PAUL AND EPHESUS
NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Ephesians. This study is taken from that book with some significant modifications.
DATE A.D. 62
Four men left Rome in A.D. 62 bound for Turkey. These men had four of the most sublime compositions of the Christian faith. When these men bade farewell to the Apostle Paul, each was given an epistle to bear to his particular constituency. These four letters are in the Word of God, and they are designated the “Prison Epistles of Paul,” since he wrote them while he was imprisoned in Rome. He was awaiting a hearing before Caesar Nero. The four men and their respective places of abode were: (1) Epaphroditus from Philippi who had the Epistle to the Philippinans (Philippians 4.18). (2) Tychicus from Ephesus who had the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6.21). (3) Epaphras from Colosse who had the Epistile to the Colossians (Colossians 4.12). (4) Onesimus, a runaway slave from Colosse, who had the Epistle to Philemon, his master (Philemon 10).
These epistles present a composite picture of Christ, the church, the Christian life, and the interrelationship and functioning of all. These different facets present the Chritian life on the highest plane.
Ephesians presents the institution of the church, made up until the return of Christ of local, autonomous assemblies. Christ desires to be the only Head of every local church body, but every church chooses whether or not they will honor this commandment.
Ephesians reveals the institution of the church as God’s masterpiece, a mystery not revealed in the Old Testament (Ephesians 2.10). It is more wonderful than any temple made with hands, constructed of living stones, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Churches are to walk as He would walk and to wrestle against the wiles of the devil. Someday, the family of God (all true believers) will leave the world and be presented to Christ as a bride (19.7-10). At that point, they will be assembled and will form a visible, universal Church (Hebrews 12.22-24).
Dr. Arthur T. Pierson called Ephesians, “Paul’s third-heaven epistle.” Another has called it “the Alps of the New Testament.” This is the church epistle. Many expositors consider this the highest peak of spiritual truth, the very apex and acme of Bible revelation. Some have even suggested that Ephesians is so profound that none but the very elect (in other words, the chosen few) can understand it. Dr. McGee noticed that the folk who say this include themselves in that inner circle. To be candid with you, he says that he does not even pretend to be able to probe or plumb the depths of this epistle nor to ascend to its heights. This epistle is lofty and it is heady. It is difficult to breathe the rarefied air of this epistle—you will find this to be true when we get into it. With the Holy Spirit as guide, Dr. McGee (with my humble edits) will do the very best we can to understand and explain it.
PAUL AND EPHESUS
Ephesus is in Turkey. The Holy Spirit would not permit Paul on his second missionary journey to enter the province of Asia where Ephesus was the prominent center: Acts 16:6: “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.” The Holy Spirit put up a roadblock and said to Paul, “You can’t go down there now.” We are not told the reason, but we know God’s timing is perfect. He would send him there later. So Paul traveled west to Berea, down to Athens, over to Corinth, and then, on the way back, he came by Ephesus. Oh, what a tremendous opportuinity he saw there! Acts 18:19: “And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.”
Paul was so favorably impressed by the opportunities for missionary work that he promised to return, which he did on his third missionary journey. He discovered that another missionary by the name of Apollos had been there in the interval between his second and third missionary journeys. Apollos had preached only the baptism of John and not the gospel of grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. At that time Apollos didn’t know about the Lord Jesus, but later on he himself became a great preacher of the gospel.
Paul began a far-reaching ministry in Ephesus. For two years he spoke in the school of Tyrannus, and the gospel penetrated into every center of the province of Asia. Evidently it was at this time that the churches addressed in the second and third chapters of Revelation were founded by this ministry of Paul.
Dr. McGee believers that the greatest ministry of the gospel ever was in what is in modern day Turkey. Millions lived there in that day. It was the very heart of the Roman Empire. The culture of Greece was no longer in Greece, but along the coast of Turkey, and Ephesus was the leading city.
Ephesus was the main city of Asia Minor and second only to Rome in the Roman Empire. Founded around 2000 B.C. by the Hittites, it was an Oriental, Asian city until around 1000 B.C. when the Greeks came in. For 2500 years, Ephesus was one of the great cities of the world. It was on a harbor that is no longer there. Today, Ephesus is about six miles from the ocean.
The Temple of Diana in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was the largest Greek temple ever constructed, 418 feet by 239 feet. The art and wealth of the Ephesian citizens contributed to its adornment. It had 127 graceful columns, some of them richly carved and colored. It contained works of art such as the picture painted by Apelles of Alexander the Great hurling the thunderbolt. It was four times larger than the Parthenon but very similar to it.
Inside the beautiful temple was the vulgar idol of Diana, of Greek mythology, the goddess of fertility, a many breasted idol of wood. All sorts of gross immortality took place in the shadow of this temple.
A flourishing trade was carried on in the manufacture of silver shrines or models of the temple. The artistic business brought no small gain to the craftsmen.
It was to such a city that Paul came. He first spoke in the synagogue for three months. Then he went to the school of Tyrannus and continued there two years. “so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19.10). Paul stayed in Ephesus longer than any other place. The people of Ephesus heard more Bible teaching from Paul than did any other people, which is the reason he could write to them the deep truths contained in this epistle.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Co. 16.8-9). There was great opposition to Paul’s preaching because it was putting the silversmiths out of business. A riot resulted. Paul was preaching the gospel of the living God and life through Jesus Christ. God marvelously preserved him, which encouraged him to continue (Acts 19.23-41). Paul loved this church in Ephesus. His last meeting with the Ephesian elders was a tender farewell (Acts 20.17-38).
A great company turned to Christ. Dr. McGee thinks the gospel was more effective in this area than in any place and at any time in the history of the world. He believes the Ephesian church was the highest church spiritually. It is amazing that the believers in Ephesus understood the Epistle. He would not have written it to them if they could not have understood it. Ephesus was a church at its best, a church at the highest spiritual level.
You and I today cannot even conceive the high spiritual level that the Spirit of God had produced in these Ephesian believers. They loved the person of the Lord Jesus and were drawn to Him. Dr. McGee says that he ministered for many years and loved to minister. However, he says that we are far from Christ today. We are so enamored by various things—programs; church work; our pet projects; the influence of others who are not led by the Holy Spirit, the principles of the Bible, and the love of God; an office in the church; etc.—that we get farther and farther from the person of Christ. The really big question is how much we love Him. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Do we return that love? Do we respond to Him? Can we say, “I love Him because He first loved me?” The letter to the Ephesians ought to bring us very close to Christ.
Ephesians and Revelation can be arranged mathematically and logically. No books are more logical than those books. Dr. McGee says that he got tired of hearing folk say, “I believe the Bible from cover to cover,” when they don’t even know what was between the covers. They were just making a pious statement. If one really believes it is God’s Word, he will try to find out what it says. We need to get off this gimmick of methods and how to communicate to the younger generation and who to better organize a church and really learn what is in the Book. Dr. McGee says that Ephesians and Revelation were the two easiest books in the Bible to outline because they were logical. He does not pretend to understand everything that is in these books, but they are logical and easy to outline.
[Dr. McGee then commented on the logic of Revelation.] Of the six chapters in Ephesians, three are about the heavenly calling of a church and are doctrinal. The last three are about the earthly conduct of the church which is very practical. The church has a Head, Christ, and He is in heaven. We are identified with Him. But the feet of a church are down here on the earth. Paul won’t leave us sitting in the heavenlies; he says, “Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ep. 4.1). In other words, Christian, it’s nice to sit in heavenly places and boast of your position in Christ, but, for goodness’ sake, get down out of your high chair and start walking. We need to remember that in Paul’s day believers were walking in a pagan society in the Roman world. The first half is doctrinal and the last half is practical, which makes a very logical division in the book. We need both. We are not to live in the first three chapters only. They are wonderful, but the message must get down here where we live, down where the rubber meets the road. There is a battle going on and an enemy to be fought. The bugle has sounded. We need to stand for God today.
I. DOCTRINAL, the Heavenly Calling of A Church (Vocalization), Chapters 1-3
A. A Church Is a BODY, Chapter 1
1. Introduction, verses 1, 2
2. God the Father Planned and Ordained the Institution of the Church, verses 3-6
3. God the Son Paid the Price for the Church, verses 7-12, “redemption through his blood”
4. God the Holy Spirit Protects a Church, verses 13, 14.
5.Prayer for Knowledge and Power, verses 15-23
B. A Church Is a TEMPLE, CHAPTER 2
1. The Material for Construction, verses 1-10 “The dead in trespasses” are made into a living temple
2. The Method of Construction, verses 11-18
3. The Meaning of the Construction (quo animo), verses 19-22, “growth into an holy temple in the Lord””
C. The Church Is a Mystery, Chapter 3
1. The Explanation of the Mystery, verses 1-4 Not revealed in the Old Testament
2. The Definition of the Mystery, verses 5-13 Jews and Gentiles are partakers of the same Body—manifested on earth in local assemblies
3. Prayer for Power and Knowledge, verses 14,21 “strengthened with might” and to “know the love of Christ”
II. PRACTICAL, the Earthly Conduct of A Church (Vocation), Chapters 4-6
A. A Church is a NEW MAN, CHAPTER 4
1. The Exhibition of the New Man, verses 1-6 “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit”
2. The Inhibition of the New Man, verses 7-16 “no more children” grow up into Him” “perfect man”
3. The Prohibition of the New Man, verses 17-32 “walk not as other Gentiles walk” “be ye kind one to another”
B. The Church will be a BRIDE (At the marriage of the Lamb, Christ will marry all members of the Family of God and form the first and only everlasting Universal Church), Chapter 5
1. The Engagement of a Church, verses 1-17 “for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”
2. The Experience of a Church, verses 18-24 “be filled with the Spirit”
3. The Expectation of a Church, verses 25-33 “that he might present it to himself a glorious church”
C. A Church Is a Soldier, Chapter 6
1. The Soldier’s Relationships. verses 1-9 “no man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life”
2. The Soldier’s Enemy, verses 10-12 “the wiles of the devil”
3. The Soldier’s Protection, verses 13-18 “the whole armour of God”
4. The Soldier’s Example—Paul, a Good Soldier of Jesus Christ, verses 19-22
5. The Soldier’s Benediction, verses 23, 24
I. DOCTRINAL, the Heavenly Calling of A Church (Vocalization), Chapters 1-3
A Church Is a BODY
Ephesians begins with the doctrinal section concerning the heavenly calling of a church, the vocalization.
vv1, 2. This letter is to a local church, the church at Ephesus. However, as with all Paul’s epistles which deal with the doctrine or the church, the principles are to be applied by all churches. One cannot infer that Paul was writing to a universal church, since such a church will not and cannot exist until the Marriage of the Lamb. See Re. 19.7-10, and Heb. 12.21-24. A church is a called-out assembly. Just as Jesus Christ was in the world with his assembly, church members are in the world but not of the world. Christ sends them into the world. Jn. 17.18. They sit in “places” in the world, “heavenly places” (places like heaven since they are now spiritual beings – Ephesians 1.3, 1.20, 2.6) but they are not of the world even as Christ, while on earth was not of the world (Jn. 17.11-16). His kingdom is not of the world (Jn. 18.36).
A church is a living spiritual body, an assembly of believers, as will be seen. One cannot have a foot in China, a toe in South Africa, and an arm in the United States: such an organism could not be a body and could not function as required by the Church Doctrine laid out in the Bible. The epistle speaks to the family of God (all believers) and to local churches. Those members of the church at Ephesus were fellowcitizens with the saints and of the household of God. They were built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. A building is all one, not part here and part somewhere else. They were a living organism, made of living stones, founded upon a living stone who is the chief cornerstone (1 Pe. 2.4-8, Ep. 2.1-14, Ro. 8.1-13).
Paul states, “I am an apostle.” An apostle is the highest office the church has ever had. No one today is an apostle because no one can meet the requirements. The requirements of an apostle are:
(1) The apostles received their commission directly from the living lips of Jesus Christ. Paul made that claim for himself. He wrote, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Ga. 1.1). This is the reason Paul took the place of Judas, according to Dr. McGee. The disciples had selected Matthias, but one can find no where in the Bible that Jesus Christ made him an apostle. Apparently all the apostles received their commission directly from the Lord Jesus.
(2) The apostles saw the Saviour after His resurrection. Paul could meet that requirement.
(3) The apostles exercised a special inspiration. They expounded and wrote Scripture (See John 14.26; 16.13; Ga. 1.11, 12). Paul measures up to that more than any apostle.
(4) They exercised supreme authority (Jn. 20.22, 23; 2 Co. 10.8);
(5) The badge of authority was the power to work miracles (Mk. 6.13; Lk. 9.1, 2; Ac. 2.43). Such power is not invested in men today. That was the badge of an apostle. John wrote at the end of the first centruy, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speec” (2 Jn. 10). The badge was no longer the ability to work miricles but having right doctrine.
(6) They were given a universal commission to found churches (2 Co. 11.28).
Paul expressly met these six requirements for apostleship. “By the will of God.” He rested his apostleship upon the will of God rather than any personal ambition or will of man or request of the church. He wrote to the Galatians: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Ga. 1:15-16). Paul said to Timothy, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Ti. 1:12-13 ). Paul made constant reference to the will of God as the foundation of his apostleship. He says it in 1 Co. 1.1, 2 Co. 1.1, Col. 1.1, and 2 Ti. 1.1.
“To the saints in Ephesus.” Saint means holy or separated. The primary intent of the word is “set aside for the sole use of God, that which belongs to God.” The pots and pans in the Tabernacle were called holy vessels because they were for the use of God. A saint, my friend, is one who has trusted Christ and is set aside for the sole use of God. There are only two types of people, the saints, and the ain’ts. If you are not a saint, then you are not an ain’t. If you ain’t an ain’t, then you are a saint. There are some saints who are not being used of God. That is their fault. They are set aside for the use of God and for His service. Saints are not saints because of the way they act, but because of their position in Christ. They belong to Him to be used of Him.
“At Ephesus.” Yes, this was written to a local body of believers, but the principles are for believers in every local body.
“And to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” These are believers. A saint should be saintly, and a believer should be faithful.
“In Christ Jesus.” This epistle is going to amplify this wonderful thing. To be saved means to be in Christ. A believer is irrevocably and organically joined to Christ by baptism of the Holy Spirit (See, e.g., Ac. 1.8, 2.1-4, 8.17, 10.46, 19.6). Once saved, a person belongs to the family of God. “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Co. 6.17). Believers belong to Him. The Lord Jesus said, “Ye in me and I in you.” Believers are in Christ and Christ is in a believers. We are joined to Him. Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians, according to Dr. McGee, should be given top priority among the epistles. Ephesians is the book of Joshua of the New Testament, and it speaks directly to the believer in a personal way.
v2 “Grace to you, and peace.” These two words are Paul’s greeting. The grace of God is the means by which He saves us. You must know the grace of God before you can know the peace of God. Paul always put them in that order – grace and peace. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro. 5.1).
You see the word peace everywhere today, generally referring to peace in some section of the world, or world peace. But the world can never know peace until it knows the grace of God. You don’t see the word grace very much. You see the word love and the word peace. They are very familiar words, and they are supposed to be taken from the Bible, but they don’t mean what they mean in the Word of God. Peace is peace with God because our sins are forgiven. Our sins can never be forgiven until we know the grace of God.
“From God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” The grace and peace are from God our Father. He becomes our Father when we experience the grace of God and are regenerated by the Spirit of God. Grace and peace also come from the Lord Jesus Christ. Why didn’t Paul say they also came from the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit was already indwelling believers. The Lord Jesus was seated at God’s right hand. When we get our geography right, it even helps our theology.
2. God the Father Planned and Ordained the Institution of the Church, verses 3-6
v1 He blessed us and we praise Him with our lips because of that. Our blessing is a declaration, His blessings are deeds. We pronounce Him blessed. He makes us blessed. The word blessed is the thought of happiness and joy.
“In heavenly places in Christ. Here we are, blessed with all spiritual blessings, and it’s in places which are like heaven. Why? Because they places they assemble together in are like heaven. “Places” is a plural noun. “Heavenly” is an adjective which modifies “places.” If one gets His grammar correct, as did the translators of the King James Bible as led by the Holy Spirit, he gets his theology correct. The believer is in “heavenly places” in Christ even when he is down in the dumps. This is the position He has given us. No matter what “place” a believer is in, he is from heaven since he, as a new creature in Christ, is now indwelt by the Holy Spirit which is from heaven. The Holy Spirit from heaven now indwells Him.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We praise Him because He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings.The parallel is Joshua in the Old Testament. Canaan is a picture of where we live today. It could never be heaven because there are enemies to be fought and battles to be won. Believers, in a kingdom not of this world, are to fight a spiritual battle here on earth. When we get to heaven, there will be no more battles.
There are two ways to treat your spiritual possessions: either to lay hold of them or not to lay hold of them. Children of God today are not to live off the little wine of this world. They are not to engage in cheap entertainment. God wants the believer to know that he has been blessed with all spiritual blessings. He has not promised us physical blessings, but spiritual ones, and these are in “heavenly places” in Christ. The believer will not have any spiritual blessing that does not come through Jesus Christ.
Now we come to God’s blueprint. What did God do in planning the church? He did three things: (1) He chose us in Christ. (2) He predestinated us to the place of sonship. (He accepted us in the Beloved.
The Bible now talks about election and predestination. This passage of Scripture is very difficult. The meaning of these words is very important. For Dr. McGee’s complete teaching on these verses, see the teaching on the relevant verses at Ephesians. I include here some choice selections from those teachings.
Ephesians 1:4: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”
The whole thought is: Open your gift and see what God has done for you, and then move out in faith and lay hold of it and live today on the high plane to which God has brought you. He’s made you a son and blessed you with all spiritual blessings. This was all according to His plan. His church is like heaven, but it is located on earth.
God the Father planned the church, God the Son paid the price for the church, and God the Holy Spirit protects the church. The source of all our blessings is God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is altogether of God and not at all of ourselves. You and I are not the originators nor the promoters nor the consummators of our salvation. God did it all.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” God planned our salvation way back yonder in eternity. God did the saving. Our part was the sinning. Dr. Ironside tells this story. A little boy was asked, “Have you found Jesus?” The little fellow answered, “Sir, I didn’t know He was lost. But I was lost and He found me.” You don’t find Jesus. He finds you. He is the One who went out after the lost sheep, and He is the One who found that sheep.
God chose believers before the foundation of the world. He did not choose us because we were good or because we had done some good. The entire choice is thrown back upon the sovereignty of the wisdom and goodness of God alone. If He did the choosing, then he’s responsible.
God choose Israel. (See Amos 3.1,2). God chose the institution of the church in eternity. He knew the end from the beginning. He knew the end from the beginning (see Ac. 15.18).
God did all this for a purpose: “… that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” God chose us in order to save and sanctify us. He saves and sanctifies us that we might be holy. A holy life is demanded by God’s election. Don’t tell me that you can say, “Well, I’m one of the elected. I have been saved by grace, and now I can do as I please” (see Romans 6.1, 2). You can’t use grace as a license to sin. If you go on living in sin, it is because you are a sinner who hasn’t been saved.
God also elected us so that we should be “without blame.” The believer is seen before God as without blame. We see an example of this in Israel. God would not permit Balaam to curse Israel or to find fault with His people (see Nu. 23.21).
The believer’s life has been changed. If there is no evidence of change, then you are not one of the elect. … He has made every provision to absolve them of all blame (see 1 Jn. 2.1, 2).
By the way, that answers once and for all the question of limited atonement, that is, that Christ died only for the elect. 1 Jn. 2.1, 2 makes clear that He died for the sins of the whole world: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. A legitimate offer has been sent out to you today from God, and that offer is that Jesus Christ has died for you. You can’t hide and say, “I am not one of the elect.” You are of the elect if you hear His voice. You can choose not to hear His voice. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3.19-21). “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14.6). “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (Jn. 10.9). “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6.37). “… I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10.10).
“The whosoeverwills are the elect and the whosoeverwon’ts are the non-elect.” It is up to you. The Lord has made the invitation. The Lord has extended the invitation. Whosoever will may come. Don’t try to say you are left out. God so loved the world. Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish. Dr. McGee does not believe that you can have “mental reservations.” The problem is that you have sin in your life, and the Bible condemns it. If you come to Christ, to the light, you will have to turn from that sin, and some just don’t want to turn from their sin.
“Chosen us in him.” Again and again the Word of God emphasizes God’s sovereign choice (see 2 Thes. 2.13, 14; 1 Pe. 1.2). Election and sanctification seem to go together and they are both in the Lord Jesus Christ. If God has saved you, He hasn’t saved you because you are good but because you are not good (Ro. 9.14-16), you recognized it, had a Godly sorrow because of your sin, and you turned to God (repented) because you realized that only He could save you from your sin (Tit. 2.11-14; Jn. 3.16-22; 2 Co. 7.8-11). God will have mercy and compassion upon anyone who turns to Him and trusts the Lord Jesus Christ to save him.
A good illustration is in Acts 27. Paul told the men on the ship that no man’s life would be lost in the storm (Ac. 27.22-24). That is election. God had elected that no man should be lost. Later, Paul told a group of sailors who were about to let down a boat into the sea. Paul told the captain, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” God’s side of it was that none should be lost. But the condition was, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” That was man’s side of it—they had to stay in the ship.
God knows who the elect are. I don’t. Someone came to Spurgeon one time and said, “Mr. Spurgeon, if I believed as you do, I would not preach like you do. You say you believe that there are the elect, and yet you preach as if everybody can be saved.” Spurgeon’s answer was, “They can all be saved. If God had put a yellow streak up and down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the streets lifting up shirt tails to find out who had the yellow streak up and down his back. Then I’d give that person the gospel. But God didn’t do that. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature and that whosoever will may come.” That is our marching order.
Someone put it like this. On the door to heaven, from our side, it says, “Whosoever will may enter. I am the door: by Me if any man ….” Any man means you. You can come in, and find pasture and find life. When you get on the other side of the door someday in heaven, you’re going to look back, and on that door you will find written, “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.”
A blueprint for a beautiful building depicts the building, that when finished, shows the building in all its glory. So much more so, God has planned the institution of the church made up, at this time of local assemblies under Christ, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” The words “In love” are connected with verse 5:
Ephesians 1:5: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”
We are treading on the mountain tops in Ephesians. We’re in eternity past when God planned the church. God says, “Take it or leave it. This is the way I did it. You may not like it, but this is the way I did it, and I’m the one running this universe, you see.” God has not turned it over to any political party or to any individual yet. He certainly hasn’t turned it over to me, and all of us can shout a hearty “Amen” to that and thank Him He didn’t do it that way. God has done these three things in planning the institution of the church: First, He chose us. Second, he predestineated us to the place of sonship. Thirdly, He made us accepted of the beloved.
Men are not lost because they have not been elected. They are lost because they are sinners and that is the way they want it, the way they have chosen. The lost man makes his own choice. If there be not free will grace in God, how can He save the world? And if there be not free will in man, how can the world by God be judged?
God saves no one because he comes forward at an evangelistic campaign, because we were nice little boys or girls, because we have joined a church, or because we have an inclination to turn to Him. He saves us because He extends mercy. God said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and compassion on whom I will have compassion.” God told Moses He was going to hear and answer his prayer because, “… it’s not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”
All are in the same boat. All are lost sinners. A believer will not be in heaven because he has been baptized, because he is a pastor or a deacon, because he joined a church, or because he partakes of Sacraments. One will be in heaven because of the mercy of God. One is at best a sinner. Until one is willing to come to God as a nobody and then let Him make us somebody, you and I will never be saved.
In verse five we come to the next thing God did for us. “In love having predestined us.” Love and predestination, believe it or not, are in the same verse. Love required a choice. God’s love is involved in this word which has been frightful to a great many people. Predestination has to do with God’s purpose with those he chooses.
Predestination is never used in reference to unsaved people. God has never predestined anyone to be lost. If you are lost, it is because you have rejected God’s remedy. One has to determine for himself what his choice will be.
Predestination refers only to those who are saved. It means that when God starts out with 100 sheep, He is ging to come through with 100 sheep. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Ro. 8:28-29). Those who are called according to His purpose are predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. Romans goes on to tell how people are saved. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Ro. 8.30). When God starts out with 100 sheep, he will come through with 100 sheep.
A sheep can get lost (out of fellowship with Christ Jesus). But that little sheep is still a sheep even though he is way out yonder and lost. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53.6)—That’s our propensity, that’s our tendency; that’s the direction we go. So the Shepherd goes out and looks for that one lost sheep. Predestination means that He is going to bring me and every single sheep in. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Jn. 10.27-28). Sheep are stupid little fellows. They are save only because they have a wonderful shepherd.
We are predestinated “unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.” Adoption means that we are brought into the place of sons. It implies two things. Adoption means regeneration by the Holy Spirit. The child of God has been born again “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pe. 1.23). He is born again into a new relationship. Adoption means a place of position and privilege. When we are saved, we are born into the family of God as a babe in Christ; but, in addition, we are given the position of an adult son. We are in a position where we can understand the Word of the Father because He has given us the Holy Spirit as our Teacher. God communicates with us now. Paul tells us how: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Co. 2.12).
v6 All is for the glory of God. “Wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The Beloved is the Lord Jesus Christ who said “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17.24). God sees the believer in Christ and accepts the believer just as He receives His own Son. “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (Jn. 17.23).
God gets all the praise. He did it all. He chose us in Christ. He predestinated us to the place of sonship. He made us accepted in the beloved.
3. God the Son Paid the Price for the Church, verses 7-12, “redemption through his blood”
v7 Back in eternity past God chose us, predestined us, and made us accepted in the Beloved. Now we move out of eternity into time, where the plans of God the Father are placed into the hands of Christ, who moves into space and time to construct the church. The only thing that is repulsive about the blood redemption is sin. It is impossible to emphasize the blood of Christ too much. It is through His blood that we have redemption. The entire context of the Old Testament sets forth the expiation of sins by the blood of an animal sacrifice. Yet this could not take away sins—only Christ could execute that. See Hebrews. 10.6-13.
“In whom we have redemption.” “In whom” refers to Christ. We are accepted in the Beloved. Mt. 20.28: He came “to give his life a ransom for many.” 1 Co. 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Ga. 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” Christ redeemed us. We belong to Him.
Redemption also means to set free after paying the price. Lk. 21:28 “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Man is sold under sin and is in bondage to sin. Man is rotten, corrupt sinner and he cannot do anything else but sin—he is a slave to sin. Christ came to pay the price of man’s freedom. Jn. 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
This redemption is “through His blood”—that was the price which he paid. 1 Pe. 1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The blood of Christ is more valuable than silver and gold. There is not much of it. A limited supply increases the value. One drop of Christ’s blood can save every sinner on earth, if the sinner will trust Christ. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” He. 9.22.
“The forgiveness of sins.” Forgiveness is not the act of an indulgent deity who is moved by sentiment to the exclusion of justice, righteousness, and holiness. Forgiveness depends on shedding of blood.
Human forgiveness and divine forgiveness are not the same. … Human forgiveness comes before the penalty is executed. Divine forgiveness depends upon the penalty being executed. The righteousness of the law demands that the penalty be paid. Judges on earth are to exact justice. Are they willing to pay the penalty if they forgive? God paid the penalty, and then he forgave. [See McGee, Ephesians, pp. 41-43.
“According to the riches of His Grace.” [Dr. McGee explains the difference between “according to the riches of His Grace” and “out of the riches of His Grace.”]
We are dealing with the work of God the Son on behalf of the church. That work is threefold: (1) Christ redeemed us through His blood, (2) He has revealed the mystery of His will, and (3) He rewards us with an inheritance.
We saw that Christ bought us to set us free. God never asks what we have done for Hm. When He saves you by grace, it does not put you in debt to Him. He bought you in order to set you free. But we certainly are to serve Him. But it is on another basis, a new relationship—the relationship now is love. Jn. 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He did not say, “because I am dying for you, keep my commandments.” If you don’t love Him, forget about this business of service.
For more of the Dr. McGee’s study on Ephesians 1.7, click here.
Now we are ready for the second work of God the Son on behalf to the church: Christ revealed the mystery of His will in vv 8-12.
vv8-10 A mystery in Scripture means that God is revealing something that, up to that time, He had not revealed. There are two elements to a New Testament mystery: (1) It cannot be discovered by human agencies, for it is always a revelation from God; (2) It is revealed at the proper time and not concealed, and enough is revealed to establish the fact without all the details being disclosed.
There are 11 mysteries in the NT. (See McGee, Ephesians, pp. 45-46). God hasn’t told us everything about these mysteries. There are a lot of questions one could ask about them, but only God knows the answers.
Click here to go to Dr. McGee’s audio teaching on Ep. 8-11. He explains “mystery (including the mysteries in the New Testament),” “dispensation (a word like “blood,” “cross” that is hated), “fullness of time toward which God is moving all things,” “believers’ inheritance,” which God had purposed and “predestined.” Christ paid for the church.
v11-12 God rewards us for something we have not done. Believers will inherit with Christ because they are in Christ. See Ro. 8.17, 1 Co.3.21-23. Everything is mine. Christ belongs to me, Paul belongs to me, death may belong to me. All is mine because He has given it to me. God is mine! This is to the saved. God never predestined anyone to be lost. He predestined the saved to receive an inheritance which I did not deserve. It is a reward out of His grace and not out of my merit.
These are three marvelous things Christ has done for us: (1) Redeemed us with His blood; (2) Revealed the mystery of His will; (3) Rewards us with an inheritance. He paid for the church, and I belong to Him because He paid a price. Men living today will all be gone in 100 years. But God’s plans will be carried out!
v12. Man exists for God’s glory. The believer exists for the glory of God. The third doxology concerns the work of the Holy Spirit.
- God the Holy Spirit Protects a Church, verses 13, 14 “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body”
v13 We’re passing from the God’s work for us to the work of the Holy Spirit in us. In this work of regeneration and renewing, the Holy Spirit causes a sinner to hear and believe in his heart, and that makes Him a child of God (Jn. 1.12).
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth.” Hearing means to hear not just the sound of words but to hear with understanding (1 Co. 1.23, 24). The called are those who heard with understanding. God called them (See Ro. 10.17). Those who are called hear the Word of God and respond to it, then they are born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God…” (1 Pe. 1.23). The moment one trusts in Christ, he is regenerated.
“In whom after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” One is baptized in the Holy Spirit the moment he trusts Christ. He is also sealed at that moment. The Spirit does the work. He regenerates the sinner at the same time that He seals the sinner.
The two-fold purpose in the sealing work of the Holy Spirit is (1) He implants the image of God upon the heart to give reality to the believer (See Jn. 3.33). (2) the sealing is to denote rightful ownership. (2 Ti. 2.19). If you name the name of Christ, you are going to depart from iniquity. If there is not this evidence, then you were not regenerated or sealed. The Holy Spirit is the seal, and that guarantees that Do is going to deliver us. We are sealed to the day of redemption.
v14 The third and final work of the Holy Spirit in protecting the church. The Holy Spirit is our earnest money (money put down to hold property with more to come). He has been given as a pledge and token that there is more to follow in the way of spiritual blessings. All this is to “the praise of his glory.” This is the third doxology in this chapter. Here it is to the praise of the glory of God that the Holy Spirit regenerates us, becomes our refuge and seal, and gives us reality. All these glorious truths move Paul to prayer.
5. Prayer of Paul on behalf of the Ephesians for Knowledge and Power, verses 15-23
The Ephesian church was noted for its faith and love, real love expressed by the saints. This was the church at its highest. Sadly, many negative things motivate us to pray. Paul was often motivated by good things. Do we pray, e.g., “Oh God, I thank you for this brother and the way You are using him”? “Thank you God for the way you are using [a church or its preacher]”? Or do we pray, “I want this, I want that, I want another thing”? Why don’t we thank Him sometimes. We need more thanksgiving services, maybe more than just once a year. We need to praise Him more.
Paul said, “I cease not to give thanks for you.” Paul wept with the believers at Ephesus when he took leave of them. He loved them, and they loved him. You can judge a church by their love for each other and their love for the Word of God.
Paul was a great man of prayer, which you will see if you go through and make a list of all those he prayed for. There are two of Paul’s prayers in this epistle. This is the first one. The other is at the end of the third chapter. Both indicate his concern as a child of God for other believers. Ananias in Damascus was afraid to go to Paul. The angel said to him, “Behold he prayeth.” (Acts 9.11). This was an indication to Ananias that something had happened to Saul of Tarsus.
“Cease not to give thanks for you.” “Making mention of you in all my prayers.” That means he called them all by name.
Now we will see that he does not pray for material things but for spiritual blessings.
Paul, having written that the church is the body of Christ, and that God the Father planned it, God the Son paid for it, and God the Holy Spirit protects it, recognized that the Ephesians wouldn’t be able to understand all this unless the Spirit of God was their teacher and opened the Word of God to them. That is the only way anyone will ever understand the Word of God.
SEE P. 57 FOR TREMENDOUS TESTIMONIAL TO LAST PARAGRAPH.
v18 As far as spiritual knowledge is concerned, no person can understand it apart from the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
vv19-20 God’s mighty power was enough to raise Christ from the dead. Resurrection power and power to set Christ at God’s right hand (ascension power). This same power is available to believers today. Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
Ephesians 1:21-23 “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
Thus Paul concludes on a tremendously high note. The church at Ephesus church (and every local church under Christ – see also, e.g., 1 Co. 12.27) is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the church. Hebrews 2:8 “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.”
At the present time, the only thing that is under Him are his true local New Testament churches—the real churches which make up the institution of the church—made up of real believers. There are many organized groups who call themselves churches who are not listening to the Lord Jesus. These “churches” are paralyzed. You see, the most tragic sight to see is a child of God lying on a bed, helpless, as if his brain is detached from his body. I’ve seen many churches that have been like that, and there are many individual Christians today who act as if they are detached from Christ, the head of the body. He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” In other words, I can wiggle my little finger because my head is in charge of it; and when He wants you to “wiggle” down here, yo do it because of love, or else you’re not attached to Him. How important this is! Paul pictures the church (which consists now of local autonomous New Testament spiritual assemblies or bodies) and our relationship to it in this way: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 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 Co. 12.12-13). The thing we need to see is that Christ is the head of the body, the local church, His churches, who are under Him.
A Church Is a TEMPLE
The chapter begins with “wherefore,” letting us know it is a continuation of the thought of the first chapter. The power that raised Jesus from the dead (chapter 1) is the same power that makes one a child of God because everyone is dead in trespasses and sins after he has been made alive in Christ. That takes power! It takes resurrection power. This power will be exhibited by a church which is the body of Christ in this world. The Lord Jesus expresses Himself in the world today through his church.
A church as a temple corresponds to the temple of the Old Testament which was, in turn, preceded by the tabernacle of the wilderness. The comparison is self-evident. The contrasts between the church and the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament are sharp and striking.
- The tabernacle and the temple, for instance, were made of living trees of acacia wood that were hewn into dead boards. In order to form A church, God takes dead material and makes it into a living temple.
- The temple and the tabernacle were dwelling places for the glory of God. A church is a dwelling place for the Person of the Holy Spirit.
- Nor does a church have a ritual. It is a functional organism in which the Holy Spirit moves through the living stones. The tabernacle and the temple were for the performance of a ritual and the repetition of a sacrifice for sin. A church is built upon the one sacrifice of Christ in the historical past, a sacrifice which is not repeated: Hebrews 9:25-26: “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
- Also, the church is not a “temple made with hands.”Acts 17:24-25: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” “Ye” is plural. The Holy Spirit is writing to the local church, specifically the church at Corinth, but also to all local churches of Christ.
- Another sharp contrast to the Old Testament temple is the position of the Gentiles. Gentiles had to come as proselytes and were confined to the Court of the Gentiles. The Court of the Gentiles was way off to the left as you look into the temple. The Gentiles did not get very close. That is why Paul says, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ep. 2:13). Gentile believers are now seated in “heavenly places” in Christ!
Israel never did believe that God was confined to the temple. See 1 K. 8.27.
THE MATERIAL FOR CONSTRUCTION (vv1-10)
vv1-2 The devil takes this dead material and energizes us. That is the reason the cults are as busy as termites. False religionists put us to shame in their zeal. Satan is energizing them. Satan is able to duplicate a great many of the miracles that are scriptural miracles.
Verses 1-7 compose a single periodic sentence in the Greek. It is difficult to read. Koine Greek is generally easy to read, but here is a periodic sentence that reveals that Paul was capable of writing better Greek than the Koine of his day. Etc. See McGee, Ephesians, p. 67.
The death of Adam was imputed to us. Ro. 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Adam died spiritually the day he disbelieved and disobeyed God. He ran away from God and tried to hide. That is the position of natural man today. Adam had lost his capacity and longing for God. He was separated from God. Death is separation. Physical death is separation of the spirit and the soul from the body. Spiritual death is a separation from God. Only the convicting work of the Holy Spirit can prick the conscience of any man in the world today. John 16:8: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
An old Irishman described a cemetery: “A cemetery is a place where the dead live.” That describes our world.
Adam trespassed. He stepped over God’s bounds. Sin means to miss the mark. Man’s condition before he is saved: dead in trespasses and sins and energized by Satan. Every unsaved man is walking around like a spiritual zombie. While lost, we walked according to the spirit of the age. We conformed to the society and the civilization and the life-style of the world. We were walking according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that energizes the sons of disobedience.
A lot of people come to church on Sunday, pious as a church mouse. On Monday, they start out in this rough workaday world just as mean and hard and after the almighty dollar as everyone else. See James 4.1-4.
See 1 Jn. 2.15-17.
In this section of the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul is giving a description of the past, present, and future of the church and of all believers.
vv4-6 starts with “but,” an important thing. We were dead in trespasses and sins, completely incapable of saving ourselves. God loves us, but He saves us by His grace, not by His love.
vv8, 9 Great verses which consummate this section on the believer’s past, present, and future.
v10 All believers from the day of Pentecost to the rapture, the real believers, most of whom are members of local churches, are His workmanship and His new creation in Christ Jesus.
THE METHOD OF CONSTRUCTION
vv11, 12 The church at Ephesus was made up largely of Gentiles, with just a small number of Jews. Gentiles are further identified as the “uncircumcision,” put on them by the so-called “circumcision,” the Jews. After God called out Abraham until the advent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Israel was a unique nation. A Gentile could only come as a proselyte. This distinction caused friction because Israel became proud of her position. Israelites came to look down on Gentiles, and hatred crept into the hearts of both groups.
These verses give a description of the sad lot and hopeless plight of the Gentiles. It is an accurate picture of any lost man: “Without Christ,” “Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” “Strangers from the covenants of promise,” “having no hope,” (the religions of the world have no hope) and “without God in the world” (man has removed himself from God, not the other way around.).
The covenants God made with Israel are still valid, and no Gentile has any right to appropriate them. God promised them that land, and will give it to them one day, on God’s terms, not theirs.
v13 For Gentiles in Christ, all that has changed. They have been made nigh by the blood of Christ.
vv14-17 Everyone in Christ stands on equal footing. We will be with Christ throughout eternity. When a Jew and Gentile are placed in Christ, there is peace. God has brought both Jew and Gentile to a higher plane. The true brotherhood is composed of those who are in Christ. Both Jew and Gentile come to the cross as sinners, where they are made a new creature.
The Old Testament temple succeeded by the tabernacle had partitions. There were three entrances into the three departments: the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. There were three entrances into the three departments: the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. Then there were sections partitioned off for priests, Israel, women, and Gentiles. Christ, by His death, took out the veil, and He became the way (the outer court), the truth (the holy place), and the life (the holy of holies). Now we come through Christ and come directly into the presence of God the Father. Those who come to Him are removed from their little departments and are placed in Christ, the new Temple where there are no departments. The cross dissolves the fences, and the gospel is preached to the Gentiles, those who were afar off, and to the Jews, those who were near.
v 18 Both Jew and Gentile “have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
THE MEANING OF THE CONSTRUCTION (vv 19-23)
Ephesians 2:19-22 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
“Saints” is not referring to OT saints. Gentile and Jewish believers belong to a household, the household of God, as relatives, as members of the family of God. They are His dear children (1 Jn. 2.12). Even David, the man after God’s own heart, is called, “my servant David” in 2 S. 7.8; and God’s term for Moses was also “my servant” in Nu. 12.7.
Citizenship is not in Israel and the earthly Jerusalem, but in heaven. Philippians 3:20 “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The apostles laid the foundation. Acts 2:42: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
The prophets in verse 20 are New Testament prophets, as will be confirmed when we get to the third chapter.
Christ is the chief corner stone, the rock on which the church is built. 1 Co. 3:11: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” See also 1 Pe. 2.6-8.
vv21-22 The church, now made up of local assemblies under Christ, is under construction today and it will be finished. It is growing into an holy temple in the Lord. The church is growing, it is made up of living, born again, stones who are growing into a living temple. The Holy Spirit silently regenerates dead sinners. At the moment of salvation, a sinner becomes a member of the family of God. God’s plan for him is that he should now become a part of a local church under Christ. All believers will one day be in the universal church established at the marriage of the Lamb(Heb. 12.22-24; Re. 19.7-10). God indwells believers, not buildings. God has never dwelt in any building made with hands, and it is a pagan philosophy which places God in a human-made structure.
A church is to reveal the presence and the glory of God on earth. When believers assemble together in a church, the impression should be made upon the world, even in this age, that God is in His holy temple.
The Church Is a Mystery
Covenant theology ignores the clear-cut statement of Paul that the church is not a revelation of the OT. They treat the church as a continuation of Israel. It appropriates all the promises that God made to Israel and applies them to the church. One of their Bibles heads some of the chapters written by the prophets in the OT “Blessings for the Church.” Other chapters are headed: “Curses for Israel.” They give the blessings in the OT to the church and the curses to Israel.
Hyperdispensationalists places undue emphasis on Paul’s statements, “he made known to me the mystery,” and “my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,” and they treat the mystery as the peculiar revelation to Paul. As a result, there has been the pernicious practice of shifting the beginning of the church to some day after Pentecost, with several dates having been suggested. This claim to superior knowledge has ministered to spiritual pride. When the church was revealed, the revelation was not confined to the Apostle Paul.
THE EXPLANATION OF THE MYSTERY
vv1, 2 Paul became a prisoner because he took the gospel to the Gentiles. Now new privileges are accorded the Gentiles, which he enumerated in the preceding chapter. Paul now speaks of the mystery, then he prays for them. Both Paul and Peter had the same message; Peter to the Jews, Paul to the Gentiles. Compare Ac. 4.12 (Peter to the Jews) and Ac. 16.31 (Paul to the Gentiles).
They is now a brand new thing taking place, a different economy or dispensation (v 2). Paul as a Pharisee never went out to preach to the Gentiles. He is now under a new economy. He is missionary to the Gentiles. God’s method of salvation had not changed. No man was saved by keeping the law, but by a bloody sacrifice that pointed to Christ.
vv3, 4 The hyperdispensationalists hold that because Paul said the mystsery had been made known to him, he was the only one who knew it. However, in verse 5 Paul makes it clear that the Spirit made it known to all the apostles and prophets. The “revelation” began with Paul’s conversion when Christ informed him that when he was persecuting the church he was persecuting Christ.
vv5, 6 The mystery was not revealed to Paul alone. No one in the OT had a glimmer of light relative to the church. It is now revealed to God’s holy apostles. Holy means set aside for this office by God. The “prophets” are definitely NT prophets. The Holy Spirit is the teacher.The Father promised his disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (Jn. 15:16).
The OT clearly taught that the Gentiles would be saved. See Is. 11.10, 42.6, 60.3; Zech. 2.11; Mal. 1.11. So that the Gentiles should be saved is not a mystery.
So what is the mystery? They mystery was that the Gentiles and Israel were placed on the same basis. By faith in Christ they were both brought into the family of Christ, to form His local New Testament churches.
Threefold division of the human race: (1) From Adam to Abraham all people were Gentiles (2000 years plus). (2) From Abraham to Christ, all people were either Jews or Gentiles (2000 years). (3) The threefold division is Jews and Gentiles in Christ from the day of Pentecost to the rapture. (2000 years plus). Paul referred to this threefold division when he said, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Co. 10.32).
The church is not in the OT, although there are types of the church in the OT. The church was all Jewish when it began, but there was a period of transition when Gentiles were brought into it.
v7 Paul takes no position of superiority. He takes only the title of “minister” which means a worker or helper or deacon (in the original).
It was the gift of God’s grace which had transformed him from Saul, the proud Pharisee who persecuted the church, to Paul, the apostle who was now a prisoner for Jesus Christ. All that had been accomplished was through the working of the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul had both the gift and the power of an apostle.
vv8, 9 There are a lot of things God has not told us yet. We don’t know very much right now. We will never understand and apply, a fraction of what God has revealed to us in His Word, even though He has told us very little. Man can discover some things, but there are some things man can never find out except by revelation. The church was a mystery in that sense.
In v 8 Paul calls himself “less that the least of all saints.” Paul always took the place of humility as an apostle. “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Co. 15.9). “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Ti. 1.12-13). How unlike many “pastors” was Paul the apostle.
Paul was chosen to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. “And to make all men see”—the mystery is not to be argued or debated but is to be preached. And Paul was to make all men see the economy (the dispensation) of the mystery.
vv10, 11 Another purpose of the mystery is revealed here. God’s created intelligencies are learning something of the wisdom of God through the church. They not only see the love of God displayed and lavished upon us, but the wisdom of God is revealed to His angels. All according to God’s eternal purpose.
v12 We, the Gentiles, and Paul, the persecutor, have freedom of speech before God and access or introduction to Him. This is all made possible in Christ aside from man’s earthly laws.
v13 “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” Because of the great goals of the mystery which Paul has enumerated, he is willing to suffer imprisonment as the apostle to the Gentiles. He did not want the Ephesians to be discouraged because of it because Paul was working for his good and their glory. See Col. 1.24.
PRAYER FOR POWER AND KNOWLEDGE
V14 This is the Paul’s 2nd great prayer in this epistle. He got down on his knees. He prayed to “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This prayer, like all other prayers in the Scriptures, is very brief. Moses’ prayer for Israel was 3 verses long. Elija, on top of Mt. Carmel – one verse. Nehemiah’s – 7 verses. The prayer of our Lord in Jn. 17 takes only 3 minutes to read. Briefest prayer , Simon Peter, 3 words (Mt. 4.30). Prayer should be brief and to the point.
v15 God has a wonderful family.
vv13-19 “according to the riches of his glory.” Paul makes 4 petitions on behalf of the Ephesians: (1) That they might “be strengthened with might [power] by his Spirit in the inner man.” (2) That “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” (3) That the believers may know the dimensions of the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. The breadth. The length. The depth. the height. (4) That believers “might be filled up to the fullness of God.”
vv20-21 This is both a doxology and a benediction which concludes the prayer. This is a mighty outburst of spiritual praise.
II. PRACTICAL, the Earthly Conduct of A Church (Vocation), Chapters 4-6
Church is a new man; therefore the church must walk as a new man
Now we come to the believer’s manner of life, his earthly walk. This is an earthly walk, but not a worldly walk. In chapters 1-3, we considered the calling, construction, and constitution of the church. In this section, we consider the conduct, confession, and conflict of a church. The church is a new man; in the future the church will be a bride; and the church is also a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
In Chapters 1-3 we were on the mountain peak. In this last division we descent to the plane of living where we confront a demon-possessed world and a skeptical mob. It is down where the rubber meets the road. Are we able to translate the truths of the mountain top into shoe leather? Are we able to walk throught the world in a way that pleases the Lord?
Possession is the great word in the book of Joshua. Position was a key word in the first half of Ephesians—God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. God has given them to us, but are we walking down here in possession of them? The unsearchable riches in Christ must be searched out with the spiritual Geiger counter, which is the Word of God.
Up to now there have been glorious declarations, but now there will be commands. The church is to make itself visible down here in a local assembly. This section is the practical side of Ephesians.
If you are not a child of God, God is not asking you to do the commands in this epistle. What follows is for those who have been redeemed and have heard the Word of truth. Dead men cannot walk no matter how insistently they are urged to walk. The dead man must first be made alive. The top sergeant doesn’t go out to the cemetery and yell, “Attention! Forward march!” Religions are saying to a dying world, “Do something and you will be somebody.” God says the opposite: “Be somebody and then you can do something.”
THE EXHIBITION OF THE NEW MAN (vv1-6)
v1 “Therefore.” A connective, a transition word. Paul is a “prisoner of the Lord,” because of his position in Christ.
He beseeches [begs] the Ephesians to “walk worthy” of our calling. Phill. 1.27, 1 Co. 1.10, 1 Thes. 2.10. Paul begs us to walk worthy of the gospel. It’s not so much as how you walk, it’s is where you walk. 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Walking in the light is in the light of the Word of God.
vv2, 3 “Lowliness” means a mind brought low; lowliness means the opposite of pride. Lowliness is the flagship of all Christian virtues. Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Many pastors, seeing themselves as clergy, the only spiritual ones in a church, become very proud and controlling over the so-called “laity.”
Meekness means mildness, but it does not mean weakness. 2 men in Scripture who are noted for being meek. In the OT it was Moses and in the NT it was the Lord Jesus. Moses came down from the mountain and broke the tablets. Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. The Bible calls meekness a willingness to stand and to the will of God regardless of the cost. Meekness is bowing yourself to the will of God.
“Longsuffering” means a long temper. This is a fruit of the Spirit (Ga. 5.22).
“Forebearing one another in love” means to hold one’s self back in the spirit of love. See Col. 3.13. “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit.” John 17:21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”.
vv4-6 Lists 7 unities: one body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism (ritual baptism is by water and spiritual baptism is baptism by Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit – baptism with the Holy Ghost by Jesus Christ), one God and Father of all (God’s fatherhood of all believer’s).
THE INHIBITION OF THE NEW MAN (v7-16)
v7 God has given every one of us grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. God gives gifts to believers as we see in Ro. 12, and 1 Co. 12, 13, and 14. The gift of a believer is for the purpose of building up the body of believers, for the profit of the whole body of believers. The gift is given a believer to benefit and bless the church. When each believer functions in his peculiar gift, it produces a harmony, and does each member of the human body. However, when one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.
v8 Quotes Ps. 68.18, but the Holy Spirit changes the words, for a purpose. In the OT, the Lord Jesus had received gifts from men, then He came to earth. Now He has been here and gone back to heaven. He is distributing the gifts among men. “When He ascended up on high” refers to His ascension. He led captivity captive,–He took the redeemed of the OT who were in Paradise with Him to heaven, to the very presence of God. Now, when a believer dies, he absent from the body and present with the Lord (cf. 2 Co. 5.8; Phill. 1.23). When Christ ascended He gave gifts to men—this means He conferred gifts upon living believers in the church so that they might witness to the world. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit baptized believers into the body of Christ and then endowed them with certain gifts, enabling them to function as members of the local body.
vv9-10 He brought the OT saints out of Paradise to the throne of God. (There are other interpretations).
vv11-13 This does not refer to the gifts He has given men. This says Christ takes certain men who have been given certain gifts, and He gives them to the church. For what purpose: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ.” These gifted men are given to the church so that it might be brought to full maturity.
The purpose of a church is to complete itself so that it might grow up. The pastor’s job is to build up the members of the church for the work of the ministry.
v14 “That we henceforth be no more children.” We are to have inhibitions. We are not to run around like a bunch of crying babies. We are not to be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lay in wait to deceive.”
vv15-16 The believer is to love truth, live it, and speak it. Christ is the head. The body of believers is compared to a physical body and is called the body of Christ. The body receives orders from the Head, but also spiritual nutriment. This produces a harmony where each member of the body is functioning in his place as he receives spiritual supplies from the head. The spiritual body has an inward dynamic, love, whereby it renews itself.
THE PROHIBITION OF THE NEW MAN (vv17-32)
vv 17-19 New morality is nothing more than old sin. There is liberty in Christ but it is not a license to sin. Here we find some prohibitions for the child of God. now Paul gives a picture of the lives of Gentiles and the lives of the Ephesians before their conversion.
Paul gives 4 aspects of the walk of the Gentiles which illustrate the absolute futility and insane purpose of the life of the lost man.
- “In the vanity of their mind” means the empty illusion of the life that thinks there is satisfaction in sin.
- “”having the understanding darkened” means that the lost man has lost his perception darkened.
- Being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them” is a picture of all mankind without Christ.
- Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness [which is uncleanness], to work all uncleanness with greediness [or covetousness]. Continuance in this brings them down to the level where they have no feeling of wrongdoing. They covet the absolute depths of immorality. They become abandoned to sin. This is what it means in Ro. that God gave them up to all uncleanness through their own lusts. You can reach the place where you are an abandoned sinner.
vv20-21 If anyone is not listening to Jesus, Jesus must not be his savior. If you do not hear the voice of the shepherd, you are one of his sheep.
vv22-24 The putting off the old and putting on the new cannot be done by self-effort, nor by striving to imitate Christ’s conduct. It has been done for the believing sinner by the death of Christ.
We have a new nature. This is the result of regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
“Which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” This is the imputed righteousness of Christ. Our walk should be commensurate with our position.
vv25-27 Paul returns to the prohibitions which he began in verse 17. These injunctions continue through the remainder of the epistle. Speaking the truth would resolve most of the problems in the average church. In a church, there ought to be honesty and truth among the members.
“Be angry and sin not.”
vv30: “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.”
vv31-32 are sins of an emotional nature
The church will be a bride
The emphasis on this chapter is the future. The universal church is not a bride today. A church is a new man walking in the world, and is engaged TO Christ. The institution of the church today is made up of local, autonomous New Testament assemblies. The church will be a bride after the rapture (Re. 21.2, 9).
On this earth, we are to walk as a future bride. We are engaged now. 2 Corinthians 11:2 “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
THE ENGAGEMENT OF THE CHURCH (vv1-17)
vv1, 2 “Therefore” connects this section with the preceding where the walk of the believer is under consideration and continues the injunctions for Christian conduct. These injunctions have a definite bearing upon the church which will be presented to Christ without spot or blemish.
Believers, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, can grieve the Holy Spirit. If we engage in the sins mentioned in Chapter 4, verse 31, it does not mean we are not children of God, it means that the world will not believe that we are the children of God.
The believer cannot walk with a grieved Holy Spirit, for only the Spirit can bring forth this fruit. Love is the first on the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Ga. 5.22.
vv3, 4 The sins described here are those which are prevalent among unbelievers. They are the common sins in the world. All of them have to do with low forms of immorality. Paul is saying that the child of God cannot habitually engage in these. Even a slight indulgence brings about a revulsion and agony of soul. If you can get into sin and not be troubled or bothered by it, you are not a child of God. Confessing sin restores fellowship. The great need of all believers is to go to God and tell Him what is really in our hearts.
If you are living in fornication today, you cannot be a child of God. A child of God cannot confess a sin and then persist in living in that sin.
v5 A person who practices these sins is not a child of God.
vv6, 7 God’s wrath is poured out on those who practice the sins in vv3-5. God’s wrath is never poured out on His children. He chastises His children. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32: “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
vv8-10 Paul reminds the believers of their former state. They were not just in darkness. They were darkness. “Now are ye light in the Lord,” means we are to reflect Him who is the light of the world. Paul marks out those characteristics which always accompany light” “In all goodness;” “righteousness,” meaning moral rectitude; and “truth,” referring primarily to sincerity and genuineness. Here we have a description of walking in the light as He is in the light.
vv11-13 We are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” Rather we are to “reprove” or convict them. Light reveals what darkness conceals. A believer cannot tell an unbeliever what to do and what not to do. The preachers business is to turn on the light of the Word of God. The lost person cannot change. He needs to be born again in order to change. Darkness is not dissipated by lecturing nor by preaching. Darkness is dissipated by light.
v14 How can a person awake out of spiritual death? Only God can awaken us. Dr. McGee thinks the meaning here is that believers who have fallen into a spiritual stupor are to wake up.
vv15-17 A believer is to walk wisely. His walk is to reveal the urgency of the hour and the importance of living for God. The entire objective in his walk is to stay in the will of God. He walks in the will of God as a train runs on the track. His walk in this world demonstrates that he belongs to Christ. There is a saying that you never ask a Texan if he is a Texan. If he is a Texan, he’ll let you know it without your asking. If he is not a Texan, you wouldn’t want to embarrass him. Christians need to walk in such a way that you know he is a child of God.
THE EXPERIENCE OF THE CHURCH (vv18-24)
vv18-19 Be not drunk with wine, but filled with the spirit…. Drinking will stimulate temporarily: it will energize the flesh, but then it will let you down and lead you in the direction of profligacy (reckless extravagance or wastefulness in the use of resources) and dissoluteness (indifferent to moral restraints; given to immoral or improper conduct; licentious; dissipated), and finally eventuate in desperation and despair and delirium tremens (An acute, sometimes fatal episode of delirium that is usually caused by withdrawal or abstinence from alcohol following habitual excessive drinking or an episode of heavy alcohol consumption. It is characterized by trembling, sweating, acute anxiety, confusion, and hallucinations.).
Rather than drinking, “be filled with the Spirit.” A man who is drinking is possessed by the wine. You can tell that a man is drunk. In contrast, it is the Holy Spirit who should be the one to possess the believer. It is a divine intoxication that is to fill that need. This is not an excessive emotionalism but that which furnishes the dynamic for living and for accomplishing something for God. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it means we are controlled by the Holy Spirit.
A believer is never told to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, but we are told we are baptized the moment we trust Christ – that Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit regenerates and indwells us. The Holy Spirit seals us.
However, the believer needs that filling of the Spirit to serve Christ. We drive into a service station and say, “Fill it up.” Believers should start the day with the Lord and say, “Lord, I want to walk today in the Spirit. I cannot do it myself. I need Your power. I need your help.” Being filled yesterday or last week, but that will not suffice for today. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will do something for God; you will be walking in the Spirit. But you need a daily filling.
That is why some people can be mightily used of God one day and feel so empty the next.
One of the evidences of being filled with the Holy Spirit is “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Believers need an attitude adjustment, but they don’t need the spirits that come from a bottle; they need to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that they might radiate the joy of the Lord. The Apostle John says that one reason he wrote his epistle was so that “your joy may be full.” This fullness of joy is to be through our fellowship with the Father and with Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1.3, 4). The joy of the Lord comes with the filling of the Holy Spirit.
v20 Another evidence of being filled with the Spirit is an attitude of thankfulness. In the book of Psalms we note a great amount of thanksgiving and praise to God, on a high level. “Praise the Lord, and thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.”
The command to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the only command given to the believer relative to the Holy Spirit. Every believer is regenerated by the Holy Spirit; John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” The believer is indwelt by the Spirit; Romans 8:9: “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.” The believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit; Ephesians 1:13: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Christ baptizes the believer with the Holy Ghost; John 1:33: “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”
v21 Believers are to submit to one another in the fear of God. We are to walk with one another in lowliness of mind. This means that you do not try to run the church. All church members are to submit ourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.
vv22-24 A very personal loving relationship is the ground for submission. Paul is speaking to believers about Christian marriage. The husband is the aggressor. He should be the breadwinner. The wife is to respond to him as the believer is to respond to Christ—in a love relationship. Woman is the responder. The man is to say, “I love you.” He proposes. She says, “Yes” or “No.”
In this section, we find that there are 4 areas of order: Wives are to be subject to the husband, husbands to Christ, children to parents, servants to masters. If there is not love in it, submission isn’t worth the snap of a finger. Cr. McGee says he has done a lot of marriage counseling and 75% of the fault is on the side of the man.
THE EXPECTATION OF THE CHURCH (vv25-33)
v25 God never asked a woman to submit to any man who does not love her and love her like his. “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” This is past.
v26 In the present He is sanctifying the church with the water of the Word of God.
v27 In the future, He will present it to Himself a glorious church, without a spot or wrinkle, but holy and without blemish.
vv28-32 Paul draws 2 themes and goes back and forth, husband and wife, Christ and church. Husbands are to love the wife because she is part of his body. The church is the body of Christ and Christ is Head of the body. It is unnatural for a man to hate his own flesh. Christ, knowing the weakness of the church, nourishes and cherishes her. Husbands are to do the same. Verse 31 is a quotation from Genesis 2.24. That first couple is a figure of the future union of Christ and the church as bridegroom and bride. She was taken from his side, not molded from the ground as animals. Adam was incomplete until they were together. She was an helpmeet for Adam. She compensated for what he lacked. She was made for him and they became one. She was taken out of man.
v33 Love your wife as yourself.
The church is a good soldier of Jesus Christ
A humorous person said this as is to be expected. After a couple gets married, the war begins.
The church is going to be the bride of Christ. Today, is the period of the engagement and the exhibition of the church before the world. The church is to be a good soldier before the world. Our enemy is not the worship at the temple of Diana. Our enemy is infinitely worse. We are seeing immorality and heathenism not only in the name of religion but actually in the name of Christianity.
In this chapter we shall see:
- The soldier’s relationships
- The soldier’s enemy
- The soldier’s protection
- The soldier’s example—Paul was a good soldier of Jesus Christ
- The soldier’s benediction
The chapter opens with instructions to children, parents, servants, and masters. A soldier’s training does not start in boot camp; it begins when he is a child in the home. In WWII they had a saying in the navy that in the early days of our nation we had wooden ships and iron men, but now we have iron ships and paper-doll men. the navy finds that they can easily put a uniform on the man. It is putting a man into the uniform that is causing such problems.
The preparation of a soldier must begin in the home when he is a child—not in the church nor in the Sunday school, but in the home. Every child who doesn’t get that first lesson is handicapped. Proper training means discipline.
v1 According to the will of God, it is right and just for children to obey their parents in the Lord. The first lesson a soldier must learn is obedience to those in authority. He must follow orders. This basic training is learned in the home. After a soldier has learned to obey, he is in a position to be promoted where he commands others. To know how to give orders depends largely on how the soldier learned to obey. This basic training is found in the home with the parent-child relationship, and then with the master-servant relationship.
2 factors must be taken into account:
- It is assumed that Paul is talking about a Christian home. “In the Lord.” 1 Co. 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”
- Here it says “obey,” not “submit” as in Ep. 5.22. Disobedience is the last and lowest form of lawlessness to occur on this earth. 2 Ti. 3:1-2: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” Disobedience to parents is one of the characteristics of the last days.
The struggle of the young boy’s life when he begins to rebel against being a mama’s boy, tied to his mama’s apron strings. God has given him a nature that rebels against being a mama’s boy. God wants him to stand on his own two feet. This kind of rebellion, this struggle for independence, is different from disobedience.
vv2, 3 A youngster in the home is to honor his father and mother, and continue to honor them throughout his life. This carries a promise of long life (Ex. 20.12). All ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament except the commandment to keep the Sabbath. The other commandments promised something if they were not kept, but they did not promise anything if they were kept. This commandment is the first commandment with promise.
Samson and Absalom did not keep this commandment and died young.
v4 “Nurture” means discipline and “admonition” means instruction. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. No such instruction was given to parents under the law. Under grace there is always mutual responsibilities and interactive duties. The parent is not to vent a bad disposition on a child or punish him in a fit of rage. It is the parent’s duty to teach the child the truths of Scripture and then to live them before the child. Don’t provoke your children to wrath. Father’s include the mother, but the emphasis is on the father because the disciplining and training of the child is actually his responsibility, but it includes the mother.
The board of education should be applied to the seat of learning when needed. Pr. 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Pr. 19:18: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Pr. 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Pr. 23:13-14: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” Pr. 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”
These little ones who simply will not obey need to be spanked, but never when the parent is angry.
It is important that a pastor’s wife be what God calls her to be, a wife, a mom at home. She is a wife and is to take care of her husband, the home and the children. She is not to be an assistant pastor, an officer in the missionary society or hold any office in any women’s organization, etc. She is not to tend to everyone else’s business or try to raise everyone else’s children.
The discipline is to be “of the Lord.”
vv5-8 Servants are to be obedient to masters here on earth. They are not to serve with one eye on the clock. They are not to serve as “menpleasers,” i.e., to butter up the boss. Service is to be done as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the soul.
There is a responsibility on both the laborer and the capitalist (who are believers). The employer-employee relationship. This section begins with “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
It is estimated that half of the 120 million people living in the Roman Empire were slaves. Christianity never attacked the evil of slavery. Rather, it reached down to the slave in his degradation and lifted him up, assuring him of his liberty in Christ. Multitudes of slaves came to Christ, as we learn in Romans 16.
No matter the cause of the war, the South had to lose the Civil War because slavery was wrong. It does not mean that the North was right in the method used, but it does mean that the principle of slavery was wrong. “Servants be obedient to them that are your masters.”
Whether or not one is a genuine believer is revealed by his loyalty to his employer, to the family, to his home to his church, and to his pastor and other brothers in the church. “In singleness of your heart” (no two facedness or duplicity, licking someone’s boots when he is around and stabbing him in the back when he is away), “as unto “Christ” (this shows he is now a slave to Christ and Christ has made him free. He looks above his earthly master to his heavenly master.)
“With good will doing service.” Christian attitude.
John 8:36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Only Christ offers freedom.
We should be slaves to Christ and to no one or nothing else. Saul of Tarsus was a slave to ideology. He was a Pharisee. When he came to Christ, he was made free. However, immediately he yielded to a new master and he said, “What wilt thou have me to do.” He had become a bondslave to Jesus Christ. No matter one’s earthly work, if he is a child of God, he can say, “I serve the Lord Jesus.”
Someone asked William Carey, a shoemaker who applied to go as a foreign missionary, “What is your business?” meaning to humiliate him. Carey answered, “ My business is serving the Lord, and I make shoes to pay expenses.”
v9 This is to masters and is applicable to employers. An employer is just another man before Christ. He is no respecter of persons. What He said to employees (slaves) also applies to employers who also have a Master who is Christ. This is a Christian relationship of capital and labor. The responsibilities are mutual. Masters are not to take advantage of their position as master. They are not to threaten or abuse their power. The book of Philemon gives a practical demonstration of this. Christianity works.
THE SOLDIER’S ENEMY (vv10-12)
Now we come to the theme of this chapter, “the church is a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” There is a battle to be fought, a battle along spiritual lines.
Although we are seated in “heavenly places,” we are walking on this earth and our theology has to walk in shoe leather. There are too many who are Bible believers in their head (supposedly), but earthly and not spiritual in their feet.
Most likely, the devil is not concentrating in the night clubs or skid row or the underworld or in the Mafia. He is concentrating on believers and churches. He is working on a spiritual front and most “Christians” seem to be totally unaware of that. Christians need to close their mouths from gossiping and criticizing. Churches need to reorganize under Christ, in all ways The spiritual battle is being fought wherever a man is giving out the Word of God ,where a church is standing for the Word of God.
Sometimes the most dangerous place you can be is in church. Where was the most dangerous place in Jerusalem the night Jesus was arrested? Was it with the Pharisees? Was it with the cutthroats of the underworld? No. the most dangerous place was in the upper room with Jesus. That is where the devil was that night. I believe that both Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot would testify to the fact that that was the most dangerous place to have been that night in Jerusalem. We need to recognize where the battle is being fought.
What Joshua is to the OT, Ephesians is to the NT. The Jordan River is not a picture of our death, and the promised land is not a picture of heaven. The Jordan River speaks of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and you and I cross over—through the resurrection of Christ—out of the wilderness of this world into Canaan. Canaan does not represent heaven—it could not because there were enemies in Canaan and battles to be fought. We are in the place of soldier service. Our enemy is identified, and the battle is before us.
Joshua confronted three enemies when he entered the promised land. First, Jerico which represents the world. What Jerico was to Joshua, the world is to the Christian today. Joshua was not march around Jerico, not fight it. It is a mistake to fight the world; we cannot overcome the world. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5.4-5)? The central truth here is that spiritual victories are won by means and upon principles utterly foolish and inadequate in the view of human wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:17-31: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
The second enemy Joshua confronted was the little town of Ai. Ai represents the flesh. Joshua thought it would be easy to overcome Ai, so he sent up a small detachment, and they were easily whipped. When they got back, Joshua got down on his face and began to whimper and cry before God. God told Josuha, “Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.” (Joshua 5.10-11). And that sin had to be confessed and put away before God would give Israel the victory. This is what believers must do to overcome the flesh.
Many Christians are overcome by the flesh. By temper, gossiping, backbiting, and other sins of the flesh. Ai represents the flesh.
Thirdly, Joshua had to contend with the Gibeonites. They were clever and sly rascals. They lived just over the hill, but they tool old, moldy bread and wore worn-out shoes and made everything look as if they had come on a long journey. They came into the camp where Joshua was and said, “Brother, we have heard about you. We’ve heard about how God has given you victories in this land, and we want to make a treaty with y0ou. We want to be your friends.” That is the way the devil and his demons approach us. He is the deceiver, and he makes his ministers seem like angels of light.
Do you think the devil is going to knock on your door and say, “Look I’m the devil; I’m here to take you in; I’m here to fool you?” No. He will use every possible way to deceive you. He may have someone offer you literature at your door that will “explain” the Bible. Or, he may approach you this way if you are in a church that is going liberal: “Remember, grandpa had a pew in the church and that window over there is named for grandpa. You can’t afford to leave this church because you have so much invested here.” If you discover that God is grieved by church corporate 501(c)(3) status, the devil will say, “But look at the many good works being done by this church. Just continue to do good here.” The Word of God says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Co. 6.17). But the devil says, “We really need you here, so why don’t you just stick around?” He is subtle.
The Gibeonites represent the devil. They fooled Joshua, and he made a treaty with them. They were the ones who got him in trouble. Joshua made an alliance with the Gibeonites. If we line up with Satan, we will find ourselves defeated. What can we do? We cannot overcome him ourselves. You and I are no match for the devil. We are not even told to fight the devil. We are told that god will for us.
v10 “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
v11 You cannot overcome the devil in your own strength and your own power.
v12 Our enemy is not flesh and blood, but spiritual and the warfare is spiritual. The believer is to reckon the flesh dead and to yield ot God. The way to victory over the flesh is outlined in Ro. 6. Fighting in the old nature will lead to defeat. Only God’s armor will withstand the strategy and onslaught of Satan. We are not fighting other men. The way to victory is to put on the whole armour of God and “to stand.” (Ep. 6.11, 13, 14). A demonic world around us is manifesting itself in this hour, this was true even 40 years ago, but it is much more apparent today. It is gaining momentum. Demonism is lifted up openly by many. There is a church of Satan. People are being snared and led into all kinds of demonism like never before in America. Evil forces are working against God’s churches and believers. Satan has taken over many “Churches.”
See Daniel 10. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood the angel who was trying to get to Daniel for 21 days. He had to go back and get reinforcements.
Principalities are the demons who have the oversight of nations. Powers are the provates who are the demons who want to possess human beings. The rulers of the darkness of this world are those demons who have charge of Satan’s worldly business. Spiritual wickedness in high places are the demons in the heavenlies who have charge of religion.
Satan has a well-organized group and his organization is manipulating in this world right now. Satan is the cause of the great problems that are in the world today.
Satan heads up his demonic forces.
Now we need to recognize where the battle is. The church has largely lost sight of this spiritual battle. Questions like these should be in the church:
- Are the members being built up in Christ?
- Is the Word of God being taught?
- Is there a spirit of love and cooperation among the members?
- Is gossip reduced to a minimum?
- There must not be an exercise in legalism, but an exercise in right relationships among those who are the brethren in Christ.
- Where there is a spirit of bitterness and of hatred, the Spirit of God cannot work.
THE SOLDIER’S PROTECTION (vv13-18)
v13 Now Paul begins to identify the arsenal which is available for defense. No where is the believer told to attack and advance. The key to this entire section is to stand. The Bible speaks of believers as Pilgrims. As pilgrims, we are to walk through the world. As witnesses: we are to go to the ends of the earth. As athletes: we are to run. Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” However, when the Bible speaks of us as fighters, it says we are to stand.
The Battle is carried on everywhere the Word of God is preached and the gospel is given out. That’s the battle line today. The devil has partially taken over some churches. He has completely taken over others.
The devil will make the attack. Our command is “Having done all, to stand.” “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.” Just to be able to stand in an evil day is victory for the believer.
Pastors are in need of church bodies who will stand with them. Some church bodies are in need of pastors who will lead and stand, as an example.
vv14, 15 “Stand therefore.” The fourth time he gives this exhortation to the believer. Paul here gives the command to stand (not “I beseech you”). We are also to have on certain armor to protect ourselves.
“Having your loins girt about with truth.” In those ancient days, the girdle about the loins held in place every other part of the uniform of the soldier. It was essential. If the girdle was lost, you lost everything. Truth holds everything together.
We need those who stand on and give out the Word of God just as it is written. Many people give out testimonies and know nothing about the Word of God. They do not know the Word of God. Many testimonies are given out by people who are about to lose all their spiritual garments.
Every piece of this armor speaks of Christ. He is the one who is the truth. We are in Christ in “heavenly places,” here in our earthly walk.
Any testimony that does not glorify Jesus Christ should not be given. Not, “I was a great athlete” or “a great performer” or “I am turning over my wonderful talent to Jesus.” These all imply “He is lucky to have me in His crowd!” No, you are lucky to have Him. He did not get very much when He got me or you. We are not great. We need our loins girt about with truth, with Jesus Christ, so that we can give a testimony that glorifies Christ, the truth, who alone can meet error.
“Having on the breastplate of righteousness.”Christ is the righteousness of he believer. Probably, this included practical righteousness. The filthy rags of self-righteousness are useless an a breastplate. We need a heart and a conscience that is right with God. Only the righteousness of Christ allows a man to stand before God and before man, but the heart that is to be protected should be a heart that is not condemning the believer. We will never win with sin in the life.
“Your feed shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Shoes are necessary for standing. They speak of foundation. We need a good, solid foundation, and preparation is foundational. Are your feet anchored in Christ? 1 Corinthians 3:11 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
vv16-18 We are to stand in a spiritual armor, and that armor is Christ. It is the living Christ which is put around His own. Job 1:10 “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.”
The shield (of faith) covered all of the armor. It was a large shield the size of a door. Christ, the door, protects the believer from without. This is the picture in Jn. 10. John 10:9 “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” That is salvation. What about security? Faith places us securely in His hands: John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” “Faith” enables us to lay hold of the Lord Jesus Christ and also to stand behind that shield which will quench all the fiery darts of he wicked one.
The wicked on is shooting the “fiery darts fast and furious. When a fiery dart comes my way, and I don’t have an answer, I am to put up the shield of faith.
The “helmet of salvation” protects the head, the mind. God appeals to the heart, but He also appeals to the intellect. Throughout the Scriptures, God uses reason with man. Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Acts 24:25 “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is a leap into the light. Christ saves sinners. Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” All parts of the armor have been for defense. Everything is for the front of the individual. There is no protection for his back; nothing is provided for retreat. A retreating Christian is open season for the enemy; the enemy can get through to him.
Our second weapon of offense is prayer—“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” Praying in the Spirit is not turning in a grocery list to God. It means the believer recognizes our enemy and that we lay hold of God for that which is spiritual and that might be filled with all the fullness of God. Prayer is general, and supplication is specific. all effective prayer must be in the Spirit.
THE SOLDIER’S EXAMPLE—PAUL WAS A GOOD SOLDIER OF JESUS CHRIST (vv19-22)
vv19-20 Paul asks for prayer on behalf of himself. As he comes to the conclusion of the Epistle, he moves to the personal. He was a prisoner in Rome and suffered from a thorn in the flesh. Yet he does not ask for prayer that these physical handicaps be removed, but that he might proclaim courageously the mystery of the gospel. The gospel was a mystery in the OT, and the gospel is that Christ died for all sins, was buried, rose again on the third day.
He is an ambassador in bonds and therefore speaks boldly. We need boldness to declare the Word of God.
vv21-22 Tychicus not only carried the epistle to the Ephesians, but he also gave a personal account of the conditions of and the prospects for the apostle Paul. Tychicus was the pastor of the Ephesian church and is an example of the many faithful servants of Christ in the early church. “That he might comfort your hearts.” The brotherly love exhibited in the early church is the undertone of all Paul’s epistles. Paul had a real concern for the brethren.
THE SOLDIER’S BENEDICTION (vv23-24)
Paul closes with a twofold benediction. Most of the great words of the gospel are contained in it: peace, love, faith, grace. Hope is absent, for the believer is in heavenly places where all is realized.
“Peace,” was the form of greeting of the Jewish world. A sinner must know the grace of God before he can experience the peace of God. This is the peace of God which passes all understanding.
Love,” in verse 23 means love for the other believers. This is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
In verse 24, the “love” is of the believer for the Lord Jesus Christ, and this love is in sincerity.
“Faith” means faith in Christ which produces active love. These flow from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Grace” is the key word of the epistle. It opened the epistle (1.2) and it is the subject of the epistle (2.7, 8). It now concludes the epistle. It is a fitting word because it is God’s grace which saved us and which sustains us today.