Sunday, October 2, 2016

Paul's Epistles - Ephesians - Part 8: Unity & Maturity

Paul's Epistles - Ephesians - Part 8:
Unity & Maturity
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

In Paul’s 35 years of ministry, since his conversion in Damascus, we have recorded in the Holy Bible many of his epistles, or letters.

Paul’s first journey took place from 33AD (the year of his conversion), through 46AD, leaving Damascus in 38AD.

Paul’s 2nd journey began in 50AD, four years later; during this time he wrote 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, and Galatians, with his second journey ending in 54AD.

Paul’s 3rd journey began in 55AD and lasted until 58AD where he found himself imprisoned in Judea from 58-60AD. During his 3rd journey Paul wrote 1st and 2nd Corinthians, and Romans. We have no record of writings from Paul during his prison time between 58-60AD in Judea.

After his release from Judea, Paul traveled on his voyage to Rome from 60-61AD, writing Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, and finding himself in a Roman prison in 63AD.

Released soon after his incarceration, Paul then writes the epistles Hebrews, 1st Timothy, Titus and his final letter before his death 2 Timothy, which was written from a Roman prison he was placed in during 66-68AD.

Though the bible does not tell us when or how Paul died, it is believed by scholars that he was beheaded in 68AD in May or June.


As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Paul explains the Body of Believer’s MUST be in UNITY and MATURITY

The message of this epistle to the church is “The Church, The Body of Christ”.


a. Be completely humble
                                                                                  i. Gentle
                                                                               ii. Patient
                                                                            iii. Bearing with one another in love
                                                                              iv. The love of I Corinthians 13

b. Make every effort to keep unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace

c. There is one body
                                                                                  i. One Spirit
                                                                               ii. Just as you were called to one Hope
                                                                            iii. One Lord
                                                                              iv. One Faith
                                                                                 v. One baptism
                                                                              vi. One God
                                                                           vii. And one Father of all, who is
1. Over all
2. Through all
3. And in all

a. Vs. 7-8
                                                                                  i. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

b. He ascended higher than the heavens (ouranos) or “the starry region”
                                                                                  i. In order to fill the whole universe
1. “fill” (playro’o) meaning literally to Satisfy

c. So Christ gave Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers
                                                                                  i. To equip His people (the Church or Body of Christ) for service
                                                                               ii. So that the Body of Christ may be BUILT UP…not tore down
d. Until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God
                                                                                  i. Becoming mature attaining the whole fullness of Christ

a. Tossed back and forth by the waves

b. Blown here and there by every wind of teaching
                                                                                  i. By cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming

c. Instead, we who are mature will
                                                                                  i. Speak the Truth in Love
                                                                               ii. Be joined and held together by every supporting ligament (other mature believers)
                                                                            iii. And grow and build the Body of Christ up in love
1. As each part does its work

Held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

If you are living a life WORTHY of being called a Christian, you will be;

·        Completely humble, gentle, patient and bearing with one another in the love described in I Corinthians 13

·        You will be making EVERY effort to keep unity of the Body of Christ through the bond of peace

·        You will no longer act as immature; the reason Paul uses the term infant, is because he is saying those who are immature spiritually are being babies in the Lord!

o   Spiritual immature infants are self-centered
o   They cry a lot, especially when they don’t think their needs are being met
o   They are messy, causing messes and not cleaning them up
o   They are impatient, they want what they want and they want it five minutes ago
o   They do not cooperate, cannot submit to others, understand deep things, are unable to apologize and resist sharing
o   They are explosive and can “go off” at anything
o   And spiritual infants are irresponsible; they’re great at expecting a lot from others and nothing from themselves. They always know who is to blame for all that’s wrong

It’s the nature of the immature to be childish. It’s the natural order of things for babies to be infantile. We’re not saying otherwise. We love babies.

Babies can love and laugh and add a great deal to any gathering. The biggest huggers in any church and the ones most likely to call out a hearty ‘amen’ to the sermon are the newer members, those “fresh in from the cold.” They add a lot to the church.

But we don’t want to keep our children as toddlers forever. They should grow.

We’re not against spiritual babies; we just say don’t turn over the church to them and that everyone goes through that developmental stage.
But to remain a baby forever is unnatural.

Growing into maturity is the natural order of things. “By this time you ought to be teachers,” the writer of Hebrews said to some unnamed disciples. “But you need to return to the first grade and start over with the basic truths of the kingdom” (Hebrews 5:12;  paraphrase).

We don’t tell our babies to grow. It’s the natural order. If we feed and nurture them, protect and care for them, they will grow. In the Kingdom of God, Spiritual Growth is a CHOICE, and we ALL must choose to if a Body of Christ is going to survive.

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