Vol. 17, No. 41 – October 14, 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.”
To help us define the application of “incorruptible,” 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.
- 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.
- In Rom 1:23, for man not believing in and honoring the incorruptible God.
- In 1 Tim 1:17, it defines God who deserves our praise and glory.
- 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.
- 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.
- In 1 Peter 1:4, it defines our eternal inheritance as imperishable, incorruptible. Therefore, this love will be carried forward to the eternal state.
- 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.
- 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; in the 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.)
Final ascriptions, not found in most reliable texts:
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.)
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.
- Chosen by the Father, Predestination in Christ, Eph 1:4-6a.
- Redemption by the Son, Redemption in Christ, Eph 1:6b-12.
- 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.
- The Cause of the Prayer Eph 1:15-18a.
- 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:
- The materials for the construction of the temple, vs. 1-10.
- The method of construction, vs. 11-18.
- 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:
- Revelation, Paul’s Stewardship of God’s Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age, vs. 1-13.
- Reverence; Paul’s Prayer and Doxology, vs. 14-21.
Within this chapter we noted:
- The Mystery, the Product of Revelation, Eph 3:1-6.
- The Minister, Appointed to Proclamation, Eph 3:7-13.
- 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:
- The Doctrine of the Mystery, vs. 1-6.
- The Doctrine of Ministry, vs. 7-13.
- The Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP, vs. 14-18.
- 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.
- The Appeal to Preserve Unity, The walking worthy of the calling by which we have been called, Eph 4:1-3.
- The Basis for Unity: The seven unities given to us by God, Eph 4:4-6.
- The Means of Unity: The ministry gifts of Christ given to His body, Eph 4:7-16.
- Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension proclaimed, as well as being the giver of gifts, vs. 8-10.
- The purpose of our gifts; building up of the body of Christ, individually and collectively, vs. 7-16.
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.
- The Previous Walk of the Old Life, Eph 4:17-19.
- The Present Walk of the New Life, Eph 4:20-32.
- The Regenerated New Man in Christ Jesus, vs. 20-24.
- 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.
- The Pattern for Our Walk, Walking in Love as God’s Dear Child, Eph 5:1-7.
- The Proof and Reason for Our Walk, Walking in Light, Eph 5:8-14.
- 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.
- As to One’s Self and the Church, Be Filled with God’s Spirit, Eph 5:18-21.
- As to One’s Home, Eph 5:22-6:4.
- Husbands and Wives, Eph 5:22-33.
- 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.
- Parents and Children, Eph 6:1-4.
3. As to One’s Profession, Employers and Employees, Eph 6:5-9.
E. The Believer’s Walk in Warfare; God’s Provision for His Children’s Spiritual Battles, Eph 6:10-20.
- The Exhortation to Arms, The Believer’s Warfare, Eph 6:10-13.
- The warrior’s power, Eph 6:10.
- The warrior’s armor, Eph 6:11.
- The warrior’s foes, Eph 6:12.
- 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.
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.
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 155 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!”
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
# 18-107 – 18-109
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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!