Paul again states that he is “the prisoner for the Lord”, then urges the Ephesians to live a life that is worthy of the calling with which you have been called. Paul is secure in his calling to be “the prisoner for the Lord”, his imprisonment is not something to be ashamed of; it is a high calling, he is living just as God planned.
Remember when Jesus was presented before Pilate and falsely accused of treason, Jesus kept silent refusing to engage in his own defense. An exasperated Pilate claimed, “Don’t you know I have the authority to release you and to crucify you?” This when Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin”. Jesus was put into the hands of the greatest power known at that time, who claimed the power and authority over the entire world. Pilate was the administrator of that great power and Jesus tells him that you have no authority except what God has allowed you to have. This must have irked Pilate greatly!
Paul writes in Romans clearly, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God”. He also urges the Ephesians in 1 Timothy to pray for kings and all who are in authority, offering requests, intercession and thanks on behalf of all people. Consider who these governing authorities that Paul is speaking of, it is Nero, the ruthless and deceptive Caesar who will eventually put Paul to death in Rome. Paul is praying for his oppressor.
Paul urges the church to “to live a life that is worthy”; the conduct of their lives should conform to their status as believers before God. The word “worthy” means “equal weight” giving us the sense that our lives (our conduct), how we live in our day to day life should be in balance, equal weight, with our spiritual lives.
“God has chosen us to be Christ’s representatives on earth. In light of this truth, Paul challenges us to live lives worthy of the calling we have received—the awesome privilege of being called Christ’s very own. This includes being humble, gentle, patient, understanding, and peaceful. People are watching your life. Can they see Christ in you? How well are you doing as his representative?” LIFE Application Bible
What are some things God has called us to do or be? From Romans we learn we are called according to His purpose, that He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ. From 1 Peter we learn that we are called to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation and to be His chosen people. From Matthew we learn that we are to be a light that shines for all people, “so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. Additionally, we are to “go and make disciples of all nations”, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey God’s commands.
We are to live this worthy life “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love”. Some translations use the world “meekness” instead of gentleness, this is a much misunderstood in our generation. Many misinterpret “meekness” to mean “weakness”; but the truth is that meekness is the opposite of weakness. The Greek word for meekness literally means “strength under control”. Reflect back to our previous discussion of Jesus before Pilate, Jesus had the power to strike back against His enemies, but He exhibited “strength under control” and He did not retaliate against injustice, instead “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!”
From Colossians, in the same mailbag as the letter to the Ephesus, “live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have a great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light”.
This is was a worthy life encompasses, we are growing in knowledge of God, being strengthened by the Holy Spirit, demonstrating endurance and patience and giving joyful thanks and making “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Unity is oneness –not sameness, our unity in Christ is found in a few core essentials. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, on God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”.
As believers we are to “keep” Christian unity not “make” Christian unity. We are a diverse group of people, men and women of all ages, races and cultures. We may look different on the outside, but we are one in Christ in the Spirit. We worship in different styles, some with loud music, some with demonstrations of emotion and others with solemn classical hymns; we are different in style but united in Christ by the Holy Spirit. We maintain this unity that Christ gave us by practicing love, acceptance and forgiveness toward others in the body of Christ.
Paul writes in Galatians saying, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”.