Ephesians 4:1-16



v. 1 – “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called”


In the last eight verses of the last chapter, Paul  prayed to God on the behalf

of the Ephesians that He would bestow on them the full measure of His grace

to which they were entitled.


Their call was to be God’s people and with true grace in their hearts, God’s

people must show it by true goodness in their lives.  It is called a “walk” –

a Christian walk – “Enoch walked with God” and he pleased Him!


This walk is both a great obligation and a great blessing.  Every Christian

congregation should have a number of model Christians fitted to be examples

to all the rest – the elders and elderly people especially.


v. 2 – “with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one

            another in love” – a list of some passive graces that are characteristic

            of a “worthy walk”.


The points of a worthy walk are:  (1) lowliness (2) meekness (3) longsuffering

(4) forbearing one another (5) trying to keep peace


This passage speaks volumes.


Consistency is our aim, the world has a keen eye for inconsistencies in

Christians and exposes them mercilessly!  It gives them comfort to continue

in sin and to blaspheme the name of God.


Sins detestable in the godly are thought of as nothing in the world.  If

Nebuchadnezzar had done what David did to Uriah, no one would have

thought much about it.


A consistent walk with God is within reach of us all and the Holy Spirit

enables us.  “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become

the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name”  - John 1:12 - We are

to be an unrefutable sermon to the world.  Let us all preach this sermon,

though it be your only one!


(1)  A walk of:  Lowliness – humbleness, from a chastened sense of sin and






(2) Meekness – An inwrought grace of the soul, chiefly towards God, that

                        temper of spirit where we accept God’s dealings with us as good

                        and therefore without disputing or resisting.  It is closely linked

                        with the word humble, the meek heart which does not fight

                        against God or more or less struggle with Him.


Meekness is the natural expression of a lowly state of mind, opposed to boisterous

self-assertion and rude striving with others; it genders a subdued manner and a

peace-loving spirit that studies to give the soft answer that turneth away wrath.

(Proverbs 15:1)


In Galatians 5:23, meekness is associated with self-control. 


Of Jesus, I Peter 3:23 says “Who when He was reviled, reviled not again, when He

suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously”


prau`>thv, prah-oo’-tace; from (4239) (prau`>v); mildness, i.e.

(by implication) humility: — meekness.


The meaning of prautes is not readily expressed in English, for the terms meekness, mildness,

commonly used, suggest weakness, whereas prautes does nothing of the kind.  Nevertheless, it is difficult to find a rendering less open to objection than “meekness”;  gentleness” has been suggested, but as prautes describes a condition of mind and heart, and as “gentleness” is

appropriate rather to actions, this word is no better than that used in both English versions. 

It must clearly be understood, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power.  The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was “meek” because He had the infinite resources of God at His

command.   Described negatively, meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-

interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because

it is not occupied with self at all!   (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)


Meekness is one of the nine graces of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23 – it brings

us nearer and nearer to Him who was pre-eminently “meek and lowly of

spirit” – Matthew 11:29 – and it has the promise of the earth for an

inheritance – Matthew 5:5.


(3) Longsuffering and

(4) Forbearance - patience, opposite to hastiness, crankiness,

                                 touchy, testy, or cross -


Long-suffering and loving forbearance are phases of the same state of mind — denoting the absence of that irascibility and proneness to take offence which flares up at every provocation or fancied neglect, and strives to maintain self-control on every occasion.





EXERCISED.Forbearing one another in love.” Christians are not to

resent injuries or retaliate for wrongs done to them, but are to bear with

each other’s infirmities, to cover each other’s weaknesses, to pity each

other’s frailties, and to forgive the provocations they inflict upon each

other. This is to be done, not from a principle of merely worldly courtesy

or from contemptuous indifference, but from that love which “suffereth

long, and is kind.” It is “charity which covereth a multitude of sins,” just as

surely as “hatred stirreth up strife” (Proverbs 10:12).


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It is from such qualities in God that our redemption has come; it is miserable to accept the redemption and not try to attain and exhibit its true spirit. Neglect of this verse has produced untold evil in the Christian Church.


Ver. 3. Striving to keep the unity of the Spirit. Spouda>zontev is stronger than the A.V. “endeavoring,” and denotes an object to be carefully and earnestly watched for and promoted.  The use of the word “endeavoring” implies that it may be kept with a greater

or lesser degree of fidelity.


spouda>zw, — spoo-dad’-zo; from (4710) (spoudh>); to use

speed, i.e. to make effort, be prompt or earnest: — do (give)

diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study.


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(5) Keeping “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”


There is a danger of breaking the unity of the Spirit – a readiness to take offense,

pride getting in the way, forgetting others and its effects on the Christian work.


These graces have reference mainly to our daily social life.


Those who are combative, censorious, careless of peace, do not walk worthy

of their vocation!


vs. 4-6 – Where unity exists, it consists of seven particulars:


We are called by the God of peace, redeemed by Christ who is our Peace,

sanctified by the Spirit whose fruit is peace, and edified by the gospel

of peace, that we may walk as sons of peace.


(1)  One body – the church

(2)  One Spirit – The Holy Spirit – the Third Person of the Trinity, who alone                                   applies the redemption of Christ, and works in the membership

                             of the church with the graces of the new creation.

(3)  One hope – of eternal life at the Second Appearing of Jesus Christ

(4)  One Lord – The Son of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – unique and

                            beyond comparison.  Isaiah 40:18

(5)  One faith – the instrument of receiving salvation through Jesus Christ

(6)  One baptism – the one initiatory rite into the visible church that is symbolic

                                 of the washing of regeneration.

(7)  One God and Father of all,…..above all,…..through all, …in you all –

       (See I Corinthians 15:24-28)


One God and Father of all. We rise now to the fountain of Godhead, the one

supreme Being with whom all have to do, the only Being who is or can be the

Father of us all; who can be to us what is implied in the name “Father,” whose

love and grace can satisfy our hearts. Who is over all; the supreme and only Potentate, exercising undivided jurisdiction, “doing according to his will in the armies of heaven.” etc. And through all; pervading the whole universe, sustaining and ruling it, not dwelling apart from his works, but pervading them; not, however, in any pantheistical

sense, but as a personal God, whose essence is separate from his works.  And in all.   A closer and more abiding influence; He dwells in them, and walks in them, molding their inner being, and filling them with his own light and love.  (to the brim with all

“the fullness of God  - ch. 3:19)


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There is much inward agreement wherever the Spirit of God works!


“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

The danger of breaking the unity of the Spirit is great; readiness to take offence, pride, regardlessness of the welfare of others, forgetfulness of the vast Christian work and warfare committed to us, are temptations to this. On the other hand, the habitual striving after the graces enumerated above, and trying to exercise them habitually, tend to preserve the unity of the Spirit.


v. 7 – To each and “every one of us is given grace” – not in equal measures as

            the manna in the wilderness but these graces are varied.  What each

            gets, he gets for the good of the rest.  The Church is a fellowship or

            brotherhood, where each has an interest in all, and all in each, and is

            bound to act accordingly.







DIVERSITY OF GIFTS. As in the human body there are many members

with different functions, so the Church is “not one member, but many.”

Diversity of gift, so far from being inconsistent with unity, is really essential

to it. “If all were one member, where were the body?” All the great

purposes of life would be frustrated if every part of the organism did not

find its due place.



This does not say that any one member has all gifts. Each has received his

measure. There are those who would make the Church all “tongue,” as if

all were called to the gospel ministry. The gifts differ both in nature and in

measure. One has the gift of speech, another the gift of sagacity, another

the gift of enterprise, another the gift of sympathy, another the gift of

wealth and influence. All ought to be contributory to the unity of the




TRACED TO CHRIST. The position of each member in the body is not

determined by itself, but by God. The eye does not make itself the eye, nor

the hand the hand. So the position of believers in the Church is determined,

not by themselves, but by Christ. The grace “is given according to the

measure of the gift of Christ.” Christ is the Source of all spiritual gifts, and

he determines their adjustment as well as their amount. He does not give

according to our merit, or our capacity, or our desires, but according to his

sovereign pleasure. There is, therefore,


(1) no room for self-inflation if we have received the largest gifts;


(2) there is no room for envy or jealousy because others have received

more gifts than ourselves;


(3) but rather an argument in the fact that one has a grace which another

wants, for our helping each other in the Lord. Thus the true unity of the

Church is promoted.


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When I once coached basketball at Hopkinsville High School, we played Central

City.  When their players came out of a huddle, they would say a chant that was

hard for the bystander to understand.  Years later, I talked to Coach Wayne Devine,

at the State Tournament and asked him about it.  He said they were saying “All for

one and one for all”  - a good practice for basketball teams and churches!



vs. 8-10 - Wherefore He saith, When He ascended on high He led

captivity captive, and received gifts for men. The speaker is God, the

author of Scripture, and the place is the sixty-eighth psalm. That psalm is a

psalm of triumph, where the placing of the ark on Zion is celebrated as if it

had been a great victory. As this quotation shows, the psalm in its deepest

sense is Messianic, celebrating the victory of Christ. The substance rather

than the words of the passage are given, for the second person (“thou hast

ascended,” etc.) is changed into the third; and whereas in the psalm it is

said, “gave gifts to men,” as modified by the apostle it is said, “received

gifts for men.” As in a literal triumph, the chiefs of the enemy’s army are

led captive, so the powers of darkness were led captive by Christ

(captivity, aijcmalwsi>a, denotes prisoners); and as on occasion of a

triumph the spoils of the enemy are made over to the conqueror, who again

gives them away among the soldiers and people, so gifts were given to

Christ after his triumph to be given by him to his Church. We must not

force the analogy too far: the point is simply this — as a conqueror at a

triumph gets gifts to distribute, so Christ, on His resurrection and

ascension, got the Holy Spirit to bestow on His Church (comp.Ephesians 1:22).


Ver. 9. Now (the fact) that He ascended, what does it imply but that

He descended first? The ascent implied a previous descent; that is, the

ascent of the Son of God — of one who was Himself in heaven, who was in

the bosom of the Father (comp. John 3:13), implied that He had come

down from heaven, a striking proof of His interest in and love for the

children of men. And the descent was net merely to the ordinary condition

of humanity, but to a more than ordinarily degraded condition, not merely

to the surface of the earth, but to the lower parts of the earth. This has

sometimes been interpreted of Hades, but surely without reason. If the

expression denotes more than Christ’s humble condition, it probably means

the grave. This was the climax of Christ’s humiliation; to be removed out

of men’s sight, as too offensive for them to look on — to be hidden away

in the depths of the earth, in the grave, was indeed supremely humbling.

The object is to show that, in bestowing gifts on men, Christ did not merely

bring into play His inherent bountifulness as the Son of God, but acted as

Mediator, by right of special purchase, through His work of humiliation on

earth; and thus to lead us to think the more highly both of the Giver and of

his gifts.


Ver. 10. He that descended is the same also that ascended far

above all the heavens. There was a proportion between the descent and

the ascent. His descent was deep — into the lower parts of earth; but His

ascent was more glorious than His descent had been humbling. The Hebrew

idea of various heavens is brought in; the ascent was not merely to the third

heaven, but far above all heavens. That he might fill all things. A very

sublime view of the purpose for which Christ reigns on high. The specific

idea with which the apostle started — to give gifts to men — is swallowed

up for the moment by a view far grander and more comprehensive, “to fill

all things.” Jesus has gone on high to pour His glory and excellence over

every creature in the universe who is the subject of grace, to be the Light

of the world, the one Source of all good. As in the solar system it is from

one sun that all the supplies of light and heat come, all the colors that

beautify earth, sea, and sky, all the influences that ripen the grain and

mature the fruit, all the chemical power that transforms and new-creates;

so the ascended Jesus is the Sun of the universe; all healing, all life, all

blessing are from Him. It is quite in the manner of the apostle, when he

introduces the mention of Christ, to be carried, in the contemplation of His

person, far above the immediate occasion, and extol the infinite perfection

and glory that distinguish him.


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The grand object of the apostle in this section of his Epistle is to show the

ample provision made by Christ for the welfare of his Church and show the

Lord’s earnest desire to raise His Church to the highest possible condition of

grace and honor; to make her complete and glorious, as the one body of which

He is the Head, the one vessel into which He is to pour all His fullness, the bride

on whom He is to exhaust every ornament. The marks of Christ’s care for His Church are innumerable; they recede back through all eternity and forward for evermore (Ephesians 3:18, 19).




vs. 12-16 – one sentence


v. 11 – “And He gave some….” – The organization of the Church is not

                                                         a mere human arrangement; its officers

                                                         are of Divine appointment.


(1) apostles – had their commission straight from Christ and it was

                        required of them that they  had seen the Lord

(2) prophets – messengers of God’s will, present and future

(3) evangelists – more general work of spreading the gospel over larger areas

                      than pastors

(4) pastors – settled ministers of congregations, overseers of the flock

                      and leaders in the right ways of the Lord

(5) teachers – communicators of Divine knowledge


v. 12  Christ has a work of perfection on hand.




            “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,

            for the edifying of the body of Christ…..unto a perfect man,

            unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” – this

            was the ultimate end for which the gifts were bestowed.  What

            a high aim with reference to creatures so poor and needy as the

            members of His church.


They are not mere promoters of civilization, men of culture planted among

the rude, but instruments for advancing men to complete holiness.


Their offices were not as “lords” but as “servants” as Christ Himself was!


Matthew 20:28


for the building up of the body of Christ” -   bringing bone to its bone and

sinew to its sinew, increasing the number of believers, and promoting the spiritual

life of each; carrying on all their work as Christ’s servants and with a definite eye to the promotion of the great work which He undertook when He came to seek and to save the lost.


v. 13 – “Until we all come” – the duration of the ministry


“to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God” - a state which shall characterize all – trust in the Son of God based on knowledge, of His Person, His work, and His relation to them that receive Him. To bring all the elect to this faith is the object of the ministry; when they are all brought to it, the body of Christ will be complete, and the functions of the Christian ministry will cease.


unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” – this

involves the maturity of each individual who is a constituent part of that body; and the measure or sign of maturity, both for the individual and for the whole, is the stature of the fullness of Christ.


“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the

 image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren”

                                                                                                 Romans 8:29


A Perfect Man – This points to the full development of our manhood.

The believer is imperfect both in faith and in knowledge, but he is

growing into that unity of life which involves perfect knowledge and

perfect holiness.  The true standard is conformity to Christ. The end

of this growth cannot be seen in this life. The Bible nowhere represents the perfection of the Church as occurring on earth. It is to be without spot or

wrinkle when the day of its glorious presentation comes. Thus the design of the Christian ministry is to labor for the perfection of the Church.



v. 14 – “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and

              carried about with every wind of doctrine (teaching)”


This was designed to remedy childish fickleness and the causes that lead to it.


by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to



This counsel is much needed in this age of startling suggestion, radical

denial, philosophical speculation and promotion of “The Lie” at the

insistence of the means of “MODERN MEDIA



Such teachers employ crafty methods, apparently harmless, but tending to further the

method or scheme of error. The strong language here used corresponds with that in which, at Miletus, the apostle warned the elders of Ephesus of the “grievous wolves” that were to come in among them, and of the men “speaking perverse things” that were to arise among themselves, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29, 30).


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v. 15 – “But speaking the truth in love” – especially truth “as it is in Jesus” –

v. 21 - Truth is the element in which we are to live, move, and have our being; fidelity to truth is the backbone of the Christian ministry.  But truth must be inseparably married to love; good tidings spoken harshly are no good tidings; the charm of the message is destroyed by the discordant spirit of the messenger.


Exodus 34:6 – God is “abundant…in truth””


may grow up into Him in all things who is the Head, namely Christ”



Church is a spiritual body, so the characteristics of the natural body are

found in it. It is a body divinely framed as truly as the natural body, and

designed to bring greater glory to God than the body which types it. Its

Head is the Lord himself. It has its being and form in Him, as well as all its

nurture, such as its life and light, grace and joy, strength and fruitfulness; it

depends upon the Head for subsistence and for safety; it is united to the

Head by a bond that is both close and indissoluble.


Growth tends to a closer union to Christ, as, on the other hand, union to

Christ causes the growth – Jesus is Himself the great Source of growth.


Growth in knowledge, righteousness and holiness – we see our potential

and need of growth when we compare the gulf between Christ and ourselves.



v. 16 – “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted

            by that which every joint supplieth - It is from Christ that the

            body derives its vital substance – not in an individual sense but as

            an organization  – the parts being adapted and articulated to one

            another - in the Church there are babes in Christ, also young men

            and old men; some are clear in intellect, some strong in faith, some

            warm in love, some excel in passive virtues, some in active; but in a

            well-ordered Church these should be getting jointed together, and

            learning to work with and for one another, no one despising gifts

            which he has not but another has.


according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh

increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” – growth from

within – depending on the energy furnished by Christ - In a healthy Church

there is a continual work of building up: construction, not destruction, is its

proper business — promoting peace, purity, prayerfulness, trust, activity in

the work of the Lord, but all in love, the absence of which makes winter

instead of summer, declension instead of progress, death instead of life.


The whole Church is articulated with Christ; its parts are articulated with

each other, but all are designed to communicate with the Head, and to

assist in conveying vital influence from the Head to the members. So it is in

the human body; it is all jointed and connected together; but the object of

this is to facilitate the transmission of the vital force throughout the whole.

All the members of the Church should realize their position as parts of a

body connected with the head, and should regard the measure of energy

received by them as designed for the general good (ver. 16).



whole body is fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint

supplieth.” Each member is in relation with all other members as well as

with the Head. Each is dependent upon the other. No member can dismiss

another as useless; none is so great as not to be indebted to the least. “God

has tempered the body together.” Now, just as the parts of the human

frame are necessarily of different functions, and set, some in superior, some

in inferior, places, yet all act together in the fullest sympathy; so all the

members of Christ’s body must keep rank and order, acting within their

own sphere with due wisdom, harmony, and love, the eye not doing the

work of the hand, nor the hand the work of the foot, but abiding each in his

own calling.


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The Church has truth for its nourishment, love for its atmosphere and

Christ Jesus for its head!  This spirit of love is indispensable – the church

cannot edify itself except in love.  Strife and division are sure to rise,

but these are disintegrating, not edifying forces.


Take Christ from the Church and “Ichabod” – (the glory is departed) may be inscribed on the wall – in the Laodecian church in Revelation 3:14-22, Christ is depicted as outside the church, knocking for an entrance.