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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary
Ephesians 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-16

4:1-6:24 THE DAILY LIFE OF THE CHURCH MEMBERS

Unity in the church (4:1-16)

God's great purposes for his church should produce a new quality in the lives of the church members. The blessings that God gives should not lead the believers to pride. On the contrary, when they see that these blessings are an indication of the standard God expects, they will develop a new humility. When people or circumstances annoy them and try their patience, they will show love by being patient and helpful (4:1-2).

People in the church come from various racial, cultural and social backgrounds, but they must not allow these differences to spoil the unity that God has created in the church (3). After all, they hold all the important things in common. They are indwelt by the same Spirit, they own the same Jesus as Lord and they are children of the same heavenly Father. As fellow members of the same body, the church, they have experienced the same baptism, share the same faith and look forward to the same salvation (4-6).

Just as people in the church differ from one another, so the spiritual gifts that Christ has given for the functioning of the church vary from person to person (7). Christ is likened to a triumphant conqueror who has returned from battle and now divides the goods seized in battle among his people. In Christ's case he came down to earth where he conquered sin, Satan and all the other angelic powers of evil. He then returned to heaven, from where he shares out his gifts to his church (8-10).

These divine gifts are in fact people - apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They are given to build up the Christians so that they also can do the work of God. This will help the Christians individually and the church as a whole to grow in maturity towards the perfection and fulness that is found in Christ himself (11-13).

Such Christians will not be like immature children who can be persuaded to believe almost anything (14). Mature Christians will be confident in their faith, though they will always act towards others in love. They will be under the control of Christ, as the parts of the body are under the control of the head. This will help them to maintain and develop strength in the church (15-16).


Verses 17-32

The old and the new standards (4:17-32)

Although believers have entered a new life through Christ, they still live in a society that does not know God and whose moral outlook is darkened by its ungodliness. The less Christian influence there is in the society, the lower the moral standards are. Christians, however, should not behave according to the commonly accepted practices of society. People without God, through repeatedly ignoring the warnings of conscience, can easily lose those feelings of guilt that conscience produces. They then live solely to please themselves, without thought for others (17-19).

Christians, by contrast, should act according to the teaching and example of Jesus (20-21). They must put off attitudes that belong to their former way of life, just as they would put off dirty clothes. They must put on fresh clean clothes; that is, they must have a new way of life, where their thinking is changed and they examine all practices in the light of their new life from God (22-24).

These instructions are not merely negative. As old practices go they must be replaced by new ones. For example, lying and deception must be replaced by openness in speaking the truth always (25). Christians may do well to be angry about sin, but when feelings of bad temper or revenge arise, they should put them out of the mind immediately. If not, Satan may use them to weaken their spiritual lives (26-27).

Instead of stealing, Christians should work honestly, both to help others and to look after themselves (28). The uncontrolled tongue, as much as any of the other bad habits listed here, saddens God's Holy Spirit. Therefore, bad habits of speech, especially in being angry with or talking about others, must be replaced by speech that is helpful to others. The lives of Christians should be characterized by love, kindness, compassion, understanding and forgiveness (29-32).

 


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Bibliography Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ephesians 4:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ephesians-4.html. 2005.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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