Online Bible Commentary
Five Christian Attitudes
Ephesians 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (NKJV)
Proper Biblical interpretation depends upon context. Therefore, each of these commentaries begins by giving some context of the passage.
The book of Ephesians is part of what is known as the Prison Epistles. The writings, themselves, affirm that the epistles were written by the Apostle Paul from prison.
There are differing opinions as to during which of Paul’s prison confinements the epistles were written. There are many sources that discuss this the subject fully. For our purposes, we will go along with the thought of most scholars that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62.
The epistle was written about AD 61 to the house churches in Ephesus, Asia. The idea was that this authoritative letter would be passed along to the other churches.
The book of Ephesians can be divided into two halves. The first half, the first three chapters, is concerned with the positional; doctrine outlining our position in Christ.
The second half, the last three chapters beginning with this passage, is concerned with the practical; how we work out our position in the practical living of our Christian life. This is similar to the breakdown of the book of Romans.
In this passage, Paul begins his discussion of practical Christian living by giving us five Christian attitudes. Adopting these attitudes in our Christian walk will bring glory to God.
As Christians, we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our counselor. He helps us to live the Christian Life. When we allow Him to control our actions, and attitudes, we will glorify God.
Paul begins by writing “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, (v. 1a). He describes himself as a “prisoner of the Lord”. Paul described himself in the same manner previously in this letter, at the beginning of chapter 3.
Although, in reality, he is a prisoner of the Romans at this time, Paul is more concerned with his standing with God than his standing with the world. As a believer, he is a prisoner, a slave, of Jesus Christ. He is fully devoted to Christ, despite his worldly circumstances.
Next, Paul begs his fellow Christians. He writes “(I) beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (v. 1b). Our walk, our Christian lifestyle, should glorify God.
Paul then gives us five attitudes which, if adopted, would accomplish this worthy walk. He writes “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love (v. 2), endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (v. 3).”
These five attitudes are listed below:
(1) Lowliness – The literal Greek of the word translated “lowliness” is “humility”. This is the opposite of arrogance, and excessive self-esteem. Lowliness puts others before ourselves. It is a willingness to lower ourselves and elevate others. It is not having to be right all the time. It is humbling ourselves before others.
(2) Gentleness – The literal Greek of the word translated “gentleness” is “meekness”. This is not responding in like kind. This is responding to those who are being unkind with grace. It is not retaliating.
(3) Longsuffering – This is an attitude of patience and understanding. It is refraining from blitzing others when provoked. It is keeping your calm in the midst of chaos.
(4) Bearing with one another – This is allowing for the inadequacies of others. None of us are perfect. We must let some things slide and not be ready to pounce but rather to demonstrate love for our fellow human beings, despite their shortcomings.
(5) Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace – This is striving to keep the peace. The Gospel brought peace to Jews and Gentiles, and peace with God for all who receive Him. As Christians, we are united, one in Christ, and we should reflect that attitude.
Paul concludes this passage by reverting to the doctrine, our position in Christ, that he discussed in the first part of this letter. Here he defines this oneness that unites Christians, and the church.
He writes “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling (v. 4); one Lord, one faith, one baptism (v.5); one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (v. 6).”
He lists seven ways that we are united, one in Christ:
(1) One body – There is one universal church. All Christian denominations are united under Christ.
(2) One Spirit – There is one Holy Spirit who indwells every believer and also indwells the church, the body of Christ.
(3) One Hope – There is one hope, our hope in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
(4) One Lord – There is one Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ.
(5) One Faith – There is one doctrine that defines the Christian faith.
(6) One Baptism – There is the baptism of the Holy Spirt upon conversion, our belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Water baptism is our public expression of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
(7) One God and Father of all – There is one God, the God of the Bible. He is the Father of all believers. He is “above all”, the God of the universe. He is “through all”, He uses all things and all people to accomplish His will. He is “in you all”, He dwells in every Christian through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The five Christian attitudes that Paul lists, if practiced, will help to maintain unity in the church, and in our families. We can only succeed at practical Christian living by allowing the Holy Spirit to live through us.