I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-2, WEB).”
To reiterate, the Apostle Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus during his two year imprisonment in Rome around 60 A.D. He is using his circumstances to symbolize who really is in charge of his life–the Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s why he calls himself a prisoner of the Lord, because God is His protector, sustainer, and ultimate authority. Moreover, Paul exhorts his audience to walk worthily of the calling with humility, patience, love–eager to keep the bond of peace.
These positive attributes reflect the character of God. They are the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:23) that we are to emulate in our lives, showing the world that God is worthy of worship and respect. Additionally, Christians ought to reflect humility. The term humility comes from the Latin word humilitas, which means “grounded” or “from the earth.”
As humans created in the image of God, we were “created” from the dust of the earth–which is a reminder of our dependence upon God, our frailty, and mortality. Humility partners well with patience. When one is patient, they are demonstrating a humble attitude. How are you personally doing with these spiritual disciplines?
4 There is one body and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all, and in us all (Eph. 4:4-6).”
What a powerful verse. The apostle Paul is declaring a one-minded unity within the body of Christ. When we accept the Lord as our Savior, we are grafted into the family of God. The Holy Spirit, who is our comforter and teacher, unites us into one faith so we are able to conform into the image of Jesus. Finally, baptism represents our death to the old life, burial to our sins, and raised to new life in Christ our redeemer!
Isn’t it amazing how God has uniquely designed us to worship Him? God equips us to be united with Him through the love of the Father. The Father sends his Son to become our substitutionary atonement and righteousness. And The Holy Spirit convicts, sanctifies, teaches, rebukes, and fills us with the holiness of God.
7 But to each one of us, the grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Therefore he says, “When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to people.” 9 Now this, “He ascended”, what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things (Eph. 4:7-10).”
This verse teaches that the Lord is sovereign over all creation. He has ascended on high, showing his victory over death and Hell. When Jesus rose from the dead, he demonstrated to the world that He came to set the captives free. He also revealed to the underworld, to Satan, and the fallen angels, that He has conquered them as well.
There is a constant hope for all who turn from their sins and trust in Christ. Similarly, there is a constant proof that whoever rejects the Living God will be judged and destroyed for their disobedience. Consequently, believers should be adamant in sharing the good news that God saves sinners to the entire world. That’s why He has called us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature!
11 He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds[a] and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13).”
I love this passage! God has uniquely gifted all of us to become part of his great orchestra. We may not all play the same instruments, but we are called to serve and use our gifts for the betterment of his Kingdom. What unique role do you believe God has called you to?
The definition of an apostle is one who is sent on a mission. Our mission is to share Jesus with as many people as we can, letting them know that salvation is a free gift. By grace we are saved through faith, and it’s not of works (Eph. 2:8-9). Our mission is not only this, but to encourage one another to holiness and love.
Moreover, God calls some to be prophets and evangelists. A prophet uses their mouth as a proclamation of the glory of God. In biblical times, a prophet was known to bring judgment and rebuke to a rebellious generation. A prophet, of course, would be telling the truth in love–being honest and convicting people of their sins is better than telling them what they want to hear.
An evangelist is one whose primary goal is to plant the seed of God’s truth in as many places as possible. Then, the shepherds and pastors come along and nurture those seeds, making sure they are cultivated properly and growing accordingly. They, along with the Holy Spirit, teach believers how to live and thrive in their communities so that God’s kingdom can make a cultural impact for a world in dire need of Him.
The goal for all ministerial positions, whether an apostle, prophet, pastor, or teacher, is to grow in the Lord and become mature in the faith. Ultimately, heaven is knowing God. That is the point of going to heaven, so we can continue seeking out the beauty of the Lord–in this life, as Christians, that’s what we are called to do. Isn’t this a wonderful truth?
14 that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ, 16 from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:14-16).”
As Christians, it’s vital that we do not get deceived by false doctrine. How do we accomplish this? By knowing God’s word, meditating on Scripture, and praying for the Holy Spirit to guide us along the path of righteousness. We can’t be immature in our faith–other wise we will be tricked and deceived by false prophets and teachers.
Moreover, not only should we be teaching the truth and focusing on accuracy, but doing so with love and gentleness. People need to logically understand God’s Word, but there is also an emotional connection that is vital to the Christian life. So we want to make sure that both are accomplished in order to increase the building up of the Church. That is our goal in the Christian life.
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts. 19 They, having become callous, gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness (Eph. 4:17-19).”
Paul warns us not to follow the way of unbelievers because their mind is futile and dark. They love darkness more than light because their deeds are evil. They alienate themselves from the one true God because their hearts are hardened and evil.
We do not want to follow the ways of the world but trust in the Lord with all our heart. The psalmist declares this when he says, “Blessed is the man who does NOT walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful.” Instead, the godly man delights in the law of the Lord. And this is exactly what we should be doing–rejecting the lust and greed of this world and worshipping our Creator.
20 But you didn’t learn Christ that way, 21 if indeed you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth (Eph. 4:20-24).”
Paul reminds the Church as Ephesus that they didn’t learn Christ that way. They were taught to put away the former life of sin and put on the new man. The new man is one who is full of righteousness and holiness. The old man, the carnal nature, is what is corrupted and passing away. We don’t want to be entangled by the deceitfulness of our flesh.
Instead, we want to put off the old man and be renewed in the spirit of our mind through Christ Jesus. Many times, Christians will talk about repentance as turning from sin and end there. But that is just half the battle. Not only are we called to turn from sin, but also to turn towards righteousness. To turn towards love, holiness, and truth. This is the correct notion of repentance–a total change of mind.
25 Therefore putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor. For we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and don’t sin. ”Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 and don’t give place to the devil (Eph. 4:25-27).”
It is absolutely essential to put away falsehood. Christians can’t be known for deception. We are part of the light, and the light rejects darkness and falsehood. Satan is the father of lies, and therefore we should have no association with him. Don’t speak half-truths or dabble into gray ethical areas. Be completely forthright in everything you do!
Scripture also commands us not to let the sun go down in our anger. Anger’s proper place is in the context of righteous judgment. However, anger is not to be dwelled upon since it gives the place for the devil to tempt and lure us to allow anger to harbor bitterness in the soul. Allow God to be the judge and avenger for the sins of the world, not us. We are called to love and grace–to love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you.
28 Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, producing with his hands something that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but only what is good for building others up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:28-29).”
The Lord wants an immediate repentance. Let him who steals steal no more. It’s as simple as that. When God gives you His Holy Spirit, you have the power to turn from your sin right away. While we do fall into sin and God tells us: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” He also doesn’t want us to continue that lifestyle. He wants a radical transformation.
Additionally, do not let corrupt speech come from your mouth. Instead, only say what is true, right, noble, and good. The purpose for this is to build up others rather than tear them down. As believers, it’s imperative to show society our positivity and love for both God and our fellow humans.
30 Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you (Eph. 4:30-32).”
Finally, Paul ends this chapter with another warning: Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit! What exactly does this mean? The apostle doesn’t want our sin and laziness to grieve God since we are sealed with his love and kindness until the day of redemption.
Since God has been so kind to us, we don’t want to upset Him by our disobedience. Therefore, let us get rid of bitterness, wrath, and slander because this doesn’t produce the righteousness of God. Instead, we are to be kind, forgiving each other, and being tender-hearted–because this is what God did for us through His Son Jesus Christ.
Do you see the importance of all these truths in Ephesians 4? May the Lord equip us to walk in the manner worthy of our calling. Let’s use our gifts to serve the local and universal church, whether that’s through teaching, evangelism, counseling, or pastoring. Finally, let’s not grieve the Holy Spirit since He has been so kind to us. I implore you to never give up. God loves you so much. Blessings!
Commentary written by Chad A. Damitz