells all. Not only is God sovereign over all events in our lives, and not only is God working through us, but God is actually dwelling in us. Individual believers and the corporate church are personal dwelling places of God.
The sevenfold use of one is designed to give the basis of unity. There is one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father. There is much to unify us. But how greatly the church has failed to preserve this unity! We have not made every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit. Nevertheless, if true unity is to exist it must find its basis in the Triune God; Spirit, Son, and Father. The order here is interesting. Paul begins with the Spirit rather than with the Father.vi This is because the context is the unity of the Spirit (v. 3) and spiritual gifts (4: 7-16). Also, Paul wants to build to a climax in this section so he starts with the Spirit and concludes with the Father because the Father is the ultimate source of all these things.
One other observation is that the Triune God is central to unity. Anyone who denies the Trinity is denying the basis of all unity. The Tri-unity of God means that God is one in essence and three in person.
IS NOT IS NOT
SON IS NOT SPIRIT
*Unity and Diversity
Notice that this definition includes both unity and diversity. God is unity in essence, but God is diversity in person. This is going to be reflected in the following section which talks about the diversity of gifts. All believers are one in many ways but we are diverse in the spiritual gifts we have as individuals. So, the Bible teaches both unity and diversity among believers. The Church is a finite reflection of the Triune God. He has unity and diversity and we have unity and diversity.
i Summers, Ray, Ephesians: Patterns for Christian Living (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1960), 70.
iii Hoehner, Harold, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 506.
iv Barclay, William, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 162.
v Hoehner, Harold, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 507.
nd Hoehner, Harold, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 520.
vi Opposite of the Apostles Creed
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