The Truth That Is In Jesus- Ephesians 4:20-21

As we continue in our examination of Paul’s warning to the church here in Ephesians 4:17-24, we now come upon the specifics of Paul’s warning to the church, for he begins these two verses with “You, however”. He has just described how those who do not know Christ “live” (futile thinking, darkened understanding, separated from the life of God, hardened hearts and giving themselves over to sensuality), and he now warns believers that what he has just described should not be happening in their lives, and will now tell them how to prevent it from happening. The Greek word translated as “come to know” here (verse 20) is the aorist active indicative of manthano, “to learn”. The use of the aorist indicative here indicates that this is something they had learned in the past and were currently in danger of “forgetting”. What they had learned here is “Christ”, here used with the definite article, literally “the Christ”. This is an unusual expression, and Paul uses it here to lead us into a facet of his teaching which can be rather difficult to understand. With the use of the definite article here, Paul makes reference primarily to learning a “doctrine”, a learning of the teaching about Christ (who He is, what He did, and what it means), and through learning the doctrine about Christ (the Bible) we grow to know the person of Jesus. Verse 20, then, serves as a kind of introduction into Paul’s primary point here, which he makes in verse 21. He begins verse 21 with the Greek expression ei de, which expresses a confident assumption, Paul is confident they have “heard and were taught in Him (Christ)” The Greek heard here is akouo, not referring to merely picking up sound waves, but to hear with understanding. They had heard “of” Him, or about Him, heard and understood who He is, what He did and what it means, heard here specifically that He is “truth”. They also were “taught” in Him, with the word taught here having the connotation of discipleship. They had learned about Him, were growing to know Him, and this “learning” was becoming evident in the way they behaved. As we recall what we saw in verse 20, the fundamental way of growing to know Him is through growing to know the teaching about Him, through growing to know the truth of the Word of God. The Greek word truth here (aletheia) is used without the definite article, which is a very unusual thing to do in Greek, so it must “mean” something, Paul must be telling us something by writing it in this manner. This is the aspect of his teaching here which is rather difficult to understand, for he also switches terms here from verse 20, now using Jesus rather than Christ. This also is deliberate and must “mean” something. It is our contention that what Paul is doing here is relating to us a foundational truth about “truth”. He is telling us here that truth is not only “something”, but also “someone”, and that the someone stands behind the something. There is a thing such as truth because there is someone who is “the truth”. This ties all of this in to what he told us about the “unbelievers” in verses 17-19, for the reason the unbelievers live as described there is because they have rejected the fact that the truth is “in Jesus”, that Jesus is the person who ultimately determines what is true or not, and when we reject that and determine for ourselves what is true or not, we will live like the “unbelievers”, and eventually give ourselves over to sensuality. Believers are to live with Jesus as “truth”, He (in the Word of God) tells us what truth is, He is the someone behind our something. If truth becomes “someone” else, if we become the someone behind our something, then what is true of unbelievers in verses 17-19 will begin to become true of us. These verses, then, serve primarily as a stern warning to the church, that Jesus must be our sole arbiter of truth, that the Word of God (not culture, philosophy, science, psychiatry, etc.) tells us what is true, and those who embrace any other source of truth, who abandon the Word of God as inerrant, infallible and as our sole source of authority and primary determinant of truth, who look to the culture for truth instead, will begin to resemble the culture more than they will resemble Jesus Christ. This can be clearly seen in many modern denominations (Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Methodist, etc.) which have abandoned the doctrines of the inerrancy, infallibility and authority of Scripture, for those who take their truth from the culture rather than from the Scripture will begin to resemble the culture. They will no longer be light in the darkness, but just look like more darkness. This warning is also valid on an individual level, for believers who look to anyone or anything other than Jesus and the Word of God to tell them what is true will also no longer be light in the darkness, but only look like more darkness, will resemble the culture more than they will resemble Jesus Christ. Paul here, then, presents a very stern warning to the church about an ever-present danger to it, and strongly exhorts all believers to stay rooted and grounded in Jesus as their source of truth, as the someone behind the something, to stay rooted in Jesus as the truth and the Bible as the expression of the truth, rejecting all other competing “truths” and growing to resemble Jesus rather than the culture, to be light in the darkness, not just more darkness.

No Comments Christianity  //  Conformed to the Image of Christ  //  Growing In Grace  //  Scripture and Truth

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