Epistle to the Ephesians Identity, Intimacy, and Influence
Introduction – In this Session, the Apostle Paul transitions the movement of this wonderful Epistle to the Ephesians from his focus on the grace, love, mercy and blessings that we experience in Christ, to our proper response to the love of Christ. The great Reformer Martin Luther said that in the face of great temptation we should answer Christainus Sum/I am a Christian. Paul brings the attention of his hearers to the fact that our obedience to Christ is the direct result of our experiential knowledge of the love Jesus that fills us full of gratitude and thankfulness to Him.
Ephesians 4, takes an exhortative tone as Paul begins to encourage these spiritual sons and daughters as a true loving Apostolic Father. We should keep in mind that at the time that Paul wrote this Epistle to the Ephesian Church, it as approximately 12 years later after he left Ephesus after their huge outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Paul loved the Ephesian Church; Acts 20:13-38 describes their heartbreaking separation as Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. This Epistle would have greatly encouraged them, having received this Apostolic letter from Tychicus. See Ephesians 6:21.
a) As a prisoner for the Lord – Paul makes the statement that he is Christ’s prisoner and not Rome’s. Paul was on house arrest waiting for his appeals case to be heard by Caesar Nero. See Acts 28:30-31. Paul was not discouraged because when we are in Christ, the circumstances of our life do not determine the condition of our hearts. Paul knew he was in God’s will even under arrest, chained to a Roman Soldier/Soldiers.
b) Live a life worthy – Paul had spent the first movement of the Epistle to the Ephesians encouraging them in identity, unity, and praying 2 amazing prayers for them. Paul is encouraging them to live out of the knowledge of Jesus Christ’s goodness, grace, mercy and love, that flows from their identity as believers in Him. Living a life worthy of the calling, is to be aligned with Christ and live in a way that agrees with His heart for us.
a) In verse 2, Paul begins to give us the keys to obtain and keep Christian love and unity in our local church. Notice that all the things that Paul lists, are those that we walk out over time and live out in relationship with each other.
b) Completely humble/All humility – Greek – tapeinophrosynē – tä-pā-no-fro-sü’-nā – having a humble opinion of one’s self – This is the realization that we are all saved from the penalty of sin by the mercy of Christ’s blood and that each of us are bought by His blood. None of us are perfect and all of us are equal in terms of saving faith and how we relate to God through faith in Jesus.
c) Gentle – Greek – praÿtēs – prä-ü’-tās – mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness – When we consider what Christ did for us on the cross there is
no room for pride or hard attitudes towards each other. Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
d) Patient – Greek – makrothymia – patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs
e) Notice that love is the foundation that humility, gentleness and patience is built on.
f) A local body of believers’ experiences unity when the Holy Spirit’s presence is hosted because peace is the dividend of His ministry to us. I propose that the more we seek to host the presence of God, and partner with Him in our gatherings, the greater the harvest of unity and peace we will experience with one another.
g) Charles Spurgeon – “Divisions in Churches never begin with those full of love to the Savior.”
a) It would be important to remind us the cultural condition of the church in the Apostolic Era. A great portion of Ephesians 2-3, deal with the division between Jew and Gentile believers in Jesus. This was the first division of the Early Church, and did not stop until about AD200. The division revolved around the identity of who were really God’s people, and would Gentiles need to be converted first to Old Covenant Judaism, and then be eligible to receive Christ as Messiah. We have the account in Acts 15, that deals with this division directly.
b) Paul is reminding the Ephesians of their unity of faith in Jesus, their unity as members of the spiritual Body of Christ, the unity of water baptism and their unity in worship.
In verses 7-13. Paul gives the Ephesian Church and the Church for all ages, the process by which Christian unity, faith and spiritual maturity are developed, which is through leadership offices that are given to the Church by Christ.
a) Notice that grace in gifting is given as Jesus apportioned it (metron). The Greek word for apportioned or measure, literally means, an instrument for measuring. We could say that our gifts from God are diverse in function and in measure/influence in the Body of Christ.
b) Paul paraphrases Psalm 68:18, and paints a word picture of Jesus, the conquering King, who plundering the dominion of darkness, has widely dispersed gifts among His people. Paul uses this imagery to convey two themes; 1 – Jesus is authoritative ruler, Christus Victor. 2 – His kingdom government is established through the gifts He gives His Body.
a) The gifts of Christ that He gave to govern His Body, the Church are the 5-Fold Apostolic Offices. These are mentioned in descending order of authority. Note however, that each office has varying amounts of influence according to its
metron/sphere of influence. This is important because the size and scope of one’s leadership sphere varies depending on the grace that Christ gives it. Leadership levels and influence all vary from leader to leader.
b) Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – This is Christ ordered leadership offices to govern, grow and mature the Body of Christ.
c) Apostles – In the Greek – literally, sent ones, one sent with orders – Some teach that the office of Apostle was limited to the original 12. However, a cursory look at Scripture teaches us that Paul was called an Apostle, James was called an Apostle (Galatians 1:19), Andronicus and Junias (Female) were called Apostles (Romans 16:7). We could even include Barnabas because we see him functioning as an Apostle in Acts, even though he is not called an Apostle directly (Acts 15:22). The highest leadership office in the Church is an Apostle. Apostolic function is purity in doctrine, power demonstrations that confirm the gospel (2 Corinthians 12:12), planting churches, fathering churches, appointing leaders, church discipline, and suffering for Christ. We would consider the office of Apostle as a regional, national or international leadership office.
d) Prophets – When we consider the office of Prophet, we are not meaning those who have the spiritual gift of prophesy as described in 1 Corinthians 12-14, as in “all may prophesy in turn” (1 Cor 14:31). The office of Prophet would be best described as the type of ministry that Agabus demonstrated in the book of Acts 11 & Acts 21. We can see that he had an itinerant prophetic ministry and ministered at a greater level of spiritual authority than local church members who were prophesying to the local congregation. Agabus was based out of Jerusalem and traveled and ministered to local assemblies throughout the region all the way to Tyre. Agabus prophesied a global famine and prophesied to Paul regarding his arrest in Jerusalem.
e) Evangelists – euaggelistēs – a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist, the name given to the NT heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles – A good example would be Timothy, or perhaps Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla. We could say generally that the office of Evangelist is regional, nation or international.
f) Pastors – poimēn – Shepherds – Metaphor for those charged with leading a local Body of believers. Titus would be a good example and so would Nyphas a female local pastor in Laodicea (Col 4:15). See 1 Peter 5:1-4
g) Teachers – didaskalos – Those who serve the local church body who are masters in teaching the Scriptures under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore draw many to hear.
h) Note that from various Scriptures and the Acts narrative, we can conclude that the first 3 offices are regional, national or international and the offices of pastor and teacher are local offices. Also note that properly aligned local church leadership is local bodies led by pastors and teachers who are submitted to apostles and prophets, with the office of evangelist calling many into local bodies by proclaiming the gospel.
c) The 5-Fold Apostolic Church Government is charged to equip the people for works of service, to build up the Body of Christ, to the fullness of maturity in Christ.