©2010 Dr. Irene Faulkes
"In the beloved"
Ephesus was the leading city of Asia Minor at the time of the writing of the book of Ephesus. She had a port through which the Roman Proconsuls entered into the province. There was great wealth in the city. The goddess, Artemis, was the deity "whom all Asia and the civilised world worshipped". At the same time, a shrine and a great altar of the Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar, was placed in the sacred area of the goddess.
This book is one directed to the church in the city of Ephesus, Asia Minor. It was to be circulated to all the seven churches of that area in the Roman Empire. The people were mainly heathen with some of the Jewish faith amongst them. Those in the church consisted of both converted Gentiles (non-Jews) and converted Jews.
It was written in 61A.D. by the apostle Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. He was in prison in Rome when he wrote it, not long before his martyrdom. It was probably Priscilla and Aquila, both apostles, man and wife, who brought the gospel to Ephesus.
Paul was there for about three years. The apostle John made this city his headquarters before he was persecuted and placed on the island of Patmos where he remained until he died, the only Apostle to die a natural death. The others were martyred. The apostle Thomas was martyred in Chennai, India.
Early Christians who were martyred, refused to think they could be called "martyrs" as they considered they were not worthy of the name. In the book of Acts, the disciples rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His sake, 5:41. Stephen, in Acts 7, while being martyred, verse 55,56, was filled with the Holy Spirit, looked into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. See also Philippians 1:29.
This is an exposition of the book for teaching and learning.
*The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Except where noted.
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was an apostle by the will of
God. We personally are to receive our calling and place in the Body of Christ
and His church, by the will of God, not the will of man. It is a high calling.
He writes to them then, called saints and to us also who are called saints, they with us having placed their faith in Christ Jesus. Therefore, by the Spirit, God is speaking to each of us personally. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us. He is in each believer as a result of his faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, Who died on the cross to purchase our salvation. All we have from God is based on the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead. "Because He lives, we shall live also". In Ephesians we also learn eternal truths and practical truths for every day living.
Grace is favour that we do not deserve. God is the God of all grace, it being one of His attributes. We ourselves deserve nothing from God. Jesus Christ suffered in our place and pleased God. Because we are in Christ who deserves everything from God on our behalf, we are given grace. It is grace for eternal life, grace for the forgiveness of our sins, grace to live in and for Christ and grace to receive His gifts to us. His grace is without limit. We rejoice in that grace. You yourself must rejoice personally for His grace to you. Grace, of course, has different meanings in the various verses where it is used quite extensively.
He also gives peace. The problems and tribulations that are mainly persecutions and the various afflictions in every day living, can cause sorrow and heartache. We turn to Christ and lo, His peace fills us within. In the storms of life, we live in His peace and the storms do not destroy us.
This grace and peace is from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. We could not receive anything regarding salvation from God unless the Lord Jesus Christ had died for us. Notice God is our Father. This is our relationship through our being born again into the Kingdom of God, or of Heaven. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Matthew 6:6-15, He taught them, including all of mankind who believe in Him, to say "Our Father who is in heaven". This was the first time a man could call God our Father. as Jesus had become our Elder Brother in this family.
When Jesus Christ becomes our Saviour, we are born into the family of God, our Father. It is a family of heaven, with its beginning on earth. When born into that family, we become citizens of heaven, Philippians 3:19; Ephesians 2:19. His kingdom is not of this world, John 18:36. We are pilgrims and strangers in this world of pain and sorrows, despite the joys that come through the Providence and graciousness of God.
Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself
bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God"; Galatians 4:6, "And
because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts,
crying, 'Abba, Father'." The Holy Spirit is here the Spirit of the Son, the
Spirit of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:19. The Holy Spirit is a Person, as is the
Father and also the Son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit comes from the Father and
from the Son. Each is a Person, three Persons who together are One God. Can we
explain exactly how a baby grows in the womb? Can we explain in detail how this
earth goes around the Sun and is part of the universe? Neither can we explain in
detail, the very Being of our God who is One God – three Persons.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
We with Paul, give praise to God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We offer Him praise with our lips and our voices. The Psalmist said, "His praise shall continually be in my mouth". When things go wrong, we must praise Him. Above all, we give thanks, praising and blessing Him because he has blessed us already. This is past tense. We are in Christ now. He blessed us when we believed in Christ because He is eternal and that He has blessed us shows it became real to us when we were born again of the Spirit. We have been blessed with "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ". We see this only again in Ephesians 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12. We have a position in heaven now. Here on earth we are strangers Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 2:19.
Our blessings are due to us because we are "in Christ". That is the reason we can be blessed with those heavenly blessings.
"He chose us in Christ before the creation of the world", Weymouth. "For He chose us in our union with Christ before the creation of the universe", TCNT. It is God's purpose, fixed before the foundation of the world to include Gentiles with Jews in adoption as sons. God knew you, a Gentile, before the creation of the world. He knew you before you were born into this world. He knew what your name would be. You have a personal God and Father who knows and loves you as no one else can do.
We have been chosen by God in eternity, we who know Christ. It is not that we chose Him, rather that He chose us, as in Titus 1:1, where Paul says he was an apostle, “to lead people to the faith which is to be embraced by those who have been chosen by God”.
We should not live as spiritually poor. We are spiritually rich, in Christ. 2 Corinthians 8:9, "the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich (Maker and Owner of heaven and earth, with Glory shared with His Father) yet for your sakes became poor (coming to earth, born as a baby, His glory and Deity hidden, dying on the cross as a criminal) that through his poverty you might become rich (spiritually)". His purpose was for us to be rich spiritually, holy and sanctified.
Let us live spiritual lives. We are in a heavenly kingdom while living here on earth.
"Holy and blameless before Him in love". We are separated from earthly and worldly things and consecrated unto God Himself. While we live on earth, we are to live unto God. Our standing before God is that we stand blameless. Our sins are forgiven.
He sees us perfect in Christ,
without sin. Consecrated unto God, if we are tripped up by sin, we confess our
sins to Him and His blood "continually cleanses us from sin", 1 John 1:6-8.
5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
God made up His mind before creation that those who believe in Christ would be adopted as His children. That means you and me. Not only are we born into the family of God as His children but we are "adopted" or "placed" as adult sons. This placing is to an inheritance. We have an eternal inheritance. Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 3:24, "receive the inheritance as your reward." 1 Peter 1:4; "into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you".
As we meditate on these truths, our renewed mind understands their significance and their importance. Our minds were renewed when we believed on Christ, Romans 12:2. The Holy Spirit has given us a renewed mind, as also in 1 Corinthians 2:16, But we have the mind of Christ. Let us be glad and rejoice at the thought of our inheritance.
Notice that not one thing we receive is based on our goodness, any good works by us, any of our keeping of the Law, any church attendance, any prayers or any charitable works. It is based on the fact that Christ kept the Law for us and that He died for our sins to make us acceptable to God by His redemptive work on the cross through His blood and His Spirit working in us.
We do not pay anything. It is
without money and without price by us. It is free. It is what He has given.
Freely God the Father has given us of His gifts, "in the Beloved". This phrase
is nowhere else in the New Testament. All He gives us is given to us as we are
"in the Beloved" (His Son). His Son is eternally beloved to Him and we being in
Him are enclosed in that love. God does not accept us as we are. Modern
psychology majors on “accepting” others. God does not accept us in that sense.
Rather, He receive us as we are, so aptly said in that hymn, “Just as I am,
without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me. O, Lamb of God, I come”.
7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
We needed redemption. All the sacrifices the Children of Israel had to make as seen in the book of Leviticus point to this fact. Even then, they could not be brought close to God without the shedding of blood. They had to sacrifice animals for their sin. These sacrifices were types of the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ to God on the cross of Calvary. It is not the blood of animals that can cleanse man from sin. They sacrificed animals with blood spilt, to point to the Lamb of God who was sacrificed. Christ willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice, Hebrews 9:6 "He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself". Hebrews 10:12 "For all times a single sacrifice for sins". Never again, was there to be any sacrifice to God. Christ gave Himself a sacrifice to God. After that sacrifice, no one can make any other sacrifice for sin to God.
Redeem is "to buy back". We needed to be bought back from the power of sin, death, hell and Satan. Only God could make this happen. He did this through Christ. His work on the cross is because of our sin.
Note: Colossians 1:14, is similar. Psalm 111:9 "He sent redemption unto His people". Luke 2:38, "Anna spoke about the child to all who were looking for the redemption". Romans 3:24 "You are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus". A type or picture of our redemption is seen when God redeemed His people out of the land of Egypt. After the ten plagues on the Egyptians, the Israelites sacrificed the Passover lamb the night before they left the land. During that night the angel of death passed over Egypt and all the first-born in every (Egyptian) house, that had no blood of the Passover lamb sprinkled on the door-posts and lintels, died. The Israelites were delivered or saved because of the shedding of the blood of the Passover lamb that was then sprinkled on the doorposts.
Then Moses led them through the Red Sea on their way to the Promised Land. This is found in Exodus 6:11, 12:13-15 (Passover). Egypt for us is a type of the world of sin and death, controlled by Satan. We have been redeemed out of that land. We have been delivered and are redeemed by the blood of our Passover Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 5:7 "Christ our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed…" We now belong to Him on our way to our Promised Land of heaven.
Our redemption took place on the cross. It was through the blood of atonement. Romans 3:25 "whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement". Atonement means "to pay the penalty of our sin", "reconciliation of God and man". That was what the sacrifice of Christ did. It paid the penalty of our sin. He suffered the wrath of God instead of us. He experienced separation from God so that we could become united to God through Him. He paid the price of our sin by His death on the cross.
1 Corinthians 1:30, He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,... We boast in the Lord Jesus. He Himself is our wisdom. He Himself is our righteousness. He Himself is our sanctification or separation from sin to God. He Himself is our redemption. Our redemption is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our sins are forgiven because of Calvary. Our God does not remember them. They are cast into the sea of His forgetfulness. The blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing us from all sin. It is a continual action. We sing, "O, the blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow". Let us know this with all of our hearts. God's grace is full of riches. We are forgiven, not through one single thing that we have done or do but only because of His grace.
He lavished His grace upon us. Grace is “unmerited favour”. This means He poured out on us grace "enough and to spare". Christ is Wisdom. The Father's Wisdom was used in this redemption and forgiveness. It came to us through Christ. This was full of His understanding of us and of our need. It was also His understanding of His Son having to leave heaven to be born as a man and to die on the cross for us. We are not ignorant of this. It is revealed to us in His Word. His will for our redemption was not totally clear in the Old Testament. With the coming of Christ and the New Testament revelation, especially through the apostle Paul, what was a mystery is no longer a mystery.
This plan was for "the fullness of time", Hebrews 1:1;Romans 11:26. This began with the gospel times, in which we now live.
11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.
In Christ, we have an inheritance. It is our destiny. God Himself desired it. He planned it. This is what gives the believers’ lives purpose. It is the fact that as Paul says in Titus 1:2, we have “the hope of eternal life” as “being the foundation of it all”. Our real hopes lie not in what this world offers or can offer in any time of history, present and future. They are to be placed in what Paul tells us above, “the hope of eternal life”.
We live in the knowledge that what He has done for us and is doing for us praises Him. Because we heard the gospel and believed in Him, He then marked us with a seal. A legal document is marked with wax on which a seal is imprinted. That seal marks us as His. It is a real seal. This seal is exactly as happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:4. We are to receive that seal in an experience similar to theirs, by faith as we pray and speak in tongues as they did. This is the "pledge" or "guarantee" of our inheritance. If we do not have this experience then we do not have that pledge or guarantee from God.
All believers should receive this pledge or guarantee by drinking from Christ, John 7:38,39, so that rivers of the Holy Spirit within will flow and they begin to speak with other tongues as on the Day of Pentecost. This is the promised power, the miracle produced by the Holy Spirit. All New Testament saints in general had this. The promise has never been rescinded and stands today.
15I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints,...
The Ephesian church had such faith in the Lord Jesus and love, one to the other, that it was known to others. We, in the church, should be like that. We also thank God for those throughout the world who are the same as they were, even though many in the church world-wide are not. We all need a "spirit of wisdom and revelation" in the major purpose in our lives – to know Christ. We know Him through His Word. We know Him by listening to good preaching and teaching about Him. We know Him in our prayers particularly when we pray in the Spirit as Paul did, 1 Corinthians 14:18. Again, Paul prays that they, and us, may understand within our innermost spirit, all about our salvation and our inheritance. It is the Holy Spirit who does this.
19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
God’s “power” for us who believe is the same Greek word, “dunamis”, as is found in Acts 1:8 , “you shall receive power (‘dunamis’) when the Holy Ghost comes upon you”. Obviously, God is to work in us in accordance with the “dunamis” we received at the time of the baptism with the Holy Ghost as referred to in verse 5 of Acts 1, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost”, said Jesus.
This baptism was and is always to occur with speaking in other tongues or languages. There is no other baptism with the Holy Ghost in Scripture.
As we look again at the above quoted verse, we see it is the “immeasurable greatness of His power, ‘dunamis’,” and this is exceedingly and wonderfully great – in us. There is the connection by use of the same word “dunamis” in the baptism with the Holy Ghost coming always by speaking in other tongues. This indicates that His power is to work in us through the “dunamis” of praying in other tongues.
Jesus said in Acts 1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you”. This is the same word, “dunamis”, “power” and it means “miracle power”, “the power to work miracles” and it also means “the miracle itself”. Sadly this meaning is missed in the translation from Greek in the King James Version and other Bibles.
The miracle which occurred when they
were baptized with the Holy Ghost, was that they spoke in other tongues, Acts
2:4. The fundamental base of the “dunamis’, “power” that we receive when
baptized with the Holy Ghost, is the ability to speak in other tongues as
prayer, worship, and intercession to God. When praying in other tongues we have
received “the miracle itself” and “the power to work miracles”, in this case the
miracle of speaking in other tongues or languages. We also received the power to
work that miracle of speaking in tongues. This is the power house of the Gifts
of the Holy Ghost being manifested through us.
This is how God’s immeasurable greatness of “dunamis” above works in us. We need this continual working in us as much as if not more than we need power for the Gifts and for example, power to heal the sick. Primarily, this is how God’s immeasurable greatness of “dunamis” above works in us as Holy Ghost filled believers, viz. through praying in other tongues. Therefore, let us pray continually in other tongues for both of these reasons.
This connection of “dunamis” in Acts 1:8 and here is enough to make us to desire earnestly and also to pursue the practice of praying often and long in other tongues.
The rest of verse 19, “according to the working of his great power” (here not “dunamis”) , with “great power” having come from “kratos ischus”.
So here as quoted, “great power” but
also mighty power, KJV for strength of might as translated in the ASV. The idea
is thus diluted, and the peculiar force and distinction of the separate words is
measurably lost. More correctly, it is “working of the strength of His might”.
Strength (kratos) is used only of God, and denotes relative and manifested power. Might (ischus) is indwelling strength. Working (energiah) is the active, efficient manifestation of these.
Hence we have here God's indwelling power, which inheres in the divine nature (strength); the relative quality or measure of this power (might); and the efficient exertion of the divine quality (working). The phrase, according to the working of the strength, etc., is to be connected with the exceeding greatness of His power.
The magnitude of God's power toward
believers is known in the operation of the “strength of His might” ASV, here, in
the NRSV I have used, “great power”. I think I prefer the ASV.
Ephesians 1:20 “Which he wrought” (“worked”) (enērgēken). Perfect active indicative, “which he has wrought.” Hēn is cognate accusative of the relative referring to energeian (energy) with enērgēken and note also kratos (strength) and ischus (might), three words trying to express what surpasses (huperballon) expression or comprehension.
Thus, God’s own Divine power lying in Himself worked in Christ as He lay in death. This caused the miracle of redemption and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s power although silent in its working, produces miracles that are supernatural.
Consider the greatness of this
working “in” Christ so as to be raised from the dead. Scripture records several
people having been raised from the dead previously, without the working of this
might and dominion. There was something extraordinary in the raising of Christ.
Why was there such a need for great power to be worked “in” Christ so that He could be raised from the dead. It was not just because He lay in death. Lazarus lay in death and he was raised from the dead without there being any mention of the mighty power of God. It was because there was a work to be done in Christ as our Substitute for our sin. It is not true as Copeland says that “any man could have died for our sin”. It had to be God-Man as Christ was and is today. Only such a Being could offer Himself as a sweet sacrifice to God. He was without sin.
One reason was that as Paul said in Galatians 1:18 we who believed were crucified with Christ. Our terrible sin was there, being judged. As Colossians 2:12,13, Romans 6:3,4 declare, we were buried with Him in His baptism of death. This was a Spiritual act by God. We were with Him in the “deadness of our trespasses and sin”. God was dealing with Him instead of us in that His wrath was poured out on Christ. He had to vindicate His death for us by bringing about the end of death and the death of death itself as well as of sin. This required the great might of His power. This was a mighty act of God. It was performed in Christ, the Holy One of God, who was dead because of us. As God, His spirit had ascended to the Father when He died. He took into heaven the “water and the blood” that had been shed, in Spirit form.
His body lay in the grave. It was the body of Christ, the Holy One, lying in death for us. The Father reached out His Hand, the right Hand of His power, worked within Christ in death, on our behalf, and was able to raise Him from the dead.
He was able to do this as the Holy One of God had totally atoned for our sin because of the purity of His sacrifice that was the death of His body. His blood was shed, His body lay in death, all because of our sin. It had nothing to do with our sicknesses. It was because of the enormous evil of our sin.
Because God worked so mightily in Christ, in His death, He, “raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification”. This wonderful work in Christ in His death has provided for us to be justified, “just-as-if-I had never sinned”.
Christ went to the lowest depth of the earth, into the grave (not into Hell) and God raised Him to the highest place. Page 42 explains this. He has been seated by the Father at His right hand, a place of greatest of power and rule. There is no other name in this world and in the age to come that is greater than the Name of Jesus, our Jehovah-Jesus. Everything is under the feet of Christ. He is the head of the church and we are His body. The church is the container of His fullness. The church in the end, will be totally filled with His fullness, when it is taken up into heaven, Ephesians 3:19;4:13,16.
God's power that cannot be measured,
is for us. He wants that power to work in us. What power! What a work within us!
Christ is in us. God's power is to work in us. Let us believe this. "The just
shall live by faith". We see God's great power working when He raised Christ
from the dead. The great might of God’s power, that is of the Father, was “in”
Christ when He raised Him from the dead. In other places we read Christ raised
Himself and the Holy Spirit also raised Him. As proved previously, this power is
available through prayer in other tongues. This is not the Gift of Tongues, the
gift of the Holy Ghost. It is the tongues given to us as we were baptized with
the Holy Ghost, the gift of Jesus.
1You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.
These verses show the condition of the whole human race, the condition of every person in every nation. As believers, it was our personal condition but now the situation has changed. We are not in that position now. The condition shows:-
1. Death. This is death in our spirits. This death cannot spring forth into life. We were born eternally dead in our spirits. It can never change. That is why Christ, as our life, in His grace, makes a change in us when we are born again. It is His life that is given to us. In relation to our bodies, all are born with a death gene that means our bodies are born to die and the process of death begins immediately on birth.
2. The reason for this condition was that the sinful nature with which we were born, continually kept us in sin's prison. We sinned against God continually. That was how we lived.
3. We followed everything that this present world is in. It is controlled by Satan. His kingdom of darkness enslaved us. Every person on earth, who is not a believer in Christ, has the spirit of this world and of Satan and sin.
4. They now and we once, lived with our evil desires of the flesh and senses controlling all we did. We and they now, lived for "self". Like Adam, we made “self” our god.
5. Because of the above, they and us then were not children of God or receivers of His salvation grace. We then and they now are under the wrath of God.
4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with (in) Christ—by grace you have been saved—6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,...
God had planned to do something about this. His love is great. God is love. He loved you and you heard the word of the gospel. You then were dead in sin. When His Spirit spoke to your heart, called you and you listened, He did a miracle in you. Your spirit was made alive as He joined you to Christ in spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:17 "Anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him". It was the action of God through the Son by the Holy Spirit. It was all His grace and not your works. This does not mean we individually are a Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12,27, 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. There Paul speaks of Christ the Head with His body being Christ. We are only part of Christ because His Spirit flows from Him and through each of us. Ephesians 4:15-16, 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.
When Christ was raised from the dead, because you believed in Him, God also, in a miracle, involved you in Christ's resurrection. Because the Spirit of Christ came to live in you and your spirit was joined to that Spirit in a miracle of re-creation, you also took part in that resurrection of Christ. The resurrection life of Christ is in you and is working in you, Romans 5:17; 6:5-11. Please meditate on these verses. We, in effect, are "seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus". In our bodies, we are not there but in our spirits, united to Christ, it can be said we are there in Him.
7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
When we get to heaven we are going to live for a long time, forever. Even now we believers, Jew and Gentile, have everlasting life. Although our bodies may die, our spirits have eternal life. Jesus said to Martha, John 11:25,26 "I am the resurrection and the life, Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die". If death comes to the believer in Christ, he himself will not die but will go to be with Jesus, alive in his spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:10, "who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him." Whether we are awake or asleep (alive or having died) we live with Christ. His/her spirit never dies because he/she has the life of Christ within. God will show us for eternity, the riches of His grace that cannot be measured.
How great is the grace of God to us! He showed His grace to us by saving us, by His grace and grace alone. It comes to us through the faith He puts in our heart to believe in Christ. We have nothing to offer God that comes from ourselves – not religious efforts nor works; neither any goodness we think we might have. We cannot boast in anything we ourselves have done for our redemption and salvation. His grace brought it to us. We are the recipients through faith He gives.
The faith does not come from ourselves. "By grace you are saved through faith" is one phrase. It cannot be divided. Then it goes on to say, "and that not of yourselves". That can only mean the preceding phrase. After that, Paul says, "It is the gift of God". Again, the connection is with the whole phrase, "By faith you have been saved through faith". The whole declaration there is connected to "It is the gift of God". The common rules of grammar make this the case. It is borne out by the verse in 2 Peter 1:1,"who have obtained (received) a faith like ours"...
"Obtained or received" is shown as "obtained by lot" as in Luke 1:9; John 19:24. "It is received, not by chance, but by the all wise, good and powerful providence of God, ordering, assigning and giving". It is "the grace of which Christ purchased the very instrument by which the soul is saved", that being faith. Those who say faith is not a gift in Ephesians 2:8,9 but something that comes from our own will, are not consistent. They show their error when explaining 2 Peter 1:1, “received a faith”. There it has to be said it is a gift and 1:7;2:6 show it to be “belief on”. Somehow or other, in a way not known, that faith for salvation is not our own but given us.
The above explanation should be clear to all that our total salvation, even through the means of faith, is the gift of God. It is His working in us. There is nothing from ourselves. How could there be from such a dead, carnal and sinful human nature that we have?
He has made us into something. He created us, or re-created our spirits, to be in Christ, where we are. He did this so that we do good works. Even these good works do not spring from ourselves. God already had them ready so that in Christ, good works become our way of life. His Spirit is the cause that enables us to do them.
11So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called "the uncircumcision" by those who are called "the circumcision"—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands—12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Now Paul addresses the Gentiles in the church. We also were Gentiles, not Jews. We were never circumcised like the Jews were. That was the distinguishing mark on the physical bodies of Jewish males. Until Christ came, we were not part of Israel, the chosen people of God. We were not part of the people who received promises and covenants from God. There was no hope for us. We did not know the true God. We may have had gods but none of them were the true God. We were without Him.
Because of the cross, all has changed. We who were far off from God, His promises and not part of His people, are now near because we are in Christ. His blood has brought us near, the blood of the New Covenant. The old covenants for the Jews do not exist any longer. All is fulfilled in Christ. There used to be natural Jews, and national Israel and Gentiles. It is different now. God’s view is not of a national Israel and believers but only of one class of people. This comprises believing Jews, first and then believing Gentiles (all of us). Together they make up “the Israel of God”, Galatians 6:16.
Matthew 21:43; "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom".
Matthew 23:38; See, your house is left to you, desolate.
Believers in Christ, Jew or Gentile, are in a spiritual Israel. We are now the true Jews.
Romans 2:28,29; "For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart — it is spiritual and not literal".
1 Peter 2:9; "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
Acts 13:46; Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles."
We now are the chosen of God. We now are the people of God. He has made us, whether Jew in Christ or Gentile in Christ, one people, one body. God has reconciled us to Himself.
We were all naturally hostile to God. He spoke peace to us, both Jew and Gentile who believe. Both Jew and Gentile walk through the gateway of prayer to the Father of those who believe. This takes place because we Jewish and Gentile believers are one in the one Holy Spirit.
Verse 19 says “So then you are no
longer strangers and aliens (the Gentiles), but you are citizens with the saints
and also members of the household of God”. This clearly defines one class of
people. It is “the household of God”. There are no longer two classes such as
Jew and Gentile. Rather there are two classes who are believers or saints and
The marvel is portrayed in the phrase “with the saints”. These were those who looked forward to Christ from national Israel up to the appearing of their Messiah. They were “members of the household of God”, by faith alone and not because they were Jews.
John, who prepared the way of the Lord, told Israel in Luke 3:8 “Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our ancestor; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham”. God was doing a new thing then, something that would never be changed. He was showing, through John, that membership in the nation of Israel was no longer a criterion. It was useless for them or for any Jew from that time on, including our day, to rest on the fact of being a Jew. This, of course, negates all the End-Time beliefs held so fondly by multitudes who even unknowingly, follow Darby’s doctrine. It is another gospel.
Even in Australia, today, there are those who are going to get together to celebrate a Feast, as emailed - “We wish to bring to your attention that this Friday Sept 18th at sundown is the beginning of the Biblical Feast of Trumpets 2009, which begins a 22 day season of prophetic events described in Leviticus 23:23-44. The last of these, the Feast of Tabernacles, will be celebrated by the nations going up annually to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts (see Zechariah 14:16-20). Thousands of people from the nations are already prophetically making this pilgrimage!
On Friday Sept 18th, Catch the Fire Ministries will celebrate these Prophetic Feasts with praise and worship, teaching and special prayers. We will focus on the prophetic nature of God's appointed times and their fulfilment in Jesus, past, present and future.”
If they were not following the usual End-Time beliefs they would not be making such a gross error. They should look at Galatians 4:9-11 “How can you want to be enslaved to them again? You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted”.
These were the seventh day Sabbaths followed weekly.
This was part of the Ten Commandments that were given to the nation of Israel alone while under Law. It was never given to Gentiles. The Feasts and sacrifices were types of Christ who is the true rest of God, as shown in Hebrews 3 & 4. Because Christ has come no one is obligated to keep any day, as Jesus showed in Mark 2:23-27, when He allowed his disciples to pluck heads of grain. He said He was Lord of the Sabbath and in effect, He was saying because He came, Sabbaths would be no longer obligatory.
The months were the times of the new moon. The Jews kept these by blowing trumpets, offering sacrifices etc. Christ the Light came, He the sun of righteousness. He is the substance. What the Jews celebrated was just the shadow.
The times were about the three times in the year when Jewish males appeared before the Lord at Jerusalem. They kept the Feasts of Tabernacles, Passover and Pentecost. Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us, 1 Corinthians 5:7. There is no need to keep any Feast of Passover as the Jews used to.
There is now no need and in fact it is wrong and sin, as Paul indicated, and as shown in Hebrews, to keep the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, or the First Fruits of the Harvest. They have been fulfilled in the outpouring of the Spirit that began on the Day of Pentecost. At that time a glorious harvest was brought in and the harvest continues.
The years were their sabbatical years, every seventh year being the occasion of the land having a rest. Every fiftieth year was one of jubilee to the Lord, that gave liberty t0 servants and debtors etc.
All this was typical of the liberty in Christ, Isaiah 61:2,3. The day of vengeance of our God brought this liberty. It was the day of Christ, when God’s vengeance and judgment for us was poured out on Him on the cross. Thus liberty has come to believers in Him.
There were some in the Galatian church who followed or wanted to follow these Jewish shadows. They received blame for so doing. They did it to obtain eternal salvation.
Paul admonished them not to go this way into following rites and Jewish practices of the Old Testament.
They were perverted from the gospel of Christ.
Every one today who follows this things, as done in the email quoted above, also is perverted from the gospel of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
One can only say that because of this blind following of Darby ‘s End Time delusions that includes an emphasis on a restoration of national Israel (in an idolatrous fashion), they have fallen into the same trap as had the Galatians.
In addition this grave error can be noted. They are Christian believers and not Jews living in the land of Israel. The Feast of Trumpets was merely to usher in the Civil Year for Israel. What part do believers have in this? None whatsoever. It settled the sabbatical and jubilee years. They were never to be a part of any believer’s calendar.
19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Paul tells the Ephesians and us we are not foreigners in the kingdom of God. We are citizens of heaven. We are citizens in the kingdom of God. There is no greater citizenship; no earthly pride in such. We boast in the cross of Christ that has brought this citizenship about.
We are in the household of God – not as servants but as children and sons. From the point of view of our ministry, whether great or small, we are all servants. Paul called himself a "servant of Christ" and so are we. We act as servants to the other members of the church of Christ.
This household is built upon the foundation that the early apostles gave and the prophets of the Old Testament. They gave the foundation of this household and no one else can add to that foundation. We just accept its truth, preach it and practise it. There can be no house except there is a cornerstone. Jesus Christ is the One upon whom this house is built. We all are in Him and because of that the whole spiritual building of the household of God is a holy temple in the Lord. We, believing Jews and Gentiles, are the temple of the living God, 2 Corinthians 6:16, What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
God says He will live in us and walk among us. We are His people. He does not live in an earthly building. He lives in we believers, who are His people, to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. We are a holy temple, separated and consecrated to Him. We are built together, not in a natural or a human or psychological way but by the Spirit, spiritually. We are a dwelling place of God.
How marvellous! How wonderful!
The emphasis today placed on “God dwells in the midst of our praises” portrays a wrong concept. Psalms 20:3; 80:1 show in various translations, “You are enthroned as the Holy One; You are the praise of Israel”. The Presence of God in the Tabernacle/Temple of Old Testament Israel, was between the Cherubim.
We now are the Temple of the Living
God. He dwells within us. When we meet together, we should all be so full of the
Holy Ghost (God’s presence in us) that we enter into His heavenly Presence on
the throne in the Sanctuary of heaven, through the blood of Jesus, entering “in
Spirit”, Ephesians 2:18. This can be by appropriate singing or in prayer and
1This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God's grace that was given me for you, 3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power.
Paul was given the privilege of knowing the mystery of the gospel of Christ. It was that Gentiles would be brought in with the Jews to become one as the people of God, forevermore, as we saw in the previous chapter. In time and in eternity, there was to be a new people, a new nation and a new household of God. See 1 Peter 2:9, "you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people". Previously it had been the Jewish nation. They were deprived of being that nation when they refused the Messiah, Jesus. This was part of the plan of God so that He could bring in the Gentiles who believed in Christ in order that they could also be saved, along with Jews who believed in Christ. It was to be a new day, a new covenant, a new people, a new nation and a new priestly people.
Israel had been offered the choice of being that priestly people but they rejected it through unbelief, sin and disobedience. God had the whole world in view. In his covenant with Abraham, Genesis 12:3 He promised he would be a blessing to all nations. This was to be through the promise of the Messiah, Galatians 3:14,22. Paul was given that revelation, set out in the concluding verses of chapter 2.
Paul preached this Gospel and its mystery revealed to him when he went to the Gentiles. It was the grace of God on Paul, so that Gentiles could come into the above position. It led to his imprisonment.
Before this no one had been given this revelation of the mystery of the gospel. Glimpses of it had shone through in the prophecies of the Old Testament, which the prophets themselves tried to look into, 1 Peter 1:10,11, but the Spirit of Christ on them did not disclose it to them. This revelation given to Paul alone, shows that what was understood under the Old Testament was not enough. There had to come a clear revelation of the mystery. That was the final revelation of God's purposes for a people for Himself. Even the book of Revelation, does not disclose any further aspect of the mystery of the gospel of Christ. We rest on what Paul teaches us. All of us should read intently every epistle he wrote.
The promise was first given to Abraham and even he did not fully understand it. We today can understand from Paul's writings. Abraham would have gained some insight into the fact that Gentiles would be blessed. However, he did not understand that they would be brought into the same body as one. He only knew that multitudes of his descendants would be blessed. He probably failed to see that there would be two kinds of descendants, natural descendants and spiritual descendants. We all know that the natural ones are the Jews (Israel).
We should know that the spiritual descendants who are the only ones to take part in the promises to Abraham, have come in through the promised “seed” of Abraham, this being Jesus Christ. He is the One to whom all these promises to Abraham were to be given. He received them. In Christ, believing Jews and believing Gentiles thus become heirs with Him. This leaves us with the fact that there is only one Israel today, before God. It is the spiritual Israel that God considers His own, the heirs of salvation in Christ Jesus.
Believers in Christ, Jew and Gentiles, are the only ones in any Israel, as seen in Galatians 6:15,16 "A new creation is everything (as individuals and as the new people of God). Peace and mercy be upon them, the true Israel of God." There is only one Israel today in the fulfilment of the purposes of God.
It is one created by the Spirit of God. It is not a natural one. It is not any natural nation of Israel and never will be. Ephesians 2:10 bears this out also, "We are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus". Unless they are created in Christ Jesus, any natural Jews can never be part of the gospel blessing. Also they cannot be part of the inheritance given to Christ who brought to us the Kingdom of God. Or as He says of the same kingdom in another place, the Kingdom of heaven. This revelation given to Paul is the only one that will explain all the Old Testament.
In verse 7, Paul says he is given this grace of ministry by the working of God’s mighty “dunamis”, “power”. We know from other verses of Scripture that Paul preached with “dunamis” as in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, “also in ‘dunamis’ and in the Holy Spirit”. The preaching of the gospel was with the “dunamis” received by praying in other tongues. There was power that was effective.
The message went out also accompanied by Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as in Hebrews 2:4, “God added His testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Ghost”. God has never changed. Jesus Christ has never altered His programme for His ministers of the gospel and for His church. We need this power, the signs and wonders and the Gifts of the Holy Ghost in all of our ministry.
All these are “powers, ‘dunamis’, of the age to come” that the apostle spoke about in Hebrews 6:5. What greatness of power, supernatural power, the power of God, that He gives to us as a free gift. This power comes to us through the baptism with the Spirit and particularly the speaking in other tongues, which is “dunamis”, power. The manifestation of the power of God is through the nine Gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:2-15. However, we must “chase after them” as the apostle commands in 1 Corinthians 12:31 and chapter 14:1. This is to be in earnest seeking and prayer, particularly prayer in the Holy Ghost, in other tongues.
In addition, we learn from 1 Corinthians 14:18 that Paul incessantly prayed in other tongues, when he said, “I thank my God I speak in other tongues more than all of you”. Obviously the source of his power or “dunamis” was speaking in other tongues. It can be the source of power for us in our ministry, whether great or small. We need this “dunamis”.
We need the Gifts of the Holy Ghost in all of our ministry, whatever it is. We should covet these gifts and pray and believe for them as we pray much in other tongues. Paul said, “I ‘will’ pray with the spirit”. We must likewise say and follow, “I ‘will’ pray with the spirit (in other tongues)”. It is a deliberate act of faith and will. “I will so pray”!
8Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9and to make everyone see (to bring to light) what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Paul is not full of self-importance or pride. He considers himself to be the least of all saints, he whom we consider to be the greatest of the apostles. He looks on himself as the greatest of sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15. As we look at ourselves with our carnal natures, born in sin and shaped in iniquity, we too can only look at the grace of God by which He lifted us up out of the mud and filth of sin.
The gospel is first of all for the Jew and then for the Gentile. The Jews received the gospel first on the Day of Pentecost. Later, after Paul was converted, he was sent as a “light to the Gentiles”. Through him, the gospel reached the Gentiles. Peter is the apostle to the Jews and Paul the apostle to the Gentiles.
Paul received the gift of the grace of God as He worked in him through His mighty power, ”dunamis”, in mighty revelations of the Spirit that we read about in his epistles. Paul’s prayer life consisted in the main with speaking in other tongues, in the Spirit and to a lesser degree, of receiving revelations in confirmation of the Word of Christ in the Old Testament.
The riches of Christ are without measure. Christ's riches can never be measured because of their greatness. These riches He shares with believers, as we are "joint-heirs with Jesus Christ", Romans 8:16,17. We experience some of these riches now. However, they are laid up for us in the ages to come. This inheritance is not of this world. 1 Peter 1:3-5, "3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
It is not on this earth. It is in heaven. What is of this earth, even to the day when time shall be no more, is perishable. It is defiled. It fades away. It is the visible and the temporal. They do not last forever. Therefore, we cannot expect our inheritance to happen in its fulness on this earth.
The first instalment of this inheritance is the seal of the Holy Spirit, 1:14. This is part of the “power of the age to come”. It again concerns power, as shown in the previous chapter. Also, it goes back to the experience of Acts 1:8; 2:4. It is to be in the eternal heaven, that John saw descending to a new heavens and a new earth, in Revelation 21:1-3. This will never pass away. It is pure and undefiled. It never fades but remains in all its brightness and glory forever and ever.
It is all about Spiritual and heavenly things and not earthly, as in Ephesians 1:14,17,18. It is never about earthly riches. Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9 never had earthly riches. His parents at the time of the rite of circumcision of Jesus, sacrificed according to Luke 2:24, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. This was in accordance with Leviticus 12:8, as Mary and Joseph were obviously poor. Christ’s riches were in heaven, where He was co-equal with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit, the Triune God. He became poor on earth and certainly He was not rich in this world’s goods but the poverty mentioned is a different one. It was that He did not leave His Divinity behind but rather that He left behind the manifestation of His Deity and Glory that He had in eternity, as the Son.
He became poor by taking upon Himself the form of a man and became a slave. He then allowed Himself to be humbled on the cross as well. This is the Divine nature, one of humility. This led to His shame and death on the cross. There can be no greater poverty than this.
The church has been given the privilege that through this church bound together by the invisible Spirit of God, the wisdom of God can be revealed to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places.
This mystery was revealed to Paul,
not to Old Testament prophets or to the other apostles.
The Wisdom of God is to be shown to the angelic beings in heaven through the church as detailed in Ephesians 2. They then can see the wisdom of God in all its many displays and forms through the redemption of sinners by the cross.
was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ
Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and
confidence through faith in him.
The cross of Jesus Christ for our redemption was not an after thought. It was not an event that occurred because every other plan of God had failed. It, indeed, is the central part of God's eternal plan and purpose for mankind. In eternity, the Father had this purpose in view that His Son would come to earth as a man, God and man in one Person, in order to die for sinners on the Cross. It was in Christ Jesus that God's plan from eternity as outlined in the previous chapters was fulfilled. It is through Christ Jesus our Lord that we approach God in prayer with boldness and with confidence. We are confident despite our past sinfulness and condition under the wrath of God whereby we were far from Him. Our faith in Christ because of the Holy Spirit puts this confidence in our hearts.
13I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, (of whatever there is Cass.) 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Troubles and problems happen to us all. Whatever occurs, we are not to lose heart or become discouraged. Therefore, because such a thing may happen, he prays to God the Father. An attitude in prayer is to kneel although it is not necessary. In effect, he merely says, "I am praying". He prays to the Father from whom have come all people, all angels, all Gentiles and all Jews. Notice that God has infinite grace. His riches within Him will be granted to us. From this source we are to be given strength.
Many people like to speak about the "power of the Spirit". Some consider its main purpose to be a manifestation with power that acts through ministers or even people to heal the sick and do signs and wonders. When we look at verse 16 it is shown to be an invisible and even silent action occurring in one's "inner being". That is in our spirit within us that has been recreated on being born again or being converted to Christ. That is the innermost part of man which is invisible. It is that part of us who comprise body, soul and spirit, that communicates with and is aware of God.
Paul prays that those believers in Ephesus and us also, would have a mighty act of God's power, “dunamis”, by His Spirit deep within, continually. The power continues working as it is replenished by our praying in other tongues, the power (‘dunamis’) of Acts 1:8; 2:4. It is to be so deep within us that we are not conscious of it through our natural senses. We do not feel it. We acknowledge it by faith.
It has nothing to do with the body being affected by it, either in shaking or falling over. This is not the meaning of it. We may not know when it is happening. It is not upon us but within us. God will do it within, yes within, the believer in his Spirit. He does it by the power, “dunamis”, (miracle power) of His Holy Spirit. This power, “dunamis” ("miracle power”) raised Christ from the dead. Something miraculous in involved here.
God works this “dunamis” within and it is so effective that we become strong with the strength of Christ in our inner beings. Of course praying in other tongues and absorbing the Word of Christ in the fulness of its Truth, enables the Spirit to effect this. Acts 15:8,9, (KJV) And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. This gift was with speaking in other tongues/languages as prayer, worship and glorifying God.
This “dunamis” comes when we are baptized with the Holy Ghost, as Jesus promised in Acts 1:8. We cannot get away from the fact that this power is miraculous that is operative through miracles of the kind of praying that is supernatural, from the Holy Ghost.
This action of the Spirit in our spirits roots us in Christ. According to the Gospel in its entirety, it is made effective particularly by our praying in other tongues. Our spirits are rooted in the "ground" of Christ Himself. Christ by His Spirit is to dwell in our hearts. It is totally supernatural. There is nothing humanistic, psychological or natural about it. It is God's power at work within. This magnifies Christ dwelling in our hearts. It is for every believer. It does not happen through effort, through works of religion.
The ingredient needed is faith itself. "The just shall live by faith". Every believer has been given a "measure of faith", Romans 12:3, For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. We need to use this faith that becomes stronger as we use it, meditate on the Word of God and have communion personally with the Lord. Jesus, with the Father and with the Holy Ghost.
God's power is to strengthen us within to such an extent that we "are able" to understand with the spirit and with the mind, the greatness of the temple, amongst other things, as disclosed in Ephesians 2:21, In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Its breadth, length, height and depth, should be understood by us. This temple, which is Spiritual and not a material building, is a marvel and a wonder. We should know it as such. We are individually part of that temple indwelt fully by the Holy Spirit. Individually, we are to be baptized in the Spirit, speaking in other tongues continually. As bricks in this temple, collectively the Spirit of God is to inhabit us with "all the fullness of God". This should be our goal on earth. We are to be inhabited with "all the fullness of God". We are to know and experience the immeasurable riches of Christ.
From this source we are to be given strength.
It will be an actuality in a heavenly way as we receive our new bodies and forever are part of this temple spoken of as being the Holy City in Revelation 21:2,3, And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; and Hebrews 12:22-24, But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Unfortunately “dunamis” is often translated wrongly in the KJV, in the ASV and in the NRSV in particular. Sometimes the Greek is treated as “dunamis” when it is “kratos” which is power or “strength” used of God only and “ischus” meaning “might” (of God). In the KJV Ephesians 3:16 the translation is errant in that it uses “might” rather than “power”, be strengthened with might by His Spirit. The NRSV correctly translates it as “power”. The word is “dunamis” and along with “miraculous power”, “the miracle itself” it also means not “might” but “mighty work”, which is a different thing and again goes back to Acts 1:8.
With “strengthened” Paul also includes “power” as (krataiōthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of krataioō, late and rare (lxx, N.T.) from krataios, late form from kratos (strength). Paul adds dunamei (with the Spirit). Instrumental case. Kratos is entirely of and in God Himself.
Also, we are to have a deep knowledge of the love of God, Romans 5:18; John 15:13. John says in his epistles, "We love Him because He first loved us". The greatness of His love toward us, in giving of His Son in such humiliation, in the Incarnation, in His death, can be known by us. Then as Paul writes, the greatness of that love overwhelms him, as it should us. It appears so great that he goes on to say that it is so great that as he thinks about it, it seems to expand so much that it goes beyond the farthest horizon. He then says it is beyond knowledge.
The result of all these things he has been writing about is that we are to be filled with all the fulness of God. The church of Jesus Christ should be so rich in the grace, gifts and Presence of God by the Holy Spirit that it is filled as one would fill a hollow with water, with all, yes all, the fulness of God. This leaves no place in the Spirit-ual church for anything else. There is no room for carnality, worldliness or worldly ways, coldness, deadness, its own way, external religion, sin, unbelief, lack of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit or lack of unscriptural ministries. What a church! That is what it should be. We may well ask, are we, as a church, experiencing this? If not, let us be quick to seek it.
20Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Again, Paul is overwhelmed with the revelation of the Spirit, that is not new to him, but that is revitalised within him. He does not say a mere "Praise the Lord" or "Hallelujah". By the Spirit He exclaims from the depths of his spirit the Spirit inspired knowledge that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, can do something in and for us the church of Jesus Christ and for us personally.
We should pray from the Holy Spirit often in a similar fashion. His power, “dunamis”, is working within us, now and by that power already there, He is able. He is able to do something within that is so great we cannot begin to imagine it or wonder what it is.
We are not passive in all of this. We are to be active in the doing as commanded in Jude 20 “But you, beloved (us also as well as them) build yourselves up on your most holy faith (in Christ and His doctrines of the gospel); pray in the Holy Ghost (in other tongues)”. It is not good enough to accept the first part of this verse and disregard the second part.
Paul's faith caught on to that. Our faith should catch on to that. It can only work for us if our faith catches the knowledge and vision of it and if we seek God for it to happen. It can and should happen. Then from his spirit, by the Holy Spirit, Paul offered inspired worship and praise. He says, "To Him let there be glory". In the church, let us offer glory. As we are in Christ Jesus, let us offer glory. This is more than formal every Sunday "Praise and Worship", with loud electric guitars or drums, soloists and dancing. This glory from us in Christ Jesus is by the Spirit of God. John 4:24 "They who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth".
We are to praise and worship God in a supernatural manner. It is to be in the Spirit. Being born again is a supernatural act. There is no natural or human activity involved in such. Ephesians 2:8,9 says “By grace are you saved through faith and that (the faith) not of yourselves. It is the gift of God lest any man should boast”. It happens within us and has outward expression by the confession of the mouth unto salvation.
The baptism with the Holy Ghost is a supernatural act and has outward expression by praying in other tongues, which is the act of God’s power. The fruits of the Spirit produced in our lives are the result of the activity of the Holy Spirit and are thus supernatural from the grace of the gospel. The outward expression in which we are not to be passive is in our manner of life, by the Spirit.
Is it not reasonable to say that our worship must also be supernaturally inspired from the spirit or heart within? The outward expression is something in which we are not passive but active. This is in the form of words given by the Holy Ghost, mainly in other tongues and also in words in our native language from the Spirit. The power of the Holy Ghost is a miraculously operative one and it became so on receiving the Acts 2:4 experience, baptized with the Holy Ghost.
This kind of honour to God that Paul expresses in his praise shows it continues "Unto all the generations of the eternity of eternities". Forever. His revelation of it so inspired by the Spirit, leads him to an understanding that can only be expressed by words of the utmost meaning. We should get that revelation of all this.
We (or our spirits) are rooted in
the ground of Christ. It is Christ in us.
1I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Paul although in his natural life is in the Emperor of Rome's prison knows that he is there by the will of God. He considers himself in reality to be the prisoner of the Lord Jesus. It is a spiritual matter. His Lord had determined this imprisonment for him. Paul is revealing Christ while in prison. He lives worthily of Christ, although in prison. He now begs the believers to live a life just as worthy. They and we have been called to a heavenly, spiritual calling, under the Lord Jesus Christ. Our calling is according to all that he has set out in the three previous chapters. We are called to be one in the household of God. It was determined before the world was created.
God's purpose is that all believers are one in Christ Jesus. There is no distinction. None are called in a more special way than are others. Therefore, leading a life worthy of this calling, means that in this household and temple of the Lord, we are to be full of humility. None is to consider himself higher than the other. We are to act gently and also gently in speech. We are to be patient with each other and to so love each other that we put up with each other's shortcomings. As bricks in this temple, filled with the Spirit of God and with all the fulness of God, we must strive to maintain this unity given by the Spirit. Between each one of us there is to be peace. We are to “build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost (other tongues)”, Jude 20.
However, we should note that this wonderful condition will only apply as we act and live according to what has been disclosed in the previous chapters. For instance, Paul was given the understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the gospel. That is how we are to live. If we live according to the spiritual wealth disclosed, then we have unity. Whoever believes and acts outside of the revelation given to Paul, could never participate in the unity of the Spirit.
The possibility indeed actuality is that many believers are acting outside of the Word of Truth.
4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
These verses speak of there being "one body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope to which God has called you" before mentioning the word "baptism". The one body is the body of Christ. All members of the body are connected to become one, by the Holy Spirit. The one Spirit is the Holy Spirit. He is in all who believe. The one hope is the resurrection of the dead, as explained in Romans 6:5,8. "By being raised to life as He was".
These verses not only speak of the future resurrection of the dead, when our bodies shall be changed into immortal bodies at the coming of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:53 “and this mortal body must put on immortality”. We have eternal life now but are not yet immortal. Our bodies are mortal and subject to death. We cannot say yet that we are immortal. Rather, we have eternal life and will have immortality at the second coming of Christ. The bible teaches that immortality is to be the believer’s experience when his whole being, which is body, soul (combined into the spirit) and spirit, is changed at the resurrection of the dead. Only then can he be said to be immortal as his “mortal body” will have “put on immortality” and death has been swallowed up in victory.
The verses also of our present spiritual experience where we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, see Ephesians 2:5-7; 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. In 1 Peter 1:3,5 we are told of a "living hope" in connection with the "resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" and that we have a "salvation ready to be revealed in the last time". Colossians 1:5 mentions the "hope laid up for you in heaven". This salvation is for the future.
Going back to Ephesians 4:4,5, we must keep in mind "one body, one Spirit and one hope". Now we look at "one Lord, one faith, one baptism and then in verse 6 "one God and Father of all". The "one Lord" is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is everywhere by His Spirit, living within believers to whom He is Lord. The "one faith" is the faith in Him and truth of the Gospel. It is shared by all and its message is within all who believe accordingly. Jesus' words are "Spirit and they are life" received by the believer and living within him. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:10, "the truth of Christ is in me". "One body, one Spirit and one hope" are all internal, spiritual and not material.
To follow the thought of Paul in these verses where all mentions are of immaterial subjects, "one baptism" cannot be external or material. The "one baptism" can never be a baptism in water or even in the Holy Spirit, the latter being internal affecting the material body in speech. Unfortunately, because of centuries of tradition from the Orthodox Churches and denominations formed after the Reformation, many follow this thinking. They cannot see "one baptism" any further than water baptism.
"One body, one Spirit and one hope" have something that is shared inwardly by all. The same applies to "one faith". If we think "one baptism" is about water baptism we miss the continuity of Paul's thought. One reason we can prove this is that water baptism does not have content that is shared by all. The water of baptism is in many places on the earth. It can be in a single tank, a single river or in a single lagoon that is used only by a small number of believers. That baptism could never be included in "one baptism".
The "baptism" spoken of is explained in 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For in the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body". This is the other reason we can say that "one baptism" referred to in Ephesians is explained by 1 Corinthians 12:13. Our baptism into the body of Christ was effected "in the Spirit" and not in the water of any baptism. It was after salvation experience.
There is no emphasis in this epistle of Corinthians of being baptized with Christ on the Cross or emphasis on baptized in water. The whole slant of chapters 12, 13 and 14 is the supernatural operation of the body of Christ. Paul explains the Cross baptism in Colossians 2:12.
This supernatural operation in its various forms, set out clearly in those chapters, can only happen because the members of the body are operating in the Spirit. The commencement of all this is to be baptized into the Body of Christ by the supernatural action of the Holy Spirit as He flowed from within in the baptism with the Spirit.
The body of Christ is spoken of in Ephesians 1:23; 2:16; 3:6; 4:4,12,16; 5:30. There is a reference to being baptized with the Spirit, in Ephesians 1:14 but this passage we are dealing with now does not have any reference to any of these three verses in Ephesians 4:4-6. Therefore, Paul has to be referring to the body of Christ. In fact, the first kind of “one” in these three verses is indeed “There is one body, and one Spirit”.
It is clear that believers also must experience the baptism with the Holy Spirit to be in the body of Christ, as that verse goes on to add, "and we were all made to drink of one Spirit". That this speaks of the baptism with the Spirit is made clear from John 7:38,39 where the outpouring of the Spirit is spoken of as "Let him come unto Me and drink", said Jesus.
The "one baptism" is by the Spirit, without any connection with baptism on the cross, in water and is not the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Baptism in water is done by a person. Baptism with the Holy Ghost is done by Jesus. Baptism into the ‘Body is by the Holy Ghost.
Then we have the fact that as well as being "one Lord" there is "one God and Father".
7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of the gifts of Christ. 8Therefore it is said, 'When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.' 9(When it says, 'He ascended,' what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)
The plural is used in verse 7. Also, 1 Corinthians 12:4; 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and Romans 12:4-6; 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith;...
Paul is speaking specifically in relation to the position of each as a member in the body of Christ. He continues on from his teaching in previous chapters where he calls "the Body" the household that is also the temple, part of which we are. This is about that organism, the church. He speaks of the fact that each person in the body of Christ (and he presupposes all believers to be in it), according to the grace given each or the measure of each one's gift, has a ministry. He shows us how it is to operate and function. There are to be apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers. These are to minister to the Body of Christ so that each of the other members in turn can minister according to their supernatural gifts. It does not mean we are to be always speaking of "my ministry".
This is Paul’s picture. The main feature of the believer's life is that he or she is redeemed from sin to an inheritance in Christ now and made complete in eternity. His life is to be one of good works through the power of Christ acting within him. He is reconciled to God and made part of the body of Christ and the household of God. As one of those who are to be filled with all the fulness of God he has a part to play. This part for each member is far more important than evangelizing or emphasizing church growth. This is obvious by the lack of mention here regarding these things that are often emphasized today. These last three paragraphs set out in a nutshell the part he or she plays. One plays his or her part in ministry that is only one of many.
For this reason, it was said in Psalm 68:18,19; 18You ascended the high mount, leading captives in your train and receiving gifts from people, even from those who rebel against the LORD God's abiding there.
In Verses 8-10 there is mention of the Lord ascending from Mt. Sinai after He gave the Law to Moses, Exodus 19:18-20. He went up to heaven as conqueror. He had given deliverance to His people. Those very people, the rebellious Israelites, were required to give to God through Moses so that he could build the Tabernacle. The gifts were of material and jewellery, gold in particular, that they had taken from the Egyptians when they left Egypt. More than that, they were required to offer sacrifices of animals to cover their sins. Notice in Ephesians it alters a part to say for today, "He gave gifts to his people". We are no longer in rebellion. We have been conquered by Christ our Saviour. He is speaking to each one who is in the body of Christ and who is a gift to the people of God. Each one should live up to that. Most do not.
The verses 8-10 cannot be used to supposedly mean that he descended to hell. "He descended into hell" was not used in any creed before the Athanasian Creed of the sixth century. This could have been a Roman Catholic belief from one of their theologians. Therefore, to put into these verses a meaning that He actually descended into hell, does not go back to the first five centuries.
What does it mean that He descended? The meaning is explained in Philippians 2:6-8. God, the Son, descended from Heaven where He was co-equal with God the Father, where He was worshipped by angels and where He manifested the attributes of God. He descended to this earth into the womb of Mary when He also became man. Verse 10 reveals that "He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens". Reading from this we can see clearly that His ascent as God and Man is compared to His descent as God for the purpose of becoming Man. This verse is an analogy, meaning the comparison has to be a similarity. To descend into Hell cannot be, because He did not ascend (into heaven) from Hell. Otherwise the verse is not an analogy. There is no similarity. He certainly did not ascend to Heaven from Hell. He ascended from earth, just as He descended to earth, Psalm 68:18,19.
As those who say that Jesus was born again in Hell after He took on the nature of sin and Satan (a heresy) use this verse for proof, the above explanation will show that their supposed proof has no value. Those who falsely declare this are Hagin Jnr., the Copelands, Benny Hinn, Joyce Myer and the followers of the Faith Movement. The majority of Pentecostals consider those who teach "Jesus Only" doctrine as heresy. We Pentecostals should also consider their teaching "Jesus was the First Man to be Born Again (out of Hell) after He took on the nature of sin and Satan" as heresy. They say He defeated Satan there. We still show love to those who may have heresy.
The heresy shows itself to be false even by this verse alone, viz. Ephesians 2:2 where it shows Satan as “Prince of the power of the air” and thus that he is not in Hell!
Another proof that the Scriptures do not use Hell for the descent, is shown in Acts 2:31 "He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption". Hell is not the correct translation. The original means a dark, obscure place, without any light, the place of the dead that includes the grave. This verse is about His body being in the grave. Psalm 16:10 that is quoted reads, "For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit". Sheol is the state of the dead. His body was dead.
All human beings as soon as they die, experience the beginning of corruption in the dead body. Not so the Lord Jesus. His body, because He Himself had no sin, did not experience even the beginnings of corruption. This shows that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for sin, was a perfect sacrifice. Even though He bore our sin on the Cross and died in our place, the purity of His Person, the sinlessness and obedience of His life and the Life that was eternally His because He is God, made it impossible for God to allow His body in death to know any corruption. Our sin on Him as in its sacrifice in the place of us who are sinners did not cause its effect to touch His body in death.
"He made captivity captive", verse 8, helps us understand the wonderful victory He obtained for us. We were in the power of sin, the world, the devil, death and the hell to come. Christ Jesus endured captivity for a time, in the Garden and at the Cross. The cup He began to experience in the Garden for us was full of our sin and its power, Luke 22:42. The wrath of God on us and our sin that was borne by Him, caused Him to experience what hell is like. Hell is eternal separation from God. On the Cross, as Man, Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?", Mark 15:34.
The Prince of this World, Satan and his demons, attacked Him on the cross. "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it." Colossians 2:15. He was captive to their attack but the attack was unsuccessful. He the captive for us, took His captivity for us captive by His power over sin and Satan. We were captives to sin, death, hell and Satan. He has taken us out of that condition. He ascended to heaven itself. Our captivity being taken by Him meant we were no longer captives. Instead, we rose with Him in resurrection power and ascended with Him to be seated in Him in heavenly places, Ephesians 1:6, "And raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus".
The same applied in the case of the power of the Law that placed Him on the cross on our behalf where He was captive. He "led captivity captive" when He "nailed it to the cross", Colossians 2:14. He was under the wrath of God on our behalf because we were dead "in trespasses and sin", Colossians 2:13, He experienced captivity, He was a captive on the Cross, a captive by His own will. His power is so great that He, the captive in captivity, triumphed and led that captivity captive.
Having descended through His incarnation, to become a man and a man who was put to shame on the cross, after His resurrection He ascended. He is now above all heavens, in order to "fill all things", Ephesians 4:10. He will accomplish and complete what He has set out to do for His church. He has the supreme place.
Still in verse 8, taking "captivity captive" cannot have any connection to a grasping of all the righteous in Paradise considered to be different and separate part from that of the unrighteous in the place of€ the dead. This idea is taken from what is portrayed in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19. There is no clear indication that this story could be the basis for believing that Jesus after His death took the souls from Paradise with Him up to heaven. Also, to believe this is to following thinking that is totally out of touch with the general meaning of the whole of those verses in Ephesians.
The real meaning could be explained like this. Crucifixion was a penal judgment on criminals under the Romans. It was a reproach and a shame. It was exacted only on slaves and the lowest class of people. If free men were to be crucified, first of all they had to be placed in the position of being slaves. This was a deep humiliation and was imposed on them by stripes and scourging. In the crucifixion of Christ, it meant that He was placed in the position of a slave as well as that of a criminal. Even though God the Father ordained it, the act itself was carried out in a judicious way by both the Jews and the Romans.
Thus we see His crucifixion as one of that of a slave in bondage and captivity. He had to undergo being whipped so that His back became one stripe. This is why 1 Peter 2:23-25, Wuest, reads, “Who when his heart was being wounded with an accursed sting, and when He was being made the object of harsh rebuke and biting, never retaliated, - who himself carried up to the Cross our sins in His body and offered himself there as on an altar, doing this in order that we, having died with respect to our sins, might live with respect to righteousness, by means of whose bleeding stripe you were healed”. “His scourging left one mass of raw, quivering flesh with no skin remaining, trickling with blood.”
“The accursed sting” was not our sicknesses of body but rather the inner sickness of sin and its curse. It was our wound He suffered so that we might be healed of this terrible scourging wound of sin.
He suffered this penalty, this captivity/slavery for us. In doing this, He the Captive was in captivity for us and therefore, even as He paid the penalty for our sin, He also experienced captivity for ours, in expiating our sin,. His triumph in this enabled Him to “take captivity captive”, Ephesians 4:8 above. These verses in 1 Peter can therefore have no connection with healing being in the Atonement. It clearly reveals Peter is speaking only about our sin and our bondage to it and not about every-day and eventually death dealing sicknesses. Because of what Christ did on the cross, we are saved from the penalty of sin and from our bondage to that sin. As Romans 6:14 says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under Law but under grace”.
From another aspect the wound and death He suffered in the flesh, were the tearing of the “curtain of flesh” typified by the curtain in the Temple torn from top to bottom at that time. His flesh was the curtain of Hebrews 10:19,20 that speaks of His shed blood giving us entrance into the Holy Place in heaven. This is also by “the new and living way opened for us through the curtain, His flesh”.
Our flesh was condemned and unfit to be in God’s Presence, as in Romans 8:3. Jesus, the Son, made in the likeness of sinful flesh, made atonement in that body of flesh, thus removing the barrier. Through this the curtain of His flesh opened the Way for us, Christ being the Way. There is no more a dividing curtain between God and us. There is a new and living way for us under the New Covenant that was not there under the Old Covenant. Christ, the Pioneer and Leader in our salvation unto God’s presence, opened the new way of Life.
Also, because He suffered in the flesh, as the veil opening through its tearing, He as resurrected Man and God was able to enter into the Holy of Holies with His blood. Then He was able to take up for eternity, “through the power of an indestructible life”, the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, a man.
All they had was a looking forward in faith to the Cross of Christ. We draw near by the blood of Jesus, the Divine blood shed in the scourge and His death, from His torn flesh. This blood has Life. His death brought life to us and a new and living way into the presence of God. “Except a seed fall into the ground and die, it abides alone”, is what He said of His death indicating many would live through that death.
11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers (in Gk. 'one'), 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Here are listed the four gifts He gave to His body in the first instance. They are apostles, prophets, evangelists and some pastors and teachers, or as in the Greek, pastors-teachers. Some like to think there are five as it fits in to their typology of the Tabernacle. These four Gifts are workings of His grace. As Paul says in chapter 3:2, he was given “the commission or administration of God’s grace” for their sake. The nine gifts of the Spirit are the workings of His Divine power. These gifts were given to “men” some translations say. The grace and the power are of God through Christ by the Holy Spirit. As they are given to “men” the weakness and frailty of the human vessel is often disclosed. This need not be as indeed it should not be. There is grace to live righteously.
Apostles are the chief ones. They proclaim the gospel and truth in new places, even places overseas. They are not necessarily people called "Missionaries" although they are "sent ones". Apostles found churches or they present truth to many already existing churches where it is lacking. They raise up ministries, lay hands on them and prophesy over them, 2 Timothy 1:6. They may have a wide-spread ministry of getting people baptized with the Spirit, as do Peter and John in Acts 8:14-18. They should do all this in addition to following and teaching absolute Truth as Paul did. They have a responsibility before the Lord Jesus who appoints them to ensure they stay in the Truth of the gospel as given to Paul. If not, they will be establishing churches that follow some measure of heresy. They heal sick as Paul did and miracles accompany their ministry.
Philip, the evangelist, did not have those gifts but he did have gifts of faith, healings and miracles.
In the New
Testament there were women apostles. We see this in Romans 16. This chapter of
Paul's writings, shows clearly the importance he placed on his words in
Galatians 3:28, "All distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male
and female, have vanished; for in union with Christ Jesus you are all one".
Another translation says, "There is no room for Jew or Greek, no room for slave
or freeman, no room for male and female, for you are all one through union with
Christ Jesus". Dare we act as if this is not written for us? There is to be no
distinction in the church of Jesus Christ between male and female, in both
office and authority.
We will take the time to look at all the women preachers that are mentioned here, whether they are women apostles, women evangelists or women pastors/teachers.
Phoebe, an apostle. verse 1, of Romans 16.
Theodoret, around 400 AD, says "Phoebe was famous". Theodoret was born at Antioch and was a theologian. He was given position by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It was after this Council that the Syriac-speaking Christians began to be organised into three religious denominations. One of these is the Syrian Orthodox Church, from the Jacobites. This is the church that has had such an influence in Kerala, India.
It is interesting to note that this Syriac speaking theologian, regarded Phoebe as a famous woman apostle.
She was a "servant" of the church. This has no connection with a woman who works in a Pastor's home or Bible School, cooking and cleaning.
The same Greek word for the "servant" Phoebe, is that used of the "servant" of the Jesus Christ, Paul, in Romans 1:1. This Greek word is used of apostles, as the dictionary states, in the scriptures, Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1, Jude 1, Acts 4:29. Mentioned in this way as apostles, are Paul, Timothy, James, Simon Peter, Jude, the eleven (or twelve if Matthias is included) and Phoebe.
Junias, an apostle, Verse 7.
Junias is meant by translators to be a male name. In the original, the name is Janian (Greek). There is no masculine form (Junias) in any dictionary of Greek names. The English translations incorrectly use Junias. It should be JUNIA, a female name.
Chrysostom, himself a Greek, about 390 A.D. wrote, "Oh, how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should even be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!" Andronicus and Junia were husband and wife. Both were "outstanding among the apostles". Here is another woman apostle. History records that quite a few of the early Church fathers mentioned these women as apostles and pastor-teachers.
Women in the New Testament were also Pastors. John addresses his second epistle to the chosen lady and her children, 2:1 obviously a woman pastor/teacher and the church over which she had this ministry. Mary, Pastor/Teacher Romans 16: 6, 6Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. 7Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. She "worked hard" for the church. This can only be in ministry, including the preaching of the Word of God to the whole church, consisting of men and women. Workers in the Lord, Romans 16:12. Tryphosa and Persis were women preachers, pastors/teachers, evangelists.
Hermas, Romans 16:14, is a female, mentioned with others, and the "brothers and sisters who are with them", NRSV Version. She was a preacher.
Evangelist and pastor/teacher, Romans 16:3
Prisca (or Priscilla) has already been mentioned.
Dare we forbid women today, who are called of God, from taking their place in the church of Jesus Christ? To forbid them is to forbid the Holy Ghost. It is to do what they did in the book of Revelation, when Jesus had to stand at the door of the Church knocking. They had left Him outside, Revelation 3:20.
Women as well as men are included in the ministry-gifts of Christ.
Then number two, are the prophets. These prophets are not all those who prophesy or prophesy the future (often as fortune tellers do). The prophets have a specific ministry that does include prophesying, but it seems to be that the Lord gives them the true Word He wishes a particular church to have. He confirms it with prophecies by this ministry of prophet. The main thing is that the prophet brings the true Word of God for that church at that time. This ministry is missing all over the world and yet it is listed second in importance. It should be noted that the “School of Prophets” under Elisha the Prophet was an Old Testament ordination and has no parallel in the New Testament. Such a thing does not apply to the church in this day and age.
Third, comes the evangelist. An evangelist according to the New Testament, will always have gifts of faith, healing and miracles.
He or she will present the gospel to unbelievers. It is the gospel of the cross of Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:23,24 proclaim Christ crucified: “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”; 2 Corinthians 2:2 “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” “with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power”; Romans 1:16 “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation”.
Healing is not the power of God unto salvation. It is the gospel preached with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Then “God confirms the Word with signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Ghost”. This is done to confirm the Word of the Gospel or of Truth, Hebrews 2:2-4; 2For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, 3how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, 4while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.
The message that was first proclaimed by the Lord Jesus and then the apostles is to be preached and then come the signs. It should not be entertainment, psychology, man-pleasing words or mere stories that are preached. We have seen this occur in our own country that now has believers (?) who do not know the gospel. The result is organized churches following fables and myths in many cases and going away from the preaching and living of the gospel of Truth of the Word of God. 2 Timothy 4:2, "Preach the Word".
Lastly, there are the pastors-teachers. They are called, pastors, shepherds, elders or bishops in the New Testament. There can never be a continuing church without this important ministry. They act as under-shepherds of the flock. As instructed to Timothy, they teach the Word of God, reprove etc., as well as laying hands on and prophesying over other ministers to be sent out from them - See 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2. Preaching the Word involves in particular, preaching from the epistles. Those letters were given by the apostles to the New Testament church. We are not in the Old Testament Church. We are in the New Testament church. We need the spiritual food written especially for us. Therefore the preaching for the Church should consist mainly of the mystery opened to us by Paul, Ephesians 3:6.
Note that Romans 14:8-15 also makes mention of various ministries. In addition, we should realise that each member of the Body of Christ is as important as the other. All are needed to function properly by the Spirit in the Body.
We have spent much time on the above passage, Ephesians 4:6-12. Now we address the matter in verse 13. The four main ministry gifts are given to the Body so that the other members of the Body can minister in whatever capacity they are chosen. This is how the Body is to function. We may ask ourselves, those of us who are in the four ministry category, "Are we ministering to the Body so that the other members are stimulated to act within the scope of their callings as members of the Body?". 1 Corinthians chapters 12 to 14 set out very clearly how the Body is to function.
It is to be the manifestation by the Spirit of Christ. It is to be the manifestation to principalities and powers in the heavenlies and to the world, of the greatness and power of our God. Ephesians 3:10,11. "10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,..."
We are to
be filled with the fulness of God. How many of our churches are functioning in
this manner? Rather, one has to say that the main function seem that they grow
into bigger churches, using whatever means are possible. This includes worldly
ways, Television ways, rock and modern music ways, humanism, psychology and
wrong doctrine amongst other things. We are neglecting the precious Holy Spirit,
despite the fact that the Bible says, "Grieve not the Spirit of God". One also
may well ask, "To what are new converts being converted to?"
14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.
The purpose is:-
1. All to come to the unity of the faith or trust in Christ. At that time the church in Ephesus faced the heresy of Gnosticism that was far from the truth of the gospel. Gnostics did not even consider Christ was equal with God. They taught a false Christ, as many do today.
2. All to come to the knowledge of the Son of God. This is the true Son of God. Not a false Jesus, "another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit – or a different gospel" 2 Corinthians 11:4; Verses 13-15 "false apostles".
3. All to come to grow up in every way into Him who is the head. This makes Him as Head with us as the various members of the Body, to be Christ. This is only in relation to our being in the Body and not to His personal greatness of having in Him, “the fulness of the godhead bodily”.
4. All to come to the measure of the full stature of Christ. This is the likeness of Christ.
We need to know the Word of God. It should be written on our hearts. Then when preachers and teachers come with something that is contrary to the Word of God and what the Spirit intends, He will eventually lead us away from the error. Winds of doctrine attack the Church continually. We must not be led astray by such. Actually, those people are tricking us by the way they use the Scriptures to back up their doctrines. They may even believe themselves, the very error and deceit of their twisting of the Word of God. We should not be taken away by these kind of preachers or teachers. We are to speak the truth and do it in love. We are to grow up into the stature of Christ, who is the Head and we the body as spoken in the metaphor verse 13.
17Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
Gentiles (the heathen) had emptiness of mind. They had nothing and no light from
heaven. There was darkness instead. They had sinful natures and because of
continual sin against God and following their own ways, there was hardness of
heart. They lost the capability to sense their own sinfulness. They were lost in
immorality and certainly in prostitution as Ephesus had the worship of Diana.
They went on to follow all kinds of lusts.
20That is not the way you learned Christ! 21For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Here is a sharp contrast to heathen life. It is the way of Christ. Life in Christ is a different life. It is a life of purity. Christ Himself began to teach it. They were taught "in him". The apostle says the truth is in Jesus. This was the Jesus who taught while on earth, who died on the Cross and who is the Christ. The Ephesians were taught this truth by the Spirit of Christ in the apostles and those who taught them the Word of God in the New Covenant, in the gospel of Christ. They were indeed taught not to live according to their former way of life. That way of life in their unsaved condition, had been one that followed the dictates of the self that was now to those believers an "old" self. This old self was corrupt, sinful. It was full of lusts to such an extent that it could not see truth or purity. It was in the hands of Satan and followed the ways of this world.
They were taught to put that self away. They were to be renewed in the spirit of their minds. Also, they were to clothe themselves with the new self. How was this possible or how is it possible?
1. The self is the self, the carnal man or carnal nature that is sometimes called, the old man. This is the nature of sin (not Satan) that is in every one of us. It is still the centre of living by all unsaved people. With the believer in Christ, it is different. When he or she believed in Christ, God recognized that the old self legally, was crucified with Christ and as Paul says in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ" or as another translation says, "I see myself hanging on the cross with Christ". This was not a literal experience or a mystical experience. The nature of sin, the old self or old man is seen by God to be dead in the crucifixion of Christ. It legally has no more power over us. However, we still live in the human body prone to sin. That ability to sin will end when we receive the new, immortal body like Christ's.
2. To be renewed in the spirit of the mind, shows there is a spirit part of the mind, that is not material or of the body. It is, however, housed by the body and communicates with the person through the mind that is a physical part. This mind was "renewed" (created) by the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5. There is need for the Holy Spirit to continually work on it and through it. This spirit of the mind is the new nature or born again spirit. It has been renewed. This is not a psychological renewal. Neither does it relate to the way it operates naturally. The Scriptures are speaking of an original Divine renewal that now continues to be a Spirit-ual (of the Spirit) renewal. This renewal is not by our own efforts to use and confess the Word of God, as sometimes taught. The Spirit did it when we were born again and He is to continue in this work of renewal.
3. By faith, we are to clothe ourselves. We are to use faith. This clothing is the new nature, created by God, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15 "A new nature is everything". The person has the same body and the same intellectual capacities. This new nature is, "created according to the likeness of God", as also in Colossians 3:9; "renewed in knowledge after the image of Him" and Genesis 1:25 "in the likeness of God". The likeness of God is to be in his whole being in heaven. There it will have total restoration to more than what it was in Adam. In "righteousness and holiness of Truth" is the correct translation. Righteousness and holiness are attributes or characteristics of Truth. This new self that has been created within us, is created by God. It has nothing of our old selves in it. It has not been "doctored" by us. It is not psychological or an achieved thing. One cannot have it by meditation or by religious works, prayers, fastings, psychological training or teaching or by pilgrimages. It is put on by the hand of faith because it has been created by God, within us. It becomes powerful in operation in our lives when we put it on by faith. It is created, as the verse says, "according to the likeness of God". The new man within us has been formed and created by God and has the tendency to do good and righteous acts. There is no effort of man in its creation or ongoing actions. It is all by the Spirit of God. As Paul said at the end of Romans 7, "Who will rescue me out of the body of this death. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory". This victory over the old man, the carnal nature, the nature of sin, was accomplished for us by Jesus Christ on the cross.
25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Often habits that were in a person's old life take a while or even a long time, often never, to disappear, particularly if he were heathen without the ethical Christian background (that in itself will never bring salvation). Let us look at 1 Peter 1:18 19, "you know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ". Many churches are full of people who have not let go of the habits and traditions their culture demanded of their parents, grand-parents and so on. In the culture of Ephesus it was similar. Obviously lying, stealing, corruption, slandering others with lies, etc. were part of the culture of Ephesus. Therefore, Paul commands, in the Lord, to leave their culture and quit lying. We should always speak the truth to each other as we in a sense are joined to each other in the Spirit. We should never exaggerate, make false claims but should always say the truth as it is.
Regarding anger, there are times when it is in order to feel anger – against sin, corruption, a terrible event, or even a natural response to an attacker. However, if the anger is not warranted do not hang on to it. If Satan uses people to lie to you, slander or incite you, do not give place to his working through them. If you do, you perhaps will give him freedom to act in the midst of the people or situation.
The real meaning of verse 25 “Therefore, laying aside all falsehood each one of you speak the truth to his neighbour, for we are bound to one another as parts of the one body” can only be ascertained by carefully looking at verses 17 to 24. This verse is not speaking about lies that people normally tell. It is about the Truth of the gospel and the falsehood of non-gospel or of that which comes from Satan.
We are told not to fix our minds on “futile things”, of “understanding being darkened, being estranged from the life of God”, of “ignorance which fills their minds”:, of “dullness of their hearts”, of “having become all callousness”, of “having given themselves up to debauchery”, of “for the practice of all kinds of uncleanness” and “greediness of their nature”.
This, verse 22, concerns the former manner of life, and “the old nature which is bound for ruin”. Before being saved by grace through faith and that from God, these expressions show their old manner of life, which was falsehood. It was according to darkness. It was not according to Truth. It was following the lies of the Devil.
Now as believers, they are “to lay aside all falsehood”, such as enumerated above.
As believers, each one who in actuality is bound to all other true believers as parts of the one body, must speak “the truth” to his neighbour.
This is the meaning of these verses. We are not to follow any falsehood as a way of life. We are to follow Truth, as it is in Christ Jesus, as our way of life. We are to live as “men united to Christ”. He is Truth.
Verse 20 says that we have not learned the lesson of falsehood and darkness, listed above, in these words, “this is not the lesson you have learned in making Christ your study”. Christ is the Truth. Verse 21 shows a proviso, “provided it is he (Christ) in whom you have had your schooling,” and then states what the Truth is – “as the truth is indeed to be found in Jesus”.
Sadly, many believers hear and learn “falsehood” from other believers. They can become so confused that they either never find the Truths of the gospel or it takes years of seeking. It has been common in Australia and New Zealand for this kind of thing to occur regularly over many years. Believers “speak falsehood” to each other instead of “Truth”. They follow revelations, weird ideas, a false Christ, false doctrines etc.
It is very important to know how to find the real meaning in the Scriptures by looking at preceding and following verses from the one we may have isolated to study. This is a crucial rule to follow in all reading of the Bible.
Paul continues his instructions by referring to the sin of stealing. He says if there has been a habit of stealing in the past, that person must never steal again. Instead, he should find work. Instead of stealing, everyone should work, if necessary. The finding of work, if possible, should be pursued by all. This applies to every person in the church, from the least member right up to the Pastor. There must be honesty. Then all can be generous to others. Generosity is a God-like attitude. Jesus said, "Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful", Luke 6:35,36.
Paul goes on to speak about evil talk. This includes lies, slander, filth, lust, jealousy, pride, speech that relates to looking down on others and curses. It also includes "witty and foolish talk as the instrument of sin". We should speak so that we build our brothers and sisters up in the faith and in Christ. Jesus' words were "full of grace". Ours should be also. Then we give grace to our listeners. Grace is favour from God. All these sinful things mentioned above cause the Holy Spirit sorrow. He is One who becomes sad and even grieves over conduct that is not fit for a believer. God forgive us! We are not to become bitter. It can cause much trouble to ourselves and others – family, friends, church. Hebrews 12:14,15, 14Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. There is the desire here that there is not one person who is lacking the grace of God. People can fall away from the Lord if someone nourishes bitterness in the heart and they speak it out all the time to others.
Temptations to anger may come. We should all put such away so that there is no
anger. This could become a big quarrel with one speaking wrong things about
another. Then this could lead to the malicious words that injure and hurt
others. Instead, we are to be kind to one another. Titus 3:4, "The kindness and
love of God our Saviour appeared towards man". We must be Christ-like and kind
and loving. We have to forgive one another because God in Christ has forgiven
us. Matthew 6:14 says "But if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will
your Father forgive your trespasses". Solemn words.
1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children,2and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1 and Philippians 3:17, "I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me"; "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ"; "Brothers and Sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us".
Verse 1 follows on from the previous chapter. We are to be such imitators by a definite action of will rather than being mere followers. We are as the correct translation says, "to be imitators" of God. We are to imitate God, acting as children who are beloved by Him. Verse 2 shows the place of our abode is to be love. This is to be in the way Christ loved us. What did He do? He gave Himself, His whole being, for us. He thought not of Himself in the giving. That is the kind of love we are to experience in our dealings with others, particularly our husbands, wives, families and members of the Body of Christ. These believers to be loved enough to be part of us, do not include those who, through false doctrine or continuing sin have "fallen out of Christ", 1 Corinthians 5:11; Galatians 5:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:14,15; 2 John 10; 3 John 9,10; Jude 3,4; Revelation 2:2. It does not mean we can compromise on the Truth. It does not mean we can allow in fellowship, those who stay in sin and who teach false doctrine. We cannot compromise with their error. The great danger is to allow ourselves to listen to them and follow them, even if that one is famous, in place of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 11:3,4 Paul shows the danger of "another Jesus, a different Spirit or a different gospel". He says it is the work of Satan. Some Corinthians were guilty of it. We should not be. We should follow Truth. The worldwide church today is full of false apostles and false prophets and teachers in different places. This is what God says about them: Matthew 12:39; But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah".
Revelation 15:14; These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.
Now looking at the next verse Ephesians 5:2, we see very plainly the glory, the power, the love, the self-sacrifice, the efficacy and the pleasure of the sacrifice of Christ to God. Only the Son of God who took unto Himself the nature of man, could make such a sacrifice. Philippians 2:5,6 reveals Christ Jesus as God, in humility, taking on the form of man. There was glory in it, John 12:23, as Jesus said to the Greeks and some disciples, saying, "The hour is come for the Son of Man to be glorified", and verse 28. Paul says "for us who are saved it is the power of God", 1 Corinthians 1:18. Note that signs and wonders, healings and miracles, are not the power of God unto salvation. They are meant to be the confirmation of God on the message of the gospel, Hebrews 2:4. In Romans 5:8, "God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us". He gave the sacrifice of Himself to God for us, Hebrews 10:5-7, "A body you have prepared me, I come to do Thy will"; Ephesians 5:2, "Gave Himself for us (on the cross)". It had efficacy in it. It pleased God, Ephesians 5:2. It had a fragrance before God, typified by the Burnt Offering required of the children of Israel as in Leviticus 1:9, 13,17, "It is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odour to the Lord".
3But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. 4Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. 5Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be associated with them. 8For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light — 9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
The apostle reveals the terribleness of sins that can come into the believer's life. We are to take care such things do not come in; fornication, and "all uncleanness" that includes adultery, incest, homosexuality and all unnatural lusts. It adds the sin of covetousness, or greed that is actually idolatry. Even in Christian circles and amongst preachers, this terrible sin can control the life. Paul says those who do these things have no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. This means those who continue in them. It is possible for those who have fallen into these sins, to repent and be forgiven. God is a God of love but as a Holy God who is capable of wrath, His wrath will come on those who are continually disobedient in this way. Those kind of people are not to be associated with. In the face of this, how can any believer give money to preachers who persist in these sins?
All of us were in the darkness of sin and disobedience. This verse goes further. It says we were darkness itself. We are not to become darkness again as we are now light. Note in the "Lord", and not in ourselves as the source. The command is to live as children of the light and not children of the darkness. We are to have fruit of the light. Recent manuscripts have "fruit of the Spirit" and that ties in with Galatians 5:22,23.
10Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."
We are to follow the Word of God in the light of the Gospel and the revelation of it that was given to Paul. We are to be led by the Spirit according to the Word of God. By examining that Word and by allowing and seeing what is right in the Word under the inspiration of the Spirit and His leading within us, we thus discern what is right in our lives. Again we are not to do anything that comes out of darkness. We are not to have fellowship with the works of darkness, in any way by committing them, assisting with them, approving them or by consenting to them. This Word is very serious and shows how straight the way is that leads to eternal live. We are rather to reprove the deeds, by words and by action. We are not to speak of them, so shameful they are. Of course, Paul was primarily speaking of those terrible sins and crimes committed by the heathen as are done by them today. However in modern Western society there are similar terrible sins and crimes.
Regarding Ephesians 5:13 - "But all things that are reproved (exposed)" - Dr. MacKnight paraphrases this verse as follows: "Now all these reprovable actions, ελεγχομενα, which are practised in celebrating these mysteries, are made manifest as sinful by the Gospel; and, seeing every thing which discovers the true nature of actions is light, the Gospel, which discovers the evil nature of the actions performed in these mysteries, is light."
"The apostle speaks against these mysteries as he speaks against fornication, uncleanness, and covetousness; but by no means either borrows expression or similitude from them to illustrate Divine truths; for, as it would be a shame even to speak of those things, surely it would be an abomination to allude to them in the illustration of the doctrines of the Gospel."
The call at the end of verse 14 "to awake" is intended as a call to the unsaved. They are in darkness and need the light of Christ and of the gospel. Of course, there is no light of Christ unless the gospel is preached and believed.
415Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The unsaved are unwise. We are not to walk as those unwise ones but as the wise who know Christ. Matthew 7:24 shows those who build on Christ the Rock, are wise. Also, 1 Corinthians 1:24,30; "Christ the wisdom of God"; "Christ is made unto us righteousness, wisdom, sanctification and redemption".
We are to be careful to not waste time; verse 16,"making the most of the time". The days in which we live are full of wickedness, "Wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived", 2 Timothy 3:13. Instead of looking for a revival that is nowhere promised in the New Testament, the church living righteously should be looking only for souls to be added to the Kingdom. Let us say that "the Kingdom" is in the organized church but it cannot be equated with the church as we see it. Therefore, we should be following Truth and the Spirit, having our eyes on the cross of Calvary and its finished work. We should know 1 Timothy 4:1,2, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron"; 2 Timothy 4:34, "For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths". Most Tele Evangelists in the West, are in this category. Be warned and do not listen to them.
It is obvious that every error that has come into the organized church, whether orthodox, Pentecostal or charismatic, has its roots in their adherence to the Old Testament. We should learn from the Old but only as it is filtered through the New Testament truths. This tendency is obvious in doctrine, church practices, and its futuristic theology of all descriptions and in its so-called "worship" (e.g. in recent places, that based on the "Tabernacle of David" teaching that includes instruments, dancing and singing). The error of "Restoration of David's Tabernacle" has led, in Australia, U.S.A. and Great Britain, to worldly rock music, jumping up and down and entertainment in the services. We are under the New Covenant with its worship to be in the Holy Ghost as Jesus said in John 4:24, worshipping “in Spirit and in Truth”.
Worship, life and practice under the New Covenant are far more advanced than what was given under the Old. The saints of old did not have the priceless and wonderful manifestations of the Spirit that we have. Therefore, we should value what the New Testament teaches about this. We should not be hankering after the Old. Let us have faith, love and obedience to Christ to follow the treasures of the New. This is our inheritance in Christ.
I might mention that the rock music around Australian churches was introduced because two ex-rock singers, at different periods, influenced the leadership in a now large church, to change its style to something that the world could align itself to. That conception brought in rock based and contemporary songs, non-scriptural words in many cases, the worldly beat, the bands all along with the prancing rock singers. That is not Holy Ghost worship. It has never, to my knowledge, produced any kind of real anointing of the Spirit of God. It has gone all over Australia. Sadly this is in the main Pentecostal denomination, no longer Pentecostal, together with other denominations that follow along with this worldly, non anointed, non Holy Ghost so-called "Praise and Worship". "A little yeast (sin) leavens the whole batch of dough".
In verse 17, the warning goes out not to be foolish but wise. In wisdom of the Lord we will understand the will of the Lord as is revealed in the Word of God. We will not follow the works of darkness from the world or from false preachers. Their works are works of darkness.
In Ephesians 5:18, Paul warns against drunkenness, similar to those who are in debauchery. That is what the heathen in those days did. Today, it is common in many countries. We are not to follow the old paths of sin. We have been redeemed from them. We live in the light. Instead, Paul shows the opposite to what being drunk is. Certainly, it is not "drunk in the Spirit". There is no such term in the Scriptures. How can we connect any kind of so-called drunkenness to the Holy Spirit?
Instead, says Paul, we are to be filled (be continually filled) with the Spirit. With Paul, the connection to being filled with the Spirit is always made to his speaking in other tongues. This should be our common experience, praying in other tongues. Being filled with the Spirit always has some expression in prayer in other tongues, then a praying in the Spirit in one's own language. At all times prayer is to be in the Spirit, whether in tongues or one's own language.
All kinds of prayers are to be by the spirit, Ephesians 6:18. Also see 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4. In verses 5-10, Paul teaches about the Gifts of Tongues, Interpretation and Prophecy in the church. In verse 14, he teaches about praying in tongues, "For if I pray in a tongues, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive (he does not understand or use his mind)". Then he shows how we can pray in tongues and then pray in the Spirit using words that our mind understands. Verse 18, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you". As RWP says, "An astonishing claim that doubtless had an effect on them!"
A church of believers filled with the Spirit, verse 19, will "sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks … for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." Notice praise, worship and thanks are to be "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." This all could be called worship. What exactly is meant?
Speaking to yourselves in psalms – This is not to one another. We do not worship or sing to one another most of the time in this area. It is “to yourselves” as Paul with remarks of illumination to us says in 1 Corinthians 14:28 about speaking in tongues “to himself” or “holding converse with himself”. We perform this act to ourselves, personally.
We can now after many years see what is the exact difference between these three expressions, “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”. First of all, there is psalms, ψαλμοι, I do not think it means those of David. Firstly, Paul would have said either “a”, “the” or “Old Testament” Psalms. He did not. A psalm is a religious song having the form of an Old Testament Psalm. That would be one showing forth the experiences, the victories, the faith, the intervention of the Lord, His salvation, praise, worship, His death and resurrection and such Psalm themes.
We should notice the difference between the Psalms of David and the psalms we are to sing by the Spirit. David was under the Old Covenant, singing psalms yet inspired by the Spirit of Christ and we are under the New. Our psalms, because we are filled with the Spirit, go through Jesus right to the throne of God in heaven’s sanctuary.
Let us note Hebrews 13:8, 13 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever – We have an altar at which the ministers of the Jewish tent of worship have no right to eat – So then through Christ, then, (in His Name) let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess His name 0r the fruit of lips that celebrate His Name”. His Name is Jesus.
Barnes has made this comment:
“By him, therefore - The Jews approached God by the blood of the sacrifice and by the ministry of their high priest. The exhortation of the apostle here is founded on the general course of argument in the Epistle In view of all the considerations presented respecting the Christian High Priest - his dignity, purity, and love; his sacrifice and his intercession, let us persevere in offering through him praise to God.”
These are different psalms we are to sing according to this Scripture in Ephesians. David offered animal sacrifices. Our sacrifice is that of Christ Himself on the cross. His blood in heaven speaks for us. When he offered sacrifices it had to be through the Levitical priests. We have no need of such. Our Hight Priest, Jesus Christ, is in heaven on our behalf, a Priest according to the Order of Melchizedek, not the Order of Moses and Levi. David introduced into the Old Testament worship a feature of praise and worship that had been missing. It was a type of what we have been given as the anti-type under the New Testament. Our worship is to be far more blessed and extensive.
David’s Tabernacle worship was merely an anti-type with the real fulfilment in the New Testament. He did introduce something new that was a foretaste of the Spiritual way to be introduced through the gospel. We should remember that he also continually sacrificed animals.
His way of worship is not to be repeated under the New Covenant as he was under the Old Covenant that has been abolished. This was completely done away with and God introduced the New Covenant with its particular and remarkable way of worship. It would not be David’s kind of music that was based on music such as orchestras, singing and dancing. The New Covenant worship as indeed is the New Covenant itself is the way of the Holy Spirit. Reading 2 Corinthians 3 we see how God has set out the way this New Covenant is introduced and implemented. It replaces what David had. It is totally of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:8, “How much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory?” We are in this area of the gospel through the ministry of the Spirit. It is a new way. Dare we go back to the manner of David’s worship? If we do, we are placing ourselves in worship under the Old Covenant and worse than that - nothing. It was merely the shadow of the reality. The shadow has finished.
There is a feature that we all have missed. The previous verse. 5:18, says, “Be filled with the Spirit”. The three relate to being filled with the Spirit. Ordinary psalm singing, hymn singing and chorus singing are not done because we are filled with the Spirit. Mostly they are performed in a prosaic way or emotionally, only.
To Paul, being filled with the Spirit always implies prayer in other tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:14,15 “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays. I will pray with the spirit; I will sing praise with the spirit”. Singing psalms in the Spirit are not psalms out of the Bible or out of the hymn book. They are poetical songs regarding the personal experience.
The early church for one hundred years, each meeting, would pray aloud together in other tongues. They would worship together aloud in other tongues. Paul definitely intends that we speak in other tongues and sing in other tongues. Then we also sing psalms as explained above, in our own tongue.
Before singing psalms and hymns by the Spirit, we should, if necessary, first of all pray in other tongues that Paul means about being filled with the Spirit.
Hymns - Υμνοις· "Extemporaneous (without preparation) effusions (pouring forth of words) in praise of God, uttered under the influence of the Divine Spirit, or a sense of His special goodness".
Let us look at Acts 16:25. We should note that in their praying and singing hymns to God, that they would have been doing this in the Spirit. No wonder the prisoners were listening as it was with the supernatural way in other tongues. This is shown by Paul’s insistence on “I ‘will’ pray with the spirit; I ‘will’ sing praise with the spirit”, 1 Corinthians 14:15 and v. 14, “If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays”.
Although in a prison with feet in stocks, they glorified God in the Holy Ghost. Doubtless the Spirit also was praying through them intercession to the Father, as in Romans 8:26, where the Spirit makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. He does this by our use of prayer in other tongues or languages. Surely it was this that resulted in their release through God sending an earthquake.
Singing hymns in the Spirit are also lyrical. These are not hymns out of the hymns out of the hymn book or the popular choruses. They are composed by the Holy Spirit as we yield to Him in this kind of singing. Hymns are songs of victory and exaltation of God.
Spiritual Songs – The use in Greek of Ωιδαις denotes words, that it is of a metrical composition and that it is a song. Being “Spiritual” they are songs directly of the Holy Spirit. This indicates they are the words of the Spirit from our spirits, having metrical composition and being a song. This is tending to magnify God and edify. It is indicative of the Spirit’s presence imparting the true anointing. This means that we are to sing in other tongues. It is a joy and a grace of God to be enabled to sing in this way. We magnify and praise the Lord and at the same time edify ourselves.
We should not forget that all these things we are to do only happen because we are “filled with the Spirit” as in the preceding verse where we are commanded to “Be filled with the Spirit”. How much we have missed of the purposes of God. How little we have understood and still do in our churches today, of the glories of what the Spirit is to bring to us and lead us into.
Regarding this passage of Scripture, these psalms are not The Psalms of the Old Testament. The hymns are not our church hymns and choruses. The songs are not the songs of our choirs or soloists. They are something far more heavenly and glorious. We fall far short of this and deprive ourselves, the church and the world of the glories of the Presence of God by the Spirit. I write this knowing that most churches will not listen. However, there are those beloved ones with humble and contrite hearts who are willing to learn what “the Spirit says to the churches” here in Ephesians.
May there be preachers by the grace of God who will learn and experience the truths of these verses in Ephesians. May they preach as with a golden trumpet, the same truths to others and by the Spirit lead them into this same experience as they are all filled with the Spirit. It can be so. Let us join in faith that it will happen.
Singing and making melody in your heart – "The heart always going with the lips. It is a shocking profanation of Divine worship to draw nigh to God with the lips, while the heart is far from him. It is too often the case that, in public worship, men are carried off from the sense of the words by the sounds that are put to them. And how few choirs of singers are there in the universe whose hearts ever accompany them in what they call singing the praises of God!"
However, one thing this quotation omits is "Singing in the Spirit". To understand this, we need again to go to 1 Corinthians 14. This time, we look at verse 15. "I will sing praise with the spirit". This obviously refers to Paul's spirit that is in filled by the Holy Spirit. "I will sing praise with the mind also". Going back to our previous explanation on this chapter, we have to say that "singing with the spirit" is singing in other tongues and that "singing with the mind" is singing with words in one's own language that come from the Holy Spirit as we use our minds. Taking this back to Ephesians 5:18,19, it is obvious that in the congregation, there are individuals who sing songs in other tongues and in their own languages. Also, from Romans 8:26, we understand that the whole congregation sings songs of the Spirit ("spirit'ual songs"), that is they sing together from the Spirit in other tongues.
Do not be surprised to hear this explanation. I myself have experienced this personally, in my own ministry and in the ministry of others, where the whole congregation will sing together in other tongues. Romans 8:26 reads, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray (includes praise/worship) as we ought but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs that baffle words" (words from our minds) (Denny) or "unutterable" by us from our own minds. The words we speak in prayer or worship thus are words from the Holy Spirit, i.e. other tongues. What poverty and disobedience with rebellion, in the church's worship! Jesus said, John 4:24, "They who worship the Father must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth". Many churches do not even have the Truth, let alone worship in the Spirit!
History records the Early Church for the first 150 years of its existence, prayed and worshipped in other tongues out aloud, together, in every meeting. Why are we so unbelieving and disobedient today?
"Making melody in your heart" deserves notice. "Heart" refers to the spirit of man, particularly in the New Testament. We should remember that there is a change under the New Covenant. The Old Covenant had a different system, order and experience, albeit a prelude or even type of the New. Consider David, under the Old Covenant. His experience was not one of being born again, as we are. He did not have an understanding of the mystery of the gospel or of Christ. He was not baptized in the Holy Spirit. He sang songs and played music, "by the Spirit of God". His testimony on his death-bed was, 2 Samuel 23:1-2, "Now these are the last words of David; The oracle of David, son of Jesse, the oracles of the man whom God exalted, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the favourite of the Strong One of Israel; The spirit of the Lord speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue".
His experience could not come up to ours under the New Covenant. We are born again of the Spirit of God, Christ lives in us and we are to be filled with the Spirit in line with the experience of Paul and not of David.
Then again, there is Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Luke 1:47, she said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour". Later on, she experienced the infilling of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost with the others. She then came into the area of knowing the "power" of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which basically is speaking in other tongues, from one's spirit. It is not from one's soul and is as described by Paul, 1Corinthians 14:14, "my spirit prays".
Most people baptized in the Spirit in services, leave the area of the Spirit and stay in the area of the soul. This is non-spiritual. The soulish as the source is always carnal, often with real emotions. Even rock concerts are full of emotion, being raw emotion and Satanically inspired. We are to worship the Lord in the Spirit, from the spirit and not from the soul.
The spirit of the born-again person, filled with the Holy Spirit, will influence the soul in its emotion and expression but the soul will never be the base. It is to be the spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit. Even ordinary hymns, can have the expression of the spirit filled with the Holy Spirit, as we sing. This is impossible with contemporary, charismatic music. Whole churches do not know what Spirit-filled worship is! All in the name of erecting opulent buildings as churches, filled with a great crowd giving millions to the organization! Whether they all will make heaven is another matter. They certainly are not making it to the Bible standard! Are we personally?
We are to be giving thanks to God with our lips, for what He has done for us and is doing for us, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour. 24Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind — yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are members of his body (of his flesh and of his bones). 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.
There is a command to be "subject one to another". Pride is the source of a person who will not submit to others. Such lack of submission is directly against the command of the Lord. "Christ pleased not Himself." We should have such a mind. If, of course, the other person speaks of wrong or demands our wrongful action or speech then we are not to submit to that person generally. The members of the Body of Christ should show submission to the others.
Pastors should show a submissive spirit, and thus be like Christ. This is to be one to the other and to the rest of the Body of Christ. This submissive spirit, that Christ had, does not mean that there is no leadership by them as Paul gave them. He said in 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1 and Philippians 3:17 – "I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me"; "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ"; "Brothers and Sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us". Paul did not lord it over the flock (those in your charge)", 1 Peter 5:3. Peter says in verse 5, "All of you must clothe yourselves with humility…, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble". This is to be our attitude, one to the other. The members of a family are to show submission one to the other. The husband should submit to his wife and the wife to the husband and the pastor to others.
"For a husband is head ('nourisher') of the wife (not 'boss'). As Christ also is head ('nourisher') of the church 'the body of which he is the Saviour'." Note the distinction that the husband is not the Saviour of the wife. See the explanation of being "head", verse 29, "For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, (originally 'warms') just as Christ does for the church,". This is what the "head" does. He always "nourishes and cherishes". Those are the attributes of the "head". All husbands should note this.
Paul specifically mentions that wives are to submit to husbands. Verse 24, "Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives are to be in everything to their husbands". From the verses above and also 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, it is obvious that each is to be subject to the other. Each is to be subject in every lawful thing, in every right thing and not in anything that is contrary to the will of God. There would then be less bullying by husbands or hardheartedness against their wives, as the Children of Israel had, Matthew 19:8. It is obvious each one in a marriage is part of the other and to be treated as such. This is from Ephesians 5:31, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh". This is the Word of the Lord. We follow this Word and not traditions, from which we have been redeemed, 1 Peter 1:18.
Let it be noted that we are never to submit to heresy, to error, to sinfulness or wrong doing in others. We should stand against it.
Now we come to "love". Christ so loved the church that He gave Himself for it. A husband must love his wife in such a self-less manner. What a wonderful privilege to be a wife, if her husband loves her like that, as he is commanded by the Lord.
The purpose of Christ's sacrifice and love was to make the church holy. How did He do this? The correct translation and as translated in English versions is, "by cleansing her with the word". This is not being cleansed through water baptism. It is through the word as Christ's Spirit brings it to bear upon her very existence. He wants, one day, to present the church (when we reach heaven) to Himself in "splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind – yes so that she may be holy and without blemish". Really, the meaning is "that He may prepare it for Himself, a holy church". The meaning also is by being bright or shining. Revelation 21:2, "And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband".
This city, the new Jerusalem, is the church, ready for her husband, the Bride-groom, Jesus Christ. Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22 – "You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem"; Galatians 4:26, "The other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above, she is free, and she is our mother". This is the "Jerusalem" that is in the programme of God for His church.
Consider that the preparation took place after the church left the earth at the coming of the Lord. She was not prepared on earth as some teach. Then, in heaven, the church will be holy and without blemish. Now, even the true Church, cannot be said in practice, to be holy and without blemish.
Oh, husbands, you do love your own bodies? Your love for your wives is to equal or exceed that love! You are to be like this, verse 29, "For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church". Thus, as the "head" or "nourisher" of the wife, the husband "nourishes" and tenderly cares for her.
Paul speaks of this mystery, as being something no one could understand without the Spirit's disclosing it through His revelation of it. No one thought of such a thing under the Old Covenant. The other apostles had not thought of such a thing, even though they had walked with Jesus. The marriage of man and woman is to be a union of love and submission, one to the other. They are one flesh. The comparison of this marriage between man and wife to the union of Christ and His church is the mystery. The mystery is that Christ, the Lord of glory, would stoop to such love of His church that they enjoy a union of Spirit with Him.
Perhaps the union also can be said to embrace the fact, that one day we will have the redemption of our bodies, to take on immortality by the Spirit of God. 1 John 3:2 says "When He is revealed, we will belike him, for we will see him as he is". Philippians 3:20-22, "We are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself". We will be like Him, like God, and also like Jesus Christ who is the Son of Man and Son of God. Notice it is not "as" but "like".
Now the apostle comes back to our earthly situation. The husband is to love the wife as himself, and the wife is to "respect" her husband! That is the submission of each to the other. A wife will love her husband greatly, in return for his love. Also, we should remember it is a marital situation.
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother" — this is the first commandment with a promise: 3"so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."
4And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.
9And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.
Here the Apostle Paul sets out some practical injunctions. Children, and notice it is children and not offspring who are adult, are to obey their parents in things relating to the Lord's will. Otherwise, they are obligated to obey the Lord and not their parents if it is a matter not covered by the will of the Lord, i.e. the gospel of Christ. The Greek meaning is for young children and not older ones, particularly those who are married or already in a career. Older ones with all children, are to honour their parents until they pass away. The commandment under the Law had a promise. That promise exists for today, because in 2 Corinthians 7:1 shows believer inherit the promises of the Old Testament, as also does 2 Corinthians 1:20, "For in Him, every one of God's promises is a "Yes".
Fathers, actually meaning "parents", have a command and that would certainly include mothers who generally have the care of the children. They are not to do or say things that will cause them to become angry. They should never abuse their children or punish them harshly, only in discipline. However children may become angry without any action from the parents! Children are to be shown the ways of the Lord and His Word, particularly the epistles. Do our children know the Word of God? Are they born again? Are they filled with the Spirit? Do they really know the epistles in particular? Have they memorised many of the portions of the epistles in the New Testament?
In those days there were many slaves. In our western society there is no such thing as a legal slave or a bond servant. However, even in slavery, they were to be obedient, doing all work as unto Christ. They and we are slaves of Christ. It is the will of God to work well under a master or employer. It is to be done unto the Lord. Workers should be enthusiastic in what they do. That does not mean that workers cannot have rights and indeed stand up for those rights. Masters and employers are to act in the same way to those who must do their bidding. All Christian employers and employees have the same Master in heaven. God has no partiality. He will not favour one of us above the other.
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. 21So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. 22I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts.
23Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
This wonderful portion of scripture has been taught wrongly in recent times all over the world – particularly in the Charismatic and then going into the Pentecostal circles. Let us look at it in truth.
Firstly let us consider that the apostle does not consider himself in pride as above the believers. He calls them "Brethren". From the point of view of Pastors, each member of the body of Christ comes under the heading of "Brethren". In relation to the main body of this portion of Scripture. We can be strong as verse 10 tells us to be. We are to be strong, not in our own strength, but in the strength of the Lord. "'It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord of Hosts", Zechariah 4:6. We do not have the strength in ourselves. It is by the strength of the power of the Lord.
Regarding verse:11 the same Greek word for "put on" is that used in Ephesians 4:24. One meaning in verse 11 is "have put on". We are not without this armour as believers. For instance we already have on the "helmet of salvation" or we would not be believers.
The reason for Paul's instruction here is that they were in a struggle. As he wrote from his prison, where there were Roman guards on duty, he saw the soldiers’ armour and used it as an analogy for spiritual truths. He saw that the struggle was not from within the believer. The struggle took place from his outside world. The struggle for the church and its believers, was against the heresy and persecution that they were in. Armour protects attacks from without and is to fend off those attacks. We have such spiritual armour.
For the first 150 years of the church, millions were killed in persecution. Each epistle that was written, from Acts to Jude, shows the church continually faced heresy and persecution – as today. It was from evil men coming into the church. It was from evil men outside of the church, in the empire's cities and from the political masters. Paul says, "You are struggling against such. However, know that you are not really struggling against the people doing this to you but against the wiles of the Devil through his evil spirits".
It was not as is often taught today that each of us has a fight going on with the Devil both within ourselves and from circumstances without. The devil does "walk around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,..." 2 Timothy 5:8. We hear it called "Spiritual Warfare". It is unscriptural teaching and is not the truth. It is heresy.
The Greek word used here in Ephesians 6:12, is as is used in Galatians 5:17 "For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other". That is the fight going on within us. It is a fight between our flesh, carnal nature or old man and the Holy Spirit who lives in us. We should be led by the Holy Spirit. It is not a fight against demons within. Most believers who may think they have demons, are overcome by the sins and lusts of their carnal natures. They do not need deliverance from demons. The need is to allow the Holy Spirit to reign over us. Generally our fight is basically not against the Devil. Christ won the victory for us over Satan. Our fight is the "good fight of faith", 1 Timothy 6:12. This fight is to maintain the truths of the gospel in word and in deed. It will come against sin in the world and in the church. It will uphold the true gospel. It is a positive command to fight the good fight of faith.
Also, there is no scriptural basis for a "spiritual warfare" against demons controlling cities, people and nations. This belief cannot be backed up by anything in the New Testament or even in the Old Testament. The main verse used for this belief, is where Daniel had a visit in vision from the Angel of the Lord, Who had been delayed in coming due to having a major problem with the Demon King over that religion, its ruler and followers. It was not the Demon King over any region. Also, there was no gospel, no preaching of the gospel to be done and no casting down of any demons, Daniel 10:12,14.
When Jesus told His disciples and the church, to go into all the world and preach the gospel, that was all He said. The command was only, “Preach the gospel”. It included nothing else, not even a pulling down of demons over cities beforehand.
We should notice that “our struggle is not against ‘enemies of blood and flesh’.” These are people. The subject has no connection with what was going on inside of them. It was occurrences from without them individually and that were from unbelievers outside the church and heretics inside. Verse 6 of chapter 5, will illuminate the matter – “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient”. This has reference to heresies, or “every wind of doctrine”, 4:14, “no longer blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming”. Those kind of people in their attacks were tools of the demonic powers.
The Spirit said to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:2,3 that they had endurance which according to history was persecution. There were false apostles coming to them and in their midst. In view of these facts we can accept a different face on all Paul teaches there and also Peter in his epistle, 5:9, about “Satan seeking to devour”. When we look at that carefully it is noticeable that it was said in regard to the suffering they were receiving in persecution.
Then again, there is Matthew 16:23 that shows Satan was “a stumbling block” to Jesus or “a stone quite out of its proper place lying in His path”. The Devil used Peter to rebuke Jesus. However, Peter was not yet born again. He was a disciple, who with the others, “understood nothing about all these things” and what Jesus said “was hidden to them”. It had not yet been revealed to them what the prophets of the Old Testament had meant when they prophesied about the crucifixion of Christ. We are not in that position, if we believe in Jesus and have received the word of the gospel.
There seems to be a love of blaming Satan for what is in fact, our own carnality. Yes, Satan can intrude but when we walk in the light of the Word, what bothers us is our old self nature. Romans 8:5,6 “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God: and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” It is this carnal nature that is still with us and this is where the battle lies as is shown in Galatians 5:17 “For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want”. We have the victory by letting the Holy Spirit rule.
In verses 13 onwards, Paul enjoins all to make sure they are living in the whole armour of God. The evil day would come, he said, and you need to be walking clad with this armour so that then you will stand and not fall under the attacks of heresy and persecution. The purpose of having on the armour was "to stand in the evil day". Every day was not an evil day. There would come specific "evil days". That was when they were to stand.
Many fell in those days to the heresies and persecution that attacked them through flesh and blood from demons but there where many who stood. The evil day has arrived in this generation. In the West, we face heresies and in the other countries, they face not only heresies from us in the West but also much persecution. Many in the church are not standing in this evil day that is upon us. However, there are those who do stand.
Each of us to "resist every attack", verse 14. Attacks are coming often for the church. We will withstand the attacks in relation to heresies if we make sure "the belt of truth is around our waists". It is amazing how many times Paul and even John, instruct us all to follow "the truth". We should aim for ultimate truth. Paul had it, as much as can be given to men and we have his words that are written. When we have on the breastplate of righteousness, it means we have been justified by God and are walking in the righteousness and holiness of Christ.
Righteousness always follows truth. Psalm 85:10,11, "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth and righteousness shall look down from heaven"; Psalm 96:13, "He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth"; Jeremiah 4:2, 'As the Lord lives!', in truth, in justice, and in righteousness".; Zechariah 8:6, "I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness". Our fight is for the truth and against heresies. Many face persecution. The fight is on!
The "shoes for our feet" show that in the middle of this struggle against demons bringing in heresies and persecution through men, we all are to embrace one strong effort or work. That is to continue telling out the gospel of peace, of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Having all the above evidenced in our lives, we are also to have "the shield of faith". This is in the Lord, in the gospel, in the truth and in the Word of God so that when the evil one in the above manner, comes against us personally and in the church, his attacks are brought to nothing. Do we have this faith in the truth? We have to know it first of all by our own personal studies of the Word by the Spirit. We have to embrace the truth and refuse to listen to the error that is everywhere.
"Taking the helmet of salvation", means we know by revelation of the Spirit, the truths of salvation as preached by Paul. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach unto you any other gospel than what we have preached, let him be accursed", Galatians 1:8. We are to take the "Sword of the Spirit", this being the Word of God. How can we use this sword unless we know it, understand it and believe it? This calls us to be like the Bereans, in Acts 17:11 who examined the scriptures every day "to see if these things were so". We should fill our hearts with the Word of God, memorising it, meditating on it, comparing verse with verse, portion with portion and reading it in context.
Our prayers are to be, "in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication". This is to be by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Such prayer will include praying in other tongues. I have seen mighty things done by the Lord through praying in other tongues. In addition, there will be many kinds of prayer. Prayer should also be made for the true servants of the Lord, as was Paul, and not for the false apostles. The mystery of the gospel must be proclaimed with boldness, through messages aided by the Holy Spirit. This should be our prayer for such servants of God. Paul was in chains for the gospel's sake. Still he must be bold in preaching the gospel.
We all must have fearlessness in making known the truth of the gospel. It is ultimate truth. It is the gospel of Christ, Who is “the Truth”, and to be known as said in Titus 1:1, “For the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth”.
Believers are not to think that differences are the result of different interpretations. We have differences because all of us at some time have been taught incorrectly, as was done in 1 Timothy 1:3, “Command certain men not to teach false doctrines”. There is only one true interpretation, as Paul said to Philemon, verse 6, “so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ”. We are to know the correct doctrine, as in Titus 1:9, and this applies particularly to preachers – “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it”. Also, there is 1 Timothy 6:3,4, about anyone teaching “false doctrines” and “does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing”.
Paul finishes with personal matters. Then he speaks "Peace" to all the saints there, with love and faith, all from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "My peace I leave with you". That removes all worry, all fears, all depressions and oppressions – if we receive that peace by faith. Those who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ, are to receive "grace", for which he prays.
Paul finishes his letter with final greetings.