Maintain Church Unity
Paul has already been an extraordinary example of the kinds of things that he will ask his readers to do.We are reminded here that Paul has paid a dear price (imprisonment) in living up to his calling and in seeking to bring about the unity that Christ bought for Jews and Gentiles – and yet he considered it to be a privilege to do so (cf. 3:7-8)!a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Calling in Paul’s letters always refers to God’s effective calling of men and women to salvation through the preaching of the gospel.
Paul’s appeal to them then, is that they live lives that reflect the kind of salvation that they have received.
Humble – suggests a certain kind of lowliness: cheerfully allowing others to take precedence over us, not so much concerned about equality as with building one another up. Cheerfully counting others better than ourselves. (Carson – sermon on Eph 4)Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)Gentle – “…has the idea of ‘mildness’… the opposite of ‘roughness’” (Hoehner, p.506-507)“Is not slighted when others are offensive; is not retaliatory; goes quickly to God in prayer as did Moses when he was confronted with opposition.” (Carson – sermon on Eph 4)Patient – “is that long-suffering which makes allowance for others shortcomings and endures wrong rather than flying into a rage or desiring vengeance” (O’Brien, p.278)“The ability to deal quietly and courteously with those who are offensive and awkward – and every church has some.” (Carson – sermon on Eph 4)
Bearing with one another in love – “Mutual patience or forbearance are not graces which come readily or naturally; but those who have learned to appreciate gratefully God’s patience and forbearance with them will desire to show the same attitude towards others.” (F.F. Bruce, p.76)
“Paul’s appeal is urgent… The verb has an element of haste, urgency, or even a sense of crisis to it.” (O’Brien, p.279)
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit
“The church’s unity is described as the unity of the Spirit, which signifies a unity that God’s Spirit creates and therefore not the reader’s own achievement, yet they are exhorted to maintain it.” (O’Brien, p.279)To keep this unity then, means to live out the oneness that already exists between us as believers .
through the bond of peace.
Peaceful relationships between believers bonds them together and is therefore the means by which we keep (live out) the unity of the Spirit.Although our goal is the unity of the Spirit and not just peace – we cannot keep the unity of the Spirit without working hard at peace.
To summarize verses 1-3:Paul is urging us, even by his own example, to live a life in keeping with the salvation to which we have been called.We are to do this by having our lives characterized by such virtues as humility, gentleness , patience and forbearance. And making every effort to live out the unity that we share in the Spirit, by doing those things that lead to peace and well being within the local church body.
Having strongly encouraged his readers to preserve the unity that they have with one another, Paul lists seven things that all believers have in common and therefore serve as the basis for unity among all believers.
One Body – this body is the universal church, Christ’s body (1:23) which is made up of Jews and Gentiles alike. “It is the heavenly gathering assembled around Christ, in which believers now participate.” (O’Brien, p.281)This universal church body is manifested within each the local church body.One Spirit – who brings unity to the body by indwelling the individual members of that body.“Believers are members of the body by virtue of the work of the Holy Spirit.” (O’Brien, p.281)For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free… (1 Corinthians 12:13)One Hope – hope is the confident expectation of future reward that all believers possess from the time they are effectively called by the Spirit of God to believe the Gospel.“We may as well learn to get along now - we are all going to the same place!” (Carson, sermon on Eph 4)
One Lord – “If there is one Lord, then surely he is not issuing commands that end in division and strife amongst his servants.” (Carson, sermon on Eph 4)
One Faith – refers here to the content of what we believe. So when we say there is one faith we are saying that there is only one Gospel which everyone must believe in order to be saved.
One Baptism – the Greek word translated baptism (baptidzo) is the Greek word for “immersion”. And here it refers to a ceremony that Christ has commanded all believers to undergo as a public testimony of their belief in the gospel.
The Rite of Baptism (Immersion) Accomplishes Four Things:First it symbolizes Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection which are the substance of the gospel that is being believed.Secondly it serves as a symbol of the believer’s participation in that death, burial, and resurrection in that by faith he is dead to his old life and raised to a new life (Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12).Thirdly it symbolizes the inner spiritual cleansing that has already taken place by faith (1Pet 3:21; Acts 15:9; Acts 22:16, Titus 3:5).And finally it serves as a way for the believer to publically identify with Christ and his people in obedience to his command (Mat 28:18-20; Acts 2:38).
Passages on Baptism (Immersion):Romans 6:3-4 - Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.Colossians 2:12 - having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.Matthew 28:18-20 - Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
One God and Father of all – God is sovereign over all His children, they are His instruments through whom He works, and He indwells them all through His Spirit.
As the context will soon bear out, the grace that is given here refers to the special abilities (spiritual gifts) that Christ has given to each believer for the equipping and service of others of other members in the local church body.
Notice that Christ sovereignly gives his gifts to all the members of his body.“The recipients are not limited to some special group such as the ministers of v. 11. Each one of us is to be understood comprehensively since it includes Paul and his readers… None misses out on Christ’s bounty.” (O’Brien, p.287)
Paul sees the gifts which Christ has given to men to be a fulfillment of what the scripture says in Psalm 68 which he paraphrases here.
Psalm 68In its original context, Psalm 68 is known as a victory Psalm which celebrates the glorious and triumphant rule of Israel’s God.The Psalm contains a number of references to God’s triumphant march from Mount Sinai in the days of Moses (vv. 8, 17) to His ascent of Mount Zion in the days of David (vv. 16-18, 29) .The Psalm portrays God as defeating and plundering His enemies (vv. 1-2, 12, 14) leading them in triumphant procession (vv. 18, 24), while His people rejoice in the liberation and protection that His triumph provides (vv. 3-5) as they share in the spoils of His victory (vv. 10, 12-13)
This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”
Psalm 68 describes how God, while dwelling among the Israelites, journeyed from Sinai and ascended Mount Zion - conquering enemies along the way and sharing the plunder with His people.This sequence of events described in Psalm 68 prefigures Christ’s ascent into heaven, His conquest of His enemies and His giving gifts to His people.Notice the parallel between what is said here with what Paul said earlier in this letter:[God’s] power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church (Ephesians 1:19b-22)
When we speak of Christ having ascended, it reminds us that He first descended and came to earth from heaven.For the bread of God is He [Christ] who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… For I [Jesus] have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. (John 6:33,38)
Therefore He who willingly humbled Himself (by descending to earth and becoming a man) for our sake in obedience to the Father has now been triumphantly exalted above all things – that is to the place of highest supremacy.
Note the similarity to what Paul says in Philip. 2:5-11:Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
in order to fill the whole universe.
“Christ fills the universe, not in some semi-physical sense, but by his mighty rule over all things…” (O’Brien, pp.296-7)Notice the similar wording to an earlier passage:And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:22-23)
And it is because of Christ’s exaltation that He is now able to give gifted men to His church for the building up of the body.
If we translate verse 11 literally from the Greek, we see that it is the gifted individuals themselves who are given to the church as a gift. Notice the ESV translation:And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers (ESV )This is one of five places in the New Testament where spiritual gifts are listed.Each list varies significantly from the other, which shows that none of the lists are exhaustive.Even all the lists taken together are probably not an exhaustive list of all that God has given.
Spiritual Gifts Listed in the NT
1 Cor. 12:8-11
1 Cor. 12:28
1 Pet. 4:11
•Word of wisdom•Word of knowledge•Faith•Gifts of healings•Working of miracles•Prophesy•Distinguishing of spirits•Kinds of tongues•Interpretation of tongues •Apostles•Prophets•Teachers•Workers of miracles•Helps•Administration•Kinds of tongues •Prophecy•Service•Teaching•Exhortation•Giving•Leadership•Showing of mercy •Apostles•Prophets•Evangelists•Pastors•Teachers •Speaking•Service
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
In this list, Paul focuses on the communication gifts which were given to instruct the members of the local church, thus preparing them for works of service so that they in turn can build up the church body.
Here we have the third mention in this letter of apostles and prophets.In 2:20 we saw that these were (historically) foundational gifts upon which God built His church.In 3:5 we saw they were the ones to receive and pass on the God’s NT revelation.Evangelists – were those particularly gifted to preach the gospel. This could include individual evangelism (Acts 21:8 cf. 8:26-40) and/or church planting.“In the early church it was thought that the evangelists were those who preached the gospel and were the successors to the apostles in that they laid the foundations of the faith in new areas, appointed shepherds, and then moved to other lands and people.” (Hoehner, p. 543)Pastors – literally shepherds. Those who are gifted to lead and care for the “flock” (i.e. the local church): presumably as elders or overseers.In the NT the terms pastor, elder, and overseer are used interchangeably to refer to those who God has appointed to lead the local church.In Acts 20:28, Paul speaking to the elders of the church of Ephesus said: Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.1 Peter 5:2 - Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;“Whereas the prophet spoke under the immediate impulse of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Cor 14:30), the teacher would give instruction on that which was already revealed by the prophet or from Scripture.” (Hoehner, p.545)“The prophet was prominent in the early church but by the end of the second century he became an endangered species” (Hoehner, p.546)“The pastors and teachers here are linked by a single definite article in the Greek, which suggests a close association of functions between the two kinds of ministers who operate within the one congregation” (O’Brien, p.300)All pastors teach (since teaching is an essential part of pastoral ministry – cf. 1 Tim 3:2b), but not all teachers are pastors.
Note that the gifts listed in verse 11 are communication gifts.As God’s word is communicated to the people of God by those who possess these gifts, God’s people are prepared or equipped to do works of service
[or “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” – RSV].
Faith – in this context, probably refers (as is does in verse 5) to the content of what is believed.Knowledge – refers to the content of what can be known of the Son of GodTo have unity in the content of what we believe and know involves us coming to agreement on those essential items taught in scripture.In this context, maturity refers to corporate maturity of the local church body as a whole therefore it would no doubt show itself by the body regularly practicing those virtues which lead to unity mentioned earlier (cf. vs. 2-3).It would also be in contrast to the immaturity mentioned in the next verse and therefore show itself by the ability of the church to not be deceived by false teaching.
As the body matures, it should continue to move toward the ultimate standard: attaining the full measure or stature of Christ.
Having shown in vs. 13 the benefits of a local church taught by the Word of God and built up through the mutual exercise of gifts Paul now warns what can happen if this is not going on.
In contrast to the mature man image used in vs. 13, those lacking in instruction and the ministry of the local body will be as infants which suggests instability and ignorance.“Unable to come to settled convictions or evaluate various forms of teaching, they fall prey to every new theological fad.” (O’Brien, p.309)There is no shortage of cunning and crafty individuals who will come along and mislead those who are not stabilized by the functioning of gifts (particularly the communication gifts) within the local church body.
In contrast to the false teachers in vs. 14 who present false doctrine in a deceptive manner, we are to grow by proclaiming the truth in love.“The truth should not be disassociated from love or proclaimed at the expense of love, while a life of love should embody the truth of the gospel.” (O’Brien, p.312)It is through this process of speaking the truth to one another in love that members of the local church body grow in their relationship with Christ and become more and more Christ-like.We are reminded here that it is Christ who is the head of the church.
Here we see that Christ is not only the Head who rules over the church (as we saw in vs. 15) but He is the ultimate source of its growth “for He supplies all that is necessary for its well-being, including its unity, nourishment and progress” (O’Brien, p. 313)
“While the empowering for growth comes from above, members of the body themselves are fully involved in the process.” (O’Brien, p.314)Paul uses an analogy here of a physical body that is held together by connecting parts or ligaments.The ligaments represent each believer in the church body working to promote the unity of the body (compare with vs. 3: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit” )Notice that the church body grows and builds itself up as each part does its work.“Clearly the whole body is involved in this process of building, not simply those who are leaders or who have special ministries.” (O’Brien, p.316)“In light of God’s dynamic enabling through Christ, believers should eagerly exercise their ministry for the good of the whole.” (O’Brien, p.316)
Put Off the Old Self and Put on the New
Paul begins this section with a strong admonition.He speaks not only as a prisoner for the Lord (4:1) but as an apostle with authority from the Lord.
that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do
The Ephesians were converted Gentiles who used to participate with and live like the unconverted Gentiles still living around them.Since their conversion they have:Been raised and seated with Christ in heaven (2:6)Created in Christ for good works (2:10)Become members of the one new man (2:15)Therefore they should live a life that conforms to the character of this new man, Jesus Christ himself.in the futility of their thinking.18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.In the next few phrases, Paul paints the life of unbelieving Gentiles in the darkest of terms.Here he describes their thought processes as purposeless , empty and futile.“Because it lacks true relationship with God, Gentile thinking suffers from the consequences of having lost touch with reality and is left fumbling with inane trivialities and worthless side issues.” (O’Brien, p.320)In the NT darkness is often used as a metaphor for “ignorance of divine things, and its associated wickedness” (Strong’s)Unbelieving Gentiles are ignorant and incapable of understanding the truth of God and His gospel.But the idea of wickedness is here as well, because as we will see at the end of the verse - it is a willful ignorance
and separated from the life of God
Men who do not belong to Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins (2:1) and have no relationship at all with the living God who is the source of all life.
because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
hearts – in the NT refers to the center of a person, the seat of thought and understanding, will or volition. (Hoehner, p.588)hardening – was a medical term for a callous. It was used figuratively in the NT to refer to an unwillingness to learn, obstinacy, stubbornness. (Frieberg)
In Romans 1:24,26,28 Paul describes the downward moral spiral of the Gentiles as the result of God handing them over to greater and greater sin. Here Paul describes the Gentiles as handing themselves over.“The two emphases are not contradictory: God gives men and women over to debased behavior which they gladly choose. In human activity the divine judgment takes place, and it is at the same time a self-judgment.” (O’Brien, p.323)
to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
Sensuality – means to throw off all restraint and flaunts itself, unawed by shame or fear, without regard for self respect, for the rights and feelings of others, or for public decency. (O’Brien p.323)Impurity – has a wide range of meaning and encompasses riotous and excessive living, can refer to unrestrained sexual behavior. (O’Brien p.323)Continual lust for more – a vicious circle because new perversions must be sought to replace the old. (O’Brien p.323)
To learn Christ means “welcoming Him as a living person and being shaped by His teaching” (O’Brien, p.324)In contrast to the kind of life they lived as pagans, their relationship with Christ and instruction in His Word has taught them a very different way of living.
This verse further explains what it means to “learn Christ” (v. 20).you heard of him: draws attention to their initial hearing of the Gospelwere taught in him: points to the ongoing instruction that they received after receiving the Gospel.
in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
“Truth here is to be understood as reality in contrast to that which is false or deceptive…” (Hoehner, p.597)Jesus is the embodiment of truth, thus to “learn Christ” is to learn what is true.Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Paul now uses three phrases to describe how they had been taught to live in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus :to put offto be made newto put onThese verses describe a process in the Christian life which theologians refer to as sanctification.Sanctification is a process that starts at the point of our salvation and continues throughout our Christian life.Through this process of sanctification we become more and more like Christ whose righteousness God credits to us at the point we are saved.
to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
to put off – is a clothing metaphoryour old self – refers to the way you were as an unbeliever ruled by sin.corrupted by its deceitful desires – as an unbeliever you lived under the illusion that gratifying your sinful desires would bring you fulfillment.
Put off your old self…The old self is talked about in two other NT passages:Romans 6:6 – For we know that our old self was crucified with him…Colossians 3:9 – Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practicesIn Romans 6:6 we are told that our old self was crucified with Christ – Christ’s crucifixion paid for the sins we committed as our old self in God’s eyes.In Colossians 3:9 it is assumed that we have (already) taken off our old self – because in principle we took off the old self when we repented of our sins and trusted in Christ.
to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
But here in Ephesians 4:22 and in the verses that follow we see that we have a continuing obligation to battle with sin and to put off our old self.“The Christian ethic in the NT… might be summed up in the words: ‘Be what you are’ – ‘Be in practice what you are by divine calling!’” (F. F. Bruce, p.94)
If we are to put off our old ways of living and behaving, the change must begin internally: “the pattern, motivation and direction of our thinking needs to be changed.” (O’Brien p.330).Ultimately this change is brought about by the Holy Spirit as He works within us – usually by convicting us of our need to obey the scriptures that we have learned.
Just as we were told to put off the old self (vs. 22) we are now told to put on the new self.This clothing metaphor of putting off the old and putting on the new will be picked up in vv. 25-32 where a number of practical examples will be given.The new self here refers to the new nature which God creates within us when He saves us.
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Just as the first man (Adam) was created in God’s likeness, so our new nature bears God’s image being righteous and holy as God is righteous and holy
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body [literally, “one another”].In light of the general admonitions that Paul has given to put off your old self (v.22) and put on the new self (v.24), Paul now lists some specific things that they are to put off and put on.In each case he gives:A negative command (put off)A positive command (put on)A reason or motivation for making the change.
The negative command: put off falsehoodThe positive command: speak truthfullyThe reason or motivation given: we are all members of one body
Paul has already taught that the means by which the body is built up and united is by speaking the truth in love (v.15-16).Therefore the harmony of the body does not allow for anything but truth.“We are no longer alienated, independent beings, but people who belong together in unity with others whom we must not rob of the truth according to which they will decide or act.” (O’Brien, p.338)
The positive command: be angryThe negative commands: do not sin; do not let the sun go down while you are still angryThe reason or motivation given: do not give the devil a foothold
"In your anger do not sin”
Anger is not necessarily a sin:Jesus in His sinless humanity was angry at times (Mark 3:5, John 2:13-17)It is commanded of us here – but with qualifications!But anger can be and often is sinful – thus the warning: do not sin (see also the prohibition of anger and rage in vs. 31).We must be careful that our anger is not simply the result of our own sinful attitudes.“There is a proper place for righteous anger, but also the subtle temptation to regard my anger as righteous indignation and other people’s anger as sheer bad temper.” (O’Brien, p. 340)
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry
James warns us not to become angry too quickly (i.e. not to be hot-tempered):Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)Here Paul warns us not to stay angry for too long!
Dealing With Anger PromptlyDuring His earthly ministry Jesus also taught the importance of dealing with anger promptly:“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:21-26)
The motivation Paul gives for dealing with anger promptly is that if anger is prolonged, Satan can use that anger to further his own ends.“Anger can give the devil an opportunity to cause strife within the life of the individual and community. Such discord is to be avoided by managing the anger properly and speedily.” (O’Brien p. 341)
The negative command: He who has been stealing must steal no longerThe positive command: [he] must work, doing something useful with his own handsThe reason or motivation given: that he may have something to share with those in need
He who has been stealing must steal no longer
In Paul’s day, “when a laborer was out of work there was no welfare system to help him or her nor would most have had enough wages to be able to save for times of unemployment. At such times many were forced to steal to maintain themselves and their families. Therefore, the injunction against theft struck at a real problem of that day.” (Hoehner, p. 624)
Paul’s wording implies that there were those within the Ephesian church who were stealing!We are not told specifically who was stealing or exactly how they went about stealing.It may have been laborers who stole the things they handled.It may have been shopkeepers who cheated their customers.
but must work
The word for work here is a word that was used of hard work, toil, or physical struggle (Mat 6:28; Luke 5:5, Rom 16:6, 12; 2 Tim 2:6).“The point is that the labor exerted is exhausting. In this context the stealer used to obtain things with little effort, but [living as the new self] all things are acquired with labor that requires much effort.” (Hoehner, p.625)
doing something useful
The object of this work is to produce something that is useful to others.As thieves, they used to do harm to others (by stealing from them). Now in contrast they are to do good in order to bring benefit to others.
with his own hands
This does not necessarily imply that only manual work is valid.What is meant here is that where the thief used to use his hands to steal, he must now use his hands to benefit others.
that he may have something to share
Notice he says to share rather than “to give” in order to avoid the idea that all that is earned must be given to others, but rather some of what is earned good must be shared with others.“This is a mean between two extremes. One is neither to hoard nor recklessly give all away.” (Hoehner, p.627)
with those in need.
“He should work so as to earn more than he needs for maintenance of himself and his family, and then he will have a surplus to give someone else – perhaps someone who is unable, through old age or infirmity, to work for himself.” (F.F. Bruce, p.98)
Some Other Passages to Consider:Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8b-9)When we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)The laborer's appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on. (Proverbs 16:26)A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. (2 Corinthians 8:1-4)
The negative command: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouthsThe positive command: but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needsThe reason or motivation given: that it may benefit those who listen
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths
The word unwholesome is used elsewhere in the NT of a “rotten or worthless” tree that produces bad fruit (Mat 7:17) or of “bad or worthless” fish (Mat 13:48).“What is prohibited, then, is harmful speech of any kind (cf. Col. 3:8; Eph 5:4), whether it be abusive language, vulgar speech, or slander and contemptuous talk.” (O’Brien, p.344)Jesus gives this warning concerning what we say:“I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37 )
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
“The purpose of our speech is to supply what is lacking in other believer’s lives by the utterance of beneficial words, thus contributing to the spiritual growth of the body.” (Hoehner, p.630)
Here we are given further motivation for obeying Paul’s previous commands to “put off” sin, because “the Spirit is grieved when God’s people continue in any of the sins that divide and destroy the unity of the body.” (O’Brien, p.346)Note how this passage brings out the personal nature of the Holy Spirit.
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The Holy Spirit “seals” us, marking us as owned by God and guaranteeing His possession of us until He takes final possession of us on the day of redemption, i.e. the final day of salvation.Surely we do not want to sin and thereby grieve the One who marks us as belonging to God and secures our final salvation!
The negative command: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of maliceThe positive command: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each otherThe reason or motivation given: in Christ God forgave you
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Here Paul tells us that “anger in all its forms and the vices associated with it are to be removed.”“Although v.26 recognizes that in exceptional circumstances one may be angry without sinning, so great are the dangers of this passion that on all other occasions it is to be rooted out comprehensively.” (O’Brien, p.349)Bitterness – an inner resentful attitudeRage – indignant outburst of angerAnger – steady, festering, seething angerBrawling – denotes shouting in a quarrelSlander – defamation, vilifying by lies or gossipEvery form of malice – catch-all phrase covering all kinds of anger
Kindness is a quality which God Himself often exhibits towards us (Eph 2:7; Rom 11:22; Tit 3:4)It does not come naturally, but is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).
Be ... compassionate to one another
Compassion was a quality which Jesus frequently demonstrated during His earthly ministry (Mat 9:36; 14:14; 18:27; Luke 1:78; 7:13; 10:33; 15:20)Likewise we are to be tenderhearted towards one another, being sympathetic to the needs of our brothers and sisters.
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Forgiveness – we are to forgive one another:In the way that God has forgiven usBecause God has forgiven us