Ephesians, Part 2
Paul, in his imperatives to the members of this collective, emphasizes our identity in Christ and begins chapter four with this overture:
I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4:1-3)
The Imperatives (all emphasis added)
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head – into Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that is builds itself up in love. (4:15-16)
Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (4:22-24)
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. (4:26-27, Psalm 4:4 )
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. (4:28)
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. (4:29, 31)
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. (4:30)
Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Watch what God does, then do the same. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (4:32-5:2)
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (5:4-5)
Paul reminds us we are changed beings in Christ. We have the Holy Spirit who helps us discern right speech and behavior. We must be certain always to check ourselves first, ensuring we do not cling to our old ways of thinking, speaking and acting. If we truly have declared our belief in Christ, we are new. Our thoughts, our words and our way of being surrender to the maturing work of God in us.
Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with Him. Don’t even hang around people like that. (5:6-7)
In the past you were full of darkness, but now you are full of light in the Lord. So live like children who belong to the light. This light produces every kind of goodness, right living, and truth. Try to learn what pleases the Lord. Have no part in the things that people in darkness do [sexual immorality and covetousness], which produce nothing good. Instead, tell everyone how wrong those things are. (5:8-11)
Okay, I’m going to diverge a bit here because I know these next passages can be controversial. I’ve looked up some key words in the original Greek using the Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament translation, and the Mounce Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, along with Strong’s use of these words.
In chapter five, Paul speaks of wives and husbands and their relationship to one another in Christ (5:21-33):
For wives, Paul uses the Greek word hypotassō, which means “to submit one’s self,” not be subjugated (5:22).
To husbands, Paul uses paradidōmi, the Greek word for “gave up” (as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 5:25) which means to give over, to commit, to yield up, to abandon, to be matured.
So it is not just wives who are instructed to submit; it is also husbands. Paul is saying here to wives, respect your husbands. Allow them to influence your thinking, your way of being. Let them be the cornerstone (kephalē) of your household. To husbands, he is saying, love your wives with the kind of love Christ has for you. Love them with abandon. Let them be first in your lives. Allow them to help you mature into the kind of men that lead a family: with strength, responsibility and kindness.
Children, do what your parents tell you. Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead the in the way of Jesus. Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters, but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven; He makes no distinction between you. (6:1-9)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (6:10-12)
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued so that when it’s all over but the shouting, you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. (6:13-17)
In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (6:18)
Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak—that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel. (6:19)