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16. Imitating God

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Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. (Ephesians 5:1-7)

How can we imitate God?

Paul has been calling for the Ephesians to put off the clothing of anger, dishonesty, unwholesome words, etc., and to put on godly characteristics like truthfulness, kindness and forgiveness. These are clothes fitting for believers. In this passage, he calls believers to “be imitators of God” (Eph 5:1). Mimētēs (“imitator”) is the word from which we get “mimic”— someone who copies specific characteristics of another person. We must mimic God—seeking to be just like him.

It is an impossible challenge to be like God. However, Scripture commands it. Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Peter says, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). God calls us to be just like himself.

This is how God created humanity—in his own image. However, at the fall, that image was marred, though not destroyed (cf. Gen 9:6). At conversion, God begins to transform us back into his image. Colossians 3:10 says, “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” God is daily renewing believers back into his perfect image (cf. Rom 8:29).

We also have a role to play in this transformation (cf. Phil 2:12-13). How should we imitate God? How can we live like God while residing among the ungodly? Ephesus was a place of tremendous immorality, where orgies were held in the temple of the goddess, Diana. It was difficult for the Ephesians to imitate God while living among pagans, and it is hard for us as well. In this study, we will consider six principles needed for us to imitate God.

Big Question: How should believers imitate God according to Ephesians 5:1-7?

Believers Imitate God by Recognizing that They Are His Children

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children (Ephesians 5:1)

Here Paul uses terminology every person can relate to—that of being a child. There are many things we can learn about imitating God from the fact that he calls believers “dearly loved children.”

Interpretation Question: How should we, as dearly loved children, imitate God?

1. As dearly loved children, we must recognize that God’s nature is in us in order to imitate him.

It’s natural to believe that being like God is impossible. However, it is not. Because we are his children, we have the DNA of our Father. At conversion, he gave us his nature. Second Peter 1:3-4 says,

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

God gives us everything we need to be like him—we each participate in his divine nature. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “He who is in Christ is a new creation, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new” (KJV). Therefore, God’s command to be like him is a recognition of who we are as his children. Because we are his children, God gave us his Spirit to empower and change us into his image. By his Spirit, we put sin to death in our lives, and by his Spirit we cry out to God, calling him, “Abba Father” (Rom 8:13, 15). As God’s children we possess his nature, and this enables us to conform to his very image.

2. As dearly loved children, we must know that God loves us in order to imitate him.

Another implication from Paul’s exhortation is that we must know that God loves us in order to imitate him. He calls believers “dearly loved” children. If a child thinks that his parents don’t love him, he will not try to imitate them. In fact, the world is full of children who are angry at their parents and want nothing to do with them. This is also true of us. If we don’t know how much God loves us, we won’t want to imitate him.

No doubt, this is why Satan works so hard to tempt believers to doubt God’s love for them. This is what he did with Eve. He deceived her about the character of God, tempting her to think that God was the ultimate killjoy. He wanted her to think that she could not eat from “all” the trees in the Garden. He tempted her to think that God was both untruthful and unkind, keeping the best from her. Similarly, with Job, Satan tempted him to curse God to his face (Job 1:11). That was his purpose in Job’s trials. Satan works overtime to make believers doubt God’s love because he understands that if we comprehend God’s love it will change us.

In Ephesians 3:17b-19, Paul prays,

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Paul prays for the Ephesians to grasp the greatness of Christ’s love for them so that they might be “filled to the measure of the fullness of God.” To be filled means to be influenced and controlled by (cf. Eph 5:18). Paul realized that they would look more like God when they knew the greatness of his love for them.

We must pray this prayer often for ourselves and others. We must know how much God loves us if we are going to imitate him.

3. As dearly loved children, we must constantly watch God in order to imitate him.

A child watches his father walk and talk in order to imitate him. As a child, I remember standing in awe of my father. He was big and strong, and I wanted to imitate him and receive his approval. Therefore, I studied him often. In the same way a child studies his father, we must study God. Hebrews 12:2-3 says,

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

These Christians were being persecuted for their faith, and Scripture encourages them to consider Christ and his sufferings in order to endure suffering well. In the same way, we must study God through his Word to imitate him.

4. As dearly loved children, we must constantly abide in God in order to imitate him.

When we hang around a person often, his character starts to rub off on us. It’s the same with God. We must be in constant prayer—enjoying his presence. We must often fellowship with his people—where he is present (Matt 18:20). We must worship him constantly, as God inhabits the praises of his people (Ps 22:3, KJV, paraphrase). As we spend time with God, he changes us into his image, from “glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18, KJV). Let this be true of us so we can continue to grow into his image.

Are you imitating God as his dearly loved child?

Application Questions: Name a few characteristics of God. Which communicable characteristic (one such as love, which humans can imitate, as opposed to one like omnipresence, which cannot be imitated) would you like to grow in most, and why?

Believers Imitate God by Loving Others

and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2 )

Observation Question: How does Paul describe God’s love in order for believers to imitate it?

Another way that believers imitate God is by living a life of love. First John 4:8 says, “God is love”—love is a definitive characteristic of God. Before God created man, he lived in a perfect loving relationship with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Believers are called to imitate this perfect love.

The word “live” can also be translated “walk.” This pictures believers making daily choices to love as God loves. However, we must understand that this love is not primarily emotional—it is an act of the will. Paul gives Christ’s loving sacrifice for the sins of the world as an example to model. His sacrifice was both an act of love for humanity and an act of love for God, a “fragrant offering” (Eph 5:2). John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Love is not only commanded by Paul, but by Christ as well. In John 13:34-35, Christ tells his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love is a fruit in every true believer—a fruit of being born again. Others will identify us by this love, and it should assure our hearts that we are truly born again.

First John 3:14-15 supports this: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” Love for the brothers will identify every true believer.

The question we must then ask is, “What does this divine love look like in a believer’s daily walk?” We can discern the answer by considering Christ’s loving, sacrificial death for the world.

Interpretation Question: What does Christ’s sacrificial death demonstrate to us about how to love others?

  • Christ’s sacrificial death demonstrates God’s forgiveness for our sins.

First Corinthians 13:5 says that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” Are you keeping a record of the failures of others? Or, in imitation of God, are you forgiving others for their failures? In the words of the English poet Alexander Pope, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

  • Christ’s sacrificial death demonstrates meeting the needs of others.

Man could not save himself—he was helpless. Christ had to die for our sins. In the same way, believers must help the hurting, the poor, the despised, and even the unborn—those who have no advocate. Paul previously called for believers to stop stealing and to save in order to help those in need (Eph 4:28). This is divine love. Selfish love only cares about its own needs, but divine love cares about the needs of others.

  • Christ’s sacrificial death demonstrates the opportunity for salvation.

We must love people enough to preach the gospel to them. Yes, it will offend and push some away, but it is the most loving thing that we can do. The reason we don’t evangelize is because we don’t love others as we should.

  • Christ’s sacrificial death demonstrates the great cost suffered by God and Christ for us.

In the same way, believers must love God enough to sacrifice everything for him—we must be willing to leave family, home, and career if needed. We must also love others enough to sacrifice for them. The believers in the early church sold all they owned to help other Christians in need (Acts 2:45). We must love one another in the same way, and by this, all men will know we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:34-35).

Application Question: How is God calling you to grow in sacrificial love for God and others?

Believers Imitate God by Abstaining from Sexual Immorality

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Ephesians 5:3)

Next, Paul commands believers to abstain from sexual immorality. This is important since one of the results of rebelling against God is a sexually immoral lifestyle. Paul describes this in Romans 1:21-27:

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… [24] Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another… [26] Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. (Romans 1:21-27 )

Rejection of God led to sexual immorality and shameful lusts—including homosexuality. Historically, the Roman Empire was known for loose sexual ethics. It was normal for a man to prefer both genders, and it was considered strange for him to prefer only one. A world that rejects God is a world handed over not only to idolatry but to a sexual revolution. This is what we are experiencing in much of the world today.

Observation Question: What words does Paul use to describe the sexual behavior that the Ephesians should not participate in?

1. Sexual immorality

“Sexual immorality” (Eph 5:3) comes from the Greek word porneia, from which we get the English word “pornography.” It refers to all types of sexual immorality.

2. Impurity

“Impurity” is a more general term than “sexual immorality” in that it refers to anything that is unclean and filthy. John MacArthur says this about the term:

Jesus used the word to describe the rottenness of decaying bodies in a tomb (Matt. 23:27). The other ten times the word is used in the New Testament it is associated with sexual sin. It refers to immoral thoughts, passions, ideas, fantasies, and every other form of sexual corruption.1

3. Greed

The word “greed” can also be translated “covetousness.” In the context, it is not referring to money or wealth but to “someone else’s body.”2 Covet was also used this way in the Ten Commandments about not coveting one’s neighbor’s wife. We must keep ourselves from lusting after others. Instead, we must be content.

Sexual immorality, impurity, and greed are improper for God’s holy people. The word “holy” has to do with being “set apart” (Eph 5:3). God set us apart from the sexual promiscuity of the world. In 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5, Paul says that each believer must “learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.”

Interpretation Question: What must a believer learn to keep his body pure in a sexually charged world?

Paul says there should not even be a “hint” of sexual immorality (Eph 5:3). This is where most believers fail. They don’t understand how dangerous sexual immorality is, and therefore open the door to sexually charged music, movies, TV shows, and Internet sites. They reason that “only a little won’t hurt,” and the enemy catches and binds them in sexual addictions. Lust is like a small flame, which has the ability to burn down an entire forest.

Not only do believers allow hints of sexual immorality in their hearts through the media, but also through relationships. They practice the world’s model in their dating relationships—opening the door to the enemy. They reason that a little holding hands won’t hurt, a little kissing is harmless, and a little intimate touching is normal. By doing this, the fan the fire of lust. Paul said, “Don’t even allow a hint of sexual immorality in your life.”

Here is the model Scripture gives for one’s dating/courtship relationships. First Timothy 5:1b-2 says, “Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Believers should treat members of the opposite sex as natural family members with all purity. There should be no hint of sexual immorality in these relationships.

Personally, because of the temptation to sexual immorality, I often recommend that unmarried couples implement a firm “no touch” policy. I think that’s in line with Paul’s exhortation of “no hint” of sexual immorality between Christian brothers and sisters. Believers should close every potential door to sexual immorality (cf. Matt 5:27-30).

Application Question: What are some other strategies for believers (married and unmarried) to practice in order to help them remain pure?

Believers Imitate God by Keeping Their Mouths Clean

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:4)

Observation Question: How does Paul describe inappropriate language for a believer?

Next, in imitating God, Paul describes the believer’s words. While Jesus was on earth, the Roman guards said of him, “Nobody ever spoke like this” (John 7:46). In addition, the people from his hometown were amazed at his “gracious words” (Luke 4:22). Our Savior’s words were always godly and gracious, and since he is our Lord, it is inappropriate for our words to be otherwise. 

Paul uses several terms to describe inappropriate language:

1. Obscenity

This refers to any talk that is degrading and disgraceful, including cursing and saying the Lord’s Name in vain.

2. Foolish talk

The word used for “foolish talk” is morologia. Moro means “fool,” or “stupid.” It is where we get the English word “moron.” Therefore, moronic talk is not fitting for a believer. “Empty, wasteful, idiotic talk is sub-Christian.” 3 Christ even says that we will be judged for every idle word (Matt 12:36).

One reason for not talking foolishly is that it leads to more sin. Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Too many words lead to sin—to saying or joking about something inappropriate. People seem to be more prone to moronic talk when staying up late at night or wasting time. Their inhibitions are down, and their tongues gush foolishness and sin. Paul says to beware of this.

Now it must also be said that Paul is not condemning laughing and joking. Proverbs 17:22 says a cheerful heart is like good medicine, and Ecclesiastes says there is a “time to laugh” (Ecc 3:4). There is nothing wrong with good fun, but we must be careful of ungodly fun, which often begins with an unrestrained tongue.

3. Coarse joking

Coarse joking comes from a word that means “‘able to turn easily.’ This suggests a certain kind of conversationalist who can turn any statement into a coarse jest.”4 This type of wit is common for a late night TV show host. They are paid to turn news events, articles, and statements—no matter how innocent—into something crude and perverse. 

Though all of these terms refer to negative speech in general, in this context they probably refer specifically to sexual speech. Sadly, believers who practice sexual abstinence often find it acceptable to talk loosely about sex. They reason, “Well, I’m not having sex like everybody else, so I can at least joke about it.” However, one of the problems with this is that words reveal what is really in the heart. Listen to what Christ says about words in Matthew 15:18-19: “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

When Christ says a man is “unclean,” he means unclean before God. This person might not be committing the physical act of adultery, but to God he is an adulterer. It is in his heart, as revealed by his mouth. Christ teaches that lusting after a woman is equivalent to committing adultery in one’s heart (Matt 5:28). Our hearts condemn or approve us before God.

What do your words say about your heart? Are you imitating your Father by only speaking gracious words?

Observation Question: How does Paul describe appropriate speech for a believer?

Paul says it should be marked by “thanksgiving.” In Romans 1:21, Paul described the unbelieving world as not glorifying God or giving thanks to him. It says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.” People who deny God are prone to selfishness and pride, expecting the world to revolve around them and becoming angry and bitter when it does not. However, believers should recognize God as loving, wise, and working all things out for their good (Romans 8:28) and, therefore they should constantly practice speech marked by thanksgiving rather than bitterness and ungodliness. First Thessalonians 5:18 says to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

As mentioned, the negative terms describing speech are probably referring to perverse sexual talk; therefore, thanksgiving in this context might specifically refer to a believer’s view of sex. John Stott says,

But the reason why Christians should dislike and avoid vulgarity is not because we have a warped view of sex, and are either ashamed or afraid of it, but because we have a high and holy view of it as being in its right place God’s good gift, which we do not want to see cheapened. All God’s gifts, including sex, are subjects for thanksgiving, rather than for joking. To joke about them is bound to degrade them; to thank God for them is the way to preserve their worth as the blessings of a loving Creator.5

Application Questions: Why is it so common for believers to practice debased speech instead of speech that glorifies God? How is God challenging you to grow in your speech—especially in the area of thanksgiving? Why should believers possess a thankful attitude (or a holy attitude) instead of a debased one in regards to sex?

Believers Imitate God by Remembering His Judgment

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 5:5-6)

Interpretation Questions: What does Paul mean by teaching that those who practice sin have no inheritance in the kingdom? Is he saying that people are saved or condemned by their works?

The next reason given for imitating God is a warning of God’s judgment. Paul reminds believers that “no immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom.” He is referring to someone practicing the sexual characteristics that he previously addressed. He calls this person an idolater because sex has taken the place of God in his life. He constantly thinks about sex, talks about it, and practices it. This is essentially worship. Paul is clear—those practicing sexual immorality are not saved. Christ says the same thing in Matthew 5:27-30:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

The judgment for the sexually immoral is hell—eternal separation from God’s blessings. Now, Christ and Paul are not saying that a person goes to heaven or hell based on works (cf. Eph 2:8-9). However, they are teaching that a person’s works prove if he is truly saved or not. True salvation changes the direction and pattern of a person’s life. Therefore, if a person continually practices sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness—he is not saved. There is no new life in him. He is spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1).

True believers stumble in these areas, but when they do, they hate their sin and repent of it. Unbelievers practice these things as a lifestyle because that is their nature. There are similar warnings to this throughout the New Testament. First Corinthians 6:9-10 says,

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who practice unrepentant sin as a lifestyle will not enter the kingdom of God. It must be noticed that Paul includes homosexuality. There are a great number of Christians today declaring that homosexuality is all right with God. Here again, we must note Paul’s warning, “Do not be deceived.” Homosexuality is not all right, and neither is any sex outside of a married man and woman.

Interpretation Question: Why does Paul teach believers to not be deceived? What types of deceptions were happening in the early church? How are we experiencing them today?

When Paul says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words” (Eph 5:6), the implication is that some in the church were teaching a permissive view of morality and God’s judgment. One of the things we know about the early church is that Gnosticism was rampant. Gnosticism came from a Greek philosophy which taught that the body was evil and the spirit was good. Therefore, Gnostics believed that whatever one did with the body didn’t matter because God only cared about the spirit. This meant that believers could live in sexual immorality, stealing, lying, etc., and God would still accept them. However, this is not true. God cares about every part of us—body, mind, and spirit. One day he will resurrect our bodies to be with him eternally—he doesn’t just care about our spirits.

Today, we have a false belief system called “universalism” that teaches that all people will be saved. However, Ephesians 5:5 denies this reality—along with a plethora of other Scriptures that teach God’s judgment (cf. Matt 13:41-42, 25:46). Sadly, many professing Christians believe this false doctrine. Obviously, these Christians do not read their Bibles, or simply don’t believe them. God wiped out the entire earth with a flood because of sin. He judged the nations in Canaan, commanding the Israelites to wipe them out. When the people of Israel sinned, he judged them. In the early church, God killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying.

God is currently judging people, and there will be a future judgment as well. God will not let the world continue to dishonor him. Peter also warns of false teachers who deny Christ’s second coming and a future judgment. Consider what he says:

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives (2 Peter 3:3-11)

Why should we imitate God and be holy? We should imitate him because he is a holy God who judges sin. The Lord is coming soon. Are you following him?

Application Questions: In what ways do you see this deception—a denial of God’s judgment—in the church? Why is it so prevalent?

Believers Imitate God by Separating from Those Living in Sin

Therefore do not be partners with them. (Ephesians 5:7)

Interpretation Question: Who is Paul referring to when he says “do not be partners with them”?

Finally, Paul says that if we are going to imitate God, we must separate from those living in sin or teaching deception—we must not partner with them. First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

Our relationships will either help us to know God better or pull us away from him. In Proverbs, wisdom and foolishness do not refer to a person’s intellect, but to his relationship with God and obedience to him. That is why Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god.’” Proverbs 13:20 says that if we walk with those who obey and love God, we will grow in obedience and love for him. But, if we walk with those who rebel against God, we will also rebel against him.

This is why Paul says we must not partner with people practicing sin or denying God’s judgment. Second Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

Certainly, believers must be light to the world, and they must share the gospel with those who don’t know Christ. But we should not be in yoking relationships where we are pulled away from God—even with those who profess Christianity.

Are you partnering with those who deny God by their lifestyle or teaching? Paul says, “Don’t do it!”

Application Questions: How do we balance being in the world but not of the world? How can we reach the world without being contaminated by it? Also, how should we treat those who profess Christ, but practice immorality or deny God’s judgment?

Conclusion

How can believers imitate God?

  1. Believers imitate God by recognizing that they are his children.
  2. Believers imitate God by loving others.
  3. Believers imitate God by abstaining from sexual immorality.
  4. Believers imitate God by keeping their mouths clean.
  5. Believers imitate God by remembering his judgment.
  6. Believers imitate God by separating from those living in sin.

Copyright © 2016 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV or AKJV are from the King James Version or Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations and commentators’ quotations have been added.


1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 200). Chicago: Moody Press.

2 Hughes, R. K. (1990). Ephesians: the mystery of the body of Christ (p. 156). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

3 Hughes, R. K. (1990). Ephesians: the mystery of the body of Christ (p. 157). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

4 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 45). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

5 Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 193). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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