Paul's Epistle to The Ephesians
Eph.1:11 All Things
It is absolutely fantastic ( I think that word is fitting) to know that our Sovereign God has a plan that He has been working out from eternity past and that we personally are a part of that plan. Paul calls it God’s eternal purpose (Eph.3:11). According to v.4 we were chosen to be part of this plan from before His laying of earth’s foundation and has predestinated that, according to the counsels of His will, He is presently working all things out for us in our daily lives. This corresponds with Romans 8:28.
An illustration of how this works may be seen in the life of Jeremiah the prophet. God told him (1:4) that before He formed him in his mother’s womb he was set apart to be a prophet unto the nations! Wow! In just such a way was Jacob also chosen (Rom.9:11), again, according to the purpose of God.
But of course God just isn’t able to do that for each of us--right? How does that chorus go?
He is(n’t) able,
He is(n’t) able
I know He is(n’t) able---etc.
How do you sing it?
Eph.2:10 “......before ordained”
Going along with the previous chapter we are again faced with this concept that our God has a blue print for our lives. We wonder sometimes how it all works out, but if we believe His word there can be no doubt. God has ordained beforehand the pathway of good works wherein we are to walk. Does this square with 1:11 and with the experience of Jeremiah (1:4)? It surely does!
And to what end? That throughout the coming eternal ages God might share with us the exceeding riches of His grace (v.7). Oh what eternal treasures await us on the other side! And we are already there in effect, for we are being treated as if we are already resurrected and seated with Christ (v.6).
All of this plan centers in the beloved Son. Note how often the pronouns “in” or “through” are used.
Finally, we find ourselves in this “new man”(v.15),(His body-the Church)-also called a temple, inhabited by God’s spirit. Doesn’t all this practically take your breath away? Praise Him for His fantastic plan!
Eph.3:10 God’s Wisdom Known by (means of) the Church.
It is no wonder that the Judiazers had a problem with Paul. What arrogance! What a
diabolical imagination! Who does he think he is anyway? And where did he ever get such crazy notions?
From God, that’s where! Did He not say, when Saul was assailed by Him, that he would be a special messenger to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; 26:17)? And what a message it turned out to be! That the despised Gentiles would not only be “fellow heirs” with Israel, but, even further, God was now revealing a truth, previously hidden, that would be absolutely astounding. In verse ten we learn that God has been planning from the earliest ages to bless the world by means of an entirely new agency through which He would manifest His multifaceted wisdom. This new entity He calls the ecclesia, the called out ones, the church.
Paul tells us that unto him was given the special revelation concerning this “mystery”(v.3) that had been entirely hidden from all men of earlier ages. It was new truth and the Judiazers strongly reacted to it. In fact the so-called higher critics of our day attack the unity of Scripture by declaring that the teachings of Jesus and of Paul are in conflict.
We must not think disparagingly about the church when we see some of its problems for God has never changed His program since its inauguration at Pentecost. It magnifies His wisdom for us to be a part of a local assembly. It is not enough for us to belong to the church universal! His wisdom only becomes visible “by means of” our local churches and so should our text be interpreted.
“Unto Him be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus throughout all ages...”(v.21).
The next chapter may help us see this more clearly.
Eph.4:16 “Fitly joined together”
The only practical way a body part can be of any use is when it is attached to the rest of the body. Picture any separate part, standing alone, considering itself important. How useless is an eye, an ear or a toe if severed from its actual anatomical relationship. I use the word “actual” to emphasize the definite and concrete necessity that we view the body as a localized entity. There is no tangibility to the universal church, yet many people who call themselves Christians do not belong to a local church, and think that God approves of this abstract concept of their relationship with the church. He doesn’t!
Some will say, “but my circumstances are such that I cannot be active in a local church.” “There are no other Christians near where I live” etc. One should only be in this situation if specially called to it otherwise he should remove himself from such a place. Even some kind of remote relationship might need to be arranged, but no one is exempt from a practical outworking of the verse which speaks of every part being “fitly joined together” and supplying something to the other parts.
When we read such a chapter as this, let us read with understanding. This actual relationship with other members in a local church is what produces lowliness, meekness, longsuffering and forbearance (v.2). There are four allaylone passages in this chapter, see if you can find them. (Hint-one another etc.) (#240 in Strong’s Concordance ).
The atomic energy scientist must be submitted to the wisdom of the farmer when deciding on the question of whether to have a Christian school or how to put a new addition on the church building, and of course, vice versa. The mission board director needs to be under the discipline of the local church elders and deacons. There are no exceptions!
Remember what the angel said to Hagar when she fled from her mistress? They were two words that she certainly didn’t want to hear. Return and submit (Gen.16:9). Would you like to skip this chapter? If so, your heart is telling you that you have a problem. Our adamic nature has a problem with submitting. Whether it is in a husband-wife situation or a youth-parent, or an employer-employee or whatever, it is never easy. That is, until we are dead, than it is easy.
A dead corpse does not object to rough treatment and the fact is that we died with our Lord Jesus when He died on Calvary (2 Cor.5:14). Colossians 3:3 puts it very plainly, “For ye are dead (died) and your life is (has been) hid with Christ in God.” Our part is found in Romans 6:11 where we are to “reckon” or count it to be so.
“Husbands love your wives” (v.25). Note, it is a command. Feelings are not a part of the equation. Wrong feelings are sinful and must be confessed and put off. Put away lying says Paul in chapter 4:25! The devil is lying to you about no longer being in love- you are lying to yourself. It is a matter of faith (Rom.14:23)! We must walk by faith and not sight(feeling). The problem goes back usually to the fact that we have not totally surrendered our bodies to the Lord (Rom.12:1). Husbands who have done that and who are in the word of God on a daily basis, have a prayer life, etc, will have no problem with this command. Others must retrace their spiritual steps, dealing with sin, and yielding to the Lordship of Christ.
For wives the principle is the same. Hagar was eventually released from a difficult situation. Death releases us from ours. It can either be when we physically die and then stand in judgement for our failure to yield, rest, wait patiently, etc. or we can obey (Rom.6:11) and enter into rest now, having dealt with the evil heart of unbelief (Heb.3:12; 4:11).
Eph.6:4 “Ye fathers...”
Parental responsibility too often rests almost entirely on the mother of the child. True, in the earliest stages she will have the most input, but this verse makes it abundantly clear that the burden of child training (nurture) rests upon the father. If we were looking at the world in general, we should not be surprised at the moral weaknesses in our fatherless society, but, we know better than to expect anything different from that quarter. What really should concern us is the abandonment by Christian dads of this great privilege of child pedagogy.
The words “bring them up” have to do with nourishing the child- as the Lord nourishes us (5:20). It has in it the sense of breast-feeding. The mother takes care of this physically, but the spiritual exercise is the father’s. Just as the babe instinctively knows as it suckles at it’s mother’s breast that it is secure and loved, so there is to be that same care and affection by dad rather than peevish impatience bordering on anger, hence the warning in this verse. Children will know instinctively whether the admonition is given by a sense of duty rather than heartfelt concern, if it is given at all.
Many fathers (we want to say most, but that might be an exaggeration), it is sad but true, are just too busy to be obedient here. Some are concerned for the mind but few, it is feared, for the morals of their offspring. The word “admonition” implies confrontation.
One great problem is the lack of Biblical insight needed for the task. Deut.6:7 may not be as difficult to first generation Christian dads as compared to the normal Jewish household, and yet how far removed were Ephesian dads from raw heathendom? Priority, priority, priority!
The example of Abraham is significant (Gen.18:19).