Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”

Paul makes an admonition to the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called.

He does this on the heels of a great statement about God and a benediction, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21)

In verse one of chapter four, Paul is making a connection to what he just wrote. Since God is able to do more than you could imagine or ask, since His power is at work within us, and since He will be glorified in the church and Christ, we are to walk in a manner that fits our calling.

A Prisoner

I think it is easy for us to sometimes think Paul wrote from an ivory tower. We read statements such as what we find in Eph. 3:20-21 and then the connection Paul makes in verse 4:1 and we think, “sure it is easy for Paul to say that.”

Paul calls himself a prisoner for the Lord. Notice the text does not say prisoner of the Lord, which is also true. He says he is a prisoner for the Lord. Paul was imprisoned and beaten for Jesus. Therefore, his theology and the exhortation this verse contains have teeth to them. This is not the writing of someone who has lived a posh, easy life.

Paul is a prisoner. Paul participated in the sufferings of Christ through his imprisonment (1 Pet. 4:13).

This is God’s word so we should take it seriously. But when we understand the human author of these words, we should not disregard them.

Urge You to Walk

Paul is not making a nice suggestion that we should walk in a manner worthy of our calling. The NASB translates the word urge in the ESV as implore; the KJV translates it as beseech.

He is making an important appeal to his readers. This is not optional. If you say you have been called, then you must walk in a manner that is worthy of the call you claim. This is not a take it or leave it. If you do not walk in a worthy manner you prove you have never been called.

Simply put the word walk means live. Our lives should reflect the calling we say we have. Paul is passionate for the sake of his readers in imploring them to live in a worthy manner.

One caution is in order. It is at this point of the book that Paul is beginning to transition from the doctrinal section of the book, chapters 1-3, to the doxological, chapters 4-6. We do not walk in a worthy manner in order to obtain the calling. The calling is God’s work. This is the point of the first three chapters of Ephesians. Instead, since we have been called, we are to live in a manner that is consistent with our calling.

Walk in a Manner Worthy of the Calling

Paul fleshes out how we walk in a worthy manner in the coming verses (and by extension the remainder of the letter). Our concern here is what is the calling to which we have been called?

The call is the call of God. It is His work in our lives to bring us to Himself.

Paul wonderfully wrote about this at the beginning of the letter.

God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing and chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-4). He chose us so we might be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4). In His great love, He adopted us in Christ and made us His sons and daughters for His glory (Ephesians 1:5-6). In Christ, we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins through His blood (Ephesians 1:7). God has lavished the riches of His grace upon us in Christ (Ephesians 1:8).

The wonderful calling continues in chapter two. God in His rich mercy and great love has made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5). We have been saved by grace (Ephesians 2:5, 8). We were raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly places to be a display of God’s immeasurable riches of His grace (Ephesians 2:6-7). Our salvation, the faith we have, is a gift of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8). We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to walk in the good works that God created beforehand (Ephesians 2:9-10).

Ephesians 2:10 is a good parallel for how we walk in a worthy manner. We walk in the good works God recreated us in Christ to do.

The calling to which we have been called is the work of God’s grace in our lives to that we are now His beloved children in Christ.

Respond to Our Calling

Paul will further elucidate how we respond to the great work God has done in our lives. It is proper now to pause and praise God.

What a wonderful work God has done in our lives. But lest we miss the point, the calling is not mainly about the gifts God has given us in our salvation, but the gift of Himself. If we miss the giver because of the gifts we will not walk in a worthy manner, and we will not worship God in spirit and truth.

Worship is a response to the greatness of God. Praise Him today because He calls you His and through Christ you now have a relationship with Him where you can call Him Father.

What a wonderful calling!