on Ephesians 4 :1
I therefore - Therefore, because God has provided for you such an abundant salvation, and ye have his testimonies among you, and have full liberty to use all the means of grace;
The prisoner of the Lord - Who am deprived of my liberty for the Lord's sake.
Beseech you that ye walk - Ye have your liberty, and may walk; I am deprived of mine, and cannot. This is a fine stroke, and wrought up into a strong argument. You who are at large can show forth the virtues of him who called you into his marvellous light; I am in bondage, and can only exhort others by my writing, and show my submission to God by my patient suffering.
The vocation wherewith ye are called - The calling, κλησις, is the free invitation they have had from God to receive the privileges of the Gospel, and become his sons and daughters, without being obliged to observe Jewish rites and ceremonies. Their vocation, or calling, took in their Christian profession, with all the doctrines, precepts, privileges, duties, etc., of the Christian religion.
Among us, a man's calling signifies his trade, or occupation in life; that at which he works, and by which he gets his bread; and it is termed his calling, because it is supposed that God, in the course of his providence, calls the person to be thus employed, and thus to acquire his livelihood. Now, as it is a very poor calling by which a man cannot live, so it is a poor religion by which a man cannot get his soul saved. If, however, a man have an honest and useful trade, and employ himself diligently in labouring at it, he will surely be able to maintain himself by it; but without care, attention, and industry, he is not likely to get, even by this providential calling, the necessaries of life. In like manner, if a man do not walk worthy of his heavenly calling, i.e. suitable to its prescriptions, spirit, and design, he is not likely to get his soul saved unto eternal life. The best trade, unpractised, will not support any man; the most pure and holy religion of the Lord Jesus, unapplied, will save no soul. Many suppose, because they have a sound faith, that all is safe and well: as well might the mechanic, who knows he has a good trade, and that he understands the principles of it well, suppose it will maintain him, though he brings none of its principles into action by honest, assiduous, and well-directed labor.
Some suppose that the calling refers to the epithets usually given to the Christians; such as children of Abraham, children of God, true Israel of God, heirs of God, saints, fellow citizens with the saints, etc., etc.; and that these honorable appellations must be a strong excitement to the Ephesians to walk worthy of these exalted characters But I do not find that the word κλησις, calling, is taken in this sense any where in the New Testament; but that it has the meaning which I have given it above is evident from 1 Corinthians 7:20 : Εκαστος εν τη κλησει ᾑ εκληθη, εν ταυτῃ μενετω· Let every man abide in the calling to which he hath been called. The context shows that condition, employment, or business of life, is that to which the apostle refers.
on Ephesians 4 :1
I, therefore - In view of the great and glorious truths which God has revealed, and of the grace which he has manifested toward you who are Gentiles. See the previous chapters. The sense of the word "therefore" - οὖν oun - in this place, is, "Such being your exalted privileges; since God has done so much for you; since he has revealed for you such a glorious system; since he has bestowed on you the honor of calling you into his kingdom, and making you partakers of his mercy, I entreat you to live in accordance with these elevated privileges, and to show your sense of his goodness by devoting your all to his service." The force of the word "I," they would all feel. It was the appeal and exhortation of the founder of their church - of their spiritual father - of one who had endured much for them, and who was now in bonds on account of his devotion to the welfare of the Gentile world.
The prisoner of the Lord - Margin, "in." It means, that he was now a prisoner, or in confinement "in the cause" of the Lord; and he regarded himself as having been made a prisoner because the Lord had so willed and ordered it. He did not feel particularly that he was the prisoner of Nero; he was bound and kept because the "Lord" willed it, and because it was in his service; see the notes on Ephesians 3:1.
Beseech you that ye walk worthy - That you live as becomes those who have been called in this manner into the kingdom of God. The word "walk" is often used to denote "life, conduct," etc.; see Romans 4:12, note; Romans 6:4, note; 2 Corinthians 5:7, note.
Of the vocation - Of the "calling" - τῆς κλήσεως tēs klēseōs. This word properly means "a call," or "an invitation" - as to a banquet. Hence, it means that divine invitation or calling by which Christians are introduced into the privileges of the gospel. The word is translated "calling" in Romans 11:29; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 7:20; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:1, Ephesians 4:4; Philippians 3:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1; 2 Peter 1:10. It does not occur elsewhere. The sense of the word, and the agency employed in calling us, are well expressed in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. "Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel." This "calling or vocation" is through the agency of the Holy Spirit, and is his appropriate work on the human heart.
It consists essentially in influencing the mind to turn to God, or to enter into his kingdom. It is the exertion of "so much" influence on the mind as is necessary to secure the turning of the sinner to God. In this all Christians are agreed, though there have been almost endless disputes about the actual influence exerted, and the mode in which the Spirit acts on the mind. Some suppose it is by "moral persuasion;" some by physical power; some by an act of creation; some by inclining the mind to exert its proper powers in a right way, and to turn to God. What is the precise agency employed perhaps we are not to expect to be able to decide; see John 3:8. The great, the essential point is held, if it be maintained that it is by the agency of the Holy Spirit that the result is secured - and this I suppose to be held by all evangelical Christians. But though it is by the agency of the Holy Spirit, we are not to suppose that it is without the employment of "means." It is not literally like the act of creation. It is preceded and attended with means adapted to the end; means which are almost as various as the individuals who are "called" into the kingdom of God. Among those means are the following:
(1) "Preaching." Probably more are called into the kingdom by this means than any other. It is "God's great ordinance for the salvation of men." It is eminently suited for it. The "pulpit" has higher advantages for acting on the mind than any other means of affecting people. The truths that are dispensed; the sacredness of the place; the peace and quietness of the sanctuary; and the appeals to the reason, the conscience, and the heart - all are suited to affect people, and to bring them to reflection. The Spirit makes use of the word "preached," but in a great variety of ways. Sometimes many are impressed simultaneously; sometimes the same truth affects one mind while others are unmoved; and sometimes truth reaches the heart of a sinner which he has heard a hundred times before, without being interested. The Spirit acts with sovereign power, and by laws which have never yet been traced out.
(2) the events of Providence are used to call people into his kingdom. God appeals to people by laying them on a bed of pain, or by requiring them to follow a friend in the still and mournful procession to the grave. They feel that they must die, and they are led to ask the question whether they are prepared. Much fewer are affected in this way than we should suppose would be the case; but still there are many, in the aggregate, who can trace their hope of heaven to a fit of sickness, or to the death of a friend.
(3) conversation is one of the means by which sinners are called into the kingdom of God. In some states of mind, where the Spirit has prepared the soul like mellow ground prepared for the seed, a few moments' conversation, or a single remark, will do more to arrest the attention than much preaching.
(4) reading is often the means of calling people into the kingdom. The Bible is the great means - and if we can get people to read that, we have very cheering indications that they will be converted. The profligate Earl of Rochester was awakened and led to the Saviour by reading a chapter in Isaiah. And who can estimate the number of those who have been converted by reading Baxter's Call to the Unconverted; Alleine's Alarm; the Dairyman's Daughter; or the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain? He does "good" who places a good book in the way of a sinner. That mother or sister is doing good, and making the conversion of a son or brother probable, who puts a Bible in his chest when he goes to sea, or in his trunk when he goes on a journey. Never should a son be allowed to go from home without one. The time will come when, far away from home, he will read it. He will read it when his mind is pensive and tender, and the Spirit may bear the truth to his heart for his conversion.
(5) the Spirit calls people into the kingdom of Christ by presiding over, and directing in some unseen manner their own reflections, or the operations of their own minds. In some way unknown to us, he turns the thoughts to the past life; recalls forgotten deeds and plans; makes long past sins rise to remembrance; and overwhelms the mind with conscious guilt from the memory of crime. He holds this power over the soul; and it is among the most mighty and mysterious of all the influences that he has on the heart. "Sometimes" - a man can hardly tell how - the mind will be pensive, sad, melancholy; then conscious of guilt; then alarmed at the future. Often, by sudden transitions, it will be changed from the frivolous to the serious, and from the pleasant to the sad; and often, unexpectedly to himself, and by associations which he cannot trace out, the sinner will find himself reflecting on death. judgment, and eternity. It is the Spirit of God that leads the mind along. It is not by force; not by the violation of its laws, but in accordance with those laws, that the mind is thus led along to the eternal world. In such ways, and by such means, are people "called" into the kingdom of God. To "walk worthy of that calling," is to live as becomes a Christian, an heir of glory; to live as Christ did. It is:
(1) To bear our religion with us to all places, companies, employments. Not merely to be a Christian on the Sabbath, and at the communion table, and in our own land, but every day, and everywhere, and in any land where we may be placed. We are to live religion, and not merely to profess it. We are to be Christians in the counting-room, as well as in the closet; on the farm as well as at the communion table; among strangers, and in a foreign land, as well as in our own country and in the sanctuary.
(2) it is to do nothing inconsistent with the most elevated Christian character. In temper, feeling, plan, we are to give expression to no emotion, and use no language, and perform no deed, that shall be inconsistent with the most elevated Christian character.
(3) it is to do "right always:" to be just to all; to tell the simple truth; to defraud no one; to maintain a correct standard of morals; to be known to be honest. There is a correct standard of character and conduct; and a Christian should be a man so living, that we may always know "exactly where to find him." He should so live, that we shall have no doubts that, however others may act, we shall find "him" to be the unflinching advocate of temperance, chastity, honesty, and of every good work - of every plan that is really suited to alleviate human woe, and benefit a dying world.
(4) it is to live as one should who expects soon to be "in heaven." Such a man will feel that the earth is not his home; that he is a stranger and a pilgrim here; that riches, honors, and pleasures are of comparatively little importance; that he ought to watch and pray, and that he ought to be holy. A man who feels that he may die at any moment, will watch and pray. A man who realizes that "tomorrow" he may be in heaven, will feel that he ought to be holy. He who begins a day on earth, feeling that at its close he may be among the angels of God, and the spirits of just men made perfect; that before its close he may have seen the Saviour glorified, and the burning throne of God, will feel the importance of living a holy life, and of being wholly devoted to the service of God. Pure should be the eyes that are soon to look on the throne of God; pure the hands that are soon to strike the harps of praise in heaven; pure the feet that are to walk the "golden streets above."
on Ephesians 4 :1
4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord - Imprisoned for his sake and for your sakes; for the sake of the gospel which he had preached amongst them. This was therefore a powerful motive to them to comfort him under it by their obedience.