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Ephesians 4:1-7, 11 1
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,

Background

In the verses considered here, believers are called to a different kind of unity, one that is created by and grows in love. The unity is based not in similarity of gifts, but in the connections created by the Spirit given and shared through baptism.

Paul wrote this letter to the people in Ephesus when he was in a prison in Rome, about 61 years after the birth of Christ. At one time, Greek leaders had ruled Ephesus. However, during Paul’s imprisonment,  the Romans ruled the city. Ephasus was the capital of the Roman region called Asia. It was a busy port and the center of much trade. Ephasus was the site of the temple of the goddess Diana (or Artemis). The business people sold models of Diana’s temple there but Paul’s preaching affected their trade. This caused confusion and trouble in the city (Acts 19:23-41) leading to his imprisonment.

This letter is different from other letters by Paul. The main differences are:

  • he does not give any special greetings;
  • he does not send a message to any one particular person;
  • he does not talk about special problems.

Paul wrote the letter to encourage the personal faith of the Christians. It gives teaching, prayers and great praises to God. It is about Jesus Christ. Paul makes clear that Christ is the head of the church.

Paul states that all has been given; believers have not attained or reached or otherwise brought upon themselves the great gifts of God. (Notice the passive verbs in Ephesians 4:1, 4,  and 7). Even as all has been given, the one Spirit, one Lord, baptism, and so forth (Ephesians 4:4-6) such that everyone has been filled with a whole new life (see especially v. 6 in which this uniting bond of oneness is above all AND through AND in all). It is the call of every Christian.

The activities of those called and by God, summarized by living worthily (Ephesians 4:1), include bearing with one another, maintaining the unity of the Spirit, speaking the truth in love, and growing up. not just maturing but growing into Christ Himself.  Growing up in Christ is a very interesting idea for us. If anything, in our age of rapid and unedited communication, the winds of opinion and doctrine fly faster than we can keep up. Scientific studies, poorly reported, spin us from one healthy option to the next without time for reflection and good decision making impacts our faith as Christians. How do we slow down enough and build enough trust with one another to speak the truth in love? How does the Christian church survive in a world of heavy political divisions?

In the original Greek, it says that Jesus has given certain people to the church as a gift. These people have different gifts. But together they are God’s gift to the church. They then use their gifts and do their jobs in the church. The result of this is that God can build up the church. and it can grow. Perhaps the most important thing for us in these verses is the clarity of our purpose as believers, to give ourselves to eachother. What might the world look like if we lived our lives worthy of the life of the one who gave Himself to and for us? Imagine that.

Items for Discussion

  • Why is Christ ineffective without us?
  • What attributes make the Christian Church successful in the world?
  • Assuming you have given yourself to Christ, why does it then make sense that Jesus can give you back to the Church as a worker? Why then are so many reluctant?
  • How has modern technology like the Internet, Cell Phones, Twitter, Facebook, etc. made it harder to honor Christ’s call to be peaceful people?
  • How do we combat the advances of modern communication and pull in subsequent generations into the Church?
  • Why is humility so important?
  • How does being patient and gentle help with loving one another?
  • If we do not step up to the challenges facing the Church, who will?

Discussion Challenge

  • How should the Church measure itself against Jesus Himself?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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