“WALK WORTHY”… It is impossible to overstate the scope or the significance of those two words. Without exaggeration, the whole of the Christian life is encompassed by these two words:
“THE REVELATION OF THE UNIFICATION OF JEWISH AND GENTILE BELIEVERS positionally as ‘one new person,’ as Paul said in chapter 2, v. 15, which is the body of Christ, the Church, and the prayer that this unity would result in a mutual experience of Christ’s love, as Paul said in his prayer in chapter 3, leads the apostle to demonstrate the walk expected of this unified body.” – Hoehner
THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS HAS SIX CHAPTERS. We have completed the first half of the book. Not only does our passage mark the beginning of the second half of Ephesians, but it also marks a major turning point in the book. Generally speaking, in the first three chapters, Paul tells his readers how great God is and how great are the many things God has done for the believer in Christ. The second half of the book, the next three chapters, in general, deal with the responsibilities of the believer who has been blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3).
THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS OF EPHESIANS COULD BE TITLED “The Greatness of God”; The second half of the book could be called “The Response of the Believer.”
ONE WRITER WHOSE BOOKS I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED, even though they are not as dependent on the original languages as I would like (Steadman), titled this second half of Ephesians “How to Live What You Believe.”
BECAUSE GOD IS SO GREAT, AND BECAUSE HE HAS DONE SO MUCH FOR US, we are commanded and compelled to live lives that reflect the privilege and responsibility we have been given. Because of the first half of the book, there follows the second half.
THE FIRST 6 VERSES OF CHAPTER FOUR COMPRISE ONE LONG SENTENCE. There are no less than eight lengthy sentences in the epistle to the Ephesians. You may remember that vv. 3-14 in chapter 1 comprise the longest sentence in all of Scripture.
We are going to study the first 3 verses of chapter 4 this week, and then, Lord willing, vv. 4-6 next week…
NAS Ephesians 4:1-6 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
IN GREAT PART,”WALK WORTHY” MEANS “WALK IN UNITY.” “Because of the new position in Christ, both individually and corporately, unity should exist among the believers in Christ. Paul, therefore, exhorts his readers – and by extension us – to walk in a way that maintains this unity.” – Hoehner/TAR
NAS Ephesians 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
OUR PASSAGE THIS WEEK IS AN IMPORTANT ONE. “Paul gives his readers a condensed summary of the reason for the existence of the church and a statement of its function, and verse 1 is a key exhortation to those in the church as to how they are to view their calling as members of Christ’s church.” – Steadman
LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF THE CALLING BY WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED. That’s the message of this passage, I believe, and, for that matter, of much of the 88 verses in chapters 4-6.
AS ALMOST ALWAYS, WHEN WE SEE THE WORD “THEREFORE,” THERE ARISES the question, “to what does it refer?” What is the therefore there for? Some always think it refers to the previous verse. Others think it means to the previous passage. And others think it refers to everything that went before. Here, I agree with the latter view. “The conjunction (οὖν [ouv], therefore) is drawing inference from all the previous chapters in Ephesians.” – Hoehner
“THE PRISONER OF THE LORD” IS, OF COURSE, PAUL. You’ll remember that Paul is literally a prisoner for the cause of Christ; he wrote his letter to the Ephesians form prison most probably in Rome…
“THE EXPRESSION ‘PRISONER OF THE LORD’ ADDED INTENSITY to his appeal for right living. To Paul, living as a Christian was worth the cost, even when that cost was imprisonment, because of the inestimable value of knowing Christ. If the Ephesian believers valued Christ above all, as Paul’s imprisonment showed he did, they would readily follow the exhortations he was about to give them.” – Garner
“THE LORD” HERE, AS THROUGHOUT EPHESIANS, REFERS NOT TO GOD the Father but, I believe, to God the Son.
THERE IS SO MUCH IN THESE THREE VERSES THAT I EASILY COULD HAVE written a blog for each. Practically every word carries rich information and deep realization. My blog this week reflects this truth in that it is really a message made up of definitions of words.
THE WORD “ENTREAT” OR “BESEECH” is the Greek word παρακαλέω (pa-ra-ka-lay-o). It is a strong, frequently-used word in the New Testament, usually passionately uttered. “In the N.T. it has three major senses. It can mean ‘to ask for help, beseech, entreat.’ It can mean ‘to comfort.’ Or it can mean, as it does here, ‘to exhort.’ It expresses a pastoral appeal to the reader’s will and actions. The ‘therefore’ indicates that this exhortation has its source in the preceding three chapters.” – Lincoln
AGAIN, “BECAUSE OF WHAT HAS JUST BEEN DECLARED, I EXHORT YOU,” describes the sense of what Paul is saying.
THOUGH THIS IS NOT TECHNICALLY, NOT GRAMMATICALLY, A COMMAND, Paul is making his point strongly. His words, I think it is obvious from the context, carry the weight of a command; it is a “practical imperative” (Snodgrass).
IN THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS THERE IN ONLY ONE IMPERATIVE…
NAS Ephesians 2:11 Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision ” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands-
THE SECOND GRAMMATICAL IMPERATIVE does not appear in the book of Ephesians until v. 26 of chapter 4! Until chapter 4 Paul has been declaring, not commanding.
IT IS INTERESTING TO ME THAT PAUL IS NOT COMMANDING BUT EXHORTING. I thought a lot about this. I think Paul, at this point, after all he has said in chapters 1-3, in making an appeal to his readers, has framed his words in such a way that the force is stronger than a command. An appeal can carry a stronger emotional dimension than does a command.
“THE APPEAL TO LIVE WORTHILY OF GOD’S CALLING PRESUPPOSES THAT God’s gracious initiative requires a continuous human response and that His call bestows both high privilege and high responsibility.” – Lincoln
THE ESV AND NET BIBLES TRANSLATE THE GREEK “URGE.” THE NLT HAS “BEG.”
PAUL IS PASSIONATELY PLEADING WITH HIS READERS TO LIVE LIVES THAT conform to their saved status before God. If a person is truly a believer, it is all but impossible to think the answer would be anything but an emphatic “Amen!”
THIS VERSE IS VERY SIMILAR GRAMMATICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY TO Romans 12:1, also written by Paul…
NAS Romans 12:1 I urge (same word as Ephesians 4:1 – TAR) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
GOD DEMANDS AND DESERVES NOTHING BUT OUR ALL. Jesus Himself spoke of total commitment to God in Matthew 22:36-37…
NAS Matthew 22:36-37 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
“WALK” IS THE GREEK WORD περιπατέω (pe-ri-pa-tay-o). We get our English word peripatetic from this word. Peripatetic means traveling, usually by walking, moving from place to place by foot. “The word belongs to or is related to the school of philosophy founded by Aristotle, who gave lectures to his students while walking around the Lyceum in Athens” (computer dictionary).
“WALK” IN THE NEW TESTAMENT MEANS BEHAVIOR, LIFESTYLE, daily conduct, how we habitually live day-to-day. “’Walk’ is the theme of the last three chapters of Ephesians. In the first sixteen verses of chapter 4, Paul emphasizes unity and in the rest of the chapter the emphasis is on the uniqueness of the Christian walk.” – MacArthur
IN THE GREEK TEXT,”WORTHY” COMES FIRST IN ITS CLAUSE: “worthy to walk.” When a word is placed first in a Greek sentence or in a clause within the sentence, it is almost always placed there for emphasis. The word “worthy” here is emphatic.
“WORTHY” IS THE GREEK WORD ἀξίως (ax-i-os). BDAG (the world’s leading Greek lexicon) defines ἀξίως (ax-i-os), aside from worthily, as suitable. The believer’s response should be suitably to what has been revealed to him and what has been given to him. Another source (Hoehner) said that ἀξίως (ax-i-os) means “equal weight.” I think that is great. “One’s calling and one’s conduct should be in equal balance.”
“WHAT IS ON ONE SIDE OF THE SCALE SHOULD BE EQUAL TO what is on the other side. The believer who ‘walks in a manner worthy of the calling with which he has been called’ is one whose daily living corresponds to his high position as a child of God and fellow heir with Jesus Christ. His practical living matches his spiritual position.” – MacArthur
WE TODAY MIGHT SAY, “WALK WORTHY” IS ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING “walk the talk.”
“’THE CALLING’ REFERS NOT ONLY TO BELIEVERS’ SALVATION (cf. Rom. 1:5-6; 1 Cor. 1:9) but also to their union in one body. Therefore a Christian’s conduct concerns both his personal life and his responsibility to other believers in the church.” – Hoehner (B.K.C.)…
VERSE 2 TELLS US PRECISELY HOW WE ARE TO “WALK WORTHY”…
NAS Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
BEFORE I EXPLAIN THIS VERSE, ALLOW ME TO INSERT THE FOLLOWING WORDS, in case you are wondering just how can you be sure you are walking worthily. Even though Paul will give us instructions on how to walk worthy, how exactly do we know if we are following the instructions correctly? I have thought a lot about this question over the years, and I believe the answer lies in being filled by the Spirit. This will be one of coming studies when we get to chapter 5…
NAS Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
IT A NUTSHELL, WHENEVER WE ARE SURRENDERED to the controlling power of the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing else but “Walk Worthy.” “Filled with” (or I think by) means “controlled by.”
“HUMILITY” OR “MEEKNESS” IS THE GREEK WORD ταπεινοφροσύνη (ta-pei-na-fra-su-nay) humility, modesty in the NT, as a quality of voluntary submission and unselfishness humility, self-effacement. As you can easily imagine, this word is the opposite of pride and arrogance. You could say that this Greek word means lowliness.
THIS IS FASCINATING, I THINK: “John Wesley once observed that ‘neither the Romans nor the Greeks had a word for humility.’ The very concept was so foreign and abhorrent to their way of thinking that they had no term to describe it. Apparently, this Greek term was coined by Christians, probably by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available. During the first several centuries of Christianity, pagan writers borrowed the term, and when they did they always used it derogatorily – usually of Christians – because to them the term was a pitiable weakness.” – MacArthur…
“HUMILITY ALWAYS PRODUCES GENTLENESS, OR MEEKNESS. Gentleness or meekness is one of the surest signs of true humility.” – MacArthur…
“GENTLENESS” IS FROM THE GREEK WORD πραότης (prau-tace): the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentleness, humility, courtesy, considerateness, meekness.
“PATIENCE” (μακροθυμία [ma-kro-thu-me-a]) MEANS LITERALLY “TO SUFFER long.” μακροθυμία (ma-kro-thu-me-a) is the state of being able to bear up under provocation, forbearance, patience toward others.
HUMILITY PRODUCES GENTLENESS WHICH RESULTS IN PATIENCE. “The patient Christian accepts God’s plan for everything, without questioning or grumbling, or demanding to know why. He does not complain when his calling seems less glamorous than someone else’s or when the Lord sends him to a place that is dangerous or difficult.” – MacArthur…
“SHOWING FORBEARANCE,” ANOTHER CLOSELY RELATED TERM, COMES from a Greek word (ἀνέχω [a-nex-o]) that means to regard with tolerance, endure, bear with, put up with… Another way to describe this word is “putting up with.” When we put up with others, especially those whose personalities make it difficult for us, we are forbearing.
“LOVE” IS AGAPE (ἀγάπη [a-ga-pay]) LOVE. “Forbearing love could only be ἀγάπη (a-ga-pay) love, because only ἀγάπη (a-ga-pay) love gives continuously and unconditionally.” – MacArthur
VERSE 3, our final verse for this week in Ephesians. Another insightful verse on how we are to “Walk Worthy”…
NAS Ephesians 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
“DILIGENT” IS THE GREEK WORD σπουδάζω (spou-dahd-zo). Another important, pregnant with meaning, and insight word. This is one of my favorite Greek words in all of the N.T. I use this word to exhort my students in every class I teach. Every Christian – not just pastors or missionaries – is commanded to be diligent.
NAS 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
AFTER STUDYING THIS WORD FOR YEARS, taking into consideration the lexical definitions as well as the various contexts in which the word is found, I believe the best understanding of σπουδάζω (spou-dahd-zo) is “being eager to do your best.” I truly believe the Bible, directly and indirectly, teaches that’s how Christians should always be: eager to do their best for God and for others.
“PRESERVE” IS THE GREEK WORD τηρέω (tay-ray-o). It means to retain in custody, keep watch over, guard [BDAG].
“UNITY” IN THE GREEK TEXT (ἑνότης [en-a-tace]) IS A WORD THAT MEANS a state of oneness or of being in harmony and accord, unity [BDAG].
“ATTITUDES OF HUMILITY, GENTLENESS, AND PATIENCE FOSTER UNITY among Christians. Having stated these three virtues, Paul then stated the manner in which they are to be carried out in one’s conduct: ‘bearing with one another in love’ and making ‘every effort’ (the Gr. has a participle, “making every diligent effort”) ‘to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’” – Hoehner
“CHRISTIANS ARE NOT TO MAKE UNITY BUT TO KEEP OR GUARD what God made in creating the ‘one new man’ (Eph. 2:15-16). They are to keep this unity ‘through the bond’ which consists of ‘peace.’ Concern for peace will mean that Christians will lovingly tolerate each other, even when they have differences.” – Hoehner
LET’S END OUR STUDY THIS MORNING BY FOCUSING ON UNITY. We are to be eager to do our best to keep, guard, or preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I’m sure you will agree that we have been blessed to have a Pastor whose balanced (get it?) words and actions demonstrate the unity Paul is describing.
“EPHESIANS IS THE UNITY LETTER, BUT – TRUTH BE TOLD – WE DO NOT VALUE unity as we should. Rather than making every effort to maintain unity, we sacrifice it at the first airing of differences. There is just something in our human natures that wants to set ourselves apart from others.” – Snodgrass/TAR
“DISUNTIY ORIGINATES IN PRIDE.” – Snodgrass…
PAUL MADE A VERY SIMILAR PLEA TO V. 3 IN PHILIPPIANS 1:27…
NAS Philippians 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
“WE DON’T NEED TO AGREE ON EVERYTHING TO HAVE UNITY. We just need to live out the unity Christ has provided as a common commitment to Christ.” – Snodgrass/TAR
FOR THE GOOD OF OUR CHURCH AND BECAUSE GOD DESERVES NOTHING LESS – amen?
– Professor Thomas A. Rohm