“Alexander the Great conquered most of the then-known world
by the age of 33.
One of the reasons for this conquest was the iron
discipline that he insisted on among his troops.
That's why a young soldier was so terrified as he was
hauled into Alexander's tent to answer for charges of
cowardice and desertion in battle.
The general was seated at a table, and the accused
soldier stood before him.
Alexander said, 'Soldier, you've been accused of
deserting during a battle - guilty or not?'
'Guilty,' he replied almost inaudibly.
The general followed up then by asking, 'What's your
The answer came back: 'My name is Alexander, sir.'
At that point, Alexander the Great leaped to his
feet, reached across the table, grabbed the soldier by the
collar and shouted, 'Either you change your life or you
change your name'" (Ron Hutchcraft)!
Perhaps this story should help us as Christians to
ask, “Are we living up to our name's sake?
Do our lives show that Christ is living in us?
Has imitating Christ brought about any changes in our
relationships with others?” (Ibid).
In the book of Ephesians, we have noted how the first three
chapters describe the great spiritual blessings that God,
Christ, and the Spirit have given to us as Christians.
In the opening chapter, Paul gives praise for God's
for God's election, for God's adoption,
for God's acceptance, for God's redemption and forgiveness,
for God's inheritance of eternal life, for God's gospel of
salvation for all, and
for God's gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then Paul prays that the members at Ephesus will be
enlightened and better understand their hope, their
blessings, and God's power.
Then, Paul explains how the brethren had been saved
by God's grace from their wicked past and that now they had
become great masterpieces to show good works done in
Then, Paul shows humanity's alienation and how Christ brings
about reconciliation not only to God but also to members
from various ethnic groups.
Then, Paul shows in chapter 3 how the church has been
God's great mystery revealed!
Through the church, which has been God's eternal
purpose, now all people can be united!
Then, Paul prays that the members at Ephesus might be
empowered, and would be transformed from the inside out,
better comprehend the church's influence, would better
understanding Christ's love, and would be more filled with
As we approach chapter 4, a shift takes place.
The first three chapters have been called Paul's
focus on our identity as Christians (Danker).
Remember, that many people in Ephesus had probably
been converted from the goddess Diana, so Paul wants them to
know clearly who they are now in Christ.
He has been teaching in these first three chapters,
giving explanation, describing the Christian's wealth, and
Now, Paul is going to shift gears.
From chapter 4-6, Paul is going to focus on sanctity.
In other words, if chapters 1-3 tell who you are in
Christ, then the next three chapters are going to help you
to see how you should live up to your calling as a
are going from explanation to exhortation, from the
Christian's wealth in Christ to the Christian's walk in
Christ, from the doctrinal foundation to the practical
Paul will give us a challenge and an interesting
reality in the opening verse, then he provides
several virtues that we will need in order to live up to
the challenge that he gives us.
Paul begins chapter 4 with these words: “I therefore, the
prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the
calling with which you were called.”
Paul is a prisoner, but he's using this occasion to
encourage others, and this makes his appeal even more
have been made spiritual billionaires, not by our own
efforts, but at the invitation of God.
He has called us to participate in all the blessings
He has prepared from the foundation of the world.
It is solely of His grace, at His bidding.
How did we get this calling?
Some folks think it comes in a mysterious way while
they are plowing a field or driving a car.
Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14: “But we are bound
to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by
the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for
salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in
the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the
obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
One's calling came
through the preaching of the Gospel, this is how one was
called in the first century, and it is how one is called in
the Gospel is preached ..., God calls [people] into His
grace and His kingdom.
Through the proclamation of a crucified and risen
Savior, men are invited into fellowship with God.
In view of this calling we have received from God,
Paul urges us to live up to the expectations [of our
namesake] Who renewed our fellowship with [God]” (Bullard).
In an ancient letter written in Greek, when one got
ready to get to the real meat of the letter, which was
usually a request, you would write: “I beg you, or I implore
you, or I beseech you.”
And this is exactly what Paul does.
“I beseech you to walk worthy ...”
Someone has rightly noted: “Under the New Covenant
God declares: 'I have already blessed you with all spiritual
blessings in the heavenlies!
Will you now please obey Me?'
Paul, as God's representative, pleads with his
readers on the basis of three chapters of divine blessings
to live worthy of the calling that they accepted in Jesus
“I beseech you to walk or to live worthy ...”
“worthy” is the challenge.
word translated 'worthy' is axios, which has the root idea
of weight. This
is the word from which we derive our English word 'axiom',
which means, 'to be of equal weight.'
In an equation, the axiom indicates doing something
to each side of the equation so it remains true.
Paul is saying we should try to live [Christ-like]
lives equal to the great blessings described in chapters
1-3! [You see,
if these are the great blessings that God has given to us,
then here are the great behaviors we need practice in order
to try and balance the equation.
God, Christ, and the Spirit have already done their
part, now we must live up to their expectations!]
We are to be like the man who said, 'Christ has done
so much for me, the rest of my life is a just a p.s. to His
The Ephesians were no longer to live in the wicked way
dictated by the gods of our past, but in a worthy way as
God, and Christ, and the Spirit are wanting them to live!
Now let's notice an interesting reality that Paul
underscores in the rest of this verse: “I beseech you to
walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”
This can be more accurately translated: “I beseech
all of you in the church to walk worthy of the calling with
which all of you were called.”
The “you” in this verse is not singular but plural.
Members in Ephesus who had been converted from pagan
worship, probably mistakenly thought:
“What can this new god do for me?
What can this new god get for me?” (Osburn).
Instead of having a selfish motivation, Paul wants
these converts to ask, “What can I give to help the whole
Now, this clearly teaches us that we can't walk worthy in
God's sight if we try to walk alone in our Christian life!
We have already seen how Paul has stressed that the
church is God's great mystery revealed, and it was His
eternal purpose for all peoples to be united in it!
You can't live up to God's expectations for you and
then write off or exclude the church.
You see, living up to God's expectations is
something that we must all do together!
That is the interesting reality that we must never
“Paul knew some [members in Ephesus] who practiced ... evil
in their relationships.
But then they came to know Christ [and were seated
with Him in heavenly places], and that meant their lives had
to change. Paul
writes the Ephesians to remind these Christians that their
old ways of living and relating to each other were over
[because God's] purpose is to create of them a new community
of people [united] in Christ Jesus in the Jesus' body, the
church. ... God wants to bring an alienated and fractured
humanity together in Christ, to be united in Him (2:14-22),
to create a new community, where [all] people do not hurt
each other and demand their rights, but as one body, [they]
serve one another with the love of Christ. ... Failure to
maintain the one body fragments the Spirit and defeats the
hope of God. ... If we today are to be 'one in Him,' God's
purposes must be our purposes.
Too often peripheral concerns, personal agendas, or
petty issues side-track us, and we fail to reach the
destination God intends for us. ... [Let us not forget that]
this oneness is God's work, and we are not to spoil it
through selfish and divisive behavior. ... [You know]
siblings have disagreements, but they stick by each other
because they are family, sharing the same DNA code.
With the same Father, [Son, and Spirit], Christians
have a common 'DNA code'.
This gives us incentive to accept or to resolve our
Did you realize that many modern Americans are like
the ancient pagans of Ephesus in their outlook towards God
and the church?
“Living in a age of 'radical individualism' makes [it]
difficult [for them to see the great importance of the
church as a group].
Today 'freedom' means maximizing one's
Self-fulfillment in one's private life outweighs concern for
the common good [of all members in the body]” (Griggs).
In fact, some researches on American culture made
this observation: “Most Americans see religion as something
individual, prior to any organizational involvement. ... For
one thing, the traditional pattern assumes a certain
priority of the religious community over the individual.
The community exists before the individual is born
and will continue after his or her death.
The relationship with God is ultimately personal, but
it is mediated by the whole pattern of community life. ...
For Americans, the traditional relationship between the
individual and the religious community is to some degree
the basis of our interviews, we are not surprised to learn
that a 1978 Gallup poll found that 80% of Americans agreed
that 'an individual should arrive at his or her own
religious beliefs independent of any churches or
synagogues'” (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swindler, Tipton).
The individual is exalted over the congregation.
Someone else notes: “In the 'cocooning effect,'
people retreat from community altogether to the safety of
their own homes (cocoons)” (Griggs).
“Cocooning is a concept ... in the 1990s, describing the
tendency, often fueled by security concerns, to live a
home-centered lifestyle and to equip the home with gadgets
and touches of indulgence to make it a more welcoming and
inviting entertainment hub and haven”(Popcorn,
Home is a castle to lock out everybody else.
When such societal viruses [as radical individualism and
cocooning] infect the church, the oneness of Christ's body
is weakened” (Griggs).
We need each other in the body of Christ; every
member in that body is important.
We must all work together and help each other to walk
worthy of our calling that we received when the Gospel was
preached to us!
We should ask, “What can I give to help the whole group?”
We can't live out the Christian life by ourselves!
he apostle Paul now explains in the next few verses
some virtues that it is going to take in order for
all of us to live worthy of our calling.
The first virtue is that of lowliness or humility.
In the original version, the text says, with all
lowliness, with gentleness or meekness, and with
long-suffering or patience.
Notice how all of these virtues are exercised in our
relationships with one another!
“First of all, we are to be completely humble.
Humility does not mean thinking lowly of yourself; it
means not thinking of yourself at all. ... Pride is
excluded. ... True humility or lowliness means that you lay
your life before God, accepting without reservation His
direction for your life because you realize that without His
help, you would be powerless to change your destiny.
To be lowly means that you keep your heart and mind
on Jesus. You
no longer seek to direct your own life.
Rather, you seek His direction, His instruction.
Self is no longer on the throne; Jesus is” (Bullard).
There was once a congregation in Australia that was
having some internal problems.
All the members got together to discuss the problems.
After a period of time in which no progress was being
made, one man got up, filled a basin with water, and began
to wash each person's feet.
He then said, “Brethren, we are no closer to a
suggest that we all go home and pray for God's help, and
then try again tomorrow.”
The next day was amazing because in a very short time
true solutions to the difficulties were found (Woodruff)!
You see, when each of us humbles ourselves before God
and Christ, we learn to work together with each other to
achieve His will!
So the first virtue is lowliness or humility.
The next virtue is gentleness or meekness.
“Biblical meekness is 'power under control'”
idea comes from domesticating a wild animal.
A “broken” horse still has all the power that he ever
had, but now that power is subject to the control of
“Spiritually-speaking, this is what must happen to each of
us. We were
born into this world with drives, hungers, and ambitions
that are self-satisfying.
Now out of absolute [submission], we must bring all
these under the Lord's control.
When that happens, our conduct can begin to match our
high call through the Gospel” (Bullard).
Notice again, when each of us submits ourselves to
Christ and His control, we have a greater chance of coming
together and understanding one another.
The second virtue is gentleness or meekness.
The third virtue is long-suffering or patience.
“To be patient means you are slow in avenging
yourself against others who have hurt you.
In fact, you are slow even to take offense.
Paul word literally means 'to be long-tempered.'
That is, you do not have a short fuse.
You do not 'blow up' easily at others.
The worthy walk means you bear insult, injury,
persecution, and unfair treatment ... when that is the price
for doing right.
It is accepting negative circumstances and the
members who cause them without bitterness, without
irritation, and without complaint.
... If Jesus lived this way—and He did—then we are
called to this quality of life as well” (Bullard).
The fourth virtue is bearing with one another in love
forebear does not mean that you are blind to someone else's
faults or shortcomings.
Rather, it means that as you recognize that you are
less than perfect, you recognize that others are not perfect
either. ... In [Christ's love], you continue to minister to
[and serve] that person, seeking his or her best welfare all
the time. In
other words, this is [a virtue] of overwhelming love for
another Christian that has room for failure as that
individual also struggles to mature in the Lord's body”
children often do things that upset us, but we don't write
them off and kick them out of our family because of their
mistakes and sins.
Likewise, we learn to bear with other members who do
things contrary to Christ's will, and we love and encourage
them into doing better, just as we do with our own children!
Bearing with one another in brotherly love is the
The fifth virtue is endeavoring to keep the unity of the
“Human beings cannot create [the Spirit's unity]; it is
given to them, but [our] responsibility is to keep it, to
guard it in the face of many attempts from within and
without the church to take it away.
The Greek word conveys the idea of zealous effort and
[diligent] care” (Foulkes).
“We are united in the sight of God because He has put
all of us into one body.
The [virtue] of the worthy walk is that we give it
all that is within us to maintain that unity ... in our
daily relationships with one another.
We will spiritually bend over backwards to maintain
our fellowship with each other.
There is no place for individualism and cocooning
means we will be aggressive in confessing our sins against
others, in making restitution, and in offering forgiveness,
even before it is sought!
Could anything make us more like God than taking the
initiative and making every effort to restore potentially
broken relationships” (Bullard)?
The fifth virtue is endeavoring to keep the unity the
unity of the Spirit.
The sixth virtue is maintaining the bond of peace.
“Life for so many in this world is like an elevator
ride—everyone facing forward, no eye contact, no
conversation or interaction—and then everyone rushes off to
do their faceless endeavors” (Hughes). This may the
description of an elevator ride, but it should not be a
description of the church!
Christ has united all peoples from all races and
nations in the strong bond of His peace, which breaks down
all barriers that divide!
What diversity there is in the average church:
different physical types, different mental abilities,
different educational levels, different economic incomes,
different backgrounds and upbringings, different political
outlooks, different ways to do something.
There are huge differences among us, but when we put
keeping the Spirit's unity and maintaining Christ's peace at
the forefront of our relationships, we can overcome those
differences, and we'll begin to see how teamwork under
Christ can make God's dream of all people united in the
church a taste of heaven in this life!
Let's be peace loving and strive to maintain the bond
of peace, the sixth virtue.
The last virtue is concentrating on the Godhead's oneness
and the Gospel's oneness.
In verses 4-6, the
apostle Paul reminds us with these words: “There is one
body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of
your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and
Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you
all.” “Why is it
so important to live in a worthy way together and practice
... It is important because everything that God has done in
human history has been done [for the purpose of unity]”
“What are the implications of our unity being rooted in the
Simply this: our unity is eternal and unbreakable.
'The unity of the church is as indestructible as the
unity of God Himself.
It is no more possible to split the church than it is
possible to split the Godhead.'
You and I will never be separated [unless we chose to
do so]! Our
unity is more solid that the Himalayas and more enduring
than [the sun]” (Stott; Hughes).
We see that each Christian has the Gospel's oneness
in common: we heard about the one faith, or body of
teachings, that Jesus gave us, then we became followers of
Christ through the one baptism of immersion for the
forgiveness of our sins, then we were added to the one body,
the church, and now we all have the one hope, the blessed
return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If we will concentrate on all that we have in common,
this will help us to overcome some of our differences!
Someone has observed: [If
we will remember what we have in common], “we are more
likely to discuss differences rather than divide over them,
to compromise rather than to clash, to submit to each other
rather than to squabble.
The work of the kingdom can continue and prosper for
the glory of God” (Griggs)!
The last virtue is concentrating on the Godhead's
oneness and the Gospel's oneness.
“Disunity is devastating at any time, but in the midst of
the terrible storms of life, it can be deadly.
The evil one knows this and uses this to his own
advantage; but though he plays on the disunity of others, he
makes sure his own ranks stand united!
Didn't Jesus say: Matt 12:25-26 'Any kingdom that
is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and
laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will
last or continue to stand.
And if Satan drives out Satan, he has become divided
against himself and disunified; how then will his kingdom
last or continue to stand?'
If Satan and his
forces can stand united, how come we, as believers, are so
disunited? ... Bickering, backstabbing, negativity, disunity
... It's become the norm among Christians! Why?
Why can the devil promote unity among his evil demons
and we, as Christians, cannot even exercise the love that
Jesus showed us? ... Is it possible that this disunity exist
among us because we put our OWN interests above the Lord's?
Is it possible that the encouraging words proclaimed
in the New Testament have been replaced by condemnation and
criticism because we haven't noticed that our own worst
enemy is our selfishness?
The only way out of this is to become solely
dependent upon Jesus; to act the way He acted while He was
on the earth” (Chaffart)!
“Are we living up to our name's sake?
Do our lives show that Christ is living in us?
Has imitating Christ brought about any changes in our
relationships with others” (Hutchcraft)?
Do you need to accept Paul's challenge, reality, and
can't make it to heaven on your own; the church is that
Accept the one faith, practice the one baptism, be added to
the one body, and have the one hope of eternal life right