Ephesians 4:1-16

Eph 4:1 (KJV)
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
Vocation - Calling
Paul did not view his imprisonment as being a punishment from Rome, he saw that he was the Lord’s prisoner. He knew he was there by divine calling which resulted in him writing the four prison epistles Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians being the other three. He was encouraging the Ephesian Christians, as well as us, that we are to walk or better yet live our lives worthy of the name Christian. Every Christian has a calling in this life and that calling is to be a representative of the Kingdom of Go on this earth. (2 Cor 5:20 KJV) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. This is why we are to walk circumspectly so as to not bring any shame on the name of the Lord Jesus. Now if we are called as a doctor in this world we need to be the best we can be. If we are a plumber, then we need to be the best we can be. If we are a carpenter, then we need to be the best we can be and in every earthly vocation, we need to be honest in our dealings with both believers and unbelievers.
Paul was in prison because he did not choose to compromise the truths of Scripture. He delivered the truth to both the enemies of Christ and the Elect of Christ. Paul may be hinting to us that the possibility always exists that if you are a Christian and one who does not compromise, you too may possibly face the same problems that he faced. God calls each Christian to a different calling, yet that calling is the same. No matter what our vocation is, we are to conduct ourselves worthy of the name of Christ.
Eph 4:2 (KJV)
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Lowliness - Humility
Meekness - Gentleness
Longsuffering - Patience
Forbearing - Bearing With
Paul now turns to the individual Christian in the matter of the practicality of Christianity. He first states that as we walk in the vocation or calling that we are called, we are to adopt an attitude which is both humble and gentle. These are two of the fruits of the Spirit which is given to Christians upon salvation. It is unfortunate that when we get into the flesh, it is possible to bury the fruits of the spirit. This is one way in which we quench the Holy Spirit. These two first fruits are those which we need to have as part of our personality.
The next two fruits that Paul gives is how we are to act while involved with others. We need to exercise patience, especially with those who are slower or who are not as mature in the faith. We also need to be forbearing with those Christians who seem to test our patience in certain areas. Now Paul tells us to have these characteristics in love. That does not mean we are to allow emotional Jello to rule us. True Christian love is a tough entity and does not include conciliation. You can be gentle with a person while being in a state of non-compromise. Christians must stand their ground. Do you think Paul would have been in prison if he compromised with the Judaizers? Do we think that adopting a false love in compromising is pleasing to the Lord? (Gal 1:10 KJV) For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. We are the bond servants of Christ and we must always be doing the bidding of our master and never usurp His authority because that is what we do when we compromise with the world.
Eph 4:3 (KJV)
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Endeavoring - Be diligent or hasten
Unity - Oneness or unanimity
Bond - That which binds
The Apostle Paul in the previous verse stated that the Christian needs to engage those fruits of the Spirit that we received when we became saved. The reason we are to use those fruits is to maintain a harmony among the body of Christ. In the verse above the result of each Christian engaging those fruits consistently is to be diligent in keeping the oneness of the body of Christ. If there are factions and divisions, then it is easy for Satan and Satan’s people to divide and conquer. We see this everywhere around. Satan is attacking each individual denomination with false teachings and the reason that he gains victory is because one denomination will not help another, simply because their doctrinal difference are overwhelmingly too great. So what we see is an across the board victory by Satan and his minions in the church, both to subdue it with false doctrines and quench the true Gospel. The true Gospel is very hard to find in the modern church.
The Bible here speaks of oneness “of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The Holy Spirit is the one who binds the Christians together in truth. (1 John 4:6 KJV) We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. He binds us together in unity by means of our salvation but because of the diversity of the Human race, we can expect people to look at the Scriptures in a different manner. While it seems that Christians are divided on doctrines, yet there is a unity of the true believers on the core beliefs of the Christian Faith. For example, every true Christian believes the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection, the crucifixion, the deity of Christ, etc. These are the beliefs that bind true Christianity. If a person does not believe in the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ, then you will know instantly they are an unbeliever. True Christians will know the core teachings of Scripture of the Bible and it is these that will bind us.
The problem is that too many Christians are caught up in denominationalism where they believe and profess that their denomination has the only doctrinal truth. In other words, those in free will gospels may completely disdain the idea of predestination, and on the other hand those who believe the doctrines of grace may adopt the idea that everyone in a free will gospel who claims salvation is unsaved. Yet both groups will undeniably preach the core teachings. It is these that are the unifying element in Christianity, now I speak of True Christianity and not denominational Christianity. If Christians were thrown into a concentration camp, and those Christians were of different denominations, do you honestly think there would be doctrinal debates or would there be harmony based on the fact of the core doctrines of the faith?
Eph 4:4 (KJV)
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
Here the Bible tells us of the unity of the believers. First we are told that we are one body. This means that God has only one people for Himself and there is not one salvation program for the Gentiles and another one for the Jews. All are saved the same way which means all that are saved enter the body of Christ the same way. (1 Pet 2:9-10 KJV) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: {10} Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Then the Bible teaches us that there is one Spirit. This is speaking of the Holy Spirit who is the one responsible for indwelling the believer and joining them to the body of Christ. This means that there is only way to be a believer and that is for the Holy Spirit to indwell a person. (Rom 8:9 KJV) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Some call the Holy Spirit a force or an impersonal being. This is cultic and unbelieving interpretation. The Holy Spirit is eternal God and anyone who holds to another teaching, is not a child of God.
Then the Bible tells us we have one hope of our calling. That great hope is the looking forward to the return of the Lord Jesus. The Scriptures call it the Blessed Hope. (Titus 2:13 KJV) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; The great difference between Christianity and world religions is that we are expecting the Lord Jesus to return and take His Elect to glory with Him for eternity. We have been assured that those who are truly saved will have a place in Heaven and we never have to worry if we did enough works to gain God’s favor, etc. (1 Pet 1:4 KJV) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (1 John 5:13 KJV) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Eph 4:5 (KJV)
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
This passage is significant even though it is a small passage. During the time when the Apostle Paul was on earth, there were many religions in the ancient world and each one had its own lord. Paul is defining that Christianity has only one Lord and He is the Lord Jesus Christ. Even today there are cults and religions who place people as divinely inspired beings who claim the title of lord. This means that the Lord Jesus is Lord of all Christianity and that means every single Christian, no matter what the ethnic or previous religious background of a person was. The Bible is relating to us that there is unity among the brethren when we see the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of Christianity rather than a bunch of little lords in various denominations.
Then there is one faith. This means there can be no amalgamation of any worldly religion and Christianity. Christianity stands on its own because of the salvation program of God. Since the Lord Jesus Christ died for His Elect and God the Father draws those whom He plans to save, there is no way to become a Christian except through God’s appointment. This is why it is spoken of as a faith, since all world religions require works and even some denominations require works of their adherents to gain Heaven. If a person tries to add one work to Calvary, they have adulterated Christianity and have brought it down to man’s level that works will gain merit. The difference between Christianity and the world’s religion is that Christianity is a “Grace Faith” and the world religions are a “works plus faith” which renders them ineffective for salvation.
Then we are told it is one baptism. Many denominations look at this feel it is speaking of water baptism, especially those who feel that water baptism is a requirement for salvation. The baptism that is in view is a synonym for the washing away of our sins, and not water baptism. (1 Pet 3:21 KJV) The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Christian is baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ. It symbolizes a uniting of the two. As Christ was crucified so were we and as He was raised from the dead, so were we. (Rom 6:4 KJV) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (1 Cor 6:14 KJV) And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
Eph 4:6 (KJV)
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Paul finalizes this section of Scripture by teaching us that God the Father is one God and Father of us all. Now this verse is not speaking of the universality of the God of creation, it is speaking about Him being the true God and Father of the believers. We know this by the last verse which speaks of Him being in “you all” which is the believers. This is another case of when “all” is not “all.” We must look at this verse carefully that God is the salvation God of all the Elect which makes up only a small part of the world’s population. This verse also puts to death the idea that any mere mortal can be the Father of any Christian. I am speaking of salvation and not physical birth. The Pope in Rome is called “the holy father” which is a blasphemous application. Jesus called His Father “Holy Father” and is used only once in Scripture. (John 17:11 KJV) And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. To give a religious sinner this title is absolute blasphemy and irreverence. This is why the Bible is telling us specifically that God is the Father of Christians, but He is also the Most High above everything and everyone. God is the sovereign and sustainer of all things and people in the universe. So Paul winds up telling us that God is totally sovereign and that He exists in three equal persons, a great mystery.
Eph 4:7 (KJV)
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Now Paul moves from the church to the individual Christian. This verse is revealing to us that to every true Christian, we are given grace which is according to the measure of the gift of Christ. This means that we are going to always have a superabundance of grace in our life. That large measure of grace we receive will give strength to the Christian to walk worthy of the vocation (calling). We must also realize that the grace we receive is a gift and not something of ourselves. (1 Pet 4:10 KJV) As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Peter speaks of receiving the gift and that gift is salvation with all the responsibilities that go with it. This means that with grace comes the responsibility to minister to each other and by doing it we are being good stewards of that grace. If a Christian does nothing with the gift, then they are being bad stewards. Paul addresses the issue of spiritual gifts later on in this chapter.
Eph 4:8 (KJV)
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Here Paul teaches us about the resurrection and ascension of Christ. After Christ was ascended into Heaven, ten days later He sent the promise of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and that is when He also gave the individual spiritual gifts to His children. When Christ ascended He led captivity captive. This points to the fact that He came to free His Elect from the prison of Satan. (Isa 14:16-17 KJV) They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; {17} That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? Now the Elect of God are no longer in captivity in Satan’s prison but are now captives of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Tim 2:26 KJV) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Christ also conquered death and sin, two things which held man in captivity but now for God’s Elect, Christ is the one who holds these captive to His own will. (Heb 2:15 KJV) And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Satan no longer has any authority over those whom Christ has redeemed. (John 14:30 KJV) Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. Satan has nothing in Christ and he has nothing in us either. We are indwelled by the Spirit of Holiness and untouchable by the spirit of evil.
Eph 4:9 (KJV)
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
This verse is speaking of the resurrection of Christ. It speaks of the fact that the same Christ who ascended into Heaven is the very same one who was crucified and buried. This verse tells us that Christ was physically buried after His death, which signified that His death was real. There are many calumnies which have been formed to denigrate the truth of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
There are some who believe that this verse is telling us that after the death of Christ He went into hell and preached to the fallen angels and unbelievers, which is a ludicrous assumption. This thinking comes from the Roman Catholic belief that all the Old Testament Saints were waiting in a place of limbo and when Christ went there, He freed all of His Saints. The Bible does not teach such a notion. The Bible teaches that the Spirit of the Lord Jesus went back to heaven to be with His Father. (Luke 23:46 KJV) And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. His physical body was buried in a grave. (Luke 23:52-53 KJV) This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. {53} And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
(1 Pet 3:18-20 KJV) For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: {19} By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; {20} Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Some try to connect these verses with Ephesians 4:9. They try to make these 1 Peter verses a proof text for this idea that Christ went to Hell to preach to the spirits in prison during the time between the crucifixion and His resurrection. The 1 Peter verses will not support such a theory because when we look closer, we will see what these verses are really speaking of. “but quickened by the Spirit: {19} By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Notice this section of the passage. We see that the Lord Jesus Christ, when he was physically dead was quickened or made alive by the Spirit. Then the thought continues that it was through the same Spirit that Christ preached unto the spirits in prison. We see that it was not Christ who spoke to the spirits in prison but He spoke to them through the Holy Spirit. The essence of this passage is that it was Noah, who was indwelled with the Holy Spirit and because of that indwelling, Christ was able to preach the message He wanted to through Noah. We saw before about the spirits that were in prison. Remember the prison? (Isa 14:17 KJV) That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? Every unbeliever, no matter what time they lived in history is in the prison of Satan. Every Christian who brings the message of Salvation to unbelievers is bringing it to those prisoners. So Noah, like all other Christians, was proclaiming the message of Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By doing so, the Lord Jesus Christ will be leading “captivity captive.”
Eph 4:10 (KJV)
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Fill - “Complete, supply fully, or make full”
Now Paul is saying that the same Christ who was here on earth, and who was crucified, died, and was buried, and then rose on the third day and then ascended into Heaven, which is far above the earthly heavens which He created. His magnificence fills all the universe but the Bible is now focusing in on the reason that Christ came to Earth, to die for His Elect, the church. The Christians could not just roam the earth as spiritual wanderers, but each one needs a purpose of existence and to accomplish that, the Lord endowed every Christian with a spiritual gift to be able to accomplish the tasks which God has prepared for them. (Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Spiritual empowerment would make the task of evangelizing the world an orderly commission. When each Christian knows what spiritual gift Christ gave them, they can then begin to seek out the assignment Christ has for them and then commence the work. The spiritual gifts would fully supply the needs of the church for this task.
Eph 4:11 (KJV)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
APOSTLES - "one who is sent"
The apostles of the early church were those who received messages directly from Christ and who saw Him. They were the catalysts of the local churches. They were eyewitnesses to the miracles and/or teachings of Christ.
(Luke 1:2) Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
(2 Cor 12:12) Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
As the church began to expand, the word "apostle" began to take on a wider meaning and began to include those who were not eyewitnesses but were considered testimonies of the gospel of Christ. Barnabas was considered to be an apostle. (Acts 14:14) "Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out," There is no biblical evidence that he ever saw the Lord with his eyes. So as we see in Scripture, the term was widened in its usage to the point that all believers are, in essence, apostles, because we are sent. The Great Commission is our marching orders. We do not receive any new revelation but we use the Scriptures as our source of truth, plus every believer is a testimony to the grace of God.
PROPHETS - "One who declares God's Word"
I believe this gift has remained unchanged from the early church. The prophet was and is the person who declares God's Word, which means his entire life and mind are programmed to Scripture. He is the spiritual shop steward who raises the flag every time an incorrect doctrine is taught. He keeps the local assembly and the leaders biblically correct. His points of contention may seem petty but it must be remembered that a huge tree grows out of a small seed. So it is with false doctrines. All it needs is a foot in the door and it will begin to mushroom uncontrollably. If you think it cannot happen in your church, look around to the major denominations that were bastions of truth just 50 years ago.
EVANGELISTS - "Bringer of Good News"
This person has the ability to speak to large groups of people. They speak mainly on the redemptive part of the gospel. The evangelist is concerned with dispensing the gospel to as many people as possible. They view the spread of the gospel as their only reason of existence. They possess a burning desire in their souls to tell of the salvation God offers to man. Now in the smaller sense of the word, each believer is an evangelist. Each time you give a tract to someone or verbally witness, you are bringing the good news. You do it on a smaller scale and the evangelist does it on a larger scale.
PASTORS - "Shepherds"
The pastor is normally the head of a local assembly, having oversight of the flock. He is the spiritual leader and cares for all his people on an equal basis. He is there to encourage, counsel, motivate, and discipline. There is a little "pastor" in each of us as we minister to others or disciple them, we are being a shepherd to them. A godly pastor will show very good leadership ability. Those with dictatorial attitudes do not possess the gift of pastor.
TEACHERS - "An Instructor"
The teacher is the person who lives to dispense information. The teacher takes the Word of God and doles out information from it in a systematic way which will both inform and build up the Christian. The teacher's gift is so intense, they teach whether they are in an official or unofficial capacity. A teacher will be unable to stay in a church where they are not permitted or encouraged to exercise their gift. This is not pride but is the gift which God has placed within them for teaching and helping others to understand the Bible. The teacher also filters information to determine if certain teachings are true.
NOTE: Many pastors claim the title "Pastor-teacher" which they believe is one gift and not two. I have sought many Greek references and have not found these words to be one. The two words are always found with "kai" between them which is translated "and." It seems to separate two distinct words. However, the syntax may suggest a single gift, but I do not think it does. In verse 11-13 the word "tous" which translates "the" is found before each of the gifts listed, except teachers. Well I will not dwell on it here, I will let the Greek scholars debate it. I personally believe that pastors and teachers are two distinct gifts. One reason I believe this is there are many gifted women teachers out there yet God forbids them to be pastors. If it is one gift, then the women must become pastors to teach which would violate God's word. A pastor may have the gift of teaching which would coincide beautifully with his office of pastor. (Acts 13:1 KJV) Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. Notice this verse says, “prophets and teachers.” If the gift of teaching is only for pastors, then how does one explain “prophets and teachers?” The answer to this dilemma is found in 1 Corinthians 12:28 (1 Cor 12:28 KJV) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. God separates the gift of teaching which means it is a separate gift in the church. (1 Cor 12:29 KJV) Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Eph 4:12 (KJV)
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Perfecting - a Complete furnishing or training
Ministry - Service
Edifying - Building or Edification
Now we read the reasons that God gave spiritual gifts to the body of believers. The first reason we are given is the training or furnishing of the Saints. Now in Ephesians 4:12, we see the list of office gifts which are used and these particular gifts are those who teach the body of believers. This is done so Christians will continue to grow in the faith and as they become stronger in the faith, they will be bolder to go out and minister. Now every Christian has a ministry but not every Christian is in the ministry as an occupation. Those whom the Lord has given one of these gifts to has a heavy responsibility to train the body of believers. Basically what this group of Christians do is to train the body to go out into the world and present the Gospel in their particular spheres of influence.
Next we are told that the reason the body is being equipped is that they are to go out and minister. The idea that any Christian on Earth does not have a spiritual gift is either ignorance or an excuse for laziness. Either excuse does not hold biblical water. God has given every Christian a spiritual gift and a particular ministry to be involved with. Ignorance of your spiritual gift does not absolve a Christian from responsibility.
Next we are told this group of gifts is to be used to edify and build the Saints. With the existence of many types of false gospels the Christians need to be taught to be able to discern between the truth and false. (1 John 4:6 KJV) We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. By growing the body in the knowledge of the truth, they become grounded in that truth very deeply and then will not be able to be moved.
Eph 4:13 (KJV)
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Unity - Oneness (Eph. 4:3)
Perfect - Mature or Complete
Stature - Age or Maturity
These office gifts were given to Christians for the purpose of growing the body of believers in the faith and to root them and ground them in the Word. The end desired result of that program is to first of all, create a oneness in the body of Christ. We saw previously that all true Christians will agree on the core doctrines of the faith. It is doctrines like eschatology and soteriology where Christians will disagree but Paul wants to see the body of believers continue to grow together.
The Bible also tells us that we also need to come to the unity in belief in the knowledge of the Son of God. If the body of believers are going to attain unity, it must fully agree on who the Lord Jesus Christ is. We must agree on His deity, sacrifice, bodily resurrection, ascension, virgin birth, miraculous powers, and the return of Christ for His people. If the body of believers cannot agree on all these core beliefs about the Lord Jesus, then there can be no unity in the body. When the Bible speaks of the body, it speaks only of those who are truly born again, for there can be no unbelievers in the body of Christ. There is no such thing as a “saved unbeliever.”
Then the Bible says that there should be unity in the body of believers as unto a mature or complete man. This means that the goal of the body of believers should be unity as one man. (Ezra 3:1 KJV) And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. The idea of “one man” is that all parts of the body will work in concert with each other. The way the body of Christ is acting on earth is the left arm is punching the eye, the right arm is pulling the ear, the left leg is kicking the rump, and the right leg is kicking the stomach with the knee, etc. In other words, the way the body of Christ is now, it seems each part is working against the other parts. We should thank God that He is accomplishing His plans on earth despite us!
The goal is to grow fully into the fulness of Christ. The word “fulness” in this verse carries with it the meaning of “fulfillment or completion.” Our goal on earth is to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “stature” is used as a measuring word. A person can be of small stature like Zacchaeus but the word is now being used in reference to the stature of the fulness of Christ. The Christian is to grow as fully as they can in the Lord and the goal is to be as Christ is, that is, to have our spiritual lives grown in full maturity.
Eph 4:14 (KJV)
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;
Children - Infants
To and Fro - Being carried about
Sleight - (kubeia) - Gambling Cubes (dice) - Trickery
Craftiness - Shrewdness, subtlety, skill
Whereby they lie in wait - Systematizing or method
To deceive - Delude or error - Basically a straying
Here are the reasons that we are to come to the fulness of Christ and why we are to strive for maturity in the faith:
1) Children are easily captivated by the sensational and are easily targets for those who have devious plans. If we have grown in the faith and have matured, then we will no longer be as na´ve children, instead we will have fully formed spiritual faculties.
2) To and Fro - This means that the unsuspecting or immature Christian can be carried about by every doctrine they encounter. If their spiritual abilities are stunted in growth, then they will be prey for every false doctrine that comes along. A child may accept candy from someone and not realize there is poison in the middle but an adult will not accept any food except from people they know or have a reputation of trust.
3) We are now being warned as to what we can expect from the type of people who will try and derail us. The first type are those who use trickery. This is an interesting Greek word where we derive our word “cube” from. One of the biggest gambling devices ever invented was dice. Never enter a private dice game or you may be subjected to playing with loaded dice which means you are being tricked into losing your money.
4) Then we have the shrewd person who always seems to have the answer. They are like the silver-tongued salesman who sells you what you did not want to buy. They have skill at what they do and so does the false teacher who wants you to follow them. They may use the Bible but manipulate verses to make it fit to their own teachings. It will sound palatable but if you go behind the teachings and dig deeper you will find a quagmire of false gospel.
5) Then you have the people who systematize their teachings to try and give it credibility. They will link together many verses and try to create a stream of thinking which sounds good but in reality is false teaching. Their system will always produce a false result. If a person is not grown or growing in the faith, they might have a hard time distinguishing between the true and the false.
6) Then you have the people who will delude you into believing that they are something when they are not and that they have a viable teaching to offer. Be very careful of those people, including Christians, who feel they have found something new in the Scriptures. It is these people that will cause a great straying from the core belief of Christianity.
Eph 4:15 (KJV)
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Now based upon what we have heard we are to speak the truth in love. Unfortunately, too many Christians equate biblical love with wavering emotional love. It is also true that many Christians would rather lie to one another than speak the truth. The love that God has in view is not the Hollywood emotional love but it is the love of God which is the fruit of the Spirit in the believer. The love of God, when ruling in the believer’s life, will cause us to speak the truth and speaking the truth, no matter how hard it is, is always love. Now we do not have to deliver the truth in a mean or arrogant manner. We walk in love and that love is the obedience to God’s commands. (2 John 1:5-6 KJV) And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. {6} And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
When we look at the above verses, how then do we walk in love? Walking in love is walking or living according to the commandments of God. When we are engaging in a false gospel, we are no longer walking in the love of God. We have now traded the love of God for an intellectual love which will cause us to stray worse and worse with every false theory being sent our way.
The goal of the believer is to grow up into the fulness of Christ and to be a mature Christian. Some have stunted their growth because they have allowed Satan to enter their thought patterns with false teachings. The definite sign of Christian maturity is that we are able to spot a religious counterfeit and to rebuke them if possible, especially when we see them drawing people after themselves in error. Paul also reminds his readers that Christ is the head of the church. He does this to halt the possibility of a false teacher claiming lordship over the flock of God and claiming to be head. False teachers love to exalt themselves as having new insights and the ability to do the interpretation for their followers. While we are to respect true Christian leaders, they are never to be respected or revered above Christ, who is their head as well as ours.
Eph 4:16 (KJV)
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.
Fitly Joined Together - Joined and knit together
Compacted - To unite or bring together
Edifying - Building up
This verse continues the final thought from verse 15 about the Lord Jesus Christ. It is He who joined the body of believers together and united us in Him. This makes the body of Christ, as we saw in the prior verse, as one man. Every part of the body is working in concert with Christ as the head. Paul compares the body of Christ with the human body and how it functions. The human body continues to grow until it reaches a point of maturity. When it reaches maturity, it then only needs maintenance and repairs. This is akin to those who are mature in the faith that need to continue to study the Bible so their proper biblical understanding will be maintained.
The body of Christ is fit together by the means of each Christian receiving a spiritual gift or gifts. (1 Cor 12:11 KJV) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. Each spiritual gift when used properly will increase the body of Christ as we read where the Scripture says, “to the effectual working in the measure of every part.” This portion of Scripture teaches us that we are to use those spiritual gifts which we have received. Just think if every Christian who had the gift of teaching would employ it, how much real biblical materials we would have which would help increase the strength and influence of the body of Christ.
We see that word measure again and it means that every Christian is to utilize their spiritual gift in the measure it was given to them, which is in proportion to their power that every part of the body must labor for the good of the rest of the body. This way when the whole body is being utilized, then no one is bearing excessive burden and no one is being lazy and not doing their part. The problem is that it is easier to sit down and listen to a CD rather than hitting the study desk. When all Christians work in concert, then that is when the body of Christ continues to increase. All one needs to do is look at the time immediately after the Reformation and one will see how the power of Rome was almost totally broken in Europe. Why? Because those whom God appointed to be teachers, went and proclaimed the true Gospel and the people started to come out of the Dark Ages and ridding themselves of superstition. When the body of Christ works together, a bond of love forms between those who work together. This is just an aside, I have known and heard many couples who have become married when they met working on some type of project. The goal of every Christian is to help increase the body of Christ. Unfortunately the body of Christ suffers from Cancer. That cancer is false doctrines seeping in and causing sickness in the body.