Whole Armor of God- Ephesians 5-6

In chapter 5 of Paul’s letter to the saints at Ephesus, he spends some time talking to them about the dangers of sexual immorality, warning them not to fall into the traps and temptations of such behavior. He also warns us all not to let anyone deceive us with empty words about such things. It is easy today to find one who represents himself as an evangelist, who will use his own rhetoric to placate those who wish to think of themselves as Christians, but do not want to give up the carnal pleasures that Paul refers to here.

Paul could not be any plainer about that than in this chapter, when he says that “everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Those “works of the flesh” are the very things that Christians must crucify from their lives (Galatians 5:24).

armor_230115Husbands are sometimes quick to run to Ephesians 5:22-24 to refer to the relationship between husband and wife. And Christians understand that very well. But all to often, it is overlooked that much more text was devoted to the sort of love a husband is supposed to have for his wife in verses 25-32. Being one flesh, a man must love his wife enough to die for her, as Jesus loved the church.

Paul closes the letter in chapter 6, admonishing children to obey their parents, and bondservants to obey their earthly masters. This sort of servitude, common in that era, has a place for another discussion that we may have in another blog. But for now, it is worth saying that whatever our station in life is, God expects us to do it with dignity and the sort of diligence and respect that does honor to our Lord Jesus.

The “whole armor of God,” that Paul tells us we must put on in verses 10-20 lists many of the godly tools that we have to be able to live our lives with the ability to defeat the temptations that Satan throws our way as obstacles and snares to try to defeat us and turn us away from salvation. Truth and righteousness are listed first — and there are others. But most important are earnest prayer and supplication.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Ephesians and Philippians

Eph. 4, Eph. 5, Eph. 6, Phil. 1, Phil. 2

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

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One Faith – Ephesians 4

In Ephesians chapter four, Paul “preaches” in his letter about unity in the body of Christ, saying there is only one body and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. In other words, as Christians we are all together in a unified effort of service to the Lord and in attempting to bring others with us to heaven.

When Jesus prepared to ascend into heaven, His disciples followed Him to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:9-12).

When Jesus prepared to ascend into heaven, His disciples followed Him to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:9-12).

Paul talks about Jesus ascending “far above all the heavens.” I am reminded of some astronauts decades ago. Some, upon seeing the earth, had their faith increased. Others were cynical about not seeing heaven. They would have done well to not “lean upon their own understanding.” The physical and temporal universe God created for us is not a part of His dwelling place. He said that He “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. And that is our job even today, since Peter said that we are “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).

Although Peter is addressing Gentiles, he tells them (and us) that we must not “walk as the Gentiles do.” Those who have alienated themselves from God have done so out of ignorance and the hardness of their hearts. They have become callous, and given themselves up to sensuality and are “greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” He then lists many ways in verses 25-32 that we are to show kindness and purity to the world so that our behavior can give grace to the world.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Ephesians and Philippians

Eph. 4, Eph. 5, Eph. 6, Phil. 1, Phil. 2

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Dividing Wall – Ephesians 2-3

Paul continues his letter to the Christians at Ephesus in Ephesians chapter 2, telling them that, like all Christians, they have been saved by grace, which is a gift from God, and not by anything that they have done. In verses 11-22, he talks about how Gentiles had been “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise.” But now they have been brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ “who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments…”

Jerusalem, model city, Herod's Temple, court of the Gentiles.

Jerusalem, model city, Herod’s Temple, court of the Gentiles.

This “dividing wall of hostility,” figurative in one respect, alludes to an actual wall at the temple that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the inner courts. Of this, the historian Josephus wrote:

“Proceeding across this (the open court towards the second court of the temple, one found it surrounded by a stone balustrade, three cubits high and of exquisite workmanship; in this at regular intervals stood slabs giving warning, some in Greek, others in Latin characters, of the law of purification, to wit that no foreigner was permitted to enter the holy place, for so the second enclosure of the temple was called.” (cf. Jos. War 6, ii, 4)

In chapter 3, Paul calls himself a “prisoner for Christ Jesus,” reminding us of the fact that this was one of the letters that he wrote from prison. He speaks of the “Mystery of Christ,” and “the mystery hidden for ages in God.” And he tells them that the mystery is “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

His prayer in the closing verses is for God to grant them “…strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

The “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” is not an empty metaphor. We may have an inkling of Christ’s love for us because of our knowledge of what He gave of Himself in sacrifice. But what kind of love must He have for us to be willing to endure such an ordeal so that even those who curse Him in this world can have hope?

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Galatians and Ephesians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Riches of His Grace – Eph 1

Paul loves the church at Ephesus, and that fact is no more evident than in his letter to the Ephesians. In chapter one, he speaks to them of the saving grace of Jesus:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River because Jesus told him to do it -- Matthew 3: 13-17.

John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River because Jesus told him to do it — Matthew 3: 13-17.

But it is verses 4-5 that cause much controversy and misunderstanding, when really the message is simple. The verses say:

…he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…

Some take this to mean that God chose certain specific people to be saved and certain specific people to be lost. Not only does that interpretation misrepresent these verses, it also misrepresents God’s will. If that interpretation is correct, then 1 Timothy 2:4 is a lie, and God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2). God would rather have everyone saved. Would He then decide, before they even lived, those that would be lost? Nonsense!

It simply meant that it was always God’s plan that all those Jew or Gentile who were crucified with Jesus in baptism would be adopted, according to the purpose of His will.

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Galatians and Ephesians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Ephesians 6 – The Whole Armor of God

Paul closes his letter to the Ephesians in this chapter beginning with the admonition for children to “honor your father and mother,” referring to the fifth of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12) as being “the first commandment with a promise, ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'”  It was the only one of those ten commandments to contain a promise; and the emphasis throughout the Bible on children being expected to obey their parents is nothing to be taken lightly.  Consider the opposite of the aforementioned promise, for example.  Verse 4, as with all of these “submission passages” reminds fathers of their duty to them – to love their children enough to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  As Proverbs 22:6 teaches, such instruction will stay with them.

Paul was a prisoner in Rome, under house arrest, but he was free to preach the Gospel to many who came to listen (Acts 28:16-31).

Paul was a prisoner in Rome, under house arrest, but he was free to preach the Gospel to many who came to listen (Acts 28:16-31).

He continues the theme of Christians submitting one to another that he began in Chapter 5:21 with similar instructions for bondservants and their masters.  Verses 5-9 do not constitute an endorsement of slavery or servitude on the part of the Apostle.  Its applications then and today are relevant to the relationship of people to any lawfully established authority (and vice-versa, which is sometimes forgotten).

The “meat and potatoes” of this chapter come in verse 10 and following.  The “whole armor of God” described in these verses correlate to a fully armed soldier, and the descriptions would be familiar to people throughout the Roman Empire.  Verse 12 reminds us that the spiritual forces of evil – the devil himself – is a very real adversary, not some imagined foe, but the very real “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8).  Christians arm themselves for this battle with a list of items he relates to this armor and weapons – truth, righteousness, and the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  Faith, he says, is our shield against “flaming darts of the evil one.”

As he encourages them to be strong in prayer, he asks also for their prayers for him to be strong, as he declares himself their “ambassador in  chains.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 5 – Walk In Love

As Paul opens in this chapter telling the Ephesians to be imitators of God, he tells them in verse 2 to “walk in love.”  The verb “walk” is used to mean “to live ones life, and exhibit the characteristics of.” This fits perfectly with 1 John 4:8, which says “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  Paul refers to the expectation that Christians walk in love in other passages such as Romans 14:15, and says it is what “binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14).

Ruins at Ephesus

Ruins at Ephesus

Paul contrasts that by urging them to stay away from sexual immorality (which covers everything outside of relations between a husband and a wife), as well as all impurity and covetousness – which is idolatry – and even filthy talk, or crude joking.  Indeed, he says that such should not even be named of the people of God.  A Christian’s integrity and reputation matter, and public sins dishonor the Lord.  He makes it clear in verse 5 that those who are guilty of these things have “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”  Verse 8’s “children of light” remind us of Jesus’ words in John 12:35-36.

Verses 21-33 deal with the relationship of a husband and wife – not women and men in general.  Paul restates Genesis 3:16 in terms of the husband being the head of the wife, just as Jesus is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).  But that does not give the husband license to be a tyrant.  Rather, the husband is to love his wife as Jesus loved the church, and “gave himself up for her.”  A wife should be able to count on just such love from her husband.  Verse 31 quotes Genesis 2:24, as they become one flesh; and the husband should also love his wife as he loves himself.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 4 – Unity in the Body of Christ

Paul is preaching unity here, as he emphasizes the church as the body of Christ, with Christ as the head (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 2:16, 1 Corinthians 12:27) – that there is one body and one Spirit, just as we have been “called to the one hope” (verses 4-5) of eternal life in Christ and “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.”  But in this unity, grace was given to each individual member, according to the measure of Christ’s gift (verses 7-11).  This is not speaking just of supernatural gifts, as the age of those will soon pass (though they, too, had their place in “building up the body of Christ”); and Paul is speaking not just to Christians of that age, but to all future Christians.  Verse 8 is from Psalm 68:18.

Along a main inland road from Ephesus to the Euphrates River, Colossae shared the beauty of the Lycus Valley with its sister cities Hierapolis. The original roads from Ephesus and Sardis joined there, and this defensible and well-watered hill became a strategic point in antiquity. Declining in importance by the time of Paul's Epistle to them, they had already been surpassed in size by the other Lycus Valley cities.

Along a main inland road from Ephesus to the Euphrates River, Colossae shared the beauty of the Lycus Valley with its sister cities Hierapolis. The original roads from Ephesus and Sardis joined there, and this defensible and well-watered hill became a strategic point in antiquity. Declining in importance by the time of Paul’s Epistle to them, they had already been surpassed in size by the other Lycus Valley cities.

Paul began in verse 1 stating that we must walk in a manner worthy of that calling; and he picks up that thought again beginning in verse 17, as he says they (we) must no longer walk as the Gentiles do.  This is relevant to us as well as a reference to all unbelievers, who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart…given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

But instead, a Christian, taught the truth in Christ, is “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (verses 21-23).  Then, he turns in verses 25-32 to the importance of honesty and being Godly in speech, thought, and heart, which is to rule how we treat each other; and sharing with those in need is to play an important role in our lives (verse 27).  Verse 26 says “be angry and do not sin.”  One can have anger, particularly “righteous anger,” but it should not rule our hearts or our mouths.    Verse 32 sums up that section well – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 3 – The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed

Ephesus, in modern Turkey, is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and one of the best places in the world to get the feeling for what life was like for early Christians in Roman times. Roman theater.

Ephesus, in modern Turkey, is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean, and one of the best places in the world to get the feeling for what life was like for early Christians in Roman times. Roman theater.

Verse 1 of this chapter is key to the message Paul is conveying here.  He is a prisoner for Jesus Christ, on behalf of the Gentiles.  The “mystery” that he received revelation about was (as  verse 6 says) “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” This plan was not known to previous generations (verse 5), but now has been revealed to His apostles and prophets.  He declares this as his ministry in verse 7 – “of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me…”  And he makes it known in verses 10-11 that this was always God’s plan, according to His wisdom – “this was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord…”

The chapter ends with Paul’s prayer for spiritual strength in verses 14-21, that he began in the previous chapter.  This is one of the most beautiful and poignant prayers in the Bible.  Read it again and again, and take comfort in wisdom and truth of it, as well as the promise it brings to the hearts of Christians:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 2 – By Grace Through Faith

The ruins of the Roman Theater in Ephesus, Turkey. Paul visited here on his Second Missionary Journey and later wrote the epistle Ephesians to the Christians of Ephesus

The ruins of the Roman Theater in Ephesus, Turkey. Paul visited here on his Second Missionary Journey and later wrote the epistle Ephesians to the Christians of Ephesus

Paul, addressing the Ephesians, interchanges the pronouns “you”, “we”, and “us” (verses 1, 3, and 4, for example), pointing out that we were all lost in our sin.  But God, being rich in mercy, made us alive through Jesus Christ, in whom we were raised up, along with Him.  He says that we are saved by grace through faith.  The significance of that statement is emphasized by making clear that it is not by anything that we did (verse 8), but it is the gift of God.  But one must take account of the whole of Scripture in order to understand this part, as is always the case.  It is by grace that we are saved, certainly.  But it is not by grace alone, otherwise the entire world would be saved without even having belief.  Therefore, faith is a necessary part of that salvation, but faith alone, without grace, cannot save us.  But one must also remember that, as James said (James 2:24),  “a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

He then goes on to remind that the Gentiles were once separated by the Law of Moses, a wall that in Christ Jesus was broken down (verses 13-16); and through Him, Jews and Gentiles alike have access “in one spirit to the father” (verse 18).  Such salvation for all people of the world was always the plan of God through Jesus (Titus 2:11), on which foundation He is the cornerstone (verses 20-21, Isaiah 28:16).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ephesians 1 – Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Paul finally visited Rome while a captive awaiting his trial before Caesar. The letter to the Ephesians is one of the Prison Letters. It was probably written during his first imprisonment in Rome, which lasted from A.D. 60 to 62.

Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is one of the four “prison epistles” that he wrote while imprisoned by the Romans (the other three being Philippians, Colossians and Philemon).  Paul established the church there on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18-21) and returned on his third missionary journey, staying for two years (Acts 19). and said a tearful farewell to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:17-38.

In chapter one, he begins with his signature greeting; and speaks in verses 4-12 of their (and his) “adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”  This does not mean that certain people are selected by God to be saved, and certain others to be condemned, no matter what they do.  The Lord predestined His chosen people – the ones who serve Him – to be saved.  Whether we wish to be part of that blessing is our choice to make.  Coffman’s commentary says it well:

“Inherent in this is the fact of God’s calling and electing people before the foundation of the world; and very few theological questions have demanded more attention and interest than this. Clearly revealed in this is the fact that the coming of Jesus Christ into the world for the purpose of taking out of it a people for himself and redeeming them unto eternal life was no afterthought on God’s part. Before the world was ever created, the divine plan of the Son of God’s visitation of the human family existed in the eternal purpose of God. That body that Christ would gather from the populations of earth is destined to receive eternal life; because what God purposes is certain of fulfillment. Such a calling and election of those “in Christ” to receive eternal glory, however, is not capricious. Every man may decide if he will or will not become a part of it and receive the intended blessing.”

Regarding verse 9’s use of the word mystery, there is more in Ephesians 3:3 and 1 Timothy 3:16.   But Coffman’s comments on this as well are salient: The New Testament use of the term ‘mystery’ is not very closely related to the modern use of the word, conveying instead the meaning of a secret once unknown, now revealed. Mackay called it ‘God’s unveiled secret.”  

Paul commends them for their faith in Jesus, and declares the ultimate authority of Jesus Christ as the “head” of the church, speaking of it as a spiritual body (verses 15-32).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.