Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (Ephesians 6:5-9)
Today, we conclude our study of Ephesians with a passage that contains some of the most direct instructions about work in all of Scripture for both “slaves” and “masters” (or in our modern parlance, employees and employers).
First, let’s look at the most obvious commands. If you work for someone else, Paul commands you to obey them...
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Today, we’re looking at what my friend Matt Perman calls “the core New Testament passage on productivity.” But before we take a closer look at Ephesians 5:15-17, we need to establish some context.
After expounding upon the gospel of grace in Ephesians 1-4, the apostle Paul reminds us of our status as “dearly loved children” of God in Ephesians 5:1. What is our response to our adoption as sons and daughters of God? Today’s passage contains part of the answer to that question.
Paul is saying that part of our response to the gospel is to “[make] the most of every opportunity.” I prefer how the NKJV translates that phrase as “redeeming the time.”
The Greek word exagorazó which...
Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. (Ephesians 4:28)
Even if you’re not known to steal to make ends meet, this passage still offers a lot of wisdom for our work. The key is found in Paul’s choice of the word “useful.” If the only reason for our work was to generate enough income to “share with those in need,” then why would it matter if our work was useful to the world? It wouldn’t. We’d be free to do any work so long as it generated enough financial resources to serve the poor. But with just one word, Paul is reminding us of one of the main themes of all his letters: That the work you and I do today has many God-glorifying purposes.
We have been exploring some of those purposes throughout this series. In Ephesians 1, we learned that our work is a means of pointing to the marriage of heaven...
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
John 14:12 records what I have to imagine was one of the most shocking things the disciples ever heard Jesus say: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Upon hearing this, the disciples must have been floored. They had seen Jesus give sight to the blind, feed the five thousand, and raise Lazarus from the dead. We’re going to do “greater things than these” Jesus? Yes.
Paul is reminding us of this same truth here in Ephesians 3, saying that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” As we’ve...
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
For good reason, Ephesians 2:8-9 is one of the most quoted passages of Scripture in the Church. But in my experience, it’s rare to hear someone preach all the way through verse 10. That’s a shame, because the marriage of verse 10 to verses 8 and 9 could not be more important for our work. When read in its entirety, this passage shows us that the gospel is our ultimate source of rest and ambition.
The first half of the passage couldn’t be clearer: Our status as adopted children of God is “by grace….through faith,” and thus “not by works.” What a glorious truth! While we were His enemy, Christ died for us, gracing us with...
With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ….I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:8b-10…18-21)
What is the will of God? “To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (see verse 10). Heaven and earth are not meant to be...