The Duty of the Church
or the conduct of the body of Christ
THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH 4:1-6
The Guiding Principle
The Metaphor for Conduct
The same words that open Ephesians 4 are also found in Romans 12:1.
In each case they follow a doxology that brings the first part of the epistle to a close. Paul begins by reminding his readers that he is a prisoner. Why does he do this? He is implying that whatever one’s condition in life, pleasant or unpleasant, the joy of serving the Lord need not be lost. Paul lived for the Lord as effectively and faithfully as a prison-er as he would have as a free man. Nothing in life frees us from the obligations of Christian living that he is about to expound. The chains that held Paul’s hands did not bind his soul.
Walking is Paul’s favorite metaphor for one’s conduct. Why is it an appropriate figure? First, it is comprehensive in nature. Few of the activities of life can be carried out without walking. Even preparation of a meal requires walking. One walks to the stove, to the refrigerator, to the cabinets, and to the table. Second, it is progressive in nature. If we walk too fast, then we are running; if both feet leave the ground for a significant time, we are jumping or leaping. Walking is the progressive and continuous taking of steps, one after another—and so is the Christian life. The Standard for Conduct
The foundation of Christian conduct does not consist of rules but of a general principle repeated in four of Paul’s epistles. That principle is conveyed to us in Ephesians 4:1 by the word worthy(axiwß = axios), which means literally to bring up the other beam of the scales. This assumes we understand what the scales of Paul’s day looked like. On one side one placed an object of known weight, a five pound ingot, for example. On the other side, grain was placed. When the two balanced, one had five pounds of grain. This word is found in Romans 16:2, Philippians 1:27, Colossians 1:10, I Thessalonians 2:12, and III John 6; it is translated worthy in each case.
Used metaphorically, the word means create an equivalence. Ephesians 1-3 has laid great stress on correct doctrine. Chapter 4 opens by saying correct doctrine needs to be balanced with appro-priate conduct. Our walk should not contradict our belief; it should complement our belief. People who believe a certain way should live a certain way. All that we do should be in keeping with our calling. Our beliefs determine the path our feet should take. The standard for living is the calling with which you have been called. Our calling is the divine expression of God’s will for His children. We can only know that calling in the measure we know the word of God, which enlightens us to its content.
THE SPECIFICITEMS 4:2-6
That are Personal in Nature 4:2
“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love…”
Verse 2 begins to list the virtues that are needed to balance good doctrine with good conduct. We are going to be told how to create an equivalence between what we believe and how we live. There are four items that create essential proportion between calling and character.
Humility (tapeinofrosunh = tapeinophrosune)
As far as we know, no Greek writer used this word to express a virtue before Christianity. In classical Greek it is a derogatory term. Liddell & Scott, in their classical Greek lexicon, give meanings such as mean, base, abject. In pagan thought, an attitude of humility was considered a vice. To the pagan, the greatest manifestation of power was self-assertion and dominance.
It was Jesus Himself who elevated the term to the highest level, describing Himself as gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29). Christianity introduced a revolutionary concept: The greatest man-ifestation of power was self-sacrifice! John 13:3-5 is an excellent example taken from the conduct of Jesus with respect to washing the disciples feet. To Paul, the incarnation of Jesus was the supreme lesson in humility (Philippians 2:5-8). Humility is the law of mutual service and is the only road that leads to true greatness. The proud man always focuses on what he believes to be below him. It is from the downward look that he achieves the haughty countenance.
Humility is not making oneself small; this would be hypocrisy. Humility is the conviction that nothing that we have is self-pro-cured, but all is God-given. Paul’s rhetorical question in I Corinthians 4:7 makes the point: “And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”
Gentleness (prauthß = prautes)
This virtue is closely tied to humility. It incorporates the ideas of considerateness and courtesy and alludes to controlled strength; meekness is certainly, not weakness. Jesus described Himself as gentle and humble in heart in Matthew 11:29. This is the most direct description Jesus gives of Himself. It is also ascribed to Him in II Corinthians 10:1. Paul’s essential theme in these opening verses of Ephesians 4 is the obligation of the believer to be Christlike. Gentleness is never insubordinate to God or resentful toward man.
Patience (makroqumia = makrothumia)
This virtue is manifested by one who is reluctant to avenge wrongs. It is the attitude that makes allowances for failures. II Peter 3:9, 15, and I Peter 3:20 demonstrate that it is the perversity of man that brings out this characteristic in God Himself and is revealed in His postponing of deserved judgment (Romans 2:4).
Forbearance (anecw = anecho)
Forbearance is the natural result of the foregoing virtue of patience. The words showing forbearance translate a single Greek verb that means to put up with. It is an intensely practical word because it is realistic about the makeup of each one of us. We all have faults that others must endure, and this endurance of one another is a godly characteristic. Each of these four virtues is an aspect of Christian love. The words in love that end verse 2 should be taken in connec-tion with each. That are Corporate in Nature 4:3-6 The Requirement for Unity 4:3
“…being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Being diligent (spoudazw = spoudazo) suggests two things. First, it implies difficulty. It is a word frequently used to describe tasks that are difficult to complete. Second, it implies determination. The present tense shows it is a never ending task.
Verse 3 assumes that unity among Christians already exists. This unity was explained in Ephesians 2:13-18. That we are bound to Christ and to one another is fact; we are to exert great effort to see that we are likewise bound in practice. The church at Corinth illustrates the absence of such practical unity (I Corinthians 3:1-5).
The Basis for Unity 4:4-6
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
THERE IS UNITY IN THE SPIRIT 4:4
There is “one body”—The reference is to the church as the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). In the pagan world, there were an enormous number of religions from which one could choose. Religion was not unified; it was diversified and competitive. The unity of the body of Christ of which Paul speaks crosses all demarcations—sexual, racial, and social. The condition of member-ship in the church is faith in Christ, making all who share this faith one body.
There is “one Spirit”—On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit spanned the greatest of all chasms, the separation of the Jew and the Gentile. The same Spirit that put Paul into union with Christ does the same for all believers. He reminds the Corinthian believ-ers of this fact in I Corinthians 12:12-13. The doctrine of the bap-tism of the Spirit is strong argument for practical unity among Christians.
There is “one hope”— The hope of the believer has two aspects to it. Romans 8 teaches the hope of glorification, the third phase of salvation that makes us body, soul, and spirit like Him (I John 3:1-2). Titus 2:13 speaks of the return of Christ as the blessed hope. Both are related—glorification tells what is in store for us; the return of Christ tells when this will happen.
THERE IS UNITY IN THE SON 4:5
There is “one Lord”—The next three statements are separate ideas and yet contain a fundamental unity. They could be put into one sentence saying, There is only one Lord in whom we all believe and in whose name we are all baptized.
Recognition of Jesus as Lord was particularly significant to men and women of the first century. The Roman Emperor claimed the title also, and to refuse him the title could put one’s life in peril. A true Christian could never apply it to any other than Jesus if it implied an infringement of His deity.
The pagan world was polytheistic to the core. It knew scores of gods and scores of lords. But not so with Christianity for everyone who was a Christian became so by directing his or her faith to the same Lord Jesus Christ. There are no exceptions to this truth, and this truth argues for unity and harmony.
There is “one faith”—Faith incorporates two ideas. It may refer to one’s attitude of believing in Christ, and it may also refer to the substance of one’s belief. In our day of doctrinal laxity, we should note that the early church was not a creedless body. All believers have common beliefs about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done. He is deity incarnate; He is fully God and fully man. His work on the cross is all that is needed for man’s salvation. He is Redeemer, Savior, Lord, and King. All believers also have placed their hope of salvation in Christ in a personal and subjective sense.
There is “one baptism”—The reference here is to Spirit baptism— that act wherein those who place their faith in Christ are placed (baptized) into Christ by the act of the Holy Spirit. Since the bap-tism spoken of here is associated with the Son, water baptism should not be excluded since it is the symbol of the former. The oneness and unity of Christians is even reflected in the grammatical gender of the word one found three times in verse 5. The first one is masculine, the second one is feminine, and the third one is neuter. The church is one viewed from any perspective.
THERE IS UNITY IN THE FATHER 4:6
He is “over all”—Transcendence focuses on the awesomeness of God in terms of the great distance that exists between Him and His creation. This is the meaning of the words over all. He is “through all”—This expresses God’s creative and sustaining activity.
He is “in all”—This expression views the opposite of transcendence which is immanency. The personal presence of God in His creation and His personal relationship to man is focal. God is both near (immanent) and far (transcendent). Considering all three prepositional phrases, we may say the Father is sovereign for He is over all; He is omnipotent for He works through all; and He is omnipresent for He is in all. The Father rules, pervades, and sustains.
The words one Spirit…one Lord…one God and Father remind us that the doctrine of the Trinity is firmly rooted in the teaching of the apostles. Paul makes a similar statement in I Corinthians 12:4-6 where he speaks of “the same Spirit…the same Lord…the same God” The Nicene Creed (A.D. 325) reflects the teaching of the apostles by stating, “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty…in one Lord Jesus Christ…and in the Holy Ghost ”
THE MATURITY OF THE CHURCH 4:7-16
CHRIST’S GIFT: ITS BESTOWAL 4:7-10
The Fact Stated 4:7
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
Paul has been speaking of the unity of the church; now he turns to diversity in the church. Unity is not uniformity and is therefore consistent with diversity. He has been speaking of all; now he speaks of each. The words to each one are in the emphatic position in the sentence and mark Paul’s transition.
The word one added to the word each stresses the idea of distribution. This means the church is a ship on which there are no passengers; everyone aboard is a crew member. The words each one are explained in more detail beginning in verse 11 where Paul refers specifically to those given a place of leadership whose ministry extends to the whole body.
The verb was given is passive voice showing the gift was not something pursued by us but something bestowed upon us. The noun grace has a definite article with it. It must be under-stood in light of Paul’s usage of the word in Ephesians 3:2, 7, 8. In each of these verses it is preceded by the definite article and refers to the special mission given to Paul. Saving grace is not in view here; grace that enables each one to perform a specific service in the body of Christ is the subject about which Paul is speaking. The context will show it to be the gracious endowment that makes each of us capable of filling our particular place in the body of Christ. We might call it “equipping grace.”
The words according to the measure of Christ’s gift convey impor-tant truth. They teach us that each gets the gift that Christ has to bestow in his special case. The grace is always the same, but the measure varies according to the sovereign choice of Christ.
The noun gift (dwrea = dorea) is most often used of a gift that is both spiritual and bountiful. It is found eleven times in the New Testament. It was used by Jesus when he spoke to the woman at the well and offered her the gift of God, which He said, was living water. It is used four times in the book of Acts and each instance refers to the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, 8:20, 10:45, and 11:17). Romans 5:15, 17 uses it to refer to the gift of salvation.
II Corinthians speaks of God’s indescribable gift which is Christ. It is used two times in Ephesians, referring to the bestowal of the gift of apostleship on Paul (3:7), and of spiritual gifts upon all believers. Finally, in Hebrews 6:4 it refers to a heavenly gift.
While I Corinthians 12 refers to the gifts as coming from the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:7 speaks of them as Christ’s gift. There is no contradiction or inconsistency here. The Holy Spirit Himself was given by Christ to the church, and so the gifts of the Spirit may be conceived of as the gifts of Christ also. The Time Stated 4:8-10 “Therefore it says,‘When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’9(Now this expression, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 1He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)”
In Ephesians 1:19-21 Paul connected the exaltation of Christ with the power at work in members of His body. The bestowal of gifts from His exalted state now reminds Paul of Psalm 68:18. The pri-mary application of this passage refers to David’s capture of the Jebusite acropolis and his ascent with the ark up Mt. Zion (Psalm 24). Paul comments only on the words He ascended and He gave.
Ascension implies a descent. How could He go up without first going down? That He ascended is clear. The question is where He descended. The logic of Paul’s statement does not address this question.
First, captives were led captive. The captives were those once held in Satan’s control that are now taken and led captive by the risen Christ. Second, gifts were given to men. Spiritual gifts are the ascension gift of Christ. This subject will be developed beginning in verse 11.
What is meant by the lower parts of the earth? There are three major views that attempt to answer this question. First, the refer-ence may be to Hades (Sheol), the abode of the dead. Support for this view is found in that Hades is always viewed as down from the earth’s surface. Second, it may be taken to refer to the grave in which Christ was laid. Third, some take the phrase of the earth to be a genitive that defines the lower regions. If this is true, the refer-ence is to the incarnation and the condescension and humiliation connected with it. From earth He ascended and to earth He came. Romans 10:6-7 seems to suggest that the first view is the correct one. Philippians 2:8-9 also contributes the idea that Jesus went from the most ignominious death to be exalted by the Father. In the days of Jesus life on earth, men could enjoy His presence in only one place at a time. With His ascension, however, He fills all things—His presence fills the universe.
CHRIST’S GIFT: ITS DESCRIPTION 4:11-16
The Men Involved 4:11 Those Who Laid the Foundation
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets…”
The verb gave points to the double gifts of the ascended Christ. He first endowed men with special abilities; He then gave the endowed men to the church. The first three gifts, the apostle, the prophet, and the evangelist, were given a ministry to the whole body of Christ; the pastor-teacher was limited to a single congregations.
He is an emphatic pronoun that means He Himself or He alone. Apostles, prophets, etc. did not spring up on their own; they were deliberately and purposely given to the church in order to secure its stability and growth. Christ is the provider of gifted men, and He is also bestower of special ability on these men.
Here we have a listing of certain ones endowed with gifts for the building up of the church. I Corinthians 12:28 parallels this verse with one exception: It prioritizes these gifts in a first, second, third manner.
Apostles and prophets have already been paired together as those whose function was to lay the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20). Each of these gifts was operational in the founda-tion laying period of the church. Even now, in our consideration of the book of Ephesians, we are building on the foundation laid by the apostles; in this case, the apostle Paul.
Paul used the term apostle in two senses. First, it applied to those commissioned by Christ immediately. Second, it extended to those who preached the gospel in close association with those directly commissioned apostles. For example, Paul links Timothy and Silvanus with himself as apostles of Christ in I Thessalonians 2:6.
Those who were apostles in the narrow sense were chosen directly by the Lord (Matthew 10:1-2, Mark 3:13-16, Acts 9:16). They were given sign gifts as credentials (II Corinthians 12:12). They were eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:22, I Corinthians 9:1). They possessed the most important position in the early church (I Corinthians 12:28).
The office and the gift of apostle ended with the death of these men. Several facts need to be noted concerning the gift of apostle-ship. First, no one exists today who has seen the resurrected Christ. Second, foundation laying is by nature a function that comes to an end. Third, no provision is found in the New Testament for their successors. Fourth, the foundation upon which the church rests is found in the writings of the apostles—the completed canon of Scripture.
The gift of prophecy was apparently possessed by many during the apostolic age (Acts 11:27-28, 21:10-11) and was not limited to men (Acts 21:9). The gift of prophecy fulfilled a pre-canon need. Prophets were those who spoke to the church under the direct prompting of the Holy Spirit. As time passed, it became necessary to test such prophets to be sure their message was truly of the Holy Spirit, not of other spirits (I John 4:1).
Those Who Extend the Church “…and some as evangelists…” The evangelist is one who pioneers, taking the gospel to regions where it is yet unknown. Philip bears the title specifically (Acts 21:8), and doing the work of an evangelist was an aspect of Timothy’s ministry (II Timothy 4:5). The evangelist had an itinerant ministry whereas that of pastor was confined to a local assembly.
How does the evangelist differ from the apostle and prophet? The apostle and prophet received their message by direct revela-tion from God; the evangelist did not. The gift of evangelist required a clear perception of truth as communicated by the apostle or prophet accompanied by a unique ability to present that message in a persuasive manner.
Those Who Instruct the Church
“…and some as pastors and teachers…”
Is this a description of one gift or two? Understanding these terms to describe one office is well-grounded in the grammar of the original. Pastor and teacher are joined by a connective and preceded by a single article that serves to unite them as one. In order to show this, we will join the two nouns with a hyphen and refer to the office as that of pastor-teacher.
While the evangelist increases the quantity of the church, the pastor-teacher increases the quality of the church. The gift of pas-tor-teacher is required of every generation. The church can never dispense with those who preach the gospel and those who teach the truth that brings believers to maturity. I Peter 5:2 and Acts 20:28 describe their function in caring for the flock. Pastor-teachers are to nurture, protect, and supervise the local assembly of believers. Acts 20:28 calls them overseers who are to shepherd (verb from which pas-tor comes). Pastors are the same as elders and bishops spoken of elsewhere who must be able to teach (I Timothy 3:2). The Purpose Involved 4:12-16 The Immediate Purpose 4:12
“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…”
The preposition translated to and for (eiß = eis) is the same in Greek. Its basic meaning is to indicate the direction toward which something is to move. We might translate “leading to the work of service, leading to the building up of the body of Christ.”
The goal of the ministry of these gifted men is expressed by the noun equipping (katartismoß = katartismos). The word has several ideas in it as can be demonstrated by three passages that use it.
•To Mend (Matthew 4:21)—One day as Jesus was walking near the shore of Galilee, he saw James and John in a boat with Zebedee their father “mending their nets.” Mending is the word equipping of Ephesians 2:12. Here the word referred to the mending of something that was damaged or worn and in need of repair.
•To Prepare (Romans 9:22)—Paul notes that God endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. Once again the word equipped is found and is translated prepared. The word refers to the preparation of something to fulfill a known pur-pose.
•To Train (Luke 6:40)—Jesus speaks saying, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Here the word equipped is translated fully trained.
The ministry of a pastor-teacher is both negative and positive. The teaching of the word of God corrects the wrong thinking resident in all of us and inculcates Christian truth so that we may all function as the Lord desires.
The Ultimate Purpose 4:13-16 UNITY 4:13
“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God …”
The word until measures the period of time during which the aforementioned method of growth should be in operation. It shows how long the church should function under the concept of growth via the pastor-teacher. The phrase we all includes all believ-ers, but it does not include all men.
We should think of these verses as a journey. The verb attain (katantaw = katantao) is used nine times in the book of Acts, and in each case it is used of travellers reaching their destination.
There are three spiritual destinations spoken of in Ephesians 4:13, and each is introduced by the preposition to (eiß = eis). Each of the three is a coordinate clause (clauses of equal rank).
The phrases unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God explain one another. Unity comes forth from a common apprecia-tion of Jesus Christ. Common knowledge is the wellspring of unity.
“…to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”
The term to a mature man is the second aspect of the journey. It stands in contrast to children in verse 14 where we learn what a mature man is by learning what a mature man is not.
To what does the word stature refer? It may refer to one’s age as in Matthew 6:27, or it may refer to one’s physical height (Luke 19:3), or it may refer to one’s spiritual attainment. The fulness of Christ means our experience matches our position.
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Negative aspect 4:14
Paul introduces several metaphors to express arrested spiritual development.
•The infant metaphor—The word children (nhpioß = napios) may mean an infant such as a nursing baby (Matthew 21:16). It may also refer to childish ways as in I Corinthians 13:11. It is also used figuratively, as here, to indicate a believer who has very little capacity to take in the solid meat of the word of God (Hebrews 5:13). It is also used of the carnal Christian in I Corinthians 3:1. It stands in contrast to the words mature man spoken of in verse 13.
•The nautical metaphor—The word tossed (kludwnizomai =
kludonizomai) was a term used for a ship tossed out of control by waves. The immature believer is like a cork tossed in a surging sea (James 1:6).
•The vertigo metaphor—Carried about (periferw = periphero) is literally swung around and was used of spinning tops and of vertigo or dizziness, for such is the effect of false doctrine.
•The gambling metaphor—The word trickery (kubeia = kubeia) means cheating at dice. Every false teacher has a different “roll.” Absence of clarity in doctrine is a characteristic of false teachers as is secrecy.
•The psychological metaphor—The word craftiness (panourgia = panourgia) is a compound made up of the word all and the word work and means willingness to do anything to achieve an end. To sum up: If we neglect the divine order of growth, we will remain infants, remain unstable, and remain victims.
Positive Aspect 4:15-16
•Speaking the truth—Speaking the truth in love does not mean “soft-peddling” of truth. Love is always at home with truth. I Corinthians 13:6 says love rejoices with the truth. We often hear someone speak of one who is “all truth and no love” or, on the other hand, “all love and no truth.” Both expressions are contra-dictory because there is never any tension between love and truth. Truth cheers for love and love cheers for truth. The words speaking the truth translate a single participle in Greek and is lit-erally truthing. Three elements may be involved here: speaking truth, living truth and holding truth. Any one or all of these could be taken as truthing. Concern for truth is the evidence of maturity in the church.
•Growing Up—This verse is full of physiological metaphor. It builds around the system of nerves and muscles that coordinate bodily activity under the direction of the mind. While the Holy Spirit prompts the words of Paul, one wonders if Luke the physician might not have suggested these terms. Each part of the body functions as it should when it is under the control of the head. In absence of this control, one part of the body can bring disastrous results to the whole.
THE DEMEANOR OF THE CHURCH 4:17-6:20
THE CHANGED LIFE 4:17-24
The Old Life Reviewed 4:17-19 Gentile Life Forbidden 4:17a
“This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk …”
The pronoun this that opens the paragraph is singular in number. It serves to give unity to the commands. Not a multitude of commands but one singular expression of the will of God follows, though the parts are many.
The word therefore continues the exhortation that was started in verse 1, which commanded a life worthy of one’s calling. The word affirm turns the word say into a solemn declaration. NIV translates insist. Jewish Christians are to abandon the grave clothes of Judaism; Gentile Christians are to abandon their old self-indul-gences. This makes each fitting for the body of Christ. The words together with the Lord show that these words are not those of Paul alone; they represent the will of God in the fullest sense of the word.
The words no longer imply two things. First, if the reader is liv-ing as he once did, then this practice should be brought to a halt. Second, if you are not presently living as you once did, never return to that kind of life again. The believer is not to linger over his past life, nor should he ever lapse into his past life. No longer should the lifestyle of the Gentile be the same as the believer. The word walk (peripatew = peripateo) is a comprehensive term for one’s conduct and is used six times in Ephesians.
•Our walk comprehends the way we think (Ephesians 4:17-18, 23; 5:15-17).
•Our walk comprehends the way we relate (to others, Ephesians 4:25, 32, 5:21; to the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:30).
•Our walk comprehends our set of values to which we submit (Ephesians 4:28, 6:1).
This negative description of Gentile life is now given to us in spe-cific terms. How may we describe Gentile life; what are its ele-ments?
Gentile Life Described 4:17b-19a
IN TERMS OF THEIR MENTAL STATE 4:17B-19A
“…in the futility of their mind,being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;and they, having become callous …”
The word futility (mataiothß = mataiotas) describes the condition that underlies irresponsible behavior. Synonyms for the word are: powerless, useless, fruitless, worthless. The word denotes waste of mental capacity on worthless objects and is therefore intimately associated with idolatry. See Acts 14:15 where the word is translat-ed vain things, meaning idols. The word also refers to occupation with that which leads nowhere—occupation with the material to the exclusion of the spiritual, with the temporal to the exclusion of the eternal. The New English Bible translates it in a colorful manner—“good-for-nothing-notions.” While man’s wisdom always professes greatness, God brands it fruitless.
This attitude is now traced to its source: mental fog resulting in moral corruptness. The problem of man is moral, not mental, for his mental fog is due to his alienation from God. Notice the same sequence of ideas in Romans 1:21ff. The unbeliever has no purpose to guide (futility of their mind); no light to see (being darkened in their understanding); and no life to inspire (excluded from the life of God).
The word hardness (pwrwsi” = porosis) is found three times in the New Testament. First, it is used of the synagogue crowd who preferred the man with the withered hand to suffer longer rather than heal him on the Sabbath day (Mark 3:4-5). Second, in Romans 11:25 it is used of the blindness of Israel’s heart until the full numbers of Gentiles is made up. Third, here in Ephesians 4:18 it refers to insensitivity to spiritual issues.
IN TERMS OF THEIR MORAL CONDUCT 4:19B
“… have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”
The word sensuality (aselgeia = aselgeia) is license in the sphere of the physical and in the New Testament often refers to sexual mis-conduct. The word practice was often used in Greek of one’s busi-ness. Misconduct was not merely a casual matter or “here and there” in nature. It was rather their daily business and was pursued with all the vigor of an enterprising businessman. The word greedi-ness (pleonexia = pleonexia) literally means desire for more. It is used to express the desire to satisfy oneself, regardless of cost or the rights of others. Moral failure is rooted in mental failure. The mind intent on futility and the pursuit of nothing is sure to mani-fest itself in a life-style of matching emptiness and futility. The mind of the flesh cannot be separated from the morals of the flesh. The New Life Required 4:20-24 In Terms of Contrast 4:20-21
“But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as the truth is in Jesus …”
Verse 20 opens with an emphatic pronoun you. The Greek emphat-ic could be represented in English by underline or boldface type. Here it marks off Paul’s readers as different from those described in verses 17-19.
What is the content of what they have learned? Verses 22-24 will tell us in general terms and verse 25 and following in more specific terms. Verse 24 gives no particulars; it leaves us with a question: What are the products of the new self that we are to put on?
Two major distinctions mark off their past condition from their present condition. First, they now know Christ. The word Christ has a definite article with it. They had come to know the Christ, the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament scriptures. Second, they now know truth. John Locke said, “There needs no proof for the truth of anything Christ has said but that He has said it.” John Milton said, “Truth came once into the world with her divine Master, and was a perfect shape most glorious to look upon.”
It is clear that the readers had not heard Jesus teach in a direct manner. They had, however, heard the teaching of the apostles; and this is sufficient to say they had heard Jesus. Though we pos-sess the teaching of Jesus and that of the inspired apostles in writ-ten form, this does not “distance” us from them. To know the word of God is to know Him. Believers should beware of the implication that knowing the Lord and knowing His word are essentially dif-ferent. One could well ask, “If I set aside all that I have learned of Jesus from the scriptures, what is left?” To fail to know the Jesus of the scriptures is to know only the Jesus of our imagination.
In Terms of Duty 4:22-24
“…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holi-ness of the truth.”
There are three infinitives telling us the action we are to take. First, we are to lay aside the old self, an aorist tense emphasizing definite and decisive action. Second, we are to put on the new self, another aorist infinitive pointing to definite and decisive action. Third, we are to be renewed, a present tense infinitive emphasizing repetitive and ongoing action.
What is meant by the old self and the new self? Two things may be said of the new self. First, it is not merely a refurbished old self. Second, the new self is not the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a chart will help us see the difference between the Holy Spirit and the new self.
The New Man
Created at salvation (Eph. 4:24, Col 3:10)
Is patterned after God Capable of growth and defeat
The Holy Spirit
Received at salvation (Gal 3:2)
Is unchanging and undefeatable.
THE COMMANDEDLIFE 4:25-5:14
Our Relationship to Truth 4:25 “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
The following commands give specific details explaining what it means to put off the old man and put on the new. Laying aside in verse 25 is the same Greek word as lay aside in verse 22. What does it mean to lay aside the old self? Verse 25 begins to answer this question in a concrete, practical manner.
A literal translation of the Greek makes it clear that verses 24 and 25 are closely linked. Verse 24 spoke of the truth, and verse 25 speaks of the lie (falsehood). The word therefore also ties the two vers-es together. The chief characteristic of the new man is affinity for truth. God is a God of truth whereas Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).
The word falsehood is literally the lie. The presence of the definite article shows Paul is not referring to lying in the abstract sense but in the specific sense. It therefore refers to falsehood in any and every form it takes. With the future coming of the man of sin, we are told the entire world will go for falsehood. In II Thessalonians 2:11 the words what is false are literally the lie. Believers of our day should be aware that the absence of absolute moral values in our society has reduced terms such as the lie to a euphemistic “misspo-ken truth,” but the word of God teaches a lie is a lie is a lie.
Paul reinforces his command to speak the truth by reference to Zechariah 8:16. The Old Testament context of this verse is the return of the exiles who are being instructed how they may be the objects of God’s blessing, not God’s wrath.
The Old Testament quotation is now supported by New Testament truth—the oneness of believers in the body of Christ. This oneness is stated briefly in Romans 12:5 and more extensively developed in I Corinthians 12:12-27. To the unbeliever, lying may be an offense against civilized society; but to the believer, lying is a sin against the body of Christ. Lying is despicable in all forms, but there is something especially inappropriate when a lie is perpetrated among those with whom we have intimate relationship and association. How ludicrous it would be for the arm to lie to the leg or the brain to the hand. Indeed the body would be reduced to a non-functioning spastic. Our Relationship to Anger 4:26 “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…”
The anger spoken of here is the reaction of purity to corruption. The command assumes a just occasion for anger. It is a response that is natural and normal to righteousness. Holiness is outraged by unholiness. A peacemaker is also a peacebreaker when sin is encountered. Only a deluded person extends an olive branch to evil. It is godlike to hate that which is ungodlike, and genuine love can frown as well as smile. The present tense of the imperative verb shows this is to be an ongoing attitude. Anger toward evil is part of the believer’s daily existence.
IT SHOULD BE FREE FROM SIN
What is anger? In verse 26 anger is a quality required of us; in verse 31 it is a quality that is forbidden us. The emotion in itself may be worthy of commendation or con-demnation. The expression and yet do not sin helps us distinguish the two types of anger. Paul does not say “be angry, but do not sin,” as though there were an antithesis. He does say “be angry, and do not sin.” That is, anger should not be mixed with sin. Anger, unmixed with sin, is a characteristic of God Himself (Romans 1:18, 12:19) and was displayed in Jesus (Mark 3:5).
IT SHOULD BE FREE FROM DOMINATION
The anger commanded is not “mindless rage.” Anger, as with all emotion, must exist under the control of the believer’s volition. Anger should not be allowed to simmer overnight. It is but a short step from righteous indignation to self-righteous indignation. Hatred of sin can easily become pride of righteousness. Anger that simmers all night often becomes irrational opinion the next day. Our Relationship to Satan 4:27 “… and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
The normal word for and (kai = kai) is a connective that ties two ideas together. This is not the word used to introduce verse 27. The word that begins verse 27 is and (mhde = made), a negative disjunc-tive particle. This is a word that continues a preceding negation. This means there is a direct link between unchecked anger and a door of opportunity for Satan. The truth is indeed striking—those who nourish anger overnight, nourish a child of the devil!
The verb do not give is a present imperative in a construction that commands an ongoing practice to cease. The word opportunity (topo” = topos) means place, territory, or space. Believers often speak of a place of evil activity as “Satan’s territory.” This com-mand should bring us face to face with a startling reality—the believer’s own life can have areas that may be designated “Satan’s territory”! The same word is used in Romans 12:19 where we are told not to take our own revenge but rather leave room (topoß = topos) for the wrath of God. This is why we should never nurse anger. We should leave it to God to handle.
Satan is never satisfied with a place; it is his nature to desire to occupy every place. According to Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, he was created as God’s anointed cherub. He was not satisfied to be a ser-vant in subordination to God; he desired to replace God Himself on the throne of the universe. No less is his desire in the life of the believer. Our Relationship to Property 4:28 “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.”
The command assumes the right to private property. Stealing involves every kind of misappropriation of property. The command also forbids an action in progress. Paul is not being theoreti-cal—the sin existed in the Ephesian church in reality, not as a pos-sible sin. In the times of Paul, stealing was not considered much of a vice. The issue was not “don’t steal,” the issue was “don’t get caught.” Slaves regarded pilfering as a way of life; everyone did it. Our day differs little if at all from Paul’s day. Living as these verses command becomes increasingly difficult when society drifts from moral absolutes.
Prohibition of stealing was part of the national constitution given to Israel by God (Exodus 20:15). The Hebrew verb steal means to steal for any reason. It included failure to protect another’s property from theft (Exodus 22:10-12). It even incorporated stealing for a good reason (II Kings 11:1-3). Respect for personal and public property is one of the marks of a civilized society. Slaves justified their pilfering by saying it was mere compensation for their servile state. The Christian must reject such false reasoning. Abuse is no excuse for abuse in return. A believer is never justified in returning evil for evil or insult for insult (I Peter 3:9).
The word rather introduces the solution to the gain of goods by for-bidden means. The imperative verb labor (kopiaw = kopiao) means labor to the point of exhaustion. If the thief is to be one no longer, he must employ himself. We live in a society that enshrines leisure. “TGIF” (thank God its Friday) means the work week is over, its time to play. It is not a frivolous question to ask, “Did Paul ever have any leisure time?” Perhaps Acts 20:34-35 answers the ques-tion. “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
The word good has a definite article with it—the good. The word refers to that which is useful and morally worthwhile. The occupation must have honorable ends.
The connective word in order that (ina = hina) introduces the pur-pose of the command to work. The word to share (metadidwmi = metadidomi) means to distribute personally rather than through some other agent or official. What a contrast to the welfare state!
Stealing is the use of another’s labor to supply our own wishes. In contrast, Scripture teaches us it is our duty to make our own labor the means of supplying, not only our personal needs, but those of others. The believer not only works to gain, he works to give. The object of work is to earn more than one needs so there will be a supply from which to give to others. Nothing facilitates this more than the free enterprise system in which we live in America. It is criticized only by those who espouse the ignorance of liberalism.
The inspiration for labor is not personal gain but lavish gen-erosity. We labor, not to gain, but to give. It is to this high level of motivation that God’s grace elevates the believer who was once a thief. And what but divine grace could lift a pilferer to such heights? Our Relationship to the Tongue 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Notice the link of the word good in verse 28 to the word good in verse 29. In the former we are to do good; now we are taught to speak good. We are to be good in works and words.
The word unwholesome (saproß = sapros) means rotten. It may refer to that which is innately rotten or that which communicates rottenness. The metaphor covers all speech sins such as gossip, slander, defamation, etc. It is used in the New Testament to express the thought “good-for-nothing.” The standards by which wholesome speech is judged are three.
•Good speech has good purpose. The word edification means to build up in contrast to destroying or tearing down. Rotten speech is not merely bad language but includes gossip and slander. Anything that creates dissension or that injures others is involved. Both personal edification and edification of the whole body is in view (Ephesians 2:22-23, 4:12, 16).
•Good speech is timely. Need for edification rises at different moments and in different ways. Wholesome speech is always at hand to aid.
•Good speech is helpful. The benefit involved should take in both material and spiritual blessing. While God Himself is the source of all blessing, man may be the channel through which the blessing is communicated. Proper and edifying speech is one of those potential channels of blessing.
Our Relationship to the Holy Spirit 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
The connecting word and links the grieving of the Holy Spirit to speech. Though any sin grieves the Holy Spirit, it is unwholesome speech that is specifically in view here. Three assumptions are made by the words of verse 30. The Holy Spirit indwells them; the Holy Spirit is personal; and the Holy Spirit has sealed them.
The words the Holy Spirit of God are set forth in a unique manner in the Greek New Testament. The definite article is repeated as fol-lows: “the Holy, the Spirit, of the God.” Each article is a call to pause and think of whom we speak. In so doing, we should be reminded of the one whom we may grieve. While the Holy Spirit is awesome and dignified in His person, the word grieve shows that He is personal. He responds to the words, attitudes, and actions of believers.
The seal conveys three ideas. It points to a finished transaction, to ownership, and to security. What is the day of redemption? It is the future day when everything accomplished by the death of Christ will be fully realized in us. It is often called our hope. Our Relationship to One Another 4:31-5:2 Eliminating Sin 4:31
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Paul passes from sins of speech to sins of attitude. The connection is logical: Sinful attitudes lie at the root of sinful words. There are six items that we are to put away.
•Bitterness(pikria = pikria) refers to harshness, resentment, and animosity. It is a spite that keeps records of wrongs and therefore develops a general attitude of resentment.
•Wrath(qumoß = thumos) means rage that is poured out as a result of the aforementioned bitterness.
•Anger (orgh = orga) refers to that which swells resulting in an outburst.
•Clamor(kraugh = krauga) is used of people shouting back and forth in a quarrel.
•Slander(blasfhmia = blasphamia) refers to anything that hurts the reputation of others.
•Malice (kakia = kakia) refers to bad feeling of any sort. It should be noted that malice is attached to the rest of the sins in a special way by the preposition with. This indicates that malice is the source from which the others flow.
Stimulating Right 4:32
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
The imperative verb be (ginomai = ginomai) means become in the sense of leaving one condition for another. Kindness, tender-heart-edness, and forgiveness are not native to the nature of man. Each must be developed in one’s life under the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Kindness was a characteristic of Jesus (Matthew 11:29) and of the Lord (probably the Father, I Peter 2:3). The word tender-hearted is a compound of the word good plus the word intestines. The Greeks located the emotions in the larger viscera. Our matching idiom is heart.
The words just as set forth the motive for forgiveness. Our for-giveness of others is to be like God’s forgiveness of us. Christians are to forgive one another because we have all been forgiven by God. The word translated forgiving (carizomai = charizoma) is not the normal word for forgiveness. It means to deal graciously with someone, to grant as a free gift. It is the same root as found in the word grace. God forgave each of us on a grace basis, that is, apart from our personal merit. Christian forgiveness is to be extended on exactly the same basis. Luke 7:41-42 gives a good example. Forgiveness was granted without regard to personal merit or demerit. The deeper the appreciation of grace received, the greater capacity we have to treat others in like manner. We could translate as follows: Grace each other, just as God in Christ has graced you. Pardoned sinners who refuse to pardon others are a scandal to the God of grace and defame the prince of peace.
All pardon is cross-based, for it is not sufficient example to for-give as God does, but rather to forgive as “God in Christ” forgave. Forgiveness must pass through the Savior’s hands. Simply put, the richness of God’s grace is to conquer our petty sensitivities on every front.
Emulating God 5:1-2
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
This verse and the last of chapter 4 are intimately related. This is indicated by the common verb be found in each verse and shown by the word therefore that connects them. God’s gracious forgive-ness is set before us in 4:32, and now we are exhorted to imitate it in practice in 5:1. Christ’s example has an authoritative power to it—it carries its own imperative. To imitate God is no unnatural act for we are to do so as beloved children. Is it not normal for children to imitate parents? If so among the children of men, much more so among the children of God. To retaliate against those who wrong us is natural; to withhold revenge is human good; but to compensate those who wrong us with good requires nothing less than divine enablement. It is not enough to desire such virtue. Paul teaches we are required to exhibit such virtue—the verb be is imperative mood.
The walk in love to which we are enjoined is such a love as Christ displayed in dying for us. Since His sacrifice was acceptable to God, we who are united together in Christ may also conduct ourselves in such a way that He is pleased with us. The material gift of the Philippian church, for example, was a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18). Our Relationship to Morality 5:3-5 The Command 5:3-4
“But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
The first and emphatic word of this verse is immorality (porneia = porneia), which refers to sexual conduct. It assumes that moral absolutes exist. Immorality assumes morality, right assumes wrong. It assumes that God has the right to dictate to man what his sexual conduct should be. What Christianity considered immorali-ty was acceptable in the culture in which Paul lived. Sexual immorality was associated with all the Greek-Roman seasons and festivals.
Why do we find greed associated with sexual immorality? It is common for the New Testament to move from outer manifestations of sin to the inner cravings of the heart. Jesus traced murder back to the angry thought and adultery back to the lustful glance. The word means desire for more.
What does Paul mean when he says these things are not to be named among you? The verb named (onamazw = onomazo) may mean several things. First, it may mean to be known (Romans 15:20). This meaning would teach these pagan vices should not exist among Christians. Second, the word may mean to be professed as II Timothy 2:19. Third, Luke 6:13 uses it to mean designated. Finally, it may mean to be mentioned in the sense of using a word or phrase. This meaning is eliminated by Paul’s “vice lists” in which these things are all named (Romans 1:29-32, I Corinthians 5:11, 6:9-11, Galatians 5:19-21, and Colossians 3:5). Paul certainly would not name what he says should not be named. It seems the first mean-ing is the most satisfactory. Immorality is not to be part of Christian conduct or conversation.
With verse 4, Paul begins to develop a list of unacceptable speech patterns. First, there is to be no filthiness (aiscroth = aischrotas), which refers to both word and action. Its closest synonym is found in Colossians 3:8 where it is translated abusive speech. Second, silly talk is literally fool talk. New English Bible renders it flippant talk. Third, coarse jesting (eutrapelia = eutrapelia) is liter-ally a witty or clever turn of speech. Aristotle defined it as cultured insolence.
There are two major defects of this unacceptable speech. First, it fails to meet appropriate standards. Second, it replaces what is expected. It usurps the place of praise.
The Rationale 5:5
“For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
This verse is descriptive, not prohibitive. Most of the members of the New Testament church came from the ranks who once practiced pagan immorality. In I Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul speaks of fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, etc. and reminds the Corinthians that “such were some of you.” He then says, “…you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”
There is a level of conduct that reveals an unsaved condition, and verse 5 describes that condition. The noun forms that Paul uses indicate that these immoral activities are the continual practice of those who are guilty. Our Relationship to Mockers 5:6-14 A Command about Deception 5:6
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
Sexual immorality and the wrath of God are inseparably linked. God is saying, “I am not passive to the morals of the Roman Empire in which you live.” In the second century, a gnostic philos-ophy had developed that said practices such as Paul here con-demns were irrelevant to spiritual life because they had to do with the body, whereas the spiritual life was concerned only with the soul. Some others, however, perpetrated a false doctrine concern-ing the believer’s relationship to the law. They argued that free-dom from the law meant freedom to sin. Romans 6:17-18 corrects such error.
Teaching that allows permissiveness is deception, and decep-tion is that which gives a false appearance to things—here sexual sin. The pronoun you is emphatic. “You, of all people, should not allow yourselves to become the victims of deceit.” The verb comes is present tense, showing that God’s wrath on these things is already on the way and will continue until the offenders have been dealt with.
A Conclusion 5:7
“Therefore do not be partakers with them…”
The verb be means become. Paul is warning about allowing oneself to be convinced by empty words that separate God’s wrath and sexual immorality. There is to be no fellowship of iniquity. The word partakers (summetocoß = summetochos) is the same word used in Ephesians 3:6 to describe the position now occupied by Gentiles with reference to the Messianic promise. The word denotes casting one’s lot with someone. To fellowship with them is to participate in their sins and the punishment connected with it.
An Explanation 5:8-10
“… for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”
With verse 8 Paul introduces a new metaphor: darkness and light. This figure is used in the New Testament to emphasize the contrast between God’s truth and all that opposes it. Paul does not say they lived in darkness; he says they were darkness. Conversely, he does not say they now live in light, but they are light.
Here is the contrast of religion and Christianity. Religion says, “Do in order to become”; Christianity says, “Do because you are.” Walk in light because you are light; let your position be your prac-tice. But what does it mean to walk in the light? Verses 9 and 10 explain.
Light is known by its effects. Here we find four of them. First, light is expressed in goodness (agaqwsunh = agathosuna), which incorporates the idea of benevolent generosity. Second, it is found in righteousness (dikaiosunh = dikaiosuna), which includes giving everyone their rightful due. Third, truth (alhqeia = alatheia) includes honesty and genuineness. The words in all mean these virtues appear in all forms and could be translated “in every form of goodness, etc…” Finally, light is revealed in desire to learn what pleases God. The participle learning (dokimazw = dokimazo) means to put to the test for the purpose of approval. It refers to the process of analyzing things with reference to embracing that which is known to please God.
A Command about Participation 5:11-14
“And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ ”
The separation required by these verses is from “deeds,” not doers. Paul is not speaking of pharisaical separation and isolation. Galatians and Ephesians serve to interpret one another. Ephesians speaks of the fruit of the light and Galatians of the fruit of the Spirit.
Ephesians views the works of darkness and Galatians the works of the flesh.
The word expose (elegcw = elegcho) means to bring to light, to point out, to convince someone of something. The word is used in three contexts in the New Testament.
•The source of conviction is the Holy Spirit (John 16:8 convict)
•The means of conviction is the word of God (II Timothy 3:16 reproof)
•The agent of conviction is man (II Timothy 4:2 reprove)
How can we expose that of which we cannot speak? Is it not possi-ble that certain practices done in secret are best exposed by silence? Sometimes sin is publicized by our reaction to it. Verse 12 says what is done in the dark is best kept in the dark. We often say problems are best solved by “getting everything out in the open.” This is certainly not what Ephesians 5:12 is saying. Vices can rub off on us if we continually talk about them—even if that talk comes in the form of condemnation. It is the function of light to make visible. Purity exposes pornography; purity, however, is not learned by examining pornography.
To what is Paul referring when he says, “For this reason it (He) says…”? There is no direct quotation from the Old Testament to which it can be tied nor is there any apocryphal reference. It is probably best to tie it to Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” The exhortation could be directed to the lethargic believer. The word dead would indicate a carnal condition in which one lacks fellow-ship with the Lord. This fits the tone of the words Paul has been speaking—wake up, don’t drift into the thinking of the world. As Paul now moves into the personal and home life of the believer, we should remind ourselves that we live in an environ-ment of great hostility to Christian truth, morality, and conduct. Need we explain that the words “sexual preference” are merely a cover-up for man’s rejection of God’s standards, and to espouse and teach the moral absolutes of the Pauline epistles is “bigotry,” and “lack of sensitivity.” Then so be it!
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