By Stan Brown
Ephesians 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
Paul now begins the final three chapters of Ephesians where he applies the doctrine that he has exposed in the first three chapters. Knowledge apart from living has little value. Living apart from knowledge can easily deteriorate into heresy and apostasy. Paul demonstrates the importance of living in light of the knowledge he has imparted in the first three chapters as he uses the imperative mood forty times in the final three chapters. He only used it once in the first three chapters (2:11). In the first three chapters he has emphasized unity in the body of Christ as we are built together into God’s dwelling place. The practical imperatives of the final three chapters apply to individual believers as well as the functioning of the body as a whole. It also applies to our relationships with unbelievers. Remember that we are God’s message to the world.
In chapters four through six Paul uses the metaphor walk five times as He calls on us to (1) Walk in unity (4:1-16); (2) Walk in holiness (4:17-32); (3) Walk in Love (5:1-6); (4) Walk in light (5:7-14); (5) Walk in wisdom (5:15-6:9). In 6:10-20 we are admonished to stand against evil. Paul concludes the book in 6:21-24 (I borrowed this outline from Harold Hoehner.).
The word therefore looks back on the entire first three chapters of the epistle where he speaks (1) of our inheritance; (2) of our transformation from sinners to saints; (3) of our being united together into one body; (4) of the empowering love of God that makes possible the practical living that is extolled in the final three chapters of the epistle. Paul begins this section with a call to unity (v.3) as he speaks with an authoritative exhortation. He is not merely suggesting how we are to live. He tells us to get with the program that is based on what Christ has already done for us.
Paul’s authoritative exhortation calls on us to live a lifestyle (walk) that is worthy of what God has done for us. That is a mighty high bar to reach and while it is true that we will never completely achieve it on earth, it remains a goal toward which we walk. The word worthy means “having equal weight” or to keep in equilibrium. The idea is that calling (chapters 1-3) and conduct (chapters 1-4) should have equal weight. Since we are part of the body, our walk is not just about how we live in our relationship with God but also in how we interact with other believers. We have been called to a relationship with God. We have been called to a relationship with each other. We have been called to be His message to the world. We must walk in light of that calling.
I know. I ignored the phrase prisoner of the Lord. At the beginning of chapter three he had referred to himself as prisoner of Christ Jesus. There is little difference in the essence of these two statements. These references certainly pick up on the fact that he is currently in prison in Rome. Yet, he views his state in a positive light as being the Lord’s prisoner rather than in the negative light of being imprisoned by Rome. Whatever we are doing and wherever we are, we belong to Christ. He has paid the price for our sins.