New life and deeds (3:1-17)

(new life and deeds)

After speaking the importance of church growth, Paul begins to talk in a practical sense how each member or individual should function. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (3:1) E 1:20 says, “he (God) raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” Since we are risen like Christ, our life is renewed. We should “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (3:2) Paul has challenged them in 2:20 as said, “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world…” In Ephesians, after speaking of the functioning of the body of Christ in E 4:15-16, Paul also goes right into our “walk” or deeds of a “new man”. (E 4:17,24) Our hope of glory is in heaven, not on earth: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (3:3-4) In Phil 3:20-21, Paul says, “For our conversation is in heaven (「我們卻是天上的國民」); from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” But for those “who mind earthly things”, their end is “destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame. (Phil 3:19)

Our new life should begin by scrapping all the “things on the earth”. “Mortify (治死) therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection (邪情), evil concupiscence(惡慾), and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (3:5) In E 5:3 & 5:5, Paul says, “but fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.…covetous man, who is an idolater.”  How does covetousness relate to idolatry? Being covetous is hoping to occupy something to satisfy one’s desire. In Paul’s thinking, that thing can become your idol in mind. Any immoral thinking or behavior as said above should be prohibited. “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience, in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.” (3:6-7) In E 5:6-8 says, “for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” Those immoral practices are our past walks but now we should “walk as children of light”. Paul goes on: “But now ye also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication (污穢的言語) out of your mouth.” (3:8) In E 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour (嚷鬧), and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” Evil word comes out of evil mind. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt 12:34) E 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication (污穢的言語) proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Paul then introduces the concept of old man vs new man. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (「在知識上漸漸更新,正如造他主的形象」).” (3:9-10) E 4:22-24 says, “ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man (「從前行為上的舊人」), which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind (「將你們的心志改換一新」). And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” God has created our new man and our new man is supposed to bear God’s image of righteousness and holiness. Although man is created in the image of God, God’s image of righteousness and true holiness was already destroyed in human being when human sinned. Now God’s creation of a new man is for all kinds of people, “where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian (西古提人), bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (3:11) In E 1:23, Paul says the church “is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” In E 4:6, Paul says that there is “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Barbarians are non-Greek aliens. Scythia was north of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The Scythian was probably the worst kind of barbarian.

Paul now begins to talk about the behavior of a new man. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies (存憐憫), kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness (溫柔), long-suffering (忍耐的心), forbearing one another (彼此包容), and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (3:12-13) C 3:14-15 further says, “And above all these things put on charity (NRSV, ‘love’), which is the bond of perfectness (「要存著愛心,愛心就是聯絡全德的」). And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be thankful.” E 4:1-3, Paul beseeches that “ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness (謙虛) (NRSV, ‘humility’), and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (3:16-17) E 5:18-21 says, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” A renewed mind is a mind filled with the Spirit. God’s word is for teaching so as to do good deeds, as said in II Tim 3:16-17, “All scripture…is profitable for doctrine (教訓), for reproof (督責), for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”