"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Walking Together In Unity (4:1-16) INTRODUCTION 1. For three chapters, Paul has dealt with "doctrine" in which he has described both: a. Our spiritual "possessions" in Christ (1) b. Our spiritual "position" in Christ (2,3) 2. In the remaining three chapters of this epistle, Paul will focus on "duty", i.e., responsibilities that are ours because of the blessings we enjoy as described in the previous chapters 3. Of the blessings described, one upon which Paul elaborated is the "unity" that we have in Christ by virtue of His work on the cross... a. He has reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God in "one body" - Ep 2:14-16 b. Now, Gentiles can be fellow heirs, of the "same body" - Ep 3:6 4. It should not be surprising, then, that the first duty that Paul exhorts us to fulfill is "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" - Ep 4:3 a. Christ "attained" this unity by His work on the cross b. Our task is to "maintain" it [Beginning, then, with a charge to "walk worthy of the calling with which you were called" (Ep 4:1), Paul describes how to have a "worthy walk", and that is by displaying...] I. THE "ATTITUDES" FOR MAINTAINING UNITY (1-3) A. LOWLINESS... 1. This word means: a. The having a humble opinion of one's self b. A deep sense of one's (moral) littleness c. Modesty, humility, lowliness of mind 2. This virtue is necessary in order in order to properly value others around you - cf. Php 2:3-4 3. Without this virtue, members in the body begin trying to be the "head" of the body, a role reserved only for Christ B. GENTLENESS... 1. This word can be translated as gentleness, mildness, meekness 2. It is not a quality of weakness, but of power under control a. Moses was a meek man (Num 12:3), but capable of great strength and boldness b. Jesus was "meek and lowly in heart" (Mt 11:29), but we see where He drove the money changers out of the temple 3. Thus it is being gentle, even when there is the potential for being harsh, but gentleness is more conducive for maintaining unity C. LONG-SUFFERING... 1. The idea here is one of patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs 2. When the body consists of members who are not perfect, and often sin against each other, maintaining unity is not possible unless they are willing to endure each other's imperfections D. BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE... 1. Similar to longsuffering, "bearing" means to sustain, to bear, to endure 2. What makes such "longsuffering" and "forbearance" possible is another virtue: "love" 3. As Paul wrote in his chapter on love: "love suffers long...is not provoked" - 1Co 13:4-5 4. Indeed, the virtue of love is the "tie" that binds all these virtues together - cf. Col 3:12-14 E. ENDEAVOR... 1. Displaying these virtues does not come naturally nor easy, nor does maintaining unity 2. Thus the need for much effort, as Paul uses a word which means "to exert one's self, endeavor, give diligence" [Only by giving diligence to display ALL these virtues, can we hope to "keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"
(Ep 4:3). But just as important as having the right "attitudes", is understanding and holding to...] II. THE "BASIS" OF UNITY (4-6) A. ONE BODY... 1. This refers to the body of Christ, the church - Ep 1:22-23 2. Of course, Paul speaks here of the church in the "universal" sense a. The "body" of saved believers throughout the world b. Of which Christ is the "head", and "savior of the body" - Ep 5:23 3. While there may be many "local" churches (congregations), there is only ONE "universal" church, with ONE "head" - Jesus Christ! B. ONE SPIRIT... 1. This would be the Holy Spirit 2. Who has already been described in this epistle... a. As "the Holy Spirit of promise" - Ep 1:13 b. As "the guarantee of our inheritance" - Ep 1:14 c. By Whom both Jew and Gentile have access to the Father - Ep 2:18 d. In Whom God habitats those who are being built a "holy temple" - Ep 2:21-22 e. By Whom the "mystery of Christ" was revealed to the apostles and prophets - Ep 3:5 f. Through Whom God strengthens with might the inner man - Ep 3:16 g. As the One whose "unity" is to be maintained in the bond of peace - Ep 4:3 C. ONE HOPE OF YOUR CALLING... 1. For Paul, this pertains primarily to "the resurrection of the dead" - Ac 23:6; 24:15; Ro 8:23-24; cf. 1Co 15:19-23;
Php 3:10-11,20-21 2. Which necessarily includes such concepts of "salvation"
(1 Th 5:8) and "eternal life" (Tit 1:2; 3:7) D. ONE LORD... 1. This refers to Jesus, of course - 1Co 8:5-6 2. Whom God has made "both Lord and Christ" - Ac 2:36 E. ONE FAITH... 1. This the body of truth, "the faith", which Jude says was "once for all delivered to the saints" - Jude 3 2. It is that "pattern of sound words" of that Paul taught Timothy (2Ti 1:13), and which he was to commit to faithful men (2 Tit 2:2) 3. We find this "pattern of sound words" in the pages of the New Testament, which contains that which all Christians must believe F. ONE BAPTISM... 1. This is the baptism... a. Commanded by Jesus - Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16 b. Preached and commanded by His apostles - Ac 2:38; 10:48 c. By which those who submit to are added to the Lord's body, the church - Ac 2:42,47 2. I.e., the baptism in which a penitent believer is immersed in water for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit - Ac 2:38; 10:47-48 G. ONE GOD AND FATHER... 1. The Father, Who together with the Son and Holy Spirit, makes up the "Godhead" 2. Note that Paul emphasizes both: a. His personality ("Father of all") b. His transcendence and omnipresence ("who is above all, and through all, and in you all") [These "seven ones" constitute "the unity of the Spirit" that as Christians we must be so diligent to keep "in the bond of peace". Not one of these is "non-essential"! E.g., just as crucial as maintaining who the "One Lord" is, so we must be steadfast in holding to the "One Baptism"! To assist us in our efforts to "keep the unity of the Spirit", Christ has given to His church certain "gifts". Let's now consider ...] III. THE "GIFTS" FOR UNITY (7-16) A. THE SOURCE OF THESE GIFTS... (7-10) 1. They come from the bounty of Christ's grace (7) 2. As prophesied, they were given after Christ ascended to heaven (8-10) B. THE NATURE OF THESE GIFTS... (11) 1. Is Paul referring to "spiritual gifts" (cf. 1Co 12:1-11), or "functions"? a. If "spiritual gifts", then we should read verse 11 to say "gave some to..." b. If "functions", then verse 11 should read "gave some to be..." c. The use of "doreas" and "domata" instead of "charismata" in verses 7-8 suggests Paul has in mind "functions", and not "spiritual gifts" 2. Understanding it as "functions", we see that Christ gave some to be... a. APOSTLES 1) Those who were to be eye-witnesses of the resurrection - Ac 1:15-22 2) Their role in the church was foundational, necessary to the establishment of the church - Ep 2:20 3) As such, their work or function was temporary b. PROPHETS 1) These were inspired men and women used in the process of revelation - Ep 3:5; cf. Ac 2:17; 11:28; 21:9 2) As with the apostles, their role was foundational, necessary to the establishment of the church - Ep 2:20 3) Just as apostles were not replaced, so the prophets' role was temporary - cf. 1Co 13:8 c. EVANGELISTS 1) Literally, "bearers of good news" 2) These are individuals like Philip (Ac 21:8), who proclaimed the gospel of Christ both publicly and privately - cf. Ac 8:5-13,26-40 3) Timothy was charged to "do the work of an evangelist" - 2Ti 4:5 4) Unlike apostles and prophets, their work does not involve "laying the foundation", but rather building upon that which is already laid, which they do every time they lead someone to Christ 5) Therefore, their work or function continues to the present c. PASTORS AND TEACHERS 1) It may be that Paul intended these terms to describe one function (because "some" is not repeated) a) The role of "pastor" (shepherd) certainly requires "feeding" or teaching b) While there is indication elsewhere that there was a special function of "teachers" in the local church - Ac 13:1; 1Co 12:28-29; 2Ti 1:11; Jm 3:1 2) The term "pastor" is found only here in the Scriptures, but from Ac 20:17,28 and 1Pe 5:1-2 it becomes clear that "pastors, shepherds, elders, presbyters, bishops, overseers" are simply different terms describing the spiritual leaders of local congregations 3) The nature of the work of "pastors and teachers" (i.e., overseeing and feeding the flock of God) naturally follows the work of the evangelists 4) And like the function of evangelist, continues to the present d. What about DEACONS? 1) Clearly Paul does not intend this passage in Ephesians to be an exhaustive list of functions in the Lord's church, for he does not mention deacons - cf. Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:8 2) But the list is adequate to illustrate the point: Christ has given "gifts" to His church! C. THE PURPOSE OF THESE GIFTS... (12-16) 1. To prepare members of the body for service ("equip the saints for work of ministry") 2. To build up the members of the body ("edify the body of Christ"), so they... a. Can grow to maturity (13) 1) Possessing the unity of the faith 2) Having the knowledge of the Son of God 3) Measuring up to the stature expected of those in Christ b. Will not be children (14) 1) Tossed to and fro by every doctrine that comes along 2) Easily deceived by cunning and false teachers c. But instead will be "growing upward" as the body of Christ (15-16) 1) Growing up in all things into the Head, Christ 2) From which the whole body can grow, provided every part does it share 3) Made possible also as we "speak the truth in love" and "edify itself in love" CONCLUSION 1. If we can just... a. Display the "attitudes" necessary for unity b. Hold fast to the "basis" upon which our unity rests c. Utilize the "gifts" Christ has given to assure we all come to the unity of the faith ...then Christ's work on the cross will not be in vain!
- cf. Ep 2:16 2. Not only that, but then we will also truly conduct ourselves in a manner "worthy of the calling with which you were called" - Ep 4:1 a. We were called to be "fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" - Ep 2:19 b. We were called to be "a holy temple in the Lord", "a habitation of God in the Spirit" - Ep 2:21-22 c. We were called to "make known the manifold wisdom of God"
- Ep 3:10 Are you doing all you can as a member of the body of Christ to "walk together in unity", and by so doing walk in manner worthy of our calling?