|The Creation of God's Family||1:1-14|
|Prayer for the Revelation of God's Family||1:15-23|
|The Transition into God's Family|
|The Mystery of God's Family||3:1-13|
|Prayer for Maturity in God's Family||3:14-21|
|Living in Unity Appreciating Diversity||4:1-16|
|Putting off the Old Self and Putting on the New||4:17-32|
|Walking in the Light, Imitating God||5:1-21|
|Proper Role Relationships in Family and Society|
|Walking as a Soldier in God's Family||6:10-24|
1:10 to an administration of the fullness of the
times, to sum up all things in Christ,
the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him;
Eph 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As with most of his letters Paul starts off with his credentials. It was God's will for him to do the things he was doing and to write what he wrote. His letters have the endorsement of Jesus Christ.
Note how he addresses the Ephesian Christians. He calls them saints. Many Christians today are under the misconception that "saint" refers to an elite class of Christians. It doesn't. It's merely a term meaning "holy ones" which Christians used to refer to one another, like the term "brethren". It's used in much the same sense as we use the term "Christian" today among the brethren. But in fact the term "Christian" is only found three places in the Bible and from its usage it seems to be the term outsiders used to refer to insiders.
The faithful in Christ Jesus are the saints. They are not a separate class of saints. For as we read in 1John 5:18a, "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin." Faithfulness is characteristic of the saints because it is natural to them, having been born of God. For "this is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world." 1John 5:3,4
Eph 1:3-14 As is evident from the structure and emphasis of this section as revealed in its phrasing above, this is a doxology giving praise to God in the person of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each section focuses on the role of each member of the godhead and ends essentially with "to the praise of his glory". The key phrase in this whole section is found in verse 3 "Blessed be" or "Praise be", which is also the only command found in this section. It's very similar to the psalms in which there is first a call to worship followed by a listing of God's works and attributes. In studying this section, pay particular attention to the verbs. For they reveal God's action - what God did, which is the main subject here.
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
God has not blessed the believers in a worldly way, much as the world considers blessing through getting rich, powerful, popular, or comfortable. It is not in the earthly realm that we see the apostles and Jesus blessed. They lived difficult lives full of suffering. But God has blessed us in the heavenly realms. He has given us spiritual rather than material blessings in Christ. Practically speaking, some of these are - the forgiveness of sins and the inevitable removal of our innate sinfulness, having adopted us as children, establishing an intimate relationship with us.
Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
Before the creation of the world God predetermined that there to be a category of people whom he would choose to be holy and blameless in his sight. Those who have come to genuine faith in Christ - namely the saints, the faithful in Christ Jesus - are in that category, God foreknowing the choice we ourselves would make to enter that category, as it is written in 1Peter 1:2 "who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father."
But the focus of this verse is not simply on the idea of being chosen, but being chosen for what? Being chosen to be holy and blameless in his sight. And this is what it means to be "saved" - to be saved from our sinfulness. For it is because we are sinners that we separate from God and subject to his wrath - as in hell. But in Christ we are not only justified (forgiven of sin), but also our sinfulness will be removed (sanctification) and thus we will be guilt free and sinless in his presence. And so we declare the praises due him. For "you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1Peter 2:9
Eph 1:5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
God could have simply saved us from our sinfulness and called it a day. But he goes further, adopting us as his children. If a someone sins against you, it's one thing to forgive him and help him to overcome his sinful habits. But it's quite another to adopt him into your family! That's what God did. And being adopted is not a future event when we achieve sinless perfection, but even right now we believers are children of God. "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" Gal 3:26. Now, there are also those who would say that everyone is a child of God, and they are right from a certain aspect. For Paul himself admits in Acts 17
'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-- an image made by man's design and skill. Acts 17:28,29But he is speaking of offsping as one would speak of anything which is a product of one's creation might be spoken of as an offspring. However, the sonship or adoption which is spoken of here in Ephesians and in most of the New Testament, is different. For it is unique to believers in Christ. One is either a child of God, or a child of the devil in this sense.
"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:9,10So we see also that being a child of God, even in this life, is not simply a position, but is also characterized by a person's behavior; a behavior which is an inevitable effect of being born of God.
Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Whenever we do something, it reveals something about ourselves. God's redemption of mankind reveals His character of graciousness. This revealing is known as glorifying or glory. The idea of "grace" is the attitude of freely giving to the undeserving. This is not to say that such giving must be unconditional or arbitrary for such giving to be consider gracious. But rather that such conditions or requirements are not viewed as payments for the gift as if one earned the gift by meeting such requirements.
For example, if a man decided to give a wheelchair to everyone one who was lame in his town, being lame would be a requirement to receive a wheelchair. If one happens to become lame, or puposely makes himself lame just to get a wheelchair, such lameness is not viewed as payment for the wheelchair. Similarly if I hand a free gift to someone with only the requiement that they reach out and take it, their reaching out and taking it is not viewed as work that they do to earn the gift, as if by reaching out they are paying for it. They cannot say, "You are not really gracious and the gift is not really free, for I had to do all that work in reaching out and taking it!" That would be foolish.
Salvation is a free gift. But you have to reach out and take it. We have to put our faith in Christ in order to receive the gift of righteousness. But such faith it not reckoned as a work, as it is written, "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts (believes) God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Romans 4:4,5
Thus God's graciousness in no way is nullified by our cooperation in receiving the gift. In fact, if we were just puppets, then God's gift would not really be view as a gift, nor would giving it be considered gracious. For then it would not have been a matter of who is deserving or undeserving, for everyone would be simply viewed as a puppet, and giving would be simply a matter of sovereignty having nothing to do with graciousness. So if He created us simply as puppets, He logically could not reveal his love, nor his graciousness, or his justice through us. For He would be simply viewed as playing with puppets.
Eph 1:7,8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
To be forgiven of sin is essentially what it means to be justified. More specifically, the forgiveness of sins under the New Covenant is the forgetting of sins, as it is written: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Heb 10:16,17 This he does richly, for there is no purgatory to make up for deficiencies in Christ's atoning work. The believers sins are completely forgiven, past, present and future.
Eph 1:9,10 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment— to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
As for the "mystery", one aspect of this he mentions this further in Ephesians 3:6 which involves the inclusion of the Gentiles in God's plan of salvation. It may not seem like much of a mystery today, but imagine being a Jew and growing up with the idea that the Jewish people were uniquely God's people and that non-Jews (Gentiles) were outsiders and like dogs. This accounts for the racist attitude we see even in Jesus' disciples against non-Jews, which Jesus had to teach them to overcome. The idea that salvation extended to the Gentiles was very difficult for Jews to accept. For they considered themselves superior simply based on genetics.
The kingdom of God with Christ as head will also have further dispensations in the Millenial Kingdom and the New Jerusalem on earth in which it will be said, "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ." Rev 12:10 And in which "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." Rev 11:15 And the spiritual realm will be cleansed of the devil and his angels.
Eph 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
There is a sense of security being in Christ, knowing God's will and intention that all in Christ will be saved. And it seems that it is this sense of security which Paul is trying to communicate to the saints at Ephesus. In Christ we are chosen for this destiny. That is, as Christians we are chosen. The Biblical idea of predestination is not the same as fatalism, for we are involved in being chosen by putting our faith in Christ. For it was His will that we be involved in this process. However, having been chosen as such our destiny is secure. It's like stepping on an elevator that is predestined for a certain floor. Once you're on, you don't have to worry about whether you're going to get there or not. You just have to worry about whether you are in fact on the elevator. (And you're not going anywhere if you just stand in the doorway) So make sure you are "in Him".
Eph 1:12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
God is glorified by the gracious manner in which he treats the saints. Put your faith in Christ and God will intentionally be gracious to you to the praise of his glory. Those who first hoped in Christ - namely the apostles - set a precedent. Like Paul who said, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." 1Tim 1:15,16 Likewise it was those who were the first to hope in Christ who became the original spokesmen for Christianity, their words being read even to this day thousands of years later. Put your hope in Christ and he will give you a legacy as you declare his attributes.
Eph 1:13,14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— to the praise of his glory.
Here is the order of salvation. First you have to hear, then believe, then you receive the Holy Spirit. We saw this worked out in the Penetcost of Acts 2. Peter preached the message. Those who believed were baptized received the Holy Spirit.
The receiving of the Holy Spirit is a one time event. This is the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" that John the Baptist refers to "I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Mark 1:8 It is also what makes one born of God. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." John 1:12 It takes no effort on the person's part to be born of God. Having believed in Christ, one is automatically born of God by the Holy Spirit. And that is also what it means to be born again. "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:5-8
There are many implications and aspects of being born of the Spirit, but in particular here Paul points out the aspect of being marked out in a special category for a particular destiny, which has been his emphasis throughout this chapter. Officials used official seals to indicate the authority or authenticity of a document. What is the mark of the Christian? It is the effects that the Holy Spirit has on one's behavior, as John writes in 1John 3:9,10 mentioned previously in the comment on verse 5.
So one aspect of a seal is as an identifying mark. But another aspect is in the sense of being a guarantee. Today when you buy a product, it may come with a guarantee associated with a seal. But if you don't have that seal, then neither do you have a guarantee. Since salvation is eternally secure and unloseable, the Christian only need be concerned whether he has obtained it. If a person has put salvific faith in Christ, such a person is then born of God, and the evidence of his regeneration will be revealed in his lifestyle and attiutudes. These are the effects of the Holy Spirit. If a person sees these effects in their life, they can be assured of their salvation. But if not, then they should take heed to Paul's warning to the Corinthians "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-- unless, of course, you fail the test?"2Cor 13:5
The inheritance is in the future. It is the future hope of becoming
sinlessly perfect, like Christ and entering into God's presence blameless
with great joy experiencing intimacy with Christ and being revealed as
a son of God, not to mention the rewards for Christian services rendered
in this life.
Eph 1:15,16 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Whereas the previous section was a prayer of praise to God, this section is a prayer of supplication on behalf of the believers in Ephesus.
Hearing about their faith in Christ implies that their faith was not simply a mental agreement to ideas, but an integration of such faith into their lifestyle and speech. Such faith and love is inevitably indicative of salvific faith and that they have been born of God, as John writes, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." 1John 4:7 It is upon the basis of the effect that the gospel had on them that Paul gave thanks for them. What measurable effect has the gospel had on you that you can be thankful for?
Eph 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Eternal life is about knowing God. Jesus prayed, "this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3 This is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit whom all the saints have received. "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Rom 8:9 Paul was not praying that they receive the Holy Spirit. For he had already said that they had received him. Rather he was praying that the Spirit may impart to them wisdom and revelation in their knowledge of God.
By "revelation" I would say he's referring to the realization of general principles which can be inferred from what they know. By "wisdom" I would say he's referring to the revelation of applications of what they know. In other words he's praying that they come to realize what the faith implies and how it applies. This is one of the roles the Holy Spirit has in our lives, as it is written: "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."John 16:13
What typically happens with such prayers is that God, through the Holy Spirit reveals challenging applications from the Word. Then if we cooperate, actually doing those applications, we get to know Christ better. For Biblical revelation is not simply a arm-chair philosophical exercise. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21
Eph 1:18,19 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength
These three things "hope, riches, and power" are a theme in Ephesians as can be seen in the notes on Ephesians. "Hope" itself is a feeling of anticipation of a future event one has faith will occur. But "the hope" is referring to that future event, or state itself.
The hope of his calling is the future state of sinless perfection, in which we will be like Christ and stand blameless before God in holiness, having an intimate relationship with Christ and being revealed as sons of God. It's one thing to mentally agree with this, but quite another to realize the significance of it. For the revelation of this fact affects one's behavior, as it is written:
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." 1John 3:2,3The riches I think refers to such things as the riches of the forgiveness of sins, as Eph 1:7 indicates. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." But more generally deals with the extent of God's grace to us. Romans 8:17 to the end is also very good on this aspect. I've met a number of Christians who simply cannot accept the extend of God's forgiveness of sins, and have opted for a purgatory concept. But under the New Covenant, as I mentioned before, our sins and lawless deeds will be remembered no more. (Heb 10:17)
The power speaks of God's authority and his ability, and in particular his power to sanctify the believer. Yes, God is quite able to change people. For after death, we will suddenly no longer be sinful. But even now he has power which does change the lives of the believers to an extent as it is written, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9 The word "cannot" is actually using the same Greek word for "power" as in this verse. Those who have been born of God have lost the ability to live a lifestyle of sin. You see, we have a degree of free will and God has limited his authority to an extent to give deference to our free will, so as to treat us in accordance with his design and purpose. But having decided to accept Christ as Savior, we give Him the right to change our nature, in accordance with His plan. Ultimately this will of course result in complete sinlessness in heaven. This is not a problem with God, it is quite easy for Him. And one is not subjected to centuries in some kind of purgatorial suffering to attain sinless perfection. People with such a concept have not come to the revelation of God's power to change people. The change is instantaneous, in a twinkling of an eye. And it is a permanent effect. For there are those who, though they believe a form of "perfection" can be obtained in this life, believe also that such perfection is not guaranteed as permanent, but that one can fall away again. But the perfection God brings us to in the next life is a permanent effect.
Eph 1:20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms
Christ's resurrection is a picture of this power. Though we may view ourselves as innately sinful and that the removal of our innate sinfulness like a leopard changing its spots, yet in the resurrection of Christ we see that God can do what the world considers impossible. And for ourselves, the deadness of our own sinful flesh is raise anew, sinlessly perfect. (1Cor 15)
This raising and seating of Christ is also allegorically true of the
believers, which the next chapter will reveal.
Eph 1:21-23 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
The emphasis on Christ's authority was to give the believers a sense
of their right to practice the Christian life. Notice how Christ's authority
is applied in the following
Christ as Lord:
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:17-20His authority also implies eternal security in the following:
"For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him." John 17:2And his authority also speaks of Christ authority to judge
"And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man." John 5:27The church as the body of Christ is the outward manifestation of Christ in a simlar way in which an ambassador is a representative of the country he represents. But in a more intimate sense, Christ operates in the world through the Holy Spirit and in cooperation with the believers in whom he dwells.
2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus for good works,
which God prepared before that we would walk in them.
Eph 2:1-3 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Being dead in sin is not simply a person's position, but speaks of his behavior. The behavior of one who is dead in sin is a life of conforming oneself to the sinful desires and cravings of the flesh. Satan influences through our flesh and through the flesh of others. Those who conform their lives to their fleshly desires are followers of Satan and they listen to those who preach messages consistent with their fleshly desires. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature (the flesh) with its passions and desires." Gal 5:24
Those who are presently the "chosen", namely Christians, were formerly objects of wrath. "Like the rest" indicates that there was no difference between us and all those who are presently unsaved. Like Paul said to the Corinthians, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were." 1Cor 6:9-11a
These verses in Ephesians help to clear up misconceptions some have concerning Rom 9:22,23 which says, "What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath-- prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory--" "Objects" here refer to categories. On an individual basis what category people are in can change. So while you were formerly objects of wrath on your way to hell, you became objects of mercy.
Eph 2:4,5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved.
Salvation is not earned through perfect behavior. Rom 5:6 "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Salvation is not like a loan in which the loan officer demands you yourself provide an equal amount of collateral to cover your loan. You've got nothing to offer. God pays it all. God justifies the wicked, as it is written: "to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Rom 4:5 God doesn't justify people as long as they are good, for they are never "really" good. The only qualification is faith in Christ as evidenced by their works of faith.
Eph 2:6,7 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
These verses speak of our status. Notice the reference back to Ephesians 1:20 "raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms" And notice also the past tense being used, or the aorist in particular which speaks of historic past here. With these in mind, Christians as a category are identified with Christ in his death and resurrection and being seated with him in the heavenly realms. Although we look forward to the experience of our physical resurrection from the dead and being seated with Christ in the future, yet realize also that even now aspects of this have already come to pass for us. Christ was raised, so we are raised with Christ. Christ was seated at his right hand, so we in Christ are seated at his right hand. Our being raised speaks of a living relationship with God. Our being seated speaks of our security in Christ, having been justified by faith, and also our authority as ambassadors to carry out God's work on earth. And we have authority also with Christ in prayer to enter into God's presence to obtain the grace needed to fulfill our responsibilities.
This verse also implies an answer to the question as to what is our purpose in life. The meaning and purpose of life is to glorify God's graciousness by being objects of his grace.
Eph 2:8,9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Some have been led astray reading into these verses meaning which Paul didn't intend. So lets us carefully analyze the original language to clear up misconceptions and get at the intended meaning.
"By grace you have been saved" had already been mentioned in Ephesians 2:5 "made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved." (niv) But there a translational issue here. The phrase "by grace" in Greek (the original language of authorship) is simply the word "grace" in the dative. At issue is whether Paul intended the dative of means (by means of grace) or the dative of manner (with grace, or graciously). I would argue that Paul intended the latter. For graciously describes the manner in which he saves us, as he has an attitude of graciousness. "by faith", on the other hand,is using the preposition "dia" in the genitive which exlusively indicates instrument or mechanism of salvation. "Faith" is the means, "Gracious" is the manner. God grabs hold of our faith and pulls us to safety. He does so graciously. But those without faith are not saved. Or as Robertson puts it in Robertson's NT Word Pictures, "Grace" is God’s part, "faith" ours.
Now there are those who interpret the phrase "And this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God," to be referring to faith being a gift. But such an idea cannot be support by this passage. For on thing "this" is neuter, while "faith"is feminine, and therefore "it is" is not referring to faith. Rather "that" refers to "gift" which is neuter. What it means is "that gift is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God". But this alone does not resolve the issue for now we must consider what "that gift" refers to. Is he saying "that gift (faith)..." or "that gift (salvation)..."?
Concerning the word "gift", there are two words most commonly used for "gift" in the New Testament. "dorea" emphasizes the freeness of a gift, while "doron" is used for sacrificial offerings. It is this second that Paul is using, alluding to the sacrificial offering God made through Christ's atoning work on the cross. Salvation is the sacrificial offering of God, as opposed to being obtained by one's own works. He speaks extensively of this in Romans and Galatians, contrasting the righteousness obtained through faith in Christ as opposed to the righteousness of the law which is obtained through one's works, being a performance-based salvation concept.
Romans 3:20-24 "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."Thus we have "for graciously you have been saved through faith, and that sacrificial offering is not from yourselves, but from God, not of works, that no one would boast."
Thus if "faith" is the gift, then it is faith and not the atoning work of Christ on the cross which is the sacrificial offering made up to God. Furthermore is the issue of boasting. Is it true that if God does not give us faith as a gift that there would be reason to boast? Not according to the Bible. "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not toward God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'" Rom 4:2,3 Here the contrast is between works and faith. It is not between faith being a gift versus faith not being a gift. And the same contrast is drawn in the Ephesian's passage as well. Yet Paul mentions nothing here in Romans about the necessity of "faith" being a gift. He simply states that since it is by faith and not by works therefore there's nothing to boast about.
Faith is like a drowning man reaching his hand up to be pulled up by someone else. But doesn't that make faith a work? Not according to the Bible. For it is written, "Now to him who works, the reward is not counted as grace, but as debt. But to him who doesn’t work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness." Rom 4:4,5 Thus the Bible does not categorize faith as a work, but neither does it categorize it as a gift in the sense of being given in a monergistic fashion. The Bible would not view the drowning man holding up his hand as trying to work for his salvation. And God is under no obligation to save the man. It is purely out of grace that he does so. But God does help to develop our faith in a synergistic fashion. And it is quite easy to understand. Supposed the raised hand represents faith. The man would have no reason to raise his hand if there were no hope. But through the Word God gives hope, for faith comes from hearing the messsage. The message is like a boat which pulls up along side the drowning man. It encourages him to reach out in faith. If he believes and reaches out, he is saved. Yes there are other religions that others try to reach out to and put their faith in. But such religions are themselves like sinking ships. But as for the issue of faith being a gift, the Bible does not portray faith in a manner in which people are just drowning puppets and God as a puppet master arbitrarily forces some to raise their arms, completely apart from any choice on their own part.
And another illustration, which I mentioned previously, is that if I hand a free gift to someone with only the requirement that they reach out and take it, their reaching out and taking it is not viewed as work that they do to earn the gift, as if by reaching out they are paying for it. They cannot say, "You are not really gracious and the gift is not really free, for I had to do all that work in reaching out and taking it!" That would be foolish. Our faith is our reaching out to God. True that God helps us to develop saving faith and that He takes the initiative in this, but such is accomplished in cooperation with Him.
Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are not saved by works, but this is not to say that works have no place in the Christian life. For he also explains in Titus 2:11-14"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."
But Ephesians goes further to say that it is God who makes us into people eager to do good works.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,Remember where it says in 2Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"It is not simply that Christians, having been saved, should strive to eagerly do good works, but rather that God not only justifies Christians, but also transforms us into people who are naturally eager to do good works. Thus we find also in 1John 5:3,4 "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world."
which God prepared in advance for us to do."
These are effects of being born of God. And notice also the theme all the way from the beginning of Ephesians of the security the believer has in Christ in view of the fact that God secures his destiny, not only in terms of where he will go in the future, but what he becomes even now in this life. For salvation from sin is not earned through making oneself into a "good" person, but rather there are inevitable effects of putting one's faith in Christ. If these effects are not evident in your life, then there is reason to doubt that you have been born of God and I would recommend 2Cor 13:5 be applied.
But for those born of God, not only have we been created as people who naturally do good works, but also God has prepared good works for us to do. Walk as Jesus did. God prepared good works for him to do, his atoning work on the cross being the ultimate example, but also throughout his ministry he said things like,
What is the work which God has given you to do? Let the Holy Spirit lead you into God's work. "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." Rom 8:14
"As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me." John 9:4 "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." John 5:19 "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me." John 8:28 "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." John 4:34
Likewise in Christ "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Gal 3:28 While there are issues of role and issues of appropriate behavior, ethnic, racial, and cultural boundaries should not be an issue among the body of Christ. "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." 1Cor 1:10
Eph 2:11-13 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Today this is not so much an issue in people's minds, but realize that it was very difficult, even for the apostles to accept the idea of Gentile believers being accepted as Christians. Thus in a church with a mix of Jews and Gentiles, the Jews may feel superior just because of their flesh, while the Gentiles made to feel like outsiders. But Paul, a Jew himself, tried to give the sense that we are all in the same family where there are no such distinctions. One's background is irrelevant to one's status in Christ, and should not factor into issues of fellowship.
Eph 2:14,15 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace
"Peace" here is not simply a feeling of tranquility, but rather an ending of hostility between two sides, Jews and Gentiles. But it seems that God had started the hostility to begin with, chosing certain people based on genetics over others. And then having them live by a set of rules and regulations foreign to the other. But he was simply distinguishing actors in a play, who represent those near to him and those far from him. But just as Christ brings peace as an ending of hostility between man and God, so he brings peace between Gentile and Jew, for all those who put their faith in Christ.
It was the Law of Moses which divided the two, even in very practical ways. The law had symbolic rituals which caused divisions. Just to be safe, Jews would not even eat with Gentiles. Christian fellowship would be impossible between the two unless Gentiles became Jews and came under the Law of Moses. But that was not God's plan in Christianity. Rather, Christ abolished the Law of Moses with its commandments and regulations.
But what was actually abolished? For surely the Ten Commandments have application even to Christians today. The phrase "commandments and regulations" is more literally "commandments in decrees" or "the regulatory commandments". ("and" is not the conjuction, but "in") The Law of Moses is a set of regulations, or particular applications, based upon general principles. But while the particular regulations found in the written code were nailed to the cross, the spirit of those regulations (which is the general principles upon which they were based) are still applicable to the Christian.
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross." Col 2:13,14Here, for example is a particular regulation:
"Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Deut 25:4And here is an example as to how it is applied in the Christian life:
"Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest." 1Cor 9:7-10It is applied to justify ministering Christians getting paid for doing ministry. Seems quite far from an ox treading grain, but again it is the principle and not the particular regulation which is of concern to the Christian.
Notice also that Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."Matt 5:17-19
Jesus then goes on to speak of the general principles of the Law and applying them beyond the particular regulations found in the Law of Moses. For what has not been abolished is the general principles of the Law. Thus the spirit of every regulation in the Law of Moses has application in the Christian life. And Jesus is speaking of keeping the spirit of the Law - even the spirit of every particular commandment. Christians are not bound to keep the particular regulations in the Law of Moses in a literal sense, but rather to infer applications from them. In fact, as Jesus revealed in Matthew 5, to "keep" the particular regulations in a literal sense while violating the principles upon which they are based is to not keep them at all.
So now, being freed up from the regulations, there is no longer a basis for conflict between Jew and Gentile Christian, as both strive to together to apply the principles of the Law to their lives.
Eph 2:16-18 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Through the cross peace has been established among the community of believers and reconciliation has been accomplished between the believers and God. Thus both horizontal and vertical relationships have been brought to reconciliation. But what role did the cross play in reconciling Jew and Gentile believer?
Without the cross the only other righteousness available was a performance based one. One had to earn salvation by perfect performance. But if by performance, then there has to be some set of rules and standards by which one can measure their level of performance. That's what the Law of Moses was. It contained a set of particular regulations, like the fruit test with Adam and Eve, through which one could try and attain a performance-based righteousness. But through the cross, Christ opened up a different way to obtain righteousness. One which was based on faith rather than performance.
Under the Law one tries to obtain a performance-based righteousness, but under the gospel of grace one has righteousness-based performance. The Christian first becomes righteous through faith and then reveals his righteousness through works of faith. Under grace, one becomes free from the regulations of law, not being subject to the test, and is free to infer and derive applications from the spirit of the law as part of his living of the Christian life.
Eph 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household
The Ephesians were primarily Gentiles and thus were viewed as outsiders by the Jewish community. But under the gospel of grace are reckoned as insiders, fellow citizen's and members of God's family. God does not take lightly having people close to Him. In the Old Testament, God had shown himself to be quite distant and hostile to the unholy, only allowing a few to be close to Him. We lose the sense of God's holiness today when Jesus is viewed simply as a friend or friendly guy. God hates sin and won't allow it in his presence in any long term sense. Sin hinders our intimacy with God. It is not that God has lowered his standards in the New Testament, but that God has dealt with sin. For when one becomes a Christian, one agrees for God to remove both the guilt of his sin and ultimately his innate sinfulness itself. (For we won't be sinning in heaven) If you think otherwise, you've been deceived. Another aspect of this is that God could have simply justifed us and taken away our sinfulness, but He goes beyond this. For even before the process is complete, he adopts us into His family.
Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
By "the foundation of the apostles and prophets" he means the Word of God - the Bible, which is easy enough to understand from an historic point of view. For it is the Bible that tells us of Jesus, the object of our faith, along with his teachings and promises, and the gospel revealed by Paul, as he writes:
"At his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior" Titus 1:3We also see Jesus speaking of the Word of God as a foundation in the parable of the Wise Man's Foundation.
Jesus as the chief cornerstone was also mentioned by the prophets.
Isa 28:16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.If you take away the cornerstone, the whole house falls down. This symbolically happened to the Jews who took Jesus away, their house was quite literally destroyed in 70 ad, including the temple being torn down"I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." Matt 24:2
Zec 10:4 From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler.
Eph 2:21-22 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
The Christian community is likened to a building "For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building." 1Cor 3:9 And in particular a temple to which people are drawn in their approach to God and in which is prayerful communication with God. Unfortunately post-Biblical Institutional Christianity has characteristically associated "church" with a physical building. Thus Christians today speak of going to a church rather than thinking of themselves as the church. It is neither the buildings nor the institutions called "churches" which compose God's temple, but rather the community of those who have put their faith in Christ regardless of whether they go to a particular building on a particular day of the week.
God lives in the believers through the Spirit, who imparts spiritual gifts for the mutual edification of the body of Christ. Everyone is important, not just pastors.
The impact of a message is proportional to the convictions of the messenger. And the convictions of a messenger are measured by the trials he goes through in delivering the message. Paul was concerned that the Christians in Ephesus may be distressed at the sufferings he was going through. But here he gives them his perspective on how significant his ministry is.
There is nothing more worthwhile in the long run than ministering the gospel of God's grace. "Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart." 2Cor 4:1 and "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."Heb 12:3
Eph 3:1,2 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you
Here Paul is about to pray again for the Ephesians, but he stops suddenly and digresses concerning the significance of this ministry of grace and the mystery revealed through it. He finishes this digression in verse 13 and picks up his prayer in verse 14 starting again "For this reason I kneel before the Father ..."
Paul has a special role, as the apostle to the Gentiles, as he says in Titus, "At his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior" Titus 1:3
Eph 3:3,4 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ
The writing likely refers to the first couple of chapters of Ephesians. The mystery, of which he also alluded to in Eph 1:9 "he made known to us the mystery of his will", is apparently something which had not been obvious to the Jews but required making an inference - a revelation of the implications of the Word of God directed by the Spirit of God. Such a spirit of revelation as he experienced is something Paul desires for all believers as he prayed in Eph 1:17"that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him"
Eph 3:5,6 (the mystery) which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
There are a number of mysteries revealed in the gospels. This is one of them. Namely that all who believe in Christ, regardless of ethnic background, are included in the promise of salvation which formerly had thought to have been exclusive to the Jews. Likewise Paul says to the Colossians, "This mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Col 1:26,27
Peter preached, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off— for all whom the Lord our God will call." Acts 2:38,39 But it wasn't until Acts chapter 10 when Peter came to the revelation that this applied to Gentiles as well.
This may not seem so significant these days where it's taken for granted that the gospel applies to non-Jews. In fact today there are denominations which question whether the gospel applies to Jews (which is pretty silly given that all the earliest Christians - indeed the first Christian church - was composed exclusively of Jews). But at the time this was a significant revelation. Jews, even the godly, even the apostles early on, had developed an exclusivist attitude towards Gentiles. But Christ, the Jewish Messiah, came not only to save Jews but the Gentiles as well. "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1John 2:2
Eph 3:7-9 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
Likewise Paul writes, "I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them— yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." 1Cor 15:9,10
Indeed in chosing Paul God revealed another mystery - namely the extent of His grace. Paul writes, "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." 1Tim 1:14-16
God messenger himself is part of the message. Are you least enough to share God's message?
As for the intensity of his labor in comparison to others, I'm reminded of Jesus' parable of the Two Debtors.
Eph 3:10-11 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How do the angels - whether they be fallen like the devil or heavenly - learn more about God? One way is through his interaction with mankind. In this case it is through the body of believers - the Christian community - that angels are learning more about God.
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Shakespeare once said that all the world's a stage and all the people actors therein. There's Biblical truth in this. For the angels (including Satan) are looking on and learning more about God by observing his interaction with us. So if you find it difficult to understand why God did and said what He did in the Old Testament, don't feel bad, for much of it has also been a mystery to the angels. But now, the substance behind the allegories and symbols has been revealed in the gospel of grace.
Through the church the angels are learning about God's grace - the depth and the extent of God's gracious nature. Jesus said that the eternal fire (had been) prepared for the devil and his angels. Mt 25:41 It is through the condemnation of hell fire, being the fate of fallen angels, that God revealed his judicial nature. But through mankind, and in particular through the Christian community, his intention was to reveal his gracious nature.
All people will glorify God. Either they will end up glorifying his judicial nature or his gracious nature. Which would you prefer?
Eph 3:12-13 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
God is ordinarily not approachable. He is "dwelling in unapproachable light." 1Tim 6:16 But "you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow." And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.") Through Christ's atoning work, and through faith in him we can approach God confidently both now and on the judgement day.
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Heb 4:16
Eph 3:14-17a For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
"For this reason" refers to what he's been saying all along - namely that Gentile believers (the Ephesian Christians in particular), have been included in the family of God. And members of the family exist both in heaven and on earth, though one should not read too much into that. Jesus said in the context of the coming resurrection, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." Luke 20:38
But getting on to the content of Paul's request it appears that in light of their being included in Christ what first comes to Paul's mind as to what should be requested on their behalf is for their convictions to be strengthened. Christ inhabits all believers. And "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Rom 8:9 He is not praying for them to be saved. For he already said, "you also were included in Christ"Eph 1:13 But to dwell is a matter of degree. Christ dwells in one's heart - being Lord over one's desires - by faith. The degree to which he dwells in us is a function of the strength of our convictions.
So pray for yourself and other believers for your convictions to be strengthen so that Christ my freely reign within you.
Eph 3:17b-19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God
There is a revelation of Christ which transforms a person's life. In fact this is the process of sanctification.
1. He starts off with the development of faith in verse 16, which lead to the revelation of Christ's love, being rooted and established in the love of God. Such faith leads to obedience. "Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith." Rom 1:5 and "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching." John 14:23
2. Obedience leads to Revelation - or namely understanding. "I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts."Ps 119:100 and Jesus said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21 If we really want to know God more, we must be willing to obey Him concerning those things that He has already revealed to us.
3. Revelations leads to Transformation - being filled with the fulness of God. "We know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." 1John 3:2,3 (Also Col 1:9-12; Job 28:28)
Eph 3:20,21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Being mortal we often think small. We ask for small things - material things, temporal things. Prayer requests are often dominated by concerns of health, finances and job security, but so few requests reflect the prayers found in the New Testament letters and here in Ephesians in particular which concern spiritual and eternal matters. So when you pray consider whether your requests are too small. And pray about root causes and not just symptoms.
We as Christians are never alone. "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Php 2:12,13 Now "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Php 1:6
Eph 4:1-2 "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
You'll either life a worldly life or a worthy life. But what kind of lifestyle is worthy of the calling? A lifestyle which reflects that of Jesus Christ. "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" Php 2:6-8 Don't seek to make a name for yourself. Rather to seek to serve God and his people.
Likewise Christ was patient. The particular word for patient here ("makrothumia") means the self restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong. "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself" Heb 12:3 "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats." 1Pet 2:23 This is one of the characteristics of meekness.
And thirdly is to the endure through all the difficulties associated with loving one another. Many Christian are like "fair weather" friends, but true love is shown by how one responds to difficulties. It says, "A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity." Pr 17:17 Like under what conditions would you abandon your Christian friends - as in leaving church for another church? True- many Christians may be difficult to get along with. The word "bearing" ("anechomai") literally means to put up with, such as Jesus even said of a man struggling with his faith."O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up ("anechomai") with you?" Mt 17:17 So "bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Col 3:13
Eph 4:3-6 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Realize that the call to the unity of the Spirit is not a call to an allegiance to particular institutions or denominations. For there is but one body of genuine believers. And no institution nor denomination can claim that they fully encompass all true believers, nor can they even claim with certainty that all their members are genuine believers. In vain does Catholicism make such a claim, reckoning non-Catholic believers in Christ as condemned. In vain does the Church of Christ reckon that it's baptism is the only legitimate baptism. For there is but one legitimate baptism - that which all genuine believers have partaken regardless of denomination.
But Paul is not calling for ecumenicalism whereby Biblical beliefs are cast aside for the sake of superficial unity. He is not calling for Christians to cast aside unity of the Spirit for the sake of unity in the flesh. Forms and rituals are secondary. Unity is with regards to the realm of ideas and only secondarily to the application of those ideas.
1Cor 1:10 "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought."
Eph 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Though there is to be unity of Spirit, there is also to be by God's design a diversity of gifts.
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1Cor 12:7 "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines." 1Cor 12:11
For example the gifts I've been exercising here are those of teaching and prophecy. By "prophecy" I'm referring to the speaking forth the scriptures inferring applications. Each Christian has giftedness, not determined by their own will, nor by that of any other person, but as the Holy Spirit has determined. For God did not want us to be the same in every aspect. God is not that boring. Just look at the diversity of nature.
The world gets it backwards where they preach diversity where there should be unity; and unity where God calls for diversity. Immature Christians likewise confuse the two.
Eph 4:8-10 This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
Paul quotes Ps 68:18 though most translations render it "received gifts from men." John Gill notes that the Hebrew word signifies to give and to receive, and in fact the Syriac version of the scriptures of Paul's day renders that phrase in Ps 68:18 "and hast given gifts to the children of men". In fact Ps 68 ends "the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!"
Another interesting fact about this quote in view of the context of Ps 68 is that it affirms the Biblical doctrine of the deity of Christ. For who is the "he" that Psalm 68:18 is referring. The end of Ps 68:17 says, "The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary." And Ps 68:19 "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Paul is saying that the Lord God our Savior whom the Psalmist refers to is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven." John 6:51 And when he rose from the dead he told his apostles, "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised" Acts 1:4 and "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Acts 1:8,9 And on the day they received the gift Peter preached to the crowd saying, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38
Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers
This is certainly not a comprehensive list of spiritual gifts. There are a number of lists given in the New Testament others being Romans 12:3-8 and 1Cor 12:8-10, none of which are comprehensive. But what is unique about this list is that it focusses on ministry positions. The apostles are the initiators. The word "apostle" literally means "sent one", and today may be applied to church planters - one's who initiate or found an assembly of believers. Prophets are those who speak out what the Bible says. Evangelists are those who spread the gospel. As for "pastors and teachers", the text seems to link these together in that the other categories are separated by the Greek word "de" (translated "and", but with a sense of contrast), where as pastors and teachers are linked with "kai" (which is "and" without the sense of contrast)
Indeed a good pastor must be a good teacher. "Pastor" is literally the word "shepherd". He is one who oversees the flock - the local assembly of believers. A teacher is one who explains the Word of God. However for many churches today that have a person with the title "pastor", though they preach once a week, they generally don't oversee much more than institutional matters and are relatively unaware of the actual condition of their flock, seeing as little conversation actually goes much on beyond the standard lecture format. This is partly the fault of the institutional leadership and partly of the congregation not desiring to be overseen.
Fortunately Christ builds his church despite institutional hinderances. Indeed those who play these roles in the Body of Christ might not be doing so in an institutionally official capacity. So feel free to exercise your gifts along these lines regardless of whether or not you have the endorsement of institutional leadership to do so.
Eph 4:12-13 To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Spiritual gifts have been given in order to bring the body of Christ to maturity. We must focus outwardly with our gifts, ministering to others with their edification in mind. Maturity is the goal, Unity is an effect as are Works of Service, and the Diversity of Spiritual gifts are the means. But each must be allowed to exercise their gifts.
Unfortunately Institutional Christianity has historically drastically limited the activities of the congregation resulting in the suppression of spiritual maturity, resulting also in disunity. Institutions have made attempts to create an sense of unity while suppressing maturity, but such unity is often only shallow. Many congregations are gagged. They go to church, sing some songs, listen to a lecture and go home, seldom being allowed to expressed their opinions or talk to one another about spiritual things outside of a controlled environment. And God forbid they should criticize the pastor's sermon!
Such institutional philosophy and practices do little to edify the body of Christ. Consider this chapter. It is written that each person is given giftedness to contribute to the edification of all. And that the goal is to prepare God's people for works of service, which is the practice of the mature Christian. But what we find in institutional Christianity today is an elitist mentality in which a few are allowed to speak and minister while the others are treated like a bunch of stupid sheep. And why is it so typical that when professional ministers think of "works of service" about all they can envision their stupid sheep being capable of is setting up chairs and the like? But congregations are also willing accomplices in this charade of institutional church life. For while having great potential for doing great things for God, they are lulled into laziness and purposely remain immature so as to avoid responsibility, being quite content with being treated as stupid sheep. This is a sorry state of affairs.
Christians do not have the option to enter "The Ministry". Each Christian is already in "The Ministry". Though the institutionally elite may tell you otherwise.
Eph 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Immature Christians have characteristically been swayed by all kinds of strange doctine. It's because like children they are led astray because they are not familar enough with the truth and have not trained themselves through study and experience to distinguish between good and evil.
"Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Heb 5:14
Don't be gullible like children. Don't believe everything you hear. Be like the Bereans who were honored for scrutinizing even the apostle Paul's message. "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11
Eph 4:15,16 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Speaking the truth is often categorized as hatred by those offended by it. Much of what Jesus said was offensive though it was intended for the edification of his audience. He said to his unbelieving brothers, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." John 7:7 And much as "love" today is measured by how good it makes the audience feel, speaking lies is never done in love. Lies never really edify. "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." Pr 27:6
But of course for those receptive to the truth there are many encouraging and instructive words the Bible offers. Christ is the model of maturity and the head of the body of believers. But to accomplish the mission each Christian must do their part. For "he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 What is your part? And how might other Christians help you to gain experience and effectiveness in carrying out your duty to Christ? We're all in this together.
4:20 But you did not learn Christ that way;
4:21 if indeed you heard him,
Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
The way you think affects how you live. Your world view affects your decisions. The word for "futile" indicates that which is vain, devoid of truth and appropriateness, or perverse and depraved. Paul speaks such a state saying, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools." Rom 1:21,22 A depraved mind is an effect of rejecting the knowlege of God. For "since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." Rom 1:28
So consider in what ways your lifestyle reflects a vain or depraved
way of thinking.
Eph 4:18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
What is the root of a darkened understanding about God and the root of an ungodly lifestyle? The root is a hardened heart. Because such people love sin, they don't seek God and thus remain ignorant. "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." John 3:19 "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." John 1:5
But follow Jesus and you will be enlightened as to the knowlege of God and a lifestyle pleasing to him. When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
Eph 4:19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
And God allows such people to be given over to such things if they reject him.
"My people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." Ps 81:11,12
"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator— who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." Rom 1:24-27
Yes homosexuality is an effect of loving one's passions more than God and consequently rejecting the knowledge of God resulting in a depraved mind, a depraved heart and a corrupt conscience, incapable of discerning right from wrong.
Eph 4:20-22 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires
A person cannot come to know Christ by following the passions of their flesh. Coming to know Christ is a humiliating painful process abhorent to the flesh. Our conscience being awakened, we come through the acknowledgment and contempt for our sins with the intent of leaving our sinful lifestyle. And much of the Christian life is devoted to denying our flesh its former indulgences, lusts and passions. Such desires formerly deceived us with false promises of fulfillment but only brought corruption. For "the heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked."Jer 17:9
"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another." Titus 3:3
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." Col 3:5-7
Eph 4:23,24 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
The first thing to be renew is the attitude of mind. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will." Rom 12:2 "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" 2Cor 10:5
So "put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." Col 3:10
Eph 4:26,27 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
A dispassionate person is one who doesn't allow his passions to cloud his judgments. Yes there are legitimate reasons to get angry. God get's angry and we are to conform to his image. But God also is longsuffering. And besides, our emotions are often clouded by sin. One indication that our anger has sin in it is when we lose control over it. The devil can gain a foothold through roots of bitterness.
"Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him. In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. <Selah> Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD." Ps 4:3-5
Eph 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Paul even disregards his legitimate entitlement to get paid for ministry saying, "I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"Acts 20:33-35
Halfhearted Christianity is to cease from stealing but still to work for our own personal gain. We are called to go beyond this. Not only must we not take what is not legitimately ours, but we are also to work, being productive, so what we can practice generosity. Consider what useful things you are doing in order to have resources to share with the needy. And if you are being an unnecessary financial burden to others, diverting their resources away from the truly needy - GET A JOB!
Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Jesus said, "I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." Mt 12:36 But conversely words can edify. Words are power things, often underestimate. God left us with His Spirit and with His Word. And "the word of God is living and active." Heb 4:12a God says of His Word, "my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."Is 55:11 Likewise with us. Words influence. Words have impact. So consider carefully what you say. "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Col 4:6 And pray, "Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." Ps 141:3 Let us learn to speak by listening to the Lord and receiving the grace given Isaiah who said, "The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught."Is 50:4
Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Paul mentioned previously of their eternal security saying, "You
also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel
of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal,
the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance"Eph 1:13,14 And also in 2Cor 1:22, "God set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." Yet despite being eternally secure it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in us much as parents are grieved when their children sin. God has feelings too.
Note that while warning them in this case he is not threatening them with condemnation, much as some are quick to do today. However he does use a harsher warning in chapter 5 as we will see, and elsewhere he also presents this balance between not overreacting nor underreacting to sin, much as the Lord says in Heb 12:5,6, "My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." The Christian attitude towards the feeling of guilt brought on by sin is neither to make light of it nor to lose heart and become depressed. The Christian's attitude is the middle road taking into account both God's holiness and God's grace.
Eph 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice
Likewise he says, "Now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices." Col 3:8-9
These speak of one's disposition - the attitude of one's heart. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45 So "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Pr 4:23
So control your temper or your temper will control you. "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." Pr 16:32 And "a fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back."Pr 29:11
While the worldly swing between free uninhibited expression and being disingenuous, the Christians are to speak the truth while exercising self-control over one's passions.
Eph 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
As you may have been noticing, much of Colossians is in parallel with Ephesians as it says, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Col 3:12,13
But it is not unconditional forgiveness which Paul is referring to here. For while God loves everyone unconditionally, his forgiveness is conditional. And thus Jesus also teaches concerning relationships between Christians says, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." Luke 17:3 That's the way God forgives. So be kind as God is kind. Be compassionate as God is compassionate. And forgive in the same manner as God forgives.
even as Christ also loved
you, and gave himself up for us,
an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.
5:3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness,
let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints;
5:4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting,
which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks.
5:5 Know this for sure,
that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man,
who is an idolater, has
any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.
5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words.
For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.
5:7 Therefore don't be partakers with them.
Eph 5:1,2 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
How would you imitate anyone if not by first getting to know that person, how they react to circumstances, what are their goals and desires, their attributes and virtues, what are their attitudes and their disposition. This is one of the functions of Bible study. To discover what God is like so that we may imitate Him.
One of God's attributes is his love reflected in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, whom he gave up to be sacrificed to reconcile sinners to himself. How does God demonstrate his love for us? "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8 Notice that in doing so he did not compromise his holiness or judicial nature. Likewise with our love we are not to compromise our moral character. God's love is largely unappreciated by the world obsessed with material things and who care little for holiness and judical matters with regards to their sin. Likewise it should not be surprising that Christian love is treated much the same. In response to sharing the gospel Christians will receive hostility. In fact the sacrifices Christians make are often at the hands of the very sinners they seek to saved, much as Christ also was murdered by those he would die for.
Also Paul writes, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— this is your spiritual act of worship." Rom 12:1 Worshipping God is more than words. It's a life lived in service to him.
Eph 5:3,4 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Notice the motivation that Paul alludes to here. That is to behave properly because is it the appropriate and right thing to do. This is in line with the previous verses talking about imitating God. If asked as to why you are not involved with sexual immorality or greed or obscenity, you may say, "Because it is not proper for a Christian to do so; it is not appropriate; it is not right because it's not the way God behaves." This is righteous living - to do what is right because it is the right thing to do in the sight of God.
Eph 5:5-7 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person— such a man is an idolater— has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
Likewise Paul says, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10 And John writes, "Little children, let no one lead you astray. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning."1John 3:7,8
Those who characteristically live in sin such that they earn these labels are those who have clearly not been born of God, and as such do not inherit the kingdom of God. There are those today in the Christian community of a Free Grace Theology who are deceived on this point, and some who lead both themselves and others astray. There are categories of people who do not inherit the kingdom of God regardless of whether they call themselves Christians or not. Thus Paul writes to the Corintians in view of their behavior, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5
5:9 for the fruit of
the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth,
5:10 proving what is well-pleasing to the Lord.
5:11 Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them.
5:12 For the things which
are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.
5:13 But all things, when they are reproved, are revealed by the light,
for everything that is revealed is light.
5:14 Therefore he says, "Awake, you who sleep,
and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Eph 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Consider these three aspects of living as children of light.
1. Seeking to do what is good
2. Seeking to do the right thing
3. Seeking and exposing the truth.
Are these characteristic of your life? Are these the kind of things of which others would describe of you? The Christian life is not simply one of status. These should be attitudes and behaviors characteristic of Christians. What kind of life pleases the Lord may be elusive at times concerning particular matters, but the believer should make an effort to seek the Lord's will. And do not rely upon mere denominational indoctrination which eliminates reasoning, but seek the truth regardless of the implications. Truths which cannot be questioned are not worth believing.
Eph 5:11-14 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
That is to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are. They're fruitless in that nothing good comes of them. Those who embrace the practice of evil don't want sin exposed for what it is. Thus Jesus said, "Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed <1651>." John 3:19,20 Not everyone wants Christ to shine on thema and bring to light their deeds.
"expose" <1651> means to rebuke with sufficient cause, and also effectually, so as to bring the one rebuked to a confession or at least a conviction of sin. In other words, it means to convince, also translated "rebuke". For example Paul commanded, "Those who sin are to be rebuked <1651> publicly, so that the others may take warning." 1Tim 5:20
5:18 Don't be drunken
with wine, in which is dissipation,
but be filled with the Spirit,
5:19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs;
singing, and singing praises in your heart to the Lord;
5:20 giving thanks always concerning all things
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father;
Eph 5:15,16 Be very careful, then, how you live— not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
We only have so much time, energy, and resources, so "as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Gal 6:10 and "be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." Col 4:5
So look for opportunities to put your faith into action. Don't be overly distracted by the difficulties of life else you'll not be fruitful. Jesus spoke of this is his parable of the sower, "Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity." Luke 8:14
Eph 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
For example, "this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality" 1Th 4:3
Yes, the Lord's will is u nderstandable. And while "A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom." Pr 10:23 and "The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin."Pr 10:8
And if you're looking for God's will for your life, consider firstly what he said both explicitly and implicitly in the Bible as to what is his will and desire concerning the purpose of your life. Consider the implications of what has been written.
Eph 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit
The word for "dissipation" <810> means reckless and extravagant expenditure, chiefly for the gratification of one’s sensual desires. Drunkardness is unfruitful, wasteful work of darkness. In fact today we speak of getting drunk as getting wasted. Those who are characteristically alcoholics do not inherit the kingdom of God. "... nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:10
Being filled with the Spirit is quite the contrary to being drunk with wine. First of all it is contrary to the desires of the flesh. "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." Gal 5:17 Secondly the outcome is productive rather than wasteful. For example on Pentecost the apostles were filled with the Spirit resulting in thousands of people becoming Christians. In fact the most effect associated with being filled with the Spirit is that the Word of God is proclaimed boldly. "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." Acts 4:31
Eph 5:19,20 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These go hand in hand with being filled with the Spirit. "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Mt 12:34 Therefore "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." Col 3:16 Singing to one another is generally practiced in the weekly church service, which is one of reasons to gather together with fellow Christianns on a regular basis. "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." Heb 2:12
And "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God‘s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1Th 5:18
Take time now to give thanks to God.
5:25 Husbands, love your wives,
Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
One way in which we can express our reverence for Christ is by submitting to the authorities under which he has placed us. "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted" Rom 13:1-2a One way to measure one's reverence for Christ is by their attitude towards and the degree to which they properly submit to the human authorities God has established in their life.
To submit to one another of course does not mean that every individual submits to every other individual (which is a sort of egalitarian interpretation). For in that case there would be no recognized authority to begin with. Rather this verse means for the one under authority to submit to the one who is in authority over them. In Ephesians 5 and 6 Paul categorizes who are those in authority and their subordinates and speaks about the role relationships between the two.
Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
In this modern age of feminism this is perhaps one of the most contemptible verses in the Bible to the modern feminist, and as such it is one of the ways in which Christian women can be outstanding in the practice of their faith. As it is Western feminist society doesn't even recognize the role of husband as one having a legitimate God given role of authority over his wife. In fact much of modern society can be characterized as God had spoken in Isaiah, "Their children are rebellious and women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path." Isaiah 3:12 But as for Christians, "do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will." Rom 12:2
The manner in which wives submit to their husbands is a reflection of the manner in which they submit to the Lord. Being submissive to the Lordship of Christ will be reflected in your marriage. Indeed women who have embraced their role of service and subordination to the Lord will find taking on the role of submission and subordination to their husband to be natural, and indeed even a way in which to influence others for Christ, even if their husband is an unbeliever. A women's submission to her husband is a beautiful thing.
"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands" 1Peter 3:1-5
Eph 5:23,24 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
The husband is head of his wife in a similar manner in which Christ is head of the church. So in considering what constitutes submission in a marriage relationship we can draw upon what the Bible says of the subordinate role of the church to Christ. Would the relationship between the church and Christ be characterized as egalitarian? Certainly not. While modern evangelical feminists may claim that the "authority" which passage seems to indicate that the husband has over his wife does not incorporate "power or control", only responsibility, I would say it would follow that neither would Christ's authority over His church incorporate "power or control", but only responsibility, which is not the case. Treating the authority of husbands with such contempt is to likewise treat the authority of Christ with contempt, which is not something Christians would do.
How does the church submit to Christ? It first of all takes on an attitude of subordination and embraces the intention to do what he said. And as such it seeks to find out what the Lord has commanded explicitly and implicitly and what are his intentions concerning the purpose and role of the church so as to derive applications in accordance with his will. And secondly is the church's practice of verbally acknowledging the lordship of Christ. From this analogy wives can derive applications as to how they may treat their husbans appropriately.
Now as for the phrase "in everything", due to the infiltration of feminism into modern Christendom, and consequently the lack of education on the subject of submission, there seems to be a great deal of hostility and ignorance on the concepts of submission to human authority. So just to set the record straight, all human authority has only a limited realm of authority outside of which it cannot exercise legitimate authority. This is not to say, as some would prefer so as to excuse themselves from submission, that if one attempts to exercise authority outside of their legitimate realm of authority they lose authority altogether. That is not the case. For example Christians were commanded to submit to civil authority even though at times civil authority would overstep their bound. Consequently many early Christians were killed by civil authority because they refused to worship Caesar, a command given by Caesar outside of his legitimate realm of authority. And yet they continued to obey with regards to other civil regulations. Likewise for wives. "In everything" is referring to everything which is within their husband's legitimate realm of authority.
If for example a husband were to instruct his wife to violate civil regulations, that is not within his realm of authority (unless perhaps if the civil authorities had overstepped their own boundary). Likewise if a huband commands his wife to do something God indicates is sin. That's not within his legitimate realm of authority and as such the wife should disregard such a command. But that does not then invalidate the commands he has given which were within his legitimate realm of authority.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
Notice that while wives were instructed to obey their husands, the husband is instructed to love his wife. This is the language of love in any vertical relationship. The one under authority expresses love for the authority through obedience and consequently respect. Those in authority are to love by seeking to meet the real needs of those under authority, even sacrificially so.
Consider the humilation it may take to be such a husband. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" Php 2:5-8
A husband's role is reflect in that of Christ.
Some Aspects of the role of Husband:
2Peter 1:3 "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness"
1Cor 14:35a "If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home"
Rev 3:19 "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent."
Jer 3:12-14 "’Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’" declares the LORD. "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband."
Col 1:22 "But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—"
2Th 2:16,17 "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word."
And with regards to the exercise of authority, consider the kinds and purpose of his commands to his church. He had commands concerning their own sanctification, the preparation of then next generation, and concerning influencing those in the world to be reconciled to God.
Eph 5:26,27 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Jesus' priority with regards to the church is to make her holy and blameless. What is the implications Paul wants us to infer concerning the husband's role? The implication appears to be to nurture the wife in such a way as to make her attractive to oneself. Now as the values of a Christian husband are aligned with Christ, it would appear the process and goals would be similar. That is, a woman is only so attractive as she is godly. Teach her through the Word of God, deal with issues of sin with her edification in mind. And as Peter wrote, to develop in her "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." 1Peter 3:4 And of course, just as with Christ and his church, cooperation is required.
Of course husbands are to be considerate in this process, as is Christ. Peter mentions, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." 1Peter 3:7
Eph 5:28-32 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Paul mentions, "The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife." 1Cor 7:4 Thus in contrast to pro-abortion feminists who say, "It's my body and can do what I damn well please with it", Christian women are to recognize that their body is not solely their property. Likewise concerning Christ and the church it is written, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1Cor 12:27 and "he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."2Cor 5:15
What is the mystery of marriage? Marriage was designed to be an analogy of the relationship between Christ and the church. The Christian's objective in marriage is to try to conform to that design. Thus by understanding the intended relationship between Christ and the church we can learn more about God's intentions concerning the marriage relationship. And conversely, by understanding and experiencing marriage, we can further our understanding of the relationship intended between Christ and the church.
Eph 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
A marriage cannot be considered "working" unless these elements are present. Namely the husband loves his wife appropriately, and the wife respects her husband. Just to mention one other thing, it is counterproductive for the wife to say that I won't respect his until he loves me as I expect, or for the husband to say that I won't love her until she respects me as I expect. Each is responsible to carry out their own role, though just as with Christ and the church, how you carry it out will be affected by your relationship with your spouse.
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them."Col 3:18,19
Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
A child may ask his parents, "Why should I obey you?". There may be a number of reasons why, but fundamentally because it is the right thing to do. It is characteristic of the righteous to do what is right because it is the right thing to do. And this is what children should be taught - that there is a right thing to do, and you should want to do that right thing. In fact this quite a mature motivation. For the immature are generally motivated by anticipating what they get out of it and not because such behavior is inherently good and right in itself. God is good and righteous not because of the benefits he gets out of it, but because it's inherent in his nature to be good and do what is right.
In Col 3:20 Paul gives an additional motivation for children writing, "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Children are to come to understand that they can exercise behaviors that please the Lord to varying degrees, and that they should desire to please the Lord. It is good and a right thing to seek to please the Lord. "So we make it our goal to please him." 2Cor 5:9
Now as for the phrase "in the Lord", it does not who "who are in the Lord", and thus is not limiting this to Christian parents. Rahter I believe Paul is alluding to an idea of which I had previously covered, namely the idea that human authority only has a limited realm of authority outside of which it does not hold legitimate authority. To obey your parents "in the Lord" means that your obedience is with regards to legitimate realm of authority the Lord has granted your parents over you, regardless of whether your parents are Christian or not; that is, obedience with regards to things which are not contrary to the Lord's will.
Eph 6:2,3 "Honor your father and mother"— which is the first commandment with a promise— "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."(Deut 5:16)
Here's an additional motivation for obeying your parents; namely because generally speaking those who honor their parents are better off for it. Parents characteristically have their children's best interest in mind. Which is not to say that they will necessarily act in accordance with what their children are interested in, but rather in accordance to what is best for their children. For given that "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" Pr 22:15, it is necessary they be trained to do what is right and good. "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." Pr 22:6 Children that are untrained my literally end up dead. They may get involved wiht the wrong people, get involved with crime, drugs, sexual promiscuity, or the like, and end up if not dead, end up living a miserable life with miserble eternal consequences.
The immature are generally under the foolish impression that "enjoying life" constitutes fulfilling the desires of their sinful nature. But they fail to consider the long term consquences, issues of fate, corruption to one's spirit and one's conscience, one's mind and body. And while they may experience temporal pleasure, they miss out on what life is really about, and it's not about living for pleasure. The wicked are "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" 2Tim 3:4 and "the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives."1Tim 5:6
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Likewise Paul writes, "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Col 3:21 While there are fathers who take little interest in their children, those who love their children have to be careful not to be too overbearing and demanding, or just plain annoying. Children are more emotionally fragile and impressionable that adults. Mothers are more in tuned to the emotional aspects of raising children, and by nature are generally more gentle than fathers. But children tend to listen to their father more so than to their mother. So fathers keep this is mind, your children may take you more seriously than you think. A passage related to this verse, that may be instructive to us all as we are being trained as children of God is Heb 12:5-11
"'My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.' Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
So fathers, discipline your children, but do not exasperate them.
Eph 6:5-8 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
In those days, the authority that masters had over slaves was rather extensive. Today there is the employer/employee relationship which is similar, but the employer's realm of authority quite limited in comparison. Nonetheless the principles of subordination and submission apply. In the Bible, Daniel and Joseph are good examples of serving under secular authority, men who submitted wholeheartedly without compromising their convictions.
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." Col 3:22 This is to serve with sincerity of heart. A good Christian employee is to align his will, his desires and intentions with regards to his secular job, to that of his boss, seeking not for his own success, but the success of his boss, without compromising his Christian principles. He is to be trustworthy and reliable among other things.
What if your boss in inconsiderate? "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh." 1Peter 2:18 There's reward in doing so. "If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1Peter 2:20,21
"Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive."Titus 2:9,10
Today in which the concepts of subordination and submission are bad words, these attributes are nonetheless highly valued assets among employers, just as they are for men seeking a wife. Such a servant is a rare commodity today. The way you serve on the job effects how you influence others. "All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered."1Tim 6:1 In fact conversely if you serve well, that may influence others to be open and investigate what the Bible says.
And besides, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Col 3:23,24
Eph 6:9 "And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him."
Col 4:1 "Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven."
The relationship between master and slave is well modeled in the Christian's relationship with God. In fact many of Jesus' parables utilize a master/slave scenario in speaking of spiritual principles. An evil task master is portrayed in the Pharoah of Egypt who did not even provide straw for the Israelites to make bricks. If employers want their employers to accomplish a task, they should make sure their employees have the necessary resources to do so. Abusive employers will have to give an account of themselves one day. With authority comes responsibility. And with responsibility comes accountability. Christian employers should not be in the habit of threatening their employees. Not to mention it's a poor business practice, and usually does little to increase productivity in the long term. In fact the best companies look out for their employees interests, financial and otherwise.
Naturally with all positions of authority come the temptations of pride and prejudice, or a sense of entitlement. Christians in authority need to keep these desires of the sinful nature in check. Practice humility. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Php 2:3,4
6:12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities,6:14 Stand therefore,
against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age,
and against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
6:13 Therefore, put on the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.
having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist,6:18 with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit,
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
6:15 and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
6:16 above all, taking up the shield of faith,
with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.
6:17 And take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
6:19 on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth,6:21 But that you also may know my affairs, how I am doing, Tychicus,
to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains;
that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Eph 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
The Christian battles in the realm of ideas, attitudes, the convictions of the conscience. The enemies are
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world" Rom 12:2The Sinful nature inherent in our flesh
"The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other." Gal 5:17And the Devil and his minions
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1Peter 5:8The Christian life is a struggle. If you're not struggling, then maybe you're not in the battle. Maybe you've been marginalized or have surrendered to the enemy.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
The most important thing when it comes to talking to others is to tell the truth. That's the first rule in making a good witness. Truth is viewed as a belt here. A good grasp of the truth will keep your pants from falling down in the middle of the battle. It also holds the offensive weapon - the Word of God. The appropriate way to use the Word of God is to present it as propositional truth.
When Chist dresses for battle, he also puts on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. Isa 59:17 "He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak." The breastplate protects the vital organs such as the heart. Christians recognize two aspects of righteousness. One is that we are reckoned righteous by God by virtue of the forgiveness of our sins. Such righteousness is absolute. But there is also righteous behavior which is an effect, a fruit or outworking of our relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit who was given to us graciously and who affects our behavior. Our heart won't condemn us when we practice righteousness. "Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." 1John 3:22
Footware represents the readiness to share the gospel. Peter writes: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1Peter 3:15 But it may also allude to going somewhere intentionally to do so. "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." Mark 16:15 Don't just stay in Jerusalem to become a pillar of salt. For how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Rom 10:14,15
Eph 6:16,17 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Faith can be an effective defense against attacks. We're going to get all kinds of flaming ideas and attitudes thrown at us. But we have to learn to respond not in kind but in faith - a faith not in ourselves, but based upon the Word of God. For example often when people scrutinize my faith I might simply say, "I believe because the eyewitness testimony of Jesus life, ministry and miracles recorded in the gospels is convincing to me. Read them for yourself and see if they're convincing to you."
A helmet is another defensive shield. Knowing that we are saved from the wrath of God gives us peace of mind in the midst of the battle. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." Rom 5:1,2 "Since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Thess 5:8,9
The Bible - the Word of God - is our offensive weapon. It's what we should hold out in front of us, utilizing it as the Spirit leads. That is, we should proclaim the proper sense of its meaning and application as we have inferred by the Spirit and allow the Spirit to lead us in particular situations to bring out appropriate passages. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Heb 4:12
Eph 6:18-20 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Along with the Word of God, Prayer is another weapon the Christian has in his arsenal. In fact take time now to pray. Especially keep in mind those fellow saints who are preaching the gospel.
Now while there are some essential elements to preaching the gospel, as I've noted at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/preaching.html, there is no standard way of preaching the gospel. Even Paul relies upon words being given him at the time as the Spirit leads and given the people and circumstances he faces. Pray that God may guide those who preach the gospel as to what words they should use. But not only words, pray also about attitude. The manner in which the gospel should be presented is without fear. For Confidence Communicates Conviction, which influences how the message is received. And "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." Phm 1:6
Eph 6:21,22 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
Paul, not having access to email, would frequently send men like Timothy and Tychicus as letters to encourage the saints and keep both the saints and himself mutually informed. For many of us "out of sight, out of mind" comes naturally. Therefore it's best to periodically keep up communication if such is welcomed. Often today pastors will leave churches and you'll never hear from them again. That's not Paul's example.
Tychicus was from the area, Asia minor, and is mentioned in a number of other places: Acts 20:4; Col 4:7; 2Tim 4:12; Titus 3:12, and described as "a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord." Col 4:7
Eph 6:23,24 Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
Paul ends in this prayer. He prays for the Christian community to experience peace. Likewise he prays in Romans 15:13 "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
As with peace, Christian love and Christian faith go hand in hand. One grows with the other. Of the Philippians he prays, "This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment" Php 1:9 and characterizing Christian faith Paul writes of Abraham, "he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform." Rom 4:20,21
Grace is God's attribute of freely giving to the worthy, but not necessarily to the unqualified. Paul qualifies this prayer as being directed specifically on behalf of those who have an undying, or incorruptible, love for our Lord Jesus Christ. He is not praying on behalf of mere nominal half-hearted Christians here. "'My righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." Hebrews 10:38-39