EPHESIANS 4 以弗所书 第四章
I. The Unity of the Church (4:1-6)
A. A Worthy Life (vv. 1-3)
Paul strengthened his appeal to his readers by referring to himself as a “prisoner of the Lord” (v. 1). His response to God’s grace had resulted in his being in prison chains. What Paul urged his readers to do summarized all that he would write in chapters 4-6. He compared the Christian life to a walk, then asked them to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
Paul informed his readers that they had a calling. He placed the Christian life in a category beyond that of a gift or privilege; a calling comes from someone who has the right to claim loyalty. Here it implies that Christian living is goal-oriented and dynamic.
This calling, however, is more than simply a vocation or mission. To Paul, it was to a way of life – the Christian walk. He went on to define this walk in terms of attitudes and actions, listing four virtues. These same four virtues also appear in Paul’s letter to the Colossians (3:12). These virtues are not to be static qualities; they are to be dynamic actions. Christians are to exercise:
Humility: Because the ancients did not have a word for humility that was not degrading, Christians gave new meaning to this word. People who are humble consider themselves “small,” but at the same time they recognize God’s power and ability working in them.
Gentleness: This was another word for “meekness.” However, it is not a synonym for weakness. It was used to speak of a wild animal that had been tamed, suggesting controlled strength or power under control.
Patience: This involves endurance and the attitude Christians are to show toward others as well as suffering. “Bearing with one another” is the practical expression of patience. Patience stays with someone until the problem or provocation is past.
Love: The background quality to the three preceding virtues is love. In bearing with others, love accepts and overlooks another’s weakness and loves others in spite of their faults.
All these virtues relate to and support the unity of the church. The unity Paul spoke of here is not organizational unity. Rather, it is a dynamic, living union of believers energized and united by the Holy Spirit who already indwells them. Those who are part of the body of Christ are to “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (v. 3).
B. All in One – Unity (vv. 4-6)
One Body (v. 4) – The church is the body of Christ. With Christ as its head, the body cannot be divided. Christ’s body includes the redeemed of all time as well as local assemblies of believers. Believers everywhere should strive to achieve unity with each other in regard to primary truths and values.
One Spirit (v. 4) – There is one Holy Spirit who unites a group of believers. In each believer, the same power and person is at work. Paul had already made it clear (1:13) that anyone who has received Christ has received the Holy Spirit.
One Hope (v. 4) – Paul’s mention of the Holy Spirit led him to an affirmation of hope. Christians everywhere share in the call of God to His great purpose. All look ahead to the same future; all pursue the same goal.
One Lord (v. 5) – At the heart of Christian experience and faith is Christ, who is the “one Lord.” Just as the spokes of a wheel are held together and arranged around a common hub, so all Christians come together around one Lord.
One Faith (v. 5) – The original meaning of “faith” was the common commitment believers have to one Lord. The idea of faith as personal trust and commitment gradually extended to faith as a body of truths to which all Christians adhere.
One Baptism (v. 5) – Baptism signals the beginning of the Christian life. Although there is much disagreement about the form and meaning of baptism, all believers share in the act.
One God (v. 6) – This is the central item in the list – the foundation piece. The ultimate basis for all unity is the oneness of God.
II. Building Up the Body of Christ (4:7-16)
A. Each Member of the Body Given a Gift (vv. 7-10)
Having spent the first part of this chapter on the theme of unity in the body, Paul next turned to the idea of diversity within the body. Each believer has been “given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift (v. 7). This idea of measure suggests that the gift is individually tailored to each Christian.
To further develop this idea, Paul cited Psalm 68:18. This verse describes God returning in triumph after the defeat of the enemies of His people. As was the custom of returning conquerors, He led a parade of captives as He returned. The point Paul is making here is Christ has ascended as the conqueror of sin and death, and from His wealth He has given gifts to His people.
B. Christ’s Ascending and Descending
Paul further explained that his reference to Christ’s ascending implies that He had first descended. This descent seems to correspond to His emptying Himself and coming in the flesh to live among people and to die (Phil. 2:5-11; John 1:1-18).
The impact of Eph. 4:8-10 is that Christ – by His incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension – had become available to fill all things. In other words, He is able to give His people all that is needed to fulfill their calling.
C. Spiritual Gifts Given to the Church (vv. 11-12)
In verse 11 Paul named the gifts Christ has given to His church. Of course, in general terms, Christ’s gift to the church is the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). But the Spirit Himself is said to give a variety of gifts. Paul categorized these gifts in terms of functions that they perform in the church and those who perform those functions.
Apostles – In its most basic meaning, an apostle is a delegate, envoy, or messenger – a “sent one.” The apostles were the original witnesses of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Their function was to give a true representation of the gospel and to launch the missionary movement.
Prophets – These were persons who were recognized as speaking with authority. Their words were especially important before the New Testament writers became available to the churches to interpret the will of God. Prophets were able to speak the word of God in special situations to foretell (Acts 11:28; 21:9, 11), to convict (1 Cor. 14:24-25), and to encourage (Acts 15:32).
Evangelists – These were persons who proclaimed the gospel to those outside the church or to new regions. Philip is called an evangelist in Acts 21:8, and Paul encouraged Timothy to do the work of an evangelist in 2 Tim. 4:5. Today we would call such a person a missionary.
Pastors and Teachers – The word “pastor” means “shepherd.” Paul’s image of the shepherd with his flock pictures the relation to a spiritual leader to those committed to his charge. A teacher is one who instructs others in the way of truth. Paul linked pastor and teacher and, therefore, may have viewed them as a common group; that is, as teaching shepherds. Certainly, the church needs both functions within the body.
All of these persons and functions aim at the purpose Paul described in verse 12: “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (vv. 12-13).
The verb form of this word is used in Matt. 4:21 to describe the mending or preparing of nets and in Galatians 6:1 to refer to restoring Christians to spiritual health.
D. The Church’s Goal: Spiritual Growth (vv. 13-16)
Unity in Knowledge of the Son – This kind of knowledge speaks about that which is directed toward a particular object. In this case, it involves knowing the Son of God. By knowing Christ intimately, believers experience Him as the one who knows God’s character and brings God’s presence as no one else does. In addition, this knowledge serves to bind Christians together in unity.
Maturity – The word “mature” carries the idea of being complete or reaching the goal. For the church to reach its goal of Christlikeness, it must have members who are attaining God’s will for their lives. This kind of maturity is necessary if there is to be unity in the church. Paul contrasted this maturity with instability in verse 14: by comparing those who are “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.”
The Fullness of Christ – A complete person is one who measures up to the pattern of personhood displayed by Jesus Christ. This involves far more than our human standards or definitions of maturity. The fullness of Christ means all that Christ wants in the lives of His people.
Paul closed this section by shifting his focus from the church and its members to the subject of Christ as the head and the parts of the body working together. All the members with their various gifts depend on Christ, the head. The body’s growth and effectiveness depend on all members of the body working together. Again, Paul emphasized love as the means and manner for building up the church.
III. Putting on the New Nature (4:17-24)
A. Live Contrary to the Gentiles
Paul’s opening phrase, “So this I say,” was an urgent signal to his readers that what he was about to say was important. He used this attention getter to give a warning: “walk no longer as the Gentiles also walk” (v. 17).
The Gentiles’ minds were completely out of touch with the reality of God, so they were going nowhere. Not only did they lack understanding; they were hard-hearted, blind, shameless, and greedy. Paul pointed to the Gentiles and said, “You’re not to be like this. This is the exact opposite of what Christ is.”
B. Believers Should Do the Following:
Lay aside the old self (v. 22) – The way the believer puts off the old self is likened to the way one might take off clothes. The tense of the verb signifies a once-for-all, concluding action. The putting off is done once, permanently.
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind (v. 23) – This challenge is not only outward, but it also involves the inner person. The present tense of the verb “to renew” emphasizes that the spiritual renewal taking place is a continuing process.
Put on the new self (v. 24) – The word for “put on” is also used in the sense of putting on clothes. This new self is “in the likeness of God” (v. 24).
IV. Examples of the New Way of Life (4:25-5:2)
A. Speaking the Truth (v. 25)
Falsehood is not a characteristic of the believer’s new nature. Not only are we to put away lies; but also our lives are to be characterized by speaking the truth.
Because Christians depend on one another, they must be able to trust other’s words and deeds.
B. Dealing with Anger (vv. 26-27)
Paul quoted Psalm 4:4, “In your anger do not sin.” It is a Hebrew way of saying, “When you are angry, do not sin.” This command is not a license to anger. Paul recognized that anger is a part of life that must be handled realistically and constructively.
Paul urged believers to settle negative feelings before sundown. A failure to do so keeps one’s anger alive and provides the devil with a “foothold” – room to work his evil in a person’s life.
C. Honest Work (v. 28)
Hands that were previously involved in stealing must now engage in honest work.
Paul advocated a change in behavior. Those who were inclined to dishonest gain by stealing should stop that kind of behavior immediately, replacing it with hard work and giving to others in need.
D. Gracious Speech (v. 29)
Becoming a Christian changes the way a person speaks.
Speech controlled by the new nature will exhibit three characteristics:
It edifies or builds up.
It is appropriate.
It has a redemptive effect on those who hear it.
E. Harmony with the Spirit (v. 30)
The new nature at work within the believer is the work of the Spirit. God is saddened and disappointed when His people fail to live up to their new nature.
The Spirit is grieved. The Spirit is the seal and guarantee of the believer’s future complete redemption.
F. Christlike Relationships (v. 31)
Immediately following his warning against grieving the Spirit, Paul listed six forms of sin that must be put away. These sins are normally expressed within the context of speech, and all six involve relationships with others.
These are those sins and their specific meanings:
Bitterness – A spirit of resentment that refuses to be reconciled
Wrath – A subtle, deep-flowing, persistent antagonism against somene
Anger – A temporary outburst of temper
Clamor – Loud expressions of grievance, shouting
Slander – Speaking evil of others and God
All malice – A general term that includes any evil word or act against another; the root of the above vices
G. Being Imitators of God (5:1-2)
Paul challenged his readers to the highest standard possible: “Be imitators of God.”
He taught that what Christians became when they believed in Christ, they must diligently continue in their daily behavior.
He challenged his readers with two commands:
“Be imitators of God” (v. 1) – If we are to be like God, we must imitate him. This command is in the present tense, indicating that this should be a continuous, ongoing action by the Christian.
“Walk in love” (v. 2) – Paul highlighted two areas in which all believers are to imitate: by exercising love and forgiveness toward others.