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The Triune God Speaks to the Saints: An Expository Commentary Based upon Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians

The Triune God Speaks to the Saints: An Expository Commentary Based upon Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians

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The Triune God Speaks to the Saints: An Expository Commentary Based upon Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians

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340 pagine
5 ore
Pubblicato:
Jul 1, 2011
ISBN:
9781630870669
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

The Triune God speaks to the saints and in so doing proclaims God's will and the spiritual blessings available from Him, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. It starts with doctrine, God's call, Christ's teachings, trusting Him, and knowing the Word. The Word is essential, it needs to be the whole Word of God revealing His being, nature, teachings, and commands. It culminates in stressing the importance of prayer, in giving thanks, receiving wisdom in the knowledge of Him, being enlightened, knowing the hope of His calling, and believing in His mighty power as we walk through life with Jesus encountering its trials, tests, and tribulations as well as experiencing its joys, blessings, and gifts with a grateful heart.
Pubblicato:
Jul 1, 2011
ISBN:
9781630870669
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Robert B. Callahan Sr. founded Callahan & Associates, Inc., in 1976, a telecommunications consulting firm. He is the author of The Triune God Speaks to the Saints, Volume 1 in an eight volume expository commentary on the Apostle Paul's epistle to the Ephesians.

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The Triune God Speaks to the Saints - Robert B. Callahan Sr.

Paxson

Topical Categories in Walking with Jesus

(An Expository Commentary)

Volume One Topical Categories

Foreword

Robert Callahan’s multi-volume work of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is both a welcomed and long-overdue guide for Christian living today. The Apostle’s sense of the eternity and greatness of God, his emphasis on the living reality and exaltation of Christ, his devotion to God’s grace as an unearned gift of enduring love, and his call to an ardent and faithful discipleship all witness to an urgency and renewal critically needed in our time. Callahan’s heart and style rise to meet this challenge and to convey God’s message of hope and promise, of presence and courage, to Christian souls of any and every contemporary Christian tradition.

Callahan’s format allows for both a devotional and studious usage. One can permit one’s soul to savor every spiritual nuance the author uncovers, verse by verse, mark the passage, and return later for further nourishment. Or one can linger from text to text, gleaning with the author both theological and spiritual insight for enhancing personal discipleship, equally applicable in the arena of church and society.

The author draws on an array of insightful theological and spiritual wisdom, garnered from scholars and saints alike, theologians and missionaries. Calvin’s Institutes guide Callahan’s expositions, as well as the work of Markus Barth – known for his commentary on Ephesians and his delineation of Pauline theology. The author cites frequent and astute observations from Barth’s exegesis of this nature. In addition, Callahan makes wise usage of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ emphasis on experiencing the living Christ. For Lloyd-Jones, as well as the author, mere intellectual knowledge of the Christ fails to undergird one’s faith or discipleship, when life’s journey truly becomes sore bestead. Callahan also draws from the great 17th century theologian William Gurnall’s delightful work: The Christian in Complete Armour. Perhaps students of Church history remember how both John Newton and Charles Spurgeon prized Gurnall’s approach and piety and preferred it to many perspicacious studies available in their time. Gurnall’s Complete Armour is known for its pithy, fervent, and wise counsel that confronts human vagaries with the truth about the self. In that respect, so too does Robert Callahan’s gentle but firm counsel enrich the Christian heart and inspire one to a higher level of discipleship. No one can fail to sense this in Walking With Jesus. Whether encouraged to venture this methodology owing to his own years as a Presbyterian elder, or as an avid member and participant of the bi-annual Calvin’s Colloquiums for the past 30 years, or as a fond reader of Ruth Paxson’s The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Christian, the result is the same: a powerful, inspirational, and theologically heart-warming guide to discipleship today.

Ministers, Christian educators, seminary students, laypersons, and lovers of Jesus’ life will find Callahan’s work immensely valuable. His volumes deserve our grateful and sincere attention, as we too seek to walk with Jesus.

Benjamin W. Farley

Younts Professor Emeritus of Bible, Religion, and Philosophy

Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina

Preface

Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians shows us the joy and challenge of being united to Christ in his death and resurrection. It takes us from being seated with Him in the heavenlies (chapter 2), down to the battles we must wage, in His armor, with powers of evil (Eph. 6). In a balanced and judicious manner, longtime Presbyterian elder, Bob Callahan, exercises remarkable insight in opening to believers the vital truths of Ephesians; truths that once taken in, transform the attitude towards life, and often set the soul singing!

As a professor of theology, I have carefully worked through one of his multivolumed series, and found it to be theologically sound: evangelical and scholarly at the same time. It has spiritual depth and is extremely practical; it is accessible in good, clear English. It is neither a commentary, nor a series of sermons. In some ways it reminds me of some of the ancient Patristic engagements with a series of texts of Holy Scripture. It brings the reader into the presence of the Most High, and – if considered thoughtfully and prayerfully, is likely to cause him to sit down under the canopy of God’s love.

The journey of Christians in today’s world is very demanding indeed, and Bob’s work is intended to be a guide to help every pilgrim ‘Walking with Jesus.’ It will be a rich resource for Sunday Schools, Bible studies, as well as for individual devotions.

Douglas F. Kelly

Reformed Theological Seminary

Charlotte, NC

Acknowledgments

The crafting of Walking With Jesus was not a one man show but numerous people working together to present a formidable work. Three guiding lights have been paramount in the minds of those making significant contributions: one, presenting the theology in accord with the tenets of the Reformed Faith; two, employing language that presents the Gospel in a meaningful and understandable light; and, three, expounding upon Scripture in a clear, concise, and forthright manner.

It has been God’s blessing that the following ministers and theologians have enthusiastically and willingly provided their time and talents to enhance this work. They are:

Dr. Frank Barker, Founder and Pastor Emeritus of the Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, AL

Dr. Benjamin W. Farley, Younts Professor Emeritus, Bible, Religion, and Philosophy, Erskine College, Due West, SC

Dr. James C. Goodloe, IV, Executive Director, Foundation for Reformed Theology, Richmond, VA

Dr. Todd Jones, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Nashville, TN

Dr. Douglas Kelly, Richard Jordan, Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC

Dr. Norman McCrummen, Senior Pastor, Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, Mobile, AL

Dr. Mark Mueller, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, AL

Dr. Richard Ray, Former Managing Director of John Knox Press, Montreat, NC

Without the knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement of these individuals this work would neither have become a reality nor available to individuals seeking a better understanding of the teachings of the Scripture and the joy of walking daily with the Lord Jesus.

Several others have labored diligently to create this work, and to produce the finished product. Our daughter, Karen Callahan Myrick, made significant contributions during the drafting process through her knowledge of grammar. Ms. Lynn Sledge, as the copy editor, judiciously reviewed the manuscript and made valuable contributions for improving it. Four ladies, Helen Marshall, D’Anne Dendy, Kelly Comferford, and Elizabeth Annan, worked tirelessly, with dedication, to prepare draft after draft and to make positive contributions to the project

It is not possible to thank them sufficiently for their dedication to making this volume a desirable repository of Christian truths, and in so doing to cheerfully work on draft after draft, to recommend enhancements, and to make appropriate changes in the text. Their unselfish contributions are too many to enumerate. May God bless them.

The Question of Authorship

Recent scholars have questioned the authorship of the letter to the Ephesians and have been less convinced that it was the Apostle Paul. However, for the sake of simplicity of expression we will abide by the traditional view and refer to Paul as its author.

Introduction

The creation of this work was the result of unusual developments which some would attribute to happenstance and others to God’s providence. You may be the judge after considering the following.

During May 2000 a friend invited my wife and me to visit the Spring Hill Presbyterian Church in Mobile and hear their new minister, Norman McCrummen. We accepted his invitation.

The following March, Dr. McCrummen was preaching on anything but Ephesians when he interrupted his sermon, paused long enough to slowly scan the congregation twice, and said, I want everyone to read the first and second chapters of Ephesians by next Sunday and promptly returned to his sermon. The next day I called him and said, I can’t do it a few times. Finally, his light went on and he said, What can’t you do? I said, I can’t read the first and second chapters of Ephesians by next Sunday. He asked, Why can’t you? It will only take ten to fifteen minutes. I responded, I have fifty-eight to sixty expository messages on the first two chapters of Ephesians that took thirty to thirty-five minutes to present. His response was, I want to read all those and everything else you have on Ephesians. Thus began the long, arduous, and heartwarming journey of converting handwritten notes along with printed ones into the written word. It has been a joyful, though demanding experience.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians has been described as The holiest of the holies. My love affair with it began in the 1980’s when I read a book containing great sermons of the twentieth century. The most impressive one was written by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. As a result, I read other works of his including his exposition of Ephesians. Thereafter, unexpectedly, I was asked to teach an adult Bible Study Group. They said they would provide the material, but I demurred and said, I would gather my own material. This set in motion the process of acquiring knowledge through the best expository works available at the time on Ephesians including Martyn Lloyd-Jones, William Gurnall, Ruth Paxson, Markus Barth, John Calvin, Otto Weber, and others.

The objective was to present the essence of Paul’s letter as it was presented to him by the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Further, to mine the gold available in the fruitful works of those fertile minds that God had cultivated and enabled to expound upon the truths that His only begotten Son had revealed to His apostles and disciples. Therefore, it was a paramount obligation to express God’s truths in a simple, straightforward manner according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit so that the reader may grasp it and interpret it according to the will of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The need for the truths of the Gospel is as great today as it was in the first century. The conditions are similar and the challenges facing our culture reveal the need for knowing the living God and His Son. Today, the people of faith require the same spiritual nourishment as those brave souls of the early days after the Resurrection, who would rather face death than deny their Lord and Saviour.

There are people in responsible positions in Christ’s church who deny Him by: their passivity; seeking secular acceptance; and failing to honor Him in public. These apostasies negatively impact members of organized Christian churches as well as non-believers.

They create an environment in which unrighteousness flourishes. This results in irreverence as aptly described by R.W. Dale, Where there is irreverence for the divine law the vision of God becomes fainter; as the vision of God becomes fainter the restraints of the Divine Righteousness are lessened and at last the vision of God is lost altogether. May God enlighten us regarding His infallible Word so that we will hunger and thirst for righteousness, and for the vision of God to shine brighter and brighter as we serve Him with courage, wisdom, justice, and self-control.

This expository commentary is designed to bring individuals, whether they are spiritually children, adolescents or adults into a closer, more mature relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It begins with the Triune God; presents the doctrines of the Christian faith; reminds us that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro . . . but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, . . . even Christ. It continues by emphasizing the importance of being renewed in the spirit of your mind; putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness; using the whole armor of God to thwart the manifold attacks of Satan; and concluding with the admonition to conduct ourselves as Christ’s ambassadors.

The spiritual food contained ranges from milk and honey to tough meat. The flavor of this exposition encompasses all varieties—sweet, sour, pleasant, bitter, tart, tasteless, dry, burned, and succulent. Do not reject the nourishment because of its texture or flavor, but seek to understand it despite your preferences, since it provides food for good health and strength for joyful living. May God’s truths flourish in your heart and mind, and enable you to withstand the tests, trials, and tribulations that come your way as you are Walking With Jesus.

In presenting this work, I realize everyone has different challenges. The fascinating part of God’s Word is that it meets us where we are. The question is, will we meet Him there, hear what He has to say, and accept the nourishment He offers?

The words of William Gurnall are appropriate and enlightening in contemplating God’s Word. He said prior to expounding upon Ephesians, The fare that I shall be serving during the coming weeks will be from God’s own table. If perchance it does not go down well or should not have the flavor that you desire, please do not despise the provider of the food, but blame the cook who has prepared it and is serving it. To that I say, Amen!

The courses being served by this cook are described herein. May they provide the taste and nourishment you are seeking.

Robert B. Callahan, Sr.

1

The Majestic Letter

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ [Eph. 1:1–2].

Martin Luther said the Letter to Romans is the most important document in the New Testament, the Gospel in its purest form. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in many ways he agreed there is no purer, plainer statement of the Gospel than the Letter to the Romans, but Ephesians is the sublimest and most majestic expression of it. Other scholars have said that Ephesians is the holiest of the holies. Ruth Paxson says that Ephesians brings one into an atmosphere of unbounded spiritual affluence that creates within one’s heart deepest peace and assurance. It is impossible to live habitually in Ephesians and be depressed.

This Epistle is important because it gives us an understanding of what God has done, and what He is doing both for us and in us. Who are the ecclesia, the called-out people of God? What are they to become? The church, the Body of Christ. Paul enlightens us regarding these truths in the first three chapters. In the last three chapters, Paul describes the particulars as to how we can and ought to walk as Christ’s disciples since we have been

predestinated . . . unto the adoption (as sons) of children by Jesus Christ to himself, . . . [Eph. 1:5];

quickened (made alive) us together with Christ,(by grace ye are (have been) saved) [Eph. 2:5];

created (after the likeness of God) in righteousness and true holiness [Eph. 4:24].

What was unique about Ephesus? It was an important city at the time of Paul, composed of Gentiles. There is no record of a Jewish community being there at that time. Paul spent three years in Ephesus, where he instructed the people in the pure doctrine of the Gospel. When he was a prisoner in Rome, he wrote this Epistle after perceiving that the people needed to be reminded of what he had taught them and to confirm it.

In doing this, Paul reminds the Ephesians of God’s free election and states that they were called into the Kingdom of God because they had been appointed for this before they were born; reminds them of God’s free act of adoption after tracing salvation to its true source; and prays for God to enlighten them in the full knowledge of Christ, so that they may comprehend the mysteries of God.

Then Paul reminds them how wretched they were before being called by Christ; that they never truly understood or appreciated these blessings until achieving spiritual maturity and realizing what life is like without them; that they did not act responsibly regarding their relationship to Christ, their obligations to Him, and knowing His love until they realized what it was like without Him; and that they had been aliens from eternal life, which God had bestowed on the Jews only, until the Advent.

In the third chapter, Paul declares that he was appointed the Apostle to the Gentiles because for a long time they were strangers and sojourners, but now they are included in the people of God. Paul prays at the close of that chapter that God will grant the Ephesians an intimate knowledge of Christ and that their primary objective should be to become Christ-centered and know the fullness of God.

Paul’s reasons were not merely for them to be grateful to God for His many favors, but to express their gratitude by devoting themselves entirely to His service and to remove any doubt in their minds about his calling, his ministry, and his relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please note key points and their order. First, Paul expresses gratitude to God and praises Him. Second, they are to serve God and live for Him in all areas of their lives.

Why did Paul do this? Because he was concerned about false prophets who, by innuendo and inference, would attempt to create doubt in the Ephesians minds regarding Paul’s teaching and preaching. Paul was concerned that the Ephesians thought he had instructed them only in part. Remember, the people at Ephesus were Gentiles, they were not Jews. They were presented with ceremonies, practices (such as circumcision), and traditions with which they were not familiar or to which they were not accustomed.

Further, those enjoining the Gentiles to observe and obey the Law also stated emphatically that the people who had not been introduced into the fellowship by circumcision must be regarded as being profane. Their tune was: A man not circumcised is not reckoned as being among the people of God. They emphasized that all the rites prescribed by Moses must be observed. These people asserted that Paul’s apostleship was a profanation of heavenly doctrine. Why? Because it opened to all sorts of wicked men, without discrimination, a share in God’s covenant of grace.

During Paul’s earlier sojourn in Ephesus, he had instructed them, reasoned with them, talked with them, and visited them in their homes to discuss the Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings. They were a vibrant church when he left. Now he was a prisoner in Rome, where he had received reports of the declining status in Ephesus. He was concerned about them. Therefore, he was determined to share his knowledge and to remind them of the truths revealed through Christ and in Christ.

What did Paul resolve to do when he heard of the malicious utterings, false charges, and misrepresentations that were presented to the Ephesians? He was determined to support the Christian Ephesians. He composed this Epistle to present God’s eternal truths, and Christ’s specific instructions for living. He wanted them to know: the wealth of God’s riches through Christ; how they were to walk as members of Christ’s body; and how they were to arm themselves to conduct warfare against the wiles (schemes) of the devil. In doing this, Paul presented doctrine in the first three chapters and the living application of it in the last three.

He argued earnestly and favorably that they had been called to the Gospel because they had been chosen before the Creation of the world. Further, they were not to imagine for a moment that the Gospel had been brought to them by chance. He reminded them that the preaching of Christ was nothing less than the announcement of the eternal decree that they were chosen by God from the beginning of time.

Paul reminded them of the former, unhappy condition of their lives, and of God’s astonishing mercies. He confirmed the faith they had received, and reminded them that they had been divinely admitted into the communion of the Church. He emphasized this one fact: their calling was no accident!

In the last three chapters, Paul describes the manner in which God governs and protects his Church. How is this accomplished? By preaching the pure Gospel, and preserving its integrity; by the fruits of preaching, hearing, and believing the Gospel, living a holy life, and performing the duties of piety; and by laying down particular exhortations concerning the various relationships of Christians in society and in their daily living.

The Epistle to the Ephesians is an exciting part of the Gospel. It is an expository letter directed to us, to be shared and discussed for our instruction, understanding and spiritual growth.

Remember, Paul spent three years in Ephesus. It was a major port and cultural center. There was no Jewish community. There were many calumnies regarding Paul and he presented the Gospel according to the authority given him as an apostle called and taught by Jesus Christ Himself. Paul tells the Ephesians:

what God has done and is doing for the church, the ecclesia, the called-out;

how their living is to be conducted, the particulars of their life in Christ, and how they ought to walk;

that they are the Sons of God [Eph. 1:5];

they are made alive with Christ [Eph. 2:5]; and

they are new creatures [Eph. 4:24].

He emphasizes that you cannot separate the Gospel from daily living, that living is not something you do of your own free will and volition, that living is a result of meeting Jesus and saying yes in faith and obedience, and that it is God who calls and lays hold of us.

Although we exercise varying degrees of faith and obedience, we are to understand what it means: to lay hold and to apprehend Christ Jesus Himself. We are to communicate with God.

How do we do that? By listening, by meditating, and by praying. Paul forcefully points this out by his prayers for the Ephesians. This is the only way to communicate with God and to increase our understanding. It is the only way we can know Christ, talk meaningfully about Him, and grow spiritually. It is accomplished through prayer. It is the same today as it was in Paul’s time. Remember, this is Paul writing to the Ephesians. This is the same Paul who had an experience on the road to Damascus.

What does he do in this Epistle? Talk about his experiences? Talk about his service? Talk about his years of labor? No, no, no!

He stresses what God has done; what God is doing; and what God wills us to do. Paul presents the Gospel, God’s call, and stresses coming closer to God and to Christ. This requires understanding, perseverance, and prayer. When discussing the Gospel, he does not stress man’s reasoning, but man communicating with God and God communicating with man. This occurs through a personal encounter, a relationship with God in Christ, and exercising obedience and faithfulness. This is what the called-out are to do.

The very words and phrases of Ephesians speak of the glory of God and the wealth available in Him. Let us examine some of the gilt-edged words and phrases: ‘grace’ used twelve times; ‘glory’ eight; ‘inheritance’ four; ‘riches’ five; ‘fullness’ three; ‘full’ or ‘filled’ four; and the incomparable phrase ‘ In Christ’ or its equivalent, twenty-seven, as described by Ruth Paxson.

May I leave you with this thought, which the Lord Jesus instructed the Apostle John to write?

Unto the angel (messenger) of the church of Ephesus write; these things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (lampstands);

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience (perseverance), and how thou canst not bear (endure) them which are evil: and thou hast tried (tested) them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

And hast borne (persevered), and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted (become weary).

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick (lampstand) out of his place, except (unless) thou repent.

But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God [Rev. 2:1–7].

This was written to the Ephesians a number of years after Paul’s letter. Christ, through John, tells the

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