This verse mentions two groups of people: (1) the saints at Ephesus, and (2) the faithful in Christ Jesus. Two questions...
The word saint here seems to mean a Christian.
God desired to enjoy communion with a race of created creatures so he created the universe inhabited by them and later provided for their redemption.God does not choose who will and who will not receive his offer in grace of salvation through Jesus.
God predestined that the redeemed would become his children.
(Ephesians 1:10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times [when the times have reached their fulfillment] he might gather together in one [bring into unity] all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
God the Father performed his work through Christ in raising him from the dead and in Christ's ascension into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father.Both of these events are for our benefit, to provide eternal redemption for us so that we too can enjoy eternal communion with God.
The Churchis the body of Christ.The Church is the fullness of Christ, meaning that Christ, in taking on human nature and dying for the redemption of all the redeemed, is made full when these are redeemed.
(Ephesians 2:3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
This verse states that we are saved by God's grace; salvation is a gift from God. We appropriate this by faith. This grace of salvation does not come from ourselves but, rather, from God. God is the source and goal of our salvation; our only role is to receive, believe, repent, then live a life pleasing to God.
We are not saved by our own efforts, thus, we are not saved by works only. Critics of Catholicism typically claim that the Catholic Church teaches salvation by works only. This claim is false; shame on them!
The Bible clearly emphasizes the need for good works as an ingredient of salvation.This verse does not speak about whether or not works are an ingredient of salvation; it merely states that we are not saved by works only. In order for good works to have their proper role in salvation they must be linked to God's grace and faith. Works without faith are dead.
Acknowledging our salvation in Christ is to be a humbling event. We must be painfully aware of our original sin, our past sins (now forgiven) and the hurt we have caused, and the lingering concupiscence that tempts us to continually sin. We must acknowledge that our only hope for salvation is God's mercy and grace. We must look to Christ's humility in taking on human form and human nature, being tortured on the cross as a mere criminal, and his dying like a mere mortal. We must accept that God has the power over sin and death and they we don't. This, I think, is the intent of this verse; to put us in our proper place, our proper role.
We should perform good works. God has foreordained this as a key part of his plan and purpose for creating humans. In fact, we were created with the ability and tendency and interest to perform good works. Only when we are fully created, created in Christ Jesus, can we perform our proper role.
After stating that we are not saved only by works in the verses above, but by God's grace, Paul, in this verse, emphasizes that we are to perform good works, that this is our proper role and function. It's as if he is afraid Christians will think works aren't a key ingredient of salvation and will de-emphasize them. This is exactly what happened with the Protestant Reformation. Because the Catholic Church had emphasized tradition, rites, rules, canon law, and other kinds of works, the reformers went to the opposite extreme. But the Bible clearly teaches that works do have a role in our salvationand that we are not saved by faith alone.
This verse appears to say that families and people of the past are in heaven.Certainly, the souls of these are in the spiritual realm, perhaps in purgatory,perhaps in some higher place in the spiritual realm. And when we die we will reside in the same place. But this is not our eternal home; once Jesus returns and we receive resurrected bodies we will spend eternity in the new heavens and new earth.
This verse provides evidence that the word "heaven" merely refers to the spiritual realm; either all of it including the place where God resides, or part of it where disembodied humans reside.
All humans and all groupings of humans, alive and deceased, derive their existence and being from God the Father.
Through the power of Christ working in us we are able to conquer sin and to live a holy, righteous life. This verse is used by the word-faith, health-wealth teachers to support their false idea we should ask for anything at all and expect God to grant it, even demand God to grant it. Of course we certainly can ask for things we desire and hope God grants it.
Paul has been discussing the gospel and redemption through faith. Jesus can deliver redemption to us fallen humans, he can conquer death, and he can provide life eternal for us with resurrected bodies in the new heavens and new earth.
In becoming redeemed, God grants us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By sinning, we are able to thwart the power of God working in us, and I can't imagine how the Holy Spirit could reside in us as we sin. Perhaps there is a special compartment of our soul that is sealed off from our sin nature and the Holy Spirit resides there and, therefore, doesn't see the sin. Anyway, God is repulsed by sin and turns his face from us when we sin. So, as glorious as this verse is, we must still live virtuouslyor it all means nothing — we can even lose our salvation altogether if we persist in mortal sin. Tragically, many fundamentalist evangelical Christians feel safe from this possibility and allow themselves to sin with impunity.
This verse clearly emphasizes the important role of the Church. The Church is that collection of people and that institutional framework providing a way for people to become saved and to gather together to praise God. Anytime the institutional Church frustrates this objective, it is not really the Church. We should not defend a dysfunctional, stylized, superficial social construct as if it were the thing God intended it to be.
Similarly, the Church must be giving glory to God. Many in the Church have devolved into emphasizing rituals, rites, the liturgical calendar, the priesthood, etc. and have no regard for the spiritual health of the Christians at large.
Notice that Jesus Christ resides in the true Church for all time. The Church will never be destroyed. This means that throughout human history until the end of the world, there will always be at least one true believer alive at any given time. But notice, that in many ages past, the Church was teaching a warped view of Christianity (and it still often does, in my opinion) yet God looks to the heart of each person based on what they know. Thus, God overlooks people's error as best he can. But this does not mean we are to be accepting of error in the Church. For example, the Church was in error in the claims it made regarding Galileo, and it was dehumanizing and unrighteous in its treatment of this great man of science.Those bishops and popes were not truly representing Christ's love and teaching and were, therefore, not truly leaders of the Church.This means that the kind of Church they created in which bishops would possess instruments of torture which they could show Galileo to scare him; that this was not the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church has an institutional aspect, but this only extends so far; when bishops and popes are more concerned with politics and rulership than in the spiritual welfare of the people; when popes and bishops must defend the mistakes of past popes and bishops at all cost rather than admit that the system is just plain wrong; these aspects of the Church institution are not part of the Church. In similar manner, people who are married but who speak and behave in ways which destroy the marriage; these aspects are not part of their marriage. Likewise for families and extended families and clans and tribes and even nations. For example, the genocide of the Native American Indians was not part of the glory of America as envisioned by its founders — it was the actions of corrupt, ruthless, and God-dishonoring men taking advantage of the power they had usurped from the government, from the people. It is wrong to say: "this is the glory of America!" The system of governance and ethics these men followed was not American. In like manner, Church leaders who do not honor Christ as evidenced by their actions; these are not truly following Christ, and the structure and institution they have built is not truly to be called "the Church of Christ."
Apparently there were some members of the church who were not really living the lifestyle. Perhaps they were not being taught properly. Certainly newcomers to Christianity need instruction to get them on track, and it never hurts for mature Christians to hear about what pleases God; to be reminded, even rebuked.
Being a Christian is a vocation, a lifestyle, a long-term covenant relationship.
Everyone is called to ultimately spend eternity in the new heavens and new earth,but some reject the call. Being a Christian is a calling because, in choosing to follow Christ, you have accepted God's call. This does not mean God only calls some but not others as Calvinismclaims.
Gifts 4 and 5 should perhaps be combined as "pastors and teachers".
Notice there is no mention of ordination via the sacrament of holy orders. It mentions apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers but not bishops, priests, and deacons. This oversight does not bode well for the Church's later emphasis on these three; it smacks of revisionism, that the apostles did not really pass on those three leadership roles after all.
Perhaps the word "apostle" refers to bishops also. You can make the case that the bishops of the early church are actually apostles as they perform the same role in planting churches and in teaching the faith and defending it from heresy. These bishops were sometimes targets for martyrdom much as Peter and Paul were.
(Ephesians 4:14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Some wish to deny the importance of doctrine preferring, instead, to emphasize their moment by moment relationship with Jesus.This verse is clear: sound teaching provides the foundation of the Christian faith. Without it, people are led astray into error and their relationship with Jesus is for nothing (even Mormons claim a relationship with Jesus.) These days, most evangelical Christian movements are based in sound doctrine so it is easy to de-emphasize it.
(Ephesians 4:16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Before repenting of sin and accepting redemption through faith in Jesus, we lived the old way; steeped in sin and drawn to sin by concupiscence, the tendency or desire to sin. The new way, living virtuouslyand righteously without sinning, this new way is possible for those who actively pursue it. But we must strive continuously to resist the temptations to sin. Thus, the old man and new man are constantly at war.
Notice we must work to put off the old man. This verse is written to Christians who have already received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit yet must continue to put off the old man. Thus, we are not saved by faith only — works have a role in our salvation— and we can lose our salvation if we persist in mortal sin.
The way this is worded sounds like your mind has a spirit — and so it does. Everything living resides in the spiritual realm.The mind is not physical but is, rather, spiritual, as are the emotions, the will, the passions, the intuition, and all the other attributes making up a human. These can operate under the influence of fallen humanity, of the wicked spirits; or they can operate under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We are to renew the mind (and every other aspect of human life) by bringing it into subjection of the Holy Spirit. Paul addresses the mind, by which he probably refers to the intellect, emphasized by the Greek philosophers. The spirit of the mind is the guiding and controlling aspect of humans.
Putting on the new man means you will be holy and righteous just as God is. We cannot be saved yet live in a way conflicting with that which pleases God. God hates sin so he turns his face from us when we sin. In order to be in fellowship with God we must put on the new man, we must be holy and righteous. Just as Adam and Eve were created in the image of God so we, as renewed and redeemed humans, will be re-created in the image of God, in holiness and righteousness.
Since they are waiting for Christ's coming, this implies he comes at their death; that everyone encounters Christ at death and they are received into the kingdom of heaven at that time.It doesn't make sense for them to be exhorted to wait for Christ's coming if it occurs thousands (millions?) of years after they have died.
True Christians are to be loving with the same kind of love Christ showed towards us; his love involved his sacrificial death for us.
About sacrifice: Many societies throughout history have practiced sacrificial death: of animals and even of humans. Even God's covenant nation, his chosen people the Israelites were commanded to sacrifice animals as a key ingredient of their religious society. God himself performed the first sacrificial death of animals in clothing Adam and Eve after they sinned, to cover their shame.Ultimately, our very salvation hinges on Christ's sacrifice of himself on our behalf.
My view of how it all works:
The smoke of true sacrifice to God smells good to God and brings him pleasure just as some people like the smell of a barbeque. God likes every aspect of redemption and true sacrifice brings redemption.
Some Christians talk about the Old Testament animal sacrifices as if they were useless and worthless (because only the true sacrifice of Christ has redemptive merit.) In saying this, they hint that therefore these Old Testament people were not really savedsince their sacrifices did not really do anything — they were merely types pointing to Christ's true sacrifice. I reject Typologybecause it is often used to come to lazy conclusions such as this.
This verse pretty much rules out most comedy so popular today. Christians are to shun unwholesome forms of entertainment such as: well, what is even watchable on TV or the movies? And the music? Even billboards and ads on the side of busses?
Verses such as this are very common in the New Testament, in which the writer exhorts Christians to not murder or to have adultery or rage attacks or any number of other horrifyingly immoral behavior. What kind of people were these?
This verse provides, I think, the basis of the common idea that such things as materialism and going to the movies too frequently are idolatry. Overlooked is that the person referred to as being an idolater is grossly and obscenely immoral; they don't just watch too much TV or shop for clothes too often.
We should be opposing evil, not participating in it. We are to reprove evil and sin; we are to not fellowship with these. Since it is people who are doing all these unwholesome things this means, in effect, we are to shun people who do these things. We must also shun the things they say and do, the works of their hands and minds. Sadly they have littered our culture with the creations of their corrupt minds. Museums containing smut paid for with public funds, unwholesome ads on billboards and buses, even the home page of news websites.
This verse highlights my objection to participating in much of society. A few examples...
I don't wish to encourage anyone to drink wine or even to suggest it is a good idea, but notice it is excess wine which is the problem, not wine itself. Some well-meaning have taught that the wine of the New Testament days had no alcohol. Nonsense! Paul would not have written this verse about mere grape juice.
We need to be filled with something giving us joy and hope and spiritual direction; without this we feel hopeless and lost. Only the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, answers this need. You hear so often of famous people whose fame has left a spiritual void in their soul, not providing them the fulfillment they hoped for. This comes only with a relationship with Jesus.
It's telling that Paul refers to wine and the Holy Spirit in the same sentence. Some seek spiritual fulfillment with drugs (or sports, or entertainment, or relationships) but deep spiritual satisfaction only comes from God, not from material pursuits.
I should glue this verse to my eyeglasses. How nice it would be if everything I said was uplifting and directed toward God, for edifying and encourgaging the other. I must commend the Protestant fundamentalist evangelical movement for attempting to apply this verse in their every verbal interaction with one another.
A brief story to illustrate: Decades ago I attended a songwriting seminar taught by various well-known songwriters, publishers, and producers. One was clearly a Christian and prefaced nearly every sentence with short devotional phrases such as "praise be to the Lord" and many variations. I was not Christian at the time but was not offended in the least; to the contrary, the practice inspired me (perhaps even led me to Christ.)
A husband is to sacrificially love his wife, the way Christ loved those he redeemed by giving his life in sacrifice that our sins might be forgiven. If there is such a thing as a sacrament of marriageit consists in this: married Christians have Christ at the center of their marriage and they sacrificially love one another. God imparts grace to those who live this.
The verbiage here is odd, that Christ would present the Church to himself. This statement is probably an artifact of the comparison from above: A husband is to love his wife and present her to Christ; Christ loves the Church and presents it to . . . himself. Thus, Christ desires that Christians become educatedin the faith, that they live devotional lives of faith,that they practice the virtues,that they be holy. Since Church leadersare the ones with the duty and responsibility to teach these things, those who mislead the flock or fleece the flock are in big trouble.
The reason the husband is to love his wife is given in verse 26 above,to "sanctify and cleanse her" as Christ "sanctified and cleansed the Church with the washing of water by the word". In other words, the husband is to make the wife holy by loving her.
To make the wife holy, the husband is leave his parents and unite as a nuclear family with his wife.
They become one flesh by merging their souls, by tangling up their souls together.In sharing love and empathy together, each soul shares in the bodily sensations of the other; in other words, when you love someone, you see through their eyes, hear through their ears, and so forth. And, you influence their movements, you affect what they want to do, what they pray for. I doubt if the image of being of one flesh refers specifically to having conjugal relations, but people commonly teach it means this being small-minded and perhaps somewhat carnal.
Paul is mainly discussing the Church, not marriage. In the same way a husband sacrificially loves and lives for his wife, so also Christ serves and animates the Church. This can only be understood by divine revelation, it is a mystery. For those living in Old Testament times, Christ's incarnation could not have been known about except for hints in Old Testament prophecy.
This verse is not referring to physical strength but to spiritual strength, to the strength of will that allows us to resist the temptations of the wicked powers of darkness in the spiritual realm.If we become spiritually weak, we fall easily into sin. When we are spiritually strong we live a holy, virtuouslife of faith. Some Christians seem to think being strong in the power of the Lord means having supernatural displays of charismatic manifestations, but this misses the point. True spiritual strength results in habitual practice of the Gifts of the Spiritand Fruits of the Spirit.
Notice that the armor of God consists of defensive weapons. You often hear Christians claim we are to be engaged in an offensive war with the enemy of faith, but actually we are to stand firm in Christ and oppose the enemy by living a live of virtue.The elements of the armor of God are...
The spiritual war is not with humans but of spiritual powers. Notice that we are living in the kingdom of the evil one and that this kingdom has a political structure much as human societies have political structure. Every evil spirit has a role to play; some command, some obey. Notice also that the spiritual realm has structure; in the realm of wicked spirits there are high places and low places and places in between. Likewise, in the spiritual realm of God there are various spiritual places,for example, the throneroom of Revelation 4.Throughout church historysome have written about the various places in the spiritual realm and described the various kinds of spiritual entities. This endeavor does not seem fruitful to me. Likewise, I think there may be some truth to some of the views from non-Christian spiritual traditions; such things as spiritual energy centers in the body, pranic energy flow, the power of mantras, and such things. But dabbling in these should be avoided because we have no revealed truth from God about these and because they are clearly embedded in un-Christian world views. In other words, the spiritual enemies have claimed this territory as their own.
I interpret the image of the armor of God literally.Our soul resides in the spiritual realmand in this realm symbols are real. In the spiritual realm we have a spiritual body which we experience in dreams and in our imagination. We are to mentally imagine ourselves putting on this armor of God and to meditate on each of the parts as having the characteristics Paul mentions. This kind of mystical meditation is used in many Catholic devotions such as the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and many others. Practicing such things provides God opportunity to pour grace into us. The sacramentsare based on this idea. For example, when participating in the Eucharistwe are to mentally imagine that Christ is on the altar being sacrificed as a sacrificial lamb.
What is the evil day Paul is referring to? Certainly any day can be considered evil when we are assaulted by the powers of darkness. In verse 11 Paul mentions we are to stand against the deceptions of Satan. Perhaps Paul has in mind that some Christians will fall away from the faith and that some will fall into heresy. Notice that we must actively put on the whole armor of God at these times of extreme temptation in order to stand. The antidote to apostasy and heresy is living a holy life devoted to Christ under the guidance of apostolic teaching.
Truth is to be our guide. We are to reject error. And how do we know what is true? We should follow infallible apostolic teaching.When we notice temptations to sin, we should realize that our commitment to righteousness and holiness has weakened. This should remind us to tighten up our robe so we don't trip over it. At times like these we should review the apostolic teaching regarding salvation and living a life pleasing to God.
The gospel message provides for peace between God and us humans. This is the first step in living a holy life, to become a friend of God, to restore the lost fellowship with him by repenting of our faith and receiving his grace of salvation by faith.
Trusting in God is the only proper response when facing the difficulties of life. We must not let the powers of the wicked spirits fool us into thinking we can address our concerns with ingenuity or cleverness; we must call out to God and trust him to inform our mind and will of what to do, strengthen us to do the right thing, give us the power to endure hardship.
King James Version