Tag Archives: commentary

A Mini Commentary, Pt. 16 (Ephesians 4:16)

Sorry for the delay, but here is the final instalment of the mini commentary on Ephesians 4:1-16. I pray the whole series has been informative and a blessing in some way.


4:16 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.

From whom the whole body fitly joined together

            Here is where the metaphor of the body can get a little tricky, at least compared to the way things naturally work. When a human is conceived, his DNA is already present, passed from both the mother and the father. The “blueprint of life” dictates how a child will look, how big he will be, his color of skin, etc. But Jesus, the Head of the Body, is the one who oversees the construction and placement of body parts. The mind, the Person of God, is eternal; the Body – both when He walked the earth and when He left and sent His Spirit – came into being by the will of God. There is no accidental deformity withing the Body of Christ! There are no mutations, missing parts, or inadequate ones! The WHOLE body is FITLY joined together! Hallelujah!

            Are you intimidated, discouraged, or feel out of place in the Body of Christ? Don’t feel that way! You were designed and created to fit exactly where the Head wants you. You have a purpose for which no other part in the body can fill. You are unique and designed by God.

and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,

             Here we see that not only is every person who is part of the Body a specially designed member created for a particular purpose in the overall growth of the Body, but each has a part in the unifying of the Body into a cohesive whole.[1] Paul implied this same thought in his letter to the Colossians: “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 mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ” (Colossians 2:2).

according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,

            Now, despite the lofty example of Jesus, God “knows our frame,” that we are nothing but dust (Psalm 103:14). Therefore, notice that Paul says, “…the measure of every part.” The measure of one part of the Body, one Christian, is not going to be the same measure of another one. Too often we find ourselves comparing our spirituality to that of other more “godly” believers. In doing so we often find ourselves discouraged from not measuring up to their likeness. Look, we are all dust, and the most that we can ever be is only because of God’s grace.

            But the encouraging hope is this: what we have and all that we are, yielded to the will of the Head of the Body, is guaranteed to be effective toward the purpose for which we have been designed.

maketh increase of the body

            Simply put, a healthy member of the body, no matter the importance, will, if effectually being used, make increase to the Body. Does that mean that one must lead others to Christ in order to “make increase”? Possibly, but whatever the purpose, if doing what it’s designed to do, will contribute to the other members’ edification.

unto the edifying of itself in love.

            Herein lies the overall purpose of the gifts God gives in Christ through the Spirit: the edifying of the Church – the building up into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there are many within the Body of Christ who think the edification of the individual member takes precedent over the body as a whole. This can be seen in the doctrine that promotes “prayer language,” or private times of prayer that consist of ecstatic speech, unknown tongues, or what is technically referred to as glossolalia. Yet, Paul addressed this very topic in 1 Corinthians 14:14-19.

            Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:14: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” He did not argue that it could never happen; he just said that if he did pray in such a way, he would not understand what was being said. Furthermore, in verses 15 and 16 he states that he would rather speak and sing in an understandable language so that everyone could benefit, especially those who “understandeth not” (v. 16). But it is in verse 17 where the letter to the Ephesians and the letter to the Corinthians cross paths: speaking in a prayer language might encourage the one praying, but “the other is not edified.” He gave (v. 11) … for (v. 12) … till (v. 13) … that (v. 14) … may (v.15) … edify (v. 16).


[1] Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1675.

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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. 1)

Hello… Again!

A month or two ago I was happy to announce that I would be returning to the blogging community with new content and would be reading your stuff again. Well, it’s taken longer than I planned.

Have you ever noticed how life can get a little busy?

Anyway, today I want to start a short (maybe) series of posts based on some study I did in the 4th chapter of Ephesians. It was a short (mini) commentary that was, among other things, required for me to complete my Doctorate of Ministry (D. Min.).

So, without further ado, let’s begin with the beginning: the title and a short introduction.


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

(An exposition of Ephesians 4:1-16)

Introduction

Photo by Jeff Stapleton on Pexels.com

The following exposition focuses only on one small section of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. This section uses the metaphor of a human body to explain the truth that the Church is the Body of Christ. But even more, he delineates between the corporate truth and the individual truth: that the Body is being built up and matured, but that God is also concerned about the individual member’s development.

    This section is also where we find an explanation of the “grace” gifts to the Church Body and members in particular. These are the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. As Paul explains, it is these gifts that are necessary for growth.

    Paul then details the progressive steps toward growing “up into Christ” as not only the supreme Example, but the very Framework and pre-determined Design for the Church and individual member alike.

    Ephesians 4:1-16 is the blueprint for a successful and healthy Church, where the rest of the chapter focuses on the individual member of the Body’s walk. Yet, these sixteen verses are full of encouragement and hope. No matter our station, no matter our abilities, we are all designed by God, equipped by God, placed by God, and are guaranteed to grow with the Body through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

But key to our success is the faithful application of the gifts He has given us. They cannot be ignored, kept to ourselves, or prohibited. In whatever measure we are given these gifts, the ultimate goal is not self-edification, however important in its own right; the ultimate objective is the edification – the building up into Christ – of the Church, the Body of Christ. Only by seeking to edify the Body can individual gifts find their greatest fulfilment.


Come back tomorrow for Part 2 in this series.

If any of it is a blessing or an encouragement, I’d love to hear about it.

God bless!

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Freaky Friday Rhyming News

Rhyming

It’s just another freaky Friday, I suppose.

Before I head out, I’ll tell you why I think so.

And by the way, it wasn’t my objective

To write a post with a rhyming perspective

Nevertheless, tis the way it is going to be

I can’t stop now… It’ll be OK, you’ll see.

Scouting

Who would have thought in 1910

That the boys would allow the girls an in?

For equality’s sake, because of pouts,

Boys cannot be boys, but there’s still a Girl Scouts.

Funny thing, I was talking with my daughter

After getting worried and creating some laughter.

Seems I stressed over nothing, even thought she’s eighteen

Only boys must register; girls get off clean!

Well, don’t women serve now in all the military?

“Well, yes,” said my wife, “but it’s all voluntary.”

But what about equality? What about being fair?

I was spitting into the wind – nobody cares.

I think what it’s really all about

Is that girls always win when they learn how to pout.

Young man, forget to register and you’ll forfeit student loans

But try to make it fair and all you’ll hear will be groans.

Give us what we want when we want it – TODAY!

Because what you have is what we want, now go away!

So,

Distinctives only matter when the one crying “equality”

Demands her specificity is manifested in your polity.

And when you’ve abandoned whatever makes you unique

She’ll keep her own distinctives and call you a freak.

Greening

AOC (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) D-New York

But speaking of freaky and totally spacey

Have you heard the proposal from the young AOC?

The Green New Deal, or something like that

Will never go through – It will surely fall flat.

On the other hand, what’s scary is that some take it serious

And that’s why our national future is perilous.

No more emissions, no more traveling by plane

In only ten years we’ll be riding on trains

Retrofit or rebuild every building in the land

And guarantee jobs for every woman and man.

Did I mention there’ll be chargers at every hand?

And, oh, by the way, we’re now on a mission

To inform all Hispanics that they’re Native American.

(No Joke about that last part – Here’s a link)

Conclusion

You may think I’m crazy or am going to far,

But read the newspaper or hear the news in your car.

There’s literally too much to absorb. It’s all crazy!

And that’s why I believe it’s a freaky Friday.

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