Get along with each other
Live like Jesus is your boss1 Now listen, I’m in prison for doing the Lord’s work. I want you to remember that God picked you, and I’m begging you to live the life of someone who deserves that honor. 2 And I want you to do it in a spirit of humility, with gentleness and patience. Work out your differences in a loving way. 3 Do everything you can to stay united, not just in behavior, but in spirit as well. Agree to keep the peace. 4 There is one body of believers, led by one Spirit. You’ve been invited to embrace the one hope. That’s your calling. 5 There’s one leader, one faith, one baptism. 6 There’s one God. He’s the Father of everyone. He’s supreme. He’s above us. He lives in us. He works through us. 7 Each one of us has a gift. The Messiah kindly gave it to us. 8 The Bible said he would do that.
9 Look, if Jesus “ascended” he first must have come down to earth. You have to come down low before you can go back up high. Right? 10 The same One who came down low is the One who ascended to the high heaven. When he did that, he spread his presence everywhere. 11 He spread gifts around, too. He equipped people to serve him as apostles, prophets, preachers, pastors, and teachers. 12 He gave them the job of training believers for the ministry work ahead, which is to strengthen the body of Christ, the church. 13 It’s a work in progress. It’ll continue until we’re all people of faith who know the Son of God and who have grown so spiritually mature that people can see Christ in us. 14 At that point, we’re no longer spiritual babies that people pick up, toss in the air, and toy with. We’re not going to get tricked by some new teaching or a fast-talker or a lying schemer. 15 No sir. When we talk, we’ll tell the truth and we’ll say it with love. We want to grow spiritually in every way, in an effort to be like Christ who is the head that rules the body. 16 We are the body, the church. With Christ at the head and with all parts of the body working together and every supporting ligament doing its job, we can grow strong and loving.
Let’s see the new you17 I’m going to tell you something, and it comes from the Lord. Don’t live like an atheist or any other nonbeliever. They are hopelessly stuck trying to figure things out with their tiny little minds. 18 The lights are out inside their heads. They’re clueless. They know nothing of God because they’re morally ignorant. And they’re ignorant because they’re stumbling around in the dark, and they’re too stubborn to admit it. 19 They’re not ashamed of anything anymore. They’ll dive into any nastiness, sexual sin, or greediness with no regrets. 20 The Messiah didn’t teach you to live like that. 21 I’m sure you’ve heard about Jesus, you know his teachings, and you know the truth about his teachings when you hear it. 22 As for the old you—the way you used to be—peel it off and pitch it aside. That’s what you’ve been taught. The old you is already rotting away. It was a decaying life anyhow, built on the delusion that you could let your sinful desires run wild. 23 Let the Spirit make you new. It’ll change the way you think. 24 Step into your new life. It looks a lot like God himself: morally good, spiritually devoted to others, and kindly truthful. 25 So don’t lie to each other. Tell the truth. We’re all on the same team here, members of one body. 26 If you get angry, don’t do something you know is wrong. And don’t let your anger fester overnight. Deal with it the day it happens. 27 Don’t give the devil a way into your life. 28 Anyone who steals should stop it. Instead, work hard for what you get. Let your hands do something good for a change. Maybe then you’ll have what you need along with something to share with the poor. 29 Don’t let rotten words come out of your mouth. Specialize in words that encourage people. Speak those helpful words whenever the opportunity arises. 30 Don’t do anything that you know would sadden God’s Holy Spirit. This Spirit in you is God’s way of assuring you that you belong to him and are among the saved. 31 Clean house in your spiritual life. Sweep out bitterness, anger, rage, arguing, gossip, and all desire to get even or to give someone what for. 32 Instead, be kind to each other. Be warm-hearted. And people, forgive each other just as God, through Christ, forgave you.
Bible experts debate what this means. In the original passage that Paul quotes, Psalm 68:18, the captives were enemies of Israel. But Paul seems to intend a different meaning here, a metaphor. One guess: The captives are enemies of Jesus, such as sin, death, and the devil. Another guess: The captives are the people who were once captives of sin, death, and the devil, but who have now been taken spiritually captive and freed by Jesus.
Possibly a reference to Zechariah 8:16, instructing people to tell the truth when they get into a disagreement.
Ephesians 4:1 has a couple of sentences that don’t seem easily related to each other. Any guess about why Paul thought that one idea followed the other?
What hope do you think Paul was talking about in Ephesians 4:4?
Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 in verse 8. After reading the original context in Psalms, do you think Paul was stretching it to apply that passage to Jesus and the gifts he gives his followers?
Paul wrote that when Jesus ascended to heaven “he spread his presence everywhere” (4:10). How so? What do you think Paul meant?
Paul has some harsh things to say about nonbelievers in Ephesians 4:17-19. How do you react to what he said?
Does the spiritual maturity Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:13 sound like something we can accomplish in this lifetime, or is it an idealistic goal to shoot for?
Read what Paul says about the “old you” and the “new you” in Ephesians 4:22-24. What phrase or idea stands out to you as captivating, surprising, or perhaps as a standout in some other way?
Paul said, “Don’t give the devil a way into your life” (4:27). In what ways do you think Paul pictured folks giving Satan a free pass to come in and mess around with them?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul says God has equipped people with different gifts. He mentions several in Ephesians 4:11. What are some of the unsung gifts you’d add to the list?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul says it over and over: get along. “Work out your differences in a loving way” (4:2). “Stay united” (4:3). “We’re all on the same team here, members of one body” (4:25). “Forgive each other just as God, through Christ, forgave you” (4:32). When have you seen that happen most remarkably or most recently (take your pick)?
LIFE APPLICATION. “Don’t let your anger fester overnight. Deal with it the day it happens” (4:26). Was Paul kidding, using hyperbole, or has he never had in-laws?