December 18, 2012

Book: Ephesians



Many are familiar with Quaker Oats, but not many are familiar with a group called Quakers. Quakers are members of a group of Christians with their roots in England during the 17th Century. The name ‘Quakers’ is probably derived from the religious experience of physical shaking that this group had.
They were and still are very peculiar from the rest of the people.  They are known for using the pronoun, ‘thee’ to address one another.  There is a story about two old Quakers.  As they were chatting, the one said to the other, “You know, sometimes I think that everyone in the world is a bit off except for me and thee. And, sometimes I wonder about thee!”} Sometimes, we are like that Quaker.

We think that only we see things from the right perspective and others don’t see things as they must be seen. When you put two people together for a period of time, they will likely have differences because both of them see things differently. For instance, when a man and a woman get married and start living together, inevitably there will be friction and misunderstanding. When it comes to a church of 50 members or 100 members, the potential for friction and misunderstanding increases drastically.
But unity in the body of Christ is very important to God.

Before Jesus gave up his life for us, he prayed: “that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:11

In today’s passage, Apostle Paul expresses a similar concern. Would you take God’s Word and turn your Bibles with me to EPHESIANS 4:1-6 (READ)? I have entitled today’s sermon: “MAINTAIN THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT!” In the passage that we read today, we see that:


Paul exhorts the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling so that they can maintain the unity of the Spirit and gives them the basis to maintain that unity.
In Ephesians 2:14-16, Apostle Paul reminds the Ephesians that God brought together two groups, Jews and Gentiles, who were earlier hostile to each other.
Jews and Gentiles are now “one new man” and the hostility between the two groups is killed. So, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to maintain the unity that the Spirit had given them.
CENTRAL PROPOSITION OF THE SERMON: We must be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.


Read Ephesians 4:1: I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
As in his other letters, Apostle Paul talks about practical concerns after talking about theological issues (in Ephesians 1-3).
The word ‘therefore’ signals this transition. There is a movement from theology to ethics. In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul talks about what God did for us. Beginning with this chapter, he tells us what our responsibilities are. Our behaviour must reflect our gratitude to God. Paul refers to himself as “a prisoner for the Lord.”
This phrase is a double entendre, that is, he is both a prisoner of Christ and a prisoner for Christ. Paul wrote this letter from prison. Paul appeals to the Ephesians to be committed to the Lord by emphasizing his own costly commitment to the Lord.

Apostle Paul “urges” the Ephesians that they must “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” “Worthy” (lit., “bringing up the other beam of the scales”) suggests that there must be a balance between one’s profession and one’s practice. This is a very comprehensive and general exhortation. The rest of the epistle amplifies how they have to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. So, we must walk in a manner worthy of our calling in light of what God has done for us through Christ.God’s calling not only gives us great privileges, but it places huge responsibilities on our shoulders.Today, the Lord is telling us that we must walk in a manner worthy of our calling.


After emphasizing the need to walk in a manner worthy of our calling in verse 1, Paul explains the manner in which we must walk in verse 2.
Read Ephesians 4:2: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

A. Walk with all humility and gentleness.

These two graces are joined by one preposition, ‘with.’
The word ‘all’ refers to both humility and gentleness.
Greek literature looked down upon the virtues of humility and gentleness.
But, as followers of Christ, our lifestyle must be counter-cultural and we must follow Christ’s example: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29).
Read Philippians 2:3-4: 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
QUOTE: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” ~ C. S. Lewis
ILLUSTRATION: {Barclay: To face oneself is the most humiliating thing in the world.Most of us dramatize ourselves.
Somewhere there is a story of a man who before he went to sleep at night dreamed his waking dreams.
He would see himself as the hero of some thrilling rescue from the sea or from the flames;
he would see himself as an orator holding a vast audience spell-bound;
 he would see himself walking to the wicket in a Test Match at Lord’s and scoring a century;
 he would see himself in some international football match dazzling the crowd with his skill;
 always he was the centre of the picture.
 Most of us are essentially like that.
 And true humility comes when we face ourselves and see our weakness, our selfishness, our failure in work and in personal relationships and in achievement.
 ~ William Barclay}
 Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23).
 The Graeco-Roman world viewed meekness (gentleness) as a weakness, but the New Testament teaches it as a virtue.
 In order to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, we must be humble and gentle.

B. Walk with patience.
 This word can also be translated as ‘long-suffering.’
 Chrysostom defined patience as the spirit which has the power to take revenge but never does so.
 God is patient (Exodus 34:6) and we must imitate him.
 Since the Lord is patient with us, we must be patient towards one another: And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
 QUOTE: Peter T. O’Brien says, “‘Patience’ is that longsuffering which makes allowance for others’ shortcomings and endures wrong rather than flying into a rage or desiring vengeance.”
 Patience is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

C. Bear with one another in love.
 This is a participle that serves as an imperative.
 The phrase “bearing with one another in love” clarifies the meaning of patience.
 We must not merely bear with one another grudgingly, but we must “bear one another in love.”
 Read Colossians 3:13: bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
 When we bear with one another in love, we walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling.
 This behavior is possible only by God’s love.
 In Ephesians 3:17, Paul prays that the Ephesians would be “rooted and grounded in love.”
 Here, he reminds them to bear with one another in love.
 Since all of us have our own weaknesses, we must learn to bear one another’s faults.
 None of us will attain perfection on this earth.
 So, we must learn to bear one another in love.
 Is there someone whose personality or actions really annoys you?
 Then, pray for that person.
 The Lord will make your heart soft towards that person and he will give peace in your heart.

 మన పిలుపుకు తగినట్లుగా నడుచుకోవడం యొక్క ఉద్దేశ్యం—ఐక్యతను కాపాడటం.
 Read Ephesians 4:3: eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
 The phrase “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is an imperative.
 Without the above graces, we cannot maintain the unity of the Spirit.
 In the original Greek, the verb that Paul uses has an element of urgency.
 He is saying to them, “maintain the unity of the Spirit now!”
 We can’t create unity among the body of Christ.
 This unity is created by the Spirit, but we must maintain the unity of the Spirit.
 In Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul talks about the unity that the Jewish and Gentile believers have in Christ.
 John Stott states that this unity is as “indestructible as God himself.”
 This unity is won through Christ’s death on the cross (Ephesians 2:14-18).
 We have the responsibility to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
 When we disturb the unity of God’s people or even if we are disinterested in maintaining this unity, we belittle the work of Christ on the cross.
 We prove that we don’t care about the purpose for which Christ died.
 The unity of the Spirit must be maintained “in the bond of peace.”
 Peace is the bond in which their unity is kept.
 The word ‘bond’ in Greek is ‘syndesmos’ which means a ‘fastener,’ something that holds things together.
 Peace is the ‘fastener’ that keeps the church united.
 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
 Our words should not provoke others, but they should promote peace.
 Our actions should not put down others, but they must promote peace.
 When we walk in a manner worthy of our calling, we can maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 మన ఐక్యతకు ఆధారం దేవుని ఐక్యతనే.
 Read Ephesians 4:4-6: 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
 In verses 4-6, Apostle Paul presents seven acclamations that emphasize the unity of God as the basis of his appeal.
 Each of these acclamations begins with the word “one.”
 Paul begins with “one body” (church) because that’s his primary concern in this passage.
 The Jews and Gentiles are part of this “one body.”
 He reminds the Ephesians that they are one body and thus they need to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
 “One Spirit” indwells this “one body.”
 Read 1 Corinthians 12:13: For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
 “Just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call” (read verse 4) points to verse 1 where Apostle Paul exhorts the Ephesians to walk according to their calling.
 Paul is referring to the hope of sharing Christ’s glory at the end of the age (1 John 3:2).
 Paul goes on to mention the second triad, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (read verse 5)
 “Lord” was the title used for Yahweh in the Old Testament.
 However, the same title was used for Christ as well.
 Paul is referring to Christ here.
 Paul recognized Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9).
 For both Jews and Gentiles, there is “one faith” because there is “one Lord.”
 Further, there is “one baptism” because there is “one Lord” in whom all believers are united.
 Read Galatians 3:27-28: 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 In Ephesians 4:5, Paul is probably referring to both water baptism as well as baptism in the Spirit.
 Then, Paul praises “one God and Father of all” because of his universal authority and presence. (read verse 6)
 Paul says something similar in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6.
 Read 1 Corinthians 8:5-6: 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: God reigns “over” all in his transcendent sovereignty; he works “through” all in his creative activity; he dwells “in” all by reason of his immanent pervasiveness.
 Peter T. O’Brien states, “His universal rule is being exercised to fulfil his ultimate purpose of unifying all things in Christ.”
 Our unity is based on the unity of God.
 We must not divide ourselves as it would be working against the nature of God and the nature of our faith.

 CENTRAL PROPOSITION OF THE SERMON: We must be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit [మనము ఆత్మ కలిగించు ఐక్యతను కాపాడుటకు శ్రద్ధ కలిగి ఉండాలి]. (Slide# 8)
 Today, I want to exhort each one of you to consciously make efforts to maintain the unity that the Spirit has created.
 It involves conscious and deliberate efforts.
 Be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker.
 I want to encourage you to call someone, visit someone, talk to someone and reconcile with the person that you hurt or with the person that hurt you.
 Be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit!