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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday AM
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome, one and all, to HBS.
We’ve completed our study of Ephesians chapters 1-3, the first section of this letter. So, this lesson marks the beginning of our study of chapters 4-6, the second section.
In the first 3 chapters our Apostle Paul taught the Believers Church Doctrine. In chapter 4 he begins by calling the Ephesian Church to “live” by these principles (4:1). Plainly said, having put on Christ Jesus (2:15), they needed to start living as one, new man; women are implied (2:14-16). They are to “walk” in Christlikeness each day.
The Jews and the Gentiles in this congregation were not in harmony with one another or with God’s Word, so Paul is writing this letter to correct their inappropriate attitudes and behavior (2:1-9, 11-19). Although it is never a pleasant task, correcting folks who have strayed off course in love is one of our biblical responsibilities (Acts 15; Galatians 2:11-14; 1Timothy 1:3-7, 5:1-2; Jude 3).
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Please open your Bible at Ephesians 4:1-3 and we’ll read through this passage together.
Unity of the Spirit
Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in the manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Paul opens by addressing the issue of disunity in this church. How do we know this? Paul said: preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:3-4). These Believers failed to realize unity isn’t something they have to strive for; it already exists in the one Spirit:
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many (1 Corinthians 12:13-14).
This means the organic unity of one body of Christ consists of all Believers from every nation, tribe, and tongue who have been regenerated by the one Spirit. Regeneration means God the Father has bestowed new life upon the sinner saved by grace. Just as their natural birth resulted in a new individual entering the physical world, their spiritual re-birth resulted in a new individual entering the heavenly realm (Ephesians 2:11, 14). It’s a reminder to all Believers to preserve this unity in the bond of peace.
This thought serves to take us to Paul’s opening statement: Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in the manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called (4:1).
This verse actually sums up all of chapter 4. After this, Paul explains in detail how these Believers can walk in the manner worthy of the calling…
Therefore – what does this mean? In a word, Paul’s sums up all he’s taught them in chapters 1-3 and informs the Ephesians he’s about to build on those principles. The first three chapters explain what God has done for every true Believer; noting we didn’t contribute one, single thing to our salvation.
What has God done for us? He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies (1:3), He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (1:4a), He made us to be holy (set apart), to be blameless, in love (1:4b) He predestined us to adoption as sons (1:5), and this was done to the praise and the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (1:6).
Knowing this should elicit a humble expression of awe from every true Believer. Yet,
Paul’s not finished he continues with more blessings: In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (1:7), He made known to us the mystery of His will (1:9), we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose (1:11), we have been sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13). God made us alive when we were dead (2:5); He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (2:6). He’s taken those who were separated from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, and made us near (2:11-13), He has united Jew and Gentile into one, new man in the bond of peace (2:14-15). Paul recently prayed this church would be strengthened with power through His Spirit and that their union would be experienced (3:17, 14-21).
I, the prisoner of the Lord – Why does Paul repeat himself here? From his perspective he’s not a prisoner of Rome. He’s in confinement for ministering to Jews and Gentiles alike for the cause of the Lord (3:1). He believed he was imprisoned in accordance with the Lord’s will and not just in any province but in Rome the world’s capital (Acts 9:15-16).
(I) implore you to walk in the manner worthy of (not “a” calling, as if any walk will do, but) the calling – Paul is pleading for the Ephesians to walk in the manner worthy of their calling because there’s no place for disunity in the Body of Christ. Walk is the key word here and we know this because he mentions it four more times: 4:17, 5:2, 5:8, and in 5:15.
The Koine Greek word for walk is Peripateo (per-ee-pat-eh’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #4043, and it means: to walk, live, conduct one’s life. It literally means: to walk around. Paul uses it metaphorically to emphasize the necessity for every Believer to exhibit Christlike attitudes and behavior (Psalm 119:105; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Galatians 1:4).
Have you noticed how life sometimes gets in the way of the life worthy of your calling? If not, you will, if you’re sincerely trying to “put on” Christ Jesus.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24).
Please note this is a command from the risen Lord via our Apostle Paul; it’s not a suggestion. Because we’re looking at the Believer’s walk, in contrast to the way the world walks, I’m reminded of Al Pacino’s line from Godfather III. He said, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
They, in the movie were members of organized crime. They wouldn’t let Michael Corleone live the life he wanted. In the Believer’s life Satan’s schemes more often than not “pull us back” into the wayward life we’re desperately trying to leave behind. If you’re a true Believer, than you are Satan’s enemy, which means every Believer walks around in Satan’s territory with an invisible target on their back (Ephesians 2:2). His schemes are designed to awaken old Adam (our innate sin nature), tempting us to sin against God (Matthew 4:1-11; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Revelation 12:9-10). He does not intend for the Believer to “rest” or walk in the manner worthy of their calling. Paul’s saying spiritual warfare is an ongoing concern, so in order to make headway we must rely on the Spirit’s power not our power.
Believers walk worthy when they are walking in dependence on the Spirit’s power: Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to (what) the power (of God) that works within us (3:20).
But here’s the thing, we can’t “get there” without knowing God’s will. God doesn’t save people and leave them guessing what’s what. God’s truths have been made known to every Believer in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). But they must study (not read) the Bible to get er’ done (2 Timothy 2:15). This way we’ll live our lives consistent with what we know and not what we assume.
An unknown author penned this sentiment and I pray you will take it to heart:
“You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day. By the deeds that you do, and the words you say. Men read what you write, whether faithless or true. Just what is the gospel, according to you?”
Our Apostle Paul basically said the same thing in 2 Corinthians 3:2: You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
When Paul speaks of the calling with which you have been called, he’s reminding us of his previous comment in 1:18: I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will (what) know what is the hope of your calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Romans 8:30; Ephesians 1:5).
Paul informs every true Believer they were saved unto good works in His name, to live and reign with Him in the heavenlies, to live for Him, and much more (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 1:21; 2 Timothy 2:12). He used chapters 1-3 of this letter to teach the Ephesians (and us) about their calling or why they should “live” for the Lord.
The word “walk “and “live” are interchangeable. Walking requires Believers to be consistent. When we were born, walking was not an immediate skill we performed. It was something that had to be learned. The same is true in the spiritual realm. Walking with the Lord is a practical skill that takes time to learn. As a child falters and falls now and again so will we. But once you learn to walk as a true Believer, you then have a lifetime to develop and practice the skill to keep in top form. (The Teacher’s Study Bible)
Axios (worthy) has the root meaning of balancing scales. If you’ve used scales, then you know the idea is what is on one side should be equal in weight to what is on the other side. This word came to be applied to anything that was expected to correspond to something else. A person worthy of his pay was one whose day’s work corresponded to his day’s wages. The Believer who walks worthy of their calling with which he or she has been called is one who’s daily “living” corresponds to his or hers’ position as an adopted child of God and fellow heir with the Lord Jesus Christ. Their practical “living” is equal to their spiritual position in other words, they are in balance.
So, in order to walk in a manner worthy of their calling Paul said they are to be set apart (holy) practicing godly behavior: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love (4:2).
Humility is from the Koine Greek word Tapeinophrosune (tap-i-nof-ros-oo’-nay), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #5012, and it means: we have a humble opinion of one’s self; modesty, humility, lowliness of mind. By the by, the N.T. writers introduced this word to the world. This word is not found in Greek writings because humility was not a worthy characteristic. In their culture meekness meant weakness, so the idea of acquiring this virtue was foreign to them.
God the Father extols humility. Paul wrote: For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
The reason true Believers have a lowliness of mind is because they evaluate themselves and their lifestyles in light of God’s Word and not according to man’s beliefs. The lost sinner glorifies in self and self achievement. However, the true Believer gives the glory to God the Father. Although Paul achieved more success as an evangelist than any man, he did not count his achievements referring to them as his alone. Paul, after evaluating his previous state, referred to himself as “the chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He’s not saying he’s the worst sinner that ever lived, but he is the first sinner saved by grace (alone). He also referred to himself as “the least of all God’s people” (Ephesians 3:8); and “the least of all the apostles unworthy to be called an apostle” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Truly, this is not false humility; these expressions come from a man whose heart belongs to God. Paul’s life is an open letter to every true Believer.
The ways of man is the direct opposite of this, much like the Greek culture of old. They believe humility, i.e. meekness is a sign of weakness. But God revealed to the world the opposite is true by sending His Son to be a servant to all (Mark 10:44-45).
Paul wrote: who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, (Philippians 2:6-9).
Gentleness is often translated as “meekness.” It speaks of an attitude that submits to God’s will without rebellion and to the unkindness of man without retribution. The Lord used this word to describe Himself in Matthew 11:29: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The Koine Greek word translated gentleness is Prautes (prah-oo’-lace), Noun Feminine,
Strong’s Greek #4240, meaning: mildness of disposition, gentleness of the spirit; meekness. The Greeks used this word for a “soothing medicine,” “a colt that had been broken,” and a “soft wind.”
The Lord was not a “soft wind” when He in righteous anger overturned the counting tables in His Father’s house exposing the corruption therein (John 2:13-19). However, just a few hours later when His tormentors mocked, scourged, and nailed Him to the cross He was led meek as a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32). Jesus Christ was gentle in response to injustice done to Him, but He was “the Lion of Judah” when He witnessed injustice being done to others.
The word patience in Koine Greek is Makrothumia (mak-roth-oo-mee’-ah), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #3115, meaning: patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance. This can also be translated longsuffering (KJV). Biblically speaking it means the ability to endure difficult circumstances and struggling relationships.
Human responses to “difficult circumstances” vary significantly. But whether we like it or not every single person (the saved and the lost) will face a certain amount of pressure, i.e. trials and tribulations as we journey through this life. Some of these are mere annoyances but others will certainly overwhelm us. There’s nothing easy about the loss of your job, a diagnosis that’s not treatable, the death of a loved one or a marriage. It’s difficult to “stay the course” during these hard times without relying on the Spirit’s power.
The implication of patience characterizing a worthy walk is that complaining, bitterness, anger, and self-pity are unworthy of your calling.
Our Apostle Paul wrote: Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain (Philippians 2:14-16).
When Paul said we “become blameless and pure, children of God” because we don’t complain or argue, he is saying displaying the characteristics of God’s children manifests our true identity to others. With that said stop and consider who you are in Christ before you begin to complain and argue. It is not fitting behavior for a child of God and He disciplines those who cultivate such character in their lives (1 Corinthians 10:10).
How do we develop patience? We must learn to “lean on God” and not the world (Psalm 33:16, 118:9, 146:3; Isaiah 2:22; Jeremiah 17:5-6).
Here are a few notable quotes:
Trust is like paper; once it’s crumpled it can never be perfect again.
Be careful who you trust the devil was once an angel of light.
Trust is earned; it is not a gift.
Never trust anyone completely but God. Love people, but put your full trust only in God. (Lawrence Welk)
God has demonstrated His faithfulness; He has proven to be trustworthy (Psalm 9:10, 13:5, 20:7). Therefore, we need to develop our trust in God. The reason we complain and get upset is because we don’t trust God as we should. We don’t trust Him in our trials or when we’re dealing with difficult people. Trust (faith) comes by hearing and obeying the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and also by continually experiencing His faithfulness. The more we trust God, the more patient we’ll become (Proverbs 18:10).
Showing tolerance for one another in love – the last character trait of a true Believer in Christ Jesus is tolerance (forbearance) in love. Here Paul is saying the Ephesians (and us) are to make allowance for the faults and failures of others, or their inabilities, differing personalities, and temperaments. Paul wants them to know they are not to act falsely, i.e. wearing a smile but inside seething, harboring unpleasant ideas and thoughts about one another, gossiping in the shadows about their brothers and sisters in Christ. The term “in love” means seeking the other person’s highest good always, even if someone does irritate or embarrass you.
The Apostle Peter wrote: Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
Humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance in love mark a walk worthy of your calling, but the opposite pride, impatience, and acting out of selfish anger are unworthy of an adopted child of God.
(To be continued)
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