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Summary: When we are born again we are called upon to “put off” the old garments of the natural life, the natural man. We are to deny the ways of the “old man.” (The “old man” is by nature corrupt, and by nature follows “the deceitful lust.”)

Commentary on the Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe Date: 9/12/17

Lesson 19: Positive Basis: Death of the “Old Man” (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Ephesians 4:20-24 (KJV)

20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Introduction

When we are born again we are called upon to “put off” the old garments of the natural life, the natural man. We are to deny the ways of the “old man.” (The “old man” is by nature corrupt, and by nature follows “the deceitful lust.”)

Commentary

20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

The “ye” is in sharp contrast to the “gentiles” (4:17{3]). The readers of this letter did indeed learn the Christ, but not in such a way as to condone their old pagan habits. When they received the gospel they were taught that Christian discipleship required the renunciation of all pagan vices and the cultivation of true Christian holiness. Hence, Paul’s meaning here is this; the ungodly pattern set by gentiles was NOT the way they “learned Christ.” His language is, to say the least, unusual. How do we learn a person? We learn subjects and facts, and we “learn about” people. Is this simply a different way of saying “learn from or about” Christ?

Perhaps. But becoming a Christian involves more than learning about Christ. It is learning Christ in the sense that we come to know Him. In learning about Him, we come to trust and love Him. To live as the gentiles do would be to have learned nothing! It would be to reject Christ!

Paul assumes better of the Ephesian Christians (21). This is not how they were taught! That is not the life that is “worthy of the calling” with which they were called into union with Christ!

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

According to Greek authorities there is a mis-translation in verse 21. It should NOT read “as the truth is in Jesus.” In the Greek there is no preposition “in.” The phrase should read, “As the truth is Jesus.” That is exactly what Jesus said to Thomas: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). The truth is NOT in Jesus; JESUS IS THE TRUTH. There is no truth apart from Jesus. For indeed there, and only there, is truth to be found; the lines of solid fact and spiritual reality meet nowhere but in Him, in this divine Christ who is also “the man Christ Jesus,” as historical as He is eternal. He does not just “possess the truth,” he does not just “tell the truth.” He is the Truth. It is impossible for Jesus to lie. When he speaks, His words are spirit and truth (John 6:63, John 1:1, John 1:14, Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2).

“Truth” must signify, as it does so often in John, knowledge of divine reality; as the human name “Jesus” must allude to the historic person. The final truth of God, Paul is saying, is embodied in the Jesus of history.“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Jesus is the Truth, and in Jesus we have all spiritual blessings… But ONLY in Jesus.

What, then, were they “taught… as the truth is in Jesus?” In what practical ways had they learned Christ? The readers of this letter had been taught “truth [as it] is in Jesus.” The thought here being; whatever is truth or spiritual reality is embodied in Christ. The “in Jesus,” implies that their Christian instruction had come to them in living fellowship with Christ. For to “learn Christ” is not merely to master His story in the Gospels, or to pattern one’s life on his teachings, but to find new life and power and hope in communion with Him. Such truth can be known only by those who have “learned Christ,” (20) have “heard him, and have been taught by Him.”

When we trust in Christ the ties that bind us to Adam are broken and we are “adopted” into a new family and culture. We now belong to Christ, the new Adam and representative Head of God’s people. Because we are “in Christ” everything He did for us becomes ours.

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