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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the October 8 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: October 8
<< Eph 3

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Ephesians 4-6    Listen Podcast  

 

The unity of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16)

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
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:
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;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
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.

Now, before we deal with these verses, we must not lose sight of what is at the heart of the discussion that has dominated this letter to the Ephesians - the equal footing of Gentiles within the Body of Christ with the Jews. There is no difference between Jewish salvation and Gentile salvation. Paul assures the Ephesian Gentiles that the middle wall of partition has been broken down between the two in chapter 2 (see notes). Then, in Ephesians 3:6 (see notes), Paul unveils to them the mystery that has been revealed to him, "That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:" So, the discussion in Ephesians is designed to show that there is no inferiority with Gentile salvation; saved Gentiles are equal in the Body of Christ with saved Jews.

This chapter begins with Paul's exhortation to the Ephesians after he has just revealed his prayer for them in Ephesians 3:14-21 (see notes). Based upon that prayer, Paul gives them these words of encouragement in verses 1-3. There's a Greek word that gets a lot of usage in verse 1 - "kaleo." That's the verb form translated "called." In addition, the noun from the same root ("klesis") is translated "vocation" or simply "calling." Interestingly enough, the root is used in another compound word ("parakaleo") in that verse translated "I beseech." With the Greek prefix, "para," it means "I call alongside" or "I exhort." So, if you're looking for a calling, there it is in verse 1, literally, "I call you alongside myself to walk worthy (in an approved manner) of the calling in which ye were called." That "vocation" or "calling" is that of salvation itself. So...as one who has been saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, Paul instructs them (and us) to "walk worthy" i.e. walk in a fashion that reflects our appreciation for Christ's sacrifice. Again, the emphasis here is to embrace the notion that these Gentile Believers are just as called - just as worthy to be part of the Body of Christ as Jews.

Now...if there's any question about what it means to "walk worthy," there's your answer in verses 2-3:

So, to put verses 1-3 into perspective, when Believers are responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, there is unity among them. Verse 1 says, in essence, live your life like a child of God. On the eve of the crucifixion, Jesus said the following:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The identifier of a Believer ought to be the love he demonstrates toward others...especially other Believers. Paul clearly states that concept in verses 1-2 and puts the cap on it in verse 3, "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Division, bickering, strife - they are all signs of the carnal nature of man at work. Make no mistake about it, when strife and friction exist in a local church body, that is the working of evil forces, not the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of unity among the Believers - Jew and Gentile, Paul develops this "one" theme in verses 4-6:

In other words, there's nothing different about the faith with regard to Jews and Gentiles. There is only one faith for all of us. For that reason, fragmentation in the form of division within the Body of Believers has no rightful place. Jews and Gentiles must all embrace the same spiritual components of our faith - as one Body of Christ. That's the essence of these three verses, but one clarification should be made regarding the "one baptism." Water baptism is a picture...a token representing the change that has taken place in a Believer after salvation. The actual "baptism" that makes that change is that of the Holy Spirit. There can be no question that "baptism" by the Holy Spirit, the experience of all Believers at salvation, is the miracle of God that makes salvation possible. However, in talking about Jewish versus Gentile salvation, Paul is probably referring to water baptism here to point out that both Jews and Gentiles are baptized the same way - "one baptism." In another passage where Paul is addressing unity among Believers, he said in I Corinthians 12:13 (see notes), "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."

Now that we have established that we are one in Christ, we see the diversity of the ministry of Christ working in each Believer (by the Holy Spirit) in verse 7, "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." However, we'll hold that thought for three verses and continue developing it in verse 11.

In Ephesians 4:8-10 Paul takes a little doctrinal detour when he quotes Psalms 68:18 (see notes) regarding the whereabouts of Christ between the crucifixion and resurrection. He actually quotes from this Psalm to continue his thought regarding his mention of the "gift of Christ" in verse 7, also referenced by the Psalmist. However, while on the subject, Paul develops an interesting already-fulfilled prophecy concerning the "captives" of that Psalm. Thus, this passage, along with several others in the New Testament, gives us a fairly complete account regarding the home of the Old Testament saints before and after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For a complete picture of the implications of this passage and others, study carefully the information in the box to the right of this window, or click here to read the article entitled, "Paradise Relocated" in a separate window. In these verses we see the descent and ascension after the crucifixion of Christ.

Remember, verse 11 continues the same thought introduced in verse 7 before we took a little parenthetical detour - "the gift of Christ." Verse 11 says, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;" The usage of a different Greek conjunction in that verse to connect "pastors and teachers" (Greek: "kai" instead of "de") would appear to combine them into one pastor/teacher office. Click here for a study on the distinction between the words translated pastor, bishop and elder. The gifted people who fulfill specific offices in verse 11 are those whom Christ has enabled to minister to the body of Christ at large since the cross to present. While the Greek word "apostolos" is transliterated into our English word "apostle" and before the ministry of Christ simply meant messenger, I'm relatively certain that the "apostles" of this verse is a specific reference to the twelve apostles of Jesus himself, personally chosen by him. (Click here to see the notes regarding the choosing of an apostle as a successor to Judas in Acts 1:12-26.). If one looks at the 81 occurrences of the Greek word "apostolos" in the New Testament, it is near impossible to conclude that Paul intends his reference here to "apostles" to be extended past the apostles appointed by Christ himself. Of course, Paul includes himself in this group based upon his discussion regarding the matter in I Corinthians 9 (see notes).

Incidentally, verse 11 is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word "poimaine" is translated "pastor." In every other instance, it is translated "shepherd."

Before the completion of our canon of scripture, the Bible, prophets facilitated the process of delivering God's word to God's people. As a matter of fact, the entire text of scripture was manifested originally through prophets. Prophets are those who receive direct revelation from God - the equivalent of scripture.

Many wonder if prophets still exist today. I'll make two points to shed light on that question. First, God can manifest himself however he pleases, and he has chosen to do so through prophets in the past. But second of all, Moses was very specific in warning the Hebrews regarding the performance standards for future prophets in Deuteronomy 18:15-22 (see notes). I believe it's appropriate to apply this test to anyone who proclaims himself to be a prophet. Based upon this criteria, I have never personally met someone rising to that level of accuracy. We do know, of course, that God will send two prophets in Revelation 11:1-14 (see notes) during the tribulation period.

What about the doctrinal position held by many that the gift of prophecy has been discontinued? Click here for a complete discussion of that issue as seen in I Corinthians 13:8-13. Based upon this, I'm inclined to adopt the position that the original twelve apostles and the first-century prophets who ministered to the Body of Christ at large comprise the grand total of apostles and prophets to the Body of Christ seen in this passage. After all, we are members of the same Body of Christ as the first-century church; we benefit from their gifts as well as those early Believers through the Word of God left by them.

Ministering to the Body of Christ at large today are the offices of evangelists and, of course, pastors/teachers. Based upon the the commentary on Acts 1:12-26 (see note) regarding apostles and the study of the gift of prophecy from I Corinthians 13:8-13 (see notes) regarding prophets, I'm comfortable with the notion that their work in the body of Christ has been completed.

The purpose statement for the New Testament church is found in verse 12. What is the job of the local church? Answer: Verse 12, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" Though translated as a verb, "perfecting" comes from a Greek noun "katartismos" which means "fully qualified." The Greek noun for "ministry" is "diakonia" which means "serving." The Greek word for "edifying" is also a Greek noun which means "building." It's important to realize that the mission of the local church is for the equipping of Believers, for service and for building up the body of Christ. When Believers are focused on the goals of verse 12, unity comes as a natural process.

So...when the leaders of verse 11 focus their efforts on the mission of verse 12, what are the results? There it is in verse 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." There's the "unity" that we started with in verse 3 which comes when Believers measure up to the "perfect man" of verse 13. Don't panic; "perfect" here comes from the Greek word "teleios" and means "complete" or "mature." The maturing process is gaining "the knowledge of the Son of God." Believers must be equipped with God's Word to realize this in their lives.

Let's contrast maturity in this passage to the concept of immaturity seen in children in verse 14 - easily swayed and easily deceived. That's baaaad! Spiritually-mature Believers are the grownups within the body of Christ (verses 15-16). Jesus is the head, and Believers fit together with every part working effectively and growing in love.

Symptoms of a spirit-led life (Ephesians 4:17-32)

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,
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:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27 Neither give place to the devil.
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.
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.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

So, how does a spirit-led Believer conduct himself? Well...first of all...unlike those who have rejected Jesus Christ as their personal savior; we see the description of their unacceptable conduct in verses 17-22.

Notice the detailed description Paul gives of unregenerate Gentiles:

Here's an important concept. These Gentiles about whom Paul is speaking had no basis of morality. Subsequently, their standards of right and wrong were arbitrary. Such is the case today for those who reject the counsel of God - no moral basis. Paul addressed this same issue in Romans 1:16-32 (see notes). As we see societies distancing themselves from God's Word, keep this in mind: When they reject God's Word, they lose their fundamental foundation for right and wrong. At that point, anything goes.

Now, if you know the truth (verse 21), Paul commands in verse 22 to "put off" that conduct of the "old man." and "put on" the conduct of the "new man" in the next two verses. Verses 23 and 24 talk about being "renewed in the spirit of your mind." That's a reference to being led by the spirit. The Holy Spirit's leading can only be experienced when one is filled by the spirit, a natural result of practicing good spiritual hygiene. "What is good spiritual hygiene?" you ask. Just like the physical body needs physical nourishment and sound practices of hygiene, so does the spiritual man who resides within all Believers.

Here are the daily practices I call good SPIRITUAL HYGIENE:

I'm convinced that these daily practices are essential for victorious Christian living. Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in this process in vital. Click here to read the article entitled, "Good Spiritual Health." When we exercise these, we effectively "put on the new man" of verse 24. The new man is the Holy Spirit within us - strengthened.

These are sound activities that make the Holy Spirit's influence in your life strong. When the strength of the Holy Spirit is leading you, the admonitions of verses 25-32 just fall into place...naturally. Lying (verse 25), an angry disposition (verse 26), entertaining thoughts that would please "the devil" (verse 27), thievery (verse 28) and unwholesome or harmful communication are just a few of the negatives that, were we to engage, would "grieve" the "Holy Spirit" (verse 30). But Paul's not done, as we see in verse 31, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." Let's be clear: The Holy Spirit's leadership delivers Believers from these attitudes and actions.

Oooops...let's back up for a moment to look at verse 30 again, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Paul said in II Corinthians 1:21-22 (see notes), "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." These two passages show us that the Holy Spirit seals our salvation and serves as the "earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." In other words, the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in every Believer is God's earnest payment on each of us - the literal assurance that we are children of God redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and on our way to Heaven, a concept he mentions again in II Corinthians 5:5 (see notes) when he says, "Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." But wait! There's more! Paul also writes in Ephesians 1:13 (see notes), "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," Paul is clear on this doctrinal issue of the Holy Spirit. God gives each Believer the Holy Spirit as a seal to validate and eternally protect the salvation of that Believer. This ministry of the Holy Spirit begins at salvation according to I Corinthians 12:13 (see notes), "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body..." Paul tells the Romans that each Believer is in possession of the Holy Spirit when he says in Romans 8:9 (see notes), "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." So, here's the bottom line: No one gets saved without the empowerment and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and it is that same Holy Spirit which safeguards our salvation afterward. See the article entitled, "The Earnest of the Spirit" to the right of this window for more details, or you may click here to read it in full screen.

Now for the capper in verse 32, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you." The Greek verb for "forgiving" and "forgiven" here is a less-frequently used word for the concept of forgiveness. It's "charizomai" which literally means to "freely give." That's important; that's a little more than just wiping the slate clean (so to speak); it means that we freely give to one another as families do. As a matter of fact, there's that unity we started out with at the beginning of this chapter in verse 3.

Walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-14)

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Here Paul tells the Ephesians to imitate Godly actions in verses 1-2 - actions that emulate God's love. In verse 2, Paul admonishes "walk in love." What does that mean? First of all, the Greek noun for "love" used there is "agape," and indicator of sacrificial love. As a matter of fact, there's the definition of "agape" right there in the verse when Paul continues, "as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God." That's it: "agape" = "love" = a willingness to sacrifice. The word for "love" that means a natural affection ("philia") is not used here; the word for sacrificial love ("agape") is used.

Verses 3-12 warn us to avoid those who are rejecters of God - those who openly partake in immorality in defiance to the laws of God.

There are some very strong words in verses 3-5 here:

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Ephesians 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

As a matter of fact, a similar list is given in Galatians 5:19-21 (see notes) which says:

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Galatians 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Galatians 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

It is critical to understand that these verses describe those who practice this lifestyle, not Believers. The scripture plainly teaches that God chastises Christians who defy his leadership. Look at Hebrews 12:6-8 (see notes):

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Hebrews 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Hebrews 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

If you wonder what form this chastisement takes, look at I Corinthians 11:29-32 (see notes):

I Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
I Corinthians 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
I Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
I Corinthians 11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

So, here's the bottom line. God does not permit Believers to defy him by practicing the conduct of Ephesians 5:3-5 and Galatians 5:19-21. That disobedient Believer will experience the chastisement of Hebrews 12:6-8 and I Corinthians 11:29-32, even to the point of being removed by God from this life through death (I Corinthians 11:30). Therefore, when you see someone practicing this corrupt lifestyle without the intervening hand of God, you can scripturally assume that no "born again" experience was ever realized by that person. For more information on the chastisement of disobedient Believers, click here to see the commentary on I Corinthians 11:27-34. I feel compelled to make a distinction here. There are those who are convinced that any sign of despicable conduct in professing Believers is a certain indicator of a spiritually-lost condition. If you read Hebrews 12 and I Corinthians 11 closely, you will see that these Christians were experiencing chastisement for their sins, but were, in fact, saved.

Paul is very clear about the consequences of practicing the conduct of verses 3-5 when he says in verse 6, "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." Moreover, Believers should not involve themselves with them (verse 7); it is a lifestyle that is based in darkness, not the light of Jesus Christ (verse 8). Verses 9-10 tell us that the "fruit of the Spirit" provides Believers with a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. So, how do we act toward those who are involved in this unacceptable level of conduct? Notice verse 11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." In verse 12 he says that we should even be careful how we talk about their reprehensible conduct. Paul expresses it like this in I Corinthians 5:11 (see notes), "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." Believers are to shame and avoid those so-called Believers who flaunt their rebellious conduct.

Here's a good lesson on light in verse 13: It reveals. God's Word is compared to light in Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Perhaps Paul is referring to Isaiah 60:1 (see notes) in verse 14 when he encourages Believers to walk in the light of Christ rather than following the works of darkness - works that are shameful and godless. Technically speaking, the verb translated "he saith" in verse 14 can be translated "he/she/it says." There is no gender specificity there. Perhaps Paul is referring to a contemporary poem, saying or song with this quotation which characterizes the victory that is ours as a result of the resurrection. Some have suggested that it may have been a saying or song used on the occasion of water baptism ceremonies. We really have no way of knowing for certain.

Make good use of your time (Ephesians 5:15-21)

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Verses 15-21 speak of making the best use of our time and investing it in one another for spiritual strength. Believers are encouraged in verse 15 to walk "circumspectly" i.e. accurately. One who is a fool (Greek: "asophos" - without wisdom) lives recklessly. A Believer who is interested in pleasing God is careful with his personal testimony before the world and uses his time wisely (verse 16). As a matter of fact, that's the essence of verse 17, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." The Greek adjective for "unwise" there is "aphron" meaning "not employing one's understanding." Of the 11 times it is used in the New Testament, it is translated as "fool" or "foolish" in every instance except here. Here it is used in the context of a person who knows God's will, but disregards it, which leads us to the analogy of verse 18 regarding foolish conduct, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." That's an amusing and to-the-point message: Just as a drunkard's conduct is controlled by his excessive drink, so should a Believer be equally controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit's influence within him. Hopefully you also see in that verse Paul's admonition to avoid drunkenness.

Incidentally, Paul may have been thinking of Jeremiah 23:9 (see notes) when he wrote this comparison between being Spirit led and "drunk with wine." There, Jeremiah says, "Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness."

The result of Holy Spirit-led conduct is found in verses 19-21 - pleasant interaction between Believers (verse 19), thankfulness to God (verse 20) and submission to one another i.e. selflessness rather than selfishness (verse 21). That word "submitting" comes from the Greek verb "hupatasso," a compound word: "hupo" means "under" and "tasso" means "to arrange or place." Therefore, the idea of submission is to place or arrange one under another. It indicates a chain of command.

After introducing the concept of "submission" in verse 21, Paul then deals with three areas of submission:

The husband/wife relationship (Ephesians 5:22-33)

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

In chapter 5, Paul is dealing with Christian conduct. These verses deal with the marriage relationship in comparison to the relationship Christ has with the body of Believers known as the church. The Greek word for love here is "agapao." This is the verb form of the noun for love, "agape." That particular word means "sacrifice." When Paul commands men to "love" their wives in verse 25, he is commanding them to make sacrifices for their wives. When folks make sacrifices for one another, a natural affection (Greek word "philia") is the result. So, sacrifice results in natural affection. The ultimate amount of sacrifice is illustrated by Christ's willingness to give his own life for the salvation of Believers; we saw that in verse 2 (see above). Incidentally, that concept rebuilds broken marriages. If a troubled couple will simply return to the practice of sacrificing that characterized the early days of their marriage or courtship, the natural affection for one another will be rekindled.

Saints are holy because they are sanctified

The Greek verb for "sanctify" is "hagiazo," meaning "to dedicate or set apart." The Greek adjective form of that root is "hagios," which is translated "holy" or when used as a noun is often translated "saints." In other words, a Believer is "set apart" for an eternity in Heaven as a "saint" of God, and in that respect, all Christians are "holy."

In the process of talking about relationships based upon "love," we find a little doctrine of the church itself sprinkled into verses 26-27, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." God's Word sets apart ("sanctify") and cleanses Believers so as to provide "holy" (same Greek root - "hagi" - as "sanctify") Believers to himself at the rapture (I Thessalonians 4:13-18, see notes). However, the emphasis of this passage is that the relationship of the husband to the wife ought to be the same as the relationship of Jesus Christ to the church, a thought continued in verse 28.

However, we're not finished with the husband/wife compared to Christ/church analogy. Verses 28-30 again emphasizes that husbands ought to be willing to offer the same level of sacrifice toward their wives as Christ did for the church, putting the welfare of their wives even before their own interests...just as Christ did for the church. If there's any confusion about the recipients of this sacrifice, that's cleared up in verse 30; it's us...Believers. To reinforce his "one flesh" assertion of verse 29, Paul (verse 31) quotes Genesis 2:24 (see notes), "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." He notes that the Christ/church relationship is a "mystery." A "mystery" (Greek: "musterion" means in New Testament rendering "that which cannot be known naturally." In a general sense, the word means "that which was hidden previously." As a matter of fact, you're hearing it first right here in this passage. Previously unknown, Paul declares that the church is the bride of Christ.

WARNING: For those who are overcome with political correctness, you may want to skip this paragraph. And finally, back to the actual lesson of a husband's sacrifice for his wife and the wife's submission to her husband in verse 33 where it is said that she should "reverence" him. Now this is fascinating: The Greek verb used there for "reverence" is "phobeo," used 93 times in the New Testament. It is only translated "reverence" in this verse. The other 92 times it is translated either "fear" or "afraid." As a matter of fact, the noun form of the word ("phobos") is used another 47 times and translated "fear" or "afraid" each of those times except two where it is translated "terror." Obviously, nobody wants to go there in any great detail! Here's the formal definition of the word from the respected Greek/English dictionary from Louw and Nida, "to have such awe or respect for a person as to involve a measure of fear." The phrase "fear of God" or "fear God" is a typical Old and New Testament indicator of one's proper relationship toward God. Paul chose those words to describe the proper attitude of a wife toward her husband. Peter also weighs in on this husband/wife relationship in I Peter 3:1-7 (see notes) where he declares in verse 6, "Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement." As I frequently say, "I don't make the news, I just report it."

Children and parents (Ephesians 6:1-4)

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

These four verses flow from 5:21 where Paul introduces the concept of submission. Now it's time to discuss the proper submissive relationship of children to their parents. Verse 2 is most interesting. It makes reference to Exodus 20:12 (see notes), "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Paul points out that this is the first commandment in the list of 10 in Exodus 20 that is linked to a promise - long life. Then Paul gives a reciprocal concept in this relationship - that the father should not provoke children to wrath, a point he also makes in Colossians 3:21 (see notes) where he offers the reasoning behind the admonition, "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."

What about slaves (Ephesians 6:5-9)

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

Slavery during the first century was a legal reality and had been for centuries in the Roman empire and the empires that preceded it. These slaves under Roman rule were not entire races, but rather certain people from within each race who were in bondage as slaves. So, how might one end up being a slave during that era? Derived form extra-biblical historical documents, here are a few ways: If you were born to a slave, you were born a slave and remained such unless your master gave you your freedom. Promiscuity was rampant during that era. It was common that unwanted babies would be left out on the side of the road to suffer death by exposure - especially girls. Slave traders would harvest these unwanted babies and hire someone to raise them until they could be sold as slaves. Even though most of these babies were unwanted females, they would be raised to become productive in supplying male and female slaves to their owners. It is also true that a debtor could lose his freedom and be forced into slavery as a result. Additionally, sometimes slaves were formerly prisoners of war. The first two scenarios listed were probably the primary sources for the greatest number of slaves in Roman society during that era.

Paul deals with the proper relationship between slaves and their owners. He had no power to change laws governing slavery, so he simply dealt in this chapter with how slaves should properly respond to their masters and how masters should relate to their slaves. Some have questioned why Paul did not condemn slavery altogether in this passage. Keep in mind two issues at hand: First, when raised as a slave from birth, Roman society would have been economically intolerant of one who had acquired his freedom in most circumstances. This was the lifestyle to which they were accustomed. The security of a benevolent slave owner was preferred by many over freedom. Second of all, Paul's ministry was not one of government reform. His was a ministry of reconciliation to God. Here was a man writing to people from prison, enduring his own version of false imprisonment. So, understand that these verses represent Paul's instructions to Believers who were slaves and to slave owners.

The battle and the armor (Ephesians 6:10-20)

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

These verses give us the understanding of our battle against the forces of Satan. For Believers who don't realize they are in a battle - it's no wonder they're losing. Look, it's a war!

Paul uses three different Greek words in verse 10 for "strong" when he says, "...be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."

There's nothing like creative redundancy to make a point. Believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit with the full force of God's strength to fight the battle before us - a great promise. How? Verse 11 instructs us to tap into this power by putting on "the whole armour of God." That supernatural armor is detailed in verses 13-17. The armor must be supernatural because of the enemy as depicted here in verse 11 - "the devil." The Greek noun for "wiles" there is "methodia" which means "trickery" or "deceit." Actually, our English word "method" is derived from it. As you can see, this is no ordinary battle, but it gets worse. Verse 12 shows us the formidable allies of the devil, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Whoa! That's heavy!

Since Paul went into great detail to describe our enemy, let's give some attention to each found in verse 12:

It should be pointed out that Jesus himself referred to Satan as "the prince of this world" in John 12:31 (see notes). Paul refers to Satan as the "god of this world" in II Corinthians 4:4 (see notes). So...Satan has amassed a formidable foe comprised of rulers, authorities and world rulers led by himself. His list seems to go from least to greatest, and it only demonstrates that Paul seems to be saying, "Satan has organized all of the world's authority to combat Believers." Did you realize we had so many enemies? I'm afraid most Believers don't; they're still trying to win favor somewhere along the way in that list. Remember the words of Jesus in John 15:18-19 (see notes), "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

But look at our tools of warfare in verses 13-17. Here's the problem as I see it: Many (maybe most) Believers do not realize they are in a battle. Let me assure you, Satan does know. God has given us the tools of warfare, and we must exercise them.

Just for clarity, let's list those items of armor possessed by each Believer:

Believers! There are your weapons! Get into the battle!

The close (Ephesians 6:21-24)

21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

The "Tychicus" mentioned in verse 21 was one of the disciples that accompanied Paul on a portion of his third missionary journey. He appears in Acts 20:4 (see notes). In this passage, he is to travel to Ephesus as a messenger of Paul.

"Peace" and "grace" are extended to "them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." Paul often extends "grace" and "peace" in his letters, but here he is careful to note that these are intended for those who have a sincere relationship with Jesus Christ.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner