by Mike Ratliff
1 Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, encourage you to walk worthy of the calling by which you were called, 2 with all humility of mind and meekness with long-suffering forbearing one another in love, 3 being eager to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
About the time I completed my exegetical study of Ephesians 1-2, which was titled “God’s Purpose for the Church,” we learned that my nephew Travis, who had had a brain tumor removed about 4 years ago and had been declared cancer free earlier this year, had begun to have severe headaches and seizure-like symptoms again. Tests showed that he had another tumor in a different part of his brain that was growing rapidly. His surgeon was able to remove most of it and utilized some very new treatments that will, hopefully, kill it. We thank all of you for your prayers for Travis and his family as well as my sister and her family. I learned a great deal from this in the matters of grace and the working of the Spirit in the body of Christ. Genuine Christian faith is genuine Christian faith regardless of whether everyone who possesses it agrees completely on matters of religiosity or not. We do not determine that, God does.
Please read Ephesians 4:1-3, which I placed at the top of this post. What is to be our demeanor in how we deal with each other as fellow believers? Paul starts out by reminding the Ephesians that he is writing the epistle from prison and that he is prison because of his ministry. That means that the faithful Christian walk can be costly and that, like him, we can pay a considerable personal price if we remain faithful to our Lord in the face of persecution. From that “reminder,” Paul encourages us all to walk our Christian walk “worthy of the calling by which we were called…” What does that mean? Our “walk” refers to our daily conduct. Paul is calling for all believers to “walk” in such a way their lives match their position in Christ which is the outcome of the effectual “calling” by God himself. No one comes to Christ unless effectually called by God: Romans 1:18; 11:29; 1 Corinthians 1:26; Philippians 3:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1.
The term “humility of mind” translates ταπεινοφροσύνης (tapeinophrosynēs), the genitive, singular case of ταπεινοφροσύνη (tapeinophrosynē), “humility, lowliness of mind, the esteeming of ourselves small inasmuch as we are so; the real estimate of ourselves.” This word was not found in the Greek vocabularies of Paul’s day. Christians apparently coined it, perhaps even by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available. This humility, the most foundational Christian virtue (James 4:6), is the quality of character commanded in our Lord’s first beatitude (Matthew 5:3), and describes the noble grace of Christ (Phlippians 2:7,8). Obviously meekness flows from humility. It is that which is mild-spirited and self-controlled (Matthew 5:5; 11:29; Galatians 5:23; Colossians 3:12). Long-suffering is a resolved patience that is an outgrowth of humility and meekness and gentleness. Now, with all that in mind read the rest of v2, “forbearing one another in love…” All those attributes before combine and are reflected in this forbearing love for others that is continuous and unconditional (1 Peter 4:8).
What, then, is this “oneness of the Spirit” in v3? It is the Spirit-bestowed oneness of all true believers (1 Corinthians 6:17; 12:11-13; Philippians 1:27; 2:2), which has created the bond of peace, the spiritual cord that surrounds and binds God’s holy people together. This bond is love (Colossians 3:14).
4 As there is one body and one Spirit, as also you were called with one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all the one over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
Just as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who are united in ways beyond our comprehension yet each work according to God’s eternal plan in accomplishing his will in completing the body of Christ, we are to understand that all in Christ are within that same calling, the same hope, the same faith, the same baptism into Christ and we all have the same God, therefore, let us be unified in love in our humble walk before our Holy, Righteous, and Just God who has saved us by grace through faith according to his own will and plan.
Soli Deo Gloria!