Category Archives: EPHESIANS 4

The apostle encourages believers to keep the unity of the Spirit, and then urges them to grow into Christ-likeness.

EPHESIANS 4

The epistle to the Ephesians takes us to the heights, both of Christ’s exaltation, and the believer’s place with Him there.
The apostle Paul begins the epistle by describing the wealth God has given us in Christ.  Using words and phrases such as “sonship”, (adoption of children), “redemption”, “obtained an inheritance”, “earnest of our inheritances”, “redemption of the purchased possession”, he is clearly contrasting the believer’s spiritual inheritance in heavenly places with Israel’s earthly inheritance in Canaan.  We could set the contrasts out as follows:

(a)    Their blessings depended on their obedience to the law, as Moses made clear to them in Deuteronomy 28, ours are secured in Christ, by grace, verse 3.
(b)    The nation of Israel was chosen because of the fathers, Deuteronomy 7:8, whereas believers of this age are chosen “in Him”, verse 4.
(c)    Israel were accepted if they kept the law, whereas believers are accepted in “the Beloved”, verse 6.
(d)    Israel were redeemed nationally by the Passover lamb, whereas we have redemption “through His blood”, verse 7.
(e)    As God’s national son, (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15), Israel had been redeemed from slavery and eventually brought to the Promised Land, the land promised to Abraham for an inheritance, Hebrews 11:8-10, whereas we have obtained an inheritance in Christ, verse 11.
(f)    Israel’s continuance in the inheritance depended on their obedience to God, and their success in driving out the enemy, whereas we are sure of the inheritance, for the Spirit within is pledge or guarantee of it. 

The apostle then proceeds to show how that Christ has led the way to our spiritual inheritance, having been elevated to unsurpassable heights of heavenly glory, supreme over all.  Yet amazingly, the Divine power which thus elevated Christ, is the power that is “to usward who believe”, 1:19, associating believers with Christ in the heavenly places.  In Him there now, and with Him there hereafter.
Both Jew and Gentile were dead in trespasses and sins, yet the power that raised Christ from physical death, has raised those who believe from moral death.  This is Divine work, and eternity will be needed to tell the ways in which He has shown kindness to us, 2:7.
So much for the relationship of Jew and Gentile with God, both before and after conversion, but what of their relationship with one another?  This the apostle deals with in 2:11-22.  Gentiles were formerly outsiders, having no claim on Christ, commonwealth, covenants, confident expectation, or the covenant-keeping God of Israel.  Christ’s cross, however, brings both Jew and Gentile together when they believe, 2:16.
Having empowered His servants to preach in His name, (“preaching peace by Jesus Christ”, as Peter said to the first Gentile convert, Acts 10:36), He, through them, (see Mark 16:20) came both to those far off and those near with the gospel message of peace and forgiveness.
Furthermore, the Spirit was given, whereby every believer is able to access all that the Father has in store for us.
To the Jews, this would seem to contradict all that God had been working towards in Old Testament times, when the supremacy of Israel under the Messiah was a leading theme of prophecy.  Hence the apostle unfolds Divine wisdom in chapter 3.  Certain parts of God’s plans were hidden from Old Testament saints, but are now revealed through Paul to the New Testament apostles and prophets, and through them to all the saints of this age.  The idea that Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, fellow-members of the body of Christ, the church, and fellow-partakers of God’s promises as found in the gospel, (as opposed to promises found in Old Testament scripture), was a complete mystery in olden times, but has now been revealed.

SETTING OF THE PASSAGE
The apostle now begins to explain the practical implications of the truth he has been setting out in chapters 1-3.  Having spoken of the wealth of blessing that God gives to the believer in chapter 1, and the ways of God with both Christ and those who believe in chapter 2, and the wisdom of God imparted through the apostle in chapter 3, he now proceeds to enlarge upon the expected walk of the believer in chapters 4, 5 and the first part of 6.  The last verses of the epistle being taken up with the weapons God makes available to His people so that they may defend the spiritual territory He has granted them, and repulse those evil forces which seek to deprive them of the enjoyment of spiritual things.
The chapter may be divided into two, with verses 1-16 concerned with a walk worthy of the Christian vocation, and verses 17-32 with a walk worthy of Christ.

(i)  Ephesians 4:1-16    A WALK WORTHY OF THE VOCATION

SUMMARY OF THE PASSAGE
The first concern of the apostle in this passage is that believers walk together in unity.  By so doing, they will progress together until the goal of complete and final unity is reached, when all believers of this present age are conformed to the image of Christ, the perfect man.  So there is the unity of the Spirit in verse 3, which relates to now, and the unity of the faith in verse 13, which will be realised in the future.
To this end, believers are to:

(a) Relate to one another in a spiritual way, verses 1-3.
(b) Keep the unity of the Spirit, bearing in mind those unifying factors mentioned in verses 4-6.
(c) Respond to the ministry of the men the ascended Christ has given as gifts to the church, verses 7-12.
(d) Have before them the goal of collective likeness to Christ, verses 13, 15.
(e) So respond to the word of God that the attempts of the enemy to drive them off-course are all unsuccessful, verse 14.
(f) Make sure that there is increase in maturity by through the means of supply Christ has set in place, verse 16.
(g) Have a clear understanding of what being in Adam involves, and then, turning from that, appreciate the life of Jesus, and see in it the way to walk before God.


STRUCTURE OF THE PASSAGE

Verse 1(a) Faithfulness of the apostle to the cause of Christ.
Verse 1(b)-2 Features that should mark believers as the body of Christ.
Verse 3 Fervour that should mark their keeping of unity.
Verses 4-6 Factors which are unique and unifying.
Verses 7-12 Fulness of the provision Christ has made for progress towards maturity.
Verses 13-16 Final end of the progress towards maturity.
Verses 17-19 Living like Adam.
Verses 20-32 Living like Christ.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 1 TO 6:

4:1  I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
4:2  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
4:3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4:4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
4:5  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
4:6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Verse 1(a)       Faithfulness of the apostle to the cause of Christ.

4:1  I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

I therefore by writing “I therefore”, instead of simply “therefore”, the apostle means us to take account of who he is as he writes.  He is the apostle that God has used to unfold truth unknown to Old Testament saints.  As such, he is in a unique position, and his words should carry weight with us.  He was also the apostle to the Gentiles, and the Ephesian believers would have been mainly from the Gentiles.
The prisoner of the Lord- it is not simply that Paul was specially gifted, as chapter 3 shows, but he was severely tested, too.  He has been a prisoner since he enraged the Jews by stating that God had sent him to preach to the Gentiles, Acts 22:21,22.  In Acts 23:18 he is called Paul the prisoner, and this position is referred to here to show his commitment to the cause of Christ.  As such, he is a good example to follow, see 1 Corinthians 11:1.  In chapter 3:1 he linked being a prisoner with his special ministry to the Gentiles, and this should influence believers who formerly were Gentiles to heed his exhortations.
Romans 13: 1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-15 caution us against being found guilty by the authorities.  But Peter also declared the principle, and acted upon it, that “We ought to obey God rather than men”, Acts 6:29.  See also Acts 4:19.  If man’s laws conflict with God’s commands, we are to obey the latter.

Verse 1(b)-2    Features that should mark believers as the body of Christ.

Beseech you- to beseech is to call a person to one’s side in order to produce an effect upon him.  We might ask ourselves the question whether we are truly affected by the teaching of the Word of God.
That ye walk worthy- we learn from 2:10 that God has prepared beforehand good works for His people to be engaged in, and now we are to learn what those things are.  By “walk” is meant our whole manner of proceeding through this world.  The word worthy is very significant here.  It is the word “axios”, which, as we might guess, gives us the word “axle”, the point about which a wheel turns.  Originally it referred to the fulcrum about which the scales of the apothecary turned.  Paul has weighted one pan of the scales right down with the glorious truths he has been expounding in chapters 1-3.  He now places on us the responsibility of responding to that truth.  The weight of Divine revelation is to be balanced by our responsible acting, so that the scales are evenly balanced.  This will result in our walk being a worthy one.
Of the vocation wherewith ye are called- note that this worthy walk is part of the call of the gospel.  We are saved not just for our own benefit, but also, and primarily, for God’s glory, and He is looking for a response to His rich grace in terms of a manner of life that pleases Him.  This should be our main vocation in life, for everything else is secondary.  When the believers were called Christians at Antioch, Acts 11:26, the word used means that this was their chief business.

4:2  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

With all lowliness and meekness- in view of the exaltation of Christ mentioned in 1:19-23, and the grace that has reached down to us to lift us up to association with Him in His ascended glory, we should be truly humbled, and consequently exhibit lowliness of spirit.  We should learn from the mistakes others have made.  Lucifer was an elevated creature, but fell into the sin of pride, seeking a higher place still, see Isaiah 14:12-14; 1 Timothy 3:6.  The latter Scripture reminding us that pride is to be guarded against by those given a ministry to exercise which brings them into prominence amongst the people of God.  Adam, too, was given dominion over the earth, but fell to the temptation to be as God, Genesis 3:5.  Nebuchadnezzar also fell in this matter, as Daniel 4:29-31 explains.  Meekness, too, should mark us, for association with a rejected Christ brings its hardships, but we should be prepared to accept them as being the will of God, which is what a meek spirit does.  These two features were seen perfectly in Christ, Matthew 11:29.  They are the reverse of the attitude of the natural man. We are to exhibit all meekness and lowliness, in every situation letting these features characterise us.
With longsuffering- the opposite of being short-tempered.  We may become agitated over the things we see in one another which are not Christ-like, but just as God is longsuffering with us, (for God is love, and love suffers long, 1 Corinthians 13:4), so we should be longsuffering too.
Forbearing one another in love- we should check natural responses, and let love dictate our actions. This is to be done, not in a spirit of resignation, as if nothing better can be expected from fellow-believers than matters we need to be forbearing about; nor in condescension, as if such behaviour is totally absent from us; nor yet in apathy, caring little about the failures of others, and their impact on the testimony.  Rather, the forbearance should be exercised in a spirit of love, which combines a desire for the well-being of believers, but which rejoices with the truth, and so never allows itself to compromise. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control, Galatians 5:22.

Verse 3        Fervour that should mark their keeping of unity.

4:3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit- the word endeavour has a certain half-heartedness about it nowadays, signifying only that we will make an attempt.  No such notion attached to this word in former times.  The word Paul uses here is the cry shouted by the spectators as they urged on their favourite athletes in the public games.  “Spoude!” would ring out around the stadium, “Give diligence”, “Strain every sinew”, “Speed on!”  Such is to be our attitude in the matter of keeping the unity of the Spirit.
In His prayer to the Father recorded in John 17, the Lord Jesus prayed about unity in connection with three things: 

In verse 11 He prayed for the unity of the apostles.  He asked that they be kept united in their testimony to the truth at the beginning of the church age.
In verse 21 for the unity of those who would believe through their testimony.
In verses 22,23, that the whole company of the redeemed might be perfected into one. 

There is an increasing detail given to us with regard to this unity.  In verse 11 the word is simply “that they may be one, as we are”.  In verse 21 it is “that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us”.  So the oneness is that sort of union and concord which pertains between the Persons of the Godhead.  Such is that oneness that the Father can be said to be in the Son, and the Son in the Father.  There is identity of nature and essence, so there is perfect oneness between them.  As the Lord Jesus declared in John 10:30, “I and My Father are one”.  The immediate response of the Jews was to take up stones to stone Him for blasphemy, for they recognised He was claiming Deity.  A person who is one in essence with God must be God as well.  The remarkable thing is that the oneness of believers is based on this.  They are not one with one another to the same degree as the Persons of the Godhead are, for that would be impossible, but they are one after that likeness.  This is why the word “hosper” is not used here, because that means “exactly as”; the word that is used is “kathos”, meaning “according to the manner in which”. 

Divine Persons are one because they share the same life.  In God’s rich grace that life is granted to those who believe on the Son.  “God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son”, 1 John 5;11.  “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life”, John 5:24.  “But as many as received Him…which were born…of God”, John 1:12,13.  It can be said of such persons that they are “one in Us”.  Their oneness derives from their oneness with God.  Now in His ministry in the upper room the Lord spoke of these things.  He said, “At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you”, John 14:20.  And He explained the “I in you” by saying, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him”, John 14:23.  The day referred to in verse 20 is the day the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, which event characterises the whole of the age in which we live; it is the age of the Spirit.  So when the Holy Spirit indwells a person, it can be said that the Father and the Son are now indwelling them since each one of the persons of the Godhead may represent the others.  So it is that in Romans 8:9 we learn that if the Spirit of Christ dwells in us, then Christ dwells in us.

In verses 22 and 23 of John 17 the idea is of being perfected into one, suggesting a process.  This takes place on the basis of the fact that the glory given to Christ He shares with His own, for He connects this oneness with glory in verse 22.  As Romans 8:30 says, “Whom He justified, them He also glorified”.  To be glorified in this context is to be credited with all the benefits that the purpose of God intends for His people in Christ, so that He may be conformed to His image.  But this glory means oneness, for the word is “that they may be one, even as we are one”.  And then comes the amplification of that statement, “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one”.  Instead of “as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee”, it is “I in them, and Thou in Me”.  We could say that the first statement is horizontal, the Father and the Son on the same level, and the Spirit coming down to us to link us to that.  Whereas the second statement is vertical, a chain of oneness between the believer and the Son, by the Spirit, and then the oneness between the Son and the Father.

Now these two aspects of things are presented to us in their practical outworking in Ephesians chapter 4.  There is the unity of the Spirit, which we are to strive to keep; this corresponds to the unity of John 17:21.  Then there is a unity of the faith, which will be attained when all believers are conformed to the image of God’s Son, and they can be said to have grown up into Him, which corresponds to John 17:22,23.  This process happens as we respond to the doctrine of the apostles, so that the oneness of thought that governed them, governs us also. 

We are now ready to return to the words of Ephesians 4:3, knowing that the unity spoken of can be summed up as follows:
1.    The unity is between persons, whether the Persons of the Godhead, or persons making up the church.
2.    May be expressed in acts, just as the works the Son did was an expression of the working of the Father, “The Father which sent Me, He doeth the works”, John 14:10.  So believers are to express the unity that is made between them, for they are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”, Ephesians 2:10.  Those works are detailed for us in such passages as Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12.
3.    Does not displace individuality.  The Father is still the Father, the Son is still the Son, even whilst being perfectly one.  So believers, whilst they say “not I but Christ”, and are part of the one body, nevertheless, they are to express that unity in individual ways, as the Spirit directs.  “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man (person), as He wills”, 1 Corinthians 12:7.  “To one is given…to another (of a different sort) is given…” 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
4.    Is absolute.  This goes without saying with regard to the persons of the Godhead, for “the Lord our God is one Lord”, Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29.  It is also true that “there is one body”, formed by Divine persons, and therefore also absolute.
4.    Is known through the Spirit.  The unity of the Father and the Son is known when they come by the Spirit, John 14:20.  The unity of the one body is the unity of he Spirit, that is, the unity the Spirit makes.  The unity of the faith is arrived at when we respond to the Spirit’s ministry through the gifts the ascended Christ has given.

So it is that by means of the Spirit of God, Christ has baptized His people into one body.  Just as John used water to baptized converts in his day, so Christ has used the element of the Spirit to immerse His people, so they lose their personal identity in favour of Himself, John 1:32-34; Acts 1:5.

In the bond of peace- we learn from 2:16 that one of the purposes for which Christ died on the cross was that His people might be joined together in one body, so He had the unity of His people on His mind as He died.  The peace He has made is not just between the believer and God, but also between believer and believer.  This uniting bond of the peace He has formed is to influence us all as we seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in practical terms.  If He was concerned about unity when enduring the agonies of Calvary, should not we be concerned about it, now that we have peace with God through Him?

Verses 4-6    Factors which are unique and unifying.

4:4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

There is one body- by virtue of His ascent to heaven, Christ was made the head of His people, the church.  See Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 1:18.  Since there is only one Head, there can only be one body.  God has ensured that those potential sources of division which existed at the time of Pentecost, have been dealt with.
The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans as a nation, so the Spirit deliberately guided the apostles to remain in Jerusalem in Acts 8:1, whilst the disciples were scattered abroad preaching.  Philip went down to Samaria and saw souls saved, but they were not given the Spirit of God immediately.  That happened only after Peter and John had gone from Jerusalem as the representatives of the apostles, to lay hands on them in a gesture of fellowship, and to bestow the gift of the Spirit on them.  In Luke 9:54, John, with his brother James, (“sons of thunder”), had wanted to call fire from heaven upon the Samaritans who had not welcomed the Lord Jesus amongst them.  He was rebuked for his attitude then, and now is able to show he had learnt his lesson.
Gentiles, too, were anathema to the Jews, and so when Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, believed the gospel, it was necessary for him to speak with tongues, so that Peter might be convinced that he had indeed received the Spirit of God.  Now when he was called to account for his actions that day, Peter quotes the words of the Lord Jesus about being baptized with the Holy Spirit. 

There was another company that might have been a source of division in later days, and that consisted of the converts of John the Baptist who did not know that the Spirit of God had come.  Significantly, it was at Ephesus that this matter came up, and the apostle was able to baptize them in the name of the Lord Jesus, and lay hands on them so that they received the Holy Spirit.  All possible sources of division from the past were now dealt with, and the apostle can say with confidence, “there is one body”.
Here the apostle uses the figure of speech which is unique to his writings.  The human body supplies the apostle with the example he needs to show that the church is both unified and living.  The human body has unity, yet diversity; it has a plurality of members, yet solidarity of members too.  Those members has an equality of importance, yet some have a priority in function.  Beyond all this, the major feature of the human body is that it is controlled by the head, and without that head it cannot exist as a body.  The apostle uses all these features in 1 Corinthians 12:14-30 in connection with the local assembly, (for he tells the Corinthian assembly that they are “the body of Christ”, and as such represented and manifested Christ in the locality), and he uses them here in the context of the church which is Christ’s body.  We should remember, however, to work these things out in a local context.  The local assembly is the setting in which this unity should be expressed.  Most of the members of the church which is Christ’s body are not available to us, either because they have died, or because they live far from us.  It is comparatively easy to get on with those we see only occasionally, but what of those we see constantly?  Much grace is needed, and thankfully much grace is available to enable the unities listed in verse 4-6 to be in evidence.
And one Spirit- In Revelation 1:4 there is mention made of the seven Spirits before the throne of God.  We can readily understand that in a book so full of symbolism as the Revelation, this signifies the seven-fold fulness of the actions of the Spirit of God, especially in the area of judgement.  See Isaiah 4:4; 11:2, etc.  Here, however, there is the reminder that there is but one Spirit of God, and it is through Him that the one body was formed and is maintained.  Since He is the sole source of the unity of the members of the body, in the measure in which we are spiritual, (which is the same as saying, in the measure in which we respond to the guidance of the Spirit of God through the Word of God), we shall be enabled to keep the unity of the Spirit.
Sadly, some at Corinth were preaching “another spirit”, 2 Corinthians 11:4, and because of this there was division and defeat.

Even as ye are called in one hope of your calling- the one body is a present reality; the one Spirit was responsible for forming the one body in the past, and now the prospect for the future is emphasized.  How unifying is a common prospect!  Even on a natural level this is true.  How much more on the spiritual.  The Christian hope is not a “maybe”, or a “perhaps”, but a certain expectation, for the simple reason that Christ is our hope, 1 Timothy 1:1, so our hope cannot fail to be realised.  In the context here, the hope is the full appreciation of Christ that we are called to by the gospel.  It is summed up in verse 13 as “the knowledge of the Son of God…a perfect man…the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”.  The calling also involves complete likeness to Christ, in line with Romans 8:29, which reads, “whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.”  It also involves full possession and enjoyment of the blessings detailed in chapter one of the Ephesian epistle.  It was the apostle’s prayer that the Spirit of God in His capacity as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation might give the saints understanding and enlightenment regarding the hope that calling holds out to them, Ephesians 1:17,18.
The apostle wrote, in connection with the future of the nation of Israel, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”, Romans 11:29.  But the principle holds true in any situation, that God does not repent or change His mind about His purpose.  So the hope of the calling of believers in this present age is sure and certain.  Believers from Israel have exchanged an earthly hope for a heavenly one; believers from the Gentiles now have that same hope, who before had none at all, 2:12.

4:5  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

One Lord- subjection to the lordship of Christ is a powerful incentive to unity.  If all believers are in subjection to the same Lord, in accordance with the Scriptures, then unity will result.  The apostle mentions the lordship of Christ seven times in the first two chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, to counteract their tendency to elevate men as party leaders.  All believers have the same Lord, and willing subjection to Him and His authority will result in unity of action and reaction.  Neglect of submission to Him is the root cause of division amongst the saints.
One faith- the fact that there is one body of truth to receive, believe, practice, and contend for is calculated to impart cohesion to believers as they seek to continue together in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, Acts 2:42, believing what the apostles believed and taught, and sharing it with fellow-believers.  It is noticeable that there is no comma between “doctrine and fellowship”.  This signifies that both the doctrine and the fellowship were connected with the apostles.  This made deciding what to have fellowship with very easy.  We should only have fellowship in those things that the apostles would have had fellowship in.  How can there be anything other than unity when these things pertain?
One baptism- There are two views held about this.  Some believe that because the element in which the baptism takes place is not specified, it must be water baptism.  We should notice, however, that all the other six unifying factors are entirely God’s responsibility.  This is not true of water baptism, for although it is a Divine requirement, it does depend upon a believer’s personal exercise.  The words of Ananias to Saul were “be baptized”, and are in the Middle Voice, meaning “get thyself baptized”.  Furthermore, water baptism does not introduce into the one body.  It does not even introduce into a local assembly, that being a separate and subsequent exercise.  Water baptism is connected by the Lord Jesus in Mark 16:16 with an individual’s salvation.
This would explain why the apostle does not say “There is one Lord’s Supper”, for although the Supper is collective, as 1 Corinthians 10:15-17 shows, yet it is still in the area of the believer’s responsibility to obey the command of the Lord Jesus to remember Him.
The alternative view, then, is that this is the baptism effected by the ascended Christ as He immersed His people into the one element of the Spirit, thus bonding them together when they believe.  As the result, the apostle can say in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that, as a matter of accomplished fact, all the believers at Corinth, (however carnal some may have been), were baptised into one body.  All divisions of earth, whether Divinely-made such as Jew and Gentile, or man-made, such as bond or free, lose their relevance here. 

Because it is Divine Persons who effect this baptism, then this is the way the unity the Lord Jesus prayed for is brought about, as we have seen in verse 3 in connection with the unity of the Spirit.  Just as the life of man was breathed into him by God, so the life of God is in Christ’s mystical body, the church of which He is the head.  In this way the members of the body are one as the Godhead are one, since the Godhead has effected that oneness.

4:6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

One God and Father of all- the seventh unifying factor the apostle lists is the glorious truth that every believer has the same God and Father, and hence has equal claim on His power and love.  As God, He has the power to enable His people to maintain unity despite the strong pressures to do otherwise.  As Father, He surrounds us with His affection, so that we may respond to that love by showing love to fellow-believers.  The Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another as He had loved them, and also said that He had loved them as His Father loved Him, John 15:9.
Who is above all- God is not only the source of all that the believer needs, however, but He is supreme, too, being above all.  We must submit to His supremacy, for then we shall be united.  Division-making is an attack upon God.  We shall also find that if our God is supreme in our lives, then His interests will be paramount in our hearts, and self’s interests will recede.  And in the measure that this is true, we shall be enabled to put others first and so promote unity.
And through all- God is sovereign in the way He works out His purpose.  He can use whom He pleases to foster the cause of unity.  Every gift He has given to the members of the body has this unity in mind, just as every ability the individual members of the human body have serve the interests of the whole body.  “God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there be no schism (division) in the body”, 1 Corinthians 12:24,25.
And in you all- finally, God is in all believers, in fulfilment of the prophecy of the Lord Jesus in the upper room.  His words were, “We will come and make our abode with him”, John 14:23.  This is realised through the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each and every true believer.  Not only are resources to enable us to keep the unity assured by His indwelling presence, but also the motivation to keep the unity. 

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 7 TO 16:

4:7  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
4:8  Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
4:9  (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
4:10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)
4:11  And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
4:12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
4:13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
4:16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.  
                       

Verses 7-12        Fulness of the provision Christ has made for progress towards maturity.

4:7  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

But unto every one of us is given grace- verse seven begins with “but”, and introduces a fresh aspect on things.  Before it was Divine working to produce the unity of the Spirit, and seven things that consolidate that unity, but now it is the believer’s individual responsibility to arrive at the unity of the faith mentioned in verse 13.
Every one is given grace to make use of the giving of Christ in ascended glory and triumph, so that all other believers are in some way profited. It is only by grace that anything worthwhile can be achieved for God, for we have neither merit nor strength of our own.  God’s unmerited favour to His people is shown when He allows them to exercise their gift, Ephesians 3:2; gives opportunities to do so, Ephesians 3:8; and gives power to carry out the work involved, Ephesians 3:7.  Whilst it is true that only four gifts are mentioned in this passage, yet there is the general principle set out here that all believers are favoured by God so that they may discharge the responsibility which having a gift from God places upon them.
According to the measure of the gift of Christ- that favour is suited to the nature of the gift, and the particular needs at the time of the one exercising it, so that the gift and the grace are of equal measure, or perfectly matched.
There is also the fact that, keeping strictly to the context here, believers who are not apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor or teachers, are given grace to enable them to benefit from the ministry of those particular persons.

4:8  Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Wherefore He saith- at this point the apostle marshalls support from the Old Testament.  This might seem surprising to us, given the nature of the epistle, with its emphasis on matters that were undisclosed in former ages.  But he needs to convince his readers that whilst the church is not in the Old Testament, it is possible to establish three principles from Old Testament scripture which are relevant to the doctrine he is setting forth at this point.  It is especially important to do this because the mention of New Testament prophets in the next verses might concern those who revered the prophets of the Old Testament.
When He ascended up on high- so it is that the apostle now quotes from Psalm 68.  The psalm begins with words reminiscent of Numbers 10:35 and Psalm 132:8.  The psalm traces the way in which God, represented by the ark, had triumphed in Israel in the past, culminating in the bringing up of the ark to Zion.  The gifts mentioned by the psalmist would be David’s gifts for the building of the temple.  Those gifts in large part being the spoils of war, as a reading of 2 Samuel 8:9-12 will show.  The bringing up of the ark and David’s triumph coincide.
Three ideas come together in the verse quoted, therefore.  That of ascension, of the defeat of opposing forces, and the distribution of gifts.  These are exactly the three principles the apostle is using in Ephesians 4.  One, the absolute triumph of Christ, as indicated by the fact that having been crucified on a cross, He has now ascended to the very throne of God.  Two, the utter defeat of Satan and his forces, crippling them to such an extent that, even though they are allowed a certain amount of latitude, they are easily defeated by means of the resources Christ gives.  And three, the bestowal of gifts in grace, to enable believers to grow.
It is clear that the apostle does not quote the psalm in a word-for-word fashion.  The same Spirit that inspired David now inspires him, and he gives the main elements of David’s words, but does so in a way which suits his purpose.  David had listed three things that had happened, namely ascended, led, gave.  Paul, however, makes the latter two consequent upon the first.  In other words the ascension is the main thought, and the leading captive and giving of gifts follow.  The sense is, “Having ascended up on high, He lead captivity captive, and gave gifts”.  The leading captive and giving gifts take place after the ascension.  In fact, are taking place now.
He led captivity captive- captivity is personified here to represent all that had held the Ephesians captive as unbelievers, and would try to lead them captive as believers.  Such is the triumph of Christ that He can move through the sphere of the prince of the power of the air unhindered.  In Daniel 10:12,13 we read of the way in which the progress of the angel Gabriel was hindered by an evil angel-prince, and he had to be assisted by Michael the archangel.  No such delay is suffered by Christ, who rises to heaven with “angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him”, 1 Peter 3:22.
It is clear from Scripture that the Lord Jesus has defeated the enemy in all of his guises:
The Prince of this world came to Christ when He was down here, yet He could say he “hath nothing in Me”, John 14:30.  As a result of Calvary the prince of this world has been cast out, John 12:31.
As the Devil, and wielding the power of death, he has been utterly defeated by the death and resurrection of Christ, Hebrews 2:14.
As god of this age he is defeated every time a blinded mind is made to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6.
As Satan he is defeated when Christ intercedes for His own, Luke 22:31,32.
As the Devil, the accuser, he is defeated by Christ our advocate, 1 John 2:1.

There is no reference here to any supposed transfer of Old Testament saints to heaven when Christ ascended.  Why would saints personify captivity?  Or why would they be called captives?  When Paul is writing about the resurrection of church saints he uses a scripture in application and illustration, but which in interpretation refers to Old Testament saints.  The Textus Receptus of 1 Corinthians 15:55  reads “O death, where is thy sting?  O hades where is thy victory?  (Perhaps the Authorised Version translators rendered hades as grave because they knew that church saints do not go to hades, for it is locked against them, Revelation 1:18).
In Hosea 13:14, from whence the quotation comes, the previous words are, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave (sheol); I will redeem them from death”.  So when the time of the resurrection of the Old Testament saints comes they will still be in sheol.  They have not, therefore, been transported to heaven.
And gave gifts unto men- in Psalm 68, which the apostle uses here, the gifts David gave were as a result of his victory in battle.  We read in 1 Chronicles 18 that he smote Moab, and “the Moabites brought gifts”, verse 2.  The Syrians “became David’s servants, and brought gifts”, verse 6.  Tou, King of Hamath sent his son to David to congratulate him, “and with him all manner of vessels of gold and silver and brass”, verse 10.  And what David do with these gifts?  “These also King David dedicated unto the Lord”, verse 11.  By this is meant that he gave them to Solomon to build the temple.
So the illustration is apt.  Gifts dedicated to the temple which were the result of David subduing his foes.  So the gifts Christ gifts in ascended glory are the spoils of war, for He has defeated His foes, and each gift is the sign that this has happened.  For the gifts are men who have been delivered from captivity to Satan, and brought into the service of God so that the “holy temple unto the Lord” of this age may be built and edified.  And the fact that Christ is able to freely give them is the sign of His complete victory. 

4:9  (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 

Verses 9 and 10 form a parenthesis, in which the apostle shows the completeness of the triumph of Christ, for all areas of the universe have felt the influence of His presence.  Even the realm of the dead has known that presence temporarily, so there is no place the forces of evil can hide from His supreme power.  That is not to say that the Devil has any sway in hades, or even goes there.  The notion that he is King of Hell is a pagan fiction. 

That Christ’s soul went to hades seems certain from Peter’s use of Psalm 16 on the Day of Pentecost.  Peter’s words may be summed up as follows; David’s tomb is occupied; David’s throne is unoccupied; Christ’s tomb is unoccupied; God’s throne is occupied.  If Christ is to occupy David’s throne on earth, He must first of all rise from the dead to die no more, for His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and must not be interrupted by death.
David’s sepulchre was with them to that day, so his flesh did see corruption, and his soul did stay in hades.  Not so the Messiah’s flesh and soul.  He had no corruption within, but God saw to it that no external corruption touched Him, for He was laid in a new and unused tomb.  A tomb, moreover, that was protected by a sealed stone, which barred any unclean person or animal from intruding.  In addition, because He rose again so soon, there was no time for Joseph of Arimathea to die, and be deposited in the sepulchre.
Just as His flesh was preserved from corruption, so His soul was not left in hades.  Peter used Psalm 16 not to show that something was prevented from happening, as if the psalm said “Thou wilt not abandon My soul to hades”, but rather, to show that something had indeed happened, namely that Christ’s soul had returned from hades and He was risen from the dead.  The apostle Paul used Psalm 16 to the same end in Acts 13:34-37.
Perhaps the reticence of some to accept these things is based on a false notion of hell, or hades.  That place should not be confused with gehenna, or the Lake of Fire.  The Greek word hades is the equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol, as the quotation of Psalm 16 by Peter in Acts 2:27 shows.  There is no suggestion in the Old Testament that sheol was a place of suffering for believers.  In fact, for Lazarus the beggar it was a place of comfort, Luke 16:25.

It is sometimes objected that the spirit and the soul are inseparable, and therefore where Christ’s spirit went His soul went too.  And since we know His spirit returned to the Father, then His soul must have done so also.  However, Ecclesiastes 12:7 is clear that when a man dies “Then shall the dust return to the dust as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”.  So the spirits of all men go back to God, awaiting the resurrection day when they shall be reunited with their bodies, yet the souls of men go to hades.  They are separable then.
Those who understand the verse to mean “lower parts, even the earth”, must show how that is relevant to the subject in hand, which is the complete triumph of Christ.  The expression “that He might fill all things” seems conclusive that every part of God’s universe must be under Christ’s control.  His influence pervades every sphere, and this not only because of His Deity, (for Psalm 139 makes clear that no place in creation is out of reach of God, even sheol, for the psalmist said, “If I make my bed in hell, Thou art there”, verse 8)), but now also because of His manhood, and the fact that He has passed through death, been raised, and has ascended to heaven.  The range of thought in both chapter 1:20-21, and 2:4-7, is between Christ in death, and Christ in heaven, not between Christ on earth and then in heaven.

4:10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens– Christ fills all things in the sense that He does not allow any evil force to invade His domain.  The enemy is completely vanquished.  Solomon built the temple when there was no adversary occurrent, 1 Kings 5:4.  The word adversary is the same word as Satan.
That He might fill all things.) This seems to strongly imply that every sphere is under the influence of Christ, and His soul went to hades temporarily to establish this.  The Lord Jesus compared the experience of Jonah in the whale’s belly with His when He would be in the heart of the earth, Matthew 12:40.  Jonah thought of that experience in terms of being in sheol, for he said, “out of the belly of hell (sheol) cried I”, Jonah 2:2.  In no way can Christ’s words “in the heart of the earth” refer to being in a tomb.  In any case, it is His soul in relation to sheol that is in view in Psalm 16, not His body.

4:11  And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 

And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets- the apostle is now resuming his argument of verse 8 on the subject of the gifts the ascended Christ has given, after the parenthesis of verses 9 and 10.  Some of them were apostles, some were prophets, etc.  In this passage the gifts are the men themselves, not ignoring the fact that they had gifts, of course.  In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, the gifts are given to believers in general.  Here the emphasis is on that which consolidates the unity that God has formed, and which enables the saints to progress towards the unity of the faith.  The apostles and prophets are the foundation of the temple, and the evangelists bring stones into the temple, and the pastors and teachers adorn the temple, just as Solomon’s temple was adorned with costly stones, 2 Chronicles 3:6.  Compare 1 Corinthians 3:4-17.
And some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers- being foundational, we would not expect the apostles and prophets still to be given nearly two thousand years later, especially as Peter warns, not against false prophets counterfeiting true prophets, but false teachers counterfeiting true teachers, 2 Peter 2:1.  We can expect the continuous giving of evangelists, and pastor-teachers, however.  Thankfully there are still true evangelists, who pioneer in the world, preaching Christ where He has not been named.  Solomon brought stones from beneath the temple site and cedar wood from the world of the Gentiles, and evangelists do the same on a higher level, bringing suitable material from both Jew and Gentile into the spiritual temple, the church.
Once the new converts have been brought in by the evangelist, the work of the pastor-teacher begins.  The fact that there is no “and” between the words pastor and teacher strongly suggests that it is the same man looked at from different angles.
A pastor will see to it that those newly saved are encouraged and protected.  He will have both a rod and a staff.  A rod to ward off evil teachers, a staff to lead into green pastures.  David knew as a shepherd-lad the need to function in both ways.  As he led his flock through the valley to another pasture, he was aware that it was the valley of the shadow of death for the flock.  Around, in the scrub along the path, there would be adders, but a swift stroke of his rod would deal with these.  Above, the vultures hovered, ready to swoop on the stragglers.  The flock needed to be protected from these also, not to speak of the lion and the bear.  True pastors will be alert to danger in the spiritual realm, and will realize that the enemy can strike from different directions, and in different ways.  It will not always be “as a roaring lion”, 1 Peter 5:8.  It may be a more subtle, serpent-like approach.  But whichever way the danger comes, the pastor must be ready for it.  Well might the apostle say to the Ephesian elders, “Watch”! Acts 20:31.
As teacher, he will see to it the truths of the faith are taught.  There is an ongoing and pressing need for the Scriptures to be expounded systematically and in depth.  The flock cannot survive the onslaughts of the enemy if they are only fed a diet of exhortation and anecdote.  There is no substitute for the ministry of the word by those gifted to give it.  It was only in the days of the apostles that the gift of prophecy was available.  Those with that gift were able to stand up and tell the mind of God without prior notice.  They would have to be prepared in heart, of course, but they did not prepare their message.  This gift is not available today, which is why there are teachers given by Christ to His people, so that they may expound the scriptures after careful and diligent preparation.  May the Ascended Christ be pleased to continue to give His people such gifts, and may the Lord’s people value them and benefit from their God-given ability.

4:12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

For the perfecting of the saints- the overriding reason for the giving of the gifts is to enable believers to reach perfection, or that they may be fully equipped to progress in Divine things.  This end is reached by the secondary actions of fostering the work of ministry, and edifying the body until maturity is reached.
For the work of the ministry- this refers to the service of the apostles etc, as they serve the saints by their teaching.
For the edifying of the body of Christ- whereas the work of the ministry is the responsibility of the teachers, the responsibility of the saints is to respond to this ministry so that as the body of Christ they “build themselves up on their most holy faith”, Jude 20.

Verses 13-16        Final end of the progress towards maturity

4:13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith- just as the unity of the Spirit is the unity that the Spirit of God produces and promotes, so the unity of the faith is that unity which the faith, (the body of Christian doctrine), is sure to achieve.  In a day to come all the differences of interpretation, and the difficulties and disarray those differences bring with them, will be forever gone.  All God’s people will then be in full agreement with one another as to the truths of the faith.  There is no suggestion that these differences will increasingly disappear as the age draws to a close, culminating with a state of things on earth where all believers are in agreement.  That is not a possibility all the time we have the flesh within.  It does encourage a state of mind, however, which would love to see that happen if it were a possibility.
And of the knowledge of the Son of God- not only shall we arrive at the unity of the faith, but we shall arrive at the full knowledge of the Son of God.  We shall never know the Son as the Father knows Him, Matthew 11:27, but we shall have the most extensive knowledge of Him that believers can have.  Delivered from this body of clay with all its hindrances and frailties, and bearing the image of the heavenly, 1 Corinthians 15:49, we shall be enabled as never before to enjoy and appreciate Him.
Unto a perfect man- at the Lord’s coming we shall not only be changed as to the body, with a body like Christ’s, Philippians 3:20,21; 1 Corinthians 15:45-54, but we shall be changed morally, too, so as to be like Christ who is righteous and pure, 1 John 3:1-3. With all hindrances removed we shall have the most extensive knowledge of Him that believers can have.  This will enable us to fully represent Him, as we shall be conformed (a word which speaks of inward conformity) to His image.  We shall not be conformed to His Sonship, for that is not transferable, but rather to the image of Himself as a Son, representing sonship in our measure.  A full measure, indeed, as far as is possible, but not the personal measure of Christ, which is unique. This will result in the perfect man.  In other words, the new order of manhood which Christ displayed when down here in Adam’s old world, will also be perfectly displayed in His people in that day.  The measure of the moral height of Christ’s glorious person is the measure to which we shall be conformed.  The apostle’s desire in 3:19 was that we be filled with all the fulness of God, and this is how it will be brought about.
Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ- we should notice that this phrase does not begin with “and”, as if the measure of the stature is a further thing to which we shall arrive.  We are justified in thinking that the perfect man is a man who is marked by the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ.  This is a long phrase, and it is often helpful when handling such expressions to begin at the end and work backwards.the apostle now describes the condition believers will arrive at as “the perfect man”, a fully mature and developed state.  In verse 12 he had spoken of the perfecting of the saints, and the word he used had to do with being fully equipped for a particular purpose.  Here the idea behind the word “perfect” is of maturity, and is in direct contrast to the infancy of the next verse.
We begin then with Christ, the Anointed One.  When a man was anointed in Old Testament times it meant that God approved of him, whether he was anointed to be a prophet, a priest or a king.  Whether that man lived up to the position was a different matter, Saul being a case in point.
Jesus of Nazareth was anointed on the banks of the river Jordan, Acts 10:38.  Whereas, however, men of old were anointed with physical oil by fellow-men, in this case, things were different.  The anointing was by means of the Holy Spirit Himself, the one symbolized by the oil, and it was the Father who did the anointing.  There was another major difference, even the fact that this anointed one would not fail and disappoint.
So when the apostle speaks here of Christ, he speaks of one who had the Father’s full approval.  That full approval was not only because He is God’s beloved Son, but also because all the features that the Father was looking for in a man upon the earth were found in Christ. These features could be summed up in the expression the apostle John uses of Him in John 1:14, “full of grace and truth”.  All that was pleasurable to the God who is love and light, were found in Him as He manifested grace and truth in His life down here.  He is no longer down here, however, but has ascended up on high, for the heavens must receive such a man as this.  Peter’s words on the day of Pentecost were, “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ”, Acts 2:36.  He was Christ when He was born, as the angel declared in Luke 2:11, He was Christ because of His anointing at Jordan, and now God has re-affirmed His approval of Him as one who had lived blamelessly upon the earth, and by so doing became the supreme example for His people to follow.
Working backwards through our verse, we come to the word stature.  This can mean physical height, as in 1 Samuel 16:7.  It can also be used in another sense, as when in John 9:21,23 the parents of the blind man said, “He is of age, ask him”.  “Of age” translates our word stature.  It denotes that stage at which a person can be thought of as fully-developed.  This fulness and completeness was seen in Christ down here, and should be seen increasingly in His people as they “grow up into Him”, verse 15, and will be fully attained when we arrive in heaven.  Then we shall have reached the measure of His fulness.

4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

That we henceforth be no more children- this verse presents us with the four ways in which this purpose of God can be hindered at the present time:
1.    Waves tossing us to and fro.
2.    Winds of doctrine that can blow us off-course.
3.    The sleight of men.
4.    Those who cunningly lie in wait in order to deceive us.
No wonder we need the ministry from God’s word, which alone will build us up so that we grow and mature.
The apostle now pinpoints some of the features that mark those that are immature, and still in infancy as far as growth in Divine things is concerned.  Infants are unstable, uncertain, unwise and unwary.  The Devil knows this, and exploits the situation.  The apostle describes how he does it.
Tossed to and fro- this is Satan’s attempt to agitate and de-stabilize the believer.  He may use many circumstances to do this, yet we may be sure that there is no situation that is not covered in some way by the teaching of scripture, either by direct instruction, or some incident from which we may derive a principle.  Pastors and teachers should ensure that those under their care are well versed in the truth, which gives stability and steadfastness.
And carried about with every wind of doctrine- continuing his maritime theme, the apostle speaks of being carried about or round in circles by every wind of doctrine.  By which he means wrong doctrine.  Right doctrine will ensure we steer a straight course.  This highlights the fact that infants are often in a state of uncertainty.  Not having much experience of life, they are constantly confronted with new situations that they do not know how to handle.  Winds of doctrine do not always blow from the same direction, which is why the apostle warns us against every one of them.  Sometimes there are south winds which lull into a false sense of security and complacency.  The apostle had experienced this himself just a year or two before writing this epistle.  On his way by ship to Rome, the mariners put out to sea when the south wind blew softly, Acts 27:13, but they were soon in trouble.  The apostle’s rebuke to them was, “Ye should have hearkened unto me”.  How often we would have escaped difficulty if we had listened more to the apostle!  At other times “the wind is contrary” from another direction, Matthew 14:24, but from whatever quarter it comes we may be sure that the enemy of our souls is attempting to blow us off course.
We should remember that holy men of old spake as they were moved or borne along by the Spirit of God, 2 Peter 1:21.  They were borne along by the wind of the Spirit, as a sailing ship is borne along by the wind, and this was also true of the New Testament apostles and prophets, for they spoke “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth”, 1 Corinthians 2:13.  As such, they are reliable and trustworthy, and guided by them, we shall make a straight course.
By the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness- not only are infants unstable and uncertain, but they are unwise too, being prone to put their confidence in those who do not act in their best interests.  This is true in the spiritual realm also.  The Devil is not interested in fair play or honesty.  He loads the dice against God’s people, such is the inference we may draw from the word sleight.  His strategy is to cheat believers of the satisfaction that comes from progress in spiritual things.  It is as if Satan prepares sea-charts for God’s people that lead the unwary voyager dangerously near treacherous shoals and hidden rocks.  We must beware, and so acquaint ourselves with the truth of scripture that we easily discern the false charts of the enemy.
Whereby they lie in wait to deceive- this is the infant’s lack of wariness.  So often young children display an unhealthy disregard for danger.  So we may, too, if we are not maturing in Divine things.  The apostle warns here of those who lie in wait to deceive, and who systematically lead into error.  One of the cardinal rules of ancient seafarers was to avoid plotting one’s course by the planets, but always by the “fixed” stars.  Planets were so called because they were wanderers across the sky.  Because they revolve around the sun, and the stars do not, they change their relative position nightly.  The word for deceive the apostle uses here is “plane”, meaning “error, a wandering from the true course”.
The Devil is systematically and persistently seeking to get believers to wander off course.  If they listen to his wiles they will do this, but if they are guided by the fixed light of Scripture, they will arrive at the situation described in verse 13.  When this happens, those forces that would lead us captive and prevent our progress in Divine things, are themselves led captive by the power of the ascended Christ.

4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

But speaking the truth in love- the apostle is now able to return to a happier theme in verse 15, that of growth and progress in the truth.  He insists that it is not enough to simply speak the truth in the sense of not telling lies.  Lies are the Devil’s stock in trade, and should have no place in the believer’s life.  The meaning is deeper than this, however, for the apostle has in mind that we not only utter truth, but are affected in the whole of our being by the truth.  In contrast to those who set out to deceive and cheat, believers should conduct themselves in an attitude and atmosphere of genuine love, not only for one another, but also for the truth itself.  The apostle made it clear in 1 Corinthians 13:6 that love rejoices in the truth.  That is not Christian love that compromises with error.
May grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ- when the happy situation prevails where truth is lived out and spoken in love, then believers will grow up.  What they grow up into is stated by the apostle to be “Him”, that is, Christ.  The stage of maturity we have reached can be surely known by reference to Christ in all His moral perfection.  In the measure in which we are like Him, we shall have grown up.  We should not be satisfied with being morally like Him in some things, for the apostle insists we should grow up in all things, or in every respect.  This is a strong challenge, but it is one we can meet if we take advantage of the resources He makes available to us, as the next verse goes on to say.
So the remedy for this immaturity is found in the truth of the faith, when it is spoken in an atmosphere of love by those who are qualified to do so.  This is where the pastors and teachers come in today, as they unfold to the saints the truth found in the writings of the apostles and prophets.  Their task is to minister Christ to their hearers, so that He may be known and imitated.  So shall the body grow up into “Him”, that is, likeness to Him.  He is the head, controlling all things, including this process whereby we mature into His likeness, as the next verse indicates.

4:16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

From whom- it is from Christ, as Head of the body, the church, that resources come for spiritual growth to take place.  Just as the head of the human body is the centre of control, so the head of the church directs from His place of supremacy in heaven, ensuring that the supplies we need are brought to us.  This verse tells us how it happens.
The whole body fitly joined together- the entire human body is fitly joined together and compacted, and this is true also of the body of Christ.  The phrase “fitly joined together” represents a word which was originally used in architecture, and related to the way in which one stone, skillfully worked upon by the stonemason, would fit closely with the adjoining stone.
And compacted by that which every joint supplieth- the word compacted extends and intensifies this idea, for it means to join together as one.  Ancient stonemasons were able to square stones so skillfully that it was impossible to insert a sheet of paper between the joins.  So it is with the members of the church, the living stones, 1 Peter 2:5, for they have been fitted together by the Master Artificer, Christ Himself.  Perhaps the fitly joined together is the initial bonding together of believers, and the compacting is the ongoing work of consolidating in practice that which has been done in principle.  Notice that the whole body is involved, for this is not truth for a select few, but concerns all believers.
We might think it strange that the apostle uses words that relate to the stones of a building when he is referring to the church which is Christ’s body, until we remember that when Eve was made, the word used in Genesis 2:22 can be literally rendered, “builded He a woman”.
This compaction is achieved by that which every joint supplieth.  In particular, this refers to the apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers that the risen head of the church has given for the building up of His people.  The word “supplieth” is in fact a noun, and therefore is not so much the source of supply as the means of supply. The word joint has the idea of touching or connecting.  The human body has four sorts of connective tissue, namely bone, which is rigid, blood vessel walls which are elastic, cartilage which is compressible, and synovial fluid for the lubrication of the joints.  Just as the human body is kept functional by means of these connecting agents, so the church which is Christ’s body is maintained by the gifts Christ has given.
According to the effectual working in the measure of every part- In particular, these gifts are the apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers that the risen head of the church has given for the building up of His people. The Lord Jesus specifically prayed for the unity of the apostles in John 17:6-19, that they might be one, united in the carrying out of the task of setting forth to others the word He had given.  He then prayed for believers who were not apostles, that they might be united too.  Every part of the body has a responsibility to respond to the ministry of these important connecting gifts, whether through the written word of the apostles and prophets who are no longer with us, or the spoken word of evangelists and pastor-teachers who unfold that written word to us verbally today.
Maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love- growth cannot take place unless all parts of the body are functioning properly, but when they are, there is increase and edification, so that Christ-likeness is produced.  Only in an atmosphere of love can this take place.  When the human body is distressed or disturbed in some way, normal functioning is not possible.
May the Lord help us to be exercised about keeping the unity of the Spirit, and at the same time grow in Christ-likeness, until that glorious day when we shall see Him and be made like Him.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS CHAPTER 4, VERSES 17 TO 32:

4:17  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
4:18  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
4:19  Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
4:20  But ye have not so learned Christ;
4:21  If so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
4:22  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
4:23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
4:24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
4:25  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
4:26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
4:27  Neither give place to the devil.
4:28  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
4:30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
4:31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
4:32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

(ii)  Ephesians 4:17-32    A WALK WORTHY OF CHRIST

STRUCTURE OF THE PASSAGE

Verses 17-19 Features of Adam in unbelievers.
Verses 20-21 Truth is in Jesus.
Verses 22-32 Features of Adam put off, features of Christ put on.
Verses 17-19 Features of Adam in unbelievers.


4:17  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord- the chapter began with an exhortation on the basis of the teaching in chapters 1-3, and now a new section begins in a similar way.  The practical exhortations of chapters 4-6 are solidly and logically based on the teaching of chapters 1-3.  Paul solemnly testifies in full recognition of the Lordship of Christ.  When He is gladly owned as Lord the exhortations of the passage will be willingly complied with.
That ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk- he begins with a negative example, and one they will easily recognize from their pre-conversion days.  Henceforth means no longer, suggesting a clean break with the past.  That they have to be exhorted like this even though they are believers shows they had not fully realized the implications of faith in Christ.
In the vanity of their mind- the apostle begins with the mind, because that is the seat of the thoughts, and as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, Proverbs 23:7.  Vanity as used here means emptiness of results, and is in stark contrast to the reality that is found in Christ.  Whereas the natural man produces nothing that is pleasing to God, He was altogether pleasing to His Father.

4:18  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

Having the understanding darkened- understanding is literally “a thinking through”, so here the apostle reminds us that the thought processes of the unbeliever are darkened, or covered over, not allowing the light of God’s truth to penetrate.
Being alienated from the life of God- when Adam sinned the threatened punishment fell upon him, and he died.  Despite continuing in the body for 930 years, he died the day he sinned.  The Lord Jesus taught this in John 5: 24 when He spoke of men passing from death unto life.  And since the life is spiritual life, then the death must be spiritual death.  Not that man’s spirit is dead, for spirits cannot die, and man is able to use his spirit to worship demons, but as far as communion with God is concerned, man is dead.
Through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart- this ignorance exists because eternal life involves knowing God, and Jesus Christ, John 17:3, so those who have not this life are ignorant, however qualified they may be in the things of this world.  Because men have closed their minds to the revelation of God, they are blind in heart.  This situation is not without remedy, as John 9 illustrates.  Reading verses 17-19 should makes us truly thankful that the grace of God has reached us, and should also make us more concerned about the plight of those still in their sins all around us.  It is solemn to think that the population of the world increases by 270,000 people every day.  That is not the number of people who are born each day, but rather the number of people who are born over and above the number of those who die each day.  May the Lord give us wisdom in this situation, and concern for the lost.

4:19  Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Who being past feeling- as a result of this willing heart-blindness, men are not sensitive to the truth of God, and what is acceptable behaviour with Him.
Have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness- lasciviousness is lack of restraint, the direct result of refusing the Divine laws which should govern life on earth.  See Psalm 2:3, and Romans 1:18-32.  This in its turn results in uncleanness of every and any sort, and that with an attitude of heart which longs for more and more.

Verses 20-32        Truth is in Jesus

4:20  But ye have not so learned Christ;

But ye have not so learned Christ– again the emphasis on the mind.  We learn how to sin from Adam and his race, we learn how to live worthily through Christ’s example when here on earth.  It is not simply that He taught how to live, but that He is the Life, John 14:6, for true life finds its fullest expression in Him; He is the subject of the lesson. 

4:21  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

If so be that ye have heard Him- through the personal testimony of apostles and prophets, and the preaching of evangelists, pastors and teachers, the Ephesian believers had heard Him, as much as if they had been on earth when Christ was.
And have been taught by Him- literally, taught in Him.  That is, as those who by faith were in Christ, they were in a position to take advantage of the teaching.  Try as they might to imitate Christ, unbelievers have not the power to do so.  The statement “Ye must be born again” comes before Matthew chapters 5-7, so only those who are born again can fulfil Christ’s commands.
As the truth is in Jesus- the true life is expressed in Jesus, the Man upon the earth who pleased God fully.  This phrase is often misquoted as “the truth as it is in Jesus”, but this implies that truth in someone else is different.  Christ alone is the full expression of the truth.  Paul longed that the life of Jesus might be manifest in his mortal body, 2 Corinthians 4:10.

4:22  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man- as we learn Christ through His example, and are taught of Him through His word, we are taught to put off the old man.  In principle we did this when we turned to Christ, but there is an ongoing need for readjustment to Christ.  The words “put off” mean to take off and lay aside, and are used of those who stoned Stephen, Acts 7:58.  They took off their garments and laid them aside as being unsuitable for the task in hand.  Clothing speaks of character in the Scriptures, and so we should take off and discard the characteristics of Adam, the old and out-of-date man, for those garments are not suitable for the task in hand of living like Christ.  Our old man has been crucified with Christ, for Christ undertook to deal with what we were in Adam, and by association with Him in His death and resurrection we are freed from the consequences of what Adam did when he fell, as Romans 6 explains.  Sadly, we may still manifest the characteristics of the old man, because we have the flesh within which delights to do just that.  The old man is dead, so we should not wear his clothes.  Christ is alive, and we should put on what is characteristic of Him.
Which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts- because the human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, it deceives the unbeliever into doing corrupting things, even things which will bring into ruin. 

4:23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

And be renewed in the spirit of your mind- instead of being corrupted by a deceitful mind, we should be constantly adjusting to the new things that are found to perfection in Christ.  The spirit of our mind is our attitude of mind, which is so governed by the Spirit of God that it can be called the mind of the Spirit, Romans 8:5.  We must adopt the right attitude to the things mentioned here, if we are to be in the good of them.

4:24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

And that ye put on the new man- this is the other side to the truth that we have been taught in Christ, for we have not only to put off, but put on as well.  No doubt the garments of the two malefactors as well as Christ’s became the property of the soldiers at the foot of the cross.  The question for us is which garments shall we put on, Christ’s, or the malefactors?
Which after God is created- likeness to Christ has to be created in us, for it does not come naturally.  After God means with God as the model.  God’s original design for Adam was that he be in the image and likeness of God.  That likeness has been spoiled by sin, and Adam begat Seth after his likeness, not God’s, Genesis 5:1,3.  Only because of Christ’s intervention as the second man, the last Adam, can God create anew after His likeness as expressed in Christ.
In righteousness and true holiness- this is the condition in which the new man is, ideally.  It is our responsibility to put off all those things which are incompatible with righteousness and holiness.  True holiness is holiness which is produced when we allow the truth to govern us.  The truth in question being the truth in Jesus.  The word for holiness here is not the usual one meaning separation.  It has been defined as “that quality of holiness which is manifested in those who have regard equally to grace and truth”, Vine. Notice the three ideas of righteousness, holiness and truth, which could be used as summaries of the next few verses.  They are in opposition to the corruption, lusts and deceit mentioned at the end of verse 22.

4:25  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

TRUTH
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour- it is not suitable for those who claim to know Him who is the truth, to be found lying.  As verse 15 has already told us, we should not only be truthful, but live the truth.  In fact the word for lying used here suggests this, being the word for falsehood.  May we be like the psalmist and hate every false way, Psalm 119:104,128.  The apostle quotes here from Zechariah 8:16.  As an Old Testament statement, it is a requirement under the law.  How much more now that Christ has come, and grace reigns.  Zechariah has fellow-Israelites in view when he speaks of neighbours, those who hope to enter the kingdom of the Messiah.
For we are members one of another- as fellow-members of the body of Christ we are members of His body, (for we are more than just neighbours), and what we do even with our bodies, 1 Corinthians 6:15, affects the Head in heaven.

4:26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

RIGHTEOUSNESS
Be ye angry, and sin not- sometimes the cause of truth demands that we be angry, with the sort of anger that Christ showed when He saw within the hardened hearts of men, Mark 3:5.  That it is permissible for a believer to be angry at times is shown in that a bishop must not be soon angry, Titus 1:7, thus showing that controlled anger is permitted at times.  One has said, “He that would be angry at sin, let him be angry at nothing but sin”.
Let not the sun go down upon your wrath- justified anger is not to degenerate into that which smoulders in our hearts, for the apostle is quoting from Psalm 4:4, and the psalmist goes on to say, “Commune in your own heart on your bed”.  We are to have quiet spirits, even in times when we have strong feelings about matters which affect the honour of Christ.  “Anger resteth in the bosom of fools”, Ecclesiastes 7:9, with the emphasis on resteth. 

4:27  Neither give place to the devil.

Neither give place to the devil- the Devil delights to provoke us into emotional outbursts, and we should be aware of this, and not give him any opportunities to exploit situations, perhaps by exaggerated language or behaviour whilst under stress.

4:28  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth- such is the transforming power of the gospel, that it not only enables a person to renounce that unlawful activity by which he gained a living, and begin to earn that living in an honest way, but to go further, and seek to make recompense as a believer for the sin of the past by meeting the needs of the poor.  This is in the spirit of the trespass offering, which required that one who had stolen should pay back what was stolen, and add the fifth part thereto.  See Hebrews 13:16, and also Zacchaeus’ attitude in Luke 19:8,9.  The apostle himself worked with his own hands to supply not only his needs, but also the needs of those with him, Acts 20:34,35. 

4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth- note the absolute terms the apostle uses.  A corrupt communication is a statement which is bad and unprofitable.
But that which is good to the use of edifying- when we see gaps in the lives of fellow-saints, we should be concerned to fill them with words that build and encourage.
That it may minister grace unto the hearers- so we may not only benefit our fellow-believers by giving them material things, as verse 28 indicates, but we also have the opportunity of ministering to their spiritual needs too, by those things that we say.  By this means those things which God is looking for from His people in response to His grace are fostered and encouraged.

4:30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

HOLINESS
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God- every true believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God, who is a Divine person, and sensitive to the behaviour of God’s people. To grieve means to make sorry, to cause pain or grief. Note the connection with the foregoing references to corrupt communication.  The Spirit is grieved by such a thing, for He is the Spirit of grace, Hebrews 10:29.  The fact that the Spirit dwells within us should be a strong incentive to holiness, as the apostle makes clear in 1 Thessalonians 4:7,8, “for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given us His Holy Spirit”.  The expression used of the Holy Spirit here is very strong, being literally, “His Spirit, the Holy One”.

The following things may be said about the indwelling of the Spirit of God:
1.    The Lord Jesus promised His own that the Holy Spirit would be given, John 14:16.  He is not earned or merited, but given by God in grace.  Also, He dwells within the believer, in his heart, and is not merely an external influence upon him.
2.    The Spirit of God indwells the believer the moment he believes, Galatians 3:2, where the question is rhetorical, i.e. the answer is so obvious that it needs not to be stated.  The Lord Jesus told His apostles to tarry at Jerusalem until the Spirit came, which they did.  He had said to them in the Upper Room, “If ye love Me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father…” John 14:15,16.  They did keep His commandments, He did pray, and the Spirit came.  Now that the Spirit has come at Pentecost, when a person believes he becomes part of the one body, and is made personally to drink into one Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:13, John 4:10,13,14.
3.    The Lord Jesus promised that once given, the Spirit would never leave them, John 14:16.  The Spirit left King Saul, 1 Samuel 16:14, and David implored the Lord not to take His Holy Spirit from him, Psalm 51:11.  These references remind us that the Holy Spirit was given in Old Testament times to empower for special tasks, in these cases to be king in Israel.  If the Spirit had been taken, David would no longer have been king.  As for ourselves, the permanent indwelling of the Spirit should not be used as an excuse for unspiritual behaviour.
4.    The Spirit was to be personally in the believer.  See John 14:17, where the contrast is between the Spirit being alongside of them as He indwelt Christ who was with them, and the Spirit abiding in them, when Christ was no longer walking physically with them.
5.    The presence of the Spirit is known by the believer, John 14:17.  The worldling can only appreciate things by the physical senses because he is not born of God.  Because the Spirit cannot be physically seen, then the unbeliever cannot know Him.  The Spirit makes His presence felt in the believer’s heart by encouraging spiritual exercises, Romans 8:16.
6.     The Spirit acts as a comforter, strengthener and encourager, in the same way as the Lord Jesus acted towards His disciples when down here.  This is the force of the word “another” in John 14:16, meaning “another of the same sort”.
7.    The Spirit enables the believer to see Christ, John 14:19.  He does this by announcing the things of Christ to us, John 16:14, so that Christ is glorified.  Through this ministry of the Spirit, the Lord Jesus may be seen with spiritual insight just as really as the apostles saw Him with natural eyesight.  John writes in 1 John 1:3 so that we may share the things he saw and heard, but he gives to us no physical description of the Lord.  What really matter, therefore, are spiritual views of Him. 

Whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption- the Lord Jesus has purchased His people, and we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, as 1:6 has stated.  Redemption of the body we do not yet have, however, for that will happen at His coming, see Philippians 3:220,21; 1 Corinthians 15:48-53.  Note that it is unto the day of redemption, and not simply until, as if it is only a question of time.  What happened when we were saved and sealed was in view of the redemption in the future.  This is a strong reason to believe in the eternal security of the true believer, for God has done something in the past which guarantees the future.

4:31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice- these are features which the Spirit finds grieving, and which are contrary to Christ’s example.  The truth in Jesus is totally opposed to these things.  Clearly the anger is unrighteous anger, or else there is a contradiction with verse 26.  We should only be angry at things Christ would be angry about.

4:32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you- this is the positive side, as verse 31 is the negative side.  We should avoid being unkind, but also set out to be kind, for that is what God has done, taking the initiative in the matter.  God forgave in Christ, meaning He forgave in view of all Christ is to Him, and all He did for us.  Those who have been forgiven by God should be the special objects of our care, for this is Christ-like, and is the mark of a worthy walk before God.
Notice how high the standard of forgiveness is, being nothing less that the attitude of God.  This reminds us of Peter’s question, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Till seven times?”  Jesus saith unto him, “I say not unto thee, ‘Until seven times’: but, ‘Until seventy times seven’, Matthew 18:21,22.  Then He told the parable of the ten thousand talent debt and the one hundred pence debt.  Peter no doubt thought that to forgive seven times would be commendable; the Lord raised the standard not to 7 x 7 = 49, but to 7 to the power of 7, which is 823543.  This is a lifetime of forgiveness.  There are 25550 days in 70 years.  There are 32 times that number in 823543.  So if the same man came to Peter 32 times every day for 70 years, (that is every half an hour during his waking hours), and asked his forgiveness, then he was to forgive him.  And so are we.
It is worth remembering that genuine forgiveness on the part of the one sinned against can only follow genuine repentance on the part of the one sinning.  In the parallel passage this is emphasized- “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, ‘I repent;’  thou shalt forgive him”, Luke 17:3,4.  So both grace and truth are to be in exercise; truth which rebukes and requires repentance, grace which grants that forgiveness when these conditions are met.
So it has been with God.  His rich grace has forgiven us for the sake of Christ.  His truth demanded that we repent before we knew that forgiveness.