Truth and Love in The Ephesian Church

The ingredients for a united body

This is part three of a four-part series by Pete Hammond. Mr. Hammond is a long-time leader in the American church, starting with his involvement in the racial integration of a few southern Universities during his early years on InterVarsity Staff, and continuing through his long-term passion of challenging Christians to live as witnesses in their "marketplace" - in their everyday jobs. More about Pete here.

1. A Case Study of Ephesus: 40 Years, 3 Authors, 7 Documents, 7 Leaders
2. The Ephesus Converts:“A New Community’s” Raw Material
3. "Truth" and "Love" in The Ephesian Church
4.Understanding and Practicing "Love"

As we have seen, the raw material of the church in Ephesus was incredibly diverse. So, how then shall this mixed multitude of struggling sinners develop a communitythat cannot be easily explained by the watching world?

It is my perception that Paul and John build their guidance and encouragement around the twin pillars of “truth” and “love.” Note the central text in the Ephesian letter:

“We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by the craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament that is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”
(Ephesians 4:14-16)

Here is how these two foundations are played out in the biblical narrative of this family of believers. Grab your Bible and look them up!


Acts: (3 times)

  • “... for three months spoke out boldly, and argued [truth] persuasively about the kingdom of God.” (19:8)
  • “... argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years so that all the residents of Asia heard the Word of the Lord [truth]. (19:9b-10)
  • “I know that after I am gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock... distorting the truth....” (20:29-30)

Ephesians: (5 times)

  • “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth....” (1:13)
  • “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But, speaking the truth in love, we must grow up....” (4:14-15)
  • “For surely you... were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus.” (4:21)
  • “So then, putting away falsehood, let us all speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members one of another. Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” (4:25)
  • “Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist....” (6:14)

1 Timothy: (4 times)

  • “God our Savior... desires everyone to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2:4)
  • “For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (2:7)
  • “... the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” (3:15)
  • “... marriage... foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving to those who believe and know the truth.” (4:3)
  • “Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ.... From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved and bereft of the truth....” (6:3-10, esp. 5)

2 Timothy: (6)

  • “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him... rightly explaining the word of truth.” (2:15)
  • “... who have swerved from the truth....” (2:18)
  • “As the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth....” (2:25)
  • “Avoid them.... who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of truth.” (3:7)
  • “... so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth.” (3:8)
  • “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears,... will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (4:4)

Revelation: (1)

  • “I know that you can not tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false [untrue]....” (2:2)

“ Love” in the Ephesian Church

Acts- (1 time)

  • “... I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus... ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (20:35)

Ephesians: (19 times)

  • “[God] chose us in Christ before the foundations of the earth to be holy and blameless before him in love.” (1:4)
  • “I have heard of ... your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you....” (1:15,16)
  • “God... out of the great love with which he loved us... made us alive together in Christ....” (2:4)
  • “...Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” (3:17)
  • “I pray that you... know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (3:18-19)
  • “I... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (4:1-3)
  • “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way to him who is the head, each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” (4:15-16)
  • “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (5:1-2)
  • “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her....” (5:25)
  • “He who loves his wife loves himself. For noone ever hates his own body....” (5:28b-29)
  • “Each of you, however should love his wife as himself....” (5:33)
  • “Peace to the whole community, and love with faith.... Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.” (6:23-24)

1 Timothy: (5 times)

  • “But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” (1:5)
  • “... and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1:14)
  • “Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” (2:15)
  • “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (4:12)
  • “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil....” (6:10)

2 Timothy: (5 times)

  • “... God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of a spirit of power and of love, and of self- discipline.” (1:7)
  • “Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1:13)
  • “Shun youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace... correcting opponents with gentleness.” (2:22, 24)
  • “Now you have observed my teaching, conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love....” (3:10)
  • “... for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me....” (4:10)

Revelation: (3 times)

  • [To Ephesians] “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did atfirst.” (2:4-5)
  • [To Thyatira] “I know your works - your love, faith, service, and patient endurance.” (2:19)
  • [To Laodicea] “I reprove and discipline those who I love.” (3:19)

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