Do you consider Christianity an individual or communal belief?
Can believers live independently and stay away from other believers?
How can you walk together with your spiritual buddy?
The children of one family as they have only one Father;
The disciples in one school as they have only one teacher;
The sheep in one flock as they have only one shepherd;
The members of one body as they have only one head;
The stones in one building as they have only one foundation.
1 I will recognise the call and gifts from God in all of my co-workers.
2 I will exercise vigilance over our unity.
3 I commit to speaking well of my coworker brothers and sisters and will publicly express appreciation for them.
4 I will pray diligently and fervently for the blessing of God on my teammates.
5 I will affirm the co-equal importance of planting, watering and supporting ministries.
6 I will shoulder responsibility for the ministry assigned to me and at the same time exercise prayerful concern for the field’s ministry in its entirety.
7 I understand that in the “heat of battle” there will be misunderstandings, conflicts and offenses.
8 I will deal with offenses promptly and appropriately
9 I will listen intently in order to understand the other person’s perspective.
10 I will avoid judging the motives of a fellow worker, because I cannot see my brother or sister’s heart.
11 I will forgive others on the team without hesitation or precondition, knowing that I, too, will need frequent forgiveness for my offenses.
12 I will commit myself to becoming better acquainted with the members of my team.
Ephesians 4:1–10 (NIV)
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;
5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
8This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?
10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)(Ephesians 4:1–10 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
3 Circle all the words that are related with the virtues of Christians and number them in ascending order.
4 Circle all the words about the Holy Spirit and number them in ascending order.
5 Underline all the words about the word “one” and number them in ascending order.
6 Refer to other translations and come up with some new insights.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
A common saying: “Unity is strength!” However, walking together in unity is extremely hard for a lot of people! The Apostle Paul reminded the Church at Ephesus to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace;” how can believers be united as one?
1 What is the meaning of living “a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1)?
2 What is meant by “the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3)?
3 What are the relationships between the virtues of Christians and the unity of the church
4 Why did Paul have to quote the Old Testament (Ephesians 4:8)?
For the sake of his faith in Christ, the Apostle Paul became a prisoner and lost the precious freedom for the Lord. However, he did not forget the needs of the Church at Ephesus. The apostle explained the truth about unity to the Church at Ephesus in chapter four (Ephesians 4:1-11), and there are three important points here:
1 The exhortation to unity (Ephesians 4:1-3)
2 The reasons for unity (Ephesians 4:4-6)
3 The means to unity (Ephesians 4:7-11)
1 Live a Life Worthy of the Calling (Ephesians 4:1)
“Worthy” is an implication of a standard or measure. In other words, Paul expected the Ephesians to live according to the standard of this calling. Two English translations convey the idea of lifestyle. Generally speaking, the lifestyle of Christians must be compatible to the calling of salvation.
2 The Characteristics of a Christian’s Life (Ephesians 4:2)
“Humble” (Ephesians 4:2)
Being “humble” is the attitude of the person who recognises that all are of equal value in God’s sight. A Christian with this kind of attitude does not exalt oneself and view oneself with an appropriate attitude. Christians should reflect humility in their words and works, for this is one of the characteristics of our life.
“Gentle” (Ephesians 4:2)
Believers should be gentle. It can be translated as: “treat others in a gentle way” or “do not be hard on people.”
“Patient” (Ephesians 4:2)
“Patience” is one of the important virtues of Christians; it may be translated as “be willing to wait.”
“Love” (Ephesians 4:2)
“Bearing with one another in love;” in other words, you do not try to make others like yourself because of the mutual love that you have for one another.
1 One Body (Ephesians 4:4)
The Apostle Paul clearly stated that the foundation for the unity of the church is based on the following factors. First, there is only one Church of Jesus Christ, and all Christians are connected with Him.
2 One Spirit (Ephesians 4:4)
The triune God is united as one; furthermore, there is only one Spirit of God, and His Holy Spirit connects all Christians together.
3 One Hope (Ephesians 4:4)
Owing to God’s calling, Christians receive the hope from His salvation. In other words, whether Jewish Christians or non-Jewish Christians, they all have the same hope (cf. Ephesians 2).
4 One Lord (Ephesians 4:5)
Jesus Christ is the only Lord of the Church and He is also the Saviour of all humankind.
5 One Faith (Ephesians 4:5)
Whether Jews or gentiles, “one faith” speaks of the common faith in Jesus Christ as their Saviour is the only way of redemption.
6 One baptism (Ephesians 4:5)
Baptism is the public declaration of one’s determination of trusting Jesus Christ. Paul connects faith and baptism together as an implication that baptism and the faith in the Lord are interrelated. In simple terms, the baptism here is about believer’s baptism, that is, the ordinance that one receives after one has trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour. The “one” here does not emphasis that baptism as a single form of baptism or one can only be baptised once. The more appropriate rendering of “one baptism” is “one person in whose name we are baptised;” that is to say, this is the baptism of the followers of Christ.
7 One God (Ephesians 4:6)
Paul told the truth about God to the Church at Ephesus: first, “one God and Father of all,” indicating that the heavenly Father is the God of all humankind; second, “who is over all,” implying that the heavenly Father is the Lord who is supreme and sovereign; third, “through all and in all,” signifying that the heavenly Father is not far from His creations, and His presence is with humankind. Many scripture verses indicate the presence of God with His believers, and He also indwells in their hearts. In simple terms, it is impossible for Christians to accept atheism, pantheism or polytheism, for the Bible clearly speaks of there is only one God.
1 Paul Quoted Psalms 68 (Ephesians 4:8)
The Background of This Psalm
Paul freely quoted Psalm 68:18. This is a psalm of triumph. Most probably, the possible writing backgrounds are as follows: first, the conquest of Jerusalem by David (2 Sam. 5:6-8); second, David moved the ark to Zion (2 Sam. 6); third, David’s triumphal procession after a victory; fourth, David’s victories in general.
Paul freely quoted the words of Psalm 68:18 according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, there were two major and five minor variances. The Apostle Paul summed up the essence of Psalm 68, stating that a military victor had the right to give gifts to those who are identified with him. Jesus Christ was the victor, and He captivated sinners by His salvation, thus He granted the saved ones to the church as gifts (cf. Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12).
2 Christ Gave Gifts (Ephesians 4:7-11)
Christ Descended into the Lower Parts of the Earth (Ephesians 4:9)
What is the meaning of Christ being descended into the lower parts of the earth? The scholars offer three different views as follows: first, it is about Christ’s incarnation; second, it indicated that Christ descended into Hades between His death and resurrection; third, it referred to Christ’s death and His burial in the grave. The third suggestion best fits the situation because in His death Christ had victory over sin and redeemed those who would be given as “gifts” to the church.
Christ Ascended Far above All the heavens (Ephesians 4:10)
Jesus Christ conquered sin on the cross and He also rose from the dead on the third day. Moreover, after the ascension of the Lord, He granted gifts to the Christians, indicating that He is the Ruler of everything.
The Gifts That the Lord Gave (Ephesians 4:11)
Jesus Christ gave spiritual gifts to the Christians according to His will. Paul especially talked about some of these spiritual gifts as follows:
The apostles received their commission and supernatural power directly from Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:5, 8), and they vindicated their messages by their miraculous power. Furthermore, they were also a group of witnesses, for they personally saw the resurrected Lord themselves (Acts 1:22). The apostles and the New Testament prophets were workers who laid the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20). Strictly speaking, there is no more the office of apostles around, for there are no more believers who have witnessed the resurrected Christ.
Prophets are the spokespersons of God. By means of prediction, exhortation, encouragement, warning and explanation, they proclaimed the divine messages to humankind. As their ministry was laying the foundation of the New Testament Church, in addition to the completion of the formation of the Church and the compilation of the New Testament, there was no more the gift of prophets anymore.
Evangelists are the workers who spread the Gospel or the Good News of God’s salvation. Some Bible scholars believe they are itinerant missionaries, going from place to place where there is no established work. Furthermore, those who have the gift of evangelists can understand the condition of non-believers well. Also, they are able to answer the questions pertaining to faith easily, and they can lead people to Christ effectively. God gives the gift of evangelists to the Church that more people can be saved as a result.
Pastors and Teachers
Pastors and teachers is only a particular gift. Those who possess this gift not only can pastor, but they can also teach effectively as well. Therefore, a scholar translated it as “teaching shepherds.” Believers, who possess the gift of pastors and teachers, are able to effectively lead the flock of the Lord, and they can effectively explain the biblical truths to believers and non-believers alike.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Christians must diligently preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
2 Memorise Ephesians 4:1-3.
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
3 Resolve to discipline your spiritual life with God’s grace and reflect the virtues of the Christians consequently (Ephesians 4:1-3).
4 Watch out for your attitude, words and works, and try not to create feelings of animosity with other believers, thus affecting the unity of the church.
5 Pray for the Universal Church and ask the Lord to bless and keep all local churches in the world.
6 Be broadminded, learn to appreciate the tradition and belief of other denominations; if you had the opportunity, learn to serve with them together.
7 Try to cooperate with others and stop being a loner of deciding and acting alone.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.