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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Ephesians 4

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-16

  1. Intro: Church, a Team Sport
    1. Paul reminded us we are rich beyond measure…yet living like beggars. Because were ignorant of our wealth.
      1. Ch.1-3 was about understanding our spiritual wealth [our heavenly bank account]
      2. Ch.4-6 is about understanding our spiritual walk [how we should behave ourselves]
    2. The Christian life is compared to a walk because it starts with 1 step of faith, involves progress, and demands balance and strength. Wiersbe
      1. If we do not learn to walk, we will never be able to run or stand in the battle.
    3. This morning lets look at ch.4 w/a sports theme, & see Jesus as The Head Coach.
      1. The Jews and Gentiles have been playing on different teams. But in the 1st century A.D. Jesus came up with a New uniform. It had new colors, a new logo, a new team name, complete w/your name printed on the back when you join his team. [*Note also, was soon as Jesus started His ministry He immediately put together a team of 12. This was not the church yet, but they would be the 1st part of the coaching staff]
      2. Now, the new uniform isn’t the reason to join the team, it’s to play the game.
        1. There are some good, talented, gifted, people out there, but they’re not on this team, His Team, called The Church.
        2. Let’s also remember that in this building that we usually call the church, this is not the stadium where the game is played. This is...the locker room. This is where we come for pre-game. For rally. Build our spirits up. Tape up life’s injuries. And hear an inspiring challenge from one of His coaching staff (see 11,12).
        3. And the Church’s measure of success is not filling the stands...but in the playing of the game. What team do you belong to?
    4. Outline: Church is an Active Sport. Church is a Team Sport.​​​​​​​ Church has different Leadership Positions. Church has different Positions to be Played.
    5. “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” ~ Babe Ruth
    6. Prayer: Lord, help us play well with others. Help us to not think “we” are the whole team. Lord, our success is only...to please You, our Coach.
    1. ​​​​​​​A prisoner of the Lord - A mere Caesar could not arrest an Apostle w/o God’s permission. (Phillips)
      1. He considered himself shut up w/God, not just shut up.
      2. Paul, thrown in the Pen...so that’s what he picks up & writes away. Barred from the world...yet no bar could barricade his Prayers. Silenced in prison...no, his prison became his Pulpit. Nothing but chains...so, he made them dance, cling-n-clang God Praise. From prison came his Plea...to be set free? No, for us to Walk Worthy.
    2. Walk - Do everything we can in our power to live lives that are worthy of our calling.
      1. Not sit in the stands. Walk in the world worthy of your calling.
      2. Learn how to walk, so you’ll be able to run, so you’ll be able to stand against your competitor, contender, your enemy, the devil.
      3. We do not live for Christ to get something; we live for Christ because He has already done so much for us. Wiersbe
    3. So, how do we walk worthy of our calling? vs.2,3.
      1. Don’t take this as a to-do list. But it’s who we’ve become as new believers.
        1. It’s Jn.15, we are the branches attached to Jesus our Vine...sap running through Him to us...enabling us to do these next things...by His strength.
    4. Lowliness (2) - Humility.
    5. Gentleness - Be tender warriors.
      1. It’s the ability to blend strength w/tenderness. [1 who doesn’t abuse their power]
      2. Stu Weber, A Tender warrior has a tender heart beating beneath his armor. He’s Steel & Velvet.
    6. Longsuffering - the opposite is a person w/a hair trigger temper, who explodes in fury, rage, & rejection at the slightest provocation.
      1. ​​​​​​​Every person has in his personality certain minefields, made of mines that are hidden beneath the surface. These are sensitive points where we respond out of proportion to the situation because these are areas wherein we are easily provoked. In some people’s field, there may be only 1 or 2 mines for every 10 acres of field. These people are rather easy to get along with.With other people, there is no safe passageway through their field, because it is wall-to-wall mines. They are touchy, sensitive, always getting angry, always getting upset, & always causing problems. Sproul
    7. Bearing w/one another in love - (CCBC next Sun Night Chapel) Having the spirit of Love.
    8. To be worthy of the calling, we must reflect the character of God. We must live in a manner that honors His work.
    1. ​​​​​​​Team Sports vs. Individual Sports. Players working together towards a shared objective.
    2. Paul does not tell us to manufacture unity, but to maintain/keep the unity already existing in the body.
      1. This is not organizational uniformity, a super church. This is an organic, living union and unity. Wiersbe
    3. Bond of peace - The HS is literally the cement that binds people together.
    4. Slide15 7-Fold Oneness [remember Jew & Gentile divisions]. Possibly reflects an early Christian confession of faith.
      1. ​​​​​​​One Body - The Visible church is cut up into all different Groups. The Invisible church however is One Universal Church (catholic).
        1. Gk. Katholikos kata/with respect to + holos/whole.
      2. One Spirit - who indwells us & joins us together as a body.
      3. One Hope - Eternal life.
      4. One Lord - The triune God.
      5. One Faith - the Christian faith.
      6. One Baptism - may refer to water baptism, the outward symbol of the inward reality, or it may refer to a believer’s identification with Christ and His death.
      7. One God - He’s above all (Sov. & Transcendent). He operates through all. He resides in all (believers).
        1. These 7 characteristics spell out for us the basics of unity in the body of Christ.
    1. ​​​​​​​Paul gives a 3-fold goal for Jesus’ new Team: That they be equipped, mature & settled.
    2. He moves from Unity to Diversity (7,8)
    3. Descended at incarnation, not speaking of His death (9,10)
    4. All Christians are gifted by the grace of God, but they don’t get the same gifts.
      1. All believer’s get a God-given calling and ability to serve in ministry.
    5. (11) Phillips NT in Modern English (1958) gives as definitions…
      1. Apostles = Those equipped to Guide the infant church in ways it ought to go.
      2. Prophets = Those equipped to Guard the infant church in what it ought to know.
      3. Evangelists = Those gifted to deal w/sinners. Also can be speaking about present-day missionaries. (see BKC)
      4. Pastors & Teachers (go together in Gk.) = Those gifted to deal w/the saints.
        1. Pastors - called to Tend the flock of God. [shepherd/protect the flock]
        2. Teachers - called to Teach the flock of God. [those who faithfully pass on the teaching of Christ, especially through reading, explaining, applying Scripture]
    6. (12) Chuck Smith said, The primary prospect of the church isn’t to convert sinners to Christianity, but to perfect the saints for the ministry & edification of the body.
    1. ​​​​​​​(14) No longer be children…in this way...(i.e. the rest of the vs.)
    2. By the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting - almost sounds like the numerologist David Meade (world didn’t end Sept.23rd). Planet X didn’t strike earth (cover up by NASA). Starts the clock ticking (no, it’s been ticking)
    3. We are given 2 ways to be like children…
      1. We are to approach the kingdom of God w/a simple, childlike Trust in God Mt18:3
      2. In regards to Evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 1 Cor.14:20
    4. (15) Spiritual birth must lead to Spiritual Growth.
      1. Are you Growing old or Growing up? Growing up, i.e. no longer adolescents in our faith. To grow up in all aspects of Christ.
      2. As a farmer would you be content to grow corn & get only ½ an ear?
        1. Are you content with being a green blade when you could advance to a full ear?
    5. Speak the truth in love - L. Truthing - not only speaking the truth but doing it.
      1. Love w/o Truth = Hypocrisy. Truth w/o Love = Brutality.
      2. Here is where growth is maximized.
    6. (16) Paul uses this metaphor to explain how many people with different roles and gifts can work together in unity.
    7. Note also, the whole body. CM can’t be the body of Christ, we are part of the body of Christ.
    8. Human bodies normally grow w/all parts in proper relation to each other.
      1. Think about this...If even 1 Christian fails to develop spiritually, the church as a whole is not as strong as it ought to be. How’s your growth? What position are you playing? Are you more comfortable in the locker room, or sitting in the stadium, or playing on the field?
      2. Walk, so you can run, so you can stand in the battle.
    9. Communion: Remember the after game get togethers. Meeting up at the famous Pizza place in town. Talk about the game. The plays. What could be done better/different next time. It was about Fellowship. The Team. The plays. Coach & His coaching staff were there. Eating Pizza & drinking coke together.​​​​​​​
      1. Communion is about the church fellowshipping around the table (not Round Table). It’s the Team getting together eating & drinking to the remembrance of Jesus in what He’s done for the Team.

Verses 17-32

  1. Intro: New Life AND a New Lifestyle
    1. Paul moved from declarative statements (ch.’s1-3) to imperative/command statements.
    2. Paul moved from our relationship to the church; to our relationship to the world.
    3. Paul moved from dealing with walking in Unity, to walking in Purity.
    4. How is it that people can think they have a new Life without having a new Lifestyle?
      1. See, a new life demands a new lifestyle
      2. In sociology, a lifestyle is the way a person (or a group) lives. This includes patterns of social relations, consumption, entertainment, and dress. A lifestyle typically also reflects an individual's attitudes, values, or worldview.
    1. WALK (17-19)
    2. What an attention getter Paul lays down here (listen to NIV as it highlights the command)
      1. NIV So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
    3. No longer walk – The believer’s new life in Christ involves a change in direction & conduct.
    4. Futility – Aimlessness. The leading to no object or end.
      1. Uselessness as a consequence of purposelessness. Bible Sense Lexicon, Logos
    5. The Gentile’s minds were completely out of touch w/the reality of God, so they were going nowhere.
      1. They lacked understanding, were hard hearted, spiritually blind, shameless, & greedy.
      2. You are not to be like this. This is the opposite of what Christ is.
    6. Slide12 Eugene Peterson wrote a book entitled Run With the Horses. “The puzzle is why so many people live so badly. Not so wickedly, but so inanely. Not so cruelly, but so stupidly. There's little to admire and less to imitate in the people who are prominent in our culture. We have celebrities, but not saints. Famous entertainers amuse a nation of bored insomniacs. Infamous criminals act out the aggressions of timid conformists. Petulant and spoiled athletes play games vicariously for lazy and apathetic spectators. People aimless and bored amuse themselves with trivia & trash. Neither the adventure of goodness nor the pursuit of righteousness get headlines.”
    7. GET DRESSED (20-24)
    8. (20,21) But you have not so learned Christ - refers not only to conversion to the Christian faith, but also to the activity of learning about Christ.
    9. Christianity isn’t a Jesus-centered self-help program.
      1. A self-help program is a good thing for someone who shows a self-destructive behavior then supplements it for a non-self-destructive behavior.
        1. Behavior modification then is not bad, it’s a good thing, just not enough.
      2. Even with raising children...we often just want behavior modification, but God wants a heart work, not just behavior work. God wants something deeper.
    10. Put off the old self (22)
      1. Put off old the self is likened to putting off old clothes.
      2. The tense of the verb (aorist) is important because it signifies a once-for-all, concluding action. It’s done once & permanently.
      3. Like Lazarus’ grave clothes. [Every trait of the Old Man’s behavior is putrid, crumbling, or inflated like rotting waste or cadavers, stinking, ripe for being disposed of and forgotten. Barth]
      4. Or like, dirty soiled stain filled clothes. [my Aeropress story]
      5. The instruction Jesus gave concerning Lazarus applies to each believer: Loose him (i.e. take off the grave clothes) and let him go.
        1. But it is not enough simply to die to the old life; there must also be resurrection and the manifestation of the new life. wiersbe
        2. We put off the grave clothes of the ol’life & put on the grace clothes of the new life
      6. Former conduct - you were under the influence of the evil one, your flesh, the world. [if driving under the influence is a DUI; then this is a LUI, living under...]
    11. Refresh Your Mind (23) Be made new in the attitude/values of your mind
      1. This change isn’t only outward, but it also involves the inner person as well.
      2. This tense (pres.) of be renewed = a continual process.
      3. This is my basis for when I tell believers, quit focusing on not doing wrong & start focusing on doing what is spiritually right.
    12. Note the progression: (22-24) Put off, be renewed, put on.
      1. Imagine working in your yard all day. At the end of the day, you’re dirty, stinky, you take off your clothes...but you don’t just put on fresh clothes. You also shower (I hope). Oh, if you just put on fresh clothes it’s a little better. But what’s best is a true cleansing. Then new clothes.
    13. Put on your new self (24)
      1. Put on the new self is likened to putting on new clothes [eg. actively participate in Christ’s transformative work in their lives]
    14. Love the smell & look of new clothes.
      1. This new look is created according to the likeness of God.
        1. Put on the new self, created to be like God (NIV)
      2. 2 main Gk words for new: neos = new in respect to time, that which is recent. Kainos = completely new. A new self; especially the new beliefs, habits, emotions & life of a person after becoming a Christian.[Kainos used here]
      3. Jordache Jeans came up with a popular jingle in the 80’s, You’ve got the look I want to know better.
        1. That of course wasn’t the look; & Praise God it is no longer the look.
        2. But here God reveals, The Look...and we should all want to know it better.
    15. A brand-new man thinks right; feels right; acts right; & is right.
    16. Ever have the blessing of getting a brand new car/truck, right off the lot?
      1. There’s something about getting rid of the old clunker, & climbing into your new auto.
      2. The ride is different, more performance, its quieter inside, it sparkles, everything about it is fresh, ohhh & that new car smell.
      3. You make sure you keep it washed & clean. Amor All & wheels black.
      4. You’d never want to go back once you’re in your new ride. (oh you tell your old car your going to miss em, but you never look back)
        1. That’s not only how it is with a new ride, but with our New Walk.
    1. From Put off, to put on, to now put away
    2. This is a very practical & challenging section as Paul focus’ on holy living.
    3. Speak Truth (25)
    4. Falsehood is not a characteristic of the believer’s new nature.
      1. Don’t only put away lies, but have your life be characterized by speaking the truth
      2. Since we depend on one another, as believers we must be able to trust each other’s words & deeds.
    5. Deal with Anger (26, 27)
    6. Sometimes I think we spend too much time trying to figure out how we can keep the sun from going down instead of dealing with our wrath...the problem at hand.
    7. Paul quotes Ps.4:4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. NLT Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. MSG Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking. Build your case before God and wait for his verdict.
      1. ​​​​​​​Paul seems to acknowledge that anger can be unavoidable, but he also recognizes that it can quickly develop into an occasion for sin.
    8. David faced his anger honestly & gave it to the Lord.
      1. David had a right to be angry. Anger can be used by God to bring about righteousness, or it can be used by Satan to bring about sin.
      2. Meditate – means to discuss w/yourself.
        1. ​​​​​​​There’s a big difference between brooding while lying in bed, & meditating while lying there quietly.
      3. Night time brings with it its temptation to brood on past wrongs & present perils. [A failure to resolve it before sundown keep’s one’s anger alive, & provides the devil a foothold, i.e. room to work his evil in your life]
        1. Often we can’t do anything about the wars that rage around us…but we can do something about the wars inside of us.
      4. Ever struggle w/insomnia? Sleep disorders? This Psalms for you.
        1. People have tried Sleeping pills, herbs, special pillows/beds.
      5. Some can relate to Psalm 6:6 I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. aka Liquid Prayers
      6. Try reading this Psalm & meditating on it upon your bed. David was probably in a cave
    9. (27) Don’t give place to the devil - A dad was reading the story of Adam & Eve in the garden to his young children. Afterwards he asked, what did you get out of the story? His young son replied, not to play the snakes! [that’s good insight]
      1. I wish the christian world would learn not to play with the snake. I believe strongly from this that we are not to give place(nkjv), give opportunity(lit.), a foothold(niv,nlt,msg). Room or space to function or perform. Bible Sense Lexicon, Logos
      2. Don’t make him the focus of your prayers, your worries, nor your life.
        1. James 4:7,8 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
        2. Paul already told them in 2:2, believers are free from the devil’s rule.
    10. Honest Work (28)
    11. Paul’s antidote for taking is to develop a habit of giving. David George
    12. Hands that used to be involved in stealing, must now engage in honest work.
    13. Gracious Speech (29)
    14. Becoming a Christian changes the way a person speaks.
    15. Speech controlled by the new nature will exhibit 3 characteristics…
      1. It edifies or builds up. It is appropriate. It has a redemptive effect on those who hear it.
    16. William Temple said, The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child's home.
    17. Harmony with the Spirit (30)
    18. The new nature at work w/in the believer is the work of the H.S.
      1. A friend of Vance Havner coined a word by combining the words squelch and quench. He used to say, Don't 'squench' the Spirit. [Squelch/silence & quench/extinguish]
    19. You were sealed – a finished work.
    20. Christlike Relationships (31,32)
    21. Right after the warning against grieving the HS Paul lists 6 forms of sin that must be put away: [each has to do with speech]
      1. Bitterness – A spirit of resentment that refuses to be reconciled.
      2. Wrath – A subtle, deep-flowing, persistent antagonism against someone.
      3. Anger – A temporary outburst of temper.
      4. Clamor (brawling) – Loud expressions of grievance, shouting.
      5. Evil Speaking (slander) – Speaking evil of others & God.
      6. All Malice – A general term that includes any evil word or act against another; the root of the above vices.
        1. These sins invite Satan to influence your life, & they grieve the Spirit of God, harm the church, & even hurt yourself.
    22. Put away from you – Pick up & carry away. To make a clean sweep.
    23. (32) Forgiving one another - the Gk word used here, charizomai, implies not only forgiving, but doing so with a gracious attitude.
      1. ​​​​​​​A new life demands a new lifestyle.
    24. The only animal the grizzly would allow to eat with him was the skunk. Grizzly bears in Yellowstone often come to eat at the place where garbage is dumped. This huge bear can fight and beat almost any animal in the West, but it lets the skunk share its meal. The grizzly surely resented the skunk and could have easily killed the little creature in any fight. No doubt the bear would have liked to have gotten even with him for his intrusion. But he didn’t. Why? Because he knew the high cost of getting even. Forgive one another.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Ephesians 4". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/ephesians-4.html. 2017.
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