What a wonderful picture of unity is the Book of Ephesians. When compared with the Book of Romans, we see there is a harmony among the Ephesians not found with the believers in Rome. In Romans, Paul begins his letter with:
1. The total ruin of man.
2. Man weighed in the balance of God since the days of the flood.
3. After knowing God, the Romans did not glorify God.
4. Then we see philosophical man.
5. Then man under the law.
6. We see man in every view before the subject of redemption and justification is ever presented.
But in Ephesians it is totally different. Here, comparatively speaking, man disappears and God is viewed as acting from Himself, so there is no need to prove what the state of man is. In Ephesians, instead of being raised up from corruption, the first thing Paul speaks of is God in heaven.
1. It is God showering blessings on man; not man brought up to God.
2. It is God telling of His plan for the Body of Christ before the world was made.
3. It is God forming a scheme of glory and blessedness for His own praise and glory.
4. It is about God delighting in the display of His goodness, and this for the purpose of blessing, and the very highest, fullest character of His blessing – Jesus Christ.
This Epistle is so full of God’s love that Paul begins with praising God: “Blessed be the God and Father.” The Ephesians were so willing to walk with God that Paul did not have to speak to them about their present state, but could start out speaking with praise and thanksgiving about their expected inheritance and blessing.
Paul introduces himself as an apostle, not as a servant as he did in his letter to the Romans. Why? There was no controversy as to who and what he was. They were a group of believers that had “advanced spiritually and intelligently” in things concerning God. Paul had been there, had taught them and they had believed and grown in the knowledge of God and God’s plan for their lives.
Before we undertake a verse by verse analogy of the Book, let us look at it as a whole. The Book is broken down into three distinct areas:
1. Doctrine – 1:3 - 3:13
2. The main prayer – 3:14 – 21
3. Practice – 4:1 – 6:20
Paul begins the book by declaring he was an apostle – Greek apostolos – “a messenger, ambassador.” Before we get into the study, we need to know what constituted being an apostle:
1. An apostle must have seen the Lord – (1 Corinthians 15: 8; 9: 1; Acts 22:14-15)
2. They had to be called and chosen by Christ Himself. (Luke 6: 13; Galatians 1:1)
3. Infallible inspiration was necessary. (Galatians 1:11-12)
4. Signs attested the apostolic commission. (Hebrews 2:4; 2 Corinthians 12:12)
The word saint in the Greek is hagios – “sacred, most holy.” Contrary to some religious beliefs, one does not become a saint by appointment from the hierarchy of the church. He does not have to perform miracles, nor does someone have to have been miraculously transformed from having been associated with him. Furthermore, he does not receive sainthood through a decree from an earthly leader. One becomes a saint when he accepts the finished work of Jesus Christ for his salvation. A saint is anyone who has been called out by God, redeemed by the blood of Christ and sanctified by God Almighty.
Notice that Paul addresses the 1) saints and the 2) faithful at Ephesus. You can be a saint, a child of God, and not be faithful. One who is faithful is one who is willing to “walk the walk and talk the talk.” A faithful saint walks worthy of the high calling of God.
The word grace in Ephesians 1:2 in the Greek is – charis – “to rejoice” and was used by the Greeks as a salutation as shalom or peace is used of the Hebrews.
We are now about to begin our discussion of the doctrine of the church the body of Christ. (Ephesians 1:3-14) It is the will of the Father that we inherit “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” (V. 3) This was determined long “before the foundation of the world,” (V. 4) and the recipients of this blessing were those whom Jesus predestinated as adopted children. (V. 5a) “ Why would the Father do such a thing?” First, because He could, and second, because it “was according to the good pleasure of His will. (V. 5b)
In verse 3 notice the words “hath blessed.” It does not say, “may I be blessed.” It does not say, “may He be blessed.” It states that God the Father has already blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places, none have been omitted, and all are ours by Divine decree.
The words “heavenly places” are only found here in the book of Ephesians. And in Colossians 3: 1 we see “heavenly places” is synonymous with where Christ sits, which is at the right hand of God. It is from this location that He carries out His duties as the head of the Church the Body of Christ and where He will ultimately “fill all things.” (Ephesians 1:20-22; 4:10)
God the Father covenanted with Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world:
1. That if would come to earth as a man and die for the sins of the world,
2. He would raise Him from the dead and He would sit in honor at His right hand.
When the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead He ascended to the highest conceivable position in all of glory – far above all heavens and far above Satan and his angels (principalities and power.) All spiritual blessings will be enjoyed where Christ now sits.
Now let us look at the words “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.” It was God’s will that before He set apart Abram, whom later was named Abraham and father of Israel, He chose a group of believer who would be called the Church the Body of Christ. Fact: If God wills it, it becomes reality.
The word “foundation” comes from the Greek word katabole – “cast down, overthrow, destruction.” It is used as overthrow here. “Overthrow of what? “you ask. We have to go to Genesis chapter one to find the answer.
Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The word God in the Hebrew is Elohim and is always used as the creative name of deity.
God created heaven and earth; thus indicating that God is separate from His creation. Heaven and earth are literal, visual entities. They are physically seen, but God is spirit and cannot be seen by the human eye. It is therefore evident that God was before heaven and earth became a reality.
In a King James Version of the Bible, the word heaven is rendered singular. All other translations have it plural. Later on, God does create other heavens. Many Christian scholars assume that the earth is only 6,000 years old. Scripture does not draw that conclusion.
Back to Genesis 1:1. God is perfect. Everything He does is also perfect. “As for God, His way is perfect…” (Psalms 18: 30) When God created heaven, He created it in perfection. When God created earth, He also created it in perfection. If this is true, and it is, when we get to verse two we have a problem.
“And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)
The words, without form and void, in Hebrew are tohu va bohu – “waste, empty, to lie in waste, worthless.” If the earth was created in perfection, how can it being laid waste and made worthless be true? Psalms 18: 30 said God’s way is perfect. Isaiah says something very similar, but even more persuasive: “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, (tohu) He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:18) Also in Isaiah 24: 10, the city of confusion translates as city of tohu.
So what happened? Someone must have does something to the original, perfect creation to have cause it become a wasteland. That some one was Satan. So, God destroyed the first creation of earth with a flood. Not the flood of Noah, but a flood nonetheless.
Satan, then known as Lucifer, is kicked out of God’s heaven, and is given a home in another heaven (Genesis 1:6-8) It is from that heaven that he rules the world. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12) God overthrew him, who tried to overthrow God. (Ezekiel 28:11-19)
Satan is spoken of in Scripture as the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4: 4), the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2: 2) and he moves around and exercises powers that are beyond the comprehension of human beings. The Bible uses types and symbols in the hope to bring to light his person and activities so we can recognize him: roaring lion, the angel of light, the false accuser and the serpent.
Peter records that there were some angels who sinned. (2 Peter 2: 4) Jude tells of an angelic revolt. (Jude 6) These books take us back to the days of Noah, but Ephesians goes back before the overthrow of the world.
Let’s read Ephesians 1:4 again, and look at the last part of the verse – “that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
Ezekiel 28 speaks of the fall of a being; Revelation speaks of an angelic revolt. Could it be possible that the church the Body of Christ was chosen to occupy the places left void by the departed rebels? There could be a link between Ezekiel 28 and Ephesians 1: 4 and its insistence upon holiness. (Ezekiel 26:19-21; 27:36; 28:12-19)
The Church the Body of Christ has a high and holy calling. The words “holy” and “blameless” are repeated in Ephesians 5:27 and Colossians 1:22. And in Colossians 1:12 we read “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” The word meet in Greek is nikanoo – “to enable, i.e. qualify, make able.” The Father’s object is to enable the Church the Body of Christ for the inheritance He has for them, which is the result of offering His Son to die. (Ephesians 5:25-27; Colossians 1:21-22)
Look at the comparison of the Body of Christ and the Lord. (Ephesians 1:4; 5:27; Colossians 1:22) Look closely and you will see that the grace believer is in a state of blamelessness, spotlessness and blemishlessness exactly the same as that of the Lord Jesus Christ. But even more spectacular is the fact it was established at the same time – before the foundation of the world, before the overthrow.
What was the Father’s objective? The Church the Body of Christ would be holy, in Christ, and would be called saints. This holiness came because of what Christ did – died for our sins. We cannot make ourselves holy nor can we keep ourselves holy, but the Lord asks us to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” (Ephesians 4:1)
I like the Greek word for vocation – klesis – “an invitation, calling, vocation.” Christ invited us to become holy. He provided the way by His death and His faith in God to raise Him from the dead. All we have to do is accept the invitation and trust in His faith. The Lord has saved us and called us with a holy calling, (2 Timothy 1: 9) and He did it out of love. Read Ephesians 1:4 again.
“In Love” is found six times in the book of Ephesians: (1:4; 3:17; 4:2, 15, 16; 5:2) In Ephesians 1:4 we are looking at doctrine. In Ephesians 3:17 we see that this love is the root from which Christian graces come, all others have to do with the Christian walk and practice.
There are three Greek words for our English word – love.
1. Agapao – the love of Christ
2. Philo – affection
3. Erao or eros - sensual
All of the passages we have listed above, the word love is rendered– agapao.
Predestination means marking off beforehand. The word predestination flows from the word “foreknowledge.” (Romans 8: 29) A dictionary says foreknowledge means: knowledge or awareness of something prior to its existence or occurrence. So, biblically speaking, foreknowledge simply means beforehand, but does not necessarily mean to predetermine anything.
In the book of Jonah, (1:1-2; 3:2-4, 10) the Lord instructs Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach of their overthrow. In case you do not know the story, Jonah didn’t want to go and he fled, only to be swallowed by a big fish. The fish spit him up on the land of Nineveh and Jonah preaches about their destruction, but Nineveh repented and is saved.
The infinite wisdom of God makes it impossible that He shall not know who will preach or teach; where they will go and who shall hear, reject or receive. But the one great demand on all that hear truth is that they believe God and do what God says to do for salvation. In this dispensation of grace it is believe in the faith of Christ and what He did for us – died for our sins, was buried and rose again.
Romans 8:29 says, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn from the dead.” This simply states that God knows all things past, present and future and can act with complete certainty. He foreknew everyone who would respond, out of his own free will, and subsequently set them apart.
One of the saddest mistakes made by some Bible scholars concerns the definition of the foreknowledge of God. They say foreknowledge is nothing more than advance knowledge, which is a very low concept of God. God’s foreknowledge is God bringing to pass something He planned for me – my salvation being a part of that plan. It is the will of God that if anyone trust Christ as his Savior that someone will be His son and will live with Him eternally.
Foreknowledge has nothing to do with election, as some say it does. (Ephesians 2:4-7) The foreknowledge of God is nothing more or less than an eternal decree that began in the heart of God who would not be frustrated by the fact that men sinned, and that all deserved to be separated from Him forever. God determined that He would not allow His justice to dominate and thus have no human beings in heaven. I, for one would rather have mercy than justice anytime, how about you? Wayne Kirkpatrick wrote, “we must look beyond justice to mercy,” in one of his songs. Thanks be to God, He did.
This is a fact: God can know what someone will do without influencing him.
Ephesians 1:5, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Adoption is just another word for a Son of God.
What is involved in an adoption?
1. A change of family
2. A change of name
3. A change of home
4. New responsibilities and privileges
There is an interesting thing about adoption as it pertains to the United States. You can never disown an adopted child, but you can disown your own flesh and blood.
So, God “according to the good pleasure of His will” predestinated that we, who would trust in the finished work of Christ, shall become the adopted sons of Christ, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6) The beloved is Christ, so all our blessings in heavenly places are in Christ.
Let’s look at the work of the Son. (Ephesians 1:7) “In whom we have redemption through His shed blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” In whom refers back to verse six – “in the beloved.”
Redemption is so costly that it must be free, not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) The works men did to please God were never intended to blot out sin. (1 Peter 1:18-19; Heb. 10:4) Then why did God have his chosen do the sacrifices if they had no value? First of all, they did have value, but not as many suppose. Their value lay in the fact they were “types” of Christ, true, but more importantly they were the requirements of God for the dispensation of the time.
So, it was necessary that the Savior become a man, have a body of flesh and blood. The sacrificial lamb was a type of Christ, just as a “kinsman redeemer” was in the Book of Ruth.
To the Gentile “in Christ” is in contrast to “in Adam.” The Jew was “in Adam” and was baptized unto Moses.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2) So, redemption is “IN HIM,” in whom every promise finds its fulfillment and every blessing its enjoyment.
Redemption in the Hebrew is geullah – “ a redemption by a kinsman.” To redeem is padah – “to free;” Redeemer is gaal - to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, do the part of a kinsman.
Gaal is what we find in Job 19:25 for the word redeemer, i.e. to be next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative’s property, marry his widow, etc.) Nothing less than God in the flesh can satisfy the demands of a Holy God to redeem His own.
If the Lord Jesus Christ is the redeemer, and He is, He must be both God and man or the act of redemption cannot be complete. Matthew 20:28 says, “…and to give His life a ransom for many.” The Greek word for ransom is loutron – to loosen with, i.e. a redemption price. In Romans 3:24 the word redemption in Greek is apolutrosis – ransom in full as a slave, a buying back. Christ paid the ransom, and we who trust in His redeeming work on Calvary are released from the grips of sin, i.e. the slavery brought on by sin.
Now back to Ephesians 1:6: “the forgiveness of sins.”
In the Greek forgiveness is aphesis – a discharge, a setting free as of a prisoner.
In Luke 4:18 the word deliverance is aphesis and means liberating the captives.
The Old Testament word liberty in Leviticus 25:10 is drowr – freedom, to move rapidly. It is known simply as the year of release or the year of Jubilee. Slaves were released, land that had been used for collateral on a debt was turned back to the original owner.
An Israelite who became a hired servant might serve his owner until the year of Jubilee, but no longer. At that time he must be released and returned home to his family and his possessions. The owner brings the slave who had been in bondage to the temple. With money he has saved during the period of bondage, the slave buys back his freedom.
Now let’s look at Ephesians 1:9:
The mystery of His will must not be confused with the word mystery as used throughout the Epistle. And the Biblical word “mystery” must not be confused with the pagan institutions that were called mysteries. They were very secret organizations and one had to be initiated before they were admitted. The organizations were so secret that no one outside the society had any knowledge of what went on there. Every word that had to be quoted was memorized from having heard it from the mouth of a long-standing member.
In his book, “Rule by Secrecy,” Jim Marrs brings to light the existence of secret societies whose sole purpose was to rule mankind in one form or another. In this book he speaks of a conspiracy of a select few to rule the world. One thing that has made them so effective has been their ability to keep their intentions a secret, another has been to control the organizations that dispense information: television, radio, newspapers, college textbooks, etc. In the case of thwarting Biblical truth, it is the publishing houses for Christian literature, i.e. Bible translations that are the culprits.
You would be surprised to know the number of organizations out there whose purpose is to create a new-world order. Most of the members of the organizations do not even know the purpose for it being established. Look at this short list:
2) The Illuminati,
3) The Trilateral Commission,
4) The Council on Foreign Relations,
5) Skull and Bones, and
6) Knights of Malta.
And then consider some well know names that all are members of some select secret organization: Bilderbergers, Rockefellers, Morgans, and Rothschilds, financial giants of the time.
But we must not stray too far from our text. The mystery that Paul speaks of in the Book of Ephesians is a beautiful truth. It is not found anywhere else in the Scripture except the Pauline Epistles. God alone-enlightened Paul about the mystery and no instruction or outlining dispensational truth will ever teach you about it. The only way you will believe it will be through the enlightening of Almighty God through the Holy Spirit that resides in every believer.
The truth of the mystery will never be popular. It is not a subject that most theologians want to probe. It is read and skipped over with much haste for it is not a subject matter that can be consumed without illumination from the Holy Spirit. Sad to say, but very few who call themselves Christians ever progress to the point of spiritual fervor to devote the time to grasp its meaning or allow the Spirit to enlighten them. But those who have seen this truth must be ready to teach it whenever they find someone with the desire to grow spiritually.
The first occurrence of the word mystery in Ephesians 1:9 directs our attention to God’s will. The Greek word for will is – thelo – it is the noun form we see here, which is – thelema – a determination, choice, desire or pleasure. Most Christians have been taught to regard God’s will as being fixed and final. Some go so far as to say that everything that happens is God’s will, even things that God does not want. (In theological circles that is known as Calvinistic doctrine.)
To dispel this kind of belief, I say that if there is one thing in this world that is not God’s will then there might be another thing that is not God’s will also. Please look at Matthew 18:14. “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
I know for a fact that everything does not come from God. Look at James 1:13-14: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of HIS OWN lust and enticed.”
I have another question to put to those of you who subscribe to the doctrine of which we are discussing. “If everything is according to God’s will, why would it be necessary to test or prove what His will is?” Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove (test) what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The Greek word for prove is dokimazo – to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not.) So it is obvious that there are some things that are not God’s will and there are some things He does not want to happen.
Ephesians 1:9 is NOT discussing the mysterious nature of the will of God, but that His will contains some things that were kept secret until He chose to reveal them. When God set Israel apart His desire was that they would
1) accept Jesus as the Messiah,
2) become a Kingdom of Priests and
3) become a channel of blessing to the world.
They failed to be what God wanted them to be and do what God wanted them to do. One place you will find what God planned for Israel, once they had failed, is in the closing chapters of Acts and the Pauline Epistles. It is here that we see the final stage of the prophecy outlined in the Book of Hosea, i.e. that
1) Israel would be scattered and sowed among the nations
2) That there would be a period of time when God would not have mercy on her while under dominion, and
3) That Israel would become “lo-ami” – not the people of God.
God had an “emergency plan” in place when he decided to set Israel aside. Satan was shouting for joy when his efforts to have Jesus killed became a reality. He was convinced that he had thwarted the plan of God. But God is wiser than Satan is, and this is where the wisdom of God becomes so evident. He had planned what He would do if Israel faltered, failed and became “Lo-Ami”-not God’s people. He refrained from making it known until He raised up Paul as the Apostle of the Gentiles. The Gentiles, who were nothing but dogs in the sight of Israel, would carry the gospel forward where Israel had failed to do so.
The desire, will, and want of God is in harmony with “His good pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:9) “Which He hath purposed in Himself:”
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on the earth.”
Let us define a few words.
The word “dispensation” comes from the Latin where it is translated in the Greek as oikonomia – It means the ordering, management of Divine providence. oikonomo – is steward; and oikonomia – is stewardship.
“Fullness “in the Greek is – pleroma and “times” in the Greek is – karios. The great characteristic of this dispensation of the fullness of times is that God shall gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.
In this dispensation of grace, of which we are a part, Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11), this is wonderful but will pale when God shall be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28);
“In whom also we have received an inheritance, being predestinated to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:”
We have not only been saved from death; we have been save to an inheritance. Greek for inheritance is kleronomia, the first part of the word is kleros, and means “a lot” or a ballot – the second part nomia or nemo means to administer.
Kleros came to mean a small stone, piece of wood, or earth that was thrown into a vessel or shaken out of a vessel and labeled as “casting of lots.” It was an ancient type for balloting and often referred to an inheritance. Theologically, casting of lots was the divinely appointed method of discovering the Lord’s will.
12) “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13) In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.”
In this section we will explore the work of the Spirit. It takes place from the moment of the redemption of the purchased possession (the saved or redeemed) and seals them for inheritance.
The believers at Ephesus were sealed. What does that mean? The word sealed in the Greek is Sparagizo – to stamp for security or preservation, to identify as ownership, to preserve until later. Seals were used to safeguard letters or treasures, to guarantee legal evidences, deed, etc, to give authority, to shut and seal doors to prisons, as in Daniel 6:17.
So all those who trust Christ and His finished work on Calvary, are sealed, which is the earnest of our inheritance. (V.14) Earnest – such as earnest money- a sum paid which binds the sale of property. Those who have been sealed have received a binder from the Holy Spirit, thus assuring us of our inheritance when the dispensation of the fullness of times comes, which has something to do with our hope.
The first stage of redemption is in the past and is found in Ephesians 1:7. This initial redemption is seen in Christ shedding His blood to redeem us from the bondage of sin. But redemption is also unto something. Moses led Israel out of the bondage of Egypt unto the Promised Land.
In the Book of Ruth, the Kinsman-Redeemer stands out as this second type. Boaz is the type of Kinsman-Redeemer.
After the death of Elimeleck his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion married two women from the land of Moab. Both marriages produced no children. (Ruth 1:1-7) Naomi says the two widows should go back to their own people. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and went back to her people and her gods, and Ruth clung to Naomi and chose Naomi’s God. (1:16-17)
So Naomi and Ruth took the long journey back to Bethlehem, arriving there at the beginning of the barley harvest. (Read Ruth 2:1-3, 19- 20) It was in the field that Ruth met up with Boaz, who befriended her. Naomi was thankful that a near kinsman honored both the living and the dead kinsman.
There are four words used in connection with Boaz and his kinsman Naomi.
1) He was “kinsman” of Elimeleck (Naomi’s husband. (2: 1)
2) He was the “kindred” of Elimeleck (of the same family)
To be redeemed, one must be of the same family or kind as the redeemer. That is why it was necessary that the Lord from heaven should become a man.
3) He was “near of kin” – Ruth 2:20
4) “Next kinsman” the Hebrew word is gaal – to redeem.
Under Hebrew law, if a man sold any part of his possession on account of poverty, his next of kin had the right to redeem it (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
Now read chapters 3 and 4 of Ruth.
It was a custom at threshing time for the owner of the field to remain all night on the threshing-floor until the harvest was over. Naomi knew this and instructed Ruth how to act. (3:9)
But Boaz said (3:12-13) that he was not the nearest of kin, but he would perform the office of kinsman if the other would not. (4:3-7) The nearer kinsman wanted the property but did not want Ruth, so he gave up his right to the land, a shoe was the symbol of transference.
Back to Ephesians 1:14:
“Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.”
Let’s look at the words – purchased possession. The purchased possession then is redemption of the one purchased that a pledge or earnest has been paid for. So then, Christ purchased us with His blood. The balance will be paid when God is ready (at the rapture), and no one knows when that will be.
There are some other things we must review about Ephesians 1:12-14 before we discuss the prayer of Ephesians 1:15-19, and they are the words “WE” and “YE.” These words have to do with a group of people who first trusted in Christ (“We”) and those who also trusted in Christ (“Ye”.) In Paul’s prayer of 1:15-19, he prays for the second group (the “Ye’s”) which is also translated “you or your” in several passages. Later on in Chapter two we will see the word “US” come into play.
“We” and “ye” are very important words in that they are speaking of two separate groups of believers and two separate groups of Gentiles. The one group of Gentiles had received favor because of their attitude toward Israel, God’s chosen people, plus it should be noted that Israel had not been set aside yet. The other group of Gentile believers was destined for hell, but for the grace of God.
They were (Eph. 2:12)
1) without Christ
2) aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,
3) strangers from the covenants of promise,
4) Having no hope and
5) without God
We will discuss this further in the complete discussion of Chapter two, but I wanted you to be aware of the differences at this time.
Ephesians 1:15-19 is a prayer. It would be senseless to pray that they “know the hope of his calling” if they had not been taught about an impending hope. This prayer is directed to where Christ sits, far above all heavens, and away from oneself. There is another prayer (Eph. 3:14-21) the attention is upon “Christ in us” and “the inner man,” at home on Earth rather than seated at the right hand of God.
Let’s compare the two (This outline is found in Bullinger’s study of Ephesians)
Prayers address to:
1) The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory
2) The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
That He may give:
1) A spirit of wisdom and revelation
2) Strength by the Spirit in the inner man
That ye may know:
1) hope, riches, power
1) Exceeding power
2) Knowledge, exceeding love
1) We in Christ
2) Christ in us – “the inner man.”
The power is:
1) The power wrought in Christ
2) The power that worketh in us
The might is:
1) The might exhibited at the resurrection
2) The might to comprehend with all saints
The goal in each case:
1) The fullness of Him that filleth all in all
2) That ye might be filled up with the fullness of God
Heavenly power mentioned
1) Every name that is name
2) Every family in heaven and earth named
It is interesting that there is also a comparison in the opening and closing prayer of Paul.
In chapter one he prays for the believer and in chapter six he asks the believer to pray for him.
In the opening prayer the burden is “that ye may know Him.” In the closing prayer it is “that I may make known.”
It is evident from the fact that Paul ceases to teach new doctrine and turns to prayer, that there is a lesson for us to learn here. There comes a time when teaching must be received, believed and acted upon. If this were not done it would be useless to continue teaching. You do not take your car and fill it up with gas every Monday unless you have used some gas the past few days. You can only put so much water into a container before it starts running over, spilling out on the floor and is no longer of value as a source to quench your thirst.
Paul says he has heard of their faith and their love and then proceeds to pray concerning their hope. (Eph. 1: 17) Over the years I have met with and taught many who have realized that even before the setting aside of Israel there had been a dispensational change and with it came liberty from the law. Did they go forward and share that? No! Was it because they had not seen this truth? No, they did. It was because they realized they would pay a heavy price if they dared to step out in the full light and liberty of the mystery.
So, failing to acknowledge what they had seen, they soon failed to recognize the truth. But far more damaging than that, they began once again to accept a doctrine they had found to be false, or at least misleading.
1) They began to rationalize that the ordinances of the church were something beautiful and admitted that they made them “feel” good.
2) Even though they realized that water baptism had nothing to do with salvation, they justified its existence by saying, “it is an outward expression of an inner feeling or understanding.”
3) They knew that the sign gifts were given to prove to Israel that the Messiah had come and these gifts were proof of it, but they rationalize that modern day sign believers seemed to be sincere so there must be something to them.
I know what I am about to say will be offensive to some, but I must say it anyhow, because truth must not be compromised. People who have learned the truth of right division, the mystery and the uniqueness of the Church the Body of Christ, and have turned away from this truth have allowed themselves to be duped by the devil. And even though we want to approach them and give them a good shaking, we must back away and come at them again, and again, and again with sound teaching, hoping they will grow up in Scriptural knowledge. Please read (2 Tim. 2:24-26)
I was talking to someone just the other day that has been taught the truth of rightly dividing for over 25 years and they acknowledged they had not seen the truth of Ephesians 2:11-13. I had known they did not fully comprehend, but what would have happened had I turned my back on them and not continued to teach? We must not weary ourselves over others inability to comprehend truth we take for granted. We must persevere. We must keep our eyes focused on God and continue to pray that God will open eyes.
The prayer of Ephesians 1:17 is addressed to “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When Jesus became flesh, He also became a servant. He who was the Creator had now become the creature, leaving His lofty position with the Father and taking the lowly position of man. He knew what He was, but He also knew who it was that had sent Him to earth – the Father. So, while on the earth, Jesus obeyed Him, taught what He said teach and was obedient to the will of His Father. He acknowledged that His Father was greater than He while also saying that He and the Father were one. But when praying, He never said “our Father” but “my Father and your Father,” thus while one of them (flesh), He was separated from them.
So when we read “The God of” in Eph.1: 17 there is something more intended than that God is, and that Christ was in the form of a servant. If we want to argue that this talks about Christ’s Deity, we loose the significance of the words. To the Church the Body of Christ, Christ is more than Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were to Israel. When we call God the Father, “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,” we are claiming that the Church the Body of Christ has,
1) a more intimate relationship,
2) is on higher ground and
3) has far more richer blessings, than Israel had when they called on the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Read Ephesians 1:15-23.
15) “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:
18) That the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of your calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19) And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,
20) Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places,
21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22) And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church,
23) Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
Notice that emphasis is placed on the Father.
1) In verse 19 Paul speaks of the greatness of His power to us.
2) In verse 22 all things are under His feet and
3) In verse 23 it is revealed that the Church the Body of Christ will be “the fullness of Him that filleth all.”
The word fullness in the Greek is pleroma – which means complete or to fulfill. This may be hard to comprehend, but the truth is here – without the Church the Body of Christ, Christ is not, and could not be complete.
In Ephesians 1:15-23, the first prayer, we look up, and in Ephesians 3:14-21, the second prayer, He comes down. In the first prayer, it is power that is exceeding and the latter it is love that is the dominant factor. The fact that both God and Father are used in these prayers shows that the Lord Jesus is acting as mediator. He sits “far above all heavens’ and at the right hand of God as the Son, reigning until His goal is complete. What is that goal?
1 Corinthians 15:24-28: “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority. For He must reign, ‘til He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyer is death. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
As the “man” Jesus sits on high as the head of the Church the Body of Christ and will be manifest with them in glory. As the “man” all principalities and powers are beneath His feet.
In Ephesians 1:17, “the Father of Glory” must not be down graded to read “the glorious Father.” This is not a figure of speech; it is a statement of fact, an attribute of God. He is the God
1) of mercy,
2) of comfort and of
3) glory (2 Corinthians 1:3)
This God of glory grants to the believer the spirit of wisdom and revelation. (Ephesians 1:17) Neither wisdom nor revelation is sought after here for one's own sakes, but as a means to an end – “that you may know Him.”
Now let us consider the three steps indicated by Paul in his prayer beginning at Ephesians 1:17: That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:
1) “The spirit of wisdom and revelation” – What are we to understand? It is a teaching spirit that he asks for rather than a teachable spirit. Being enlightened (acknowledgement) is the vehicle by which the spirit of wisdom and revelation is revealed.
Wisdom, in the book of Daniel, is related particularly with the revelation of Divine secrets. Look at (Daniel 1:4, 17, 20; 2:20-23, 30; 5:11, 14) The only time wisdom is used in Romans is when the unsearchable ways of God are spoken of. (Romans 11:33) In Ephesians there are three occurrences of wisdom. (Ephesians 1:8, 17; 3:10) In each case they are linked to the mystery. Let me be quick to point out that all the wisdom in the world can never discover what God hides (keeps secret) until He chooses to make it known.
Paul prayed for wisdom and revelation. Read Ephesians 1:18. This is not praying for enlightenment, but presupposes that one has already been enlightened i.e. to “know.” The prayer then must be that with all he knows, he will use his revelations with wisdom.
Paul knew there would be times when he would be walking on thin ice. At those times he would need the wisdom to proceed cautiously so as not to lose his audience and subsequently lead them to the knowledge of the mysteries given to him.
Paul got a series of revelations. God chose to reveal each one when the time was right. We can learn from that too. For those who have know the truth of right division for a long time when trying to share with someone who has never heard of it will find it to be a slow tedious task. But take the time.
Ephesians 1:18: That the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of your calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
2) “What is the hope of His calling.” Hope is the anticipation of the fulfillment of the promises that make up any particular calling. Hope and calling go together as much as socks go with shoes, toothpaste with toothbrush, etc. If God doesn’t call us, we have no hope. The hope of His calling looks forward in expectation, but it is directly related to faith in God.
Hope cannot be severed from the faith, from things believed. Those things believed must refer to what is revealed in Ephesians 1:3-14, which received the seal and earnest of the Spirit. Paul, rather than teaching what that hope is, prays, knowing that an understanding of the subject will grow out of the believer’s acknowledgment of the truth he has already believed.
“The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” looks back to the results of redemption under the “work of the Son.” While inheritance is the general theme here, it is “the riches of the glory of the inheritance” that is the burden of the prayer.
3) The third petition, Ephesians 1:19: And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, is linked with the witness of the Spirit. Note: It is His calling, inheritance and power with which we are concerned, and only as we know these shall we be ready, willing and able to understand them in their right relationship. In this verse we are called upon to consider this exceeding great power to “usward who believe.” The believing is not the consequence of this power, but it is in believing that we receive power.
Read Ephesians 1:19-2:7
19) And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,
20) Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places,
21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is names, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22) And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church,
23) Which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
1) And you hath He quickened from the dead in trespasses and sin;
2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience;
3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He love us,
5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7) That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Now that you have read the verses, go back and notice some things concerning the Lord (HIS):
1) The exceeding greatness of HIS power (1:19)
2) The working of HIS mighty power (1:19)
3) Put all things under HIS feet (1:22)
Also notice some things concerning The Body (US):
1) Hath quicken US (2:5)
2) Hath raised US up (2:6)
3) Made US sit in heavenly places (2:6)
Be sure you do not miss another word (TOGETHER) in the passages:
1) Hath quicken us “together” (2:5)
2) Hath raised us up “together” (2:6)
3) Made us sit “together” in heavenly places (2:6)
Christ and the Church the Body of Christ are so closely related, so much in unity, that everything Christ is, the Church is too.
The first thing we must consider about all of this is that this exceeding great power is according to something.
1) In Ephesians 1:11 it is according to the council of His good will and is associated with pleasure, purpose and power, or the riches of His grace.
2) In Ephesians 1:19 is said to be according to the working of His mighty power.
In this passage there are several terms that denote the resurrection power: Dunamis – miraculous power, miracle, dynamic; kratos – dominion, strength in the sense of ability to hold fast.
Other Greek words that denote power are energeia – energy, in working; and ischus – strength in its prevailing power. All of these terms are focused upon one event, the resurrection of Christ. Scripture speaks of both power and wisdom in the act of creation, but there is much more power implied when speaking of the resurrection.
In creation God spoke and it was done. When He commanded it stood fast, but resurrection is an another realm. Sin, redemption, righteousness, moral evil and spiritual antagonism call for power beyond that demanded by creation. Resurrection power is defined as that which He “wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand…” (Ephesians 1:20-21.) To complete the statement you must include resurrection, ascension, seating, preeminence and fullness, (Ephesians 1:19-23) that necessitates immense power which only God can impart.
But what is more amazing is when it is realized that what has been written in these verses is to reveal the power that is “to usward who believe.” (The Church the Body of Christ) It is difficult to comprehend the wonder of the gifts God gave to the church or to realize the power that is at our disposal. But Paul realized it. (Ephesians 3:7)
There is another reference to in-working power in Ephesians 2:2. This “prince of the power of the air” is set against Christ in His exalted position. He too employs a great energy – “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” These children of disobedience are fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind. So in like manner, while we may at first be overwhelmed with the display of power that is to usward, we must also remember that it is to usward who BELIEVE.
Let us direct our attention to things concerning what the Father did for the Savior in exercising this power.
1. He raised Him from the dead
2. He set Him at His own right hand
3. He put all things under His feet
4. He gave Him to be Head over all things to the church.
The purposes of God are centered in the resurrected Lord, the fulfillment on the exaltation of the Savior. The wise men wanted to believe that the star that led them to the child born in the manger at Bethlehem and whom angels had declared to be the son of David, would establish His earthly throne and established the millennial reign. However, that was not the Divine program – yet. Both the events themselves and also the Scripture make perfectly clear the King would come first as the suffering servant, who must die and be resurrected, before He would establish His earthly throne.
Look more carefully at Ephesians 1:20-23. Christ is set at the right hand of God, (V.20) in the heavenly places. And just where in the heavenly places does He sit? “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (V.21)
This is evidential proof that Satan and his principalities are somewhere in the heavenly places also, but in a lower realm than where Christ sits.
This act of “sitting” has to do with much more than resting. It means the assumption of authority. The fact that He is seated there indicates a finished work. In Acts 7:55-56 Stephen, “…being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing (not sitting) on the right hand of God. And said, behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
Why is He standing? He is standing because He has not assumed complete authority just yet. He will assume that authority after He raises up Paul to be the minister to the Gentiles, thus fulfilling the Word of God. (Colossians 1:25) Because the Lord is now sitting instead of standing, members of His body can look forward to the blessings of this calling with both confidence and joy.
Let’s take a look at these heavenly powers for a minute or two.
Principality – Greek –arche – the primary meaning is beginning, in order of time, and then in dignity, the first place in government.
From the way in which these principalities and powers are introduced in the New Testament, it appears that most of them are evil. (Romans 8:38) They are classed with angels and are included with those invisible powers like death itself, which shall not be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These powers are mentioned six times in the prison Epistles. (Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12; Colossians 1:16-19, 2:10, 15) At one point in time these powers seemed to have been authorized by God, but in the Dispensation of Grace they lose their authority, which is exceeded by Christ alone. Christ is the ultimate power in this dispensation. When the last member of the Body is made alive in Christ (resurrected), then the Lord will surrender His authority to the Father. (1 Corinthians 15:28)
It is interesting to note that Peter substitutes Angels for principalities. (1 Peter 3:22) Angels are mentioned only once in the prison Epistles and then only to be set aside, (Colossians 2:18) which speaks of “worshipping angels.”
The Church the Body of Christ is not concerned with heaven’s “messengers and ministers,” i.e. angels, but with heaven’s nobility “throne and dominion.” The high exaltation of Christ as the Head of the Church is better realized when we see the high order of spiritual beings that are beneath His feet: principalities, power, might, dominion, every name named in all worlds.
Although the authority of the prince of the power of the air will ultimately be given to the anti-Christ, we can glory in the fact that even he is under the feet of the resurrected Christ. In the end time when that beastly power will be seen (Revelation 13:1-4) we can rest in the assurance that that power will not be stronger than our Lord's will. How do I know that?
Philippians 2:9-11 “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
It appears that a former world was under the rule of angels but at a later time they will not be. (Psalms 8:4-6; Hebrews 2:5) Principalities and powers are not yet abolished, for in Ephesians 6: 12 we are warned that “…we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” And so we are instructed to put on our armor to fight against them. But the first step has been taken for them to be abolished in that these spiritual enemies are under His feet.
Christ is the head over all things, as far as the Church the Body of Christ is concerned. Now, we are the Body of Christ, but when we are raptured out of this earth, when the last person is saved and the elect is complete we will be the fullness in completion.
The word fullness in the Greek is pleroma – complete, to fulfill. The first time we find pleroma in the New Testament is Matthew 9:16: “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill (pleroma) it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made.”
Those who take the time to study, realize that there are gaps in prophetic Scripture. Some are a part of what we have come to know as “The Mystery.” They were things that God chose to keep secret until He was ready to reveal them. Others were to be revealed in a different time frame (dispensation).
Jesus acknowledged the presence of a gap when he quoted Isaiah 61: 1-2 as it was written in Luke 4:16-21.
Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”
Luke 4:16-21: “And he came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went unto the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the Book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had open the book, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering the sight of the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And He closed the Book…”
You will notice that The Lord Jesus did not quote the last part of Isaiah 61:2: “… and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;” Why? Because we know that the day of vengeance will come until after:
1) The Gentiles will have been selected to fill the void Israel left when she was declared “Lo Ami” and
2) The Church the Body of Christ is raptured. And the comforting will follow the day of vengeance.
He closed the Book because that part He did not read of the prophecy was not ready to be fulfilled.
We also see the same kind of thing when we read the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 as is quoted in Acts 2:17-21. There is a portion of Joel 2:32 that is not quoted in Acts 2: 21, but that is not the gap. The gap falls between Joel 2:29 and 30 and Acts 2:18 and 19 & 20.
Joel 2:29-32: “And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness All serious students of the Bible know beyond a shadow of doubt that the sun has never failed to produce light and the moon has never turned blood red.
What about the eclipse of the moon, you say? Don’t even go there! Everyone who has witnessed a full eclipse of the moon will tell you there is a halo of light seen all around the moon, evidence of the presence of the sun in brightness. So the word fullness, as seen here in Ephesians 1:23, is of great importance and significance. You will find the word fullness in the following passages of Scripture: (Ephesians 3:19; 4: 13; Col. 1:19; 2: 9)
Jesus left His exalted position, “but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man.” (Philippians 2:7) and He emptied Himself so that He might become our fullness. Christ is our fullness and we are His fullness. We are accepted in the Beloved and we complete the Beloved. Christ and the Church the Body of Christ are joined together as closely as a baby is joined to his mother by the umbilical cord. He gives us His life and we become part of Him when we accept His blood, which was shed for us.
“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
All things point to Christ. He is the Head of the Church, He is Creator and Redeemer, He is the first born from the dead, and He is pre-eminent. This is all summed up in Colossians 1:18 – read it! He is all and in all. (Colossians 3:18)
Ephesians 1:23 is a wonderful verse. There is no more glorious position for the saved than that we find in this passage. True, Israel will be a kingdom of priest, a position of honor for sure on earth, but the believer of today is part of the Body of Christ, a position higher and nobler, a position which is far above all heavens.
The church the Body of Christ is the fullness of Christ, there is no higher position or calling than that. Head and members, or Head and Body are relative terms. The one cannot exist without the other; neither can the one function without the other. While many recognize this to be true for the members of the body, after reading Ephesians 1:23, isn’t it also true for the head? Christ as Head, needs the complement of His Body just as surely as the Church of His Body needs the compliment of the Head.
Glory is a part of our high calling by the grace of God. Praise be to God!
The world today is in a state of enmity with God. The American Heritage Dictionary defines enmity as deep-seated mutual hatred. Ephesians 2:1-5 describes a group of people who, before being made alive in Christ, “walked according to the course of this world.” To walk in harmony with the world is to walk contrary to will of God.
Paul states that this walk of men according to the course of this world is many times the result of a spiritual power using the desires of men to accomplish his own end. This spiritual power is called “The Prince of the power of the air.” It is another name for Satan. The word prince in the Greek is archon – to begin, to reign over, or rule over. Satan is derived from a verb, which means to lie in wait, to oppose, and to be an adversary or one who opposes.
According to Scripture, Satan is the leader of a host of evil spirits or fallen angels who share his evil work. Matthew 12: 22-26 speaks of a human being possessed with a devil. In the passage it is clear that Satan is Beelzebub, and the angels (devils, demons) are angels of the devil. Beelzebub is translated: god or the flies or lord of the dunghill.
Satan is not only the prince of the devils but he is called the prince of this world, (John 12:31, 14 30, 16:11) even the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4: 4). In Ephesians 6: 12 evil angels are described as principalities and powers, rulers of the darkness and are located in high places. (The heavens) They are used as messengers of Satan to inflict harm on men. (2 Corinthians 12:7).
In Ephesians 2: 2 Satan is called “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Disobedience translates apeitheo in the Greek: unwilling to be persuaded, refusing to believe. So then, those who walked in the energy of the prince of the power of the air did so when they were not a part of the Body of Christ. Before salvation, they believed the lie (Satan). 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Satan concentrates upon the lust of the flesh and individuals who respond to the temptations are said to be “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind,” (Ephesians 2:3) “and were by nature the children of wrath…” The term by nature here is clearly those people recorded in Romans 1:21-32.
We must now consider Ephesians 2:4-5 together. The passages start with “but God.” Instead of looking upon us with indignation, God had compassion and mercy for us. If He had given us justice for being “the children of wrath,” He would have allowed us to die in our sins. He didn’t do that; He gave us mercy instead. In His mercy He stoops to lift the no good sons of disobedience and the children of wrath to the highest place that glory affords – far above all heavens. This rich mercy does not come from our misery nor from any covenant with Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, it is “for His great love wherewith He loved us.”
The word love here in Ephesians 2:4 is from the Greek word agape, which occurs 10 times in the epistle. We can go to the four gospels up to John 3:16 before we come to the first reference to the love of God to man. The first four chapters of Romans are about redemption but the love of God is not mentioned once. You won’t find it until Romans 5:1-5. (Read)
The fact that we read of God’s love to man so early in Ephesians is all the more remarkable, and then to realize that that love was in operation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) makes it even more remarkable. But take it one step further and read Ephesians 2:11-13 and we realize that this love was given to a group of Gentiles who had no hope, it is mind-boggling. What a great God we have.
In Ephesians 2:5 we see the words “quickened together with” and comes from the Greek word suzoopoieo – and is only found here in this passage and Colossians 2:13 – to make alive together, of spiritual union with Christ. It is exclusive to the teaching of the mystery. We read in other places “to quicken,” or make “alive,” but not “together with.”
This quickening is also related to physical resurrection as in 1 Corinthians 15:22, 36, 45. Even though the resurrection of the body will occur at the time of the rapture, a time in the future, the believer is able by grace to anticipate the coming of that date. (Romans 8:11)
The seven associations of the believer with the Lord are found in Romans 6:3-8; Ephesians 2:5-6; and Galatians 2:20.
1) THE CROSS – crucified with Christ. (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6)
2) THE DEATH – dead with Christ. (Rom. 6:8)
3) THE BURIAL – buried with Christ (Rom. 6:4)
4) THE PRESENT EXPERIENCE – quicken with Christ (Eph. 2:5)
5) THE RESURRECTION – raised with Christ (Eph. 2:6)
6) THE ACENSION- seated with Christ (Eph. 2:6)
7) THE GLORY – manifested with Christ (Rom. 6:8)
Compare Gal. 2:20 with Rom. 8:9-11.
Galatians 2:20 states “that the life I now live in the flesh I live by the FAITH OF the Son of God.”
Romans 8:9-11 says “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Quickening means life, and life after death means immortality and life after death for the Church the Body of Christ is to be “with Christ.” Christ is both raised and seated, (Ephesians 1:20) and the believer is said to be “raised up together and made to sit together with Him. (Ephesians 1:20; 2: 6) In the book of Hebrews we find no association of the believer with the seated Christ, but rather as High Priest, He was there alone. (Hebrews 9:7) – not so in Ephesians 2:6. (Another of the several reasons why we do not believe Paul wrote the book of Hebrews.)
The Hebrew believers were told to draw near, but none of them were ever told they were “made to sit together in heavenly places.” This emphasizes the extraordinary nature of the calling of the Ephesian believers. It is one of a series of unique blessings found in this book of the mystery, and not revealed anywhere else.
This seating together is said to be “in Christ or with Christ.” With the terms “in Christ or with Christ” we find these verbs:
1) Quickened together
2) Raised together, and
3) Seated together
These terms are exclusive to the ministry of Paul to the Gentiles. It is never found in Hebrews.
In Christ Jesus is found seven times in Ephesians: 1:1; 2:6, 7, 10, 13; 3:11, 21) You will find that there is a seven rung ladder reaching from heaven to earth. Believers are reckoned to be:
1) Crucified with Christ
2) Dead with Christ
3) Buried with Christ
4) Quickened with Christ
5) Raised with Christ
6) Seated with Christ and finally
7) Manifested with Christ.
The seventh rung of the ladder is reserved for Colossians 3:1-4:
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on the things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in GLORY.” It is clear that the seventh rung is all about Glory.
Ephesians 2:7 starts off with the word “that.” The purpose and intention of all that has gone before is now unfolded. This union with Christ in His death, resurrection and seating is, “in order that” the way may be cleared for such an outpouring of love and kindness that there are not enough words to describe.
The word “shew” means to exhibit. After the Church the Body of Christ is raptured and seated in heavenly places, it will be, among other things, an exhibit of what grace means to all spirit beings. These riches of grace are to be expressed in God’s kindness toward us. These riches are said to be exceeding – Greek – huperballo – to throw beyond the usual mark, to surpass. It indicates the subject is so vast it goes beyond the power of human language to describe.
Ephesians 2:9-10 – Three Works.
The emphasis in these verses is on “grace.” God gives grace – man (faith) receives it. Salvation by grace is through the faith of Christ.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and THAT not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Some people say: “The “that” here does not refer to faith, but salvation by grace through faith as being the gift - not faith the gift.” We say the “that” here refers to the faith of Christ being the gift, that is well and good.
God gave His Son and asked Him to die for the sins of man. Christ had enough faith in His Father to believe Him when he said He would not leave His soul in hell (Psalms 16: 9-10) once he died, but would resurrect Him. It is in His death, the shedding of His blood, that we are cleansed from all sin and it is in the resurrection that Christ conquered death. It was Christ faith that made Him a willing participant in this cruel death of the cross, a death that laid all the sins of the world upon Him. It was because of all those sins that he cried out saying – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” (Matthew 27:46) It was not a why did you do that as if He didn’t know the answer, He did. It was a why does it have to hurt so much, and please get me out of this as quickly as possible.
Even though salvation is not of works, it is unto good works. Works are the visible fruit on the tree, making it evident that the invisible root (Christ in Us) is alive and active. Works have nothing to do with being regenerated, but they have a place in the life of a saved believer. (1 Corinthians 3:11-16; Titus 1:16; 2:1, 7, 11-14; 3:5, 8)
Look at Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” To create – Greek – ktizo – to fabricate, make; create. Creator is found seven times in the Prison Epistles. (Ephesians 2:10, 15; 3:9; 4: 24; Colossians 1:16 (twice); 3:10) In the Prison Epistles creation is mainly concerned with the mystery and things related to the mystery. It is interesting to note that the Greek word describes the created as the same as the Creator.
We have been using terms such as trespasses, sin, disobedience, and wrath, make alive, save, faith and walk. But now we will not be dealing with these at all in this section. We will not be looking at sin and death, but whether we are near or far to God, of being mere Gentiles or of being aliens, of once being far off from God but now being close, and of a middle wall that separates one Gentile from another.
In the early part of chapter two we talked about our flesh and how it relates to our walk. But in this dispensational section of chapter two we will look at the differences of one group of Gentiles and that of another group of Gentiles and how it affects our salvation experience.
In verse 12, we see the words “without Christ.” Theologically these words mean damnation, or unsaved. But dispensationally they also mean separation from the fleshly lineage of the Messiah through then line of David.
Gentiles were considered to be second class citizens by religious Israel. The only way they would be considered otherwise was if they blessed Israel and feared the God of Israel.
Look at Genesis 12:1-3
1 - “And the Lord said unto Abram, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 – And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 – And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
It is evident that the blessings of God would flow through the bloodline of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If you were not of that bloodline you must bless Israel or be an alien from God.
When Christ came to earth as the Messiah, we know he came through the bloodline of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. We know, also, that he came specifically to be the Messiah and King of Israel.
Look at Mathew 15:24: “But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
If a Gentile blessed Israel or feared God, as was the case of Cornelius in Acts 10:22, they would be blessed. “ And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God and of good report among all nations of the of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.”
So here in Ephesians 2:12 we clearly see that there were a group of Gentiles that did not blessed Israel nor feared God and were subsequently “Without Christ.” Why? “Being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise,” which were given to Abraham.
In view of this fact, these Gentiles had no hope of salvation for they were without God and their chances for salvation was almost impossibility – except for grace.
But look at Ephesians 2:13: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
We are not only contrasting flesh and Spirit here, we are contrasting those Gentiles without hope and those Gentiles with hope. It is much more than just a contrast in believers and non-believers. It is all about a secret hid in God before the foundation of the world.
Jew and Gentile were always at enmity with one another. But now there was enmity between believing Gentiles and non-believing Gentiles, which created an unsurpassable barrier – a middle wall of partition. This one group of Gentiles hated Israel, and the other did not. One group feared the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the other did not. One group was assured to be under the covenants of promise given to Abraham and the other was not.
When a foreign traveler approached the entrance to the Jewish temple he was greeted with these words engraved in stone at the entrance: “No one being a foreigner, may enter into the enclosure around the holy place. Whosoever is apprehended will himself be to blame for his death which will certainly follow.”
So the Gentile who hated Israel was not permitted the access into the temple of worship that the Gentile who blessed Israel had. Once inside the temple there was another section of separation that only the high priest had access – the Holiest of all, i. e. Holy of Holies. Behind the altar was a veil and behind the veil was the golden censor and the Ark of the Covenant, which was overlaid in gold with Cherubims shadowing the mercy seat.
The high priest acted as a mediator for the people and on the Day of Atonement would go behind the veil and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat for the sins of himself and the people.
The common people, both Jew and Gentile were never permitted access into the Holy of Holies. But when Christ died something significant happened – the veil was torn (rent) in two from top to bottom.
37) “And Jesus with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
38) And the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”
When this happened, symbolic access into the Holy of Holies was made available to all people. Look at Hebrews 8:8-10:
8) “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9) Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to conscience;
10) Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.”
The renting of the veil was symbolic that access to God was now being made available because of the death of Christ. That is exactly what Hebrews 10:19-21 states.
19) “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20) By a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.”
The death of Jesus made it possible for a believer to have direct access to God without mediation from an earthly High Priest. Jesus Christ is our mediator and our High Priest, which was brought about when He shed His blood for the remission of all sins.
As Jesus’ body was being maculated the Temple veil was being torn into at His giving up the ghost. All fleshly symbolism, the blood of bulls and goats, the priest offering the sacrifices were to be a thing of the past. The believer can now enter into the presence of God on a spiritual plane, making it possible for the unbelieving Gentile who hated Israel to have access to God without having to go through Israel.
The Gentiles are now “made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13. Israel has been declared “lo-ami” and God has provided a way for the unbelieving Gentile who had no hope to have a hope, to have a calling, to have life everlasting, not through a fleshly relationship (Israel) but through a spiritual relationship, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul had been preaching the doctrine of justification by faith and not by works of the flesh. The Jews were at odds with that doctrine because they were being relegated to a lessor role. That did create a barrier of sorts, but that was not the wall of partition of which Paul spoke.
In Ephesians chapter two we are witnessing a change in the way God deals with a renegade society of Gentiles, something He had made plans for before He ever called out Abram from among the Gentiles and set him apart from his Gentile roots.
These Gentiles are the ones referred to as “we” and “us” in this Book of Ephesians. “According as He hath chosen US in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Ephesians 1:4. “Hath quickened US together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:5. “And hath raised US up together, and made US sit together in heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 2:6
Paul had been preaching the doctrine of justification by faith and not by works from the very beginning of his being called by the Lord. In Acts 15:13-17 we see James taking the dominant leadership role.
13) And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, harken unto me:
14) Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.
15) And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16) After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17) That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all theses things.
18) Known unto God are all His works from the beginning od the world.
It is interesting that James does not say “this fulfills what is written by the prophets,” he simple states that “to this agree the words of the prophets.” For James to agree to support Paul was a blow to the Judaizers at Jerusalem.
19) Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20) But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood
21) For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
James does suggest that there be abstinence and restrictions, but all in all he is supportive of the gospel committed unto Paul. Then he goes on to give a double sentence in the following verses.
22) Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabus, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.
23) And they wrote letters by them after this manner, “The apostles and elders and brethren send greetings unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
24) Foreasmuch as we heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25) It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabus and Paul,
26) Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
27) We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28) For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29) That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare thee well.
30) So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
31) Which When they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
Therefore the sentence from James is a moderate one, but one that would eventually cause dissention among the ranks of both Gentiles and Jews. To the hard core Jew, having the Gentile on the same plane as they was heresy. For the Gentiles who first trusted and were to abide by the law, it was a source of consternation.
Therefore the reference to the “middle wall of partition” as outline in Ephesians 2:14-19. True, there was a great division between the Jew and the Gentile, but there was an even greater one between Gentile and Gentile, and with the fall of Israel this became a more serious problem which needed correcting immediately if the gospel was to be carried forward in unity.
The Jewish believer who trusts in the gospel committed unto Paul becomes a member of the Church the Body of Christ just as a Gentile believer does. The Spirit of God brings about all the unity, for Christ Himself is the bond of peace. But with Isreal now set aside, the gospel of reconciliation must go forward without there being any divisiveness among those who were called to do so.
In Ephesians 2:15 let me direct your attention to the words ”the twain.” Why does Paul use this word here when he uses the word “both” in verses 14, 16 and 18 of the same chapter?
To comprehend this fully I believe we need to understand the meaning of man and woman becoming one, as in Ephesians 5:31, which is a direct quote from Genesis 2:24. When a man and woman are joined together in marriage they become one. While they are two distinct persons physically, they are but one person spiritually. That is why the wife assumed the name of the husband once they were joined together in holy matrimony.
In the twentieth century and at the height of the woman’s liberation movement, more and more women chose to retain their birth name rather than assume the name of their partner husband. I heard someone jokingly say, “it makes things a whole lot easier when a divorce happens."
It is that kind of thinking that has been instrumental in the deterioration of the marriage relationship. Young men and women are entering into marriage with the preconceived notion that if this doesn’t work out I may be saving myself from having a protracted divorce suit. Instead of making an effort to work on, or sustain their relationship, they have allowed themselves an easy out every time a disagreement occurred.
The marriage used to be a sacred trust between man and woman, and to some it still is. But for the masses of married couples in this day and time, it is but an unbinding contract that can be broken when one of the parties does not do what they should to please the other party.
In the dispensation of grace, man and woman become one, thus producing the “perfect man.” (Ephesians 4:13) When Christ arose from the dead, He set apart men to teach believers about how they were to seek perfection and thus maintain a sense of unity in the faith. Once they had obtained an accumulation of knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ, they would become full-grown adult men in the Lord, whether they were male or female.
“How can that be,” you ask? Well, you were not the first one to ask such a question. Men who were sarcastically inquiring about a women who had been married seven times, asked a similar question of Jesus in Matthew 22:28: ”Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her.”
The reply was straight and to the point. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are they given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” Matthew 22:29-30.
All species of the heaven, which is the home of angels, are male, as were the angels that appeared before Lot and the men of Sodom. “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” Genesis 19:5
So it stands to reason that the Church the Body of Christ will be the husband, since our home is far above all heavens, while Israel will be the bride of Christ from her position on the new earth. Christ will be the head of both in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times.
So, while both the far off and near Gentiles are brought together as being one, the Jew and Gentile will become the one perfect body when the restoration of Israel is complete. Gentile and Gentile are united, or reconciled one with the other, in one body of believers by what Christ did on the cross. He preached reconciliation to the Gentiles who were far off and to the Gentiles who were near.
“And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:16-18.
So the alienated of Ephesians 2:12 have been reconciled with those who were not alienated. The two have been reconciled in one body as one new man. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
This new creature is a brand new species, not a combination of two species, but the creation of one that never existed. We learned in Ephesians 1:4, this new creature was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and that it should be “holy and without blame before Him.”
In Ephesians 5 we learned that Christ loved the church so much that He gave His life for it; that He washes it by the water of the Word in order to present it to Himself as being holy and without blemish. And here in Ephesians 2:16-18 we see that work in progress.
The high priest under the law only had access to God one time a year, but each individual member of the Body of Christ has access any time of the day or night.
19 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The main purpose of the temple was to provide a dwelling place for God among men. It is evident that God needed a home whereby men could come before Him. That is why He instructed Moses to build a sanctuary in Exodus 25:8. “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” And that is why David gave Solomon the blueprints to construct a house for the sanctuary (Tabernacle) in 1 Chronicles 28:9-12.
As we have mentioned before, we do so again. The word sanctuary was considered to be the dwelling place of God. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines it as being, “The holy place, the place of he Presence.” The reason it was holy was because it was where God resided. The church buildings of today do not garner respect as the Tabernacle of Old Testament days. “Why?” you ask, because the church building is not where God resides today. God resides within the believer. We are the Body of Christ. Christ is in us and we are in Him.
Ephesians 2:21-24 speaks of a person being a holy temple, but this is not a new doctrine for Christ referred to His body being a temple in John 2:19-21” “Jesus answered and said unto them, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then said the Jews, “Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” But He spake of the temple of His body.”
But in Ephesians the reference is not only about the individual believer, but it is about the Church the Body of Christ – a mystery.
There are three Greek words translated temple.
1. Aikos – house
2. Hieron – this speaks of the building as a whole.
3. Naos – this represents the holy of Holies where only the High Priest entered once a year.
The Church the Body of Christ is considered to be the latter – naos.
In the book of Hebrews, chapter 8, verse 2 speaks of “… the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.” It is there that the Lord Jesus Christ entered when He ascended far above all heavens. It is there that He sits at the right hand of the Father. He and He alone sits in the presence of the Father.
But as we study the Ephesian Letter, we come to realize that every member of the Church the Body of Christ is together there – with Christ, seated there – with Christ and has an inheritance there- with Christ. We the citizenry of the Body of Christ are permitted access, no more important than that, have acquired access into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Christ. We are fellow citizens in heaven in Christ.
As we go back to Ephesians 2:20 let us explore the meaning of the word - foundation. There are two foundations mentioned here: 1) Apostles and prophets, and 2) Jesus Christ. And yet there seems to be a contradiction when we read 1 Corinthians 3:10-11: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
When Paul mentions the apostles and prophets in Ephesians 2:20, he is speaking of people who were instrumental in building up the Body – the builders and not the building. Paul knows that Jesus Christ is the “living stone,” and that he is but a wise masterbuilder. But here in Ephesians 2:19-22, the fellow citizens and members of the household of God got to where they were because of men like Paul spreading the good news of Christ to them. Christ is the cornerstone and each believer is carefully framed together with the foundation, which is Christ Himself.
The apostles and prophets of those early days used gold, silver, precious stones, or wood, hay and stubble in framing the foundation of which Christ was the cornerstone. This group of men was instrumental in the formation of the Body of Christ, i.e. laying the foundation. But once the foundation ministry was formed their ministry dissolved and was carried on by the rank and file Christians who taught and evangelized.
Let me explain what I am talking about. In Ephesians 4:11-13 we learn of the resurrected Christ giving instructions to specific groups of people: apostles, prophets, evangelist and pastors and teachers. The first pair – apostles and prophets were part of the “foundation” ministry. Once the foundation had been laid the ministry progressed to the evangelist, pastors and teachers. The foundation ministry was not a continuous ministry, but evangelism, pastoring and teaching must go forward, must continue.
So the gifts that remain today are the evangelist, pastors and teachers. The gifts of apostles and prophets have been discontinued. The purpose of apostles and prophets in the beginning of the organizational structure of the Church the Body of Christ was to reveal the mystery, which had been hidden from men, both in Scripture and in God. Once that was done those gifts ceased. With the Word of God completed all that is needed is to preach it and teach it.
Before you draw any conclusions as to my statement above, let me direct your attention to the passages of Scripture we have discussed and a few more.
“11-And He gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelist; and some, pastors and teachers: 12 – For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ: 13 – Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 – That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: 16 – From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16.
Christ is the Head of the body now and no longer just the chief cornerstone. The Church the Body of Christ is the naos, the Holy of Holies, the tabernacle, which was overlaid with the foundation of the apostles and prophets. You and I are a part of that building that was frame by the likes of Paul and the other apostles of the early days of the mystery.
So what do we understand of the first two chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians? I hope that we have learned that:
1. Ephesians 1:3 – our “spiritual blessings” are unique to blessings of the past.
2. Ephesians 1:3 – Our position of being “in heavenly places” places us in a different sphere of all before us, and thus unique.
3. Ephesians 1: 3 - That we were chosen “before the foundation of the world” make God choosing us also unique.
4. Ephesians 2:6 – Our being “made to sit together in heavenly places” is a unique position.
5. Ephesians 2:19 – that we are no longer strangers, but fellowcitizens is the most wonderful of all blessings.
If there were any doubt before, you should now understand that a new dispensation has begun. God is dealing with His own in a different way. Israel, God’s chosen of a different dispensation has become “Lo-Ami” and the Gentile has risen to a place of honor and respect. They alone have been given the task of evangelizing and teaching the good news of the gospel committed unto Paul.
Ephesians Chapter Three begins to expound on the revelation and explanation of the mystery. It is addressed to the Gentiles, Verse One. “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” Not just any Gentiles, but YOU Gentiles who were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers form the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in this world.” Ephesians 2:12.
True Paul had been chosen to go to the Gentiles (Acts 9: 15) and he was an apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:15,) and was given the gospel of the uncircumcision as outline in Galatians 2: 8-9. But for this group of Gentiles, Paul now speaks of secrets that had not be revealed unto in his pre-prison epistles.
Before we go any farther, it is time to get a better understanding of rightly dividing the Pauline epistles. We will list them as pre-prison epistles and prison epistles.
Pre-prison Epistles of Paul
2) 1 Corinthians,
3) 2 Corinthians,
4) 1 Thessalonians,
5) 2 Thessalonians, and
These books do not address any of the things revealed unto Paul concerning the Gentiles which we mentioned in Ephesians 2:11
The Prison Epistles of Paul
4) 1 Timothy
5) 2 Timothy
6) Titus, and
We do not believe that Paul wrote Hebrews, so it is not included in the list above.
It is from Prison epistles that Paul revealed the things concerning the Dispensation of the Grace of God and the Gospel of the Grace of God.
Let me direct your attention to Acts 20:17-24.
“17) And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders
of the church.
18) And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
19) Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
20) And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
21) Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
22) And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
23) Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
24) But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the Grace of God.
25) And now, behold I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
26) Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
27) For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood.
29) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
In verses 17-21 we find Paul preparing the closing of his Ephesian ministry as he heads back to Jerusalem. In verses 22-24, we see that he has already been warned that he will probably be taken into custody, but he is committed to go, as he has been instructed to do so by the Holy Spirit. In verse 25 he is sure that he will never get back to see them face to face again. And then in verses 28-31 he warns them of impending danger that would arise from among them.
Paul’s fears are soon realized and he finds himself standing before King Agrippa. We pick up the story on Acts Chapter 26. In the opening verses Paul is given permission by Agrippa to speak concerning the charges brought against him. We pick up the oratory as Paul is telling what happened to him on the way to Damascus.
13) At midday, O king, I saw in the sky a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun, shinning round about me and them which journeyed with me.
14) And when they were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
15) And I said, who art thou, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
16) But arise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
17) Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
18) To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
In verse 16 I want you to notice the words “I have appeared,” and “in the which I WILL appear.” Also notice he is to be a minister “of these things which thou hast seen,” and “ of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.”
The Lord Jesus Christ appeared unto Paul and showed him the things he was to start preaching immediately, but Christ also told Paul He would be appearing unto him again with further instructions. We do not know how many of these “appearings” the Lord made unto Paul, but we do know he made more than one.
We also know that Paul gradually began to unfold things we now know to be related to the mystery concerning the Church the Body of Christ. It is also clear that Luke, the writer of Acts, outlines the transition in his book. You might say that the Book of Acts is the battleground for dispensational change.
As related to the subject at hand, one may divided the book of Acts into three areas: 1) Acts 1-12, 2) Acts 13-20:15, and Acts 20:16 until the end of Acts 28.
The following diagram may be helpful in helping you see this more clearly.
Acts 1-12 Acts 13-20:15 Acts 20:16-28
City Jerusalem Antioch Rome
Figure Peter Paul & Others Paul
People Jews Only Jews & Gentiles Gentiles Only
Gospel Gospel of Gospel of Gospel of the
Preached God Christ Grace of God
Message Beginning of Gentile Lo-Ammi or
For the Jew Restoration Reconciliation Rejection
You will notice that I have sectioned off the data about the Gospel that Paul preached. Please do not be confused by it. Paul did not preach there were three ways to be saved, but he did begin to add to his basic message as he was allowed to reveal the revelations he had received from God.
The Gospel of God
Paul preached that Jesus was the Son of God. It was the same message that Peter was preaching at the time. Acts 9:20: “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”
“So what is significant about this,” you ask? It is significant because up until this time Paul was denying that Jesus was the Son of God. He was on his way to Damascus with orders from the Jewish hierarchy to kill any people who said that Jesus was the Son of God.
The Gospel of Christ
Once he had obtained a sanctioning, if you will, from the twelve apostles, Paul sets off on his first missionary journey. Where does he go to preach, at the synagogue, of course? In Acts 13:14 we see that Paul and Barnabus traveled from Perga to Antioch of Pisidia and went to the synagogue. After the reading of the law and the prophets it is customary to allow anyone to address those attending. So, Paul stands up and says, “Men of Israel, and ye that fear God.” Acts 13:16. He then embarks on telling them the story that every Jew had been told from birth. He told them of how Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and how that from David a Saviour, Jesus, was to come. He told them of John the Baptist, who was to be the forerunner of the long awaited Messiah, and having declared Jesus to be that person.
Then in Acts 13:26, Paul says I am here to tell you the same thing, the Messiah has come, and in verse 33 Paul says the promise to raise Him up again has happened.
As Paul is addressing those assembled in the synagogue, he quotes from the book of Psalms, Habakkuk and Isaiah. (Psalms 2:7; 16:10; Habakkuk 1:5 and Isaiah 55:3) He tells them the Scriptures were not speaking of David’s soul being left in hell, but the soul of Jesus. Look at Acts 13:36-41.
36) For David, after he had served his generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
37) But He, whom God hath raised again, saw no corruption.
38) Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
39) And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
40) Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
41) Behold ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work in which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
When Paul finished, the Jews left the synagogue, but the Gentiles lingered with Paul and begged him to preach the same thing the next Sabbath. When the Sabbath came, Acts 13:44-45 states that nearly the entire city came to hear Paul preach. But when the Jews saw this great multitude, they became jealous and envious and began to speak out against Paul and the words he spoke. That did not disturb Paul and Barnabus at all, it only served to make them bolder.
46) Then Paul and Barnabus waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
47) For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
48) And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
So, to the message that Jesus was the Son of God is added something else – that through Jesus Christ is the forgiveness of sins. That is what verse 38 states and that is the Gospel of Christ.
In Acts Chapter Fourteen, Paul and Barnabus have passed on to Iconium. They go to the synagogue and preached what they had preached at Antioch. They also have the same response from the Iconians as they did with the Antiochans, some believed and some didn’t. And we see in verse 4 that the city was divided; some sided with the Jews and some with Paul and Barnabus. When the plot to stone them was uncovered, Paul and Barnabus fled to Lystra and Derbe.
That is no different from the way the world views the truth today. In my thirty plus years in the ministry I have seen that truth divides. It divides brother with brother, sister with sister, father with son, mother with daughter, and friend with friend. Mankind has been given a “free will” to choose what they believe, and if what they believe differs from what you believe it most often becomes a divisive issue.
No one is immune from falling prey to the logic of man-oriented religious beliefs. Man seeks self-gratification. Men of faith seek to honor God. We live in a society that teaches us we get what we work for. It doesn’t seem to make a difference if we get what we want through devious and unethical ways, only that we get what we want.
Religious man wants acceptance from God but only on his terms, so he fabricates a god that allows him to be what he wants to be without having to be concerned with the consequences of his actions. So the search for the one true God takes some into murky waters. They have a knot deep within their stomach that will not go away, and all the trips to the many religious services they have attended do not seem to help.
Some just give up, rationalizing that every body’s god must be the same, they just refer to him by a different name. Some turn to satanic worship, but most just become indifferent, and that is the worst of all. The Book of Revelation labels such people as Laodiceans. “I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”; and knowest not thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:15-17.
Wealth has driven many of faith to a position of indifference. They know deep down inside there is a true and living God, but they refuse to acknowledge it any longer. In their rebellion and defiance they have put their own children at risk. They have joined the ranks of the liberals of this world and say, “I want my children to be free to make up their own minds. I do not want to force my religious beliefs or those of my spouse on my children. I want them to be free independent thinkers.”
What they are really saying is, “I’ll let the world be my children’s teachers. I will not give them any spiritual guidance at all. I do not care if they ever find God as long as they are content with that.”
“That’s a little harsh, don’t you think, Obed?”
“Is it? I think not!”
I see young parents take precautions to see that their children are safe from pedophiles, teaching them to beware of strangers. I see those spending hours teaching them to read and write. I see them saying, “do this because it’s the right thing to do or don’t do this because it is not the right things to do.” But when it comes to obtaining an understanding about God, they give no instructions to their children at all. What kind of parent is that?
Children look for guidance. They first learn about trust from a loving parent. They take that first step off the stairs because a parent said, “you can do it.” They jump off a kitchen counter because Mom or Dad said, “don’t worry, I will catch you.” They learn about God because Mom or Dad told them there was a God. When they grow up, they can determine for themselves if God is real, but at least give them the choice.
There will always be opposing opinions when God is discussed, and Paul finds that to be true in Iconium. (Acts 14) So Paul and companions left and went to Lystra and Derbe and preached there.
But it is here that God allows Paul to peach something new. So in Acts Chapter 20:24, we see him preaching the full revelation from God - The Gospel of the Grace of God. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus Christ, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
The Jew has become insensitive to the wooing of the Spirit so God is preparing for the time when the Gentile will take up the banner of God and move forward with the truth.
The Gospel of the Grace of God is all about hope. The hope of Israel is being suspended because the Israelis have been blinded to the truth, but now a new aspect of hope is being revealed and will be carried on by Gentile nations.
The Gentiles have been called to pick up the banner of truth and carry it to all people, Jew, Muslim, Catholic or protestant.
Ephesians Chapter Three
1 “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.)
There is no question that these people had heard about the dispensation of the grace of God. (We read about it in Acts 20:17-25.) Paul is doing what every good teacher does: reiterate what had already been said. We also know there were several people who sat under his teaching during this time: Timothy, Luke, Demas, Onesimus, Epaphroditus and others.
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ BY THE GOSPEL:
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
The mystery is a multi-faceted revelation. There is the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, but hid in Scripture, as seen here in Romans 16:25-26: “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery. which was kept secret since the world began, But now is mage manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”
And there is the mystery revealed only to the apostle Paul. This mystery revealed to Paul was not given in one session, but at various different times. Remember what we read in Acts 26?
16 “But arise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;”
But all things concerning the mystery, both hidden in Scripture and the unsearchable, God chose Paul to make them known.
In Ephesians 3:3, Paul states that the mystery was made known unto him by revelation, not for his own personal use alone, but because he was to be the instrument to pass it along to others.
The good news of a Savior coming to die for sins was preached to Abraham, (Galatians 3:8) but Paul did not get that message from any human being, even though he had been brought up in the Jewish religious system.
Philippians 3:5: “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;”
Paul received his knowledge of the mystery by revelation. Galatians 1:11-12: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Paul received what he taught from the Lord Jesus Christ, first on the road to Damascus and later in subsequent revelations, as the Lord deemed fit. Even though Peter was not made privy to this revelation, he admitted, on at least two occasions, that what Paul had received was special, even though it was hard to understand. Look for yourself.
Galatians 2:7 & 9:
7 “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabus the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
2 Peter 3:15-16:
15)”And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
When we look at the subject, “all spiritual blessings,” you will see the only place that subject is found will be in the Pauline Epistles. All spiritual blessings is unique to the mystery revealed unto Paul by Christ.
Perhaps it might be good to examine, in more detail, this word – mystery. The English word mystery comes from the Greek word – musterion, which occurs 27 times in the New Testament: 3 times in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke; 4 times in Revelation and 19 times in the Pauline Epistles. You will see that 11 of those 19 are found in the prison epistles of Ephesians, Colossians and 1 Timothy.
The following are the passages that the word musterion is found.
(Non-Pauline Epistles: Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8: 0; Revelation 1:20; 10:7; 17: 5, 7;
Pauline Epistles: Romans 11:25; 16: 25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 4:1; 13: 2:14: 2; 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 2:7; Ephesians 1:9; 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32; 6:19; Colossians 1:26, 27; 2:2; 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:6, 16)
Musterion means something hidden or a secret, not obvious to the understanding, a hidden purpose or counsel which comes directly from God and God alone. You can read these pages over and over again. You may go to the passage I have given you above and read them time and again, but you will never be convinced of the uniqueness of them apart from the enlightening which God alone gives.
The truth of the mystery, as given unto Paul, will not be made known through some elaborate organizational scheme contrived by man, for it will never be the subject of popular appeal. You will see the truth of the mystery only as you diligently study, seeking God’s approval and looking for understanding as you begin to rightly divide the Word of truth. It will be made know by the Spirit of God.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.
Paul was conscious that he was making a tremendous claim in Ephesians 3:4-5 “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” He was cautious not to come across as overly ambitious, as many Christian leaders do because of the gullibility of their followers. But he wanted the readers of this epistle to know that this revelation given unto him was superior to any that had been revealed before, and that others had received this revelation also.
When we get to the sixth verse of Ephesians three, you must be aware of the controversy that this particular verse causes, not to mention the misunderstanding of its significance.
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ BY THE GOSPEL:”
There are several things we need to evaluate in this third chapter of Ephesians.
1) The Dispensation of the Grace of God (V. 2)
2) The mystery revealed unto Paul (V. 3)
3) That this mystery was not made know before (V. 5)
4) That a body is being formed wherebyall are equal (V. 6)
5) That membership in this body comes from believing Christ paid the price of the membership.
6) That Israel was no longer the avenue of blessing, which had been a pre-requisite for membership in the former program.
7) That the resurrection of Christ meant one thing to Peter and another thing to Paul.
Peter preached and was assured that the resurrection of Christ, who was of the seed of David, meant the fulfillment of “restoration” was at hand. He understood that even though Christ had risen and gone back into heaven, He would return TO THE EARTH to establish His earthy kingdom.
Paul said that: “…Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.” (2 Timothy 2: 8) And he knew that Christ would be coming in the air to meet this newly formed group of believers, and would reign with them in heaven.
Ephesians 3: 6 is not expounding upon the unequal partnership that had existed between the Jew and Gentile, that it had now been changed so that the Gentiles could be partakers of the promises given unto Abraham, and that that relationship would be on equal terms. (This is the general thinking of most fundamentalist though.)
No, the teaching here is that a new promise is being made, a promise that Abraham had no knowledge of, Moses had no knowledge of and David had no knowledge of. A new man was being created, a new body of believers was being formed and all the people in this new body were to be on equal terms with the Lord Jesus Christ.
This “New Body” had never been seen or known before on the earth. This “New Body” was to be one in which every member was to be on equal terms with every other member, IN SPIRIT.
This new body was created in Christ and did not evolve from another order. To use an overused expression, it is unique. So much so that Paul says it is on equal footing with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The language used in this third chapter of Ephesians is extraordinarily bold. Paul claims to have received instructions for stewardship that is on a higher plane than any given before, namely the Mystery.
1 Corinthians 4:1: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
In almost every Epistle written by Paul, he emphasizes his calling to the Gentiles and that it was either a commandment from God or by the will of God. Take a look.
Romans 11:13: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”
Galatians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)”
Ephesians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:”
1 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, [which is] our hope;”
2 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,”
Titus 1:1: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;”
This calling of Paul was to help establish a group of people that would be called a “new Man.” Colossians 3: 10: “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” You will notice that this new man was CREATED, and did not evolve from the church that was being formed and added to in Acts.
Paul knew his message was special but he was careful not to lift himself up at the start, but watch what he says as time passes.
In A.D. 60 Paul said: “For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” 2 Corinthians 11 5
In A.D. 62 he could say; “Unto me, am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST.” Ephesians 3:8.
And in A.D. 67 he said: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came unto the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me FIRST Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a PATTERN to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16.
What this shows us is Paul’s growth in grace and the diminishing of the message given unto Peter and the apostles in the Acts period. With the setting aside of Israel, Paul does not worry about how his words might affect people who did not agree with the message given unto him. His focus has shifted from “being all things to all men” to that of declaring the unsearchable riches of Christ.
The word unsearchable in the Greek is – anexichniastos – untraceable, past finding out. If this “riches of Christ” was past finding out before Paul began to tell about it, it must never have been written down before or told to anyone else prior to his receiving it.
The psalmist said “thy footsteps are unknown.” Psalms 77:19.
Job makes two statements concerning the unknown things of God.
“Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number.” Job 5:9
“Which doeth great things PAST FINDING OUT; yea and wonders without number.” Job 9:10.
All of which emphasizes that God is a mystery in Himself and is not only capable of doing things the finite mind cannot comprehend, but chose not to do them until He was ready for them to be unveiled.
There is a mystery of Christ that was searchable and a mystery of Christ that was unsearchable. The mystery that was searchable was made known in other generations, but the unsearchable mystery of Christ was revealed to the apostle Paul alone.
What are some of the “unsearchable riches?”
Look at Ephesians 3:7-10) “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. 8) Unto me, am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST. 9) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10) To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,”
1. Paul was to be the minister of them.
2. It was a gift of the grace of God, nothing human here.
3. It was by the effectual working of the power of God.
Verse 8 re-emphasizes the mystery was past finding out.
Verse 9 emphasizes that it was hid in God.
Verse 10 states it was being revealed in order that Satan and his followers would know, through the church of the mystery, the wisdom of God.
In these verses we are directed back to the very beginning of time, where creation and the purpose of God are seen together, where the mystery and all it entails was formulated, and where light is shed upon the relationship that should exist between the inhabitants of heaven and the lowly Gentiles of earth, which would be “far above all principalities and power.” The theme in Ephesians 3:7-10 is “the wisdom of God.” It is not about God’s power, which is incomprehensible. It is about a wise God that thwarted the scheme of Satan with His wisdom, not His Almighty Power, which was what Satan was expecting.
In Ezekiel 28 the King of Tyre, a symbolic picture of Satan, is said to have been created “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” But Satan corrupted that wisdom because of his beauty and therefore his pride became his downfall.
And so God, in His wisdom, concealed from His enemy the climaticpurpose of the ages, namely the Mystery, which had at its core making known unto the un-fallen inhabitants of heaven that the “new creature” (The Church the Body of Christ) would replace the fallen principalities. Satan, who had planned to be above God, now knows he will never ascend to the high heaven again.
Yes, that old serpent, the devil, had once said: Isaiah 14:13-14: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” But now he realizes that is not to be, all because of the manifold wisdom of God.
So, the Church the Body of Christ will have at least two jobs: 1) Teaching the angels about this wisdom of God. And 2) Judging angels. “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” 1 Corinthians 6 3.
Even with our limited understanding, we can see that with certain angles falling and overthrowing the original earthly creation, and with the constant attacks of the devil, that these require great wisdom to complete the goal of the ages. This not only called for wisdom in what was made known in the Scriptures, but what was not made known but later revealed unto to apostle Paul. It also called for wisdom as to when the revelations were to be made known, to whom and by whom.
Ephesians 2:11-13: “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”
If one trusts what Christ did, i.e. die on the cross for sin and was subsequently resurrected for our justification, then you are a child of God. In verse 12 there are two words and one group of words I want you to consider: 1) Boldness, 2) Access, and 3) by the faith of Him. The Church the Body of Christ has many privileges. We have access to God, directly, and we are instructed to approach that with a degree of reverential boldness. All of this is not based upon our faith in Christ but it is based upon the faith of Christ.
Everything we are as Christians is because of what Christ did for us. He is everything, we are nothing. And the paradox of that statement is we are everything in Christ Jesus our Lord. So when we pray to the Father through the Son, we can approach Him with a degree of boldness because Christ has made possible this accessibility one never had under the law.
We now come to the central prayer of this book: Chapter 3:14-21:
14) “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15) Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16) That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;
17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love,
18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.
20) Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21) Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
In this prayer Paul presents the special part the Church the Body of Christ plays in this dispensation, as well as the purpose of their participation.
In verse 17 we realize that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, not our faith but His. If it were our faith, the dwelling could come and go as our faith is diminished. That was the case prior to this dispensation. “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” Psalms 51:11. But that is not so for the Church the Body of Christ in the dispensation of grace.
Our lack of faith may cause us to question if Christ is present or not, but that will not negate the fact that He is. That is why Paul admonishes us to be rooted and grounded in love. He is saying let your faith accept the fate that is yours.
The Greek word for rooted is rhizoo and means: to cause to strike root, to strengthen with roots, to render firm,
to fix, establish, cause a person or a thing to be thoroughly grounded. The Greek work for grounded is themileoo which means to make stable or establish.
So Paul is saying I want you take confidence in what you have and as a tree’s roots go deep into the earth for the purpose of stability when storms arise, so will ye be able to withstand the storms of life that cross your path. This word “grounded” means to continue in the faith and not be moved away from the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. But you will notice that the believer is to be rooted and grounded IN LOVE.
In 2 Corinthians 9:15, Paul close his prayer to the Corinthians with these words: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” Christ is that unspeakable gift, yet for the child of God is impossible to refrain from speaking of Him. This love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, must still be the goal as we journey through this world. So let us seek that which is seemingly impossible, “to know the love of Christ,” because we are heirs of this glory given us because of what He did more than 2000 years ago.
Think about it. This power that is in us is the same power that raised Christ from the dead and set Him at the right hand of the Father, putting all things under His feet. This power is made accessible because of the faith of Christ. Use it for His glory and honor.
Ephesians Chapter Four
1. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye WALK WORTHY of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”
Paul calls on the “New Creature” or “New Man” to walk in a manner consistent with his calling or vocation. It is not enough to just “learn” about this calling, but that which is learned must produce results, or fruit. In order for this doctrine of grace to survive it must be taught by those who are the recipients of grace.
If we are to be stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4: 1) we are the overseers of this truth committed unto Paul and passed on to us. Therefore, we are to be the teachers of this truth. The more we share the truth of right division, the dispensation of grace, and the mystery, the more worthy our walk will be.
It is one thing to believe and another to show it with action. I can believe it is possible to jump off a two hundred foot cliff into the water below and survive, and another thing to commit to doing it.
I have often wondered why there was so much infighting among believers of different denominations, and have reach the conclusion it is because of “unworthy walkers.” The simple fact is these believers are not “one in the Lord.” They do not seek the same things nor do they believe or practice the same things.
1. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye WALK WORTHY of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”
2. “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3. “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
The believer that walks worthy must consider three things that we see outlined in the three passages above.
1. Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.
2. Walk with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering.
3. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit.
Can there be a unity of the Spirit if one member thinks himself to be something he is not? No! The strong minded would crush the weaker believer. Therefore humility and longsuffering must come into play. As we learn to walk worthy of our calling, lowliness, meekness and longsuffering will thrive and there will be unity of the Spirit.
The Greek word for vocation is klesis: a calling, invitation
as to a feast, of the divine invitation to embrace the salvation of God.
God invites (calls) us to salvation. ”God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9. Once we trust the finished work of Christ for salvation, we are to become stewards of the mystery given unto Paul, who is the apostle of the Gentiles.
Romans 11: 13: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” So it is important for us to remember our calling in the dispensation of grace and walk worthy of it so that Christ may be glorified.
Unity among believer cannot be achieved apart from humility. James 4: 6 states: “…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” But there are many more passage that exhort us to be humble.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians equates “lowliness of mind” and “one mind” together. “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:2-3.
Meekness is no product of the flesh. When the flesh attempts to show humility and meekness, it comes across as sanctimonious. In biblical terms it is defines as pharisaic. The Pharisee taught one thing but did another, who prayed on the Sabbath and cheated the next day. It is the fruit of the Spirit that brings love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (Galatians 2:22-23) not man’s frugal attempt at humility.
The spirit of meekness always takes an introspective look at oneself and realizes he is subject to fall if he places himself above anyone else. Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Too many people misinterpret the word meekness to mean weakness. You can be gentle, but yet firm; humble but unwavering in faith. Moses, Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ were meek, but they were certainly no pushovers. These three were meek, but they were not proud, haughty or vain. As I Corinthians 13 states – “love suffereth long.”
Humility and meekness are expressions of love, or longsuffering.
In Ephesians 4:3, Paul uses the words “Endeavouring to keep.” The word “keep” means to take care, to guard as one must do a treasure deemed valuable to them. We are to keep this unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Christian brother must try to be at peace with another Christian brother if there is to be unity of the Spirit.
THE SEVENFOLD UNITY OF THE SPIRIT
Ephesians 4:4-6 “There is (1) one body, and (2) one Spirit, even as ye are called in(3) one hope of your calling; For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office (4) One lord, (5) one faith, (6) one baptism, (7) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
The central unity of the sevenfold unity of the Spirit centers on “One Lord.” Without Christ, in resurrection, there is no church which can be called the One Body. Not until Christ is seen as the head can the church be seen as one. That is why Paul started the Epistle with the words found in 1:21-13. “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also that world which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fulness of Him that fileth all and in all.”
Apart from the risen Son of God, God the Father would never be known as the one God and Father of us all. Apart from the ascended Lord, the one baptism of the one Spirit is impossible. The unity of the faith embraces the Son of God, and the one hope is nothing less than Christ Himself.
What hope have we outside of Christ? In whom can we have faith were it not for Christ? Christ is the central theme of this unity. Christ is what brings about this unity.
Let us look at the seven in detail.
1. One Body: The church of the one body is a new creature, connected with the ascended Christ as its head, who is far above all. The Body is directly related to the “mystery”, where it is given it’s peculiar distinctive character, a “joint-body”, a position unknown before it was revealed unto Paul.
2. One Spirit: The Spirit of the risen Christ is the one Spirit of the body.
3. One Hope: The one hope of our calling is that the Church the Body of Christ shall be manifested with Him in glory.
4. One Lord: The title “Lord” suppose resurrection. “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living.” Romans 14: 9.
The great confession of all peoples, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth is that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father.
I Corinthians 8:5-6: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be many gods many and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.”
When Paul went to Athens and preached, some said he was a preacher of “strange gods.”(Acts 17:18) Why, because he “preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection.”? In Psalms 82, the gods of chapter refer to devils. Look at verses 6-7: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”
The word terrestrial is defined as: Of or pertaining to the earth and its inhabitants, an inhabitant of the earth. In 1 Corinthians 8:5 the gods many and lords many are these terrestrial gods that can be simply called demons or devils.
What connection can there be between Jesus and the resurrection and foreign demons? Among the Gentiles, demons were supposed to be the spirits of men who had died. These demons (gods terrestrial) acted as mediator between men and the far off celestial gods. So when Paul spoke of Jesus Christ as the Lord, and as the Mediator, to the heathen mind that implied a foreign demon or devil.
5. One Faith: This we will discuss in more detail later.
6. One Baptism: I do not want to “burst your bubble,” but this is not water baptism but Spiritual baptism. The fact that there is but “one baptism” is both conclusive and exclusive.
Every member of The Church the Body of Christ is a baptized believer. The moment a person accepts what Christ did for them (died for their sins, was buried and resurrected) they were baptized by the Spirit into Christ’s body. So, if you were to ask me if I believed in baptism, I would answer in the affirmative. But I would hasten to say that baptism was spiritual, not a physical dunking or sprinkling.
Ye see, grace believers rejoice in the substance of the spiritual baptism (the one baptism) whereas many others rejoice in the SHADOW of the physical baptism. Paul warned the Colossians of just that kind of people. (Chapter 2)
8) “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ
9) For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily.
10) And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principalities and power:
11) In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12) Buried with Him in baptism (spiritual), wherein ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.
13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross;
15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days;
17) Which are a SHADOW of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Physical water baptism is a shadow of things to come. Spiritual baptism is the real thing – NOW. Many of us have allowed those who emphasize the shadow to monopolize the claim to baptism, while we who rejoice in the substance (the one baptism) often appear to under value it.
Physical baptism was an important element in worship, but it was a shadow of the spiritual baptism which took its place. When the dispensation of grace took the place of the dispensation of the law, believers put away “childish things,” the external ceremony was not imposed upon them, but the reality remained.
If there is to be a unity of the Spirit, one must acknowledge the one baptism of the Spirit is the only baptism of importance. “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are TEMPORAL; but the things which are not seen are ETERNAL.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
The members of The Church the Body of Christ do not observe days, months, feast days or ordinances. These are shadows. The one spiritual baptism unites us to the risen Saviour; the physical baptism only gets one wet. It cannot make one complete or pure or save him.
7. One God and Father: Even though the Lord Jesus Christ was instrumental in our salvation, we must understand that God is God and He is the Father of glory. Christ died and ascended into heaven, far above all principality and powers and might, and He is Head over all things. But He will surrender that authority to the Father at the appropriate time.
“And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” 2 Corinthians 15:28.
The Gift of Christ - Ephesians 4:7-10
7) “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8) Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9) (Now He that ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10) He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)
11) And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers:
The gift of Christ must not be confused with the “gifts” which were given to those of the early Acts period or to gifts of believers in general. Look at the following verses.
Romans 12:6 “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.”
1 Corinthians 12:1, 11: (V. 1) “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (V. 11) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, diving unto every man severally as He will.”
Matthew 25:15: “And unto one He gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took His journey.”
All of these passages speak of a gift or gifts of an individual. The Lord was just as pleased with the person with two talents as He was with the one given the five. Had the one given the one talent performed, God would have been pleased with him too.
But what Ephesians 4:7 teaches, that none of the other passages do, is speak of “the measure of the gift.” And according to that measure, one is to seek to fulfill the purpose and good pleasure of the Lord. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
I think the Lord is saying, “Let us give a deaf ear to that Christian worker, that busy body who is always telling us what they think we “ought to do.” Why should we care what someone else thinks? The Lord knows if He wants us to be preaching to the lost or saved, ministering to the sick, or working at a job. We must be fully persuaded about what we are doing, know what our ministry is, and then do it, according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
What are the gifts of the resurrected and ascended Christ?
To see these, you need to look at Ephesians 4:11 again. “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers:”
He gave some apostles: Who are these apostles? They cannot be the original 12, for they were appointed by the Lord while on the earth. When Judas was replaced by Matthias, the Scripture says he was numbered with the eleven. (Acts 1:26)
We are talking about apostles that were called after Christ ascended into heaven. It goes without saying that Paul was one of this “new order” of apostles. Who are some of the others?
Barnabus was one. (Acts 14:14) Andronicus and Junia were also. (Romans 16: 7) Apollos was apparently another one. (1 Corinthians 4:6-9) Silvanus and Timothy were apostles too. (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2: 6) If there were others, we are not given their names.
The gifts He gave unto men were for something. What were they?
1) For the perfecting of the saints,
2) For the work of the ministry
3) For the edifying of the Body of Christ.
The apostles of the earlier order were not necessarily equipped to mend the break caused by Israel’s rejection and subsequent setting aside. That is why the Lord called a new group of apostles and prophets to bridge the gap that had occurred.
The new saints that were to be perfected from the teaching of these new apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers were to do certain things too. They were to do a ministry work that would build up the Body of Christ.
Now let’s look at Ephesians 4:13; “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of Christ.”
Once we understand the unity of the Spirit, we move to the second one, the unity of the faith.
So we have seen the unity of the Spirit, which is the gift of Christ. Now we look at the unity of the faith which is the stature of the fulness of Christ.
If the unity of the faith is understood in the knowledge of the Son of God, then all that is revealed concerning the Son of God must go to constitute the oneness of faith. So it becomes important for the believer to know al that they possibly can about Him. Let’s look at a few passages of Scripture.
Romans 1:3-4: “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” The good news (gospel) concerning God’s Son, Jesus, was declared by the power of the resurrection.
Romans 1:9: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the GOSPEL OF HIS SON, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;” The focal point in this passage is centered around the gospel of the Son.
Romans 5:10: “For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Reconciliation is made possible by Christ’s death; salvation from the wrath to come is made possible by His living.
Romans 8:3: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Make no mistake about it, Christ became flesh, liken unto man’s sinful flesh. What the law could never do, Jesus accomplished, and thus proving man is useless apart from His sacrifice for sin, which is His death.
Romans 8:29: “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Since God is “all knowing,” He determined that all who believed In Christ would be conformed to the image of His Son.
Romans 8:32: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” The point being made here is in the fact that God spared not His own Son, Jesus Christ. But He delivered Him into death for us in order to give us everything He had reserved for us.
1 Corinthians 1:9: “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” The unity of the faith places us into fellowship with the Son of God.
1 Corinthians 15:28: “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” The final act of the Son will be to surrender everything to the Father.
2 Corinthians 1:19-20: “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea. For all the promises of God are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” Every promise that God ever made, He brought about in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:16: “To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” The Son is revealed in Paul that he might go the Gentile “heathen.”
Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the FAITH of the SON of GOD, who loved me and gave His life for me.” So then, Paul lived because of Christ’s faith and life.
Galatians 4:4: “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” The fullness of time comes when Christ is sent to be born of woman. He is born during the time of the law, and was subsequently made subject to the law.
Galatians 4:6: “And because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.” The Spirit of the Son is in the hearts of every believer.
1 Thessalonians 1:10: “And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” All believers await the rapture of the church, at which time Jesus will meet the believer in the air, and will escape the great tribulation – “the wrath to come.”
It is the full knowledge of the Son of God that constitutes the unity of the faith. That is what Ephesians 4:13 is about.
Ephesians 4:13: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”
The word knowledge in the passage comes from the Greek work epignosis – which is full knowledge, precise and correct knowledge. Once we have this “full knowledge” of the Son of God. We are “a perfect man.”
The Greek word for man in the passage is aner – male, husband, to distinguish an adult male from a boy. This male is full grown. This perfect man has become such through dedicated study of the Son of God.
Paul knew every believer would be presented “holy, unblameable and unreprovable” through the death of Christ. Now he longs for another presentation, to present every man perfect in Christ.
21 “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled
22 In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight:
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not move away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under the heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill upthat which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church:
25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God, which is given me for you, to fulfil the Word of God;
26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but NOW is made manifest to the saints:
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man PERFECT in Christ Jesus:
29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.”
In Scripture, perfect is often contrasted with a child, as in:
Hebrews 5:12-14: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the Oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the Word of Righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” And in,
1 Corinthians 13:10-11: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Where the knowledge is elementary or limited, the believer has limited sight and is as weak as a child, having a need for milk and not meat. Therefore that believer is able to learn very little of the deep truths that constitute becoming a man.
So, Ephesians 4:14 states, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
The Corinthians were babes because of their carnality and divisions among believers. They had not grown in grace and were not able to understand the deep things of the truth Paul was trying to get them to see. If there is every going to be unity among believers, all believers must grow to full adulthood.
No amount of energy, meetings, advertising or singing can make for growth. Growth is the result of good sound food, a suitable environment and a life filled with the knowledge of Christ.
In the real world growth can be retarded by the absence of light, air and water. In the spiritual realm growth can be retarded as one does not walk in the Light (Jesus Christ), breath the air of the Spirit, or drink the water of the Word.
Ephesians 4:15) “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16) From which the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of the itself by love.”
To speak the truth in love should be the goal of every believer. Speaking the truth does not require any work on the part of the believer, i.e. speaking in tongues or being water baptized. A child of God is simple professing the truth of the Scripture without lying or embellishing with denominational creeds.
Love is linked with growth. It’s simple, the more you love the truth of the Word rightly divided, the more you grow. Look at Colossians 2:2: “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mysteries of God, and to the Father, and of Christ;”
What unites the body as one, love? There can be no unity without love. Believers who love God will care for all believers. Paul closed the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians with the 13th verse: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” The word charity is agape in the Greek. It is defined as being the love of Christ.
In Ephesians 4: 4-16, Paul says that we are to examine ourselves. Are we being carried about with every wind of doctrine from every religious order in existence? Do you know someone that seems to have a new doctrinal position every time you talk to them? Then these people are babes, if they are believers, and the mystery of God remains a mystery to them.
Do not be mistaken. This “wind of doctrine” does not blow by chance. Satan, the great deceiver, is constantly putting out his truth, which is in opposition to God’s truth. The winds of doctrine that bring confusion is a part of a calculated program initiated by the prince of darkness to destroy the credibility of the proponents of truth.
Paul warns of the “sleight of men.” The Greek word for “sleight” is kubeia – to play at dice, because dice player were know to be cheaters. He also says be careful of the “cunning craftiness” of men. The Greek word here is enpanourgia – which denotes a fixed position of deceit.
In Luke 20:20-23, we read: “And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor, And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, why tempt ye me?”
The word craftiness in the 23rd verse is panourgia - a specious or false wisdom. In other words, Jesus was sure that this was a deeply laid plot craftily laid to ensnare Him.
If He had said yes, His reputation as a leader, His claim of being Messiah, would be shattered. For how could the Deliverer of Israel teach them to pay tribute to a pagan power? If He had said no, they would charge him with a crime before the Roman leaders.
They were outwitted, because they did not know the Lord well. Look at His answer in Luke 20: 24-26: “Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's. And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.”
Paul was opposed to dishonesty, deceit and craftiness. In 2 Corinthians 4:2, we read” “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”
Notice five things in the verses.
1) Hidden things of dishonesty renounced.
2) Walked not in craftiness.
3) Did not handle the Word of God deceitfully, but,
4) Truth manifested and,
5) Commending oneself to conscience in the sight of God.
Behind the “sleight of men” is the “cunning craftiness” of the Devil, whereby they “lie in wait to deceive.” “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” Ephesians 4:14.
Be careful the Devil is a competent adversary. In Ephesians 6: 11 we are warned: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
What are the “wiles of the devil?”
1. Methodical deception
2. Cunning ways to entrap you.
3. A deliberate system of errors.
There is a deliberate and systematic method in the Devil’s craftiness. Paul was aware of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:11: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” The Devil always tries to corrupt the truth, with flattery, deception or temptation, as he did in the Garden East of Eden or in Luke Chapter 20 that we just read. Rest assured his shenanigans will continue until he is cast into the lake of fire. So be on guard!
So what do we have here? We have the unity of the Spirit in contrast with the deceit of the Devil. Or you could say it is the mystery of godliness versus the mystery of iniquity. Simply put, it is the truth (God) versus the lie (Satan).
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind. Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
The Bible refers to created man as “the creature” or the “old man.” When we are born into this world, we are born in sin. The old man, or old nature as it is often times referred, is capable of doing any and all sin imaginable.
“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,” Romans 8: 20.
In Ephesians 4: 18 it speaks of understanding becoming darkened, as was the case in the building of the Tower of Babel. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:21-22.
But you will also notice that Ephesians 4:18 states “…being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
The word blindness in the Greek is porosis – blindness, hardness, the covering with a callus, dulled perception, and stubbornness. In other words they were ignorant of the Devil’s devices because, being stubborn they had hardened their hearts and their senses became dulled.
When Paul was in Athens he gave a speech on Mars Hill, as is recorded in Acts 17:22-30. Look for the words ignorant and ignorantly.
22) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23) For I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him I declare unto you.
24) God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25) Neither is worshipped with men’s hands as though He needs any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26) And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27) That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us:
28) For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, “For we are also His offspring.”
29) Foreasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commendeth all men everywhere to repent.”
The word ignorance characterizes the Gentiles during this period of time. They had not been made privy to things concerning God, and especially Jesus Christ. So when we read in Ephesians 4:17-18 expansion of the words “vanity of the mind.”
“Who being past feeling hath given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
If we are going to be faithful servants, we need to understand who we were before the Lord Jesus Christ became part of our lives. What we see here in Ephesians 4 should impress us with the important position of the mind in connection with the activities of life.
How can we understand this alienation from the life of God?” We cannot “live unto God” without the ‘life of God,” and that life can only be ours as we are “made alive together with Christ.”
The resurrection of life is “The Truth,” even as sin and death are “the lie.” “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lust of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Romans 1:24-25.
When the Gentiles exchanged the truth of God for the lie, this led to their becoming alienated from God. The rest of Ephesians 4 will exhort us to put away the lie and put on truth.
Ephesians 4:20-24 – The New Man
19) But ye have not so learned Christ; 21) If so be that ye have Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22) That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
It is interesting that the Holy Spirit instructed Paul to use the name Jesus in verse 21 instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of us are aware that the number “666” is associated with Satan. But did you know that the numerical value of the Greek letters of the word “Jesus” is 888?
Most people know that the number “8” has the significance of a new beginning. God called Noah, who was eighth in the linage of Adam, to start building this world from scratch. There were also eight people that would participate in the venture: Noah and his wife and Noah’s three sons and their wives.
“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;” 2 Peter 2:5.
“Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” 1 Peter 3:20.
So the introduction of Jesus in Ephesians 4:21 assumes a definite meaning. The truth in Jesus is the truth of the new creature.
1. The old man belongs to the lie; the new man belongs to the Truth.
2. The old man is corrupt; the new man is renewed and holy.
Romans 6: 6 states: “Knowing this, that the our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
The lusts or desires that dominate the unregenerate, unsaved mind have one primary characteristic, they are deceitful. This deceit is not limited to the lust of the flesh, it is found to be in man’s mind as well. Look at Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Philosophy is paired with vain deceit. The new man arises out of the “truth in Jesus” and disavows the lie which is not after Christ. Christ must be the foundation of the new man, the new creature. And as Ephesians 4:23 states, it begins within: “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”
It is the mind that is renewed; the body will not be changed until resurrection. Regeneration does not mean we have a new body; we are still walking around in our old one. But we now have this fresh, rejuvenated, vigorous new mind. We now have a future for which we look forward to by the grace of God. With this new mind the possibilities are limitless all because of the resurrected Christ.
When we trusted Christ as Savior, we passed from death to life, from Adam’s sin nature to the nature of Christ, from the power of Satan to the power of God. The dominion of sin is broken and the mind has been set free, thus making it possible to obey the demands of a righteous God. “Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourself servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.” Romans 6: 6. Before regeneration we had no option, after regeneration we do.
The renewing of the mind is an inward operation, but it becomes complete with an outward response. That is what Ephesians 4:24 says. Look at it again. “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Also check out Colossians 3:9-10: “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him.”
This is a fact: All men, all doctrine, all works are either of Adam or Christ. In Adam you die and fall short, “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15: 22. But In Christ you are made alive. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
It is very clear that the new man of Colossians 3:10 is the same as that of Ephesians 4:24. The truth is that the Church of the one body should be reflected in each individual member that makes up that unity.
If Christ is the head of the Church, and He is, He must be the head of each individual member within the Church also.
If the Church the Body of Christ is new but was hid in God before the foundation of the world and it is and was; then each individual member of it must act like a new creature, because that is exactly what he is.
Ephesians 4:23 states that the new man is “according to God.” Colossians 3: 10 states that the new man is “according to His image.” It is the purpose of God that every member of the Church the Body of Christ shall be conformed to the image of His Son. Now I ask you, “Is there anything wrong with that?” No there is not.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29.
If there is to be a change in the believer, ignorance of God and the Scriptures must give way to knowledge of God and the Scriptures.
If there is to be a change in the believer, darkness must gave way to light.
If there is to be a change in the believer, uncleanness or unrighteousness must give way to holiness and righteousness.
If there is to be a change in the believer, wicked works must give way to works of righteousness.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.
If you do not see these things, you should ponder 2 Corinthians 4:3-6: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts, to give light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
In these verses we see the gospel and knowledge used as being synonymous. The outcome of this teaching is found in:
“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another.”
The conflict of the ages is reflected in the book of Ephesians and it is summed up in the antagonism that is found between the truth and the lie and as played out in the new man versus the old man.
The Church the Body of Christ, which is the church of the mystery, has been delivered from the power of the darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear son. Colossians 1:13.
The Church of the Dispensation of Grace has been lifted up from the earth and its earthly things, has been quicken, raised and seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians Chapter one.) That is a repudiation of the lie.
Those who once were energized by the prince of the power of the air are now energized by the power of God, who raised Jesus from the dead. That is a repudiation of the lie also.
When Ephesians 4:25 says, “Wherefore putting away lying…,” it means to put away “the Lie – Satan.”
When you read Ephesians 4:25-32, keep in mind that all the things of the flesh are connected to the lie, which is Satan himself.
25) Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26) Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27) Neither give place to the devil.
28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30) And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Anger, stealing, a foul mouth, bitterness, a hot temper and crying about being mistreated are all apart of the lie. It is wise to avoid these, for to allow them to exist is to give way to the wiles of the devil. When we give in to these things of the devil, we subsequently grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
Remember: “Where there is love evil cannot coexist.” The antidote for evil acts of the flesh can be found in the following verses:
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:24.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32.
Be ye therefore followers of God as dear Children.” Ephesians 5:1.
When Jesus was approached by the Scribes and Pharisees in John Chapter Eight, notice some of the things He said:
Verse 23: “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.”
Verse 39: “They answered and said unto Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.”
Verses 41-42: “Ye do the deed of your father. Then they said unto Him, We be not born of fornication; we have one father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me.”
Verse 44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is nom truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
All things that are unrighteous and unholy are of Satan. All things holy and righteous are of God. Which are you? Can you be saved and still do the things associated with Satan? Yes you can. Until you mature in the truth of the Word, you will give in to the lie. Once you became an imitator of God, the lie cannot coexist with the truth.
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.”
The word follower is mimetes – imitator, to mimic.
So what are we to imitate or mimic? Christ loved and gave of Himself to others. We should love and give ourselves to others.
When Paul was telling the Corinthians about the believers in Macedonia, he told about how they were very poor but that did not stop them from giving. But the thing that he wanted to impress on them was not of their monetary gift. Look at 2 Corinthians 8:5; “And this they did,(gave money) not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” This was both an act of love and giving. It was an attribute of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an attribute that one should strive for.
The gift of money was a good thing, but what Paul wanted most was for those he taught to grow in truth and understanding of the word rightly divided. Look at Philippians 4:17: “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”
The more we understand the truth of the gospel committed unto Paul, the more we will grow to the point of loving and giving with a pure heart. “Every man according as he hath purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7.
Christian giving should always have the atmosphere of reverence. As a child of God living in a world dominated by wickedness, we give to this charity and that need of another human being. Sometimes our gifts are very generous, sometimes they are less but are as much as we can possibly give. This is good, but the greatest gift a believer can give is the Truth that leads to salvation.
2) “But walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
3) But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be named among you, as becometh saints;
4) Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5) For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6) Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7) Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8) For ye were sometimes darkness, but now ye are light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9) (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
Paul now brings the exhortation of how a believer is to walk worthy.
They would walk in love as children of love and as children of light.
They would fornicate, talk foolishly and be vain.
Ephesians 5:5-6 is often times misunderstood by those who do not rightly divide the Word of Truth. Make no mistake about it; if you accepted what Christ did for you at Calvary, you are sealed until the Day of Redemption. (The Rapture) Therefore you are assured of a heavenly inheritance with God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:30: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
You will notice that you can grieve the Spirit. Acts of uncleanness can jeopardize your reward and grieve God Almighty, but it will not negate your being a child of God. Once you believe you are sealed – into the day of redemption. When is the day of redemption? It is the day you are raptured out of this world.
God placed a seal upon you the moment of trusting Christ’s finished work. That seal is secure until the day He calls you home – the day of redemption.
Then what is Paul talking about in verses 5 and 6? Children of disobedience will not receive the reward of the inheritance. Colossians 3:24: “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” Colossians 2: 18.
Paul is saying you were sometimes in darkness and walked as the whoremonger and idolater. You were sometimes darkness but now you are light. If you revert to doing the things of darkness, you will be robbed of the reward of your inheritance, which is to reign with Christ.
“It is a faithful saying: if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him, if we deny him, He will deny us: If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
Look at what the Passage says.
1. If we are dead with Him, we live with Him. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
2. If we suffer we shall reign. “We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5 8.
3. If we deny Him he will deny us reign. We deny him by doing the things we did when we were children of darkness. As long as our old man is walking on the face of the earth, we are subject to do the things of the flesh which do not please God.
4. But we can sink so low that we even said, “I do not believe there is a God,” and the Lord God cannot deny that I am His and He is mine.
We are to walk as children of light. We are to repudiate lust, lasciviousness, and lying, which are products of children of darkness. Light leads to fruitfulness and reproves the unfruitful works of darkness.
The way of the Christian leads through dark places. We are constantly being warned of the danger of voluntarily doing those things from which redemption has made us free. But we do them anyway. This grieves the Lord very much, but it does not mean that He will deny us as His own.
Many have been the times when parents have grieved over the things an errant child did, but that did not mean they would deny the fact they were still their children. Mortal parents cry for their children just as God cries for His.
11. “And have no fellowship with the unfaithful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
14. Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, bur as wise,
16. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
There should come a time in your Christian experience that you mature, or grow up. When you do you should walk accurately or circumspectly. Just think of all the time lost that you could have been fellowshipping with other believers, helping those in need, studying your Bible and going to Bible study classes.
If we are going to walk circumspectly, we are to be wise in the Word of truth, “understanding what the will of the Lord is.” How can this understanding be attained?
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
What is “to be filled with the Spirit?”
Have you ever seen someone who was obnoxiously drunk from drinking wine? If you have, you would know that they sometimes become very boisterous and excited, so much so they are oftentimes uncontrollable in what they say; their speech becomes foul and unfit for believers.
The child of God should be better than that. He is to not use wine to excess but rather be filled with the Spirit. Instead of “running off at the mouth” to a crowd of people, he is to speak to himself, quoting psalms and singing spiritual songs that praise the Lord and lifts the human spirit. Instead of edifying the devil, his songs and praise should magnify the Lord of glory.
When the verse says to be filled with the Spirit, it means that the Spirit is the one that does the filling. In order to set the stage for that event to happen, one must empty themselves of the things of the world. The believer can no more be filled with the Spirit of his own accord than a glass can be filled with water by itself. If the Spirit can fill us with something that takes the place of having drunk wine excessively, we should long to see what it is.
In the letter to the Colossians, Paul says something similar to the words he penned to the Ephesians, but I think is more definitive. Turn to Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace IN YOUR HEARTS to the Lord.”
What I get from the two verses in Ephesians and Colossians is that to be filled with the Spirit is to be filled BY THE SPIRIT with the word of God. And the more we understand of the Word of God the more the rejoicing of one’s soul.
20. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
21. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body.
24. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25. Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it;
26. That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word,
27. That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29. For no man ever yet hated his own fleah; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30. For we are the members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.
31. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.
33. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
The word submitting, in verse 21, is hupotasso in the Greek – to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject oneself, to obey; to submit to ones control. It is not a humiliating thing to be submissive, but it recognizes that Christ is to be honored in this act of submission. Sometimes we may have to take a lowly position if that will honor Christ. Other times we may be taken to a higher plane. In either case, the object of the direction, whether up or down, must be recognized as being what is best for making the Lord stand out.
The fourteen verses listed above are often times used in weddings. I have never conducted a wedding without using them. If the married couple would follow their teaching, the home would be on solid ground. But I want you to understand that while these verses paint a beautiful picture of an ideal marriage relationship that was not the full intent of the message found in them. May I direct your attention to verse 32: “This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
1. Christ is the head of the church – the husband is the head of the wife.
2. The church is subject unto Christ – the wife is subject to the husband.
3. Christ loved the church so much He died for it – Husbands love your wives just like Christ did.
If the husband would love the wife the way that Christ loved the church, the wife would have no problem submitting to her husband. If you love your wife with the agape type love of Christ it also means you love yourself.
How many married men are there reading this right now have a low self esteem problem? Start loving your wife and you’ll start loving yourself. Don’t get mad at me. Get mad at the Lord. He said those words, not I. If you married men out there would start loving your wives with the love that Christ had for the church, your wives would clamoring to please you – in all things.
Let me hasten to say something to you married women. God ordained that you were to be subject to your husband. The saying, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” may never give you a satisfying answer. But the Bible is very specific about who was first between man and woman.
“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” 1 Corinthians 11:9-10. If you have read your Bible, you will know that God formed Adam and then took a rib from whence He made woman. He did this because He sensed the need for the man’s companionship with someone else.
The account of the topic of this discussion in1 Timothy 1: 13-15 states: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness and sobriety.”
Paul could have used all of this in his letter to the Ephesians, but the Holy Spirit directed him to the greater and higher motive as outlined in Ephesians 5. To the wife he says, “The husband is the head of the wife.” To the husband he says, “Love your wife as Christ loved the church.”
He did not say that the husband was to “rule” the wife. Just because the husband is the head does not give him the right to run rough-shod over the wife. Love does not run rough-shod at all. Love lays down its life for the object of its affection. As I said before I now say again, if all wives were loved with the kind of love as outlined in the 5th chapter of Ephesians submission would not be an issue.
You will notice in verses 26-27 that the love of the husband is to be all in the direction of blessing, not selfish needs. Love that shields the wife from anxiety does not give cause for wrinkles. Any wife will tell you that worry and anxiety causes more wrinkles than getting older does.
There have been too many times that I have caused my wife to worry by my doing frivolous things, by being hardheaded, by wanting something I did not need, but getting it anyhow. I am sure that my marriage has weather the storms of these 42 years because my wife was more spiritual than I.
Men, love your wife as Christ loved you. Men, stop doing what you want and start doing what Christ wants for you to do. If men are to be deserving of what God has entrusted them with, they need to start being God-like.
The union of the husband and the wife is looked upon in Scripture as something deeper than a civil or religious act joining them in marriage. 1 Corinthians 6:17 states: “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” So must the husband and wife be one spirit.
There are some in theological circles that want to use Ephesians 5 to teach that the Church the Body of Christ is the “Bride.” I disagree with that deduction. If Ephesians 5 teaches that the church is the bride, then Ephesians 6 teaches the church is a child ands a slave. Neither of which titles is true. Ephesians 5 is dealing with the relationship of husbands and wives in the dispensation of grace.
The Book of Ephesians spends the majority of its time telling us how much the Body of Christ and Christ are the very same. The bridegroom (husband) of Ephesians 5 is likened unto Christ. He is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. He is to lay down his life for the wife as Christ laid down His life for the Church. And the final topping for this is that husband and wife are not two but one. If I look at verses such as 1 Corinthians 11:9-10, then I must deduce that the one surviving entity must be a husband.
I believe Scriptural evidence shows that Isreal is the bride of Christ, not the Church. The Church is part of Christ body and will rule and reign in the final Kingdom of God, far above all heavens. But Isreal will be adorned as the bride – on earth.
But let’s talk about the rolls of husband and wife.
The Roll of the Husband and Wife
First, let’s examine the roll of the wife. Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
There are many who read Ephesians Chapter Five who do not understand the purpose or meaning. I believe that in the marriage relationship the husband’s position is the same as Christ’s relationship with the Church the Body of Christ.
Christ is the head of the church and its members.
The husband is head of the wife and family.
The duty of the wife is one of submission to her husband in the same way as she should be submissive unto Christ. This cannot be achieved if the wife does not have an understanding of the plan of God for man and woman. God made man – Adam. He created Adam in the image of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Genesis 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Then God realized that man did not need to be alone, so he created a help meet. Genesis 2: 8: “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” And that’s exactly what God did. But instead of gathering another piece of the earth, God made woman from man.
Genesis 2:21-22: “And the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
Notice these things.
1. God made Adam someone to help him.
2. He didn’t take dust from the ground this time; He took a rib from Adam’s side.
3. Once God had completed making the woman, He brought her to Adam.
Genesis 2:23: “And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
God created man and woman for each other, but He gave the woman to Adam. And the woman is to be subject to her own husband as the church is to be subject unto Christ. So by decree, God made man to be the dominant created being.
The duty of the husband is to love his wife and in turn the wife is to obey her husband. The admonition to love comes from the Greek word agapao, referring to love exemplified by God and Christ, and as shown in the following verses of Scripture:
1. God is love – 1 John 4:7-10. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS LOVE. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
2. The love that God showed at Calvary – John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
3. The love that the Holy Spirit produces in committed believers. Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
This agapao/agape type of love compels the one doing the loving to give of himself in a self-sacrificial way for the well being of the one who is the object of his love.
In addition to this type of love, the Greeks have three other words to define the emotions involved in human beings.
1. Eros – the love of passion, which is an inherent physical motivation.
2. Phileo – a fondness for another person. From this root word we get philadelphia – brotherly love; philanthropy – kindness or love toward men, philandros – fondness of man, as a wife would be to her husband, and philoteknos – love of one’s children.
3. Stergo – a love of complacency and satisfaction.
It is sad, but true, that these three types of love dominate the husband relationship between his wife. Most husbands are very demanding on the wife’s time, attention and body. What he doesn’t realize is if the agapao/agape type love were practiced, the other things he desired would automatically take place.
Let’s analyze the love of Christ.
1. Did Christ dominate or dictate to His disciples, or did he lead them gently by the hand? True, when they persisted to be hardheaded, He chastised them, as in Mark 8:32-33. “And He spake that saying openly. And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”
2. Did Christ put anything else ahead of His task of training His disciples to carry on after His departure? No, He loved them so much that nothing was allowed to stand in the way of His appointed task. John 17:4-8: “I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self and with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of this world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kepy thu word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”
3. Did Christ allow temptation to get in the way of His task? In Luke chapter four, the first thirteen verses, we read of the account of the Lord being tempted by Satan but never faltering in His task.
Christ loved with the greatest of all loves, so much so that He willingly gave His life for the likes of you and me. Husband, can you love your wife with that kind of love? “Impossible,” you say. But it wouldn’t be if the Spirit was in control.
“But you just don’t not know my wife,” you say. “I can’t do anything right as far as she is concerned. She’s never satisfied with anything and is always complaining about everything.”
Okay, I see the problem, but what is the solution? Love her as much as you love yourself. Protect her as you would protect yourself.
Ephesians 5:25-31: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word. That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having a spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are all members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
If man showed as much love for his wife as he does for himself he would never have a problem with his wife being submissive in all things. A man and a wife are one. When man and woman marry they become one flesh. They are to love alike, live alike and think alike. They should rejoice together, cry together and make plans for the future together.
If Christians would be joined together as God intended them to be there would not be a need for divorce courts. If young men and woman would not get married until they understood the requirements of marriage, there would be little need for divorce lawyers.
It is sad, but oh so true, that people get married, for the most part, out of lust and not out of love. Ephesians chapter five gives us the Divine basis for marriage. From this comes the mutual obligation between husband and wife. The wife is the body of the husband, even as the Church is the body of Christ. As the church is subject unto Christ, so ought the wife to be subject unto her own husband.
Adam’s sleep was a type of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is called the second Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47: “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
Adam, the man, and the Lord, who is the second Adam, are so closely identified with each other there can be no mistake about the significance of the two. Adam had his side opened by God. The Lord had his side open with a spear. Adam was put to sleep and another person was formed. Christ died and the Church the Body of Christ was formed. Christ is the head of the church; man is the head of the woman.
Ephesians 5:32-33: “This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Certainly when the husband loves the wife even as himself and when the wife has reverence for such a loving husband; all hell could not separate them or tear them apart.
Ephesians Chapter Six
Children and Parents
Ephesians 6:1 “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”
“What does in the Lord mean,” you may ask? Let me direct your attention to another verse for an answer.
Colossians 3:20: “Children obey your parents in all things: for this is pleasing unto the Lord.”
The subject under consideration is obedience. God foresaw obedience being a problem and inserted the fifth commandment with that in mind. Exodus 20:12: “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
I think it is especially significant in that this commandment is the first one with a promise.
Law: Honor thy father and thy mother.
Promise: Thy days will be long upon the land.
So, Paul says we are to obey our parents because it is right, and in doing so it is evident that God appreciates the child who does it and promises a reward of things being well and obtaining a long life. So the Holy Spirit has Paul elaborate on the commandment from Exodus: and with the promise comes the reward.
1. “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”
2. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3. That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
It is obvious that an obedient child has to have a parent that stresses the godly purpose of being one. You will note in three of the four verses listed above the parent, mother and father are mentioned. But I want to direct your attention to the fourth verse: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
I see in this verse that the father must take an active roll in the disciplining of the child. It is sad, but too often true, that this roll has been relegated to the mother. The transfer of this responsibility has led to an imbalance in the home and with children who do not behave as they should.
Fact: Mother-Love in essence is protective.
Fact: Father-Love is corrective.
Mother-love often times protects the child committing wrong things, but father-love looks ahead and sees results in the future. The child needs both, but when it comes to discipline and instruction the father should take the lead and give loving correction.
In the letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 12, we read:
5. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him:
6. For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
7. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10. For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
11. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
The subject is discipline, reward and love. The father who does not discipline his children must consider them to be bastards, not his own. But the father who does discipline shows his love, which winds up being profitable in the future.
Now I know at the time of receiving the discipline, the child does not think it is profitable, they think it hurts or is humiliating, etc. But later on in years, that child will come to realize the value of loving discipline. The key of course is to discipline in love, not in anger. Corrective action performed out of anger will eventually alienate the child and may lead to much rebellion.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-11 see if you can spot words that relate to a mother and father, as Paul pours out his heart to the believes in Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-11
7. but we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children;
8. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
9. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the Gospel of God.
10. Ye are our witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11. As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children.
12. That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.
Words that speak as a mother:
1. Being affectionately desirous
2. Willing to impart our very lives
3. Ye were dear to us
4. Laboring night and day so as not to be a burden
Words that speak as a father:
1. Pious – not being chargeable
2. Righteous – holy and justly
4. Exhorted, comforted and charged everyone.
Getting back to Ephesians 6:4” “And ye father, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Before Paul ever says a word about how a child should be disciplined, he gives a word of caution. He does the same in Colossians 3: 21” Fathers provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
Children have a keen sense of justice and will take punishment for offenses without harboring resentment when they know they are being dealt with fairly. Often times children have no words to explain the motives for their actions, and sometimes that which seems to be a deliberate case of disobedience may prove to be the result of a misunderstanding.
As parents we must take the time to explain the rules and the consequences of breaking the rules. At the same time we parents must be willing to receive an explanation for a perceived violation before administering punishment.
Example: As a young twenty-five year old parent, I vowed that my child would not be like the child of a friend. That child was “hell on wheels.” He was destructive when visiting our house, he yelled loudly, ran about the house doing as he pleased.
The parents, in a very mild manner would say, “Now be careful that you don’t break anything,” or “you need to quit doing that or were going to spank;” or “I’m going to count to three and you’re going to get it.” But they never did one thing to get the child to stop what he was doing. Eventually we quit asking them to come over. We loved the man and woman, but could not stand their child and refused to be with them because they failed to discipline the child.
So what did I do to insure my child was not like theirs? I overreacted. If another child came running in and said my child hit him, I would corral my child, take him to the bathroom and proceed to tan his bottom. If I had taken the time to get to the bottom of the story, nine times in ten I would have found that the story had been tainted. Children learn early on to lie if they think it will help them to not receive punishment.
What did I learn from all this?
1. It’s tough being a parent.
2. Do not jump to conclusions without getting all the facts.
3. Some children lie.
4. Everything is not what it may appear.
5. Give your child the benefit of an explanation before administering punishment.
6. When you do mete out punishment, do it out of love but never when you’re angry.
7. After you discipline, tell them why you did it – it should be because you love them.
I am sure that most children will respond to the “I did it because I love you” answer with one that I usually said myself: “If that’s out of love, I’d hate to see what it would be like otherwise.”
But I have lived to see that loving discipline pays dividends. On an occasions when I had to issue sever discipline to one of my three sons, I went to my room and wept. I knew the discipline was necessary for I had said, “If that ever happens again, I will do thus and so.” It happened and I did what I said I would do.
Afterwards upon retuning to our family living area, my disciplined son came up to me, hugged my neck and said, “I’m sorry Daddy, I love you and won’t do that again.” Then we all had a good cry. Fathers, do not think it is unmanly to cry, it’s not. Men who think otherwise never experience the joy that tears bring, nor the respect that comes from loved ones.
One of the worse mistakes a parent can make is to say, you do this and I will do that, and then never follow though with the promise. What you are teaching your child is: Daddy makes treats but he never carries them out, therefore I can do anything I want without fear of punishment. It also means that Daddy never tells the truth, he says one thing but does another, so I don’t believe a word my daddy says. And many wonder why their children lie.
1. Love your children.
2. Discipline them when they need it.
3. Don’t make threats without following through.
When you discipline your child you show them how much you care. Some need to be shown more than others. I used to be concerned with the way those younger than I disciplined their children. I questioned the “time out” theory being instituted because the parents feared that a good spanking would make their children not love them.
While that may have been the reason for it being used, I have since learned that on some children it accomplished what the parents sought – repentance or genuine remorse. In several instances I observed it accomplished very little. I found that the child enjoyed being off in a room by themselves. Some just took a book with them and proceeded to read. Parents must find ways to discipline that accomplish what they are seeking. It may take a while before something is effective.
If spanking doesn’t work, try putting the child in time out.
If time out doesn’t work, try taking away privileges the child enjoys.
If taking away privileges doesn’t work, try something else until you find something that does work.
My wife and I have three sons. Each one of them had to be disciplined differently. Some were harder to deal with than the others. But we never gave up on trying to get them to see the necessity and the value of obedience. Many times we questioned if it was worth it, but my children have all told me they never felt unloved or unwanted because we took a firm stand on discipline.
On one occasion while reflecting on the past, I wrote a letter to all three of my sons stating that if I had to do over again, I might have done things differently. I would have tried to be home more, provided for them more adequately, and been a better parent.
I would like to share with you what one of them sent me in reply.
“I think that all you wrote about was good and you should take comfort in knowing that the fundamental system of faith was introduced to all of us in the loving household we grew up in. Healthy seeds were planted. Some take root better than others.
We can do some of God’s work, but we can’t do all of it. If we could, we wouldn’t need Him. You should know that a mighty work was done by you in the raising of your sons. The older I get and the more people I meet, the more that becomes evident. It seems that even the simple notion of growing up in a home where the child is not abused physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally is a rarity. But we had even more than just the absence of abuse. Speaking for myself, and I am sure for my brothers as well, I feel fortunate to be able to say that I had a happy childhood. I don’t have the scars that so many seem to have. That is because at the core I felt loved, encouraged and supported in everything that I did. I can only hope that I will be as successful with my family as you were with yours. God was in our home and the knowledge of Him was passed on to all of us.
We all have things about us we wish we could change…I know I do…but you surely shouldn’t feel like you were not available to us or that you didn’t spend enough time with us. At least for me, I have fond memories of you spending lots of time playing with us, having an open house for all of our friends, being compassionate when being demanding and trusting God for our families’ well being. We had a warm home…that’s what I remember. What I may have forgotten I am reminded of again when I see you with my kids. All the things you did with us, you now do with them, and it takes me back and it makes me smile.
At the end of the day, I don’t think success is measured by your job or your paycheck. It is measured by the legacy you leave and the fruits of your heart’s labor. Look around you. You are a wealthy man”
And once again I wept, and I thanked God that He was in control of my life while learning to be a parent. I did some dumb things, but apparently my wife and I did some good things too. I hope you live long enough to see the rewards of the effort you take in the day-to-day work of rearing children. It “aint” easy, but disciplining is necessary, and perhaps one day your children will write and thank you, just as mine did.
I have had confirmation from all three of my sons that they felt loved and secure as children and had no animosity about our being “strict” disciplinarians.
I will close this portion on parenting by telling you a story. During the course of thirty plus years in the ministry, I have counseled with numerous children. Our house was always open to friends of my boys and we never knew how many we would be having for dinner on any given day. Many of my son’s friend we considered to be our own.
Just recently my wife and I visited our youngest son in New York. One of his grade school friends and he had gotten reacquainted and were living and working together in the Big Apple. Matt was a well mannered young man so we invited him to go with our family on several trips we took. We soon began to think of him as another son, never realizing how much that had meant to him, but when Brent wrote us and his two brothers after we were in New York, these were some of the things he said.
“I am now living in the same house with Matt, an old friend of mine from Baton Rouge. I have known him since the 7th grade. He used to go on vacations with us. He went to Colorado once and to Florida with the youth group from Berean and to Astroworld with me, Mom and Dad. He had a pretty crazy childhood. His dad was violent. His mom and dad divorced during his teens etc. etc. He and I were out of touch for most of the 90's. When we got together it was as if no time had passed. We shared old and new stories and somewhere in between all those stories Matt mentioned how much he admired my family, how much we had meant to him as a kid. I hadn't realized.
Matt and Agnieszka spent a few days with us during Mom and Dad's visit. At one point while we were walking through Central Park, Agnieszka, Mom and I were lagging behind and Matt and Dad were walking up front like a couple of best friends. I know Matt, he's a lot like me when it comes to socializing. He's usually quiet and stand offish. He was totally comfortable with this man he hadn't seen in almost 15 years. Agnieszka later told me that Matt has mentioned several times to her just how much he admires my family.
I have always loved my family. Hearing how much other people love and sometimes even envy my family makes me feel, well, a lot ofthings: Proud, lucky, sad for those who have less, and angry, angry at myself for not doing enough to show my family how much they mean to me. I don't say thank you enough. I don’t say I love you enough. I can't say I am sorry enough.
I respect you all so much. I respect your advice and opinions, your generosity and kindness, and your loyalty to family and friends. I admire who you are and am proud that you are my family.”
Why have I shared with you these letters and words from my sons? Mainly to give you hope. You may never know what effect you will have on your children until much later in life, but hold on “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6: 9.
Servants and Masters
The servants of Paul’s day were, in reality, slaves. But whether we call them slaves or servants, or employees, the principle of their service remains unchanged.
5) “Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6) Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7) With goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8) Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he is bond or free.
9) And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him.”
Let’s compare this with what Paul says in Colossians 3:22-25.
22) “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;
23) And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
24) Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
25) But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”
Slaves were a way of life in Biblical times, and even up to the nineteenth century. There are still some countries in which slavery still exists. What we have here is the way in which a child of God should conduct oneself when he is subject to, or in the employment of another person or a company or a country. Whether or not slavery is right is not the issue at hand.
As I write this commentary of Ephesians, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has rendered a very controversial ban on the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a temporary stay which was prompted by public outrage.
What we have here are people who hate God and America and they are rising up and dominating American politics. Our elected officials either have no backbone or have become lukewarm to things concerning God. They should ponder what Revelation 3:16 says: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
Recent rulings have been handed down that state there can be no posting of the Ten Commandments in a public place, it is unconstitutional, they say. The question I have is, “Why is it unconstitutional?”
In an article written by Steve Farrell on August 8, 2002, he states that a certain “Self-proclaimed “believer” lawyer said that those who believe the commandments are the foundation of our laws are misguided, and by way of proof, she contends that a number of the commandments are purely “personal.”
She conceded that that the last six commandments – honor thy father and mother, don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t covet, don’t commit adultery, and don’t lie – can be found in many laws of the United States. However, she continued, “The first four commandments, though, contain directives that no government official in this land of religious liberty may say or endorse on behalf of the government- These are taboo,” she says.
These are the ones she calls “personal”. The liberal rule of thumb is: If something is personal, no one, or no thing, connected to government can speak of it or endorse it – unless, of course that “personal” issue is abortion, gay rights, etc. Then by all means speak on.
The fact is, that no one can keep the Ten Commandments, so whether one is liberal or conservative has no bearing on what I am about to say. The Ten Commandments were established after God’s people had been delivered from slavery. As people of a slave state (Egypt) they were obligated to do as they were told. Their religious freedom had been denied them, and now that they had been set free, God gives them a set of guidelines, or standards which were to be followed, as best they could.
The Ten Commandments are found in the twentieth Chapter of Exodus. If you love your wife or children on any given day more than you love God, you have failed to keep the law. James 2:10: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
The Ten Commandments were for the nation of Israel. A nation that had gone a whoring had been given another chance, one of many, I may add. Even though it was ushered in with great fanfare, Jeremiah stated that it would be replaced.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the nation of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they break, although I was a husband to them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Even though the Ten Commandments were called the law, Paul tells us that the law was temporal. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24.
Paul also says that the law was given because of transgressions. “Wherefore then serveth the Law? It was added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made: and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” Galatians 3:19.
1. The law was a simple insert until Jesus would come, as Messiah, for the remission of sins.
2. The law separated Israel from the nations.
3. The keeping of the Sabbath, was to Israel only. It was never intended for other nations, even though Israel was an example to us all.
“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they (Israel) lusted. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” I Corinthians 10: 6, 11.
The keeping of the law was never intended to be the salvation of the world; it was to simply show the world they were sinners and needed a Savior.
20. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all who believe: for there is no difference:
23. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24. Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
What does all of this have to do with slaves and master. The child of God is not left here to reform or patch up, but to be witnesses for the truth, to endure what may come as a result, and leave the rest to the Lord.
A worker should give eight hours of good hard work if he is being paid for eight hours. Owners should give equitable wages for the service performed.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” Before you can put on the armour, you must have the strength to bear it; otherwise the armour will be too much to bear. As Christians we are to study diligently, for study brings about knowledge of the truth, and truth will make you free as well as give you the strength to bear the armour we will see in a few verses.
“But what are we fighting for?” You ask. “Is our inheritance in jeopardy? Can we loose our salvation? Can we be excommunicated from the Church the Body of Christ?” The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO! “What then can we gain or loose” The answer is a reward. The prize ahead is the reward of our inheritance.
Satan cannot rob a believer of his inheritance, which is to be with the Lord, but he can rob you of your crown. “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” I Corinthians 3: 4-15.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
In the passage we exhorted to stand, to withstand and to wrestle the opponents of evil. These opponents will not present themselves in battle armour; they are not going to come and physically shoot you or stick a knife in your back. These opponents will make you long for the things of this world, things that are based upon the lust of the flesh and the eyes and centered around pride.
1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
We are exhorted to stand against these things. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood, nor are we going to wrestle in heavenly places. We are going to wrestle with spiritual wickedness that come from heavenly places.
Mark it down; we have a powerful enemy that lives above the earth, in the heavens. He has a legion of fallen angels working for him that are very skilled at enticing believers with things that are desirable. If you do not be careful, you will be taken in by them.
13. “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17. And take the helmet of salvation, and thesword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God;
18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints;
19. And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.
20. For which I am an ambassador in bonds; that I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
We have here, six peaces of armour. 1. Girdle, 2. Breastplate, 3. Shoes, 4. Shield, 5. Helmet and, 6. Sword.
They are representative of things a believer should have in their arsenal.
1. Girdle – of truth
2. Breastplate – of righteousness
3. Shoes – gospel of peace
4. Shield – of faith
5. Helmet – of salvation
6. Sword – the Word of God
Girdle and shield – under and over all of you.
Breastplate and helmet – heart and head.
Shoes and sword – feet and hands.
Girdle and shield - You must know the truth of rightly dividing, or you will fall for anything the devil and his adversaries throw at you. Your faith must be absolute. A secret doubt, anything outside the single eye on God’s Word, will leave the door open for a traitor to enter the camp, a traitor who will betray us to the enemy.
Breastplate and helmet – there is nothing more important than that of righteousness and salvation. It is the righteousness of God that provided the acceptable means of salvation, which is Jesus Christ death for our sins.
Shoes and sword – these two things both speak of a message to us. One is the gospel of peace, the other a word of war. We must fully understand peace if we are to succeed in war. In other words, we must have a glimpse into what is in store for us, our inheritance, in order to appreciate the need to fight and succeed.
We are told we must put on the whole armor of God. We cannot wait until we come under attack before we put on the armor. We must have on our battle gear at all times. The wiles of the enemy will know when your armor is off, your guard is down, and will strike you when you are vulnerable. We cannot battle the devil if we are unskilled in the Word of God.
The enemy we wrestle against is spiritual. Look at Daniel 10:5-14
5) “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 6) His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his arms and his feet like in colour of polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. 7) And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8) Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength, 9) Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. 10) And behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palm of my hands. 11) And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. 12) Then said he unto me, Fear not Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13) But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14) Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the later days: for yet the vision is many days.
The cause of the opposition was that the heavenly messenger was sent to show Daniel what was the truth of Scripture. The devil does not want God’s own to know the truth. He will attack anyone who will try and give you the secrets to unlocking truth. He did it as I was typing today, he has done it before.
The teacher of God is constantly being bombarded with things to deter his getting out truth, that is why Paul said “pray for me.”
19. And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, thatI may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.
But notice his prefaced this request with these words in verse 18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints;
You are going to be more spiritual the more you stay in the Word. Christians are to be in a state of constant prayer, all the time – all year long. Watching means to be in a state of sleeplessness. When you sleep or get away from the word, you become vulnerable to the wiles of the devil.
Paul’s request was for utterance and boldness, or other words, the ability to speak freely. For Paul knew that whenever there was an open door his adversaries would come out of the woodworks to deter him, in one way or another, from his appointed task of spreading the gospel rightly divided.
What did he want to have boldness for? To proclaim the mystery of the gospel is what for. Do you know what that is – the mystery of the gospel? It is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
1. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein ye stand;
2. By which also ye are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3. For I delivered unto first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures:
4. And that He was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:
The mystery of the gospel deals with the resurrected Christ having died for your sins.
If you think that attending church regularly will save you, forget about it, it does not.
If you think that by giving a lot of the money to the church, the poor and needy will save you, forget about it, it does not.
If you think that by attempting to live a decent and humane life that that will save you, forget about it, it does not.
If you think that walking down an isle and giving your heart to Jesus will save you, forget about it, it does not.
If you think that being baptized will save you, forget about it, it does not.
If you think that you can do anything and that will save you, forget about it, you can’t.
The simple fact is man can not do anything, give anything, or say anything that will affect their salvation. Christ paid the price for sin. He and He alone is salvation.
You must accept:
His faith is what saved you.
His death was necessary as a sacrifice for sin.
His burial was necessary to destroy sinful flesh.
His resurrection meant that you are resurrected in Christ.
His ascension into glory guarantees you a place in Glory.
As the song goes; “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.”
Too many church goers have been victimized by so many who occupy the pulpits where they attend. There are too many, so called ministers, that haven’t a clue about the mystery of the gospel for which Paul was in bonds.
These false ministers preach Christ died for their sins, but say good works are necessary to complete the transaction.
These false ministers preach Christ alone saves, but say you must be baptized to prove you believe it. “It’s an outward expression of what your heart believes,” they add.
These false ministers preach Jesus, but say you can help your departed loved ones by praying their souls out of hell.
Paul warns the Corinthians believers in 2 Corinthians 11:4:
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive (1) another spirit, which ye have not received, or (2) another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (The numbers are my own and not in the Scripture)
You will notice the word another in the sentence. The first one comes from the Greek word allos, which means of the same kind. The second one comes from another Greek word, heteros, which means different or altered.
What is being said is very simple. There are those that preach “a Jesus” which is not the real Son of God. There are those who have received another spirit which is not the Holy Spirit. And there are those that preach an altered gospel which is not the gospel of truth.
Paul ends the passage with the words, “ye might well bear with him.” The word “bear” does not mean tolerate. The Greek root word is anechomai, to hold oneself up against, to endure, to suffer.
So Paul is saying any one who teaches another Jesus, another Spirit, or another gospel; you stand up against them, even if you have to suffer the consequences of having stood firmly.
Salvation is a gift from God. That gift was Jesus Christ, who came to die for your sins. Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
The passage also says that salvation is by grace, which is not of yourselves, but is God’s gift.
Salvation is by the faith of Christ, and not your faith in Christ or any works that you might do. “Knowing that a man is NOT justified by the works of the law, BUT BY the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified BY the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:20.
The righteousness we have does not come from anything we have done (baptism, speaking in tongues, etc.); it comes by the faith of Christ. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” Romans 3:22.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2: 16. The Holy Spirit instructed Paul to tell us that our living is totally dependant upon the faith of Christ.
Not only can we not do anything to save our souls, we cannot even live apart from His faith. When Galatians 3:11 states: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the just shall live by faith.;” it is talking about the faith of Christ. The passage is a direct quote from Habakkuk 2:4, which says that: “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by His faith.” That faith is the faith of Christ.
20. For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
21. But that ye also may my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known unto you all things:
22. Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
23. Peace be to the brethren, and love and faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
Paul concludes the Ephesian letter with words that were supposed to be comforting to the believers there. Even though he was in prison, he wanted the believers to be comforted by Tychicus, who was apparently bringing this letter to them.
He is saying that even though I am in bonds, I want you to continue praying for me that I might continue to tell the story of the mystery of the gospel. We who are not in bonds should be so zealous. It shames me to think that sometimes I fail in that duty. But when I read Ephesians, I am lifted up and challenged to do that for which God called all believers to do.
Grace be with you as you spread the mystery of the gospel.