Vol. 17, No. 40 – October 7, 2018
Eph 6:21-24, The Encouragement, (cont.).
Eph 6:24, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.”
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.
As we noted above in vs. 23, Paul utilizes the actionable Verb for “love,” AGAPAO, 10 times, in 7 passages, with 5 different contexts in this letter, Eph 1:6; 2:4; 5:2, 25, 28, 33; 6:24. 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; Luke10:27.
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.
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.
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, undenying 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.
Now, we see in Scripture that this word can be applied to God or 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, of the whole 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. APHTHARSIA is an attribute of eternal life and man is invited to participate in that life as a heritage from God.
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 everlasting. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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# 18-104 – 18-106
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!