I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And 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, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Here Paul is encouraging the Ephesians to mature and grow in Christ. He starts this section of the epistle by telling them to live in a manner worthy of their calling. Paul could have given the Ephesians a list of things to do. Instead, Paul reminds them who they are. They are one body in Christ. He does not provide a task list. He provides a behavior list. They were to be patient, humble, and gentle. They were to be supportive. They were to be unified in the Spirit.
Unity is a reoccurring theme in this section. Paul emphasizes that there is only one body, one head, and one faith. There is only one God. There is only one baptism. What does Paul mean by unity? He does not mean toleration for unity. In I Corinthians 5, Paul chastises the Corinthians for tolerating sexual immorality. They even boosting about their tolerance. I Corinthians 5:9-13
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”1 Corinthians 5:9-13
Paul told the Corinthians to expel from fellowship anyone who calls themselves a Christian and is sexually immoral, greedy, reviler, idolater, drunkard, or swindler. Paul told them not to even associate with them. The norms today are not the measure of Christ. Couples who claim the name of Christ live together. We not only tolerate but celebrate homosexuals who claimed the name of Christ. They are even in our pulpits.
Sexual sin is the easiest to pick on but let’s not forget the rest, greedy, reviler, idolater, drunkard, or swindler. We justify each of these. “It’s good business.” “You need to know the type of person he is.” “It is a sickness.” “I am only looking out for the future.” “The more I make the more I can give.”
We accept these from those claiming to be Christians. In doing so we dishonor the name of Christ. We do so in the name of tolerance. We do so in the name of love. But to not condemn sin is not loving. It is not loving to the sinner. It is not loving to our Lord. Unity does not mean acceptance. Unity is unity in the Spirit, unity in Christ, and unity in the Father. There is only one Father, one God.
Well, how does Paul tell the Ephesians they should try to achieve unity? He does not give them a 12-step program. He does not give them a list of things to do. He tells them to grow up. Only once they become mature will they stop bouncing from teaching to teaching. Paul tells the Ephesians only after they grow up will they speak the truth in love. Because, they will know the truth, God is truth.
In Matthew 22, Christ summarized the entire law with 2 commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. The second commandment was, to love your neighbor as yourself. From this people claim Christianity is about loving God and others. Oh, that’s all! Like that is easy. Christianity is not about doing but about being. There is not a list of things you need to do to please God. But Paul lists here things you need to be, patient, gentle, supportive, and humble. I am not supposed to be not only humble and gentle but completely humble and gentle. How can I be something I am not?
Paul instructs us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. The only way to do that is to rely on Christ to live through us. How do we know Christ? The same way we learn about anyone else. We spend time with them. We listen to what they have to say. We learn about their concerns and interests.
How can you listen to Christ? His words are in the bible. Read it. Study it. Learn it. That is the only way to know Christ. Only then will we become mature? Once we become mature we will no longer bounce around in the latest doctrines. We will not be looking for new revelations. We will not be asking what is the latest thinking or opinion. We will no longer be trying to understand the truth through the lasted opinion polls. We will know the Truth because we will know Him. He is Truth.
Once we know Christ we become completely humble and gentle. We become patient. We live a life worthy of our calling. Why? Because it is Christ living through us.