The Practical Section
This part of the epistle contains practical instructions and exhortations for the believer. The practical issues discussed should flow from the lives of believers who comprehend the magnificent doctrinal truths expounded in the first half of the epistle.
Ephesians 4:1-3 - Paul begins this section in verse one with an exhortation to walk worthy of our vocation; that is, our calling or summons from God, being chosen by God. We have to walk before God and men with all lowliness, humility, meekness, gentleness, longsuffering, and patience - making allowances for one another (verse two). These attributes are to characterize our walk. [In the first three chapters we are living in the “heavenlies.” In the last three we are in the Church and in the world.]
Verse 3 says, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This suggests giving diligence and earnestly striving. We are to keep this unity, not make it. See Eph. 2 – Oneness - The Holy Spirit indwelling and empowering each believer is the true source of unity.
Ephesians 4:4-6 - Three spheres are suggested in the next three verses: the inward sphere, the outward sphere, and the sphere of creation. Let us look at each more closely (for our own purposes here, let’s omit the words “there is”):
- The Inwards Sphere (Eph. 4:4) - One body- one spirit. This would be the inner most circle. They represent that which is inward and not seen. In the earlier chapters, the body is the great theme. However, men on earth never see it. What men see instead is a baffling array of bodies, each claming to be the body. This one body is vitalized by one Spirit and looks forward to one hope. The unseen Holy Spirit is the prominent one here.
- The Outward Sphere (Eph. 4:5) - This is the sphere that concerns the Lord Jesus, who is the outward expression of the Godhead. Jesus as Lord is a prominent theme in the N.T. (see Rom. 10:9, 1 Cor. 12:3, and Phil. 2:11 - indeed “Jesus is Lord.”) “One baptism.” The big question here is, “Is this referring to a water baptism or the baptism of the Spirit?” There are good scholars on both sides. “One faith.” This is the common faith that all believers express, in contradistinction to the religions of the Gentiles and the laws of the Jews. The
- The Sphere of Creation (Eph. 4:6) - The most important unity is the seventh. This number in Scripture usually expresses completion or perfection. One God and Father of all. See Gen 2:1-3. The Fatherhood of God extends beyond the Christian sphere to the larger unity of creation. “He is God over all, blessed forever.” See Rom. 9. A realization of the truth of these seven unities is expected to lead us into a greater unity with each other.
Ephesians 4:7 - Consider the diversity of the members of the Body. After instructing us concerning the oneness (unity) of the Body, Paul now sets forth the diversity of its members. The source of all gifts is Christ. The channel of ministry is the diversity of gifts. The purpose of ministry is the edification of the Body.
In verse 7, we have the expression, “but unto each one of us was the grace given.” To every believer is this grace given. Every believer has been given a spiritual gift and God has given the grace, power, strength, and wisdom to use that gift for His glory and the building up of the Church.
Ephesians 4:9-10 - These verses are parenthetical and are often interpreted in different ways. “The lower parts of the earth” is a point of conflict. Some teach that “the lower parts of the earth” is referring to the earth itself. Others believe this to be a reference to Hades. Some feel that the incarnation answers the question. Many more take the view that the death of Christ is sufficient to answer the question. Perhaps the last of these answers is the right one.
Ephesians 4:11 - The true and only basis for Christian ministry is given in this verse. It is not a question of education, degrees, ecclesiastical ordination, or man’s authorization. The way the Church is built up is through the gifts given to it by the risen Christ. Consider the qualifications, or rather lack thereof, of the disciples. Some were fishermen – one was a tax collector – they were for the most part Galileans. They had no schooling, no college degrees, and no human ordination, but they were gifts from the Lord. Despite their unqualified status, humanly speaking, they turned the world upside down. Note the order here: First, grace is given to each one (Eph. 4:7); then, gifts are given to men (Eph. 4:8); and finally, these gifted men are given to the Church (Eph. 4:11).
In this verse, there is mention of apostles and prophets, but they are no longer needed. Evangelists preach the Gospel. The work of the evangelist is to seek lost souls and win them for Christ. Pastors and teachers - these gifts are closely linked together. This is the only mention of pastor in the N.T. In other places the same word is rendered “shepherd” (see John 10:11 and Heb 13:20). This illustrates the tender care of the shepherd for the sheep; this is the vital gift of the pastor. The teacher is gifted to bring instruction in an orderly way.
Ephesians 4:12-14 - For the perfecting of the saints - the purpose of these gifts is to equip the believers to serve the Lord, and one another, so that the Church may be built up. It would appear that as the gifted men use their gifts and the body is edified, each member grows and functions in his God-given place, and the corporate body develops into spiritual maturity.
The object of this ministry by gifted men is now brought out in verse 13. It is “until we attain,” or arrive at three things: (1) The unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, (2) A perfect or mature man — a full-grown man, and (3) The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This would apply both to the individual and the corporate body.
Verse 14 goes on to say that we henceforth be no longer children – babes – infants. It is not God’s will that we should remain spiritual babes. He wants us to grow up. Paul goes from speaking of the picture of the babe to speaking of the picture of the sea. Maybe he has a piece of driftwood in mind here.