Ephesians 4J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
Christians should be at one, as God is one
4 1-6 As God’s prisoner, then, I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will inevitably be at peace with one another. You all belong to one body, of which there is one Spirit, just as you all experienced one calling to one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of us all, who is the one over all, the one working through all and the one living in all.
God’s gifts vary, but it is the same God who gives
7-8 Naturally there are different gifts and functions; individually grace is given to us in different ways out of the rich diversity of Christ’s giving. As the scripture says: ‘When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men’.
9-10 (Note the implication here—to say that Christ “ascended” means that he must previously have “descended”, that is from the height of Heaven to the depth of this world. The one who made this descent is identically the same person as he who has now ascended high above the very Heavens—that the whole universe from lowest to highest might know his presence.)
11-13 His “gifts to men” were varied. Some he made his messengers, some prophets, some preachers of the Gospel; to some he gave the power to guide and teach his people. His gifts were made that Christians might be properly equipped for their service, that the whole body might be built up until the time comes when, in the unity of the common faith and common knowledge of the Son of God, we arrive at real maturity—that measure of development which is meant by the “fullness of Christ”.
True maturity means growing up “into” Christ
14-16 We are not meant to remain as children at the mercy of every chance wind of teaching and the jockeying of men who are expert in the craft presentation of lies. But we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head. For it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints with which it is provided, grows by the proper functioning of individual parts to its full maturity in love.
Have no more to do with the old life! Learn the new
17-19 This is my instruction, then, which I give you from God. Do not live any longer as the Gentiles live. For they live blindfold in a world of illusion, and cut off from the life of God through ignorance and insensitiveness. They have stifled their consciences and then surrendered themselves to sensuality, practising any form of impurity which lust can suggest.
20-24 But you have learned nothing like that from Christ, if you have really heard his voice and understood the truth that he has taught you. No, what you learned was to fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living, which were rotted through and through with lust’s illusions, and, with yourselves mentally and spiritually re-made, to put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life which was made by God’s design for righteousness and the holiness which is no illusion.
25 Finish, then, with lying and tell your neighbour the truth. For we are not separate units but intimately related to each other in Christ.
26-27 If you are angry, be sure that it is not out of wounded pride or bad temper. Never go to bed angry—don’t give the devil that sort of foothold.
The new life means positive good
28 If you used to be a thief you must not only give up stealing, but you must learn to make an honest living, so that you may be able to give to those in need.
29 Let there be no more foul language, but good words instead—words suitable for the occasion, which God can use to help other people.
30 Never hurt the Holy Spirit. He is, remember, the personal pledge of your eventual full redemption.
31-32 Let there be no more resentment, no more anger or temper, no more violent self-assertiveness, no more slander and no more malicious remarks, Be kind to each other, be understanding. Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.