Ephesians 4

4:1 As a prisoner [Roman confinement; a reminder of what it had cost Paul to walk in obedience to the Lord; Paul was not asking his readers to do anything he had not already done or to pay a price he himself was unwilling to pay] for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy [“weighing the same as” or “that which balances the scales”] of the calling [general calling to be a Christian] you have received.

4:2 [qualities/evidence of Christlikeness or worthy living] Be completely humble [the quality of esteeming ourselves as small but recognizing God’s power and ability; cf. Phil. 2:3; see Phil. 2:8 re: example of Christ; submission to God’s will] and gentle [meekness: strength under control; no malice or desire for revenge]; be patient [longsuffering in dealing with others; ability to wait on the Lord in difficult circumstances], bearing [have patience till the provocation is past; putting up with less serious differences in others; opposite of exasperation with others] with one another [these qualities are exhibited in relationship with others] in love [Gr. agape: accepting others as God has accepted us].

4:3 Make every effort [urgently, diligently, and passionately do your part] to keep [guard, maintain, preserve what the Holy Spirit makes possible] the unity [oneness; not the same as uniformity; unity in diversity; unity in the church is constantly at peril] of [made possible by] the Spirit through the bond [that which keeps/links something together] of peace.

4:4 [note the seven doctrinal truths that undergird church harmony] There is [1] one body [refers to all believers in Christ; the church] and [2] one Spirit [Holy Spirit who indwells the body of Christ] — just as you were called to [3] one hope [resurrection to everlasting life through Christ; refers to destination of all believers in heaven] when you were called —

4:5 [4] one Lord [Jesus, to whom all believers owe allegiance], [5] one faith [in the work of Christ on the cross that cleanses us from our sins], [6] one baptism [in the Holy Spirit, given to believers at conversion];

4:6 [7] one God and Father of all [those who believe in the one Lord], who is over all [God’s sovereignty] and through all [God’s pervasiveness] and in all [His indwelling].

4:7 But to each [there are no ungifted people in the church] one of us [every believer has received at least one spiritual gift] grace [we do not earn or deserve spiritual gifts] has been given [at conversion when we receive the Holy Spirit] as Christ apportioned [gifts are varied; Christ decides on and dispenses the gifts] it.

4:8 This is why it says [cf. Ps. 68:18; Paul used this verse prophetically re: Jesus]: “When he [Christ] ascended on high, he led captives [allusion to triumphal procession with prisoners of war on display (case death, Satan, sin)] in his train and gave gifts [like spoils of war distributed by triumphant king to people; in this case, spiritual gifts] to men.”

4:9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions [reference to incarnation]?

4:10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe [reference to omnipresence/power].)

4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles [one sent forth on a mission], some to be prophets [one who speaks for God; a forthteller more than a foreteller], some to be evangelists [those gifted uniquely to present the gospel and call sinners to repentance], and some to be [dual function of the one who leads a local congregation] pastors [shepherds] and teachers,

4:12 to prepare [equip, enable, make usable or workable] God’s people for [gifts used to glorify God, for good of body, to minister to a lost world, but never to glorify self] works [practical deeds] of service [usual term for deacon], so that the body of Christ may be built up [numerically through the work of evangelists; spiritually through the work of pastor-teachers]

4:13 until [ultimate goal of church growth; become more like Christ; note threefold goal…] we all reach [arrive at, attain to] [1] unity in the faith [a common set of beliefs] and in [2] the knowledge [full, accurate and true knowledge about Jesus] of the Son of God and [3] become mature [a full-grown person], attaining to the whole measure [Christlike stature] of the fullness of Christ.

4:14 Then [result of maturity is doctrinal stability] we [every believer is an infant at conversion] will no longer be infants [baby, immature; can refer to longtime believers who have never grown up; cf. 1 Cor. 3:1-4 and Heb. 5:13-14], tossed [agitated] back and forth by the waves, and blown [to be borne to and fro] here and there by every wind of teaching [false doctrines; sound doctrine is the best antidote to false doctrine] and by the cunning [wicked dice playing; refers to intentional fraud] and craftiness [cleverness, trickery] of men [who peddle error] in their deceitful [wandering from the path of truth] scheming.

Note: Sound doctrine is the best antidote to false doctrine.

4:15 Instead [in contrast to immature Christian], speaking the truth in love [truth spoken for the benefit of the one to whom it is spoken; cf. Ps. 141:5; Prov. 27:6], we will in all things [growth in every aspect of life] grow up into him who is the Head [seat of decisions; source of resources necessary for life], that is, Christ.

4:16 From [through our faith union with] him [the Head] the whole body [functions properly only as it is controlled by the Head], joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part [member] does its work.

4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer [believers must live distinctively different from the unconverted] live as the Gentiles do [notice fourfold description of the unconverted], [1] in the futility [empty, useless, meaningless] of their thinking [phrase refers to human thought that is foolish].

4:18 They are [2] darkened in their understanding [means they cannot understand spiritual truth; cf. 1 Cor. 2:12-14] and [3] separated [by sin] from the life of God because of the ignorance [reason why they are darkened] that is in them due to the [4] hardening [by willful resistance to the gospel] of their hearts.

4:19 Having lost all sensitivity [callousness; do not acknowledge moral guidance; result of a hard heart], they have given themselves over to sensuality [living according to basic impulses and physical desires] so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more [means they are never satisfied].

4:20 You [believers], however, did not come to know [intimate knowledge] Christ that way.

4:21 Surely you heard of him and were taught [by the Holy Spirit who illuminated their darkened minds] in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

4:22 You were taught [a reminder of three things they had been taught], with regard to your former way of life [believers must live differently from their own unconverted past], [1] to put off [what is not worth keeping] your old self [former way of thinking and living], which is being corrupted by its deceitful [because they never satisfy] desires [lusts];

4:23 [2] to be made [continually; day by day] new [cf. 2 Cor. 5:17] in the attitude of your minds [conduct springs from our thought life; cf. Prov. 23:7; we must think as God desires];

4:24 and [3] to put on [must first put off the old (v. 22)] the new [fresh] self [embrace a new way of living], created to be like God in true righteousness [upright behavior] and holiness [Godlike character].

4:25 Therefore each of you [includes every believer] must put off [as one would remove a filthy garment] falsehood [Satan is the “father of lies” (Jn. 8:44)] and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for [note mutual responsibility…] we are all members of one body [therefore we should not do anything to destroy one another].

Note: How does speaking falsehood disrupt unity in the church? How does speaking truthfully contribute to maintaining unity in the church?

4:26 “In your anger [violent irritation] do not sin” [cf. Ps. 4:4]: Do not let the sun go down [reminder to resolve anger before the end of the day; cf. Deut. 24:13,15 re: things that should be resolved by the end of the day] while you are still angry,

Note: What can happen if anger is vented thoughtlessly? What can happen if anger is kept inside?

4:27 and do not give the devil [slanderer] a foothold [Satan looks for every opportunity to disrupt unity and love among believers].

4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer [stop an action in progress], but must work [honest work a good antidote to stealing], doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share [we must not consume all of our resources on ourselves but consider and respond to the needs of the less fortunate (cf. Phil. 2:3-4)] with those in need.

4:29 Do not let any unwholesome [worthless, rotten, putrid, disgusting, coarse] talk [language, communication] come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit [the Holy Spirit can be grieved because He is loving (there must be love present before there can be grief)] of God, with whom you were sealed [marks believers as God’s property (cf. Eph. 1:13-14)] for the day of redemption [release through the payment of a price].

4:31 Get rid [to pick up and carry away; cf. use of this word in Jn. 11:39; 20:1] of all bitterness [“…a figurative term denoting that fretted and irritable state of mind that keeps a man in perpetual animosity–that inclines him to harsh and uncharitable opinions of men and things–that makes him sour, crabby and repulsive in his general demeanor–that brings a scowl over his face and infuses venom into the words of his tongue.” (Eadie)], rage [outbursts of anger] and anger [attitude of hatred], brawling and slander [speaking evil of someone], along with every form of malice [badness; deliberate attempt to harm another].

4:32 Be kind [useful, benevolent behavior toward others] and compassionate [tenderhearted] to one another, forgiving each other [cf. Matt. 6:12,14-15; 18:35; Mk. 11:25], just as in Christ God forgave you [cf. Lk. 23:34].

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