Ephesians 4:1-3 "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
Eight times the words, "unity or one," appears in verses one
through six of this chapter. This sets the tone for the entire
chapter. The theme of the chapter is the unity of the church.
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord…" Again, Paul refers
to himself as the prisoner of the Lord. This calls our attention to the
fact that we too should think of ourselves as the Lord's prisoners. We
are not our own and our service does not belong to ourselves. We are to
serve at the Lord's direction and according to his rules and direction.
We are his prisoners.
"Beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith
ye are called." The word, "vocation," literally means calling. We are
to walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called. The members of
the church at Ephesus received two callings. All of God's children are
called to spiritual life in the New Birth. This calling is by the
Spirit of God and not by man. Further, for God's children in the church
there is the gospel call to repentance and service. The gospel minister
under the leadership of the Spirit of God makes this call. A child of
God called to the service of God should walk worthy of the vocation
wherewith he is called. To "walk worthy" refers to the type of life
that we live. Our lives should be lived in harmony with that high
calling we have received.
To walk in disobedience to the commandments of God would not
be befitting the benefits that we have received of God's grace.
Further, to attempt to worship God in a way that is not according to the
word of God, would not properly honor the God that has redeemed us. Our
manner of living should be consistent with the eternal life that God has
bestowed upon us and be in harmony with the teaching of God's word.
When we do this then we are walking worthy of the vocation wherewith we
"With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering,
forbearing one another in love…" Paul begins to give us the
characteristics we need if we are to walk worthy of the vocation
wherewith we are called. "Lowliness" literally means humility of mind.
"Meekness" means humility of action. Humility of action without
humility of mind is just "role acting" and is truly hypocrisy. True
humility begins with how we view ourselves. If we view ourselves as
being somebody or we view ourselves as being more worthy than others,
then we are full of pride and not of humility. Further, if we have a
view of ourselves that we are going to reign or having a position over
others, then this view springs from pride of mind and not of humility.
There was a time when the disciples disputed among
themselves who would be chief and the Lord reproved them: Matt. 18:1 "At
the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest
in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him,
and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you,
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not
enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble
himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of
heaven." The disciples attitudes at that time were prideful and they
needed to be converted to lowliness and meekness.
Now, let us consider how Paul viewed himself. Paul was
first called "Saul." The name, "Saul," means a mighty one. At the time
that Paul was called Saul, he viewed himself as a mighty one who was
going to stamp out the Christian religion. When the Lord struck Saul
down on the road to Damascus, Paul's life was changed. Further, there
came a change in the attitude of Saul and how he viewed himself. Notice
the following three examples of how Paul now viewed himself:
1. Eph. 3:8 "Unto me, who am less than the
least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the
Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
2. 1 Cor. 15:9 "For I am the least of the
apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted
the church of God."
3. 1 Tim. 1:15 "This is a faithful saying, and
worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners; of whom I am chief."
Paul viewed himself as being less than the least of all
saints; the least of the apostles; and the chief of sinners. Someone
may say, how can I view myself as the chief of sinners when I see the
grossly sinful actions of others? It is true that when I see some gross
sin committed by another that I may think "I have never done anything
like that" and begin to think myself better than that individual.
However, when we make such judgments we are making the judgment based on
one or a very few sins. When I look at my life and realize that even a
foolish thought is sinful, I see a very great multitude of sins that I
have committed, much more than I have ever seen in the life of any
others. The logical conclusion based on the evidence I have before me
is that I am the chief of sinners. I know of no other individual who I
can say that I have seen sin as many sins as I know that I have sinned.
When I view myself as the chief of sinners saved by the
grace of God, this leads me to humility of mind, which in turn leads me
to humility of action. When I forget about my sinful condition and
begin to get exalted, then I am full of pride and do not have the proper
attitude to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith I have been called.
The Lord is the greatest example of humility of mind and action: Phil
2:5 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who,
being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a
servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in
fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross."
"With longsuffering, forbearing one another in love…"
Sometimes the actions, habits, or ways of others can lead to the
disunity of the church. While we are not to allow gross sins such as
set forth in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 to leaven the church, yet there are
many other things that sometimes crop up in the lives of God's people
that we should be longsuffering and forbearing towards. Sometimes when
pointed out in love and humility by a meek individual, individuals can
be led to repent of their annoying habits, actions, and ways. The
harmony and peace of the church is often dependent on the longsuffering
and forbearance of the saints in love.
"Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace." A church without peace cannot grow and prosper in the service
and worship of the Lord. When a division exists in the church, there
will be hard feelings and hurt feelings among the membership. To
endeavor means to make a diligent strong effort. Unity is not
automatic. The unity of the church is something that every member of
the church must make a diligent strong effort towards. However, we do
not want unity at any cost, but rather we want unity based on the
truth. Amos 3:3 reads, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"
Obviously, we cannot walk together unless we are agreed. For the kind
of peace and unity that we need in the church, each member should be
willing to work diligently towards achieving that unity through a
diligent study of the scriptures and making a proper application of its
teaching to our lives. Further, we need the leadership of the Spirit to
accomplish this. Thus, we need both truth and Spirit if we are to
accomplish this unity and peace that each local church needs.
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are
called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in
There has been an ongoing debate over the above passage as
to whether the "ones" apply to eternal things concerning the entire
redeemed family of God or to timely things in the local church. While
an application can be made based on the text alone that most of the
"ones" can have application to the entire redeemed family of God, yet
the context and the scriptures as a whole suggest that the application
is to the local church. Further, the "one faith" is consistent with the
local church and not with the entire redeemed family of God. We will
show the unity of the "ones" in the local church.
"There is one body…" The term "body" is used frequently to
signify the local church in the scriptures:
1. Rom 12:4 "For as we have many members in one
body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are
one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."
2. 1 Cor 12:12:
"For as the body is one, and
hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are
one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized
into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or
free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body
is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not
the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And
if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is
it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where
were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the
body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where
were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body… 22
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble,
are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be
less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our
uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts
have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more
abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no
schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one
for another…27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in
3. Eph. 1:22 "And hath put all things under his
feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
4. Eph 3:6 "That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in
Christ by the gospel:"
5. Eph 4:12 "For the perfecting of the saints,
for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"
6. Eph 4:16 "From whom the whole body fitly
joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,
according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh
increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
7. Eph 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the
wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of
the body…30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his
8. Col 1:18 "And he is the head of the body,
the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in
all things he might have the preeminence."
9. Col 2:19 "And not holding the Head, from
which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered,
and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God."
10. Col 3:15 "And let the peace of God rule in
your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye
The natural human body shows forth the marvelous design of
our Creator. It consists of over 3 trillion cells and yet all of those
cells in a healthy body work together in unity for the good of the
body. The local church also consists of several members and when the
body is functioning properly there is a wonderful harmony in the church
that promotes spiritual growth, peace, and unity of action.
"And one Spirit…" The Holy Spirit is that one spirit in the
local church that makes for peace and unity in the bond of love. There
are many false and wicked spirits in the world that can cause disorder
and confusion in the local church. We are told to "try the spirits."
The Holy Spirit is also that Holy Comforter that the Lord promised the
disciples that he would send. He guides us into all truth. We gives us
all of our spiritual gifts. He leads us in the activities of the local
church. He works in us to bring about a unity of action, and of love,
and fellowship in the local church. He works in us to bring about
spiritual growth in the church. Any other spirit will only cause
disorder and confusion and ultimate destruction in the local church.
"Even as ye are called in one hope of your calling…" It is
the leadership and gifts of the Holy Spirit in the gospel ministry that
brings about the gospel call to repentance and service. The one hope of
this gospel calling is that we might be the disciples of the Lord
worshipping him in Spirit and in truth and serving him with our lives.
Hope is based on the promise of God and this promise is set forth for us
in Acts 2:38: "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every
one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye
shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you,
and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the
Lord our God shall call." This promise of the Holy Ghost, to those who
responded to the gospel call, is that they might be added to the local
church as the Lord's manifest disciples.
"One Lord…" The word, "Lord," indicates a master/servant
relationship. In the Lord's church there is only one Lord, Jesus
Christ. We, the members of the local church are all fellow servants.
We are not to lord it over one another. The ministry is not to lord is
over God's heritage. Sometimes elders and even deacons try to run the
church and make all the decisions for the church. This should not be
done, for we have only one Lord and he has given us all the instructions
we need to guide us in our duties and in the matters and government of
the church. Further, through the one Spirit, he directs us in our
activities of worship and of service. We need no other Lord, but simple
need to obey the One Lord that we have.
"One faith…" The one faith is referring to "the faith that
was once delivered to the saints." This faith is that system of
doctrine, practice, and government that the One Lord has given to the
New Testament Church and recorded for us in the New Testament. About
twenty times in the New Testament we read the phrase, "the faith." The
faith is not speaking of our individual faith, but rather "the faith
that was once delivered to the saints." We are not to deviate from the
faith in worship or in service. Adding to the faith or leaving off part
of the faith, separates us from the true worship and service of God.
"One baptism…" There are at least eight different types of
baptism taught in the scriptures. Yet the "one baptism" in our text is
water baptism. We all enter into the New Testament Church here on earth
through this one baptism, or water baptism. Water baptism shows forth
the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and is our public
confession of wanting to be identified with the covenant work of our
Savior. Water baptism is not sprinkling or pouring, but rather complete
immersion of water. Water baptism is administered by the ordained
gospel ministry of the true New Testament Church and by none other.
"…One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through
all, and in you all." There truly is only one God, even though there
are three persons or offices in the Godhead. 1 John 5:7, "For there are
three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy
Ghost: and these three are one." We only worship one God and he
is the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. While there things about the
Godhead that none of us fully understand, we know that they are not
three Gods, but one God.
This one God is also Father of all. He is the creator of
man and the Spiritual Father of all the elect. Even though all the
elect are not members of the Lord's visible church on earth, yet all
that are members have the same Father. While in nature most of us will
have different natural fathers, yet we all have the same spiritual
This Father is above all and as the Creator of all things
has all authority over us. We should recognize and honor this authority
and be obedient to this authority of our Father.
This Father is also through us all. The word, through, here
comes from a Greek word meaning among. In the church of the Lord Jesus
Christ, God is among us and makes his presence felt among us.
This Father is also in us all. This truly is amazing, that
the Creator of the universe who created and dwells over us as the
Almighty also has condescended to dwell in our very hearts and minds.
It truly testifies of the amazing love and grace that God has towards
Ephesians 4:7-10 "But unto
every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of
Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led
captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended,
what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the
earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above
all heavens, that he might fill all things.)"
"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the
measure of the gift of Christ." We know that grace is the unmerited
favor of God and that God's election of us to be his children was by
grace. We also know that our salvation from sin was by grace and our
spiritual birth was by grace. Also, our resurrection from the dead will
also be by the grace of God. Yet, the grace in verse seven speaks to us
of God's gift to us of spiritual gifts. According to the scriptures,
all of God's children are given spiritual gifts:
1. Rom. 12:4 "For as we have many members in
one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many,
are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having
then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether
prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or
ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on
teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let
him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that
showeth mercy, with cheerfulness."
2. 1 Cor. 12:7 "But the manifestation of the
Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by
the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the
same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts
of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to
another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers
kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all
these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man
severally as he will."
It is by the grace of God that we have been given these
spiritual gifts. These gifts are mentioned in this chapter dealing with
the unity and peace of the church and the growth of the members of the
church. These gifts are for promoting the unity and peace and growth of
the church as well as for glorifying God. We should never think that we
are worthy of having these spiritual gifts. Also, we should never be
lifted up in pride because we have some spiritual gift that others about
us may not have. It is all by the grace of God and we are unworthy
"Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led
captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." This is a quote from
Psalms 68:18-20 "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity
captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also,
that the LORD God might dwell among them. Blessed be the Lord, who
daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong
the issues from death." When Jesus ascended up on high he not only had
redeemed us from our sin and had conquered death, hell, and the grave,
but he also "led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men." The
captivity he led captive where the captive prisoners of the covenant of
redemption. The elect are bound up in the covenant of redemption and
thus are the bond prisoners of that covenant. They were delivered from
their enemies of sin, death, hell, the devil, and the grave. Further,
they are led as the love captives of the covenant of redemption by the
Spirit of God. First, they are led by the effectual working of the
Spirit of God into being born of the Spirit of God. Second, they are
led to fear and love God. Third, they will be led in the morning of the
resurrection into heaven's glory world.
In addition, there is a leadership here in time by the
Spirit of God into the gospel kingdom of God on earth. In order that we
may worship and serve God in an acceptable way that is pleasing to God,
He has given to us spiritual gifts.
"(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also
descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended
is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might
fill all things.)" This verse teaches us that the same Jesus who
descended into the lower parts of the earth (womb of the virgin) in
order to save his people from their sins and who ascended up far above
all heavens to fulfill all things which pertain to our eternal salvation
from sin, is the same Jesus who now reigns over us in the kingdom of
heaven and who as our Lord and King gives us spiritual gifts for the
benefit of the church and for his glory.