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Ephesians 4:1 by Robert Dean
What does walking have to do with the Christian life? Listen to this lesson to learn that “walking” in the Bible is frequently used to describe how we should conduct our lives. Find out that as believers we have choices to make daily. Either we are walking as slaves to our sin natures or we are walking by means of the Holy Spirit. The decision is ours to make. See what the calling of God is and if it refers to our salvation or to our new identity and position in Christ.
Series:Ephesians (2018)
Duration:52 mins 57 secs

The Christian Life as a Specialized Vocation or Profession
Ephesians 4:1
Ephesians Lesson #108
June 6, 2021
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
www.deanbibleministries.org

Opening Prayer

“Our Father, we are thankful we can be here to study Your Word, to learn Your Word. Because You have revealed Yourself to us, You have informed us of Who You are as the unique Creator God of the universe who exists in a triune entity. And that You have created us in Your image and likeness, so that we could learn about You, so that we could have fellowship with You.

“Sin separates us from You, but You provided the solution by sending Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, where we were reconciled to You, and there is now peace between those who are believers in Christ and You.

“Father, the ramifications of what the Apostle Paul taught in Ephesians 1-3 for our personal life, for the way we think, the way we live, the way we act has incredible dimensions to it. Many of these are laid out in these coming chapters. We pray that we might be responsive to the teaching of Your Word, learning what You have to say, and what God the Holy Spirit drives home to us that we may indeed learn to walk worthy. We pray this in Christ name, amen.”

Slide 2

Open your Bibles to Ephesians 4, continuing our study. As opposed to the last three lessons when I gave overviews of Ephesians 1, 2–3, then 4:5–6:9, today we will begin to look at the details of what the Lord has revealed to us and the significance of these particular details.

I want to focus us on one aspect of Ephesians 4: the fact that we are to “walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called.” This phrase is a little ambiguous to a lot of ears, so we need to take some time to understand it and to unpack it because it is the foundation of our Christian life.

We are called which doesn’t mean as many people say, that it’s just simply being invited into salvation. This phrase is more significant than that. We will it’s something similar to a specialized vocation or profession.

Slide 3

Ephesians 4:1, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

Slide 4

There are 12 paragraphs in this section in Ephesians 4:

  • “Walk in unity,” which takes us through Ephesians 4:16.
  • Ephesians 4:17–24 we will talk about putting on the new man, and that is one of the most foundational passages for the spiritual life.
  • We have a series of commands given in Ephesians 4:25–32 that center upon the basic command of “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.”

Slide 5

Ephesians 4:1, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord …”

What does he mean by “therefore?” An important word; you’ve heard me talk about it many times. Sometimes “therefore” is simply taking you from the verse or two before into an additional thought as the writer is developing their thinking.

But in Scripture, there are a few passages where the “therefores” are major significant “therefores;” and this is one of them. It draws our attention to the fact that the writer is drawing some conclusions from what has been said before.

I know there are people reading along in a commentary and there are a number of commentaries that will say this is simply drawing a conclusion from the last two verses in Ephesians 3. Others say it’s a little broader than that, it’s from the beginning of that last section in Ephesians 3:14.

Yet when we look at the structure of Ephesians 4:1–6 we recognize that Paul is giving us the structure of the main part of this epistle. If you went through the study of James with me, whether you listened to it later or were there when I taught it at Preston City, I pointed out that the key verse to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” laid out the three divisions of the book.

Often we find in Scripture a verse or two that the writer lays out that basically outlines the epistle or the book. So it’s important when you study to try to learn those things, and not just impose an outline or structure upon an epistle, but to try to let the author give us that.

This is great literature, and great literature often tells us why it is being written and gives us the clues as to its purpose through some sort of thesis statement. When we look at Ephesians 4:1–6, I think it’s clear that the “therefore” refers back to everything that was said in Ephesians 1–3.

Slide 6

I drew this diagram because it’s in sort of reverse order.

Ephesians 4:1–3, Paul summarizes what is coming in Ephesians 4:5–6:9. “Therefore,” he says, “I beseech you to walk worthy …” And the next chapters will tell us what that worthy walk is all about, which is based on that which was said in Ephesians 1–3.

There are a lot of places in these chapters that I’ll point out certain keywords or key phrases used to which we were first introduced in Ephesians 1–3. Paul is drawing out the implications of that.

In Ephesians 4:4–6, the emphasis is on the unity of the Spirit, the things that we all have in common—that is that all Jew and Gentile believers have in common. That takes us back of course to Ephesians 2 where we learned that Christ at His death on the cross abolished the enmity that was between Jew and Gentile.

He created peace between Jew and Gentile, which was grounded in the Mosaic Law, so that it was eradicated. Also at the Cross, Christ abolished the enmity between God and man, so that the barrier of sin, the sin penalty, was paid for at the Cross.

Ephesians 4:4–6, talks about one body, one Spirit, “you are 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.”

The basis for those unity statements of Ephesians 4:4–6 is found in everything that Paul says in Ephesians 1–3. Rather than starting off with the first three verses focusing on what he has said, and the next three focus on what he is going to say, he reversed that. The first three verses summarize what’s coming, then in the next section, he relates it back to what he has already said.

Slide 7

In the second phrase of Ephesians 4:1, he again repeats the fact that he is a prisoner of the Lord; and he is literally a prisoner. Ephesians and Philippians and Colossians and Philemon are called the prison epistles because they were written by the Apostle Paul when he was in prison and under house arrest, basically. We will see that when we study Philippians, but they relate to that time he was arrested in Jerusalem.

If you remember from our study of Acts, he had taken a vow to go to Jerusalem. He went to the temple to complete that vow, where he was recognized by the Judaizers, and they started a riot. This necessitated the Roman troops coming in, and they leveled charges against Paul as one who is a disturbing the peace, so he had to be arrested.

Then he was kept in prison there, basically, at the headquarters of the Governor of Judea in Caesarea by the Sea, and he wasn’t getting anywhere, so finally he just appealed to Caesar, which he could do utilizing his Roman citizenship, to get a just decision. He is taken by ship, there’s a shipwreck.

He finally ends up in Rome where he is under house arrest for approximately two years, then he is released. Then he probably goes on to another missionary journey; we only have hints of it. Tradition says he did make it to Spain, he revisited places in Greece. Then he was arrested a second time, taken to Rome, and that is when he was beheaded—that was his time of promotion.

He was a prisoner of the Lord. He’s not just talking metaphorically in terms of his obedience to the Lord. He uses the phrase “bondage” to the Lord, that he is a bond slave to the Lord Jesus Christ in Romans 6. Here it is talking about the fact that he is in prison. Why is he in prison? Because of his dedication to the mission, the ministry, and the message that God gave him.

Slide 8

That’s how he started Ephesians 3:1, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—”

He doesn’t repeat “for you Gentiles” here, but he has made the point that that is a focal point of his message, to proclaim the mystery, that is, the previously unrevealed plan of God.

That through the Cross, He would reconcile Jew and Gentile together, thus making one new body, one new man, one new building, one new temple. All that is said in Ephesians 2–3 is sort of picked up repeating this phrase.

Slide 9

“I beseech you,” a somewhat antiquated English word that still hangs in the New King James version. The Greek verb PARAKALEO is a very common word and is used a lot. It has the idea of urging someone significantly, urging someone strongly, which I think is probably the best way to translate it when Paul uses it here, as well as in the parallel passage in Romans 12:1.

Slide 10

That’s another one of those big “therefores” that we have in Scripture.

In Romans 1–11, Paul explains all of the different features of our spiritual life. He starts off with the condemnation of all Gentiles, then he moves into the condemnation of all Jews, concluding that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. You see how close that parallels what he says at the beginning of Ephesians 2, that all have sinned.

Well, if all have sinned, how can we be righteous? Romans 4 tells us how we can be declared righteous; the pattern goes back to Abraham in Genesis 15:6 that Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him or imputed to him as righteousness.

This has always been the pattern in Scripture, that man’s basic problem is that as a sinner he was under the penalty of death. Christ died for that penalty. That doesn’t mean that His death made us spiritually alive; it just means that the penalty was paid.

Because we were born spiritually dead, Ephesians 2:1, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” tells us that we’re born physically alive, but spiritually dead or separated from God, alienated from the life of God as Paul states it in Ephesians 4:18.

That is our condition. The sin penalty has been paid, but we are still spiritually dead when we come into this world, and we lack righteousness. So we have to somehow have righteousness. How do we get it?

Well, the pattern’s always the same: going back to the Old Testament those who believed in the promise of God for salvation would be given righteousness. That’s what Abraham is talking about.

In the Old Testament, they’re looking forward to the Cross, to the fulfillment of God’s plan that He would redeem a people from the human race. This had its inception in the first hint in Genesis 3:15 when God said to the serpent that the seed of the woman would crush his head.

This is developed and you can trace that line of the seed. That’s the purpose of the genealogies throughout Genesis and Leviticus and Chronicles. You see that the line ends up through the seed of David in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But in the Old Testament, Abraham is simply believing that God is going to provide a Savior from sin. He probably didn’t have a lot more content than that. Although we’re not told very much, if you look at Genesis 11 where it tells us some other things that Abraham understood, we know that he understood a lot more than Genesis tells us that he understood.

He’s trusting God to save us from sin in the future. Because he believed God, God imputed to him His perfect righteousness, which is the same pattern today. That’s what Paul says in Romans 4, that we follow that same pattern.

But now we believe that Christ has come, the Seed has come. He’s paid the penalty for our sin, and we are justified when we receive that righteousness of Christ. God looks at us as possessing that righteousness and declares us to be justified. That’s what it means to be justified by faith alone.

Romans 5 talks about reconciliation, and then Paul shifts gears to talk about the spiritual life, which is called sanctification—how we live in service to God, Romans 6–8. Romans 8 ends with that great statement that I am convinced that neither height nor death nor angels nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

But Paul anticipates, as he frequently does, an objection, and the objection he anticipates is from the Jew, who will say, “Well, wait a minute! What about us? Seems like we got separated from the love of God.”

He answers that question in Romans 9–11, concluding that God will save Israel at the end, that God has not forgotten Israel, God has not divorced himself from His plan for Israel, that He will bring all things together, and that the current state of Israel is not permanent. That’s the first 11 chapters of Romans.

Of everything he said, he now moves to application in Romans 12–16. Romans 12:1, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present … that verb “to present,” is an aorist active infinitive, and it completes that first verb to “urge you,” I strongly urge you to do something.

It has the significance of an imperative; it’s a command. This is foundational in understanding the basis for the spiritual life that we are to present our body. Now this isn’t talking about just our physical body, but if we’re going to present our body to serve God, everything else goes with it.

Our soul is not separated from it, so it’s just a way of speaking about the totality of our person. And not just our thinking, but all of who we are—to present your bodies a living sacrifice …”

“Holy” means set apart to God. It doesn’t necessarily imply my moral perfection. It implies separation for service. Many people get the idea that “holy” has this idea of somehow you are exceptionally, morally pure and upright. But the Hebrew qadosh, is translated “holy,” and it means fundamentally to be separated to God for service.

It is applied to all of the dishes, all of the candles, all of the furniture of the tabernacle and the temple. Furniture can be neither moral nor immoral nor amoral. It is not related to morality at all. It is not to be used for everyday things, but it is set apart to the service of God.

Furthermore, in a few places in Scripture and in the non-biblical literature that is written in either Aramaic or Hebrew, there are forms of qadosh. The feminine noun is used to refer to the female ritual prostitutes who served the false gods, the Baals and the Asherah. Another noun that was masculine referred to the male prostitutes who served.

Being a male or female prostitute certainly isn’t anything that is morally pure. We see that moral purity isn’t inherent to that basic word, but they are set apart to the service of their god, their deity.

Holy means that we are set apart to the service of God. We are to live our lives to serve Him and not to serve our own desires and our own lust. We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, set apart to God, acceptable to Him. Why? Not because of anything that we have done, but because we possess the righteousness of Christ so we are acceptable to Him.

Romans 12:1, “which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:2 goes on to describe that the way in which we do that is “not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” We have to change the way we think and learn to think biblically.

Romans 12:1 helps us understand from what the significance of Ephesians 4:1 is. It is an important transition within the framework and the structure of this book. I would translate it, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, strongly urge you to walk worthy of the calling …”

Slide 11

“Walk” is the Greek verb PERIPATEO. Here it’s an aorist infinitive that completes the idea of “I strongly urge you to do something.” The significance of that grammatical form using an aorist instead of a present probably emphasizes urgency or priority.

When you get away from the basic indicative mood, for those of you who know Greek, it’s not emphasizing time so much as what they call aspect. What you take home from this is he’s just stressing the priority of doing this. It is a term that is used in some places literally to talk about a person moving, walking, step-by-step mobilizing from one location to another.

Often in the Old Testament, as well as New Testament, it is a term that is used to describe how a person lives their life, how they conduct their life, what they used to describe as the Christian way of life in numerous passages.

We “walk by the Holy Spirit,” we “walk in the light,” we “walk in truth,” all phrases that roughly talk about different aspects of the Christian way of life. We are to walk worthy.

We’re not walking worthy to get salvation, we’re not walking worthy to somehow gain God’s blessing. We are walking worthy as a reflection of our gratitude for all that God has done for us, and a recognition that with our salvation comes a new life, and that there is a responsibility in how we live that new life.

It’s as if you somebody just gave you a brand-new Mercedes, and you just love everything about it. But you have a responsibility now to take care of that vehicle, to follow all the basic guidelines for servicing it.

You have to check the tires and the air in the tires, change the oil, and all kinds of maintenance. But if you just ignore that and drive it without being responsible in keeping it serviced, then what’s going to happen? You are going to end up having a very expensive ornament for your front yard.

That’s pretty much how a lot of people’s Christian life is. They’ve been given this incredible new life with all this wealth of assets that are described in the first three chapters of Ephesians, but they don’t know anything about it.

They’ve never read the owner’s manual—that’s the Bible—and they’ve never come to understand what their responsibilities are towards this fabulous gift that God has given them, and the result is that not only does it not do them any good, but they are not living according to the purpose that God has saved them at all.

Paul says you were bought with a price, and you are not your own. Romans 6, as we’ve studied through numerous passages, talks about the fact that we are either making ourselves slaves to our sin nature or we’re enslaving ourselves to God and righteousness.

There’s no third option; there is no middle road; there’s no area of neutrality. With our volition, we make decisions in life in whether we’re following the lust patterns of our sin nature or the instructions of Scripture. Those are the options.

We are to walk in a manner that is responsible, that is worthy, that is in accord with what God has given to us; that’s the idea there. It is motivated by grace, we understand God’s grace, and that leads us to gratitude, so we do the best that we can to learn the Word and to let it change our lives through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

This is not a legalistic concept. Some people think it’s legalistic because they really don’t want to recognize that they have a responsibility to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that they’ve been given this new life, and that with that come certain responsibilities.

Slide 12

Other passages talk about this. Philippians 1:27, “Only let your conduct—that is your way of life—be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come—I will paraphrase this—whether I come and check up on you or whether I’m absent, I will hear of your affairs—I will hear about what is going on—that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

This is a fascinating verse because it tells us again that we’re to walk worthy, and here it’s worthy of the gospel. It’s just another way of talking about the fact that we have trusted in the gospel and been saved, so we are to walk in a manner that is consistent with that. We have to learn how to do that; it doesn’t happen easily or instantly or overnight.

Notice the stated purpose, “­… that you stand fast in one spirit.” What’s the emphasis? It’s that unity, the same thing that Paul is talking about in Ephesians 4:1–3, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” It’s just emphasizing something a little different.

“… stand fast in one spirit—standing fast in unity—with one mind striving together—for what?—for THE faith.” The faith” here isn’t talking about the act of believing, it is talking about that body of truth that we believe, that is what is revealed in Scripture.

We have a problem today as many want to have unity and feel good about not having divisions, “Oh, all these different people have their different opinions and their different lifestyles, but we’re just going to ignore all that and wrap our arms around each other and have a group hug and sing “Kumbaya”, and go home and feel real good about ourselves all the time.” And not deal with the fact that what we’re doing is giving permission for all of this sin, that we are just ignoring it.

It is a unity of the faith, so that if people are denying what the Scripture says, then that’s not a unity of the faith, and we don’t compromise in order to make them feel included. This inclusiveness idea is straight out of the pit of hell.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the Christian way of life, it has nothing to do with freedom, and it has nothing to do with the historical understanding of freedom that is the foundation for this nation. It was imported simply as a way of creating division.

How about that? We’re going to be inclusive. If you don’t want to include us, then you’re dividing us and you become the bad guy because you’re not including everybody else. That’s how it works. Paul said “one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel …”

How many Christians don’t even get the gospel right anymore? On the one hand are those who have a purely heretical gospel, who are just teaching that you’re saved by works or you’re saved by sacraments or you’re saved by baptism or you’re saved any number of other ways that all involve you doing something to help God out, or you’re doing everything and ignoring what God has done for you, but this is not the true gospel.

There are those who are obviously heretics; others who are more subtle in their heresy and confusion of the gospel. Then there are those who say that, “Well, if you’re truly saved, then you’re going to walk worthy of the gospel. But if you can’t live like that, then you weren’t truly saved. You didn’t really trust in Christ as your Savior.”

They have all kinds of verses that they quote and things that they say that make themselves sound good, but it’s just as heretical. It’s not the faith of the gospel. The gospel is very clear. It’s just trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation because He paid the penalty for it on the cross. That’s it; that’s the good news of Jesus Christ.

We are made a new creature in Christ, and we have new capacities, new assets, new privileges, and we have a new life. But we may ignore all of that and live as if we are still an unbeliever, as many Christians do.

It doesn’t mean they weren’t saved, but you hear a lot of people say that, “Well, I can’t really believe that so-and-so was saved. They say they trusted Christ when they were a kid.” Now sometimes they didn’t trust Christ, they just say they’re a Christian. That’s a totally different thing.

A lot of people go around saying, “Well, I’ve been a Christian since I was 12 years old.” “What do you mean you’re a Christian?” “Oh, I was baptized,” or “I went through Catechism” or something like that. “Well, did you ever trust Jesus Christ as your Savior?” “What do you mean?”

See they didn’t believe the gospel. There’s a difference between professing that “I’m a Christian,” and saying, “I trusted Christ as Savior.” A lot of people say they’re Christians, but they’ve never trusted Christ as Savior. The issue is you have to make sure that somebody is truly saved because they understood the gospel.

Paul is saying in Philippians 1:27b, “… with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

Our conduct is to be worthy of the gospel. We’re saved, now we have to learn what that means. It doesn’t happen automatically.

Slide 13

Colossians 1:10, “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

This involves something after salvation, and we have to learn how to walk worthy. We have to increase in the knowledge of God. This is a lifetime pursuit for us to learn everything that God expects of us, asks of us, all that He has provided for us, and our desire is to serve Him.

I think one of the greatest illustrations of the Old Testament is the concept of someone who was called the servant of the Lord. I can only think of two: Moses and David. Moses was a murderer; David conspired to commit murder and was an adulterer.

Yet David is called “a man after God’s own heart.” Many of you went through 1 and 2 Samuel with me, and we saw all of these horrific sins that David committed, and we’re thinking, “How could God say that David is a man after His own heart?”

Well, it’s because even though we’re saved, we’re still sinful, and some of us can and have committed some horrible sins after salvation. But even when we did, we knew that we loved the Lord, and we weren’t going to violate our allegiance to the Lord.

David never succumbed to idolatry. Reading through all the kings of Israel in the Old Testament including his son Solomon, they all turned to false gods. Their heart was not after God. David’s was. Even when he sinned, he never lost his love and devotion to God.

One of the biggest problems that Christians have had ever since Acts 2 is that we think somehow when we trust Christ, that that sin nature is minimized, its power is changed. But it’s still wicked and evil, and we still follow the sin nature out of habit and the fact that we just feel such pressure sometimes to follow those lusts.

We have to learn all of these things. And only as a result of walking by the Spirit, walking in the light, walking in the truth, does the Holy Spirit produce in us fruit. That’s the next phrase, but Paul doesn’t develop it in Colossians 1; he develops it in Galatians 5.

Slide 14

“That you would walk worthy …” I included 1 Thessalonians 2:11 so we would have the context:

1 Thessalonians 2:11–12, “as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

Here we have the fact that they’re already saved, and Paul continues to teach them and challenge them and comfort them and charge them with their responsibilities, so that they will learn to walk in a manner that is appropriate and worthy that expresses their gratitude to the Lord.

Slide 15

That’s the idea of walking worthy, but what are we walking worthy of? The next phrase in Ephesians 4:1, which seems easy to understand on the surface, but it might not be. It’s the idea that we are “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

This word translated “calling” is KLESIS, and it has with it the article.

In English we have a definite article and an indefinite article. The indefinite article is, for example, “a car.” That can be any car, but when we specify a specific car, we say “THE car,” THE red car, THE new car, THE old car. “THE car” adds specificity.

In Greek, the article has lots of different functions, just to turn your head inside out when you’re trying to understand a passage like this. Here is has the article. Every time this word is used, it has the article. It’s not making it necessarily specific; it has a slightly different function here.

All 11 times this word it is used, it always has the article. We have some passages, for example, Romans 11:29, “… the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” When many people read this phrase “the calling,” they want to translate it as the invitation to accept the gospel. But later we read “with which you were called.” There’s the invitation part.

In fact, as I was doing a lot of research on this word, looking it up in various lexicons and other articles, I ran across a number of articles in well-respected lexica where they said this always refers to the invitation to accept Christ as Savior.

But after doing a word study on this, reading through the Scripture, my response to that is, “No it doesn’t.” You’re importing the meaning from the verb into the noun. A lot of times nouns may be based on a word, but they don’t have the same meaning as its cognate verb.

Slide 16

1 Corinthians 7:20 is a very good illustration. Paul is talking to these believers who have gotten the idea “because I’m now a believer, I need to leave my job, leave my career, and go be a missionary.” Paul said, “Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.”

There he is using that phrase, the same “calling,” to refer to their job, whatever it is they’re doing. He was a tent maker, for others it would be some other thing. Maybe they were carpenters, maybe they built houses; maybe they worked with the livestock. He says stay in that job, basically.

David Lowery wrote the commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Bible Knowledge Commentary, published by Dallas Seminary in the early 80s. It’s been popular recently to take some of these really great commentary series and update them, so they pick a whole new slate of authors.

In the Expositor’s Bible Commentary Series everybody who was there had to be at least pre-millennial, and now that’s not true. Now they’ve got new expositors who are amillennials, postmillennials, pan-millennials, and everything else. A pan-millennialist is “it will all pan out in the end.” I hope that they never try to redo the Bible Knowledge Commentary. It is very, very good.

David Lowery happened to be my Greek professor when I took the course on 1 Corinthians, but here he says, “Likewise a Christian’s vocational situation is a matter of little consequence (if status can be changed, well and good; if not, it’s not a matter for worry) What matters is that every Christian should realize he is Christ’s slave and needs to render obedience to Him.”

In that first line he recognizes that this phrase “the calling” can have that sense of a vocational call. We used to use that word sometime. You may talk to somebody and say, “Well, I thought you went to college to be a teacher and you’re not a teacher,” and they say, Well, I realized that this wasn’t my calling.” We got that idiom from the Bible; that’s how this phrase is used.

Slide 17

Ephesians 1:18, “the eyes of your understanding having already been enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling …” Even there, it still adds the article to make sure we understand that this is being used in a little bit of a technical sense.

He repeats that phrase, “one hope of your calling” in Ephesians 4:4.

Slide 18

2 Thessalonians 1:11, “Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling,”

2 Timothy 1:9 says, “… who has saved us and called us with a holy—or unique or distinct—calling.”

Slide 19

Hebrews 3:1, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling …” so this has something to do with heaven.

Looking at this usage, I came up with about four things that we ought to pay attention to.

Slide 20

1.      In each of these passages, “the calling” is specified by an article.

According to Greek grammar, the article is used for a lot of different reasons other than making a noun definite. But in order to really make your mind go foggy this morning, according to the grammar, and I’m quoting, “its use is to nominalize something that would otherwise not be considered as a concept.”

That means it’s going to put a name on this thing; now you know it’s a concept. That’s our first building block.

Dan Wallace in his grammar uses this illustration, “For example, the word ‘poor.’ That just expresses a quality. But if you add an article and talk about ‘the poor,’ now you have a specific concept that you can talk about.”

At the very least, when you put “the” in front of “calling,” it gives it a specificity, not making it a definite noun, but it brings it up and emphasizes this as a concept. We have to pay attention to that, that each of us has this calling.

That relates to our position and identity in Christ, what’s been covered in the first three chapters. That’s our calling, it’s our position in Christ.

Slide 21

2.      This genitive noun supplies the standard or measure to which the adverb ‘worthily’ points. “Walk worthy of the standard of the calling.”

In the use of the phrase “to walk worthy of the calling,” “the calling” supplies the standard or the measure to which the adverb worthily points. How do you walk worthy? According to a standard.

What’s the standard? The standard is our calling. We each have the same calling and that is our new identity in Christ with all the wealth, resources and assets that were given to us at the instant of salvation.

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3.      M. Barth writes in his commentary on Ephesians, “The noun KLESIS ‘calling’ refers to the position of status, honor, and responsibility that God has entrusted to his saints. This is the same for all saints, despite the diversity of the spiritual gifts they are given. Therefore, in biblical diction, this noun is never used in the plural.”

It is talking about our position in Christ. It’s not talking about the invitation to be a believer, that we all had the same invitation. It’s that now that we’ve accepted it, we all have the same position in Christ, and we are to walk worthy of that new position in Christ.

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4.      It emphasizes the basis for the command “to walk,” i.e., move forward in our Christian life from the understanding of who we are in Christ, what we’ve been given in Christ—both summarize our wealth in Christ, which is now shown to be the standard we must aspire to in our daily lifestyle, conduct, way of life, thinking, worldview.

In other words, it’s the same thing I’ve been saying all along. It summarizes the fact that you have a new position in Christ, I have a new position in Christ, and we have to live in accordance to that position in Christ. We have to live up to that standard.

This is how Paul begins this new chapter, that we have to walk worthy of this new—let’s paraphrase it—this new identity, this new position, this new person that we are in Christ.

How do we do that? Well, that’s going to be Ephesians 4:2. It’s translated poorly, “with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love.”

That will be the focus next Sunday. But we have to walk worthy of our new identity in Christ. That is our calling. I’ll be adding more to that next time.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things and reflect upon them this morning. To realize that we are saved, we are placed in Christ, identified with His death, burial, and resurrection. We’ve been given a new identity, we’re a new creature in Christ with a new package of assets, and we are to live consistent with that.

“We are to live in a way that brings honor to that, to understanding who we are in Your family now, and that we are to live in a way that brings honor and glory to You. Father, we pray that anyone listening today would recognize that walking worthy is not the gospel.

“The gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins; they are paid for. There’s nothing we can do to earn it, there is nothing we can do to deserve it. We don’t have to be worthy of it to receive it; we just have to accept it as a free gift; and that once we do that, we are saved, You give us Your righteousness, and we have eternal life.

“Father, we pray that anyone who is not saved and hears this, that God the Holy Spirit would make the gospel very clear to them, that they might trust in Him.

“Father, we pray for us that we might be challenged deep in our spiritual life to examine ourselves, to evaluate ourselves, and to learn more from Scripture, to hunger for Scripture, hunger for the truth that we may learn what it means to walk in a worthy manner. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”