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Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians

Temple of Hadrianus in Ephesus, Turkey. Wikipedia Commons. Public Domain.
Temple of Hadrianus in Ephesus, Turkey. Wikipedia Commons. Public Domain.

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Introduction to Ephesians

As a background for this Epistle, it should be realled that Paul, during his third missionary journey, spent nearly three years at Ephesus. The indications are that a sizable Christian group was built up during this period. (See Acts 19.) The New Testament also makes it clear that Paul held the Ephesian converts in high regard, for while the apostle was on his way to Jerusalem, in preparation for his journey to Rome, he arranged a special meeting with the elders of the Ephesian Church. (See Acts 20:17-37.) However, when the Epistle to the Ephesians was written, Paul had completed his projected journey, and was being held under house arrest at Rome. Why, then, did Paul feel called upon to write to his converts at Ephesus at that time? What had transpired at Ephesus to give rise to this Epistle?

Apparently the Epistle arose out of a visit made by one of Paul’s converts, a man named Epaphras. Epaphras’ home was in Colossae (Asia Minor), but he was also well acquainted with the membership and activities of the Christian group at Ephesus. When Epaphras journeyed to Rome on some personal business, he sought out Paul, and acquainted the apostle with the latest developments among the Christian groups in Asia Minor. In regard to the work at Ephesus, he reported that the friendly relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians, which Paul had so effectively promoted, was rapidly deteriorating. Also, since Paul’s arrest and imprisonment there was a lack of Christian leadership at Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla were good persons, but they did not possess the qualifications to deal with arising difficulties in the church; consequently, there was considerable disorder there. Furthermore, the converts were becoming confused regarding the Christian doctrine and its practical application. The Ephesians scarcely knew what they were supposed to believe, and many of them were starting to formulate their own doctrines.

Paul sought to meet this situation by writing his Epistle to the Ephesians. First he endeavored to restore harmony between the Jewish and Gentile Christians at Ephesus—giving full recognition to the freedom of the Gentiles, but also reminding them of their indebtedness to “the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12). Then the authoritative statements given in the Epistle provided the needed leadership for the church at Ephesus. The Ephesians would recognize that Paul was still at the head of affairs, and they could unhesitatingly follow his directions. Also in this Epistle Paul gave a simple, clear exposition of the Christian teaching—telling the Ephesians what they should believe, and how they should conduct themselves, so that there need be no further con- fusion regarding the meaning and purpose of the Gospel message. The following special features of this Epistle should be carefully noted.

STYLE: The writing in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians is quite informal, and stands in marked contrast to the formal style used in his Epistle to the Romans. This is understandable. Paul was well acquainted with the leaders at Ephesus, while they in turn regarded the apostle as both spiritual leader and personal friend. Consequently the Epistle reads like a friendly letter, and the various matters are dealt with just as they came uppermost in the apostle’s mind. For this reason, it is not advisable to attempt a formal outline of the Epistle to the Ephesians, as was done with the Epistle to the Romans. However, this difficulty will be dealt with later on in the lesson.

MATURE VIEWPOINT: Earlier in the lesson reference was made to Paul’s spiritual development, as indicated in his Epistles of the Imprisonment. An actual instance or two will make this clear. In his Epistles to the Thessalonians and Corinthians, Paul writes of resurrection in the future tense—associating this with the Second Coming of the Lord. But in Ephesians, Paul refers to resurrection as a present experience. (See Eph. 2:1-6.) Note how he writes: “even when we were dead . . . [God] made us alive together with Christ. . . and raised us up with him” (Eph. 2:5-6). He further urges that “we may no longer be children . . . Rather. . . grow up in every way unto him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:14-15). Of course these statements may be interpreted as having reference to Christian baptism, or something similar, but the teaching is clearly of more advanced character than that given in Paul’s earlier Epistles.

METAPHYSICAL MEANING: In an earlier lesson, Ephesus was explained as meaning “desirable,” or “appealing.” Ephesus symbolizes “that central building faculty of the consciousness, called desire.” (MBD/Ephesus) The application of this desire to physical things, or experiences, led to those disturbing conditions during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus. (See Acts 19:23-41.) But this desire may also be for spiritual attainments or experiences. Paul recognized that the great desire of his Ephesian converts was for this spiritual development. He thought of them as desiring to know “what are the riches of his glorious inheritance, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe” (Eph. 1:18-19). Therefore the apostle, in this Epistle, clearly presented the necessary steps to betaken in quickening and developing spiritual consciousness—through which would come the fulfillment of this high desire. All these steps are clearly indicated, and may be now set forth in order, together with what we may regard as the main theme of the Epistle.

THEME: ATTAinING AND MAINTANING SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS

First Step: The Awakening. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light” (Eph. 5:14). In all probability, Paul was here quoting from a familiar early church hymn—but the wording seems most appropriate. This awakening is sometimes referred to as an inner quickening, or spiritual illumination.

Second Step: The Practice of Prayer. The student should read again the prayer given in Ephesians 3:14-21—especially noting how the apostle prays that “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:17)—quite an advance over the far-off conception given in Paul’s earlier Epistles! In giving this prayer, Paul is setting an example for his converts. Later in the Epistle he urges them to “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication . . . making supplication for all the saints, and also for me” (Eph. 6:18-19). The student should also read Paul’s earlier prayer, as recorded in the opening chapter of the Epistle. (See Eph. 1:16-23.)

Third Step: Daily Christian Living. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1); “Be imitators of God, as beloved chil- dren. And walk in love, as Christ loved us” (Eph. 5:2). The apostle then gives detailed directions for Christian living, covering many daily activities. (See Eph.4:17-32; 5:1-33; 6:1-9.)

Fourth Step: Needful Spiritual Protection. “Therefore, take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:13). Every piece of the Christian’s protective armor should be carefully checked, and its use and metaphysical significance noted. (See Eph. 6:10-20.)

Fifth Step: Right Use of Spiritual Gifts. “And his gifts were . . . for the equipment of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). In this connection, it will be helpful to refer back to Paul’s earlier discus- sion of spiritual gifts, given in First Corinthians, Chapters 12,13, and 14.

Sixth Step: The Christian’s Objective. The converts are urged to press onward in all this spiritual development, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

Introduction to Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians by Herbert J. Hunt, former Dean of Bible Studies for the Unity School of Christianity.

Ephesians and Colossians have similar vocabulary and similar structure. While most scholars believe they were written after Paul's death by a disciple, the both have much in common with Philippians and Philemon, letters that also reflect the zeal, power, love and wisdom, for both letters convey the essential spiritual principle of oneness and unity, both in the church and in consciousness.

Ephesians appears to be a compilation of Paul's thought, filled with short, beautiful passages commenting on the oneness and unity of the church: “for by grace you have been saved (2:8),” “For he is our peace (2:14),” “creating a new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace (2:15),” “making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:2).” It may be that, after the destruction of the Temple and the final split between Judaism and Christianity, the writer is attempting to unify Jewish-Christians and Gentile-Christians.

Both Ephesians and Colossians describe a oneness and unity in consciousness with repeated reference to the term mystery, such as “the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26-27). The mystic is “one who has intimate, firsthand acquaintance with God … Jesus was the greatest mystic of all ages” (Revealing Word, mystic). Many scholars believe that these references were subtle arguments against the encroachment of Gnosticism in the church, which taught a form of duality.

Introduction to Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians by Rev. Mark Hicks.


Ephesians 1

(Online: ASV WEB)

Salutation

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God,
to the saints who are at Ephesus,1 and the faithful in Christ Jesus: 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Ephesus Metaphysically, Ephesus is the central building faculty of the consciousness called desire. In its physical aspect Ephesus symbolizes the stomach. In its mental aspect it symbolizes the ganglionic center at the pit of the stomach, which controls and directs all the organs pertaining to digestion and assimilation. (MBD/Ephesus)

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ; 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blemish before him in love; 1:5 having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire, 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely bestowed favor on us in the Beloved, 1:7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood,1 the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 1:8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him 1:10 to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him;2 1:11 in whom also we were assigned an inheritance, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will; 1:12 to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ: 1:13 in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation,--in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 1:14 who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory.

  1. redemption through his blood. Christ is the Word of God, and the life of the Word must he a form of energy far transcending any life current that inheres in blood. Blood represents life, but it is only the vehicle that carries life through the body, not the life itself. See 1 John 5:7
  2. to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him. As the one great harmonizer, peace-giver, and health-giver, Jesus Christ teaches that love, in its universal application, will harmonize the world and will give it peace, health, and happiness.

Paul’s Prayer

1:15 For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which you have toward all the saints, 1:16 don't cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts[1] enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 1:19 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might 1:20 which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 1:21 far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. 1:22 He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly, 1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.1

  1. which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Is there a parallel between the sowing and the growth of the seeds in the ground and the development in the earth of the church of Christ? Yes, a very close parallel. The word of God is the seed; the soil is the mind; the growth is the development of the idea; the harvest is the fulfillment in the body.


Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Rev. Mark Hicks.

World English Bible Footnotes:

[1] v1:18. TR reads "understanding" instead of "hearts"


Ephesians 2

(Online: ASV WEB)

From Death to Life

2:1 You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins, 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience; 2:3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy,1 for his great love with which he loved us, 2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses,2 made us alive together with Christ3 (by grace you have been saved), 2:6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,4 2:7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; 2:8 for by grace you have been saved5 through faith,6 and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 2:9 not of works, that no one would boast. 2:10 For we are his workmanship,7 created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.

  1. being rich in mercy. God as “mercy” is the constant pouring forth of infinite goodness and riches in all qualities that are Godlike. “Grace” is the expression of God qualities in man.
  2. dead through our trespasses. We are “dead through our trespasses” when we are blinded by the realm of effects, the appearances of inharmony, and the teachings of sin and death as man's inheritance.
  3. made us alive together with Christ. We are made “alive together with Christ” by renewing our minds. We must behold the eternal Truth that we may realize our Sonship, put on Christ.
  4. the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The Christ consciousness “affords” states of joy, peace, and ineffable bliss to those who enter into it. All these are heavenly “places” or conditions of mind and soul.
  5. by grace you have been saved. Grace is good will; favor; disposition to show mercy; aid from God in the process of regeneration (RW/grace). Jesus taught a new understanding of divine law. He acknowledged mechanical cause and effect, but he knew it was possible to “fulfill the law” by transcending its strictly mechanical repetition. This can be done only by certain changes of consciousness. One of these changes is to let go of the insistence of “even-exchanges” in life all the time. Another change is to be willing to forgive sin instead of insisting on punishment for sin. Grace is the name given to the aspect of divine law which does not deal in “even-exchanging,” but in the increase of good through greater giving. Ed Rabel, Metaphysics 1/The Divine Paradox, Law/Grace. Compare Colossians 2:8, elements of the world
  6. through faith. Is faith a gift, or must we work for it? Faith is an innate faculty and in this sense is a gift of God; but we must develop our gifts, if we expect them to serve us in time of need.
  7. For we are his workmanship. The perfect-man idea is the pattern of our true nature. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.

One in Christ

2:11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles1 in the flesh,2 who are called "uncircumcision" by that which is called "circumcision," (in the flesh, made by hands); 2:12 that you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ. 2:14 For he is our peace,3 who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, 2:15 having abolished in the flesh the hostility,4 the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace; 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility thereby. 2:17 He came and preached peace5 to you who were far off and to those who were near. 2:18 For through him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 2:20 being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,6 Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone; 2:21 in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 2:22 in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

  1. Gentiles. Metaphysically, Gentiles are worldly thoughts—thoughts pertaining to the external, or thoughts that function through the senses. The Gentile is the unregenerate state of mind in us. (MBD/Gentiles)
  2. in the flesh. flesh, carnal or sensual is a malformation of the substance idea of Being. It must be transformed by right conception of divine perfection before the mortal can put on the immortal. Physically, flesh is mortal consciousness expressing itself through appetite. It is overcome by denying that appetite is physical and by affirming it to be spiritual. (RW/flesh)
  3. For he is our peace. Scriptures [such as this and the following] must be given spiritual interpretation because the Spirit is back of the letter. “For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (II Cor. 3:6).
  4. having abolished in the flesh the hostility (ASV, emnity). The enmity that Jesus Christ abolished was the enmity existing between the Spirit and the flesh.
  5. He came and preached peace. Did Jesus bring peace upon the earth? No. Paul is referring to that peace of mind which comes to those who are in close cooperation with the Christ principles in their own consciousness. We follow Jesus in establishing peace by making peace among the discords and inharmonies of the mind of the flesh, and raising this state of consciousness to the Christ mind.
  6. being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. How is the building faculty of desire illustrated in this lesson? The last three verses show desire as the great builder, its final work that of “a holy temple in the Lord” or the regenerate man, body, soul, and mind.


Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Rev. Mark Hicks.


Ephesians 3

(Online: ASV WEB)

Paul’s Ministry to the Gentiles

3:1 For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles, 3:2 if it is so that you have heard of the administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you; 3:3 how that by revelation the mystery was made known to me,1 as I wrote before in few words, 3:4 by which, when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; 3:5 which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 3:6 that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News, 3:7 of which I was made a servant, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of his power. 3:8 To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,2 3:9 and to make all men see what is the administration[2] of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ; 3:10 to the intent that now through the assembly the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places, 3:11 according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him. 3:13 Therefore I ask that you may not lose heart at my troubles for you, which are your glory.

  1. mystery was made known to me. See Colossians 1:26-27; Colossians 2:2. [Unity never commented on this verse however the Fillmore spiritual path is based on development of the soul so that one becomes aware of the Christ presence within, our hope of glory. That we can rejoice in our sufferings for a noble cause is the mystery of Christ.]
  2. the unsearchable riches of Christ. [Apparently this is a euphenism for spiritual substance.] The “things of God” can never be depleted or exhausted. No matter to what extent they are drawn upon, the riches of the Christ remain as infinite as before. Whoever trusts spiritual substance become manifest in his life as he trusts the Christ proves God and the existence of spiritual law.

Prayer for the Readers1

3:14 For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 3:16 that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man;2 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 3:18 may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 3:19 and to know Christ's love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.3 3:20 Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,4 according to the power that works in us, 3:21 to him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

  1. What are the outstanding ideas in this lesson? The outstanding ideas are love, faith, and thanksgiving, for which the apostle Paul praised and gave thanks.
  2. What sort of expression is appropriate to us, when we are “strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man”? The expression that someone has made clear in these words: “Power of any sort, whether of wealth or intellect or social position, or accident brings duty, the duty of truth, the duty of fairness, the duty of courtesy, the duty of sanity; a duty to the weak not to oppress them; a duty to the credulous, not to mislead them; a duty to one's friends, not to flatter or cajole them; a duty to one's enemies, not to malign them; a duty to the rich, not to be a sycophant; a duty to the poor, not to be a demagogue.” - The Life and Speeches of Charles Brantley Aycock.
  3. that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Do our blessings come from God direct or do they come through man? “God is Spirit.” When we dwell in “his Spirit in the inward man,” we receive our blessings direct from God. That reception may come in our own temporal life or it may come to us through others, but it has its initial source in God mind.
  4. above all that we ask or think. Does God's protecting love, as taught by Jesus, include animals? God is love. God is the universal principle that unifies and harmonizes life and substance in all its forms. Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). It is written in Isaiah: “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb... (Isaiah 11:6)


Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Rev. Mark Hicks.

World English Bible Footnotes:

[2] v3:9. TR reads "fellowship" instead of "administration"


Ephesians 4

(Online: ASV WEB)

Unity in the Body of Christ

4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, 4:2 with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; 4:3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling;1 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all. 4:7 But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.2 4:8 Therefore he says, "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men."[3] 4:9 Now this, "He ascended," what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?3 4:10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.

4:11 He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds[4] and teachers;4 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints,5 to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;6 4:14 that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 4:15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; 4:16 from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.7

  1. as you also were called in one hope of your calling. What is the goal of every one who accepts the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The goal of every one is Godlikeness. Jesus Christ is the perfect pattern for all and we must become like Him; therefore a great transformation is to take place in our minds and in our bodies. As we grow more Christlike we shall grow nearer the true “unity of the faith” that exists only in spiritual understanding and practice.
  2. But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. How can the social problems of crime, lack, and unemployment be solved? The combined power of the spiritual ideas brought to bear on these problems by the concerted actions of a nuclear group of workers in Christ will cause the full solution to develop (Unity, May 12 1935).
  3. He ascended ... he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth. [Ascending and descending are movements between the higher and lower dimensions. God’s Reach, part 1]
  4. He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers. Metaphysically interpreted, these Gospel messengers are man’s inner faculties and powers quickened and inspired by Spirit to do a constructive, uplifting, redeeming work in consciousness, to the end that man may become wholly enlightened and perfected.
  5. for the perfecting of the saints. The goal of every one is Godlikeness. Jesus Christ is the perfect pattern for all and we must become like Him; therefore a great transformation is to take place in our minds and in our bodies.
  6. until we all attain ... to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Paul is writing about the perfect Christ body in each individual, not about the manifest church of Christ.
  7. makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love. In verse 16 Paul emphasizes in a physiological descriptor that he means the body of the personal man

The Old Life and the New

4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 4:18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; 4:19 who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 4:20 But you did not learn Christ that way;1 4:21 if indeed you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: 4:22 that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man,2 that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit; 4:23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 4:24 and put on the new man,3 who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.

  1. But you did not learn Christ that way. Mental discipline is necessary for self-control is reached only through mental discipline. One whose mind is undisciplined cannot be truly religious snce order is heaven’s first law, no one can have a true understanding of religion until he learns to order his own mind.
  2. old man. Metaphysically, the old man is the sense man, the Adam man, the personal man. This is the man who sees himself as an imperfect, limited, mortal being rather than as perfect spirit, soul, and body. This is man before he receives the new life that is in Christ. (MBD/old-man)
  3. new man. Metaphysically, the "new man" is born of a divine idea through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. This idea is that man is a spiritual being. He is a "holy thing," as Mary (the soul) was informed. (MBD/new-man). How may we “put on the new man,” that is, bring forth “Jesus Christ” in ourselves? The first step is to “put away” the “old man” of lust, limitation, etc, through denial of his reality. The second step is to accept the Truth of our being in faith; then, through understanding, to set about diligently to live the Truth in thought, in word, in deed.

Rules for the New Life

4:25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak truth1 each one with his neighbor. For we are members of one another. 4:26 "Be angry, and don't sin."[5] Don't let the sun go down on your wrath,2 4:27 neither give place to the devil. 4:28 Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good,3 that he may have something to give to him who has need. 4:29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. 4:30 Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God,4 in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice. 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.

  1. putting away falsehood, speak truth. Deny out of mind all falsity in all social relationships.
  2. Don't let the sun go down on your wrath. All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, railing, and malice, and every thought or emotion that is negative in its effect on the mind or body should be ruled out.
  3. working with his hands the thing that is good. We can dignify all work by realizing that we are not serving man, but serving God. If you are weary of your work, ask the Lord to show you wherein you are serving Him; then rejoice in what you are doing.
  4. Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God. How does man sometimes grieve the Holy Spirit? Man often questions the Truth that comes from the inner kingdom. Thus he suppresses his God-given thoughts, and grieves the Holy Spirit. He wants some external authority to sanction his teaching, forgetting that every religious doctrine was in its beginning expressed by some so-called unauthorized one. (MBI/Acts 4)


Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Rev. Mark Hicks.

World English Bible Footnotes:

[3] v4:8. Psalm 68:18

[4] v4:11. or, pastors

[5] v4:26. Psalm 4:4


Ephesians 5

(Online: ASV WEB)

Overcoming an Empty Life

5:1 Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children. 5:2 Walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance. 5:3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness,1 let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints; 5:4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks.

5:5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.

5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words.2 For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. 5:7 Therefore don't be partakers with them. 5:8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, 5:9 for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth, 5:10 proving what is well pleasing to the Lord. 5:11 Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them. 5:12 For the things which are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of. 5:13 But all things, when they are reproved, are revealed by the light, for everything that reveals is light. 5:14 Therefore he says, "Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

5:15 Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 5:16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 5:17 Therefore don't be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 5:18 Don't be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,3 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and singing praises in your heart to the Lord; 5:20 giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father; 5:21 subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.

  1. sexual immorality, uncleanness, covetousness. We fail to master our intemperate appetites because of lack of light, or understanding of this law. To suppress a living desire is like bottling up a constantly expanding energy which is liable at any time to explode. Suppression is not overcoming, but human intervention. Desire is good at the point of origin, but in the intemperate has gone wrong; it must be set right. This is quickly accomplished through the transforming power of true thoughts and words. When such reformation is adopted, we are healed of our false appetite for all time, and it will never break forth again, no matter how great the temptation.
  2. Let no one deceive you with empty words. Empty words are words that are void of Truth. Such words leave a vacuum in the mind which is reflected into the body, and man wants something to fill the emptiness. Seeking to supply this want, and not knowing the real resource, man becomes intemperate in eating and drinking. True words have in them the Substance of Spirit and this Substance fills the vacuum made by empty words, and gives the satisfaction which man constantly desires.
  3. Don't be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. Words filled with the Substance of Spirit can be applied in a practical way whenever the appetite demands gratification. Instead of eating and drinking intemperately, eat living words; that is, take them into your consciousness by affirmation. One who is tempted to yield to false appetite will find freedom and satisfaction through the use of these statements: “I have the mind of Christ;” “I know the Truth and the Truth makes me free.” “I no longer seek the sense gratification, but am satisfied with living Substance of the body of Christ.” – “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”

A Household Code for Harmonious Families, Churches and Businesses1

5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife,2 and Christ also is the head of the assembly, being himself the savior of the body. 5:24 But as the assembly is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything.

5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly,3 and gave himself up for it; 5:26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 5:27 that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 5:28 Even so husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.4 5:29 For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly; 5:30 because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. 5:31 "For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh."[6]5 5:32 This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly. 5:33 Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

  1. Household Code. A social media meme which encouraged Stoicism for keeping a peaceful order in Roman and Greek households. Later inserted in Christian scripture to defend the Jesus movement from pagan criticism of disorderly egalitarianism. See metaphysical interpretations at Ephesians 5:22-6:9, Colossians 3:18-4:1, Titus 2:1-10 and 1 Peter 2:18-3:1-8.
  2. For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the assembly. In today's lesson Paul compares the wife to the church. In verse 32 he calls the relation between Christ and the church a great mystery. What does spiritual discernment reveal this mystery to be? The church represents the body. Christ represents Divine Mind that directs and controls the body. The relation between the body and Divine Mind is mystical; it is not understood by the natural man.
  3. Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it. How does the Christ in each person give itself up, to the end that the person's body may be purified? Our bodies are cleansed by the Christ mind through the word of denial. Deny all forms of bodily impurity, in the name of Christ. Your body is the temple of the living God. Take the Christ thought of purity and truth down into your body; raise the lower nature through your consciousness of the higher. In this way you will glorify the body (church) and in spiritual consciousness you will present it, “holy and without blemish.” to God.
  4. He who loves his own wife loves himself. Does this interpretation of the great mystery, which Paul says is here involved, imply that husbands should love their wives less? When men understand that their bodies represent the feminine qualities of being, they will, by giving more love to their bodies, increase their capacity to love; the final result will be that they will have greater love for their wives.
  5. will be joined to his wife, the two will become one flesh. What mystical truth is involved in the statement that a man “will be joined to his wife, the two will become one flesh”? When the love bond is harmonious and pure between husband and wife, they build a bond invisible, yet real in body consciousness. This bond may be compared to the ligaments that joined the Siamese twins and made them seem as one. Married couples who love each other devotedly grow to look alike. This fact proves that, as Paul said, “the two shall become one flesh.”


Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Rev. Mark Hicks.

World English Bible Footnotes:

[6] v5:31. Genesis 2:24


Ephesians 6

(Online: ASV WEB)

Children and Parents1

6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord,2 for this is right. 6:2 "Honor your father and mother,"3 which is the first commandment with a promise: 6:3 "that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth."[7]

6:4 You fathers, don't provoke your children4 to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

  1. A continuation of the Household code explained in the previous chapter.
  2. parents in the Lord. “Parents in the Lord” means parents from whom the Spirit of the Christ emanates.
  3. Honor your father and mother. How shall the child be taught to honor his father, and his mother? Teach the child the truth, that God is the one Father-Mother Spirit, from which we all come forth, in which we live and move and, have our being, to which we should be eternally thankful for all things. This teaching will quicken a sense of gratitude in the child, and he will manifest it in honor and in gratitude his earthly parents. The parents’ duty is to deport themselves so as to merit the honor their children pay them, thus making the duty of the children a joy, instead of a burden.
  4. don't provoke your children. How can we keep the teachings of this lesson in regard to husbands, wives, children, and parents? By seeking the inner meaning of commandment and proving it our life.

Slaves and Masters1

6:5 Servants, be obedient to those who according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ; 6:6 not in the way of service only when eyes are on you, as men pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 6:7 with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men;2 6:8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is bound or free.

6:9 You masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening,3 knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven,4 and there is no partiality with him.

  1. A continuation of the Household code explained in the previous chapter.
  2. with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Paul emphasizes service to the Lord instead of to others.
  3. give up threatening. Do Truth students want their employees to obey with fear and trembling? Truth students have the cooperation of their employees, in the spirit of obedience to God and Christ. “For one is your master, even the Christ.”
  4. knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven. From a spiritual viewpoint we are all equal and of equal importance under the divine law. Divine Mind does not recognize any official station or position.

Metaphysical Strength

6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord,1 and in the strength of his might. 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.2 6:12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 6:13 Therefore, put on the whole armor of God,3 that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. 6:14 Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,4 6:15 and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace;5 6:16 above all, taking up the shield of faith,6 with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,7 which is the spoken word of God; 6:18 with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: 6:19 on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News, 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

  1. be strong in the Lord. Our greatest source of strength is in our understanding of our spiritual character and of our relation to spiritual source, God.
  2. wiles of the devil. Our greatest temptations to err are found in our own unfolding consciousness. The root cause of our desires are not evil. Desire is Spirit's urge to a larger unfoldment. Mistakes and evil conditions are the results of action taken without the guidance of divine wisdom. When we have accumulated many different error thoughts in consciousness, a complex state of mind is the result. In the Scriptures these aggregations of error thoughts are named the adversary, Satan, the devil.
  3. the whole armor of God. The realization that the omnipresent Spirit of good is our resource and that we have nothing to fear when we trust in and are guided by Spirit, that is, God.
  4. the breastplate of righteousness. A union of love and wisdom. When our judgment is tempered with love, we vanquish the adversary and cast out all fear.
  5. fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace. The feet represent understanding of our most material activities. It is mostly in the outer activities of life that we are tempted to acts of resistance. It is there that we combat and oppose invasions. To meet these seeming oppositions we should always practice the gospel of peace and good will, loving our neighbors as ourselves.
  6. shield of faith. Faith is inner confidence in the all-providing Spirit of good. When we are nonresistant and send out only thoughts of peace and love and good will, the fiery darts of opposition and evil that may be sent in our direction fall harmless at our feet.
  7. sword of the Spirit. We wield the sword of the Spirit by speaking true words and affirming Truth in the face of error. When evil presses upon our consciousness and tries to make us believe that it is real and powerful, we should affirm the truth that there is no reality in evil, no power in evil, because God is good and good is all.

An Assurance of God’s Ever Presence

6:21 But that you also may know my affairs, how I am doing, Tychicus,1 the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make known to you all things; 6:22 whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts.

6:23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 6:24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. Amen.

  1. Tychicus. A Christian, and a fellow worker of Paul's, "faithful minister". Metaphysically, a belief in fate (fortuitous, fateful, chance, fortunate). Converted to Christian faith, this belief would take on a strong assurance of good as being ever present and demonstrable. One who learns the divine law is not subject to fate. He makes his own destiny by his use of divine law (MBD/Tychicus).


Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Rev. Mark Hicks.

World English Bible Footnotes:

[7] v6:3. Deuteronomy 5:16


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