Commentary on Ephesians, 4:20,21


Ephesians 4:20,21

“20 But you did not learn Christ in this way,”  LEB

All teaching about Christ, salvation, and the Christian life, is completely opposite and contrary to what Paul just described in verses 17-19. As Jesus is pure and holy in heart, mind, and in the way He lived His life, so are we to be; as Jesus completely shunned the ways of the world, so must we; as Jesus lived for the purpose of fulfilling the will of the Father, so are we to do likewise; as Jesus lived to glorify the Father, so we too are to live for the purpose of bringing honor to the name of Christ; as Jesus did all things with eternity in view, so must we; as Jesus lived to serve others, so must we serve as He did.

In all things, in heart, mind, and in the way we live our lives, we are to be conformed to the image of Christ. That is how we “learned Christ.” Those who teach that we can “get saved,” then live as we please, without it having no bearing on our salvation, are deceived. We are not saved through obedience, but a Christ-centered obedience is the fruit of true salvation.

Furthermore, Christian leaders who do not see a need to preach against worldliness and materialism, are also deceived. They are compromisers who are leading God’s people astray. In the attempt to avoid “legalism,” they go too far in the other direction. And that often happens. Whenever we want to avoid a particular extreme, we tend to go all the way to the other extreme. We have to find the proper balance between the two extremes.

Balance is a key word for me. I try to find a proper balance in every area of my life, and that includes the Christian life. I believe that at either end of the extremes, we will normally find ourselves outside of the will of God. At one end we have a viewpoint that tends to be very worldly, and at the other end, there is the tendency to go beyond the will of God, and live according to a set of legalistic, man-made rules. We must be able to discern where the balance is between the two. That only comes through a close walk with Jesus, and a growing understanding of the Word of God.

21 if indeed you have heard [about] him, and you were taught by him (just as truth is in Jesus),”  LEB

“heard [about] him”

Vincent:  The indicative mood implies the truth of he supposition: if ye heard as ye did. Him is emphatic. If it was Him that ye heard.”

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown:  The “Him” is emphatic: “heard Himself,” not merely heard about Him.

“taught by him”

Vincent:  Rev., correctly, in Him. In fellowship with.

James, Fausset, and Brown:  Greek, “taught in Him,” that is, being in vital union with Him (Ro 16:7).

Thus the NAS appears to have the correct rendering of this verse:

“if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,”

When we come to faith in Christ, it’s His voice that we hear. It’s Jesus we hear calling us to embrace Him as Lord and Savior. Furthermore, it’s His voice that we continue to hear as we live the Christian life. However, there are many voices in the world, and there are many voices that go around in our head. Therefore, we must be able to discern between our Lord’s voice and all the others. Again, that only comes through a close walk with Him, and a growing understanding of His Word (“taught in Him,” in vital union with).

There is no “truth” apart from Christ, for He is the truth (John 14:6). In regard to how we live the Christian life, in regard to how local churches do ministry, it must be according to the truth that is in Christ, the truth that is Christ. Again, there are many voices, and each one is calling us to go their way. But there is only one voice that we’re to obey. I fear that many Christians and churches today are hearing the wrong voices, and going in directions that are contrary to the voice of our King. I speak from experience. I know all too well how easy it is to mistake other voices for the voice of Christ.

So how do we know for sure that the voice we hear is the voice of Jesus? I’ve already answered that in general, but let me add to what I’ve already said. We CANNOT allow ourselves to hear through the desires of our own heart. What I mean by that, is that if we want something badly enough, we have a tendency to look for things in the Word of God that will support it. To hear the true voice of Christ, we must empty ourselves completely of self-will, and be totally surrendered to doing the will of God, nor matter how it works out for us.

We must be utterly sincere in our desire to do God’s will, paying close attention to every word that we read. I believe we often miss God’s will (voice) because we do not carefully consider each and every word that is written. Furthermore, I think we tend to use God’s Word to justify and rationalize the things we do in life, rather than being brutally honest about what God says about it. We want to do God’s will, but we also want to enjoy the pleasures of the world. We were not called to compromise, but to absolute submission to the will of our King. We as Christians literally dwell in the Kingdom of Christ, thus we’re to be aware of that fact every moment of every day, and live our lives accordingly.