Interpretive and Theological Analysis of Ephesians 4:1-6

Topics: New Testament, Jesus, Christianity Pages: 10 (2657 words) Published: September 23, 2014




Biblical Hermeneutics

Interpretation and Theological Analysis
The unity of the believers was a doctrine clearly taught by Jesus and embraced in the Early Church. In John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed a High Priestly prayer for His disciples, emphasizing the ideal of harmony among all His followers. Then in Acts 4:32, the Christian accord for which Christ prayed was a noticeable characteristic of the Early Church. Therefore, Paul’s emphasis to many of the churches within his realm of influence throughout the region was certainly consistent with that fundamental Christian principle of that day.1 So in the context of Paul’s concern for the Body of Christ and the unity that can only be achieved by a genuine love for one another, he made his passionate appeal to the Ephesians. V. 1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. To begin this portion of his letter, Paul referred to himself as a “prisoner for the Lord,” not to garner any sympathy, but to establish his credibility for the “big ask” in this letter. By his association with imprisonment, there is a sense of the dignity regarding his apostolic office.2 So in other words, Paul was saying, “Because, I as a leader in the Church am paying such a high price for what I have taught you, then please listen to me.” The word “then” in this verse demonstrates Paul’s usual transition from doctrinal exposition into practical application. (However, he never really left theology behind; he continued to interweave it carefully throughout the balance of his letter.) Although the purpose of his letter was meant to be a persuasive argument for loving unity, the apostle spent the first half in customary epideictic rhetoric.3 Then after praising them for what they were doing well, he turned to his exhortations, employing his usual didactic style (direct teaching) rather than the narrative of the Gospels or the poetry of the Psalms. The word translated “urge” was the Greek word parakaleo. It was a compound word, para – “alongside” and kaleo – “to call.” In other words, it literally meant “called alongside.” But it was often used as a stronger term, such as “exhort, admonish, entreat, instruct, beseech, appeal, beg, and implore.”4 In fact, the NLT translates the word as “beg.” So the word “urge” accurately conveys Paul’s tone; instead of just casually suggesting that the Ephesians work toward unity, he was pressing them with the weight of his apostolic authority behind him to exert their effort on this critical issue since it was of absolute vital importance. Then the words “to live a life” come from another compound Greek word, peri – “around” and pateo – “to tread.” Peripateo literally meant to “walk around,” but not in the sense of wandering aimlessly. Quite oppositely, it meant “to conduct one’s life accordingly.”5 It could also be translated “to make use of opportunities” and “to regulate one’s life.”6 Elsewhere in the New Testament, this word was translated “behave.” The NLT translates it “to lead.” So the NIV translation is accurate, which states “to live” as with intentionality. It is also a word that Paul used frequently – seven different times in the six chapters of Ephesians.7 He also stresses this point to the church that gathered in Thessaloniki, just across the Aegean Sea from Ephesus.8 Paul urged his readers over and over to take deliberate responsibility and do not be passive. According to his insight, it takes effort (intentionality) to overcome one’s own carnal tendencies and be humble, gentle, patient, loving – all the virtues that foster Christian unity. Paul’s readers were also to live “worthily.” This word in the original Greek – axios – literally meant “ to bring up the other beam of the scales.”9 Paul insisted that there should be a balance between...

Bibliography: Bartels, Karl-Heinz.  “Heis.”  New International Dictionary of the New Testament.  Ed. Colin
Brown.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1976. 
Erickson, Millard. Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing
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Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL:
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Thompson, Frederick. Devotions from the Epistles of Galatians & Ephesians. Bloomington, IN:
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Unger, Merrill. The New Unger’s Bible Handbook. Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1984.
Wuest, Kenneth. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI:
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