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A Mini Commentary, Pt. 15 (Ephesians 4:15)

Well, we are getting down to the end of this mini commentary. I do hope that it has been not only beneficial, but also a blessing in some way.

I will be posting today and tomorrow, but that will be all in the commentary on Ephesians. Next week I may take a few days to share another commentary I did, that being on Romans chapter 1. Considering I just started a new series through the book of Romans on Sunday nights, that might not be a bad idea 😉

Should you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.


4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

But speaking the truth in love,

            Here is where so many go astray: they speak truth, but not in love. We can only wonder how many good Christians have been wounded, crushed, or shipwrecked by loveless truth, that being judgmental, self-righteous legalism. Correction without love is no better than vengeance or sadism. Advice and instruction without love is more likely to imbed bitterness than wisdom.

            But let us notice the progression of the Apostle Paul’s thought, beginning from verse 11 until now.

He (Jesus) gave [gifts] (v. 11) … for the perfecting of the saints (v. 12) … for the work of the ministry (v. 12) … for the edifying of the Body of Christ (v. 12) … till we (both individually and corporately) attain maturity and stature, Christ being the Standard measurement (v. 13) … that we be no longer children (v. 14) … but may grow up [to be like Christ in all things] (v. 15).

            Notice that it is only after all that precedes in verses eleven through fourteen that we can come to the place where we know what and whom Truth even is, much less be able to speak it in love. We speak the truth in love when we are taught the truth about who we are and what it took for Jesus to spare us from the wrath of God. We speak the truth in love when we know who Love is and have a relationship with Him! We speak the truth in love after having been around the One who loved us when we were unlovable. We speak the truth in love because our hearts have been softened and conformed to the heart of Christ. We speak the truth in love as parents or guardians would warn their little ones of strangers.

Those who don’t speak the truth in love haven’t spent time with the Lover of their souls.

may grow up into him in all things,

            Here the sense is that of gradually growing stronger, gradually growing in size, or gradually increasing in likeness. In another sense it could be said that we are meant to grow into, by gradually adding and reproducing, the frame of the body pre-ordained by the Spirit-imparted blueprint found in the DNA of Christ’s blood!  

which is the head, [even] Christ:

            In both a metaphorical sense and a literal sense, the Church is the body of Christ. But make no mistake, as with us, the body is not the person. The Church is the Body of Christ; His hands and feet in this world. Yet, the body is only the tool of the brain, and that brain is in the head. Take away the head, and the body, mature or not, will die and rot.  In the same way, without our Head, the Church at most is a dead body flopping around as the nerves sense the last electrical impulses of life.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt 14 (Ephesians 4:14)

4:14 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;

That we [henceforth]

            Henceforth is not a word we use very often these days, and it was not a word used by the Apostle Paul; it was added by the translators for clarification. But the truth expressed in the above three words is that staying the same in the Christian walk is not an option. And, glory be to God, Jesus is the One who can change even the vilest sinner into a saint! God gives us those who can preach and teach His Word so that we can grow spiritually, mature in the Faith, and effective parts of the Body (v. 16). It doesn’t matter from where we come; Jesus can change us!

be no more children,

            To the child, being childish is natural. To the adult, being childish is the sign of immaturity. There is nothing wrong or unnatural for a baby to want milk, but it is entirely unnatural and a sign of severe growth problems for one who is physically or apparently an adult to shun meat and vegetables. Unfortunately, many believers have never even felt the sensation of chewing!

tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,

            The metaphor is that of a ship on the sea, taken up by one wave and crashed down by another, driven by the shifts of the wind rather than a solid rudder.  Without sound instruction, immature children (babes) in the Faith will be like little sail boats on the sea without any tools with which to navigate. They will bounce from theology to theology, doctrine to doctrine, movement to movement, without every really knowing where they are supposed to go.

            If all one cares to do is float about aimlessly for his entire life, then a rudderless boat will do just that. However, if a watercraft was built for a purpose, owned by One who sends ships across the treacherous seas rather than set them assail to drift, then a rudder, a guide, a means to navigate is critical! There must be rations, supplies, tools to mend torn sails, fuel for the engines (if applicable to this metaphor), and a weighty Anchor when we are told to “be still and know that I am God.”  Thank God for the gifts He has given to equip us! Thank God for the “fulness” of Jesus Christ!

            But this metaphor also applies to those who might be agitated, distraught, confused, torn, and about to sink. Many a soul is troubled from false teaching, bruised from the tossing back and forth, even the tossing through the night as worry and doubt deprive the poor one from sleep. Why would anyone shun the gifts to the Church? Why would anyone choose to be rudderless and without conviction on the tumultuous sea of relativism?

by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

            We have the “gifts” (v. 11) for our “perfecting” (v. 12), till we all come into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God (v. 13). We have them because we do not want to be tossed about and carried away with every knew (or old) wind that comes out of the mouths of deceivers. The waves and the winds are the metaphor, but what are the realities?

  • Sleight of men

            It might be difficult to deduce it from the King James rendering of the original Greek, but the Greek word translated “sleight” is the word κυβεία (kybeia G2940), pronounced koo-bi’-ah. Its meaning has to do with dice (cube) playing, rolling the dice, playing with “loaded dice” to cheat. It means craftiness and/or trickery, and implies anything that is meant to take advantage of another.

  • Cunning craftiness

            Craftiness, cunning, but also a specious wisdom (superficially plausible, but actually wrong; misleadingly attractive in appearance).[1] It cannot be said enough that what may sound good to itching ears may actually be a lie.

  • Lying in wait

            The rendering here is totally adequate to describe the above who both knowingly and without concern preach or teach false doctrine. Like predators; like snakes in the tall grass; like sharks just under the surface; like spiders in their webs; these thieves, abusers, and murderers of hope, peace, joy, and truth wait for those who are weak, unsuspecting, and most of all, unlearned and naïve. Satan, the father of lies, has bred and trained them to take down even the strongest prey, but how much more those who disregard or malign the gifts of God through Jesus by the Holy Spirit to the Church!


[1] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

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A Mini Commentary, Pt 13 (Ephesians 4:13, cont.)

Both the previous post and this one deal with the same verse. However, the last one was more of an outline of how we got to where we are.

This time we will look specifically at verse thirteen.


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:

Words mean things, especially God’s words. Therefore, when He says that He gives a gift “for” a reason, we should take note: God’s gifts to the Church are not arbitrary. Beginning with verse 12 and all the way through verse 16, there are multiple prepositional phrases which detail both the progressive working of the Spirit in the Body and the overall purpose, that being to “grow up into [Christ]” and “increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (vs. 15 & 16).

Till we all come

            There is a reason it is called “the road of life.” Life is more than simply stepping over the threshold; it is a path with ups and downs, twists and turns, and many, many lessons to learn. It is also a journey where we are nourished and instructed along the way. The spiritual life is no different, as the meaning of the word translated “come” (καταντάω; katantaō) so adequately affirms: “to attain or arrive at a particular state.”[1] The believer is always growing (at least he SHOULD be) every day, more and more conformed to the image of God’s Son (Romans 8:29; 12:2; 13:14).

in the unity of the faith,      

            Unity is a dangerous word, much like the word love. To strive for unity without a deeper understanding of what one is to by unified with is terribly misguided. Yet, many of the religious and spiritual people of the day say we need to come together and set aside our differences for the sake of peace. However, it was Jesus who said that He did not come to give peace on earth (contrary to the majority of Christmas wishes), “but rather division” (Luke 12:51).

Unity of faiths is not the same thing as the unity of “the faith.” Paul wanted the Ephesians to grow together, united together for the same purpose as cells in the human body would be. The “faith” that he is talking about here is not the simple act of placing one’s trust in something or believing for the sake of believing, but faith in Jesus Christ. This unity is nothing that happens overnight, either.

and of the knowledge of the Son of God,

            It is one thing to know about something, but it is a totally different thing to experientially know something. The word Paul used in this case is ἐπίγνωσις (epignōsis G1922),the same word he used in Romans 12:2 where he describes those who had a zeal for God, but “not according to knowledge.” It is also the same word he used in Ephesians 1:17 where he prayed that the Ephesians would have “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge (emphasis added) of him.” God’s Word is not there for us to simply be informed, but to come to know Jesus in a deeper and more personal, experiential way.

unto a perfect man,

            Many people read this and think that to be a Christian one must be “perfect.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. To be perfect is to be complete, perfect, whole, full-grown, mature.[2] Keeping with the metaphor of a human body, the gifts the Church is given (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor, teachers) are necessary until it is all that measures up to the image of Christ.

unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

            We will break this prepositional phrase down into its separate parts, but before we do that, let us pause and meditate on the wonder, the majesty, the glory, and the absolute impossibility for any man or woman to attain such a high and magnificent standard! In the Greek, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ; in reality, only by the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the working of the gifts of grace through Jesus Christ himself.

            What is the “measure”? It is that of the “stature of the fulness of Christ.” What measure! What stature! What fulness! It is this measure to which the gifts are to be applied in instruction, example, discipline, and correction. It is the measure that is the “perfection of the saints for the work of the ministry.” To be like Christ, and no other!

  • Measure

            Μέτρον (metron): that by which anything is measured.[3]To what or whom do we measure ourselves? The preacher, teacher, actor, singer? Is our measure of morality our parents, spouse, or some ancient philosopher? The measure, the meter, the ruler, the yard stick, the flawless and perfect example is Jesus.

  • Stature

            At first glance, this word may generate mental images of tall statues, like that of a great historical figure in a museum or national monument. However, the meaning of ἡλικία (hēlikia G2244) is broader than that. It can refer to the lifespan of someone (Matthew 6:27); the height of something (Luke 19:3); the social recognition, qualifications, or maturity of someone (Luke 2:52; John 9:21); or the physical abilities of a person comparable to his age (Hebrews 11:11).

  • Fulness

            Once again, the depth of a word in relationship to Jesus Christ is worthy of pondering! The Greek word from which we get “fulness” is the same root word from which we get the word “plethora.” The word πλήρωμα (plērōma G4138) can mean a full measure, a full number (as in a full compliment of ships), the sum total of something, a piece inserted to fill up, or as one Greek lexicon described it, “the satiety of the feast.”[4] Any preacher worth his salt should be able to come up with a fantastic sermon outline using only the definition of “fulness”! How sufficient is Christ! Jesus is truly all we need!


[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 150.

[2] Barclay M. Newman Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 180.

[3] Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1123.

[4] H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 647.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt 11 (Ephesians 4:12)

In order to better understand the context of the content of this post, make sure you go back and read the previous post on Ephesians 4:11.

4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Notice how that there are three (3) times the word “for” is used in verse 12. Notice how that each one precedes something that the above gifts from Christ to the church were to accomplish. Christ gave unto the Church, and not all at the same time, “some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors” (v. 11). It was the giving of the gifts and the working out of those gifts that the three objectives would be accomplished, including in the order in which they are mentioned. Let us now examine the following three prepositional phrases.

  1. For the perfecting of the saints
    Before the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ can reach its potential, the saints (saved believers) must be “perfected.” This does not mean that Christians must be perfect before God can use them. No, when Paul wrote about the perfecting of the saints, he used the Greek word καταρτισμός (katartismos G2677) which means to make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something, or completely equipped for a particular good work.[1]
    The gifts given by Christ – Apostles, Evangelists, Prophets, Pastors, and Teachers – equip us, train us, and encourage us.
  2. For the work of the ministry
    Once the saints (the Christians) are fully equipped for the work of the ministry, it is then necessary that they exercise their own gifts and demonstrate with good works the effectiveness of their equipping. Unfortunately, too many Christians have been taught and equipped, given everything need for good works, and yet have never done one thing outside of self-edification. But that is not the purpose for their equipping! The purpose for their equipping is to edify the Body, not one lone member.
  3. For the edifying of the body of Christ
    Edifying is the act of building something up. As the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers equip us, we are to use what we have been given to encourage, teach, and generally contribute to the overall health of the Church.

[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 679.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt 10 (Ephesians 4:11)

4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

And he gave

            It is important to note that what follows in this verse through the rest of this section are gifts and their purposes. Often, we fail to remember that our pastors, for example, are not hired servants with nothing more special about them than their defined roles; they are gifts from God! God did not have to, nor was he obligated to give the church, and by extension the individual member, such wonderful, encouraging, and strengthening gifts; He did it because of grace.

            It is also important to understand that not all the gifts were given to everyone equally. Now, in many situations the person, such as the pastor, has more than one of these gifts represented in him, but that is not always the case. This implies that at any given time within the Body of Christ there are different needs, different seasons, for which different gifts are deemed needed for the purpose of edifying and equipping.

            Key words to look for in verses 12-14 are for, till, unto, of, and that. With these words Paul explains the reasoning for the gifts/graces (v. 7) and the purposes for which they should be used.

            Christ gives us the following “grace” gifts as He sees fit:

He GAVE:

  • Apostles: root word is: ἀπόστολοςapostolos (Strong’s G652)

The Apostles were a distinct group of men who were not only disciples of Jesus Christ, but had actually been with Him from the beginning of His ministry and had witnessed Jesus in His resurrected body. These men, more often than not, had nearly all the following graces in that they were also prophetic in their writings, evangelistic in their outreach, shepherds of churches they planted, and, especially in the case of Paul, prolific teachers.

Unfortunately, there are many of various Christian denominations (not to mention cults) who claim the role of apostle. The same can be said about the role of prophet. However, both the roles of apostle and prophet are no longer needed, or as in the case of apostles, even possible. Scripture clearly delineated the requirements for apostleship in Acts 1:21-22.

21Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. – Acts 1:21-22 KJV

  • Prophets: root word is: προφήτηςprophētēs (Strong’s G4396)
      There was a time when prophets were more common in the Church. And depending on how one is defined, they should be as rare as apostles. But of the role of prophets in the Church today there is much confusion and debate. How ironic considering one of the purposes of the gift of the prophet was to bring unity. It must be understood, however, that the purpose of a biblical prophet, especially in the Old Testament (yet carried over in a few recorded cases in the New Testament, aside from the Apostles) was to not only “forthtell,” but to foretell. Legitimate prophets “are forthtellers (declaring the truth about God) by being foretellers (predicting what God will do).”[1]
  • Evangelists: root word is: εὐαγγελιστήςeuangelistēs (Strong’s G2099)
       Strong’s defines this as a “bringer of good tidings” (G2099). And what else are “good tidings” in Scripture other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Actually, an evangelist could be one who brings good tidings of victory in battle, or the news of a new king, but in this passage εὐαγγελιστής refers to one who encourages congregations of believers with the good news of the redemptive and restorative work of the Cross. He is also one who brings with his message encouragement and challenges for the Christian walk.

   No doubt, there is always a need for evangelists, today. This is not a gift which one could argue has been done away with or lessened. It is even likely that many pastors are also, to one degree or another, graced with the gift of evangelism. It is certainly from the evangelistic heart that flows the fervent desire to see the lost come to Christ.  

  • Pastors and Teachers: root words are: ποιμήν – poimēn (Strong’s G4166) and διδάσκαλος didaskalos (Strong’s G1330)
    • Pastors. It is often argued that because of the way the Apostle Paul linked these two offices together, the office of Pastor and the office of Teacher are one in the same. How can one be an effective senior Pastor if he is not also able to teach? Instructing in the way of truth, expositing Scripture, and expounding upon particular passages is what if not the outworking of the gift to teach the hearer? Yet, there is something distinct that defines a pastor, and not a teach who is not a pastor. A pastor can be a teacher, but a teacher can be a teacher without being a pastor. And if it is not too confusing, there are pastors who are more pastors than they are teachers. What is the difference?
         A pastor is a shepherd. Of the eighteen times ποιμήν (G4166) is translated in English in the King James Version of the Bible (KJV), seventeen of those times it is translated as “shepherd,” two times of which the word is capitalized because it is referencing Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. Only once is the word translated as “pastor,” and that is in Ephesians 4:11. A pastor is therefore an “undershepherd,” one who tends the Flock for the owner, the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. And what a gift a pastor is to the local church! If he is a good one, he will watch out for thieves, wolves in sheep’s clothing, false teaching, and worldliness. He will feed the flock a steady diet of nourishing spiritual food from the silos of Scripture; lay down his own life, both literally and figuratively, for the sheep in his care; and answer to God for the souls of those entrusted to him (Hebrews 13:17). One can be gifted to teach, yet not bear this grave responsibility.
    • Teachers. It is this author’s contention, as mentioned earlier, that Paul did not intend to inseparably link pastor and teacher together in the same gift Jesus has given to the Church. Even though there are very few pastors who aren’t didaskalos (instructors who teach concerning the things of God, and the duties of man), there are many, many gifted “gifts” to the Church who teach, instruct, and give godly advice regarding everything from Bible questions to marriage counseling.

[1] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Prophet, Prophetess,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1782.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt 8 (Ephesians 4:7)

OK, so now it gets even better! Paul brings it down to the personal level.


4:7 “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”

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But unto every one of us

            After stressing unity in the Body, Paul now changes direction and tightens his focus onto the individual, including himself. In verses 1-6 Paul addresses the Church as a whole, the Preacher to the congregation. But now in verse seven we see Paul moving away from the plural “you”, using instead “every one” and “we.”

            Christianity is about God’s love for the Church, the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, but it’s also about the individual member of the Body. The hope of the believer is not to be swallowed up into God as a Hindu might believe, but to be eternally loved by a personal God, one who has even reserved a special name on a white stone that only the Father and His child will know (Revelation 2:7). Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son, but the offer of salvation is to “whosoever believeth” (John 3:16). The individual is uniquely important and particularly gifted for the work and the health and the unity of the Body.

            It also should be noted that the “us” to whom Paul is speaking is the Church, the body of believers. This is an important observation to make because only those within the Body of Christ can experience being part of the Body of Christ.

is given grace

            It is wonderful to read these words! It is much more wonderful know that it’s true! Who receives the gift of grace? It is the Church as a whole? Are those who are in the Church (i.e., baptized into the Roman Catholic Church) guaranteed a gift of grace from the Father? No, it is unto “every one of us” (v. 7a) that grace is given as a gift. The personal aspect of the relationship of the Father to His children should not be overlooked nor discounted.

            Paul will go on to refer back to Psalm 68:18 in the next verse when he describes David’s description of Yahweh as a conquering King. But here what we have is the declaration that the gifts to be given are based not on our good works or position, but in the goodness and graciousness of God.  The noun χάρις (charis) “is related to the verb χαρίζομαι (charizomai), which conveys the general concept of giving generously or forgiving a debt or a wrong.”[1] There are none who can say they deserve grace, for grace is “unmerited divine favor, arising in the mind of God and bestowed on his people.”[2] The idea that grace can be earned is contrary to the reality that the only thing earned by ungodly man is judgment.

There is also no maintaining of biblical unity without grace, for the natural man gives according to merit and expects to receive for the same reason. If God gave us grace according to measure of our good deeds, we would be doomed. But He gives grace to every man, not only to exhibit His mercy, but to manifest unto the greatest example of forgiveness and compassion which, if followed, will help the individuals within the Church to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (v. 3).

according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

            Here we find one of those lines in Scripture that seems simple enough, but upon deeper study, especially of the original languages, it is not simple in the least. As a matter of fact, “according to the measure of the gift of Christ” can be understood in different ways, leaving the context to be the only real determiner of the author’s meaning. For example, who is it that is to be giving the graces? Christ? God the Father on behalf of Christ? And what of the “measure” that is spoken? Is grace given to us based on a standard “measure,” that of the gift of Christ? Or is grace dispersed according to how Christ determines to mete (measure) it out? The best way to determine the meaning is to consider the context.

            As has been mentioned earlier, verse seven shows us that God’s concern and work is not limited to the Church as a whole, but it also stretches to the individual and his place in the Body or Building. Not all bricks in a building are the same. And even if most of the bricks in a wall were made exactly alike, the positioning would be unique, for no two bricks could occupy the same space in the wall.

Unto “every one of us” is given grace (not saving grace, but special grace) according to the great architectural design of the Builder, Jesus Christ (“I will build my church” – Mark 16:18). As commentator Ernest Best explained, the giving is not random nor arbitrary, nor is it given in abundance for no reason; “he apportions gifts to believers”[3] in order to accomplish His architectural plan for the Church. Therefore, everyone is given special graces, such as will be touched upon in the next two verses, but they are not all the same, nor in the same amount.


[1] Joshua G. Mathews, “Blessing,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[2] Gary S. Shogren, “Grace: New Testament,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 1086.

[3] Ernest Best, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T&T Clark International, 1998), 377.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt 7 (Eph. 4:6)

I’m so glad it’s Friday! Aren’t you?

But I’m not just happy it’s Friday, I’m happy that Friday means tomorrow is Saturday, then Sunday! In other words, it’s great to have something to look forward to each day of the week.

We now continue with a short commentary on Ephesians 4:6.


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4:6 “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

One God and Father of all,

            The seventh unifier of the Church is the fact that we all worship the same God and Father of all. Making up the third triad, Paul goes on to describe God our Father as above, through, and in us all. But note that Paul does not use just one or the other in the labeling of the Supreme Being; He’s both God and Father. What a glorious thought when one considers that the Creator is also our Abba! For the one outside of the Body, learning of an omnipotent and omnipresent entity from which they cannot run or hide might be terrifying! However, quite the opposite is true for the child of God. Knowing that God is not just King, Judge, and Executioner, but He’s our loving, all-caring, gracious, merciful Father full of love and pity for His own.

who [is] above all,

            Now describing the God and Father of all, first Paul describes Him as “above all.” We must never forget who God is. He is the wholly “Other” in that He is Holy like no other. There is none like Him. There is none that compare. He is above and beyond anything our imaginations can conceive and the only One to whom the angels cry day and night, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!” (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8).

and through all,

            But far from the God of Deism (a God who is distant and totally transcendent, without concern for His creation), this God is ever near. Unto every one of us, as Paul told the Athenians on Mars Hill, He is so close that if we would just reach out we would find Him (Acts 17:27).

and in you all.

According to Rick Brannon and Israel Loken, “Most early manuscripts have the general statement, ‘and in all,’ but some early manuscripts and related later witnesses personalize the statement to the readers with ‘and in you all.’”[1] The idea is that God is not distant, though He be far above us; He’s not unreachable or out-of-touch with His creation, for His presence can be seen and felt through it all; and more than a God “out there,” He is personal and cares about the “you.”


[1] Rick Brannan and Israel Loken, The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), Eph 4:6.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt 6 (Eph. 4:5)

As we continue to work through this passage of Ephesians, think about where you’ve heard this verse before. How was it used? What was the point? Was it used as a tool to attack denominations? Was it used as a tool to excuse doctrinal error? Think about it as you read this part of the commentary.

As always, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.


4:5 “One Lord, one Faith, one baptism,”

One Lord,

Here begins the second triad, that of one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.

Just as the Body of Christ, the Church, is not a self-existing, self-sustaining entity that can exist without the power of the Spirit. It is not free to do as it wills. What also unifies the Church is one Head, one Lord, and that is Jesus. He is in complete control by virtue of the price He paid, and He is the “one who is in charge by virtue of possession, owner.[1]

Jesus in our Lord, our Kyrios, our Master. All authority is His. All dominion is His. And the work and life of the Body is His, also. Therefore, anytime we say “our church” or “my church,” we should remind ourselves that what binds us together is not the confederacy of churches but the united body of the Church which belongs to the Lord, Jesus, and no other.

one faith,

            The “faith” that is spoken of here is not that of a particular dogma, catechism, creed, or religious convention. “It refers to the principle of faith by means of which all the saints enter into salvation.”[2] The Apostle Paul spoke of this faith earlier in the letter when he said:  “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” (Ephesian 2:8-8). What unites us as a body of believers is not our works, anything we have done, good or bad, but the same entry requirement: faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

one baptism,

            Here the translators transliterate the Greek words εἷς βάπτισμα (heis baptisma) as “one baptism.” Even though the words carry the meaning of being immersed into water, literal water baptism is not what is being addressed. This is a spiritual baptism, a placing of the believer in the Body of Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can do this. Paul referenced this “baptism” when writing to the Corinthians: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).


[1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 577.

[2] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 96.

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A Mini-Commentary, Pt 5 (Ephesians 4:4)

I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend (here in America), because I sure did! Beside having a wonderful service Sunday morning, my family and I came together in Atlanta, GA, to attend a major-league baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins…and the Braves WON!…Twice in the same game!

Today, let us look at verse 4 in Ephesians 4. Keep in mind that the Body of Christ (the Church) may be one, but it contains individual parts, each part of an overall design, and each part performing a prescribed function. We will go deeper into that aspect a little later.

4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.

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[There is] one body,

            Here the Apostle Paul, speaking of the Church as the unified Body of Christ, begins the first point in “Seven Particulars”[1], the culmination of the last making up three different triads. The first triad is that of “one body…one Spirit…one hope of your calling.” See also 1 Corinthians 12:13.

The second triad is formed from “one Lord…one faith…one baptism.” The third triad is found in verse six where, when describing God the Father, the seventh “particular,” he declares that He is “above all…through all…in you all.”

            Paul continues to use the analogy of the body to describe the importance of healthy unity. Unity in the body, especially peaceful unity (v.3) is critical for effectiveness. Although a human body be unified, all individual members working together for the common life of the body, if one member be sickly or “angry,” the rest of the body, however healthy, will ultimately be affected and the work of the body will be hindered. There are a great many truths associated with the Church being the Body of Christ on the earth, and here is no exception. But what Paul does in the next few verses is take both a wide-angle view and one that is microscopic: he speaks of the common unity we have as the Body, but he also stresses the importance of the individual member (v.7).

and one Spirit,

            What is a body without life? What is a body without a spirit that animates it? Similarly, what is the Body of Christ without the life-giving, resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit? Not only are believers part of one body, but they are also empowered by the indwelling Pneuma (the Holy Spirit; the breath of God). “For by one Spirit (Pneumati) are we all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

            It must be understood that without the presence of the Spirit, the Church would not be the living Body, Jesus Christ being the Head. Therefore, as the Body is united, and as it works, individual members will have different responsibilities, such as feet help the body to stand while the fingers grip the hilt and the arm swings the sword. Yet, all will receive their strength from the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that flows through one part of the Body is the same that flows through another whose Head is Jesus Christ. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9 KJV). See also 1 Corinthians 12:13.

even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

            The unified, universal Church is one Body, has only one life-giving and empowering Spirit and only one hope: “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13 KJV). Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ have a calling – a “vocation” – for which they have been called. Therefore, in everything we do, at home or at work or school, each believer has been issued a vocation in the Kingdom, and that is to point people to the only Hope of the World.

            It must be noted, however, that a careful reading of this part of verse four shows that “even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” is a phrase which helps modify the previous “There is one body, and one Spirit.” Notice how that Paul says that there is one body and one Spirit, “even as…” Therefore, a comparison is being made between the two phrases, which could even lend to the argument that there is not really a triad in this section, only a couplet modified by a couplet.

            So, what is really being said? How do we make the comparison between the two? The body needs a spirit to animate it, to make it alive; the “vocation” has only one “hope.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Ephesians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 147.

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A Mini Commentary (Pt. 4)

Are we having fun, yet!

I am!

Let’s jump back into the deep water this morning and look at Ephesians 4:3. It’s all part of a short commentary on Ephesians 4:1-16 entitled,

“The Edification of the Body of Christ by the Gifts Given by Jesus to the Church.”

But hey! When you are finished reading today’s study, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, so I’ll be sharing a post relating to that subject, not this. But check back on Monday to pick it up again as we look at Ephesians 4:4.


4:3 “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Endeavouring

            Here the Apostle Paul uses a word that adds urgency to the “vocation.” To endeavour (σπουδάζω, spoudazō) is to use make haste to do what you need to do. Even more, the sense of urgency implies that one should do everything he can as soon as he can and not waste time.

Or, as the Pulpit Commentary described, “Σπουδάζοντες is stronger than the A. V. ‘endeavouring,’ and denotes an object to be carefully and earnestly watched for and promoted.”[1] Consider how the same word is used in 2 Timothy 4:9 when Paul asked Timothy, “Do thy diligence (spoudazō) to come to me shortly.” And, again, in verse 21 of the same chapter, “Do thy diligence to come before winter…” We can sense the urgency. However, as much as the word could convey a sense of urgency, it can also point to great desire, like the heartfelt longing Paul expressed in 1 Thessalonians 2:17 where he said:

1 Thessalonians 2:17 KJV – But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured[G4704] the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

Considering how Paul used endeavoured in other places, it would be safe to conclude that the unity to which he is referring should not only be striven for with urgency, but with great desire.

To keep the unity of the Spirit

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            What does it mean to “keep” something? The word translated here can be used to describe keeping, watching over, or guarding something.[2] It could also be used with the meaning of keeping something in a particular state or condition. However, what needs to be stressed is that unity is not something that happens naturally, at least not in the spiritual body. When we seek our own devices, we cause disunity, strife, and internal conflict. Therefore, we must “endeavor” to watch over and guard our unity. The Enemy seeks to divide and conquer, but we are stronger when we are unified.

In the bond

            The word “bond” (σύνδεσμος sýndesmos, soon’-des-mos) is an important word to know, for used in the context of unity and the body, it refers to a joint or ligament that holds the individual members of the Body together. It is figurative language, yet it is fitting considering the Church is a living body, not simply a building. The joints are therefore flexible as well as strong, but like any other living tissue in a body, it must receive nourishment, and that must come from the life-giving Spirit.

Peace

            The unity of the Spirit is kept by the bond of “peace.” As with the human body, the spiritual body, both of local congregations and of the Church, are complicated structures with many members which act symbiotically to maintain a container for life. The Church contains the Spirit, and it must endeavor to maintain unity, an unbroken body, in order to keep it (like trying to keep a physical body in one piece in order to maintain the life of the body). And what is it that keeps the body together and working? It is the bonds, the ligaments. And what are the bonds, the ligaments, in this spiritual entity? They are peace. Peace is the bond, the ligament, that binds together the individual members for the work which the body was designed to do.

            Peace is the Greek word εἰρήνη (eirēnē) – Strongs G1515 – and can refer to either a “state of national tranquility” or “peace between individuals.” The effectual working of the Body of Christ (the Church) in the world desperately depends on healthy and strong bonds of peace, yet this unity is fragile and often neglected with most of the attention and energy directed members instead of what binds them.

“Unity is maintained by the Spirit. Unity is preserved as believers make peace with one another their major priority instead of acting selfishly for personal gain and honor. Our call is not to create spiritual unity but rather to manifest spiritual unity by relational unity. Paul calls for unity in the third verse and spends the next thirteen verses elaborating on it.”[3]


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Ephesians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 147.

[2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1002.

[3] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 149.

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