Commentary on Ephesians, 4:1-3


Ephesians 4:1-3

“1 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, exhort you to live in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called:
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love,
3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;”  LEB

“1 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, exhort you to live in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called:”

This is the second time Paul has mentioned his imprisonment for Christ. I believe he’s making the point that he knows something of what he’s about to exhort them about. He’s given his whole life for the cause of Christ, and now he’s in prison because of it. So I think he wants them to realize that it’s all worth it, that living for Christ is worth the persecution and imprisonment that may result from it, or he wouldn’t be there.

Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”  (John 15:20)

Paul told Timothy that “all those who want to live in a godly manner in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  LEB (2 Tim 3:12)

Living for Christ and persecution go hand in hand. Christians are the most persecuted people of any faith in the world. The reason for that, is that Jesus is the truth. Christianity is the truth. It’s the only truth in the world. Most people are opposed to the truth, and I believe there are two reasons for that:

One, Satan is the deceiver of this world (Jn 8:44; 2 Tim 2:25,26), and he works hard to turn people away from the truth. Two, people love their sins (Jn 3:19). They love their way of life, and the light of Christ exposes their sins, and they don’t like it. Thus like cock roaches, they scurry when the light is shined upon them and their sinful and dark ways. Furthermore, they can become so hostile to the truth, that it may result in imprisonment for those who dare oppose the way they live, or what they believe. They do it out of hatred, and I think they reason that if Christians are locked away, they don’t have to be confronted with the truth they represent.

Therefore, no matter what it may cost us, we’re to “live in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called.” Put another way, we are to walk in a manner that is consistent with our calling in Christ. Our calling is a holy one (2 Tim 1:9). Our call to Christ is not just for Heaven, but we’re also called to live under His authority, to live in a manner that brings glory to His holy name.

Those who teach that the gospel message is merely about Christ the Savior, and that it has nothing to do with the Lordship of Christ, simply aren’t speaking the truth of God’s Word. We cannot separate Christ the Savior from Christ the Lord. Our call to Christ is both to Him as Savior and to Him as Lord and King. Our calling is not simply a call to Heaven, but a call to live in His Kingdom, to serve Him as the Ruler of the universe.

Those who profess Christ, but aren’t “walking in a manner that is consistent with the calling to which we have been called,” don’t have a proper understanding of the decision they made when they received Christ. There is no option of living a self-willed life outside of the will of God after we’ve come to the cross in faith. We are to spend the rest of our lives with the honor of Christ’s name in view, and as our motivation and purpose in this world.

“2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love,”

“with all humility”

Humility is something that is not taught enough today. I don’t believe most Christians have a true understanding of what it means, nor of the importance of it in our lives. I read a book by Andrew Murray several years ago, called “Humility,” and it changed my life. I’ve always had a basic understanding of humility, as I think we all do, but until I read that book, I was very unaware of all that is involved in that one little word. Listen to what Andrew Murray said about it:

“When I look back upon my own religious experience, or round upon the church of Christ in the world, I stand amazed at the thought of how little humility is sought after as the distinguishing feature of the discipleship of Jesus. In preaching and living, in the daily intercourse of the home and social life, in the more special fellowship with Christians, in the direction and performance of work for Christ – alas! how much proof there is that humility is not esteemed the cardinal virtue, the only root from which the graces can grow, the one indispensable condition of true fellowship with Jesus. That it should have been possible for men to say of those who claim to be seeking the higher holiness, that the profession has not been accompanied with increasing humility, is a loud call to all earnest Christians, however much or little truth there be in the charge, to prove that meekness and lowliness of heart are the chief mark by which they who follow the meek and lowly Lamb of God are to be known.”

Murray said those words around 1859, and they’re still true today. Nothing has changed since then. There is still a lack of understanding about humility, and there is still a lack of emphasis on it. I’m not saying that it’s not taught at times, but I don’t see it as something that is being held up to the place of importance where it needs to be.

Humility effects every area of our lives. We cannot walk with Christ, or grow in His likeness apart from humility. We cannot serve Christ apart from humility. We cannot get along with others apart from humility. We cannot remain faithful apart from humility. We cannot be successful in our marriages apart from humility. We cannot fulfill our calling in Christ apart from humility.

I’ve read Murray’s book seven times or so, and  each time I read it I get a fresh look at humility. Each time I’m reminded of the scope of humility, where I fall short, and where I need to be. This is one of the few books that I’ve ever read that I would regard as life-changing. I would encourage every follower of Christ to read that book, and fully embrace what it teaches.

“gentleness”

Do you want to see Christ in someone? Just look for gentleness. I don’t think there is any more sure sign or evidence (fruit) of someone who walks with Jesus, than someone who is characterized by genuine gentleness. On the other hand, I don’t think there is any more sure sign of someone who is not walking with Christ, than someone who is characterized by rough treatment and sharp words and a harsh attitude.

To grow in gentleness, we need to spend a lot of time in His presence, for there is no one more gentle and kind as He. One of the accompanied characteristics of gentleness, is love for others. I don’t think we can be gentle without the true love of Christ in our hearts. Those who walk with Jesus, will walk in the same manner as He walked. They will display the same character as He did.

There is probably nothing that will win a person over quicker than the love, kindness, and gentleness of Jesus. If we want people to hear what we have to say about our Lord and Savior, then we must first give them a reason to listen.

Family relationships are the same way. I don’t know of anything that will cause more damage in a family, than harsh, unkind treatment. The way to the hearts of our spouses and children, is through a kind and gentle spirit. Every Christian home should be an environment of love, kindness, grace, and peace. The presence of Christ is felt in a home that is characterized by His gentleness.

In all of our relationships, gentleness must abound. People are repelled by a lack of gentleness, and the result is a lack of cooperation and rebellion.

“with patience, putting up with one another in love”

Not everyone is easy to get along with. We tend to be impatient and unloving toward people who annoy us, or rub is the wrong way. With such a diversity of personalities in churches, there will be clashes…if we allow them. Those who walk in harmony with Christ, will respond to others in humility, gentleness, patience, and in love. The love of Christ must reign in every local assembly of believers. We must learn to see others through His eyes. We must learn to deal with others with the purpose of pleasing and honoring our Lord. We need to deal with people as though we were dealing with the Lord Himself.

“being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”

We must learn to endure others with a Christ-like attitude, with an eagerness to maintain the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Unity and peace can only come from the Holy Spirit. As the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22,23) is being developed in us individually, it will be seen corporately among us in the local assembly. Where there is self-will and carnality, there will be conflict and division. Where there is selfless serving in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, there will be unity and peace.

If all of these character qualities are real and active in our lives, then we will be able to get along with anyone, even if they refuse to get along with us. We can’t control how we are treated by others, but we can always control how we treat them, but only by the grace and power of God.