by Mike Ratliff
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25 ESV)
On one hand, we are commanded in Sacred Scripture to stand firm while holding to God’s truth as “The Truth” with no exceptions. On the other hand, we are also commanded in the same Word of God to walk in unity with the whole Body of Christ. Unfortunately, many today insist on the latter while teaching that in order to obey it we must totally neglect the former. I read the Bible through each year totally outside of my studies. I find it very interesting to be reading through several chapters of a book in the Old or New Testament and come across passages that I have used in developing a post or a teaching. It is then that I pause and put those passages into the context of the whole. In this, we learn to be more careful with God’s Word by keeping everything in its proper context. Those who excise segments of Sacred Scripture outside of their proper context run a great danger of error. One example is found in Ephesians 4 in which Paul calls for the Church to be unified in love while not being divided over “every wind of doctrine.” Some have used this passage in attempts to silence our call for the Church to return to adherence to proper doctrine.
We will focus on Ephesians 4:1-16. In this passage, the Apostle Paul moves from the doctrinal truths he has given us in the first 3 chapters of this epistle to exhortation. What he gives us in these 16 verses is life application based completely in the doctrinal truths found in the doctrines presented in Ephesians 1-3.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV)
1παρακαλω ουν υμας εγω ο δεσμιος εν κυριω αξιως περιπατησαι της κλησεως ης εκληθητε 2μετα πασης ταπεινοφροσυνης και πραυτητος μετα μακροθυμιας ανεχομενοι αλληλων εν αγαπη 3σπουδαζοντες τηρειν την ενοτητα του πνευματος εν τω συνδεσμω της ειρηνης 4εν σωμα και εν πνευμα καθως [και] εκληθητε εν μια ελπιδι της κλησεως υμων 5εις κυριος μια πιστις εν βαπτισμα 6εις θεος και πατηρ παντων ο επι παντων και δια παντων και εν πασιν (Ephesians 4:1-6 WHNU)
Encourage then you I the prisoner in Master worthily to walk around of the call of which you were called, with all humblemindedness and gentleness, with long temper, enduring one another in love. Being diligent to keep the oneness of the spirit in the co-chain of the peace; one body and one spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of the call of you; one Master, one trust, one immersion, one God and father of all, the one on all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 word-for-word translation from Koine Greek to English)
All who are in Christ are one calling. We are all part of those who should be praising God continually “…who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him…” (Ephesians 1:3-4) I firmly believe that the visible church we see is not the definition of this body described here. No, it contains a large number of religious people, but only a subset of them is part of these elected by God. These elected Christians are the invisible Church, the real Church, the real Body of Christ. The call here is for those of us in this body to be unified in the one calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The Greek word Paul used in v2 for the “love” with which we are to bear with one another is αγαπη. Αγαπη is love, however, this word is not found in Classical Greek, but only in revealed religion. The KJV translators rendered this word as “charity” because it means benevolent love. However, this benevolence is not shown by doing what the person loved desires but what the one who loves deems as needed by the one loved (e.g. John 3:16). However, the the action word in v2 is “bearing” or “enduring.” This is the Greek word ανεχομενοι, which describes the action of holding up against a thing; to bear with or endure. The KJV translates it here as “forbearing.” In v2, ανεχομενοι is a present participle. This expresses continuous or repeated action relative to the main verb. This continual action is true regardless of the grammar structure of the verb. In this passage, in v1, it is περιπατησαι, which is translated in the ESV as “to walk.” In other words our Christian walk, which is how we should conduct ourselves at all times, should be marked as Paul describes in vv1-6.
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:7-16 ESV)
Here is the Greek for the bold section of this passage.
11και αυτος εδωκεν τους μεν αποστολους τους δε προφητας τους δε ευαγγελιστας τους δε ποιμενας και διδασκαλους 12προς τον καταρτισμον των αγιων εις εργον διακονιας εις οικοδομην του σωματος του χριστου 13μεχρι καταντησωμεν οι παντες εις την ενοτητα της πιστεως και της επιγνωσεως του υιου του θεου εις ανδρα τελειον εις μετρον ηλικιας του πληρωματος του χριστου 14ινα μηκετι ωμεν νηπιοι κλυδωνιζομενοι και περιφερομενοι παντι ανεμω της διδασκαλιας εν τη κυβεια των ανθρωπων εν πανουργια προς την μεθοδειαν της πλανης 15αληθευοντες δε εν αγαπη αυξησωμεν εις αυτον τα παντα ος εστιν η κεφαλη χριστος 16εξ ου παν το σωμα συναρμολογουμενον και συμβιβαζομενον δια πασης αφης της επιχορηγιας κατ ενεργειαν εν μετρω ενος εκαστου μερους την αυξησιν του σωματος ποιειται εις οικοδομην εαυτου εν αγαπη (Ephesians 4:11-16 WHNU)
And himself gave he indeed delegates, the but spokesmen, the but tellers of good message, the but shepherds and teachers, toward the putting in order of the holy ones to work of service, to building of the body of Christ, until might arrive the all into the oneness of the trust and the perception of the son of the God, to man complete, into measure of stature of the fullness of the Christ, that no longer we might be infants, being tossed by waves and being carried around in all wind of the teaching in the trickery of the men, in trickery toward the scheming of the deceit, telling truth but in love we might grow into him the all, who is the head, Christ, from whom all the body being joined together and being forced together through all ligament of the support by operation in measure of one each part the growth of the body makes itself into building itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 word-for-word translation from Koine Greek to English)
If you listen with godly discernment very long to the “new” concepts of Christianity in our time, whatever they call themselves, you will clearly see that the push is to a nebulous concept of the truth. There is a call for tolerance for every form of religious “opinion.” There can be no dogmatism for to hold to the true biblical form of Christianity is to be exclusive. There is only one truth and all else is not it. In this passage we see that it is God Himself who gives us our doctrines and leaders whose job it is to teach us the truth in love so that we might arrive together in oneness within this truth. Those who are not blinded to God’s truth (there are so many today who are obviously blind to what is truth and what is not) will be growing together in Christ on this firm, solid foundation. When “new” concepts and man-made forms of “christianity” come along, these will not be tossed to and fro by these winds of false doctrine. No, instead, they will remain solidified in God’s truth in oneness and αγαπη. The deceit, scheming, and trickery of those who belong to our enemy will have no power over these. Yes, they may persecute and abuse those who are not tricked by them, but God will never lose one of His (Romans 8).
Be edified my brethren. If you are on this firm foundation you are growing in oneness with the Body of Christ. You may be suffering for Christ’s sake in this, but I encourage you to keep your focus on our Lord alone. Remember what He did to purchase you. Do you think He will lose even one of those who He has bought with His blood?
To those of you offended by this message. I pray that you will repent and seek the truth at the throne of Grace and from God’s Word. I pray that you will obey Him and in this turn from your man-made religiosity to the Jesus who is vastly different than how the majority of the visible Church presents Him.
Soli Deo Gloria!