If Galatians is the great charter of Christian liberty, and the ground of it, Ephesians is the great charter of Christian identity, and what flows from it.
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:18-23).
The Classic Pauline Move
Paul loves to move from the indicative to the imperative. He loves to say that this is the truth, therefore live out the truth. The first three chapters of Ephesians contain virtually nothing “to do.” Those chapters are packed with glorious truths, but the only thing you can do with them really is believe. And that is why those chapters can be called the Pauline credenda — things to be believed. The last three chapters are filled with ethical instruction — children obey, servants honor, wives respect, husbands love, while all Christians put on the full armor of God. The last three chapters are the great Pauline agenda — things to be done.
Doctrine and Life
The first part of the book is crammed with high doctrine about great mysteries. The second half is characterized by an exceptional ethical rigor. The first thing to note is that we may not separate them. High doctrine by itself is arid theological intellectualism, and utterly worthless. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love . . . But if I detach a life of ethical rigor from the doctrines of these cosmic mysteries, all I will get is a life of suffocating moralism.
Mix and Match
Others attempt to keep them together, but while trying to alter (reduce) the meaning of at least one. There are those with high doctrine and low living. This is the orthodox libertine. Then there is the man with low doctrine and high living. This is the moralist. Another option is the one with low doctrine and low living. He can’t be bothered to learn or to obey. What we are after is a high sense of Christian identity in Christ, and a life of happy and high gratitude that simply spills out of that.
In his letters, Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” (or related phrases) over 170 times. Thirty of those times are found here, in this book. This is the center of his thought. This is what ties everything together
Therefore . . .
It is therefore not enough to sing psalms; we must therefore sing psalms. It is not enough to avoid drunkenness; we must therefore avoid drunkenness. It is not enough to love your wife or respect your husband — you must therefore do so. The key word in this book is oun (Eph. 4:1). Therefore. This and the previous paragraph go together tightly. “In Christ, therefore.”
Back to Our Text
God’s purpose and plan was enter the material universe as a true man, and to do so in a way that would equip Him to be a true head over all things. It is the nature of a covenant head to represent all things over which He is the head, and to do so in such a way as that those things that are in Him fillHim. We were not placed in Christ in order to rattle around there. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
We put on the new man, who is Christ. We put on the full armor of God (same word, enduo), and we see from the broader sweep of Scripture that Christ is every piece of that armor. He is our helmet, our salvation. He is our breastplate, our righteousness. He is our truth, our belt, and so on.
Christ is our head, which means that we are His fullness. As we put Him on, we are also filling Him up. This is a great mystery.
Husbands, this is what you are imitating. Wives, this is what you are imitating.
A Life of Imitation
If you are blind, you will have a hard time painting pictures. If you need glasses, you will perhaps become an impressionist. You will paint what you see, so make a point of seeing it correctly. But at the same time make a point of doing so with brush in hand.