1 I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, 3 striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:

4 one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; 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 grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore, it says: "He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men." 9 What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended into the lower (regions) of the earth? 10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.

11 And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.

15 Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love.

17 So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; 18 darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, 19 they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess.

20 That is not how you learned Christ, 21 assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, 22 that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth.

25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, 27 and do not leave room for the devil. 28 The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work with his (own) hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need. 29 No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 (And) be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

COMMENTS

General:

  • Resuming his thought in 3:1 (that as a prisoner for the Lord, he has significant moral leverage to call his readers to live worthily of Christ), Paul explains what he means by "living in a manner worthy..."
    • Humility, gentleness, and patience are essential components of unity (v.2).
    • Unity, already created in Christ, must now be preserved. But the bond of peace (v.3) must be forged anew on an ongoing basis.
  • The "seven unities of the faith" (vv.4-6), on which there can be no disagreement, are:
    • One body -- the universal church.
    • One Spirit -- the Holy Spirit, who conforms us to the image of Christ.
    • One hope -- the hope of resurrection and life eternal.
    • One Lord -- Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.
    • One faith -- biblical Christianity.
    • One baptism -- the baptism into Christ.
    • One God -- the true God of the Old and New Testaments.
  • God has given grace to the church (v.7ff).
    • The triumphal procession effected by the cross affected all parts of the cosmos: heaven, earth, and the underworld (see Philippians 2:10).
    • He has distributed his grace to the church especially through the "teaching gifts":
      • apostles (eyewitnesses of the resurrection, led by the Spirit, revealing truth to the church)
      • prophets (expounding the mysteries of God and calling all to holiness; see 2:20, 3:5)
      • evangelists (church planters and gospel preachers)
      • teachers (able to clarify the various relationships within the word of God)
      • shepherds (elders, overseers; Latin worwd: pastors)
    • The purpose of these gifts of grace was to bring the church to maturity and to protect it from error. The goal, in short, is maturity.
  • Since Christ has given us what we need for unity and maturity, we must no longer live as we did in the past (v.17ff).
    • Verses 17-19 are similar to Romans 1:18ff.
    • It is vital that we maintain a soft heart and a sensitive conscience, lest we become callous.
  • After all, repentance was stressed when these Christians were in the process of being converted (vv.20-24).
    • They were taught to embrace the new life.
    • Therefore they ought to continue on this trajectory.
  • All of this means:
    • Honesty. Think about verse 25 and verse 15.
    • Dealing with anger. Not delaying in working out relationship problems.
    • Being productive: adding to society, not taking from it.
    • Edifying language.
    • Not grieving the Spirit by bitterness, but showing good will in every possible way towards fellow Christians.

Advanced:

  • The basic black and white doctrines admit no disagreement. And yet not everything in the Bible is b/w; much is gray!  For more on this -- how to understand the "grayer" areas of scripture, and remain united with those who see differently from us -- order Anchored for Life.
  • Is there "one true church"?
  • For the citation of Psalm 68:18 ion verse 8, click here.
  • The ligaments (v.16) are the leaders of verse 11.
  • Did the early Christians have to undergo an elaborate study series? This seems unlikely.
  • Maturity is in reach! Click on teleios for more light on verse 13. For more on "the perfect," click here.
  • Click for more on the role of the teacher (v.11) and that of the so-called "pastor."
  • The perfect here

Thought questions:

  • Am I humbly and gently doing all I can to preserve unity in the body of Christ, or am I abrasive, rough, or insensitive?
  • Do I respect the teaching gifts in the church (v.11)? Do I perhaps have one of these gifts myself (preacher, teacher, shepherd)?
  • Is sin hardening my heart, obscuring my vision, desensitizing my conscience, and making me worldly?
  • Am I an honest person? Do I hold back from speaking the truth in love?
  • Do I hold grudges, or do I readily forgive and forget?