Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
In the previous paragraphs and chapters, Paul told us about all the benefits God has provided for us, His Church. We are now exhorted to live the Christian life because of what he has done for us.
Why ‘therefore’? Because of God’s wide, long, high, and deep love for His people (Ephesians 3:18), and because He has empowered us through His Spirit (Ephesians 3:20) to comprehend these things, we should walk worthily in our calling as Christians, and because of all the good things God has done for us as Paul has outlined in the first three chapters.
Paul, the “prisoner of the Lord.” See the notes at Ephesians 3:1.
Ephesians 4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Continuing the thought from the previous verse, we should be humble, gentle, and patient with each other and be considerate of each other’s shortcomings with the love of Christ. This is how we walk worthily in our calling.
Ephesians 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Again we continue the thought from the previous two verses. The reason we should be patient, considerate, and kind to each other, which is to walk worthily in our calling, is to maintain peaceful unity in the body of Christ through the indwelling of the Spirit.
Now let us put these things in laymen’s terms. Stop backbiting, complaining, and finding fault with the preacher, the deacons, the teachers, and other church members. Stop whining about the décor, the preachers too long or too short sermons, so-and-so’s fashion sense or lack thereof, etc., etc. Stop complaining about church and start loving one another and stop being critical of the faults of others. We all have enough faults of our own to go around. Grow up Christians, and stop acting like children, especially in churches in the West.
Christians in churches in areas where there is great persecution do not have time for such. They are too busy trying to worship the Creator to be inconsiderate of each other. They must love and respect each other and maintain unity in order to survive.
Ephesians 4:4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
Verses four, five, and six are one thought.
There is one body, the Body of Christ and all Christians are a part of that one Body. All the saved, regardless of the sex, race, nationality, age, occupation, education level, financial status, social status, etc., are a part of that one unified Body. There is only one Spirit, the Holy Spirit. There is the one glorious hope of future and that is eternal life in the presence of our Christ.
Ephesians 4:5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Christ is our Lord and Master and we are His servants; there is no other. There is only one faith and that is faith in Christ and Christ alone. He is the one we worship and the one church is His church and our faith in Him is why we are a part of His church.
Baptism is the outer symbol of our inner conversion to Christ. By baptism, we show that we have been joined with Christ in His death. We have died to our old sinful lives and been raised with Christ in newness of life and now walk with Him. As Christ was raised from death, so we too shall be raised to live with Him forever. We publically show all of these things when we are baptized with water. There is no other baptism but the one that shows our faith and trust in Christ.
Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
There is only One God. He is Yehovah, or Yahweh as He is referred to in modern evangelical circles. There is no other God and there are no other gods. Any entity that refers to himself as a god is either deluded or demonic. Any person that calls an idol God is deceived. Isaiah 44:6, “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” There is only One True God and no other.
Yahweh is eternal, all powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere. He is the Father of all because He created all. There is no place where His Spirit is absent:
Psalms 139:7-12, NKJV, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (8) If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. (9) If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, (10) Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. (11) If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; (12) Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.“1
The Holy Spirit lives in all of the saved. Every Christian is indwelled by the Holy Spirit. We are the Temple of God and His residence on earth is in the hearts of all Christians. Hence God the Father is seen on earth through us, the church. Since He lives in each of us that are saved, we are one church and we should act like one church. Yet we act like we are many churches. We sometimes compete with “the church down the street.” At other times we refuse to have fellowship with each other. Unfortunately we sometimes don’t even care about other bodies of believers. Yes there are many local churches but only one church, which is the called-out assembly of Christians everywhere. All true Bible-believing churches are one in Christ
The Greek word for church, ἐκκλησία, ekklesia, means “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place,” (Thayer). All Christians everywhere are one family. We are all related because as adopted children of God (Romans 8:15), we are all sisters and brothers in Christ. Thus we may all cry out אבא abba, the informal Modern Hebrew term for father, somewhat like dad or daddy, etc. God, our Father, is familiar to us just like our earthly fathers are. However, this cannot be fully asserted for ancient Hebrew. Scholars have no consensus how it was used in Jesus’ day. I would suggest that by the context in which it is written in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6, that it is the more informal term as used in Modern Hebrew. In both passages Paul asserts that we are the sons of God through Spiritual adoption and therefore have the right to call God, who is our Father, abba instead of the more formal אב, ab. If this was not the informal address, then why did Paul include it in the verse that says because we are sons through the Spirit of adoption we may now call Him by the more informal title of abba. If we were to just call him Πατήρ, Pater, or Father, what would be the point of Paul saying we may now call Him abba? It would be pointless and nothing in Scripture is pointless.
This is not about denominations since denominations are different church structures, but not The Church. Denominations, at least those who hold to the Biblical truths of Christianity, are just different ways to administer local churches or groups of local churches. Unfortunately in these times, several mainline denominations have turned away from the biblical truths of Christianity. They are not a part of the Body of Christ. No this passage is not about denominations; it is about one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, is in all, and is through all Christians. Regardless of the denomination, we are all one body in Christ.
Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
If this grace was given according to our measure, we would be doomed. Fortunately, it is Christ’s grace that He has freely given to us. We have all received grace; we did so when we trusted Christ as our Savior. It is by the grace of God that we are saved; we could not save ourselves. Christ graciously died for all of our sins and if we believe on Him, we will be saved and receive the gift of eternal life.
However, in context, that is not what Paul is saying, though it is true. The context of this passage is Spiritual gifts (as we will see in the next few verses). Paul is telling us that we receive our spiritual gift or gifts because of the grace of Christ. The gift is measured. In other words Christ metes out spiritual gifts through his grace, but that grace is measured according to the gift and according to the person receiving the gift. He measures this grace according to the gift itself accordant with our God-given abilities. Speaking of Spiritual gifts, Paul says this a bit differently in 1 Corinthians 12:11 (NKJV), “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.“
Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Who is he that ‘saith’ this? David said and wrote this in Psalm 68:18a, “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men. . .“
In that verse, David was discussing God defeating all his enemies. That He ascended on high leads us to understand that this verse is Messianic in character. Our scripture here makes it certain that this is a Messianic passage. Having defeated His enemies, God now dwells on Zion with His hosts around Him. He led all his enemies captive. His enemies, those who had rebelled against Him, are now taken captive. His enemies had made captives of many people, thus he took his enemies and the captives or captivity of His enemies as captives to Himself. Those captives of his enemies that had put their trust in Him, he freed. The context of the Psalm shows us this. He received gifts for people, even those who were rebellious but turned their fealty to Him. In verse 1, God scattered His enemies. In verse 3, the righteous are glad. In verse 18, He even provided for the rebellious that became His captives.
The other place this phrase is found is in the song that Deborah and Barak sang after defeating the Canaanite armies of Sisera. Remember how the victory went to a woman named Jael who drove a tent peg through Sisera’s head, killing him. So God delivered the Canaanite king, Jabin, into their hands. Thus they sang a song of victory. In Judges 5:12, they sang, “Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.” This shows that Barak, after the victory over them, had taken dominion over his enemies, who were his captives, and he led them away captive. This included the prisoners and the spoils.
In our verse here in Ephesians, taking captivity captive technically signifies that captivity is no longer present because captivity itself is now in chains, so to speak. We are captive to our sins thus sin has us in captivity. So when Christ ascended from the grave he took the captivity of our sins captive so that our sins no longer hold us in bondage (Romans 8:2). We should also add that people who are not God’s children belong to the devil. Thus they are held in captivity by Satan. At one time, all of us were in captivity to Satan. So when He ascended, Christ also took the captivity of Satan that believed on Him captive and all those captives now belong to Christ. Having done that, He gave (and still gives) Spiritual Gifts to those who believe on Him. The context is Spiritual Gifts: Ephesians 4:7; 11-12.
Ephesians 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
This is another controversial passage. There are basically two camps on this subject. The first maintains that Christ descended into hell and preached to the captives there. The other camp asserts that the verse means Jesus left His heavenly abode and descended to earth as a man to die for our sins. He obviously did just that, but is that what Paul meant in this verse? Let us look at both sides.
This passage in addition to Acts 2:31, and 1 Pet 3:19 & 20 make up a trifecta of passages that lead this group to extrapolate that Christ, during the three days He was in the grave, went and preached the Gospel to those believers (literally “the spirits in prison,” 2 Pet 3:19) sometimes called the “Old Testament Saints” that had died before Christ’s victory over sin at Calvary.
Since Peter wrote that those spirits in prison were those that were disobedient while Noah was building the ark, this leads some to understand that Christ only preached to those folks who missed getting aboard the ark when the floods came and killed them.
An even more refined theory states that those sons of God that married the daughters of men in Gen 6:2 & 4 were demonic and that these are the spirits in prison Christ preached to. He did not preach the gospel to these demons, but announced his victory over them.
The second camp is more pragmatic. That camp believes that this verse only applies to Christ’s descent to earth to be born a man, leaving his home in heaven in order to become the propitiation for our sins.
To truly understand the idiom, “the lower parts of the earth,” we must return to the Psalm 139. In that Psalm, David wrote the God knows us and we cannot hide from Him, no matter where we go. In Psalm 139:13-15, he states, “For thou hast possessed my reins [internal organs]: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. (14) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (15) My substance [strength or body] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.“
From the context it is obvious that the lowest parts of the earth are figurative language for the womb. David wrote that he was fearfully and wonderfully made and that his substance (margin: “or strength or body”) though made in secret, was not hidden from God as his body was skillfully formed in the darkness of the womb, which he termed the “lowest parts of the earth.”
When Paul wrote that Jesus descended to the lower parts of the earth, he and his readers fully understood the Hebrew idiom. Jesus ” being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (Php 2:6-7). Jesus left heaven to be born of a virgin as a man in order to save us from our sins. He willingly left Heaven and entered into Mary’s womb as a human embryo and grew in his mother’s womb to become an infant. He left Heaven and entered the lower parts of the earth—that is, Mary’s womb, to be born a man.
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
After His departure from the Mount of Olives, after His resurrection, Christ ascended far above the physical heavens we observe (the skies, clouds, stars, etc.) into the abode of God, which is the Heaven that is outside of nature; it is supernatural and only accessible by us after our physical deaths as long as we had faith in Christ while alive.
…that He might fill all things, Let me restate what I wrote about Eph 1:23: “Since He is omnipresent then everything that ever was, is, or ever will be is all under His might power. The church has all the fullness of Christ, which is that which also fills everything to completion. The church has everything it needs; it is complete in Christ.“
Eph 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
Here is a list of Spiritual Gifts that we believers all receive from the Holy Spirit. This is not a complete list, for other Spiritual Gifts are listed in Romans Chapter 12, First Corinthians chapter 12 and First Peter chapter 4. It is possible to discern other Spiritual Gifts from other passages as well. Let us look at the gifts written about in this passage.
Apostles, αποστολους (apostolous), plural of αποστολος (apostolos), a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.
We are all to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8) and to be involved in spreading the Gospel to the entire world (Mat 28:19-20), but not true apostles for there were only twelve True Apostles called by Christ in Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:14-19, and Luke 6:13-16.
Prophets, προφητας (prophetas), plural of προφητης (prophetes):
· One who foretells the future
· One who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God and to human salvation
· Men filled with the Spirit of God, who by God’s authority and command in words of weight pleads the cause of God and urges salvation of men
Modern prophets are not involved in predicting the future. Modern prophets speak forth the mind and counsel of God in order to edify the church, comfort, encourage, exhort, and convict people of sin. Preaching is a type of prophesying. Old Testament prophets did all of these things including predicting the future.
Evangelists, ευαγγελιστας (euaggelistas), plural of ευαγγελιστης (euaggelistes), a bringer or herald of good news
In the case of Christians, an evangelist is one who tells people of the salvation available through Jesus Christ. This is a spiritual gift given to those the Spirit equips to be an evangelist. While we are all to be witnesses and be involved in the spread of the Gospel worldwide, this gift is for specific people called into the ministry of evangelism.
Pastors and Teachers, ποιμενας και διδασκαλους (didaskalous), plural of ποιμην (poimen) and διδάσκαλος (didaskalos). Pastors: Shepherds; overseers of the Christian assemblies. Teachers: those who teach concerning the things of God and the duties of man; one fitted to teach.
Pastors and teachers are considered together here as one individual gift. A church pastor does both of these things; he oversees the assembly of Christians he is called to, and he teaches the things of God.
Each of us is given at least one Spiritual Gift; some are given more than one. Again, this list is limited and one will find other Spiritual Gifts listed in other places in the Scriptures. Here is a list of Spiritual gifts found in the New Testament:
|From Rom 12:6-8
|From 1 Cor 12:7-11
|From 1 Cor 12:28
|From 1 Pet 4:11
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
The Spiritual Gifts of the previous verse are given for these purposes. This verse can be discerned two ways. Some more modern interpreters indicate that the perfecting of the saints is to prepare them to do the duty of a minister or servant. In other words, the sentence construction would be thus: “for the perfecting of the saints in order to do the work of ministry,” making two clauses into one.
Others indicate that those two clauses are separate reasons for the receipt of Spiritual Gifts. The King James Version, for example, separates the verse into three distinct clauses: 1) for the perfecting of the saints, 2) for the work of ministry, and 3) for the edifying of the body of Christ.
So which is correct? The word translated ‘for’ is εις, eis (sounds like ice). According to Thayer, in context, the word has limited meaning. It is a primary preposition meaning “into, unto, to, towards, for, or among.” It rests before the second and third of the three clauses in the majority of Greek manuscripts including the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament from which most modern versions are translated. It is not a variant in the “oldest and best manuscripts” but it is identical in most of the texts. However, in the Nestle-Aland text there is a comma after the word ministry, which separates the passage into two clauses instead of three. The Majority Text and the Received Text do not have that comma. Thus it must be a difference in translation viewpoints.
Our understanding of the passage is more easily grasped than whether or not there is a comma after the word ‘ministry’ or after the word ‘saints.’ The KJV method is preferred for the following reason. The Holy Spirit gives gifts for all three purposes, for perfecting the saints, for the work of ministry, and for edifying the church. Yes, the perfecting of the saints is fundamental to all Spiritual gifts. Therefore, the word εις, eis, could correctly be translated ‘unto,’ making it antecedent to the two final clauses; however, using the preposition ‘for’ in this passage causes the three clauses to stand out as individual reasons why the Holy Spirit gives us these gifts. In other words, the perfecting of the saints may also be seen as a precursor to the work of ministry and the edification of the Saints, but we must still note that there are other spiritual gifts given specifically for the perfecting of the saints. Consequently, “for the perfecting of the saints” should still be treated as one of three separate, individual clauses.
Another definition of the Greek word translated ‘perfecting’ in the KJV is ‘equipping.’ If the saints are not equipped to carry out the will of God, then none of the other gifts are useful. Some of the gifts, such as pastor and teacher, are for the equipping of the saints. Other gifts are for the work of ministry and still others are to build up or edify the saints. These things all work together to carry out God’s will for His church. Thus the KJV rendering is the more correct.
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
The gifts will last until every Christian has become unified in the faith, which is our trust in the Godhead and full recognition the Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior; until we become complete (perfect) in Christ. That means there gifts will continue until we measure up to Christ’s perfection. The idea here is that we humans begin learning as a child and through progressive growth and increase in knowledge and wisdom and we eventually reach mature adult status. When we get saved, we become spiritual children and then progress daily toward spiritual maturity.
Yet, we will never measure up fully to Christ until perfection comes (see 1 Cor 13:12), which will occur when we pass from this life into eternal life. About that occurrence, the Revelation of Jesus Christ tells us, “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:3-4 KJV).
Thus the gifts will stay with the church until Christ returns and gathers His entire church to himself. After that the gifts will no longer be needed, for now what we know is incomplete; then we will see things completely and fully. The gifts will no longer be necessary for we will have become complete and be perfect before God because of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary.
Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
While in this life, the gifts will bring us into spiritual maturity, which will prevent our recklessness, wildness, profligacy, folly and whatever other misbehavior our flesh tries to produce in us. Spiritual gifts will help us to avoid such vanity. The gifts will keep us on the straight and narrow so that we will not be influenced by worldly and ungodly things. They will prevent us from being deceived and from following false doctrine and false teachers. Such teachers abound in our day. They are at every turn. Spiritual maturity will allow us to see through their deceptions.
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Instead of all those ungodly things, as mature Christians, we will be able to tell the truth. The truth can be very offensive to one who is not aware of the truth, or to one who knows but does not want to be reminded of the truth because that person is living outside of the truth. That is why Paul said to speak the truth in love. If you lovingly tell someone the truth, the person may respond more positively than if you hammer someone over the head with the truth. Many street preachers try to hammer folks over the head with the truth only to be rejected. However, there are some street-preaching ministries that tell the truth lovingly (, for example) and people mostly respond positively to the truth when they tell it. That way, many more seeds may be lovingly planted with unbelievers.
Consequently, we may grow increasingly like the head of the church, Who is Jesus Christ.
Eph 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
We can discern Paul’s thoughts from 1Co 12:14-18:
“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”
Pail compared the church to the human body. Christ is the head; we Christians are the other parts of the Body of Christ (another name for the Church—1 Cor 12:27). Each of us has a part in the body of Christ much as each body part (arm, ear, toe, etc.) fits together with the others to form a functioning human body. Christians have different Spiritual gifts just as the human body has different parts and just as the body parts fit together to form the body, so the different Spiritual Gifts of Christians fit together to form the functioning Body of Christ, which is the church.
When each individual part of the local body or church, that is, each Christian exercising his or her Spiritual gift or gifts in concert with every other Christian, the church works smoothly to accomplish the mission of the church, edifies or builds up the church, and causes the church to grow in Spiritual maturity. Such smoothness and edification promotes love among the brethren and love of those needing Christ as Savior.
Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Because we have Spiritual gifts, and because we exercise them, thus edifying the church until love, we must walk circumspectly in Christ. Since Paul was writing to Gentile Christians, he cautioned us not to walk of other Gentiles do. In today’s Christian world, most of us were Gentiles when we were saved. Understand that the Greek word rendered ‘gentile’ is ἔθνος, eth’nos (lemma form), literally meaning nation, race, pagan, multitude, etc. Here in this verse it is in its plural form, ἔθνη eth’nay. It is the Greek translation of the Hebrew גּוי, goy, which technically means the same as ethnos. To an Israelite, goy simply means that the person is not an Israelite, or more modernly, not Jewish. The actual Hebrew is הגוים, hagoyim, meaning ‘of The Gentiles’ (a proper noun), or non-Jewish people. Thus Paul simply meant that the Christians he wrote to were non-Jewish believers in Christ, or Gentile Christians.
Today we may apply this verse to all unbelievers. By vanity, Paul did not mean that Gentiles are stupid. Not so, many are well educated. But that is worldly knowledge. By vanity, Paul did mean that the world is ignorant of Godly things, and of God’s standards. Consequently, we should not act lie the world, being ignorant of the things of God; we should walk with the full knowledge of Christ in us. Paul explains:
Ephesians 4:18-19 KJV Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (19) Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
The world does not know understand the things of God, thus their understanding is darkened, or curtailed. The degree is not evident in the English. Looking at the Greek Etymology of the word, it really means covered in darkness. Thus their understanding of the things of God is in error or completely obscured. For that very reason, they are alienated from the abundant life available from God. Being ignorant of the things of God make some indifferent, others fear them, and some are militantly opposed to them, calling the things of Christ evil and the things of the world, good. This indicates corrupted wisdom (see Eze 28:17). Corrupted wisdom is the root cause of the persecution of Christians and we see from Eze 28:17 who is the author of corrupted wisdom.
Their hearts are blinded to the truth thus they are unaware of their need for salvation and even unaware of their sins. If you ask an unbeliever if he or she thinks he or she will go to heaven when they die, most will invariable answer yes. If asked why there is the almost universal response, “I am a good person.” Thus part of the blindness of unbelievers is inability to se their on need for God. That is why there is so much evil in the world. It is not because God put evil in the world, It is because God gave mankind a choice.
Unfortunately because of their darkened understanding, the world chooses evil. The New Living Translation says they live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. Hello! That boils down the West in a nutshell. Every form of corruption exists in the West today. Every form of sexual deviancy is considered the norm, and if you disagree with that you are a hater and worthy of being fired from your job, forfeiture of your property, arrest, fines, or even the death penalty. The killing of human beings in the womb is rampant in the West. It is evil to the point of the killing of babies’ in the womb and trying to extract their dead bodies intact to be dissected and their parts sold on the open market for “research.” That is pure evil, yet the world says it is good. That is Moloch/Milcom worship, which is ongoing today. In fact, abortion has killed more babies than were ever sacrificed to Moloch. Instead they are now sacrificed to the god of sexual promiscuity. But there is good news!
Ephesians 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
In other words, you, Christian, did not understand that to be Christ’s way. IN the Greek, the verse reads, “Υμεις δε ουχ οὑτως εμαθετε τον Χριστον,” and most translations render it the way the KJV has it here. Here it is a single cause, “but you did not learn Christ that way.” But since ‘ εμαθετε,’ emathete, is in the second person (indicative aorist active 2nd person plural), the verse could be rendered in two clauses: “but you are not so; you have learned Christ.” Perhaps the second way of viewing it is more understandable in English. However, we cannot truly understand this verse out of context. So let us look further for better understanding.
As a rule true mature Christians do not practice those things Paul attributed to Gentiles. Yes, Christians still sin, but they are far less likely to do so than the world, and that is good news.
Ephesians 4:21-24 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: (22) That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
To fully comprehend his paragraph, it should be read as one cohesive unit, which is printed above. However, to study it, we need to break it down in to sections.
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Since you have heard about Him and have learned the truth from Him or His followers, you should no longer live like you used to because your former life was corrupted by worldliness and deceitful desires. The things of the world are not the things of Christ (1 John 2:15), and the wisdom of this world is not the wisdom of God. Since your old life without Christ was completely influenced by the deceitful desires of this world, it was not according to the will of God (1 Cor 3:19). Your new life in Christ should be lived in a way pleasing to God (Rom 6:4).
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man,
In addition to walking in a way pleasing to God, since Christ has taught us, our hearts and thinking should reflect our walk. In other words, our actions will conform to our hearts and our thinking, so by renewing our thoughts and hearts, our actions will show Christ in us. Before our conversion to Christ, we were walking in one direction—the path to Hell. When we were saved, we did a one-eighty and began a pleasing walk with God. That is the renewing of our spirit and out mind. We are new people in Christ, meaning the old things are gone and have passed away.
which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness
When we were created, it was in Adam’s image. Adam sinned and his sin carries on through each generation. We are born in sin, and our sinful nature is always with us. We have a tendency to sin. That tendency is why there is evil in the world. God has given us the choice to follow Him and His precepts, or to follow our own way or the world’s way. When men follow the world’s way that is when all sorts of pernicious evil occurs. We, however, follow Christ and not the world.
Conversely, When we trust Christ as Savior, our lives change from that old worldly person to a new creation; one that is created by God in righteousness and true holiness. When that happens, we are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in us, because of the blindness of our heart. That alienation, ignorance, and blindness was in that old creature we used to be, but we are now new creatures and that old stuff is gone forever.
Now Paul gives us pointers on living that new life in Christ. All of the following things are the actions we used to do when we walked “as other Gentiles walked” in Ephesians 4:17, above. Paul admonishes us not to walk that way.
Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
The Belt of truth is one of the pieces of the armor of God. That armor is the only way we can stand righteous in the onslaughts of the Devil. Lying gives the Devil an opening to attack us. Besides, lying hurts our conscience as it should do. Not only that, but it hurts our relationship with other Christians. A Christian should never lie to another Christian. Additionally, we should not lie to anyone. If we lie to the world, it hurts our ability to witness to them.
Our neighbor in this verse, since it is qualified by the phrase, ‘we are members of each other’ is obviously a Christian brother or sister. For as members of the Body of Christ (the Church) we are all members of each other as is taught in the first part of this chapter. Yet this is the same word Christ used in the Parable of the Good Samaritan to show that anyone in need is our neighbor (Luk 10:36). All unsaved people are in need—they are in need of Christ. Therefore we must not lie at all, either to a Christian brother or sister or a non-Christian.
Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
“Be ye angry and sin not” is a quote from Psalm 4:4 in the Septuagint. Other translations of the psalm have “stand in awe,” “tremble with fear,” or something similar, where the LXX has “be ye angry.” The uninflected Hebrew word rendered “be ye angry,” or “stand in awe” is רגז, ragaz, which could have a number of meanings, depending on the context, such as be afraid, be in awe, be angry, or enraged, and others. Its basic meaning is to tremble with violent emotion.
The Septuagint, in Psalm 4:26, as well as the Textus Receptus, the Majority Text, and the Greek New Testament in Ephesians 4:26 have ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε, orgizesthe kai mē hamartanete, literally, “be angry and do not sin.” The understanding of the Jewish people in the first century AD was that Psalm 4:4, was that we may be angry, but not sinful in our anger. So our anger must only be righteous anger.
Righteous anger may be something like seeing a man beating a dog and being angry about his actions. Such anger may move us to attempt to prevent the beating by trying to reason with the man that he should not do such a thing. That would be righteous anger. If it provoked us to take the law into our own hands and beat the man, then it would be sinful anger. Righteous anger could also be something like speaking out against a legislative measure that would force sin on the citizens of a district. There are a few scenarios where we can be angry but not sin. Conversely, most anger will provoke us to sin. Anger usually seeks revenge and that will cause us to sin. We must be very careful not to become angry. Happily, when we do became angry and sin, which will happen to most of us, there is the Cross and the shed blood of Christ to forgive our sin.
Anger without sin is not prolonged. If prolonged, then it becomes a grudge, or lack of forgiveness. If your anger is righteous, it will end when the event that caused the righteous anger has ended. If it does not end at that time, it becomes sinful. The purpose of the proverb is to tell us that if we let our anger linger after it should subside, we are being sinful. Do not let anger that is righteous linger until the next day.
Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.
If we hold on to our anger, then Satan will tempt us to prolong our anger. Do not do that.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Beginning with this verse, there remainder of the chapter is a set of proverbs exhorting that we live a good, moral, Christian life that is pleasing to God. These proverbs are in couplets, beginning with a charge of what not to do and ending with an exhortation of what to do instead.
Do not steal; rather work for your earnings so that you will have enough for yourself and to help the needy as well.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Do not say anything immoral, unlawful, useless, worthless, unfit, evil, or just plain bad. Don’t say anything at all unless it has worth. Do not curse (slang: don’t cuss). The Greek word rendered corrupt literally means rotten or putrefied such as rotten fruit or food. In other words, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col 4:6). Paul also exhorted Titus, “Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Tit 2:8).
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Do not make the Holy Spirit sad by your actions. Do not offend Him by acting against His leading. Why? Because He is your seal or guarantee of redemption. A seal was a bit of wax dripped on a scroll and allowed to harden. The ring of the person sending the scroll or letter was impressed on the seal. If the seal was intact when the intended recipient received the letter, that seal was his guarantee that the contents of the letter were actually written by the sender. If a king placed his seal on anything, it was secured by law and no one could break the seal without the king’s express permission.
For example, when Christ was buried and the stone rolled before the entrance to the tomb, the Pharisees sealed the stone to make sure it would not be opened allowing the disciples to steal the body to prove Jesus arose from the dead (Mat 27:66).
Another example is Daniel in the lions’ den, A stone was laid upon the mouth of the den and the king sealed it with his ring, assuring no one could open it until the next morning (Dan 6:17).
Our redemption is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. After we are saved, The Holy Spirit, living in us, is the guarantor of our redemption. Our knowledge that He abides in us makes us to know the He, the Holy Spirit, is our seal.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Archbishop Langton in the 13th Century developed the system of chapters and verse we have in today’s Bibles. He divided this couplet into two verses; we shall look at them as one proverb. Don’t do or say anything malicious, unkind, cruel, or evil to others; instead, be kind and compassionate to each other. Forgive each other as God, because of the work of Jesus Christ at Calvary, has forgiven each of us.