Eph 6:24, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.”
“Grace” is the hallmark of all Paul’s closing salutation. It is a recurring theme throughout Ephesians, as we will note below. The verse begins with the use of the article HO, “the” with “grace,” due to the mention of the Lord Jesus Christ both before and after, and to focus attention on “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” cf. 2 Cor 13:13; Gal 6:18; Phil 4:23. In addition, Paul is referring to the grace he has already written so much about in this Epistle.
As we have been noting, “grace” is a key word of the epistle. It opened the epistle, Eph 1:2, and is the subject of the epistle, Eph 2:7-8. It now concludes the epistle. It is a fitting word, because it is God’s grace which saved us and which sustains us every day.
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“Grace,” CHARIS, χάρις means, “grace, graciousness, kindness, goodwill; a gift, a favor, etc.” Grace is God’s gratuitous generosity to an undeserving sinful humanity. Grace is all that God is free to do for mankind without compromising His Divine essence. Grace means favor, kindness, and mercy. Grace is undeserved blessing and suffering from God to mankind. Grace is free and unmerited love and favor toward us. Grace is unmerited Divine provision for mankind before, during, and after salvation. Therefore, grace depends on who and what God is.
As we noted in vs. 23, all grace and blessings come to the saints from God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace, the favor of God and all good, both spiritual and temporal, is from God to the believer, especially those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity as noted in this verse.
As we have done with the previous three pillar words in vs. 23, (faith, peace, and love), we will now do a survey of the Book of Ephesians on the utilization and application of this fourth pillar of the foundation of the Christian way of life, “grace.” The word “grace” is used 12 times in the book of Ephesians. Twelve is the number of perfect Divine government and organization. To just name a few examples in Scripture, there were 12 sons of Jacob, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of our Lord. In the heavenly New Jerusalem there are 12 foundations, 12 gates, 12 pearls, and 12 angels. In addition, Solomon’s Temple is stamped with the number 12, as Moses’ Tabernacle was stamped with the number 5, which is the number of grace. So, here in the book of Ephesians we see “grace” being stamped with the number 12 of perfect Divine government or rule.
As such, if we want to live under God’s perfect rule and organization for our lives, we must live by His grace. When we live by His grace, we have perfect Divine rule and organization within our souls for our physical and spiritual lives.
So, let us look at each of the 12 applications in Ephesians to see the context of God’s grace plan for our lives.
1. Eph 1:2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In Paul’s opening salutation, as in his closing, his payer and desire is that the grace of God be in the lives of every believer. He indicates, as also in the closing, that grace is “from God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore, God is the author and provider of all grace in our lives.
Paul is reminding us that we are receiving something that is completely undeserved or unmerited from God. It is Divine favor being bestowed on us. Therefore, this letter, as is every word in the Bible, is the grace gift of God bestowed on us that we do not earn or deserve, so that we can live the unique spiritual life God has designed for us. As such, the Word of God is freely given to us by God’s grace so that we may execute, under perfect Divine rule and organization, the Christian way of life.
2. Eph 1:6, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
As part of a great doxology, vs 3-14, the context of this verse is back in vs. 5, where the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is “predestined to adoption” into the family of God, “according to the kind intention of His will.” God’s grace predestined us from eternity past to be entered into His Royal Family through Jesus Christ. This is the result of our redemption through Christ’s sacrifice upon the Cross, vs. 7. Therefore, from the grace of God, we were predestined to adoption into the Royal Family of God.
Since this was done in eternity past, there can be no human works involved to earn it or deserve it. Our predestination is totally by the Grace of God.
In this passage, we also have the word “bestowed,” which is the Verb CHARITOO, χαριτόω that means, “to give grace or bestow favor.” It is only used here for “bestowed” and in Luke 1:28, for “favored one.” In our passage, “bestowed” could be translated “gave grace.” Therefore, we could translate it as, Eph 1:6, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, which grace He freely gave to us in the Beloved.”
Because of our union with the Lord Jesus Christ in time, God’s grace is given to us in time. Therefore, salvation and all its benefits, including our adoption as adult sons into the Royal Family of God that was predestined from eternity past, are the result of God’s glorious grace, His unmerited favor, coming into our lives. As such, this verse exhorts us to “praise of the glory of His grace which He gave to us.” That is, praise the magnificence, splendor, grandeur, brilliance, and exaltation; His grace that has been given to us.
3. Eph 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us.”
Continuing the doxology, vs. 7 praises God the Father’s grace of redemption as being “the riches of His grace.” “Riches” is the Noun PLOUTOS that means, “wealth, riches, abundance, etc.” This is not just material wealth, but also includes wisdom or insight, i.e., His Word. In addition, the image of wealth captures the abundant generosity of God in Christ.
In Ephesians, we see that the “riches” of God is used 5 times, the number of “grace.” The first three “riches” speak to God’s grace regarding our eternal blessings associated with our conversion. The last two are the grace of God in our lives while here on earth for our spiritual walk post-conversion. They include:
- In our passage, grace is lavished on us in “the riches of His grace,” because He has redeemed our souls based on our sins being paid for by Jesus Christ on the Cross. Lavished is the Verb PERISSEUO, περισσεύω that means, “to be more than enough, to have an abundance of, to be superior, and to excel in.”
- In Eph 1:18, “The riches of His glory” tells us of His grace in giving us an eternal inheritance.
- In Eph 2:7, “The surpassing riches of His grace,” is received by seating us with Christ.
- In Eph 3:8, “The unfathomable riches of Christ,” is the grace giving / teaching of His Word.
- In Eph 3:16, “The riches of His glory,” is His grace given to us in the power of the Holy Spirit that strengthens our souls.
In our passage, “the riches of His grace,” speaks of the “abundance” of God in paying for our sins through the Cross of Jesus Christ. As such, all of our sins are paid for and all of the sins of the entire world are paid for, with even more grace in reserve. That is the abundance of His grace; the riches of His grace!
In addition, combining vs. 6-7, we see the one and only way of salvation that is given to us by the grace of God. That grace is through the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Beloved, in whom we have redemption and forgiveness because of the giving of Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God the Father and Jesus Christ have lavished grace upon us. We are the recipients of their extravagant goodness and kindness. Paul is trying very hard to describe God’s grace towards us, but we do not have words to describe God’s amazing grace. Words fail in attempting to describe the inexhaustible resources of God’s giving, cf. 2 Cor 9:8; Rom 5:15, 20. Yet, though words fail, we are to try our best to praise God because He has lavished His grace upon us.
4. Eph 2:5, “Even when we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you have been saved).”
God’s greatest act of mercy is explained in this verse. This tells us that our salvation is from the grace of God. As an introduction, Eph 2:5 is further described in vs. 7-9; by grace you are saved.
Here, Paul uses the instrumental Dative case to express the means by which our new spiritual life is accomplished. It explains how God operates. It refers to “undeserved favor” that is a constant reminder that God does not manifest acts of mercy toward people because they deserve them.
This grace tells us of God’s mercy and love that caused Him to act on behalf of sinful men and women and to do what was necessary for them, even when they were in such a condition. Our salvation is expressed this way because of the necessity of an initial act of our conversion by the grace of God.
God accomplished this spiritual conversion by the power of the Holy Spirit, using the Word. In God’s grace, He “made us alive,” speaking of the new spiritual life we have and of the resurrection life we have in Christ, given to us by God the Father. However, God does not cease working in believers’ lives after conversion. It is an ongoing action of grace towards us.
This also speaks of God’s grace in placing us in union with Jesus Christ. As members of His body, we are united to Him, Eph 1:22-23, so that we share His resurrection life and power, Eph 1:19-20.
This is Paul’s impassioned underlining of what the statement he is making about the grace of God should mean to us. It draws our attention to the Divine initiative, the definite accomplishment and the continuing reality involved in having been made alive together with Christ. Our new situation has been brought about BY GRACE! No one is beyond the reach of God’s regenerating grace, and no one is beyond the need for God’s regenerating grace. Being raised from the dead is all of grace.
Therefore, “By grace you have been saved” draws our attention to God’s sovereign freedom from obligation in saving us. We have been made alive together with Christ. We are no longer spiritually dead; we have been spiritually resurrected, transferred from death to life, John 5:24; Col 2:13-14. God also raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenly places. And, in anticipation of our future resurrection and glorification, we can already begin to live new lives of righteousness through the work of the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16; Phil 3:20. Only God the Father, by His sovereign grace and through the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, can save a person through His Son.
5. Eph 2:7, “So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Vs. 7, shows why God has done all of this for us by His grace. Why from eternity past He has chosen us to be holy before Him in love? Why has He made us accepted in the Beloved? Why, when dead in trespasses and sins, has He made us alive, raised us up, and made us to sit together in heavenly realms with Christ? The answer is found in this verse.
The revelation of the grace of God, (i.e., His unmerited love), is the specific object of redemption. Saving us by grace demonstrates to us, the world, and the angelic realm of the exceeding riches of His grace done in His kindness, (the noun CHRESTOTES χρηστότης, “goodness, uprightness, kindness, mercy, generosity), towards us. For all of eternity the Church will be a demonstration to all creation of God’s grace. Believers will truly be “trophies” of God’s grace forever. For all of eternity, you and I will be glorifying God.
“Surpassing riches” also means that the value of His gift of grace is actually immeasurable. Therefore, the purpose of God in Christ is the display of His immeasurable grace. The great manifestation of grace is God’s kindness to us in Christ, and the manifestation of God through men “in Christ” is for all ages.
In addition, this verse tells us that God will dispense His grace to us in Christ forever. Ponder the idea of grace for “ages” to come. Instead of wrath, we have everlasting grace! The question to us is then, “Do we show in character and conduct the grace which we have received by reverently submitting ourselves to its transforming energy?”
6. Eph 2:8, “For by THE grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
In this verse, Paul describes the means by which one receives the incomparable grace gift of new life. This answers the questions, “How can I receive the grace gift of salvation?”
Here, we see the amplification of the statement in vs. 5, “by grace you have been saved.” Faith is the instrument by which we lay hold of Christ. But faith is not a work. It is a gift. “It is the gift of God,” refers to the whole process of salvation, not just to the granting of faith to believe. Because salvation is a Divine gift from the grace of God, it cannot be earned. Therefore, anyone’s moral efforts or religious activity cannot earn salvation. We were not saved because we were smarter than others, prettier than others, better than others, more religious than others, more giving than others, or more gifted than others. Our salvation was the work of God. God showed us astonishing grace. He put forth His Son as our substitute, and He granted us the faith to believe in the Savior.
As we have noted, Divine grace in salvation is the unrestrained compassion of God acting toward the sinner on the basis of that freedom already secured through the righteous judgment against sin; secured by Christ in His sacrificial death.
Grace is the basis for everything God has done for us:
- Grace motivated the Father to choose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, Eph 1:4-6.
- Grace provided the one-time payment for eternal redemption, the blood of Christ, who came to earth and died for the forgiveness of our sins, Eph 1:7.
- And by grace alone we receive this forgiveness and salvation; grace apart from any merit of our own, Eph 2:8-9.
Though grace is the “objective basis” for our salvation, Paul also mentions an equally important “subjective means” of receiving this grace: faith. We are saved by grace, but we appropriate this grace through faith.
Believers need to accept what God has provided them in Christ Jesus. Faith is a human activity but a specific kind of activity, a response which allows salvation to become operative, which receives what has already been accomplished by God in Christ. Faith, therefore, is the mere act of accepting what God has done for us in grace; a non-meritorious act on our part, and not the ground on which salvation is bestowed. The ground on which it is bestowed is God’s grace. As noted in vs. 7, the manifestation of the grace of God is the great end of redemption, because salvation is entirely of grace.
The grace of salvation is received when God opens our blind eyes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, enabling us to understand it and to accept its promise of forgiveness, for all who believe. When the veil of death is lifted from our hearts, our minds are illuminated to have faith in Christ’s death for our sins and His resurrection from the dead. This faith, apart from any works, is then the sole means of entering into an eternal relationship with the Father though Jesus Christ the Son by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, grace tells us that God initiated our salvation, He implemented it, and He receives all the glory for it. In contrast, we could do nothing to start it, cannot contribute anything to it, and therefore can take no credit for it.
Grace for salvation also tells us that sin worked against us and God worked for us, but the great work of conversion is just the beginning.
The eternal purpose of God is not the manifestation of His love alone, though His love and His mercy are, like His grace, mentioned in this context and expressed in Christ’s death; but it is rather the manifestation of His grace. Out of God’s infinite treasure chest, He lavishes His grace upon sinners without restraint or hindrance.
7. Eph 3:2, “If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you.”
As also noted in Eph 1:10; 3:9, as well as 1 Cor 4:1; 9:17; Col 1:25; 1 Tim 1:4, in this passage, Paul is speaking of the responsibility God gave him to share the mystery doctrines for the Church Age, the Age of Grace, to the world, see vs. 3. Paul had been given “the dispensation of the grace of God” or an “administration of God’s grace,” to communicate what it meant to the Church.
“Dispensation” is the Greek Noun OIKONOMIA, οἰκονομία that literally means, “house manager” and could be translated “stewardship, economy, administration, management, arrangement, plan, task, etc.” The word dispensation comes from two Greek words: OIKOS, meaning “house” and NOMOS, meaning “law.” Our English word “economy” is derived directly from the Greek OIKONOMIA, “the law of the house,” or “a stewardship, a management.”
God had given Paul the responsibility of making known to the world the meaning of the mystery God had revealed to him: the amazing unity of the NT Church found in Christ, with no distinction between Gentiles and Jews. Paul’s responsibility involved explaining God’s grace plan in creating a special people, or a “household” of both Jews and Gentiles, through Christ, Eph 2:19; 3:5-6. Paul’s role was to explain this “mystery,” and the church’s role is to “understand” and then communicate it, vs. 4.
Therefore, we see that the “dispensation” or “age” in which we live is one highly characterized as being of God’s Grace. God could have concluded human history with the closing of the Jewish dispensation, but due to their rejection of the Messiah, and more importantly God’s grace, God chose to establish another “age” for the building of His Church, the body of Jesus Christ signified by the term “grace.”
There are five, (the number of Grace), main Dispensation in the Plan of God for human history. They include:
1) The Dispensation or Age of Innocent: The time of Adam and the woman in the Garden of Eden.
2) The Dispensation or Age of the Gentiles: The time from the fall of man to the giving of the Law to Moses and Israel. Many scholars break this dispensation into several time periods including, Pre-Flood, Post-Flood to the Tower of Babel, Babel to Abraham, Abraham to Moses, and other variations.
3) The Dispensation or Age of the Law: The time from the giving of the Law to Israel to the Day of Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection. This Dispensation was interrupted by the Age of Grace, and is to be concluded when the Age of Grace ends.
4) The Dispensation or Age of Grace, also called the Dispensation of the Church: The time from the Day of Pentecost, after Christ’s resurrection, to the Rapture of the Church.
5) The Dispensation or Age of the Millennium: The time from the conclusion of the Tribulation and Second Coming of Jesus Christ until the end of the Millennium, 1,000 years.
See chart of the Dispensations below:
As you know, this mystery was “hidden” or “not made known to people in other generations,” vs. 5; but now it can be understood. It was Paul’s responsibility to communicate this message of grace so that the people of the world, especially Gentiles, Acts 9:15; 26:13-18; Rom 11:13; 15:15-16; Eph 3:8; 1 Tim 2:7, would understand the mystery. Vs. 6, gives a brief summary of some of the mystery doctrines for the Dispensation of Grace that includes:
a.) Gentiles are fellow heirs (with the Jewish believers).
b.) And fellow members of the body (of Jesus Christ).
c.) And fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
While the plan of God was present in the OT, parts were unclear or “hidden” in a sense, vs. 9. But when Christ appeared, the lights came on, clarifying the nature of the Messiah’s death, the fact that Gentiles do not have to become Jews, Gentiles and Jews have equal access to God, and the degree of closeness one has with God in the Age of Grace. Now that these things have been made known, people should know them and celebrate them, and continue to communicate them to a lost and dying world.
God’s principles do not change, but His methods of dealing with mankind do change over the course of history. Augustine wrote, “Distinguish the ages and the Scriptures harmonize.” Therefore, we are to fully understand the Age of Grace in which we live and apply the principles of the mystery doctrine for this age to our lives.
From this, we also see that Grace has as its specific focus the special favor granted Paul in qualifying him to be apostle to the Gentiles. As such, God had a grace plan for Paul’s life, and therefore, God has a grace plan for your life as well. When we understand this and walk in it, we have a Personal Sense of Destiny inside the grace plan of God for our lives.
The grace given to Paul was for the ultimate benefit of the Gentile Christians, as well as Jewish Christians. The grace God gives to you as a Royal Priest and Ambassador of Christ, is for the benefit of the unbelieving and believing of this world, both Gentile and Jew.
8. Eph 3:7, “Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.”
Here we see that Paul’s stewardship in the administration of the Dispensation of Grace was, “according to the gift of the grace of God.” He realized, as we should too, that to be a servant of God is “the gift of the grace of God.” Paul did not take this honor to himself, but became a servant of the gospel by God’s grace and power, vs. 7; cf. Eph 1:19; 3:16. Thus, Eph 3:1-8 contains seven instances of the words gift, give, or grace, cf. vs. 2, 7-8.
With the use of DOREA, δωρεά, “free gift,” cf. Eph 4:7, God’s graciousness is underlined. It is a term also employed by Paul to speak of the generosity of God’s activity in Christ on behalf of humanity, Rom 3:24; 5:15, 17; 2 Cor 9:15. The grace experienced by Paul in his ministry flowed out of the mighty power of God. It was the gift of God’s grace that transformed Saul, the proud Pharisee who persecuted the church, to Paul, the apostle who was now a prisoner for Jesus Christ. God’s transforming grace is also available to you, Rom 12:1.
“The mystery” that Paul was to proclaim, not only gives believing Gentiles a new relationship with God, it also reveals that there is a new power available to us by the grace of God. God’s grace puts us all, (all believers), into ministry in His church, and His power makes it possible for us to fulfill these ministries. There are two Greek words used here to describe this, “working,” ENERGEIA, “working, power, efficiency,” where we get our word “energy” from, and “power,” DUNAMIS, “inherent power, might, ability, or force,” where we get our words “dynamic and dynamite” from.
The power of God which raised Christ from the dead and is at work in believers was also the power operative in transmitting grace to the apostle; as it is toward you and I. Therefore, by God’s grace gift to Paul and to us, we have tremendous responsibility to reveal God’s plan to the world, and God has promised to give us by His Grace the ability or power necessary to carry out that responsibility, Eph 3:16.
Combined with vs. 8, we see two aspects of God’s grace in our lives in reverse order, so that we can be great ambassadors for Christ. In vs. 7, we see God’s empowering grace, and in vs. 8, we see God’s humbling grace. We will note the latter in the next point. Here, in vs. 7, we are noting God’s empowering Grace. The Lord powerfully called Paul on the Road to Damascus, and the Lord’s power continued to sustain him for ministry, Rom 1:5; 12:3; 15:5; 1 Cor 3:10; 2 Cor 12:9; Col 1:29. God’s grace did and does the same for you and me.
By His grace, the mighty power of God, Eph 1:19-20, provides sufficient strength for weak, fragile, ordinary people like us, as we make the glories of Christ known to a lost and dying world.
We also see here that Paul did not make himself a minister, vs. 2; cf. Col 1:23, 25. He did not choose to be an apostle, a missionary, and a martyr as his lifelong career goal. Rather, God’s grace marked Paul as a minister. Likewise, you and I have not chosen to become ambassadors for Christ, but the sovereign grace of God has called us to that position. And, because it was a grace calling, not of your own choice, God provides all the necessary power and energy to be highly successful in performing it.
9. Eph 3:8, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.”
This third reference to grace in this chapter introduces a further revelation of the mystery with which Paul’s apostleship was uniquely connected. This “humbling grace” was given to him to preach the good news, cf. Gal 1:15-16a.
Gal 1:15-16a, “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…”
In this passage we see that God’s grace had a humbling effect on Paul, yet it also had an empowering effect. Instead of boasting about his own abilities, Eph 3:4-7, and the fact that God had given him such an important position and task, the apostle considered himself an unworthy servant, mainly because of his past sins, failures, and antagonism towards Jesus Christ, as prior to his conversion he had persecuted Christ by persecuting His church, Acts 9:5; 1 Cor 15:9; Phil 3:6; 1 Tim 1:12-15.
In spite of his previous position of violently opposing the Church, the grace of God gave Paul the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming to the world the mystery of the Church. He is saying that his own unworthiness did not prevent him from being appointed. The grace of God grabbed him and put him into action inside his great and wonderful plan for his life; just as God’s grace does for you and I today.
Therefore, if God in His grace could take Paul, “the least and worst of all the saints,” and give him such a great role and responsibility, God can take every one of us and by His grace give us an important and impactful role and responsibility inside the body of Jesus Christ; which He does.
By saying, “the very least of all saints,” Paul is not putting himself down, that would have been false humility, which really is just another form of pride. Rather, he is boasting of God’s great grace in his life, 1 Cor 15:9-10; cf. 2 Cor 12:8-9.
1 Cor 15:9-10, “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
Therefore, we should not present ourselves in self-abasing, false humility type of ways so that others feel sorry for us or think more highly of us. Instead, we are to boast in what Christ has done and is doing for us. He has and is taking a weak and sinful creature and turning him into a powerful spiritual ambassador and warrior.
In the context of this verse, God took a self-righteous arrogant religious “do-gooder” and made him a spiritual warrior and ambassador. God took the “very least” one and did three great things by His grace through him:
- Eph 3:8b, “Preached to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.”
- Eph 3:9, “Brought to light the Dispensation of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things.”
- Eph 3:10, “So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places (the angelic forces).”
Notice in vs. 10, this is accomplished, “through the Church.” That means Paul started it and you and I are to continue that work in our generation by the power given to us by the Grace of God. And as we noted above, God’s grace had a humbling effect on Paul, and it also had an empowering effect too. What God in His grace did for Paul, He does to and through you and I today, also by His grace. Remember, we do not have to serve Jesus; we get to serve Jesus.
When you view yourself as the “least of all the saints,” you will gladly serve “the least of these,” Mat 25:40. Grace humbles you and causes you to identify with everyone, including the poor and the weak. No one is beneath you. The “least of all the saints” gives love, time, and energy to everyone created in God’s image. And as Paul noted in vs. 7, we should realize that we need God’s grace to empower us to do these things.
“This grace was given to me,” not only speaks of God’s empowerment, but many times is speaking of the office itself. In Paul’s case the office of “Apostle to the Gentiles,” which he also called “a grace,” Rom 12:3; 15:15; 1 Cor 3:10; Gal 2:9. You and I have also been given the office of Royal Ambassadors for Christ, Eph 6:20; 2 Cor 5:20, in which His grace made us to proclaim His truths.
This is also seen in the Greek for the “spiritual gifts” we receive at conversion. “Gifts” comes from a cognate of CHARIS, CHARISMA, 1 Cor 12. It is speaking of the spiritual gifts that God has given to us with a ministry and effect by His Grace. We utilize our grace gift through the grace power God uniquely provides to the Age of Grace believer; His Holy Spirit and His Word. We will see more of this in our next utilization of “grace” in the book of Ephesians.
In conclusion, the goal of God’s grace in Paul’s life was to make him an apostle and empower his gift “to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.” It was to Paul that grace was given to make these glorious immeasurable riches of Christ known and available to the Gentiles. As we have noted, “the unfathomable riches,” speaks to the plenitude of all Divine glories and perfections which dwell in Christ, the fullness of grace to pardon, to sanctify, and to save; everything which makes Him satisfy the soul of man. Paul, as we, has been graced out to communicate these things to a lost and dying world.
10. Eph 4:7, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
In the context of this verse being unity within the church, the body of Christ, we see several principles of grace.
The first thing we see about grace in this passage, is that it is “given” to us, just as in Eph 3:2, 7-8, with the utilization of the Passive use of the verb DIDOMI, “give, give out, hand over, entrust to, etc.” It means, “to give of one’s own accord and with good will and to give as an expression of generosity.” That means that God is the source of grace, God is the cause of grace, God is the provider of grace, God is the supplier of grace, God is the benefactor of grace, God is the “gifter” of grace, and God is the worker of grace in our lives.
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The other context we have in this verse is the application of your spiritual gift that God, in and by His grace, gave to each one of us at the moment or our conversion. Within the body of Christ, each member enjoys a share of God’s grace. As in Eph 3:2, this grace is for equipping rather than saving. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit works to develop unity among God’s people, He also takes-into-account, our individuality based on the spiritual gift, ministry and effect the grace of God has given to us. In fact, He uses our differences to attain that unity, cf. 1 Cor 12:4-7.
1 Cor 12:4-7, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
As we noted in Eph 3:8, in 1 Cor 12:4, “gifts” is the Greek word CHARISMA, a cognate of CHARIS or grace, that means, “A gift, grace, or favor.” In 1 Cor 12:4, it emphasizes the spiritual gift itself as a grace gift from God. Therefore, the giving of spiritual gifts is truly one of the great graces we have received from God personally, as well as the entire Church, Rom 11:29; 12:6.
Spiritual gifts are a supernatural endowment of the Holy Spirit whereby every Christian is empowered to perform a certain function which edifies the Church and glorifies God, Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12:4ff. The function of Spiritual Gifts is noted in Rom 12:1‑8. The team concept of Spiritual Gifts is noted in 1 Cor 12:1‑31. Notice, that the “grace” of all three members of the Trinity is involved in the giving and application of our spiritual gifts.
Rom 12:6, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…”
All three members of the Trinity are the source of our spiritual gifts.
- God the Father is the source as noted in Heb 2:4.
- God the Son is the source of Spiritual Gifts as noted in Eph 4:7-8.
- God the Holy Spirit gives a Spiritual Gift to each of us at salvation as He wills, 1 Cor 12:11; Heb 2:4.
In 1 Cor 12:4-6, each “variation” has a different empowerment from the Godhead.
- Gifts – the Holy Spirit is the giver and enabler. He gave us our gift; the skills needed to play on the team. (Using American football as an example: A person having good hands to catch the ball.)
- Ministries – the Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of the humble servant in the prototype spiritual life. He determines the position we will play on the team. (For example – a wide receiver.)
- Effects – God the Father is the planner and designer. He determines what the responsibilities of our position will be. (For example – will this receiver be a deep threat or run short patterns over the middle.)
As such, it is inconsistent to say, “I am a Christian, but I do not have a ministry,” because the Holy Spirit gives us a spiritual gift, Jesus Christ gives to every Christian a ministry in order to use their spiritual gift, and God the Father has designed from eternity past the effect our gift and ministry will have during our time here on planet earth. All of this comes from the grace of God. Therefore, your spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve God and other Christians in such a way that believers are edified and Christ is glorified. Nevertheless, the indwelling Holy Spirit empowers each of us to perform to the fullest the task at hand in the position we have been given inside the body of Christ, 1 Cor 12:7.
There are two categories of Spiritual Gifts:
- Temporary Spiritual Gifts were operational during the pre-canon period of the Church Age, i.e., from A. D. 30, the day of Pentecost when the Church Age began, to approximately A.D. 96. On the day the Church Age began there was no New Testament. Therefore, temporary Spiritual Gifts were designed to take up the slack in the Church Age until the New Testament canon was completed and circulated, and the mystery doctrine of the Church Age was reduced to writing. 1 Cor 13:8-10, explains the temporary function of certain Spiritual Gifts.
- Permanent Spiritual Gifts also functioned from the day of Pentecost and will continue until the Rapture of the Church, whenever that occurs.
The following is a list of the Spiritual Gifts for the Church Age:
- The Temporary Gifts included the following: 1) The gift of Apostleship, 2) Prophecy, 3) Miracles, 4) Healing, 5) Tongues (languages), 6) Interpreting Tongues, and 7) Discerning Spirits.
- The Permanent Gifts include: 1) The gift of Pastor and Teacher, 2) Evangelism, 3) Administration, government, or ruling, 4) Ministering or Service, 5) Helps, 6) Exhortation, 7) Giving, 8) Showing Mercy, and 9) Faith.
- There are two other gifts that are applied to the Church, 1) Word of Knowledge, and 2) Word of Wisdom, cf. Acts 6:3, 8-10; 1 Cor 12:8; 13:2, 8, where the first most likely has ceased, i.e., was temporary, 1 Cor 13:8.
We are all commanded to use our spiritual gift, 1 Peter 4:10. Therefore, learning what your grace gift is will equip you to serve God and man.
1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Next, we see in our verse, Eph 4:7, as in Eph 3:7, “gifts,” is the Greek Noun DOREA, δωρεά that means, “gift, free gift, or present.” The emphasis here is upon the “freeness” or unearned nature of Jesus’ gift bestowed upon us. DOREA is used here to emphasize the grace giving aspect of the gift, rather than the gift itself, as in Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:4; 1 Tim 4:14; 1 Peter 4:10, etc., with the word CHARISMA.
In the context of Eph 4:8-13, Christ specifically freely gave the communication spiritual gifts to the Church, “12For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
Compared to the other texts on gifts, in our passage we see the exalted, Christ-centered focus. Paul highlights Christ’s generosity and authority. Jesus Christ died, rose, and ascended into heaven as the victorious King with all authority and gave gifts to His people, displaying extravagant grace and generosity.
Therefore, “grace given according to the measure of Christ’s gift,” is speaking about God’s grace in the granting of communication spiritual gifts by Jesus Christ so that His Word, Bible doctrine, would be made available to and for the Church so that each member could grow and excel with our own spiritual gift to build the body of Jesus Christ.
And finally, this is another example of how Jesus is a grace giver! Being the victor at the Cross and winning the spoils of the war of the Angelic Conflict, at His resurrection, Jesus then distributed the spoils He won. The spoils of His victory are spiritual gifts to the Church, especially the communication spiritual gifts, as noted in vs. 11. Have you ever thought of your spiritual gift as a “spoil of warfare?”
Likewise, in our Christ-like nature, we too are to be grace givers. We are to be generous with the use of the spiritual gifts we have received. These gifts are ways in which we extend the ministry of Jesus on this earth for the building up and growth of the Church. This means that if you do not exercise your gift in the body, you stunt the growth of us all. Therefore, when you see spiritual gifts at work, you should adore God who gave them. When someone’s gift blesses you, you should see that as God blessing you with the result that you praise Him!
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The context of this passage is in relation to our former manner of life, that we do not go back to the sinful ways of our old self, our Old Sin Nature. From vs. 17 forward, we are exhorted to not fall into reversionism, the hardening of our heart, the black out of the soul, etc. Instead, we are walk in the newness of life in Christ.
Beginning in vs. 25, we have several examples of living in the old life that included; lying, anger, stealing, and using sinful speech or sins of the tongue, as we say, that can include; coarse jesting, gossiping, maligning, slandering, false flattery, etc. Instead, we are to use our speech to rightly lift people up by edifying their souls with truth, especially with the Word of God.
When we use our speech to “edify according to the need of the moment,” we are in fact “giving grace” to others. Therefore, in this passage, we see the application of grace towards others in our speech, through our grace positions of Royal Ambassadors for Christ in the utilization of our spiritual gifts.
Here, “grace” is the Preposition CHARIN, χάριν that typically is translated, “because of, for the sake of, or for this reason,” cf. Eph 3:1, 14. It is used 10 times in the NT, but only here is it translated “grace.” In classical Greek and the Septuagint, it is used for “in favor of” or “for the pleasure of.” Looking at the other Ephesian passages that use CHARIN in this book and translate it “grace,” we could say:
In Eph 3:1, instead of, “For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.” We could say, “By grace, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.”
In Eph 3:14, instead of, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father.” We could say, “By grace, I bow my knees before the Father.”
Typically, CHARIN is a marker of purpose, pointing to the goal of an event or state, “for the purpose of, for the sake of, in order to, etc.” Therefore, in our passage, we see that “giving grace to others” is the purpose of our holy and righteous speech.
Nevertheless, in our verse, Eph 4:29, it follows the application of grace given to us in Chapter 3. It gives application for why we have been given the Dispensation of Grace with its grace gifts, so that we can impart grace to others in our speech, i.e., “a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Therefore, the imparting of grace is accomplished when we witness the Word of God in an edifying, building up way, Eccl 10:12; Col 4:6.
Eccl 10:12, “Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him.”
Col 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
As Paul notes in Col 4:6, speech “seasoned with salt,” is gracious speech, edifying speech, and glorifying speech. And, it is one that has wisdom too, “you will know how you should respond to each person.”
As such, we are to speak constructive words that are helpful and build up others; encouraging words that give grace to the hearers. With that said, it does not mean we are to flatter others to build up their egos. It means we are to speak the truth, and especially the truth of God’s Word, which is given to us in grace so that we can give it to others in grace, thereby strengthening, encouraging, and building up their souls.
We also see that when we witness or teach the Word of God to others, it is in stark contrast to the speech of the unbelieving world. At the same time, when we speak the grace of God, we are building up or edifying others, which also means the garbage in their soul is being replaced by the grace Word of God.
In addition, in the context of this passage, when we do not speak with grace and instead speak with the sins of the tongue, we are grieving the Holy Spirit, vs. 30. Sins of the tongue lead to the withdrawal of the influences of the Holy Spirit in our own lives, as we lose His filling ministry, cf. Eph 5:18. At the same time, we are frustrating His Common and Efficacious grace ministry working through us by not communicating the grace plan of God to others with our words, and we could add, our actions. Remember, the mouth and heart are connected, Mat 12:34; 15:18; Luke 6:45; Psa 19:14; 49:3; Prov 15:28; 16:23; Rom 10:9-10; 2 Cor 6:11.
As Jesus said to the Pharisees in Mat 12:34, “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
Mat 15:18, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.”
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
Prov 15:28, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”
Psa 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
Psa 49:3, “My mouth will speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart will be understanding.”
Prov 16:23, “The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips.”
Rom 10:8, “But what does it say? ‘THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART,’ (Deut 30:14), —that is, the word of faith which we are preaching.”
2 Cor 6:11, “Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.”
Before we open our mouths, we should ask ourselves, “Will what I am about to say or do please the Spirit or grieve the Spirit?” If the latter, stop! If the former, proceed.
We are to remember that there is more going on than meets the eye in our relationships within the local church and outside of it as well. Relationships involve spiritual warfare. Let us learn to walk by the grace ministry of God the Holy Spirit and yield to Him in our conversation and attitudes, eagerly maintaining the unity of the Spirit.
Remember, your words have power, either for good or evil, James 3. Satan encourages speech that will tear people down and destroy the work of Christ. Yet, Paul tells us to speak in such a way that what we say will build up our hearers and not tear them down. Our words should minister grace and help to draw others closer to Christ.
James 3:17-18, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Your words should be vehicles of Divine grace, instead of harming others. The emphasis should not be on entertaining others but on edifying them. We are to ensure that our language has a beneficial effect on those who are listening, including the angels who are always listening, 1 Peter 1:12; Heb 13:2.
12. Eph 6:24, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.”
As we have noted, “grace” is the key word of the epistle. It opened it in Eph 1:2, and it is the subject of it comparing Eph 2:7-8. Now, in its twelfth usage, it concludes the epistle. It is fitting because it is God’s grace which saved us and which sustains us every day.
In concluding his letter to the churches in Asia Minor, with the twelfth mention of the word “grace” in this letter, Paul desires that we all have and know the grace of God in our lives. Throughout this “Prison Epistle,” he places great emphasis upon “grace,” as we have noted in the previous 11 occurrences of its usage in this letter. Paul himself was a very “gracious” man because he was a recipient of God’s great grace in life, as we have noted above, and one of his main desires was that other people would also receive this grace. As such, in this closing “grace” prayer, we see another application of giving grace, as Paul desires and prays for “grace” to be in the lives of believers.
In this verse, “grace” is used to focus our attention on “the Lord Jesus Christ,” as do other closing salutations.
Paul’s Concluding Salutations in His Epistles:
Rom 16:20b, “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
1 Cor 16:23, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.”
2 Cor 13:14, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Gal 6:18, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.”
Eph 6:24, “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”
Phil 4:23, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Col 4:18, “Grace be with you.”
1 Thes 5:28. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
2 Thes 3:18, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”
1 Tim 6:21b, “Grace be with you.”
2 Tim 4:22, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”
Titus 3:15b, “Grace be with you all.”
Philemon 25, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Eph 6:24, however, is unique among the closing salutations in Paul’s letters, because it changes the usual second person plural address, “with you” or “with your spirit,” to a third person plural formulation, “with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ.” This emphasizes the caveat of knowing and experiencing God’s grace in your life. It speaks to being occupied with Jesus Christ, which we will note below.
Nevertheless, when a person truly responds to the unmerited favor bestowed by God, how can he help but respond in sincere love? As such, Paul was able to give a salutation of grace to the church because of their unceasing love for their Lord Jesus Christ. This is a very appropriate ending to the epistle, because all grace and blessings come to the saints from God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace, the free unmerited favor of God and all good, spiritual and temporal, is and shall be with (i.e., known and experienced by), all those who thus love our Lord Jesus Christ and with them only.
Therefore, Paul’s desire is that we all receive this grace because we all love the Lord Jesus Christ. Once we conclude this study of the 12 occurrences of “grace” in the Book of Ephesians, we will note in more detail the love for Christ that is “incorruptible,” that results in His grace towards us be known and experienced.
Conclusion to our Study on Grace as found in the Book of Ephesians.
“The blessing of grace, which was a liturgical form before it was an epistolary form, recalls the language of worship and the liturgical forms which frame the first half of the letter. It also recalls through its content two of the great themes of the first half—that all the privileges of salvation believers enjoy are theirs through God’s grace, which has been lavished on them in Christ, and that one of the greatest of those privileges is their share in Christ’s resurrection and exaltation, which they experience now but which they will continue to experience in the coming ages. Having exhorted his readers in the second half of the letter to maintain the Church’s unity and participate in its growth and to demonstrate the life of the new humanity in society, and having braced them for the battle against the powers of evil which this will involve, the writer comes full circle, as he once again points the readers back to the Divine resources that are available and calls on God to bestow his abundant grace and glorious immortality upon them.” (Word Biblical Commentary.)
L.S. Chafer wonderfully summarizes the principle of grace in his Systematic Theology. He notes, “Since grace only represents what God can and will do for those who trust the Savior, it must function apart from all human works or cooperation. It calls for no more than confidence in the only One who can save. The Scriptures assign to the operating of grace the only salvation now offered to sinful men. God’s grace also provides security for the saved one. This is done by continuing the grace work of God with the individual in spite of his imperfections. Grace also undertakes to direct the saved one in the new manner of his daily life after he has been saved. A new motive for this is set up by the fact that the one saved was perfected forever in the sight of God as being in Christ, therefore partaking of His merit and standing forever. Nothing of merit need be added to that which is perfected forever (cf. John 1:16; Rom. 5:1; 8:1; Heb. 10:14). Hence the obligation to gain merit is removed completely, and the whole law system with its merit ceases to be applicable to the saved one under grace. He is no longer under law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14). The new problem becomes that of how a perfected person should walk in this world. Grace teaches the saved one concerning his holy walk in daily life. The standard is as high as heaven itself. God requires, and with reason, that the saved one, by reason of being a citizen of heaven, should live according to the standards of heaven (cf. John 13:34; Eph. 4:1, 30; 1 Thess. 5:19).” (Systematic Theology)
In the application of the word “grace” in the book of Ephesians, we saw:
In Eph 1:2, Grace is, “from God.”
In Eph 1:6, Grace is, “freely bestowed by God.”
In Eph 1:7, Grace is, “lavished upon us by God.”
In Eph 2:5, Grace is, “by God.”
In Eph 2:7, Grace is, “shown toward us by God.”
In Eph 2:8, Grace is, “gifted by God.”
In Eph 3:2, Grace is, “given,” to me for you.
In Eph 3:7, Grace is, “given,” according to the working of His power.
In Eph 3:8, Grace is, “given,” to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ.
In Eph 4:7, Grace is, “given,” according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
In Eph 4:29, Grace is, “to give grace to others.”
In Eph 6:24, Grace is, “to be with you all.”
And, grace is given to us by all three members of the Trinity!
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Now, looking at the rest of this passage, we have noted HO CHARIS, “the grace,” that Paul desires for believers. This is noted in the next few words, “with all those who,” which begins with the Genitive Preposition META, “with.” Since this is Paul’s desire, it should read, “be with,” that is, “The grace, (that is from God), be with.” Then we have the recipients of God’s grace with the Genitive Adjective of PAS, “all or everyone,” with the Genitive Article HO used pronominally for, “those, or those who.” The Article is used here as a demonstrative Pronoun to identify a certain group of believers as defined in the rest of the passage.
The criteria for this grace is, “loving our Lord Jesus Christ,” AGAPAO HO KURIOS HEMEIS IESOUS CHRISTOS.
“Love,” is the verb AGAPAO that is used 10 times in the book of Ephesians, as we have noted above. Here it is the Present, Active, Participle, in the Genitive, Plural.
The Present Tense is Gnomic for a timeless general fact that God’s grace is poured out to those who love the Lord, and that the action of loving and grace pouring continues without time limit. In other words, the believer who continually loves the Lord will continue to be blessed by the grace of God.
The Active Voice says that the believer performs the actions of loving the Lord.
The Participle provides a substantive force of “love” that the believer possesses, (using the Genitive case here), that is directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a thing possessed, (i.e., Category 1 Love, love towards God), and in this case specifically, love that is expressed towards the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Therefore, we see, “Motivational Virtue AGAPE Love, (MVA Love),” in action in these passages. With 10 being the number for perfect order, 7 the number of spiritual perfection, and 5 the number for grace, we see AGAPAO love as the perfect order for the believer to live in spiritual perfection under the grace plan of God, to express the grace of God to others. In this case, it is expressed towards The Lord Jesus Christ.
In the five contexts that AGAPAO Love is used in the Book of Ephesians, the action of AGAPAO love is motivated by the mental attitude motivational virtue of AGAPE love within the soul:
- The MVA love that characterized the person of Jesus Christ as “The Beloved,” or “the One loved,” through Whom we receive grace because of our union with Him, Eph 1:6.
- The MVA love God the Father has for us by providing for our Salvation, Eph 2:4.
- The MVA love that Christ had and has for us by going to the Cross, Eph 5:2.
- The MVA love a husband has for his wife that demonstrates Christ’s love for the Church, Eph 5:25, 28, 33.
- The MVA love we, the Church, are to have for the Lord Jesus Christ, (in response to the love Jesus Christ has demonstrated towards us), that results in God’s grace being poured out in our lives, Eph 6:24.
1 Peter 1:8, “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”
This love of ours is directed towards the person of “our Lord Jesus Christ,” HO KURIOS HEMEIS IESOUS CHRISTOS.
HEMEIS, “our” is the Possessive Genitive Personal Pronoun in the 1st Person Plural, where Paul is including himself along with us in claiming allegiance or love for the Lord. In other words, Jesus Christ belongs to us as of the moment of salvation. The possessive says Jesus Christ is “our Lord.” He is your personal Master, Owner, Lord, Savior, Messiah, and Friend.
“Lord” is the Accusative Singular of KURIOS, κύριος. It means, “Supreme controller, Owner, Master, and Lord.” It is used 23 times in the Book of Ephesians, Eph 1:2-3, 15, 17; 2:21; 3:11; 4:1, 5, 17; 5:8, 10, 17, 19, 20, 22; 6:1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 21, 23, 24.
This term was used in Christianity in contrast to the worship of the Roman Caesars or Emperors. Some Roman emperors employed the title KURIOS to themselves. They also promoted the notion of emperor worship and considered themselves divine. Here is where the term came to have religious connotations. Therefore, Paul employs the term for Jesus Christ along with the Possessive Pronoun HEMEIS, “our,” to distinguish the difference between the Roman Emperors as “lords” and Jesus Christ who is the one true “Lord.” As such, though Jesus is the Lord of all, Joshua 3:11-13; Micah 4:13; Zech 6:5; Act 10:36; Rom 10:12, He is not experientially the Lord of the unbeliever, nor of the reversionistic believer. Yet, He is experientially the Lord of the believer who loves Him. Therefore, “Lord,” also refers to the deity of Christ with emphasis on His authority as the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” Deut 10:17; Psa 136:1-26; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16.
IESOUS, Ἰησοῦς is translated “Jesus,” the title for His humanity that means Savior. It is used in the Book of Ephesians 19 times, Eph 1:1-3, 5, 15, 17; 2:6-7, 10, 13, 20; 3:1, 6, 11, 21; 4:21; 5:20; 6:23-24. It comes from the Hebrew YESHUA for Joshua, it means,” the Lord delivers or Savior.”
Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus (IESOUS) whom you crucified.”
CHRISTOS, Χριστός is translated “Christ,” meaning anointed one, which is His second royal title as the Son of David being the Messiah. “Christ” also refers to His deity with His messiahship in view, as the legitimate and eternal king of Israel. It is used 42 times in the Book of Ephesians.
When Lord is added to the phrase, as it is here, His Lordship or Kingship is emphasized in relation to its placement in the phrase, which in this case is first. Therefore, the first emphasis is of His Lordship, second His Humanity as Savior, and third being His Messiahship as God.
The title or name “Lord Jesus Christ” is used six times in the Book of Ephesians, Eph 1:2, 3, 17; 5:20; 6:23, 24. Six is the number of man. Therefore, we see the emphasis on the humanity of our Lord, even though He is God. He is God incarnate in hypostatic union – 100% man, 100% God.
In addition, in some ancient manuscripts, it is also added to Eph 3:14, as in the KJV, but it is not found in the most reliable texts. Nevertheless, that would make its usage seven times; the number of spiritual perfection. Further, the three titles are also used in Eph 3:11, but in a different order, “Christ Jesus our Lord,” which emphasizes His Deity and Messiahship first that also reminds us of the spiritual perfection He is, He performed and completed during His earthly ministry, as well as that which we have received being in union with Him.
The six usages of “Lord Jesus Christ,” emphasize the following:
- In Eph 1:2, the opening salutation, it tells us that “grace” and “peace” come to us from our LJC.
- In Eph 1:3, it tells us that we are to praise God our Father who has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing,” because of our union with TLJC
- In Eph 1:17, just as in vs. 3, we see that God our Father is also the God and Father of our LJC, which emphasizes Jesus’ humanity and the humility He took on to become like us, even though He is God, co-equal, co-infinite, and co-eternal with God the Father.
- In Eph 5:20, we are to give thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our LJC.
- In Eph 6:23, just as in the opening salutation, the closing salutation tells us that “peace,” (along with love and faith), are from our LJC.
- In Eph 6:24, continuing the closing salutation, we also see, like the opening salutation, that “grace” comes from our LJC, especially for those who love Him.
- In addition, in Eph 3:11, we see that God the Father’s eternal plan and purpose were carried out in “Christ Jesus our Lord,” the second member of the Trinity, who became man, to be the Messiah for the entire world.
Combined, all of these usages reminded us of the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiahship of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Union with our Lord Jesus Christ, and the mediatorship of our risen, ascended, and enthroned Lord Jesus Christ. It gives us a great overview of who our Lord is, what our Lord did and continues to do on our behalf, and of our relationship with Him.
Therefore, in Eph 6:24, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ,” as Paul closes with a statement about our personal relationship with Christ, he is telling us that we ought to be occupied with Him on a daily basis, first in appreciation and thanksgiving for all that He has done and is doing on our behalf, and secondly, to be occupied with Him we have to know Him and what He has done and is doing for us. The only way to know Him is to learn and apply His Word, DAILY!
As you know, in both the Old and New Testaments, we are commanded to love God with our all, Deut 6:5; Joshua 22:5; Mat 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27.
Deut 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Joshua 22:5, “Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Luke 10:27, “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself’.”
In our passage, Eph 6:24, the phrase, “those who love our Lord Jesus Christ,” is a Christological adaptation of the common expression “those who love God,” found in the OT. The OT promised God’s grace blessings motivated by His love to all who loved Him, Ex 20:6; Deut 5:10; 7:9; Neh 1:5; Dan 9:4; cf. 1 Kings 8:23.
Deut 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
1 Kings 8:23, “He said, ‘O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart’.”
Therefore, there was a promise of some kind of blessing in their lives by the love of God, when they expressed their love for Him. This same concept was carried over in the NT regarding the reciprocal love relationship we are to have with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ in Rom 8:28; 1 Cor 2:9; 8:3; James 1:12; 2:5.
Rom 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
1 Cor 2:9, “But just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him’.”
James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
James 2:5, “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”
As such, we too, who are expressing our love for God towards Him during this Age of Grace, are blessed by God as a result. And, these promises of blessings apply specifically to those who love the Lord Jesus Christ, (i.e., are occupied with Christ consistently, experientially), as noted in our verse.
Throughout this book, Paul has referred to God’s love for believers, Eph 2:4, Christ’s love for them, Eph 3:19; 5:2, 25, believers’ love for one another, Eph 1:15; 4:2, believing husbands’ love for their wives, Eph 5:25, 28, 33, and believers’ love in general, Eph 1:4; 3:17; 4:15, 16; 5:2; 6:23. Yet, this is the only place where our love for Christ is made explicit. In this way, the letter closes with a stress on believers’ personal relationship and commitment to Christ. As such, it is important not only that we are aware of the objective benefits of the great salvation God has provided in Christ, but also that we have a subjective response to Him called “MVA love.” Our response of allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ is that we actively express our love for Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. And, as our passage indicates, when we do, the grace of God will be in our lives.
Love for Christ includes adoring admiration of His person, desire for His presence in our lives, zeal for His glory, and devotion to His service. It does not need to be ecstatic, but it must control us.
So, this last sentence speaks yet again of our union with Christ but in terms of our occupation and love for Him. We have already been told in previous passages about the mystery that lies behind and above; the Purpose, the Grace, the quickening Power, the Sealing, and the Presence. But here we are asked:
- “Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?”
- “Is He your joy and crown?”
- “Do you rejoice in His glory?”
- “Do you delight in His Name?”
- “Do you cherish His will?”
- “Do you look for His appearing?”
- “Is He to you as Bridegroom to Bride,”
- “Is He, this wonderful Being in your life here and now, dear to you?”
- “Is He cherished, as the ‘Object of your first desire, so that His holy Presence sways your inmost being?”
Because we have received new life through Jesus Christ by grace through faith alone, we are to live out that new life of love by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we yield to His transforming grace, we can be assured that the Spirit will do everything necessary to help us wrap up well. Then we will be able to say the same words Paul said when he wrote his final words to Timothy, at that time the pastor of the church in Ephesus, in 2 Tim 4:7-8,“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
If you have all the good of Christianity but are without love, it would be like a “gold setting from which the diamond has dropped out.” (Henry Ward Beecher). Cf. 1 Cor 13:1-3.
1 Cor 13:1-3, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” Cf. 1 Cor 16:22.
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The last two words of this benediction and letter define the love we are to have for our Lord Jesus Christ. They are “in incorruption,” which in the Greek is EN APHTHARSIA. They are the Preposition EN, “in or with,” and the Noun APHTHARSIA, “immortality or incorruptibility.” Both are in the Dative of Manner case. As a Dative of Manner, they denote a way in which the action of “loving” our Lord Jesus Christ is performed or accomplished. It tells us how we are to love our Lord, the way or manner of loving Him. A Dative of Manner answers the question “how” we are to love Him in action, attitude, emotion, or circumstances.
Some translators translate our passage as, “a never diminishing or undying love,” which may be the sense, and still others translate it, “in sincerity.” But these are a bit on the light side. When applied to the believer, the incorruptibility is the manner in which he loves our Lord Jesus Christ and manifests God in this World.
Given the unique use of APHTHARSIA in this verse, compared to its other more common usages in the NT, we see predominantly both “circumstances” and “attitude” being defined regarding how we are to love our Lord Jesus Christ, as we will see below. But let us first define this word to get a sense of what the Bible is talking about. Please bear with me in the defining of this incorruptible love, because it is only mentioned once here in the NT and is a very unique word. So, we will flush it out step by step.
“Incorruptible,” is the Noun APHTHARSIA, ἀφθαρσία in the Dative of Manner, Singular. It typically means, “immortality or incorruptibility.” It comes from the negative prefix A, “not,” and the verb PHTHEIRO that means, “to destroy, kill, corrupt, defile, ruin, or spoil.” So, it literally means, “not to destroy, not to kill, not corrupt, not to decay, etc.”
Notice that both incorruption and immortality take the root concepts of corrupt and mortal and negate them. This illustrates the limits of our human language and understanding. For example, there are things we have never seen about eternity and so, in order to describe them, God had to resort to something we know and put a negative in front of it. For instance, one of the beauties of heaven is the blessed state of inexpressible joy that must be described by “no more tears.” The light of heaven, Rev 22, will be given by God, but it is described as “no night,” and “need no lamp, neither light of the sun.” In just this way, incorruptibility is freedom from death, decay, ruin, corruption, etc., but to its most superlative extent.
Louw-Nida defines it, “The state of not being subject to decay, leading to death – ‘immortal, immortality. A continuous state or process, with the implication that the state or process in question is not interrupted by death – ‘unceasing, always, eternally, undying. A number of scholars, however, insist that ἀφθαρσία in Ephes. 6:24 must be understood in the sense of ‘immortality’ or ‘eternity’ as a temporal expression, but one which can be rendered as ‘with undying love.” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains.)
BDAG, “The state of not being subject to decay/dissolution/interruption, incorruptibility, immortality.” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.)
Complete Word Study Dictionary, “APHTHARSIA also means incorruptible in a moral or spiritual sense, i.e., freedom from corrupt doctrines or designs.”
“Paul pronounced grace toward only those who unceasingly love our Lord Jesus Christ. This unusual expression is difficult to decipher in regards to its meaning and to what it is connected. The Greek term APHTHARSIA means “incorruptibility” or “immortality,” indicating a continuous state or process not interrupted by death and hence has the sense of “unceasing, always, eternally, undying.” Some suggest that this word is connected to the immediately preceding words “our Lord Jesus Christ,” who is immortal (Dibelius 1953:100), while others think it is connected to “grace” mentioned in the first part of the verse, thereby signifying that the grace conferred by God on believers is immortal or indestructible (Schnackenburg 1991:291; Lincoln 1990:467-468). Most think that it is connected to “love,” indicating a love that is not corrupted by death, hence referring to “those who unceasingly love our Lord Jesus Christ” (Abbott 1897:191; Robinson 1903:138, 220; Best 1998:620).” (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary.)
APHTHARSIA defines the state of not being subject to decay, dissolution, or interruption. It speaks of an unending existence, of that which is not capable of corruption. APHTHARSIA indicates immunity to the decay that infects all of creation. It is the word chosen by Paul, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, to describe the genuine MVA Love for the Lord Jesus Christ believers are to exercise before their heavenly Father and before a lost world. It is a requirement of a love that is free from the seeds that will lead to decay. Therefore, there is to be no source of change or corruption within it. We are to love Jesus Christ with a love that is immune to decay or corruption; an unending, unfading, un-denying love.
Do you love your God with a love that is free from the corrupting seeds of self-centered worship, Biblical ignorance, blind unbelief, and cherished sin? It is this type of love which the Lord counts dear, highly prizes, and fully rewards with the experience of His daily grace.
The Dative of Manner is used to indicate how we are to love our Lord Jesus Christ. We see that it is with a love that is incorruptible, without death, without ruin, without decay, without corruption, etc. And, because it is only being applied once in all of Scripture, here in our verse, it signifies its superlative nature. Therefore, it is the most superlative type of love God can express.
Many times, the Dative case can be a Dative of Sphere. Some believe it to be so here. If it were, it would refer to the sphere in which your love for Christ takes place, namely, in the sphere of incorruptible or eternal life, which He has given to you. The Dative of Sphere would emphasize the eternal life you have and in that light love God. It would express your love for our Lord Jesus Christ with a view toward the eternal life He has provided for you. Since we have eternal life, we are to love Him with that life; immortal and incorruptible. This is a true statement, and something we are to be doing, but it comes up a little short in the application or how we are to love Him. Sphere tells us the domain in which we are to love Him, yet, we need to understand the mode, manner, method, and means by which we are to love Him.
For Paul, incorruptibility is at the same time the result of a struggle and a gift of God’s grace. The contrast, corruption and incorruption, becomes the equation of the fallen man, as a result of his freedom, and the solution requires the process of salvation. The incarnation of the Son is the way God accomplishes both goals: To conquer death and “clothe” man in incorruptibility; to bring man closer to God, that is to give him the incorruptibility in stability, for eternity. Therefore, this is not a fleeting, earthly love but a spiritual and eternal one.
Blaikie writes that “The expression is peculiar—love the Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptible. The word denotes, especially in Paul’s usage, what is unfading and permanent. The love that marks genuine Christians is not a passing gleam, like the morning cloud and the early dew, but an abiding emotion. Nowhere can we have a more vivid idea of this incorruptible love than in the closing verses of Romans 8.”
Rom 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
APHTHARSIA is primarily used in the NT to speak about immortality, life after death that is ever-lasting. This Noun is used 7 times, in 4, (the number of material things), applications, in the NT, Rom 2:7; 1 Cor 15:42, 50, 53, 54; Eph 6:24; 2 Tim 1:10. There is also an additional variant usage in Titus 2:7. Seven is the number of Spiritual Perfection in the Bible. Therefore, this type of MVA Love towards our Lord Jesus Christ is spiritually perfect, as we fulfill God’s Plan for our lives in spiritual adulthood.
A quick survey of the seven usages in the NT will give us a better understanding of its application in our verse:
1. In Rom 2:7, it speaks of our Divine Good Production, as we keep our eyes on the things above.
Rom 2:7, “To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.”
Therefore, APHTHARSIA MVA Love towards our Lord Jesus Christ is part of our Divine Good Production, as we live the unique spiritual life of the Age of Grace.
2. It is used in 1 Cor 15:42, 50, 53, 54, for a description of the resurrection body that is imperishable or incorruptible.
Therefore, APHTHARSIA MVA Love towards our Lord Jesus Christ is performed from our new resurrection life while here on earth, as a new spiritual species, a new creation, a new man that is found in Jesus Christ.
3. In Eph 6:24, it speaks of the manner in which we love our Lord Jesus Christ, as we have and continue to define it in this study.
4. It is used in 2 Tim 1:10, it is speaking of the new life, (immortal, imperishable, and incorruptible), that Jesus Christ brought and made known to mankind.
2 Tim 1:10, “But now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Therefore, with the new life we have in Christ, (immortal, imperishable, and incorruptible), we are to Love Him.
In addition, there is a variant usage of APHTHARSIA in Titus 2:7, it was used for “uncorruptness” in the teaching of God’s Word, as used in the KJV. Some, like AMG’s Complete Word Study Bible and Dictionary, use it for the translation of “sincerity” in that passage.
Titus 2:7 (KJV), “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity.”
Another variant uses ADIAPHTHORIA, ἀδιαφθορία that means, “sincerity, integrity, uncorruptness,” for those words.
Nevertheless, the more reliable texts do not use APHTHARSIA at all in Titus 2:7, but use the noun APHTHORIA, ἀφθορία, a cognate of ADIAPHTHORIA, that means, “incorruptibility, incorruption, sincerity, integrity, soundness, freedom from corruptible mixtures or adulterations,” as does the NASB.
Titus 2:7, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity (integrity) in doctrine, dignified, (the Noun SEMNOTES, “dignity, honorableness, nobility, propriety”).”
Paul is saying to Titus that he should present the teaching of God’s Word in a complete and utter incorruptible way, which is impossible to change or degenerate. It is evident that here we have the metaphorical use of the word. But from it, we see that our love for our Lord Jesus Christ should be thought and brought in the same way; one that is completely and utterly incorruptible and unchanging, sound, and free from corruption.
To help us define the application of APHTHARSIA in our text, we will note other cognates like the Adjective APHTHARTOS, ἄφθαρτος that means “imperishable, incorruptible.” It is also used 7 times, in 6, (the number of man), applications in the NT, Rom 1:23; 1 Cor 9:25; 15:52; 1 Tim 1:17; 1 Peter 1:4, 23; 3:4. In classical Greek, it means “indestructible, not liable to death,” and is the opposite of PHTHARTOS, “destruction, death.” In older Greek philosophy, APHTHARTOS referred to that which is constant and abiding in nature, as opposed to that which changes and perishes. In drawing a contrast, the historian Philo described man as PHTHARTOS, while God is APHTHARTOS. Likewise, Josephus classified the SOMA, “body,” as PHTHARTOS, and the PSUCHE, “soul,” as APHTHARTOS. Therefore, using the opposite of our human life that is corruptible, we are to love Him with our soul and spirit in perfection with an incorruptible love.
1. In Rom 1:23 and 1 Tim 1:17, it is used as an attribute of God in reference to The Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, this is a Divine Love we are to have for Him.
2. In Rom 1:23, for man not believing in and honoring the incorruptible God.
3. In 1 Tim 1:17, it defines God who deserves our praise and glory.
4. In 1 Cor 9:25, we see how we are to live the spiritual life, so as to win an imperishable crown. Therefore, we are to give our all in Loving TLJC. When we do, we will be rewarded at the BEMA seat of Jesus Christ.
5. In 1 Cor 15:52, it is used with the Noun APHTHARSIA, speaking of the resurrection body and life we will have at the resurrection or Rapture of the Church; an imperishable one. Therefore, this love is from our new spiritual creation; not from our flesh.
6. In 1 Peter 1:4, it defines our eternal inheritance as imperishable, incorruptible. Therefore, this love will be carried forward to the eternal state.
7. In 1 Peter 1:23, it defines the means by which we are saved, the Word of God that is imperishable and incorruptible. Therefore, through the application of Bible Doctrine, we are able to express this love for our Lord.
8. In 1 Peter 3:4, it tells us of the way we should be worshipping God, from the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit. Therefore, from the heart of our soul, we express this love towards our Lord in gentleness and quietness.
From the Adjective APHTHARTOS, we see that this type of Incorruptible MVA Love for our Lord Jesus Christ is a “godly love from our souls,” in thanksgiving and reciprocation for the imperishable life that He is and gives to us, along with the imperishable inheritance and rewards He provides and gives to us.
To complete the word study, a synonym of APHTHARSIA is the noun ATHANASIA, ἀθανασία that means, “immortality.” It is used 3 times in the NT. It is used in 1 Tim 6:16 to describe the attribute of God of immortality, cf. Rom 1:23; 1 Tim 1:17 above. And, it is used twice alongside of APHTHARSIA in 1 Cor 15:53-54, regarding the resurrection and resurrection body.
1 Cor 15:53-54, “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.”
In the resurrection, our bodies will be clothed in immortality. This is part of Christ’s total victory over death. The concept of immortality is bound together with the hope of resurrection and eternal life in Christ Jesus. Our union with Christ means we not only die with Him but are raised with Him and will live with Him, John 6:44-51; 10:27-30; Rom 6:3-9; 8:11.
As we have seen, the Biblical meaning of the term incorruptibility is twofold: it refers to God and to believing mankind. When applied to God, incorruptibility, along with immortality, is a Divine feature that characterizes His eternal nature, shows His perfection, and tells of His self-sufficiency, as revealed in the Scriptures. This does not mean an abstract quality of the Divine transcendent essence, but the personal character of the Biblical eternal God who is deeply involved in a relationship with man and the world. It also defines God’s entire economy, His actions and words, especially those that speak about His Son’s incarnation. As such, incorruptibility is first applied to God in a Trinitarian construction: the Father is incorruptible, the Holy Spirit has an incorruptible purity, and the Only-begotten God is incorruptible. By the incarnation of the incorruptible Son of God, believers have the possibility of participating in His purity and so they become partakers of His immortal glory. And with these grace gifts, we love Him.
Now, we see in Scripture that this word is applied to God and believing man. When applied to man, APHTHARSIA appears in Paul’s texts with soteriological (salvation) and ontological (existence) implications. Incorruptibility represents the feature of the restored man changed from the fallen one. This process happens at the resurrection and is related to Christ, the one who united in Himself the two natures: Divine and human. Therefore, APHTHARSIA is an attribute of eternal life and man is invited to participate in that life as a heritage from God. Therefore, Paul intended to state indirectly that when the heart of man is free from all hypocrisy, it will be free from all corruption. In that way, we are to love our Lord. This prayer conveys to us the instruction that the only way of enjoying the light of the Divine countenance in our lives, is to love incorruptibly God’s own Son, in whom His love toward us has been declared and confirmed.
You are a genuine Christian if you know that God has given you eternal life in His Son, 1 John 1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 16; 5:11, 13, 20, and as a result, you love Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Therefore, we are to love Him with an immortal / incorruptible MVA Love that is unending, undying, incorruptible, and without decay as we walk in our new nature fulfilling the unique spiritual life for the Age of Grace. When we do, God’s grace will be poured out onto us. And, when we experience His grace, it will further increase our Incorruptible MVA Love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
As such, in our passage Paul is identifying the ones who will receive grace as only those whose love is not temporary and untrue, but one that is permanent, genuine, and undiminishing. Believers’ love for the Lord Jesus Christ is to be pure, not corrupted with wrong motives or secret disloyalties of sin, human good, legalism, religiosity, or evil. Unfortunately, years later, some Ephesian believers did lose the fervency of their love for Christ, Rev 2:4.
Rev 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
In spite of their zeal and hard work for the Lord, the Ephesians had one serious flaw. They had left or forsaken their first love. Their love for the Lord was corrupted. The Greek for “left” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of APHIEMI, ἀφίημι that means, “let go, leave, disregard, leave behind, dismiss, divorce, cancel, remit, or abandon.” It is usually used of willful abandonment, a deliberate giving up, though it also includes the results of long neglect. They were giving the Lord their service but not giving Him themselves. They were outstanding in their work for the Lord, but they no longer had the intimate fellowship with Him they once had. Therefore, their incorruptible love was corrupted by the sin nature in either lasciviousness or approbation lust.
Peter exhorts us how to continue in our incorruptible MVA Love for Christ in 2 Peter 1:4-8.
2 Peter 1:4-8, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Many profess to love our Lord Jesus who are corrupt in all their ways; on these the grace or favor of God cannot rest; they profess to know Him, but in works deny Him. Such can neither expect favor here, nor hereafter.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
“There could not be a more appropriate close of the epistle than such a desire; there will be nothing more needful for us, when we come to the close of life, than the consciousness that we love the Lord Jesus Christ with an incorruptible love. Far better is the evidence of such incorruptible love, than all the wealth which we can gain, all the honors which the world can bestow upon us, then the most splendid mansion, or the widest fame.” (Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament.)
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Most English translations do not have anything after APHTHARSIA (incorruptible). Yet, some like the KJV, Wesley, Young, etc., translations add, “Amen,” ἀμήν, because it is found in several Greek manuscripts including the Textus Receptus and Byzantine texts. Yet, the earliest and most reliable Greek manuscripts do not have this Particle, which gives us firm evidence that Ephesians did not originally conclude with ἀμήν. In addition, many other books do conclude with “Amen,” cf. Rom 16:27; Gal 6:18; Jude 25, thus it is a predictable variant added later, as is the case here.
Still, other manuscripts include, “To the Ephesians,” or “The Epistle to the Ephesians is finished,” or “To the Ephesians, written from Rome,” or the most widely used, “To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus,” πρός Ἐφέσιος γράφω ἀπό Ῥώμη διά Τυχικός, because the Stephanus Greek translation included it. For example:
“The Epistle to the Ephesians, written from Rome, and sent by Tychicus,” is in the Syriac.
“To the Ephesians,” is in the Ethiopic. The Vulgate, has no subscription.
“The end of this epistle, which was written from Rome by Tychicus. Praise be to God for ever. Amen,” is in the Arabic.
“Written at Rome, and sent by Tychicus,” is in the Coptic. The Sahidic is defective.
“The Epistle to the Ephesians is ended, which was written at Rome by Tychicus,” is in the Philoxenian Syriac.
Given that we have found earlier (older) Greek manuscripts than were available and used by these and other texts, and what Stephanus used in 1551, they, as well as the Textus Receptus and Byzantine texts, have been shown to not be as reliable. Therefore, they are most likely later additions and should not be included in the translation.
As Adam Clarke noted in his commentary, “We have had already occasion to observe that the subscriptions to the sacred books were not written by the authors themselves, but were added in a much later age, and generally by unskillful hands. They are consequently not much to be depended on, and never should be quoted as a part of the Divine oracles.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary.)
What is also interesting about this closing salutation is the absence of personal greetings. This indicates that whether it was directly written by Paul, (which is most widely believed), an amanuensis letter, (dictated by Paul but transcribed by another), or even if this were a pseudonymous letter, pseudepigrapha, (authored by another but using Paul’s name, which it was not), it was not originally intended for Ephesus, because a Pauline follower would have realized that Paul had worked there for an extended period and knew many Christians personally. Likewise, if this was written or dictated by Paul, there would have been personal greetings to those he knew well at Ephesus. In addition, the reference to Tychicus, who was from Asia Minor, confirms that the letter was in all probability written to Christians in that area and not to the Church at Ephesus. This coordinates with the variant addition of “who are at Ephesus” in Eph 1:1 that we noted at the beginning of this study. “Three of the oldest manuscripts, the Chester Beatty Papyrus (dated circa 200); the Codex Sinaiticus; and the Codex Vaticanus (usually dated in the Fourth Century), do not contain the words “at Ephesus.” The earliest extant manuscript containing the words “at Ephesus” is at least two centuries later than the last two manuscripts referred to above.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.)
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Summary of the Book
The first thing we noted was that the book is divided into two broad sections, “Theological,” Chapters 1-3, and “The Believer’s Walk,” Chapters 4-6. We then noted the overall outline of each Chapter.
Chapter 1 – Outline.
The main theme of this chapter was: “God’s Plan for Salvation.”
I. Salutation or Greeting, Eph 1:1-2.
II. The Wealth and Calling of the Church; God’s Purpose for the Church, Eph 1:3-1:23.
A. Praise for Redemption, Eph 1:4-14.
1. Chosen by the Father, Predestination in Christ, Eph 1:4-6a.
2. Redemption by the Son, Redemption in Christ, Eph 1:6b-12.
3. Sealed with the Spirit, and Our Inheritance in Christ, Eph 1:13-14.
B. Prayer for Wisdom, Knowledge and Power, Our Resources in Christ, Eph 1:15-23.
1. The Cause of the Prayer Eph 1:15-18a.
2. The Content of the Prayer, Christ Exalted to be the Head of His Body, the Church, Eph 1:18b-23.
Chapter 2 – Outline:
The main theme was: “God’s Way of Salvation.”
We then broke the chapter down from three viewpoints:
I. Positional Relocation.
1. The New Position in the Heavenlies, the new life in Christ. God has spiritually regenerated sinners, transforming them from death to life, vs. 1-10.
2. The New Position in the Household, unity in Christ. He reconciled Jews and Gentiles, moving them from alienation to oneness, vs. 11-18.
3. The New Position in the Habitat, the Church is a Temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit. Gentiles are no longer aliens but fellow citizens of heaven being formed into a Holy temple for God’s dwelling, vs. 19-22.
II. God’s Grace:
1. Vs. 1-10, speak of the grace panorama regarding our regeneration, from death to life, and our new position individually.
2. Vs. 11-17, speak of grace and the barrier regarding our reconciliation, Jews and Gentiles as one.
3. Vs. 18-22, speak of grace and the Church regarding being fashioned into the Temple of God.
III. The Analogy: The Temple of God:
1. The materials for the construction of the temple, vs. 1-10.
2. The method of construction, vs. 11-18.
3. The meaning of the construction, vs. 19-22.
Chapter 3 – Outline:
The main theme was: “Paul’s Revelation of God’s Plan,” broken down into two main segments:
1. Revelation, Paul’s Stewardship of God’s Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age, vs. 1-13.
2. Reverence; Paul’s Prayer and Doxology, vs. 14-21.
Within this chapter we noted:
1. The Mystery, the Product of Revelation, Eph 3:1-6.
2. The Minister, Appointed to Proclamation, Eph 3:7-13.
3. Prayer for Realization, God’s Fullness for the Church, Eph 3:14-21.
In addition, we noted a progression of spiritual growth outlined in these passages as well; the progression from spiritual birth to spiritual maturity that has four basic doctrines:
1. The Doctrine of the Mystery, vs. 1-6.
2. The Doctrine of Ministry, vs. 7-13.
3. The Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP, vs. 14-18.
4. The Doctrine of the Super Grace Life, vs. 19-21.
That concluded the Theological aspect of this book. Beginning in Chapter 4 we noted the “Believer’s Walk.”
Chapter 4 – Outline:
The main theme was, “The Believer’s Walk Based on His High Calling.”
We broke this down into two segments:
A. The Believer’s Walk in Unity; God’s Plan for Faithful Living in the Church to Build the Church, Eph 4:1-16.
1. The Appeal to Preserve Unity: The walking worthy of the calling by which we have been called, Eph 4:1-3.
2. The Basis for Unity: The seven unities given to us by God, Eph 4:4-6.
3. The Means of Unity: The ministry gifts of Christ given to His body, Eph 4:7-16.
a.) Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension proclaimed, as well as being the giver of gifts, vs. 8-10.
b.) The purpose of our gifts: Building up of the body of Christ, individually and collectively, vs. 12-16.
B. The Believer’s Walk in Righteousness; God’s Pattern and Principles for Members of the Church and His Standards for Faithfulness in the Church, Eph 4:17-32.
1. The Previous Walk of the Old Life, Eph 4:17-19.
2. The Present Walk of the New Life, Eph 4:20-32.
a.) The Regenerated New Man in Christ Jesus, vs. 20-24.
b.) Principles of Conduct for the New Man, vs. 25-32
Chapter 5 – Outline:
The main theme of this chapter was, “The Suitable Behavior of Believers.”
In Chapter 5, we continued the outline from Chapter 4 with two more segments that also ran into Chapter 6:
C. The Believer’s Walk in Love; The conclusion of God’s Pattern and Principles for Members of the Church from Chapter 4, and His Standards for Faithfulness in the Church, Eph 5:1-17.
1. The Pattern for Our Walk, Walking in Love as God’s Dear Child, Eph 5:1-7.
2. The Proof and Reason for Our Walk, Walking in Light, Eph 5:8-14.
3. The Power and Provision for Our Walk, Walking in Wisdom, Eph 5:15-17.
D. The Believer’s Walk in the World; God’s Standards for Authority and Submission in the Church, Eph 5:18-6:9.
1. As to One’s Self and the Church, Be Filled with God’s Spirit, Eph 5:18-21.
2. As to One’s Home, Eph 5:22-6:4.
a.)Husbands and Wives, Eph 5:22-33.
b.)Parents and Children, Eph 6:1-4.
3. As to One’s Profession, Employers and Employees, Eph 6:5-9.
Chapter 6 – Outline:
The main theme was, “Conclusion to the Believers Walk, vs. 1-9, and The Warfare of Believers, vs. 10-24, Their Stand!”
Therefore, the first part of Chapter 6 followed the theme from Chapter 5, “The Believer’s Walk in the World; God’s Standards for Authority and Submission in the Church,” with the last few points.
b.) Parents and Children, Eph 6:1-4.
3. As to One’s Profession, Employers and Employees, Eph 6:5-9.
Then we noted the last main segment:
E. The Believer’s Walk in Warfare; God’s Provision for His Children’s Spiritual Battles, Eph 6:10-20.
1. The Exhortation to Arms, The Believer’s Warfare, Eph 6:10-13.
a.)The warrior’s power, Eph 6:10.
b.)The warrior’s armor, Eph 6:11.
c.)The warrior’s foes, Eph 6:12.
d.) The Warrior’s Resource, The Explanation of Our Armor, Eph 6:13–17.
2. God’s Appeal for Prayer in the Church, Eph 6:18-20.
And we closed with the closing salutation:
F. Conclusion; Benediction, God’s Encouragement to Carry on, Eph 6:21-24.
As we review the overall book from its theological and application perspective, we can summarize the message of the letter in terms of the three verbs “sit,” “walk,” and “stand.” The first part of the letter has dealt with believers’ identity in terms of our status and position. Our participation in Christ’s victory over the “powers” is expressed in the assertion that we have been “seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.” The second part of the letter with its repeated use of the verb “to walk” pleads with us to live out our lives in the status and calling God has given to us while in this world. And finally, the concluding exhortation to “stand” combines both of these earlier emphases in its call for us to maintain and appropriate our position of strength and victory as we live out our lives in the world in the face of the opposition of evil cosmic powers.
In this way, we are reminded of our distinctive calling as members of the Church in the world. The battle imagery we noted in Chapter 6, recapitulates the earlier exposition of this book in a new and powerful fashion. It conveys the urgency and challenge of our task as we are called to have courage, firm resolve, prayerfulness, alertness, and perseverance. At the same time, our focus on Christ’s strength and God’s full armor enables us to have a sense of security and confidence. Our confidence and firm resolve are further strengthened by Paul’s parting picture of the open proclamation of the gospel by the imprisoned apostle to whom, humanly speaking, we owe our Christian existence and who now serves as a model for our own bold witness in the world in the face of intense opposition.
Doctrines We Studied in this Book Included:
Chapter 1, 124 Pages:
- The Doctrine of Apostleship
- The Doctrine of Paul
- The Doctrine of Sanctification
- The Doctrine of Grace
- The Doctrine of Peace
- The Doctrine of Prayer
- The Doctrine of the Heavenlies
- The Doctrine of 40 Things We Receive at Salvation
- The Doctrine of Election and Predestination
- The Doctrine of Redemption
- The Doctrine of The Blood of Jesus Christ
- The Doctrine of The Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age
- The Doctrine of The Ten Unique Factors of the Church Age
- The Doctrine of Dispensations, with the Appeal Trial of Satan
- The Doctrine of Three Views of the Millennium
- The Doctrine of Glory
- The Doctrine of The Sealing Ministry of God the Holy Spirit
- The Doctrine of Inheritance
- The Doctrine of The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- The Doctrine of Prayer Related to Our Royal Priesthood
- The Doctrine of The Lordship of Jesus Christ
- The Doctrine of Wisdom and Revelation
- The Doctrine of The Mechanics of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP
- The Doctrine of The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
- The Doctrine of The Session of Jesus Christ
- The Doctrine of The Five areas of Superior Rank that Jesus Now Holds
- The Doctrine of The Angelic Conflict.
- The Doctrine of The Headship of Jesus Christ
- The Doctrine of The Application of EKKLESIA, The Church, The Body of Jesus Christ
- The Doctrine of Seven Figures Used of Christ in Relation to the Church
- The Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts
Chapter 2, 91 Pages:
- The Doctrine of The Old Sin Nature, OSN
- The Doctrine of Mercy, and the Mercy Seat
- The Doctrine of Divine Love
- The Doctrine of Spiritual Death
- The Doctrine of Seven Results of Adam’s Original Sin
- The Doctrine of Salvation by Grace through Faith in Christ
- The Doctrine of Grace
- The Doctrine of Doctrine of Faith – For Salvation
- The Doctrine of Salvation NOT by Works
- The Doctrine of Five Aspects of Being Created for Divine Good Production
- The Doctrine of Five Descriptions of the Depraved Condition
- The Doctrine of The Blood
- The Doctrine of Peace Offerings
- The Doctrine of The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- The Doctrine of The Dividing Wall
- The Doctrine of The Cornerstone
Chapter 3, 100 Pages:
- The Doctrine of Suffering for Blessing
- The Doctrine of Dispensations
- The Doctrine of Divine Revelation
- The Doctrine of The Mystery, Mystery Doctrine for the Church Age
- The Doctrine of The Minister
- The Doctrine of The Divine Hiding of the Mystery Doctrine in Old Testament Times
- The Doctrine of the Heart
- The Doctrine of The Heavenlies
- The Doctrine of The Four Phases of Satan’s Appeal Trial
- The Doctrine of Prayer
- The Doctrine of GAP
- The Doctrine of The Distinctions Between the Indwelling of Christ in Your Body and the Dwelling of Christ in Your Heart
- The Doctrine of The Unveiled Face
- The Doctrine of Oil as a Type of the Holy Spirit
- The Doctrine of Tesseract Love
- The Doctrine of The Life Beyond GNOSIS
- The Doctrine of The Privilege of Knowing God
- The Doctrine of Testing / Suffering for Blessing
- The Doctrine of The Doctrine of the Super-Grace Life
- The Doctrine of The Life Beyond Dreams
- The Doctrine of The Life Beyond Glory
Chapter 4, 151 Pages:
- The Doctrine of Walking
- The Doctrine of The Royal Family Honor Code
- The Doctrine of The Five Characteristics the Believer is to Possess: Humility, Gentleness, Patience, Showing Forbearance, Love.
- The Doctrine of The Body of Christ
- The Doctrine of Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- The Doctrine of God the Father
- The Doctrine of Ascension
- The Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts
- The Doctrine of The Communication Gifts: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor-Teachers
- The Doctrine of The Headship of Jesus Christ Over His Body
- The Doctrine of Doctrine of Joints and Ligaments
- The Doctrine of Reversionism
- The Doctrine of Blackout of the Soul
- The Doctrine of Hardness or Callousness of the Heart
- The Doctrine of Scar Tissue of the Soul
- The Doctrine of “Sensuality” – Sexual Immorality
- The Doctrine of New Creature, New Spiritual Species
- The Doctrine of The Devil’s Strategies
- The Doctrine of Grieving the Holy Spirit
- The Doctrine of Seven Things that the Holy Spirit Does for us at the Moment of Salvation
Chapter 5, 203 Pages:
- The Doctrine of Imitating God
- The Doctrine of Walking in Love
- The Doctrine of Immorality
- The Doctrine of Propitiation
- The Doctrine of Idolatry
- The Doctrine of Darkness
- The Doctrine of Light
- The Doctrine of The Goodness of God
- The Doctrine of Divine Good Production
- The Doctrine of The Wise Man and Wisdom
- The Doctrine of A Day at a Time
- The Doctrine of Divine Guidance; Knowing the Will of God for Your Life
- The Doctrine of Yieldedness
- The Doctrine of Drinking, Drunkenness, and Alcoholism
- The Doctrine of Recovery Process for Alcohol Abuse
- The Doctrine of Rebound and Recovery; the Confession of Sins.
- The Doctrine of Faith Rest
- The Doctrine of God the Holy Spirit
- The Doctrine of The Filling of the Holy Spirit
- The Doctrine of Singing Praise to God
- The Doctrine of Fear of the Lord
- The Doctrine of Divine Establishment Principles
- The Doctrine of Authority Orientation, a Problem Solving Device
- The Doctrine of Marriage
- The Doctrine of Seven Figures of Christ and the Church, His Body, in Analogy to the Headship of Husbands Over Wives.
- The Doctrine of Category # 2 Love: Toward Right Man / Right Woman
- The Doctrine of Hypersensitivity versus Sensitivity.
- The Doctrine of Cleansing the Leper, Lev 14
- The Doctrine of The Manifestation of the Bride of Christ
- The Doctrine of Right Man, Right Woman
- The Doctrine of The Mystery of the Church
- The Doctrine of Three Divine Laws of Love in Marriage
- The Doctrine of Wives are not to Enslave their Loving Husbands
Chapter 6, 262 Pages:
- The Doctrine of Principles Regarding Children, Old and New Testament
- The Doctrine of Humility
- The Doctrine of Honoring and Obeying your Parents
- The Doctrine of Fairness, Justice
- The Doctrine of the Ten Commandments Related to the Church Age
- The Doctrine of False goddesses, god’s of Ephesus
- The Doctrine of The Angelic Conflict
- The Doctrine of Satan’s Beatitudes
- The Doctrine of The Career of Satan
- The Doctrine of the Antichrist and False Prophet
- The Doctrine of Satan’s Strategies
- The Doctrine of The Four-fold Demonic Forces
- The Doctrine of The Demons: the gods of the Nations
- The Doctrine of The Armor of God
- The Doctrine of Truth
- The Doctrine of Righteousness
- The Doctrine of Feet
- The Doctrine of The Gospel
- The Doctrine of Hindrances to the Gospel
- The Doctrine of Faith
- The Doctrine of Flaming Missiles / Arrows
- The Doctrine of Salvation; Past, Present, and Future
- The Doctrine of Prayer
- The Doctrine of Intercessory Prayer
- The Doctrine of Royal Ambassadorship
- The Doctrine of Encouragement
- The Doctrine of Tychicus
- The Doctrine of Peace
- The Doctrine of Worrying and Anxiety
- The Doctrine of Love
- The Doctrine of Faith
- The Doctrine of Grace
- The Doctrine of Motivational Virtue AGAPE Love for our Lord
- The Doctrine of The Lord Jesus Christ
- The Doctrine of Incorruptible Love
As we now conclude the Book of Ephesians, I want to share a few facts: We began the book on May 12, 2015 and concluded it on October 11, 2018; almost 3 1/2 years. In that time, we have taught 460 lessons on this book. In addition to the direct subject matter found in the Book of Ephesians, we have noted 156 Doctrines, which in total adds up to 931 pages of Bible study notes. Congratulations to all who have followed along as we conducted this study.
My prayer is that, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, you have grown in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ to the point where our Lord will say to you, “Well done My good and faithful servant!”