Epistle to the Ephesians Identity, Intimacy, and Influence – Ephesians 4:1-13 – Week 9 – Rob Covell

Epistle to the Ephesians Identity, Intimacy, and Influence

Ephesians 4:1-13

Week 9

Rob Covell

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.

Ephesians 4:1

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.

Ephesians 4:2-3

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.”

Ephesians 4:4-6

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.

Ephesians 4:7-10

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.

Ephesians 4:11-13

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.

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Epistle to the Ephesians – Identity, Intimacy, and Influence – Ephesians 3:14-21 – Week 8 – Rob Covell

Epistle to the Ephesians

Identity, Intimacy, and Influence

Ephesians 3:14-21

Week 8

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will explore the second division of Ephesians 3, and cover verses 14-21. This section of Scripture covers Paul’s second Apostolic Prayer for the Ephesian Church and for us.

This amazing Apostolic Prayer contains some of the most beautiful language and deepest concepts in all of Paul’s Epistles. There are 7 movements in this prayer.

1 – Paul’s approach to God

2 – Paul’s request that we would be strengthened by God

3 – Christ would live in us 4 – We would experience the love of God in Christ

5 – We would explore the dimensions of the love of Christ

6 – We would be filled with His love

7 – The doxology declaration

Ephesians 3:14

a) For this reason – Paul begins his second Apostolic prayer realizing that his role as an apostle and servant to Christ and His Church is a glorious honor. The price that Paul payed in serving Jesus did not sow discouragement in his life, but humility and thankfulness in his heart. As he is waiting in Rome under house arrest to have his appeal heard by Caesar Nero, Paul is full of faith and hope that the cost of discipleship was unto glory.

b) I kneel – Greek – kamptō – to bend, bow, the knee (the knees), used of worshippers – to bow one’s self – The greatest apostle of the Church is so conquered by the love of Christ that his approach to the Father in prayer is one of the deepest devotion and humility toward God. May our approach be as heartfelt, authentic and humble as Paul’s. There were many in the Scriptures who prayed in this posture, Solomon, Ezra, Daniel, Stephen and Peter. It is not required that we pray on our knees, but this posture communicates our hearts towards God.

c) Note: the NKJV reads – “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” – This difference is due to the contrast between the Textus Receptus and the NU Text – Novum Testamentum Graece/Nestle-Aland Text. Basically, more ancient Greek texts do not contain “to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Ephesians 3:15

a) Paul is continuing to build on the theme of unity between the Gentile and Jewish believers in Messiah, Jesus Christ. Notice that Paul points their attention to the truth that God is Creator of all things. Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. All of creation finds its beginning in God.

b) When we think of the work of creation by the Godhead, we would consider it in
this way. The Father created through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. That is how we would see verses like Colossians 16 – For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

c) When we consider Father being the progenitor of every family in heaven and on earth we would understand in this way; the whole created order, whether angelic or earthly, found its origin in God. This does not mean angels have families, as some false teachers have taught. Jesus said that angels or people do not marry in heaven/eternal order. See Luke 20:35-36.

Ephesians 3:16

a) Out of His glorious riches – God is extravagant in all things. God is an extravagant giver and lover. God is generous and gracious in the most extreme way that challenges our intellect. He is a King of abundance and the sufficiency for all things in our lives.

b) Paul is praying for the Church of Jesus Christ to be strong in our inner person by the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that we find the strength to live for God. See Galatians 5:16-18. Greek – esō anthrōpos

c) The focus of our discipleship in Christ should be learning to live by the Spirit. He is our Helper, our Advocate and the Giver of gifts.

Ephesians 3:17a

a) The purpose of living by the Spirit and being strengthened by His power in the inner person (soul/conscience), is so that Jesus Christ can inhabit our thought life, and therefore be expressed through us to the world.

b) Notice that it is by faith that Jesus inhabits/dwells in us and not works. We can never over emphasize the truth that Christianity is lived in relationship with God.

c) Greek – katoikeō – metaph. divine powers, influences, etc., are said to dwell in his soul, to pervade, prompt, govern it, God is said to dwell in the temple, i.e. to be always present for worshippers.

Ephesians 3:17b-18

a) The experiential love of God is the foundation from where we love God back and love people through our experience of His love. The Greek word for rooted literally means to be immovable because of the depth of a root system. This is a metaphor for knowing the love of God in way that does not move us out of His love. The Greek word for grounded means to lay a foundation.

b) God’s love is agapē – It is the love God possesses, and it is the love that will always contend for the best, towards the object of His love. There is power in the love of God to love.

c) Together with all God’s people – The text indicates that the love of God can be experienced in community. John 15:12 – My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 John 3:14 – We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

d) It is interesting to consider that the love of Jesus has dimensions that can be experienced and searched out. The love of Christ is multi-dimensional and can be explored. Charles Spurgeon – “In this measurement may you and I be skilled. If we know nothing of mathematics, may we be well-tutored scholars in this spiritual geometry, and be able to comprehend the breadths and lengths of Jesu’s precious love.”

e) The love of Christ – Wide – How much does it cover? Length – Does the love of Christ end? Depth – How deep does Christ go in His pursuit of us? Height – Christ’s love calls us up to heavenly places.

Ephesians 3:19

a) Greek – surpasses – hyperballō – to surpass in throwing, to throw over or beyond anything, to transcend, surpass, exceed, excel – The love of Jesus is not something that can be known in flesh, but by the Spirit and through the Spirit.

b) The fullness – The fullness of the love of Jesus is both personal and corporate. When we consider personal fullness, we see that His love would fill us to capacity individually, so that we express His nature and character through us. When we consider corporate fullness, we would say that the love of Christ is expressed in its fullest capacity through the Church, so that the Church re-images the nature and character of God.

Ephesians 3:20 – Paul’s Doxology Declaration

a) The high vision of being filled to the fullness of Christ’s love seems like an impossibility. But every Christian has an appetite for the impossible, wants to believe in the impossible and wants to see the impossible.

b) Notice that many times our vision is much too limited and our prayers too small in light of God’s economy, which is generous, wide, long, deep and high.

c) Also notice that the impossibilities of God are released according to the measure of His power that has been activated in us. I would ask us to consider, at what point does the pursuit of God become a sacred obsession in us?

Ephesians 3:21

a) It is amazing to think that God receives eternal glory through the Church, both here and now, and in heaven throughout every age; through the history of humanity to the eternal order that Jesus rules and reigns from. Revelation 7:9-10 – After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

b) Amen – And so it is!

Epistle to the Ephesians – Identity, Intimacy and Influence – Ephesians 3:1-13 – Week 7 – Rob Covell

Epistle to the Ephesians

Identity, Intimacy, and Influence

Ephesians 3:1-13

Week 7

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will explore Ephesians 3:1-13. Ephesians chapter 3 is divided into 2 movements in the text.

1 – Paul continues to make clear the purposes of God in bringing Gentiles and Jews together in the New Covenant. Ephesians 3:1-13.

2 – Paul’s second Apostolic Prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21.

Ephesians 3:1

a) The time stamp for the letter to the Ephesians was approximately AD64, and Paul was under house arrest waiting for his trial before the Roman Emperor Nero. Acts 28:30-31 – For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! Philippians 4:22 – All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

b) Paul’s situation being under house arrest, was that Paul was free to receive people, teach and preach the message of Jesus Christ during the day, although in chains. At night Paul would have been bound to 1 or 2 Roman soldiers so that he would not be a flight risk at night.

c) It is interesting to note that Paul bore fruit for the kingdom even as he was under Roman arrest. Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon during this 2-year period of his life. Notice that Paul describes himself as Christ’s prisoner and not Rome’s prisoner. This speaks to the depth of Paul’s trust in Christ and faith in the destiny that Jesus prophesied to Paul. See Acts 23:11. When we are free in Jesus Christ, no one owns the emotions of our heart, the thoughts in our inner-person, or our future, except Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3:2

a) Greek – Administration/Dispensation – oikonomia – the management of a household or of household affairs, specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of other’s property, the office of a manager or overseer, stewardship – Strong’s #G3622 –

b) Paul is making the point to spiritual sons and daughters, that he was given stewardship over their spiritual formation in Christ. Paul sees his service to the Ephesian Church and the other Gentile churches as a grace gift from God.

c) The Greek word oikonomia/stewardship, also implies that Paul needed to be faithful and manage his life, so that he could co-labor with God in proclaiming the gospel so that he could accomplish the fullness of his destiny. It was grace to serve God’s people and grace to proclaim the message. All our prophetic destinies are conditional, based on our ability to obey and respond to God. See 1 Timothy 1:18-19.

Ephesians 3:3

a) Mystery – Greek – mystērion – hidden thing, secret, mystery, generally mysteries, religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals, a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding, of God: the secret counsels which govern God in dealing with the righteous, which are hidden from ungodly and wicked men but plain to the godly. In our culture, the word mystery holds an esoteric or occult connotation to the word. But Paul’s use the word is simply that God’s purpose in bringing the Gentiles into the Covenants of Israel was truth that was hidden and then revealed through Paul and the other Apostles.

b) The mystery of the Gentiles being grafted into Israel and becoming God’s Covenant people as was revealed to Peter first in Acts 11 and then to Paul beginning on the road to Damascus and then being understood in fullness during his time in the Arabian desert. See Galatians 1:15-17.

c) It is interesting to consider the O.T. prophesies and the words of Jesus concerning the Gentiles, and to see how the prophets and apostles did not see God’s heart for restoring humanity to Himself. See Isaiah 49:6 and Acts 1:8. d) Paul’s reference to writing about this mystery was a reference to Ephesians 2:1122.

Ephesians 3:4-6

a) Paul indicates that one the reasons he is writing his Epistle is so that the Ephesian Church does not have to contend with the division that plagued the Early Church, which was the division between Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah. We spent the last Session, explaining the depth of this division and the solution that was put in place at the first Apostolic Council in Jerusalem. See Acts 15.

b) The mention of the apostles and prophets was explained in the last Session. The apostles were the ones who proclaimed the message and the revealing of Messiah in the New Covenant, and the prophets were the Old Covenant prophets that prophesied Messiah.

c) Paul in very precise language states that the Gentile believers in Jesus Christ are heirs to the same Covenant promises as the Jewish believers in Messiah. We should understand the identity of God’s Covenant people in the following way: 1 – Jesus confirmed or fulfilled all the Covenants of God. 2 – Jesus’ work of Atonement on the cross instituted the New Covenant. All previous Covenants were confirmed or fulfilled and superseded by the New Covenant, which is the only Covenant by which the Godhead is relating to the world. 3 – The Israel of God is any person, Jew or Gentile, that has received the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through Jesus and faith in Him, are made heirs of the promises of God.

Ephesians 3:7-9

a) Paul’s service and faithfulness to the Lord sprang from the deep gratitude and realization of the grace of God on his life. Paul is an apostle because of grace and the power of God to make him an apostle.

b) Paul being a former persecutor of the Church and an enemy of God, by grace received his ministry. See Acts 9.

c) Notice that in Jesus we all have access to boundless riches. Greek – boundless – anexichniastos – that cannot be searched out, that cannot be comprehended. Greek – riches – ploutos – riches, wealth, fulness, abundance, plenitude, a good i.e. that with which one is enriched

d) It is true that Jesus is fullness to us in every way possible. The message of the gospel is the invitation to draw from Jesus anything we need for life and godliness. No Christian is in a place of defeat or lack, because our source is Christ.

e) God, our loving Creator, displayed the fullness of His kindness and mercy in Jesus.

Ephesians 3:10-11

a) It is awe inspiring to know that God’s purposes for the Church is to reveal His wisdom to the spiritual realm. In some way, the Church as a collective, shows by her authority, and teaches the spiritual realm; angels, demons and the devil, the wisdom of God in all things. The spiritual dominion of the Church has supremacy in all things. Even the angelic order serves the Church. See Hebrews 1:14.

b) Church – ekklēsia – a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly, an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating, the assembly of the Israelites. It should be noted that the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint (132BC) uses ekklēsia, for the Hebrew word qahal, which is used to describe the assembly of Israel. For those of us who have heard things like “the O.T. never prophesied the Church”, or “Jesus used a new term to describe God’s people, i.e. the Church”, are misguided.

c) The eternal purpose is the restoration of humanity to God. What was lost in Eden, finds its fullness and restoration in Jesus Christ, the first fruits now in the New Covenant Age and the fullness at the return of Jesus Christ when He manifests the eternal kingdom in fullness.

d) Accomplished in Christ – This is a reference to Jesus’ work of Atonement on the cross for healing of the whole person. Salvation to soul, healing in the body, and peace in our souls/sound mind.

Ephesians 3:12

a) Paul presents to us the simplicity of our approach to the Father. It is by faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross that we approach God in freedom and confidence. Paul writes this as the Temple in Jerusalem is still standing, in which a person would need to approach God in sacrifice, according to Law, and even then, still not have access to the most intimate place of connecting with God’s presence because of the limitations imposed by the Old Covenant.

Ephesians 3:13

a) Paul does not want to be seen in the light of sympathy for the price he was paying as a servant of Jesus Christ. Paul was no victim because his life had purpose, and Paul trusted Jesus in all things concerning his life. Paul understood that the sacrifice of the Apostolic Age, would bring glory God’s Church.