Six months ago, I (although Jason Myers’ name was on it because I didn’t know how to upload it to the website) wrote this review of the first half of Ephesians. Now that we have come to the end of our journey, it seems appropriate to review the second half of Paul’s epistle.
Recall that the first half of Ephesians was full of “indicatives”, which detailed for us the numerous blessings that are applied to believers in Christ. The second half of Ephesians is the “imperative” section–detailing what our response should be to all that we are and have in Christ. This is an important distinction and we need to pay attention to it. In chapters 1-3, Paul exults in the glory of God and the blessings that He has lavished on us in Christ. We have peace with God by the grace of God through faith in God because of the love of God. It is in beholding the glory of God in Scripture, in experience, and in each other that we are changed into the image of Christ. And it is only as we are changed more and more into the image of Christ that we are able to obey the commands of chapter 4-6. Linger long over the indicatives of chapters 1-3. Be overwhelmed by the glory of God. Bask in it. Soak it in. Read and reread about the riches of God’s grace in Christ. Then read and obey the imperatives of the rest of the letter.
Paul begins chapter four by imploring us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1). In other words, he says, “I’ve spent three chapters telling you who you are in Christ; now act like it! Be who you are!!” Being who we are would entail treating our brothers and sisters in Christ with love, gentleness, humility, and patience, being eager to maintain the unity that we have in Christ in the bond of peace (4:2-3). In order to help us do that, God has given gifts to the church in the form of the apostles (and their writings), the prophets (and their writings), evangelists, and shepherds-teachers (4:11). Their purpose is to equip ALL OF US for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to full maturity (4:12-13).
What does it mean to walk in a manner worthy of our calling? First of all, it means putting to death our old way of life, when we were dead in our trespasses and sin. Paul says to put off our old self and, being renewed in the spirit of our minds, put on our new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (4:22-24).
Then Paul goes into detail about how, if we are walking in a manner worthy of our calling, we will relate to one another. We will put away falsehood and speak truth to each other (4:25). We will be angry at sin and yet not let that anger cause us to sin (4:26). Each person will work hard for the glory of God and for the purpose of being generous with the body of Christ (4:28). We will put away evil communication and instead let our speech be useful for building each other up with gracious speech (4:29). We will put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice and instead we will relate to each other with tenderheartedness, kindness, and forgiveness, all because of the riches we’ve received in Christ (4:31-32).
Moving on to chapter 5, Paul continues to exhort us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. He tells us to be imitators of God (5:1). This would mean that we would relate to each other in love because of the love that He showed us when He gave Himself up for us (5:2). Once again, the imperative follows the indicative. As we are overwhelmed by the awesome love of Christ, we are enabled and empowered to love each other with that same kind of love.
If we are to be imitators of God, then we will not walk as the sons of disobedience walk. Rather we will walk as children of light and discern what is pleasing to the Lord (5:9-10). We will stay alert and sober and walk as the wise and not as fools (5:15-17). We will be filled with the Spirit, give thanks to God always and for everything and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (5:18-21).
Continuing with the theme of how to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, wives are to submit to God by submitting to their husbands (5:22). Husbands are to sacrificially love their wives as Christ loves the church (5:25). Marriage is to be a picture of the gospel, to demonstrate to the family, to the Church, and to the world the love between Christ and the Church (5:32).
Children are to learn obedience to God by obeying their parents (6:1). Parents are to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (6:4). Slaves are to obey their masters as they would the Lord and masters are to treat their slaves the way they themselves would like to be treated (6:5-9).
And finally, Paul reminds us that our battles are not with people, but with rulers and authorities in the unseen spiritual realm (6:12). The only way to win these battles is to be strong in the Lord and to take up the whole armor of God regularly, consistently, and continually (6:13-17). These are the spiritual disciplines that arm us for battle and remind us that we cannot and do not fight these battles alone or in our own power. Rather, we adopt an attitude of prayer at all times, affirming to ourselves that Jesus has already defeated Satan, crying out to God to be our refuge and our strength, and reminding ourselves that in Christ, we are more than conquerors (6:18). When we live this way, we are walking in a manner worthy of our calling to the praise of the riches of His glorious grace which He has lavished on us in Christ.