Ephesians 4:1
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
-1Ephesians 4:1-6, although cast in a hortatory form contain the final summary of the great doctrine of the Epistle—the UNITY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH—in words which have all the glowing freedom of spiritual enthusiasm, and all the clear-cut precision of a creed.

Thus (a) the ground of that unity is laid in that spiritual communion of each soul with the “one Spirit,” the “one Lord,” and the “one God and Father of all,” which underlies all outward ordinance, and which no power of man can either give or take away, (b) The means of entering that unity is the “one baptism,” ordained by Christ Himself, universal in the Christian world, capable of being ministered (though irregularly) by any Christian hand, (c) The graces, which in germ are conditions, and in full growth are effects, of such unity are the “one hope,” the “one faith,” the one “bond of peace” or charity. These last most of all depend on the “fellow-working” of man—primarily in the soul receiving them, and secondarily in all who can influence it for good and for evil.

We have here a perfect and exhaustive exposition of the unity of the Church, on which depend the other qualities of “Holiness,” “Catholicity,” and “Apostolicity” ascribed to it in the Creed. In other passages the essential life of the Church is attributed, now to the revelation of the Father (Matthew 16:17-18), now to the indwelling presence of the Son (Matthew 28:20), now to the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38-39). Here all are united in one comprehensive view. The order, however, is natural, not artificial. The exhortation to peace naturally leads to the conception of one Body, animated by the “one Spirit”; next, the remembrance of their calling leads to the “one Lord,” who called them to Him in one faith and by one baptism; and all ends in the contemplation of the “one God and Father,” who is not only above all and through all His creation, but specially in those who are adopted to a new sonship in Christ. (See John 14:22-23.) In its completeness and depth this passage stands alone. It is interesting to compare and contrast with it the equally celebrated passage occupying the corresponding place in the Colossian Epistle (Colossians 3:1-4), and to gather from this the mingled similarity and difference in the main idea of those two Epistles—the Ephesian Epistle dwelling especially on the unity and regeneration of the whole body, the Colossian Epistle on the sole Headship and Deity of Christ.

(1) Worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.—This “being worthy of the Christian calling” may obviously show itself in any of the graces of regenerate humanity, all being features of the image of Christ. Thus in 1Peter 1:15 it expresses itself in “holiness” (as in the frequent phrase “called to be saints”); in Philippians 1:27-30, in steadfastness of faith. But in this passage the especial point which has been dwelt upon in their calling is the fact that they were aliens, helpless and miserable, and that they are now united in one body with the ancient people of God. Hence, naturally, the graces declared to correspond with their calling, so viewed, are the graces of humility and gentleness, teaching them to sink all thought of self in “the unity of the Spirit.”

EPHESIANS

THE CALLING AND THE KINGDOM

Ephesians 4:1; Revelation 3:4The estimate formed of a centurion by the elders of the Jews was, ‘He is worthy for whom Thou shouldst do this’ and in contrast therewith the estimate formed by himself was, ‘I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof.’ From these two statements we deduce the thought that merit has no place in the Christian’s salvation, but all is to be traced to undeserved, gracious love. But that principle, true and all-important as it is, like every other great truth, may be exaggerated, and may be so isolated as to become untrue and a source of much evil. And so I desire to turn to the other side of the shield, and to emphasise the place that worthiness has in the Christian life, and its personal results both here and hereafter. To say that character has nothing to do with blessedness is untrue, both to conscience and to the Christian revelation; and however we trace all things to grace, we must also remember that we get what we have fitted ourselves for.

Now, my two texts bring out two aspects which have to be taken in conjunction. The one of them speaks about the present life, and lays it as an imperative obligation on all Christian people to be worthy of their Christianity, and the other carries us into the future and shows us that there it is they who are ‘worthy’ who attain to the Kingdom. So I think I shall best bring out what I desire to emphasise if I just take these two points-the Christian calling and the life that is worthy of it, and the Christian heaven and the life that is worthy of it.

I. The Christian calling and the life that is worthy of it.

‘I beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.’ Now, that thought recurs in other places in the Apostle’s writings, somewhat modified in expression. For instance, in one passage he speaks of ‘walking worthily of the God who has called us to His kingdom and glory,’ and in another of the Christian man’s duty to ‘walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing.’ There is a certain vocation to which a Christian man is bound to make his life correspond, and his conduct should be in some measure worthy of the ideal that is set before it. Now, we shall best understand what is involved in such worthiness if we make clear to ourselves what the Apostle means by this ‘calling’ to which he appeals as containing in itself a standard to which our lives are to be conformed.

Suppose we try to put away the technical word ‘calling’ and instead of ‘calling’ say ‘summons,’ which is nearer the idea, because it conveys the notions more fully of the urgency of the voice, and of the authority of the voice, which speaks to us. And what is that summons? How do we hear it? One of the other Apostles speaks of God as calling us ‘by His own glory and virtue,’ that is to say, wherever God reveals Himself in any fashion, and by any medium, to a man, the man fails to understand the deepest meaning of the revelation unless his purged ear hears in it the great voice saying, ‘Come up hither.’ For all God’s self-manifestation, in the creatures around us, in the deep voice of our own souls, in the mysteries of our own personal lives, and in the slow evolution of His purpose through the history of the world, all these revelations of God bear in them the summons to us that hear and see them to draw near to Him, and to mould ourselves into His likeness. And thus, just as the sun by the effluence of its beams gathers all the ministering planets, as it were, round its feet, and draws them to itself, so God, raying Himself out into the waste, fills the waste with magnetic influences which are meant to draw men to nobleness, goodness, God-pleasingness, and God-likeness.

But in another place in this Apostle’s writings we read of ‘the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ Yes, there, as focussed into one strong voice, all the summonses are concentrated and gathered. For in Jesus Christ we see the possibilities of humanity realised, and we have the pattern of what we ought to be, and are called thereby to be. And in Christ we get the great motives which make this summons, as it comes mended from His lips, no longer the mere harsh voice of an authoritative legislator, but the gentle invitation, ‘Come unto Me, ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ The summons is honeyed, sweetened, and made infinitely mightier when we hear it from His gracious lips. It is the blessed peculiarity of the Christian ideal, that the manifestation of the ideal carries with it the power to realise it. And just as the increasing strength of the spring sunshine summons the buds from out of their folds, and the snowdrops hear the call and force themselves through the frozen soil, so when Christ summons He inclines the ears that hear, and enables the men that own them to obey the summons, and to be what they are commanded. And thus we have ‘the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’

Now, if that is the call, if the life of Christ is that to which we are summoned, and the death of Christ is that by which we are inclined to obey the summons, and the Spirit of Christ is that by which we are enabled to do so, what sort of a life will be worthy of these? Well, the context supplies part of the answer. ‘I beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation ... with all meekness and lowliness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love.’ That is one side of the vocation, and the life that is worthy of it will be a life emancipated from the meanness of selfishness, and delivered from the tumidities of pride and arrogance, and changed into the sweetness of gentleness and the royalties of love.

And then, on the other side, in one of the other texts where the same general set of ideas is involved, we get a yet more wondrous exhibition of the life which the Apostle considered to be worthy. I simply signalise its points of detail without venturing to dwell upon them. ‘Unto all pleasing’; the first characteristic of life that is ‘worthy of our calling’ and to which, therefore, every one of us Christian people is imperatively bound, is that it shall, in all its parts, please God, and that is a large demand. Then follow details: ‘Fruitful in every good work’-a many-sided fruitfulness, an encyclopaediacal beneficent activity, covering all the ground of possible excellence; and that is not all; ‘increasing in the knowledge of God,’-a life of progressive acquaintance with Him; and that is not all:-’strengthened with all might unto all patience and long-suffering’; nor is that all, for the crown of the whole is ‘giving thanks unto the Father.’ So, then, ‘ye see your calling, brethren.’ A life that is ‘worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called’ is a life that conforms to the divine will, that is ‘fruitful in all good,’ that is progressive in its acquaintance with God, that is strengthened for all patience and long-suffering, and that in everything is thankful to Him. That is what we are summoned to be, and unless we are in some measure obeying the summons, and bringing out such a life in our conduct, then, notwithstanding all that we have to say about unmerited mercy, and free grace, and undeserved love, and salvation being not by works but by faith, we have no right to claim the mercy to which we say we trust.

Now, this necessity of a worthy life is perfectly harmonious with the great truth that, after all, every man owes all to the undeserved mercy of God. The more nearly we come to realise the purpose of our calling, the more ‘worthy’ of it we are, the deeper will be our consciousness of our unworthiness. The more we approximate to the ideal, and come closer up to it, and so see its features the better, the more we shall feel how unlike we are to it. The law for Christian progress is that the sense of unworthiness increases in the precise degree in which the worthiness increases. The same man that said, ‘Of whom {sinners} I am chief,’ said to the same reader, ‘I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.’ And so the two things are not contradictory but complementary. On the one side ‘worthy’ has nothing to do with the outflow of Christ’s love to us; on the other side we are to ‘walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called.’

II. And now, let us turn to the other thought, the Christian heaven and the life that is worthy of it.

Some of you, I have no doubt, would think that that was a tremendous heresy if there were not Scriptural words to buttress it. Let us see what it means. My text out of the Revelation says, ‘They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.’ And the same voice that spake these, to some of us, astounding, words, said, when He was here on earth, ‘They which shall be counted worthy to attain to the life of the resurrection from the dead,’ etc. The text brings out very clearly the continuity and congruity between the life on earth and the life in heaven. Who is it of whom it is said that ‘they are worthy’ to ‘walk in white’? It is the ‘few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments.’ You see the connection; clean robes here and shining robes hereafter; the two go together, and you cannot separate them. And no belief that salvation, in its incipient germ here, and salvation in its fulness hereafter, are the results ‘not of works of righteousness which we have done, but of His mercy,’ is to be allowed to interfere with that other truth that they who are worthy attain to the Kingdom.

I must not be diverted from my main purpose, tempting as the theme would be, to say more than just a sentence about what is included in that great promise, ‘They shall walk with Me in white’ And if I do touch upon it at all, it is only in order to bring out more clearly that the very nature of the heavenly reward demands this worthiness which the text lays down as the condition of possessing it. ‘They shall walk’-activity on an external world. That opens a great door, but perhaps we had better be contented just with looking in. ‘They shall walk’-progress; ‘with me’-union with Jesus Christ; ‘in white’-resplendent purity of character. Now take these four things-activity on an outward universe, progress, union with Christ, resplendent purity of character, and you have almost all that we know of the future; the rest is partly doubtful and is mostly symbolical or negative, and in any case subordinate. Never mind about ‘physical theories of another life’; never mind about all the questions-to some of us how torturing they sometimes are!-concerning that future life. The more we keep ourselves within the broad limits of these promises that are intertwined and folded up together in that one saying, ‘They shall walk with Me in white,’ the better, I think, for the sanity and the spirituality of our conception of a future life.

That being understood, the next thing clearly follows, that only those who in the sense of the word as it is used here, are ‘worthy,’ can enter upon the possession of such a heaven. From the nature of the gift it is clear that there must be a moral and religious congruity between the gift and the recipient, or, to put it into plainer words, you cannot get heaven unless your nature is capable of receiving these great gifts which constitute heaven. People talk about the future state as being ‘a state of retribution.’ Well! that is not altogether a satisfactory form of expression, for retribution may convey the idea, such as is presented in earthly rewards and punishments, of there being no natural correspondence between the crime and its punishment, or the virtue and its reward. A bit of bronze shaped into the form of a cross may be the retribution ‘For Valour,’ and a prison cell may be the retribution by legal appointment for a certain crime. But that is not the way that God deals out rewards and punishments in the life which is to come. It is not a case of retribution, meaning thereby the arbitrary bestowment of a certain fixed gift in response to certain virtues, but it is a case of outcome, and the old metaphor of sowing and reaping is the true one. We sow here and we reap yonder. We pass into that future, ‘bringing our sheaves with us,’ and we have to grind the corn and make bread of it, and we have to eat the work of our own hands. They drink as they have brewed. ‘Their works do follow them,’ or they go before them and ‘receive them into everlasting habitations.’ Outcome, the necessary result, and not a mere arbitrary retribution, is the relation which heaven bears to earth.

That is plain, too, from our own nature. We carry ourselves with us wherever we go. The persistence of character, the continuity of personal being, the continuity of memory, the unobliterable-if I may coin a word-results upon ourselves of our actions, all these things make it certain that what looks to us a cleft, deep and broad, between the present life and the next, is to those that have passed it, and see it from the other side, but a little crack in the soil scarcely observable, and that we carry on into another world the selves that we have made here. Whatever death does-and it does a great deal that we do not know of-it does not alter, it only brings out, and, as I suppose, intensifies, the main drift and set of a character. And so they who ‘have not defiled their garments shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.’

Ah, brethren! how solemn that makes life; the fleeting moment carries Eternity in its bosom. It passes, and the works pass, but nothing human ever dies, and we bear with us the net results of all the yesterdays into that eternal to-day. You write upon a thin film of paper and there is a black leaf below it. Yes, and below the black leaf there is another sheet, and all that you write on the top one goes through the dark interposed page, and is recorded on the third, and one day that will be taken out of the book, and you will have to read it and say, ‘What I have written I have written.’

So, dear friends, whilst we begin with that unmerited love, and that same unmerited love is the sole ground on which the gates of the kingdom of heaven are by the Death and Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ opened to believers, their place there depends not only on faith but on the work which is the fruit of faith. There is such a thing as being ‘saved yet so as by fire,’ and there is such a thing as ‘having an entrance ministered abundantly unto us’; we have to make the choice. There is such a thing as the sore punishment of which they are thought worthy who have rejected the Son of God, and counted the blood of the Covenant an unholy thing; and there is such a thing as a man saying, ‘I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come unto me,’ and Christ answering, ‘He shall walk with Me in white, for he is worthy’ and we have to make that choice also.Ephesians 4:1. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord — Imprisoned for his sake and for yours; for the sake of the gospel which he had preached to them and other Gentiles: see note on Ephesians 3:1 : this was therefore a powerful motive to them to comfort him under his sufferings by their obedience; beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation, &c. — That is, in a manner suitable to the privileges which you enjoy, and to the state of grace and favour with God into which you have been brought by hearing and believing the gospel. As if he had said, Let there be nothing in your spirit or conduct beneath the dignity to which you are raised, and the illustrious hopes which are set before you; but show that the crown of glory is ever in your eye, and that your hearts are duly impressed with it. Thus we see the great discoveries in the foregoing part of this epistle, to which the apostle has given the appellation of the mystery of God and of Christ, were set forth by him, not merely for the purpose of enlightening the Ephesian believers in the knowledge of these sublime truths, and fixing them in the belief and profession thereof; but also to give him an elevation of sentiment and affection becoming those to whose minds such glorious discoveries were made; and at the same time to lead them to a proper behaviour toward God, one another, and all men, and that in every circumstance and relation of life wherein they were placed; the various particulars of which are specified in the very excellent summary of practical religion contained in the remaining chapters of this epistle.4:1-6 Nothing is pressed more earnestly in the Scriptures, than to walk as becomes those called to Christ's kingdom and glory. By lowliness, understand humility, which is opposed to pride. By meekness, that excellent disposition of soul, which makes men unwilling to provoke, and not easily to be provoked or offended. We find much in ourselves for which we can hardly forgive ourselves; therefore we must not be surprised if we find in others that which we think it hard to forgive. There is one Christ in whom all believers hope, and one heaven they are all hoping for; therefore they should be of one heart. They had all one faith, as to its object, Author, nature, and power. They all believed the same as to the great truths of religion; they had all been admitted into the church by one baptism, with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as the sign of regeneration. In all believers God the Father dwells, as in his holy temple, by his Spirit and special grace.I, therefore - In view of the great and glorious truths which God has revealed, and of the grace which he has manifested toward you who are Gentiles. See the previous chapters. The sense of the word "therefore" - οὖν oun - in this place, is, "Such being your exalted privileges; since God has done so much for you; since he has revealed for you such a glorious system; since he has bestowed on you the honor of calling you into his kingdom, and making you partakers of his mercy, I entreat you to live in accordance with these elevated privileges, and to show your sense of his goodness by devoting your all to his service." The force of the word "I," they would all feel. It was the appeal and exhortation of the founder of their church - of their spiritual father - of one who had endured much for them, and who was now in bonds on account of his devotion to the welfare of the Gentile world.

The prisoner of the Lord - Margin, "in." It means, that he was now a prisoner, or in confinement "in the cause" of the Lord; and he regarded himself as having been made a prisoner because the Lord had so willed and ordered it. He did not feel particularly that he was the prisoner of Nero; he was bound and kept because the "Lord" willed it, and because it was in his service; see the notes on Ephesians 3:1.

Beseech you that ye walk worthy - That you live as becomes those who have been called in this manner into the kingdom of God. The word "walk" is often used to denote "life, conduct," etc.; see Romans 4:12, note; Romans 6:4, note; 2 Corinthians 5:7, note.

Of the vocation - Of the "calling" - τῆς κλήσεως tēs klēseōs. This word properly means "a call," or "an invitation" - as to a banquet. Hence, it means that divine invitation or calling by which Christians are introduced into the privileges of the gospel. The word is translated "calling" in Romans 11:29; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 7:20; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:1, Ephesians 4:4; Philippians 3:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1; 2 Peter 1:10. It does not occur elsewhere. The sense of the word, and the agency employed in calling us, are well expressed in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. "Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel." This "calling or vocation" is through the agency of the Holy Spirit, and is his appropriate work on the human heart.

It consists essentially in influencing the mind to turn to God, or to enter into his kingdom. It is the exertion of "so much" influence on the mind as is necessary to secure the turning of the sinner to God. In this all Christians are agreed, though there have been almost endless disputes about the actual influence exerted, and the mode in which the Spirit acts on the mind. Some suppose it is by "moral persuasion;" some by physical power; some by an act of creation; some by inclining the mind to exert its proper powers in a right way, and to turn to God. What is the precise agency employed perhaps we are not to expect to be able to decide; see John 3:8. The great, the essential point is held, if it be maintained that it is by the agency of the Holy Spirit that the result is secured - and this I suppose to be held by all evangelical Christians. But though it is by the agency of the Holy Spirit, we are not to suppose that it is without the employment of "means." It is not literally like the act of creation. It is preceded and attended with means adapted to the end; means which are almost as various as the individuals who are "called" into the kingdom of God. Among those means are the following:

(1) "Preaching." Probably more are called into the kingdom by this means than any other. It is "God's great ordinance for the salvation of men." It is eminently suited for it. The "pulpit" has higher advantages for acting on the mind than any other means of affecting people. The truths that are dispensed; the sacredness of the place; the peace and quietness of the sanctuary; and the appeals to the reason, the conscience, and the heart - all are suited to affect people, and to bring them to reflection. The Spirit makes use of the word "preached," but in a great variety of ways. Sometimes many are impressed simultaneously; sometimes the same truth affects one mind while others are unmoved; and sometimes truth reaches the heart of a sinner which he has heard a hundred times before, without being interested. The Spirit acts with sovereign power, and by laws which have never yet been traced out.

(2) the events of Providence are used to call people into his kingdom. God appeals to people by laying them on a bed of pain, or by requiring them to follow a friend in the still and mournful procession to the grave. They feel that they must die, and they are led to ask the question whether they are prepared. Much fewer are affected in this way than we should suppose would be the case; but still there are many, in the aggregate, who can trace their hope of heaven to a fit of sickness, or to the death of a friend.

(3) conversation is one of the means by which sinners are called into the kingdom of God. In some states of mind, where the Spirit has prepared the soul like mellow ground prepared for the seed, a few moments' conversation, or a single remark, will do more to arrest the attention than much preaching.

(4) reading is often the means of calling people into the kingdom. The Bible is the great means - and if we can get people to read that, we have very cheering indications that they will be converted. The profligate Earl of Rochester was awakened and led to the Saviour by reading a chapter in Isaiah. And who can estimate the number of those who have been converted by reading Baxter's Call to the Unconverted; Alleine's Alarm; the Dairyman's Daughter; or the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain? He does "good" who places a good book in the way of a sinner. That mother or sister is doing good, and making the conversion of a son or brother probable, who puts a Bible in his chest when he goes to sea, or in his trunk when he goes on a journey. Never should a son be allowed to go from home without one. The time will come when, far away from home, he will read it. He will read it when his mind is pensive and tender, and the Spirit may bear the truth to his heart for his conversion.

(5) the Spirit calls people into the kingdom of Christ by presiding over, and directing in some unseen manner their own reflections, or the operations of their own minds. In some way unknown to us, he turns the thoughts to the past life; recalls forgotten deeds and plans; makes long past sins rise to remembrance; and overwhelms the mind with conscious guilt from the memory of crime. He holds this power over the soul; and it is among the most mighty and mysterious of all the influences that he has on the heart. "Sometimes" - a man can hardly tell how - the mind will be pensive, sad, melancholy; then conscious of guilt; then alarmed at the future. Often, by sudden transitions, it will be changed from the frivolous to the serious, and from the pleasant to the sad; and often, unexpectedly to himself, and by associations which he cannot trace out, the sinner will find himself reflecting on death. judgment, and eternity. It is the Spirit of God that leads the mind along. It is not by force; not by the violation of its laws, but in accordance with those laws, that the mind is thus led along to the eternal world. In such ways, and by such means, are people "called" into the kingdom of God. To "walk worthy of that calling," is to live as becomes a Christian, an heir of glory; to live as Christ did. It is:

(1) To bear our religion with us to all places, companies, employments. Not merely to be a Christian on the Sabbath, and at the communion table, and in our own land, but every day, and everywhere, and in any land where we may be placed. We are to live religion, and not merely to profess it. We are to be Christians in the counting-room, as well as in the closet; on the farm as well as at the communion table; among strangers, and in a foreign land, as well as in our own country and in the sanctuary.

(2) it is to do nothing inconsistent with the most elevated Christian character. In temper, feeling, plan, we are to give expression to no emotion, and use no language, and perform no deed, that shall be inconsistent with the most elevated Christian character.

(3) it is to do "right always:" to be just to all; to tell the simple truth; to defraud no one; to maintain a correct standard of morals; to be known to be honest. There is a correct standard of character and conduct; and a Christian should be a man so living, that we may always know "exactly where to find him." He should so live, that we shall have no doubts that, however others may act, we shall find "him" to be the unflinching advocate of temperance, chastity, honesty, and of every good work - of every plan that is really suited to alleviate human woe, and benefit a dying world.

(4) it is to live as one should who expects soon to be "in heaven." Such a man will feel that the earth is not his home; that he is a stranger and a pilgrim here; that riches, honors, and pleasures are of comparatively little importance; that he ought to watch and pray, and that he ought to be holy. A man who feels that he may die at any moment, will watch and pray. A man who realizes that "tomorrow" he may be in heaven, will feel that he ought to be holy. He who begins a day on earth, feeling that at its close he may be among the angels of God, and the spirits of just men made perfect; that before its close he may have seen the Saviour glorified, and the burning throne of God, will feel the importance of living a holy life, and of being wholly devoted to the service of God. Pure should be the eyes that are soon to look on the throne of God; pure the hands that are soon to strike the harps of praise in heaven; pure the feet that are to walk the "golden streets above."

CHAPTER 4

Eph 4:1-32. Exhortations to Christian Duties Resting on Our Christian Privileges, as United in One Body, though Varying in the Graces Given to the Several Members, that We May Come unto a Perfect Man in Christ.

1. Translate, according to the Greek order, "I beseech you, therefore (seeing that such is your calling of grace, the first through third chapters) I the prisoner in the Lord (that is, imprisoned in the Lord's cause)." What the world counted ignominy, he counts the highest honor, and he glories in his bonds for Christ, more than a king in his diadem [Theodoret]. His bonds, too, are an argument which should enforce his exhortation.

vocation—Translate, "calling" to accord, as the Greek does, with "called" (Eph 4:4; Eph 1:18; Ro 8:28, 30). Col 3:15 similarly grounds Christian duties on our Christian "calling." The exhortations of this part of the Epistle are built on the conscious enjoyment of the privileges mentioned in the former part. Compare Eph 4:32, with Eph 1:7; Eph 5:1 with Eph 1:5; Eph 4:30, with Eph 1:13; Eph 5:15, with Eph 1:8.Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul exhorteth to those virtues which become the

Christian calling, particularly to unity,

Ephesians 4:7-16 declaring that Christ gave his gifts differently,

that his body the church might be built up and

perfected in the true faith by the co-operation of

the several members with one another, and with him

their Head.

Ephesians 4:17-21 He calleth men off from the vain and impure

conversation of the heathen world,

Ephesians 4:22-24 to renounce the old, and to put on the new, man,

Ephesians 4:25 to discard lying,

Ephesians 4:26,27 and sinful anger.

Ephesians 4:28 To leave off dishonest practices, and to gain by

honest labour what they have occasion for,

Ephesians 4:29 to use no corrupt talk,

Ephesians 4:30 nor grieve God’s Spirit.

Ephesians 4:31,32 To put away all expressions of ill-will, and to

practise mutual kindness and forgiveness.

The prisoner of the Lord; in the Lord, a Hebraism: it is as much as, for the Lord: see Ephesians 3:1.

Beseech you that ye walk worthy; proceed constantly and perseveringly in such ways as suit with and become your calling, 1 Thessalonians 4:7 1 Peter 1:15: see the like expression, Romans 16:2.

Of the vocation wherewith ye are called; both your general calling, whereby ye are called to be saints, and your particular callings, to which ye are severally called, as Ephesians 5:1-33 and Ephesians 6:1-24.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you,.... Or "in the Lord"; that is, for the Lord's sake; See Gill on Ephesians 3:1. Some connect this phrase, "in the Lord", with the following word, "beseech": as if the sense was, that the apostle entreated the believing Ephesians, in the name of the Lord, and for his sake, to take heed to their walk and conversation, that it be as became the calling by grace, and to glory, with which they were called: and this exhortation he enforces from the consideration of the state and condition in which he was, a prisoner, not for any wickedness he had been guilty of, but for the Lord's sake, which seems to be the true sense of the word; and that, if they would not add afflictions to his bonds, as some professors by their walk did, he beseeches them, as an ambassador in bonds, that they would attend to what he was about to say; and the rather, since such doctrines of grace had been made known to them, which have a tendency to promote powerful godliness; and since they were made partakers of such privileges as laid them under the greatest obligation to duty, which were made mention of in the preceding chapters.

That ye walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called; by which is meant, not that private and peculiar state and condition of life, that the saints are called to, and in: but that calling, by the grace of God, which is common to them all; and is not a mere outward call by the ministry of the word, with which men may be called, and not be chosen, sanctified, and saved; but that which is internal, and is of special grace, and by the Spirit of God; by whom they are called out of darkness into light, out of bondage into liberty, out of the world, and from the company and conversation of the men of it, into the fellowship of Christ, and his people, to the participation of the grace of Christ here, and to his kingdom and glory hereafter; and which call is powerful, efficacious, yea, irresistible; and being once made is unchangeable, and without repentance, and is holy, high, and heavenly. Now to walk worthy of it, or suitable to it, is to walk as children of the light; to walk in the liberty wherewith Christ and his Spirit make them free; to walk by faith on Christ; and to walk in the ways of God, with Christ, the mark, in their view, and with the staff of promises in their hands; and to walk on constantly, to go forwards and hold out unto the end: for this walking, though it refers to a holy life and conversation, a series of good works, yet it does not suppose that these merit calling; rather the contrary, since these follow upon it; and that is used as an argument to excite unto them: but the phrase is expressive of a fitness, suitableness, and agreeableness of a walk and conversation to such rich grace, and so high an honour conferred on saints.

I therefore, {1} the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the {a} vocation wherewith ye are called,

(1) Another part of the epistle, containing precepts of the Christian life, the sum of which is this, that every man behave himself as it is fitting for so excellent a grace of God.

(a) By this is meant the general calling of the faithful, which is this, to be holy as our God is holy.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 4:1. See on Ephesians 4:1-6, Winzer, Commentat., Lips. 1839.

παρακαλῶ] “Parte doctrinae absoluta venit, ut solet, ad adhortationes,” Grotius. No doubt, there presently begins again at Ephesians 4:4 a doctrinal exposition as far as Ephesians 4:16, but it is subservient to the paraenesis, and is itself pervaded by the paraenetic element (Ephesians 4:14-15).

οὖν] deduces the exhortation from the immediately preceding Ephesians 3:21. For a walk in keeping with the vocation, through which one belongs to the church, is what is practically in keeping with the praise of God in the church. The suitableness of this nearest reference gives it the preference over the more vague ordinary view, that οὖν draws its inference from the whole contents of the first three chapters. Comp. on Romans 12:1.

ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρ.] gives to the παρακαλῶ οὖν a touching force “ad excitandum affectum, quo sit efficacior exhortatio,” Estius; comp. Calvin. Similarly Ignat. Trall. 12: παρακαλεῖ ὑμᾶς τὰ δεσμά μου, ἃ ἕνεκεν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ περιφέρω. But all that has been said about exciting sympathetic feeling (Koppe and older expositors), cheering obedience,[197] and the like, is quite inappropriate, since it was just in his sufferings that Paul was conscious of all his dignity with holy pride (comp. Ephesians 3:13 and on Galatians 6:17). So here, too, in the ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛῶ, the reader was to be affected by the consciousness of the dignity and greatness of the martyr who utters it.[198] According to others, Paul wishes to present himself as an example (Harless, Olshausen; comp. also Koppe). In that case he must at least have written: παρακαλῶ οὖν ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμ. ἐν κυρ. καὶ ὑμᾶς ἀξίως περιπ. κ.τ.λ.

ἐν κυρίῳ] does not belong to παρακαλῶ (Semler, Koppe with hesitation; Zanchius already suggested, but did not approve it), but to ὁ δέσμιος, beside which it stands, and which alone needs its significant reference; comp. Ephesians 3:1; Php 1:13. Paul was the prisoner in the Lord (the article as Ephesians 3:1), for he did not endure a captivity having its ground apart from Christ,—such as one suffers who for any other reason is placed in bonds,—but in Christ his being bound had its causal basis, just because he was bearing the chains for Christ’s sake; without, however, ἐν κυρίῳ signifying “for Christ’s sake” (comp. on Galatians 1:24), as Chrysostom, Theophylact, and many would have it. Comp. rather, συνεργὸς ἐν Χριστῷ, ἀγαπητὸς ἐν κυρίῳ, δόκιμος ἐν Χριστῷ, ἐκλεκτὸς ἐν κυρίῳ, Romans 16:3; Romans 16:8-10; Romans 16:13, al. It gives to the δέσμιος its specific character, by which therefore the captivity was essentially distinguished from any other.

ἐν κυρίῳ] is annexed without an article, because it is blended with ὁ δέσμιος into a unity of conception. The genitive designation, Ephesians 3:1, expresses the same thing, but otherwise conceived of.

ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι κ.τ.λ.] i.e. to lead such a life-walk as is appropriate to the call to the Messianic kingdom issued to you (at your conversion), “ne sint tanta gratia indigni,” Calvin. Comp. Php 1:27; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Matthew 3:8; Romans 16:2; Bernhardy, p. 140. The future possession of the kingdom, forsooth, is destined only for those whose ethical frame is renewed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. See Ephesians 4:21 ff., Ephesians 4:30; Romans 8:4 ff; Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:21 f.; 1 Corinthians 6:9 f., al.

ἧς] as at Ephesians 1:6; and see on 2 Corinthians 1:4. Attracted instead of ἥν. Yet Paul might have written , 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Corinthians 7:20.

[197] “Ut Paulum obsequio exhilararent,” Bengel.

[198] Theodoret aptly remarks: τοῖς διὰ τὸν Χριστὸν δεσμοῖς ἐναβρύνεται μᾶλλον ἢ βασιλεὺς διαδήματι.Ephesians 4:1-16. With the fourth chapter begins the second main division of the Epistle. As in others of Paul’s Epistles the doctrinal statement is followed by the practical enforcement of duty. Doctrinal considerations are at the same time introduced again from point to point in support of the duties enjoined. The hortatory section commences with the earnest recommendation of a life in conformity with the Christian vocation, with special reference to the need of humility, loving consideration and unity.Ch. Ephesians 4:1-16. Practical results: spiritual Unity in Diversity of Gifts

1. I therefore] Here begins what may be called the Second Part of the Epistle. Hitherto the Apostle has dealt with the eternal and spiritual aspects of Redemption. He now comes to their sequel and manifestation in conduct and life. Not that he leaves behind, for a moment, the eternal facts and spiritual principles. Scripture always brings the doctrinal into the practical, as reason and mainspring; and nowhere more than in this Epistle. But the main stress of thought is now on the effects rather than on the causes; it deals with the holy sequitur, the “therefore,” of the matter. Compare the Epistles to the Romans and Colossians for a similar arrangement; and, to some extent, the First to the Corinthians.

the prisoner of the Lord] Lit., the prisoner in the Lord. His bonds are due to his union with Christ. They are thus a strong Christian argument with his converts. See further on Ephesians 3:2, above.

beseech] Cp. Romans 12:1 for the same word in just the same connexion. The Gr. is a verb more elastic in reference than our “beseech,” often meaning “to exhort,” “to encourage,” and (without the thought of entreaty) “to request.” But the thought of entreaty is quite in place here.

walk] See on Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 2:10, above. The distinctive notion of the word is that of the moral action and conduct of life.

worthy of the vocation] Better, worthily of the calling. For similar phrases, cp. Php 1:27, “walk worthily of the Gospel of Christ”; Colossians 1:10, “walk worthily of the Lord”; 1 Thessalonians 2:12, “walk worthily of God.” Ideally, of course, no human walk is “worthy of” the Gospel, the Call, or the Divine Caller. But practically it can and should be so, in the sense of being governed at every step by the Divine motives, applied by grace, and so presenting a true correspondence to those motives.

The vocation:—see on Ephesians 1:18, “His calling.”

are called] Lit., and better, were called, when they heard and believed.Ephesians 4:1. Ὁ δέσμιος, the prisoner) The bonds of Paul were subservient to the calling of the Ephesians; and these ought to be so affected by them (his bonds) as to delight Paul with their obedience; a striking instance of feeling, ἦθος.—ἐν Κυρίῳ, in the Lord) construed with prisoner.—τῆς κλήσεως, of the vocation) Ephesians 4:4. This is derived from ch. Ephesians 1:18; nay, rather from ch. 1, 2, and 3. [For the second part of the epistle begins here, comprehending exhortations, and especially those which flow from the doctrine already discussed.—V. g.] Comp. Colossians 3:15.Verses 1-16. - CHURCH PRINCIPLE OF GROWTH AND PROGRESS; THE CHURCH A BODY. Verse 1. - I therefore. Inference not only from last chapter, but the whole Epistle. Paul's interest in the Ephesians led him to a double application of the great subject which he had expounded:

(1) to ask God on their behalf that he would bestow on them the full measure of the blessing to which of his grace they were entitled (Ephesians 3:14-21); and

(2) to entreat them on God's behalf to live in a way befitting their high calling (Ephesians 4:6.). To this second application he proceeds now. The prisoner in the Lord. Not merely "of the Lord," but ἐν, Κυρίῳ, the usual formula for vital communion with Christ, indicating that his captivity was the captivity of a part or member of the Lord. An exhortation from such a prisoner ought to fall with double weight. Beseech you to walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye were called. Their call was to be God's people (comp. Romans 9:25); this not a mere speculative distinction, but one that must have practical form and that must lead to suitable fruit. True grace in the heart must show itself by true goodness in the life. They were not to conceal their religion, not to be ashamed of it, but to avow it and glory in it, and their lives were not to be disgraced by unworthy conduct, but to be brightened and elevated by their relation to Christ. In the Lord

See on Philippians 1:14.

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