I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, Ephesians 4:1
Calling – What is your calling from God? Most Christians immediately think of some individual and personal assignment. They imagine that Paul is exhorting us to seek God’s personal will for our unique lives so that one will be “called” to be an evangelist, another to be a teacher, another to be a doctor or a plumber or a policeman. But Paul is a rabbi, steeped in the Tanakh. Do you suppose that he would use this word (in Greek – kleseos – from the verb kaleo) from a Greek perspective or a Hebrew perspective? Typical Christian exegesis implies that Paul uses it as any Greek philosopher would, but this seem unjustified. Paul does not think as the Greek philosophers thought. He thinks as the prophets thought – about the Body, the community, the children of God, Israel as a unit. If Gentiles are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel, wouldn’t Paul expect that these adopted sons would take up the calling of Israel, their new kingdom home?
From the Christian/Greek/individual point of view, believers think that the calling must have something to do with the list of qualities in the next two verses. Therefore, the calling must be about walking in humility, meekness, long-suffering, love and unity. But these are descriptions of the quality of the call, not the call itself. This is obvious once we see that Paul’s emphasis is on one Body and one Spirit. The call is to community – the community of the saints. And God has already outlined what that call looks like in action. It is to live righteously, to live in accordance with His character, to do what He expects us to do. That is called Torah.
God called His people out of Egypt. He called them to become a nation set apart for Himself. He called them to be a royal priesthood. He called them to be holy. God’s call has never changed. Yeshua Himself reiterated this unwavering call in Matthew 5:48 when He quoted Leviticus 19:2. There is one calling, not millions of individual calls. How that one calling is expressed in each individual’s life might be slightly different in terms of geography, society and conditions, but the calling never varies. The calling is a reflection of God Himself. We are called to be like Him. Period. We do that by living Torah-obedient lives.
When Paul exhorts the readers of his letter to the Ephesians to walk worthy of the calling, he has the Torah in mind. Torah is the expression of God’s call to Israel. Torah is the instruction necessary to live holy lives, to act righteously in the world. There is no confusion here. We are not left wondering if God will ever answer our pleas for His unique calling for us. We don’t get busy signals or wrong number messages. God has already delivered the message. “This is how I want you to live as my people.” Confusion does not come from Him. It comes from our mistaken Greek perspective. God isn’t waiting for me to find my destiny. He is waiting for me to be obedient to the instructions He has already given. That is my calling.
Topical Index: calling, kleseos, kaleo, Torah, Ephesians 4:1