Presenting a Biblical response by concerned former Seventh-day Adventists to the Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.

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Commentary on "Community"



Day 4: Tuesday, June 16, 2009



“The Ephesian believers to whom Paul addresses his letter were normal, everyday folk who had come to know Christ as Savior and were learning how to make Him Lord of their lives. In Ephesians 4:1–13, the apostle Paul implores them to “live a life worthy of the calling” (vs. 1, NIV) they have received by being patient, gentle, unified, prayerful, humble, and accepting of the roles assigned them by God. Paul rightly understood that to “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (vs. 12, NIV), required a spirit of sacrifice. This spirit of sacrifice was one way of preparing God’s people for “works of service” (Ephesians 4:12, NIV). (Teacher’s Comments for this section)



Ephesians 3 ends with one of the greatest prayers in the entire Bible. Paul asks for five things on behalf of the people:

  1. to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; 2) that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
  2. that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth;
  3. to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; and
  4. that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God (See Ephesians 3:16-19 NASB).

He ends the prayer thus: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

This prayer is the preamble to his encouragement to the Ephesians beginning in Chapter 4. He is exhorting them to take their salvation seriously. Why? Not only will God make real in their hearts the very things Paul prayed for, but God also has blessed the church, His body, with incredible gifts – “given according to the measure of Christ's gift” (Ephesians 4:7).

In Paul’s mind, everything is focused on Jesus Christ. Jesus is the source of our forgiveness and salvation. He is the source of love and the Giver of gifts. All the so-called responsibilities listed by this lesson’s author are instead gifts to be made real in his reader’s lives. Yes, they were to take this seriously. Yes, they had much to unlearn, from both their Jewish and pagan backgrounds. But the impetus for everything was the indwelling Holy Spirit. It was grace (the very presence of God enabling them to be who God had called them to be and to do what God had called them to do—see Philippians 2:13) teaching them to say No to ungodliness (Titus 2:11-14), not the Law.

These people were not “learning how to make Him Lord of their lives.” He already was Lord of their lives. They were not required to have a “spirit of sacrifice” in order to attain behavioral goals. Rather, these things would be granted “according to the riches of His glory” (Ephesians 3:16). Paul encouraged them to excel in such things as humility, gentleness, patience, etc. not in order become better people, but because these things already were theirs in Christ. In other words, because they already were saints of the Most High God, they were to allow the Holy Spirit to work out of them towards others what He had already worked into them.

The responsibility of belonging is not a responsibility to do the right things, but a responsibility to walk by faith, radically trusting the indwelling Christ to be not only the Author but the Finisher of their faith.



  1. Behaviorists have no choice but to interpret the various lists in the New Testament letters as collections of do’s and don’ts. They must interpret them as extensions of the Law.
  2. Paul saw it differently. He allowed the Law to do what it was meant to do, show a person his or her utter helplessness and to point that person to Jesus. Once the Law has done that, it ceases to be of any benefit.
  3. We are called to walk by faith, not sight. It is now grace that leads us through our lives, not Law.
  4. Nowhere is this more important than in our lives together as children of God. We still live in our unregenerate flesh which is subject to indwelling sin. We can be tempted. We too often fall. We hurt each other. But because of the super-abounding grace of God in the person of the Holy Spirit we who are led by the Spirit no longer need to carry out the desires of the flesh (see Galatians 516).
  5. Carrying out the responsibility to love each other as Jesus first loved us is impossible under the Law, any law. It can be realized only by learning to listen to the Holy Spirit living within.




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