I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)
All of Paul’s letters follow the same structure. The first part of the letter exposes truth about God and about us. It is usually pretty heavy on theology and doctrine. The second part of the letter explains how believers – who are God’s children [John 1:12] – should respond to these truths. Usually this means Paul exhorting us to certain behavior.
This letter to the Ephesians certainly follows this pattern. The first three chapters, which we have just studied, taught us many truths including that we are all born spiritually dead but that God took it upon Himself to make us alive. He did this by offering us forgiveness for our sins. He then made us citizens of heaven. This was all made possible because of God’s infinite grace and mercy that He demonstrated to us through the death of His son.
In response to these amazing things that He has done for us that we could never do for ourselves, God calls upon us to live a certain way. God has saved us from the dreadful penalty of our sins – an eternity in the presence of endless and rampant human sin (we call that hell). Whenever someone does something nice for us we naturally want to do something for them to repay them for their kindness.
The way we repay God (for lack of a better term – we can never repay God) is “to live worthily”. We are to live like the saved people that we are. The Greek word translated “live” here is περιπατεο (pronounced: per-ee-pat-eh’-o) which means “to walk; to conduct one’s self”. The word “worthily” is αξιοσ (pronounced: ax-ee’-oce), an adjective derived from the Greek word for “weight”.
The word picture here is believers are to live lives that are in-balance with the great gift that God has given them through no effort of their own. None of us deserve eternal life and none of us can earn it [Ephesians 2:8-9]. It is a free gift of God. God offered it to us even though we were (and are) undeserving. Our response to that gift is living a life that reflects honorably upon God.
Notice that the verb “live” (“walk” in some translations) is in the present tense implying that we are to constantly do this. For the believer, life is a never-ending effort to live in a way that accurately reflects our standing as forgiven children of God who are now citizens of heaven.
We’ll learn exactly how God wants us to do this as we study the next three chapters of this letter.
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