Tuesday, 20 September 2016
…if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: Ephesians 4:21
This verse is to be taken together with the previous verse –
“But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:”
There is a strong connection being made between “Christ” and “Jesus” in these verses. Paul is indicating that there is the true Christ and there are false presentations of Christ. He notes that true believers haven’t learned Christ in a way that leads to the lewdness and ungodliness of the previous verses “if indeed you have heard Him.” There is an emphasis on “Him” as if it should read, “if indeed you have heard He Himself.” In other words, “If it was the true Christ whom you heeded, then you have learned a way other than that which I just described.”
To further bolster this, he goes on by saying, “and have been taught by Him.” It is rather to be translated as, “and have been taught in (Greek: en) Him.” If one is in Christ and is taught in the teachings of Christ by those designated in verse 11, then they will not walk in the vile way of the unregenerate. Instead, they will fit the description of those who are properly trained in accord with the words of verses 12-16.
Paul is carefully and methodically establishing what is right and appropriate for Christians in the conduct of their lives, and also that which is unacceptable. We learn the proper spiritual understanding of what it means to be in Christ “as the truth is in Jesus.” Paul now moves from the title and position (Christ) to the Person (Jesus) who fulfilled and continues to fulfill the role of the title and position. Jesus claimed in John 14:6 that He is the Truth. It is through studying the life that He lived as recorded in the gospels that we come to understand the true Christ.
Further, it is through an explanation of that same life of Jesus that we understand the nature of what His life meant, as well as the significance of His on-going work. This same use of “Christ” and “Jesus” to show the complement between the office and the One who fulfilled and fills the office is found elsewhere in the New Testament. One excellent example is given by Paul in Romans 8:11 –
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
The Spirit of Jesus is the Man raised from the dead and who dwells in us; the position of Christ was raised from the dead and is the same authority who will also give us life.
The two concepts, Christ the Man and Jesus the Man, must be taken together. A “Christ” who is not Jesus is a false Christ. The role of “Christ” which does not adhere to the life of Jesus is a false presentation of Christ. The doctrine which we follow of “Christ” must be the same doctrine which is presented in Jesus, or we are following a false Christ.
Life application: The only way to know if we are pursuing the true Christ is to pursue Him as revealed in the Person and work of Jesus who is the Christ and the only true Christ. And yet, we rise early and find a thousand reasons to not read and study the Bible. Let us not make this catastrophic mistake, but let us be wise and diligent in our study of Christ Jesus.
Great and awesome God! How wonderful it is to know that You have given us all we need in order to be saved, and then to live out that salvation in a right, proper, and holy manner. All we need to do is look to the life of Jesus, as is recorded in Scripture, in order to see who fulfilled the work of Christ and who continues to fulfill that most sacred position even now. There is one Lord, and He has come to lead us back to You. Give us wisdom to pursue Him now, while He may be found. Give us wisdom to emulate Him with all the zeal we can muster! Amen.