Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 4

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

Ephesians 4:1

ch 1-3 Our Riches in Christ

ch 4-6 Our Walk in Christ

1. Walking in Unity - 4:1-16

2. Walking in Holiness - 4:17-32

3. Walking in Love - 5:1-6

4. Walking in Light - 5:7-14

5. Walking in Wisdom - 5:15-6:9

a) Husbands and wives - 5:18-33

b) Parents and children - 6:1-4

c) Masters and servants - 6:5-9

6. Waling in Victory - 6:10-20

7. Conclusion - 6:21-24

a) Information - 6:21-22

b) Salutation - 6:23

c) Benediction - 6:24

1. Walking in Unity - 4:1-16

1) The Graces of Unity - v.1-3

2) The Grounds of Unity - v.4-6

3) The Gifts for Unity - v. 7-11

4) The Growth for Unity - v. 12-16

- - - - - -

therefore -- This word marks the transition from doctrine to duty, principle to practice, position to behavior. This is typical of Paul (see Rom. 12:1; Gal. 5:1; Phil. 2:1; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:1).

prisoner in the Lord -- Literally "in the Lord." This is one of Paul’s prison letters, probably written in Rome in the early 60’s. It is different from Ephesians 3:1, which has "prisoner of Christ Jesus." Paul saw believers as encompassed by Christ. They live and move and have their being in Him (cf. Job 12:10; Daniel 5:23; Acts 17:28). See note on Eph 3:1.

walk -- The key verse in chapters 4-6 “Walk” is frequently used in the N.T. to refer to daily conduct. It sets the theme for the final 3 chapters. “Worthy” has the idea of living to match one’s position in Christ. The apostle urged his readers to be everything the Lord desires and empowers them to be.

worthy of the calling -- God’s act of creating one family in Christ requires His children to live in a manner that honors His work. This begins the practical section of the letter. Unity is maintained by purposeful actions of Christlike living (cf. Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 4:17; Ephesians 5:2; Ephesians 5:15; Colossians 1:10; Colossians 2:6).

calling -- This is an aorist passive indicative. The call always comes from God (cf. John 6:44; John 6:65). The word "call" is etymologically related to the term "church" in Ephesians 3:21. There is an obvious word play on this term (cf. Ephesians 4:1 [twice] and 4 [twice]). - Utley

Verse 2

Ephesians 4:2

humility [lowliness] -- “Humility” is a term not found in the Roman or Greek vocabularies of Paul’s day. The Greek word apparently was coined by Christians, perhaps even by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available. Humility, the most foundational Christian virtue (James 4:6), is the quality of character commanded in the first beatitude (Matthew 5:3), and describes the noble grace of Christ (Philippians 2:7-8). - MSB

"Humility" is uniquely a Christian virtue which was not included in the Greek moralist’s (Stoics) list of virtues. Both Moses (cf. Numbers 12:3) and Jesus (cf. Matthew 11:29) are described by this term. Paul uses it several times (cf. Philippians 2:3; Colossians 2:18; Colossians 2:23; Colossians 3:12).

gentleness -- “Meekness,” an inevitable product of humility, refers to that which is mild-spirited and self-controlled (cf. Matt. 5:5; 11:29; Gal. 5:23; Col. 3:12).

This refers to "domesticated strength" like a trained animal. The KJV translates it "meekness." Wild animals have been tamed to serve mankind. Believers have been "tamed" to serve one another, not compete with one another.

patience [longsuffering] -- The Greek word literally means long-tempered, and refers to a resolved patience that is an outgrowth of humility and gentleness (cf. 1 Thess. 5:14; James 5:10).

As God has long-suffering patience with unbelievers (cf. Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22) believers should continue to deal with the faults and weaknesses (cf. 1 Timothy 1:6) of other believers in the same gracious way. Believers must put others for whom Christ died before themselves (cf. Romans 14:1 to Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 2:3; Philippians 4:5; Colossians 3:12-13). This self-giving emulates Jesus (cf. 1 John 3:16), and is evidence of the reversal of the tendencies of the fall.

bearing with one another -- Humility, gentleness, and patience are reflected in a forbearing love for others that is continuous and unconditional (cf. 1 Pet. 4:8).

Since believers belong to one family of God, they must bear with one another. Compare Phil 2:1–5.

love -- Note the attitudes to accompany love. Humility, meekness, steadfastness, patience.

Verse 3

Ephesians 4:3

eager [diligent; endeavoring} -- The New English Bible translates it as "spare no effort."

unity of the Spirit -- Unity fostered by the Spirit. Unity is to be joined together in the bond of peace. 1 Corinthians 1:10. Philippians 2:2

unity of the Spirit -- The Spirit-created oneness of all true believers (see 1 Corinthians 6:17; 1 Corinthians 12:11-13; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 2:2) has created a bond of peace, the spiritual cord that surrounds and binds God’s holy people together. This bond is love (Colossians 3:14).

in the bond of peace -- Earlier, Paul portrays Christ as the personification of peace (Ephesians 2:14). The work of Christ leads to peace between God and humanity and between Jews and Gentiles (2:15).

Verse 4

Ephesians 4:4

God’s ONEderful Plan (7 Planks)

ONE Body - Unity of Organization

One Spirit - Unity of Guidance

One Hope - Unity of Aspiration

One Lord - Unity of Authority

One Faith - Unity of Message

One Baptism - Unity of Practice

One God - Unity of Worship

one body -- CHURCH -- Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 5:23-27, Acts 20:28.

The Church is the "Body of Christ," Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24,

There is one body- Ephesians 4:4-6, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Colossians 3:15,

Saved "Added by the Lord"- not "Voted In," Acts 2:47, 2 John 1:9-10,

one body -- The church, the body of Christ, is composed of every obedient believer since Pentecost without distinction, by the work of the “one Spirit” (see 1 Corinthians 12:11-13). Paul uses this metaphor often in Ephesians (cf. Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 4:4; also Colossians 1:18).

Most uses of the term "church" in the NT refer to local congregations. The universal church is addressed in Matthew 16:18 and Ephesians. The emphasis is on the unity and oneness of all of God’s people and His church everywhere.

one Spirit -- Most translations capitalize "Spirit" to make it refer to the Holy Spirit. If it is "spirit" it could refer to the attitudes and characterists that God wants all his children to possess and exhibit.

one hope -- This is the pledge and promise of eternal inheritance given each child of God (Ephesians 1:11-14) and who has the ownership-sealed to each believer by possessing the same spirit of God (Ephesians 4:13).

Verse 5

Ephesians 4:5

One Lord - Unity of Authority

One Faith - Unity of Message

One Baptism - Unity of Practice

one Lord -- Both Jew and Greek has accepted the same God to be the Lord of the lives. See Acts 4:12; Romans 10:12; Galatians 1:8.

Lord is a title with both an OT background for YHWH (cf. Exodus 3:14, see Colossians 1:3), and a NT usage in connection with Jesus’ deity (cf. Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:9-11).

one faith -- The body of doctrine revealed in the NT cf. Judges 1:3. (cf. Galatians 1:23; Galatians 3:23; Galatians 3:25; Philippians 1:27; Judges 1:3; Judges 1:20),

one baptism -- See outline in the opening verse -- Ephesians 1:1.

Both Jew and Gentile were baptized the same way, for the same purpose, with the same results, being added by God the same body (the church - Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47).

one baptism -- see note on 1 Corinthians 10:2 This refers to water baptism commanded by Christ in Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16, which was the early church’s practice at one’s conversion to Christ. It symbolized death to the old life and the beginning of the new life in Christ (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12).

Verse 6

Ephesians 4:6

See note on Ephesians 4:4

one God -- This is the basic doctrine of God taught in Scripture (see Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 45:14; Isaiah 46:9; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

and Father -- It may have been shocking to the Gentiles to think of calling God "Father." He is Father of all" in the sense that God is the creator of all, created by Him in His image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26-27). But in this context the focus is not on creation but on God’s plan for restoring sinful man-kind to Himself and making them His heirs of eternal life.

over all, and through all, and in all -- Stresses the supremacy of God. He joins all people together under His sovereign rule.

Verse 7

Ephesians 4:7

4:7–16 In this passage, Paul focuses on God’s gifts that build up the body of Christ (the Church). The NT lists areas of spiritual giftedness five times (Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:7-11). Each list presents different gifts and emphases.

grace -- God’s undeserved kindness and favor.

But ... each one of us -- Jew and Gentile. The "but" could be translated “on the other hand,” contrasting what has just been said with what is about to be said, moving from the subject of the unity of believers (“all,” v. 6) to that of the uniqueness of different believers (“each one”).

Certain gifts of God’s grace (like salvation, etc) is given to all faithful believers, but other special gifts were given to specific believers (miraculous gifts) for the duration and purposes expressed in Ephesians 4:14.

Some believers were given unique spiritual gifts that God gave through the laying on of the apostles’s hands (cf. Acts 8:17-18) and gave according to God’s sovereign will and design. The Greek term for “gift” focuses on the grace that prompted it and the freeness of the gift.

every one -- i.e. Jew and Gentile. This is a reference to the miraculous spiritual gifts and it is not indicating that every Christian had some gift, but that they were given alike to Jews and Gentiles.

measure of the gift --. "diversities of gifts" but the same spirit." 1 Corinthians 12:4.

Conquering generals gave gifts, the idea come from secular kings. cf. NASB, NIV, ESV.

measure -- A portion; quantity; [Early Christians didn’t individually have all of the miraculous gifts, but different members had different gifts.] It is recorded that Christ was given the Spirit without measure. John 3:34

Verse 8

Ephesians 4:8

it says -- Psalm 68 (Psalms 68:18) is a victory hymn composed by David to celebrate God’s conquest of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem and the triumphant assent of God up to Mt. Zion (cf. 2 Samuel 6:1-7; 1 Chronicles 13:1 ff). After such a triumph, the king would bring home the spoils and the prisoners. Here Paul depicts Christ returning from His battle on earth back into the glory of the heavenly city with the trophies of His great victory at Calvary (see notes on 2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

The phrase "gave gifts to men" is found in the Aramaic Targum, the Peshitta (Syriac), and Chaldee translations, while "received gifts" ["Thou didst take gifts amongst men"] is in the Masoretic Text (Hebrew text) and the Septuagint (Greek translation). Paul quotes an OT translation that reflected the true theology point he is making. [This seeming discrepancy may be that the point is Christ "received these gifts" from the Father to "give them" to his disciples, Ephesians 4:11. - WG]

When he ascended on high -- To heaven. The Psalm is, “Thou hast ascended on high;” compare Ephesians 1:22-23. (cf. Acts 1:9-11.)

led captivity captive -- Psalms 68:18 The picture of conquering generals leading his captives as they proceeded with their victory parade through Rome on their return home. The Hebrew there is literally “Thou didst ascend on high; Thou didst lead captive a captivity (a band of captives)..."

1) "Harrowing of Hell"

Psalms 68:18; Isaiah 53:12;

The verses here pictures the ascension of our Lord back into heaven after his victory over Satan and the grave. The righteous saints who had been captives of Satan in hades (Luke 19 "Abraham’s bosom" and Luke 23 "paradise" were now in the Lord’s company as he returned to heaven to the Father.

2) An alternative view, but correct also in addition, and made clear in other passages, is that all satanic principalites and powers who attacked him were now captive to the Lord Jesus.

Image of conquering Satan and all his demonic hoards.

Hebrews 2:15; Colossians 2:15 Luke 11:21-22

3) Jesus took the key to hades with him (Revelation 1:18)

2 Corinthians 5:8 Philippians 1:23 Acts 2:33 2 Corinthians 12:2-5 1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6 Isaiah 53:12

The wonderful truth for the Christian today is that because of this victory we will not spend any time in Satan’s dominion of that hadean world, but will die to be in the Lord’s presence awaiting the time of the resurrection and judgment. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 1:23, etc.

Where Are The Dead? See note on 2 Corinthians 5:8

gave gifts -- The gifts Christ gave are specified Ephesians 4:11; (Acts 2:33 Acts 2:38; Acts 10:45.

The picture Paul paints is this: As victorious Roman generals would lead a victory procession through the streets of Rome upon their return, just so Jesus returned to heaven victorious in his resurrection and led those who had been captive in hades with him.

And Paul continues with the picture he has started, that just as the victorious Roman generals gave gifts to the people, of the spoils he had taken, the Lord gave gifts for his disciples.

Verse 9

Ephesians 4:9

(Verses 9 and 10 go together)

In saying -- Or it, i.e. the Scripture, says. Paul’s usage in quotation leaves the subject of the verb undetermined here and in similar cases (see e.g. Ephesians 5:14). Paul alludes back to the scripture Psalms 68:18 quoted in the previous verse, Ephesians 4:8.

ascended -- back into heaven. Psalms 68:18; Isaiah 53:12. John 3:13; John 20:17 Acts 1:9-11 Acts 2:34;

descended -- True, the Lord descended from heaven to earth in the incarnation. John 1:14 Philippians 2:6-7; John 3:13; But by adding "into the lower parts of the earth" Paul is refering to his descent into the hadean and Jesus’ conquest of Satan and the grave. Luke 23:43; Acts 2:27 Romans 10:6-7 John 3:13 Philippians 2:6-7.

Verse 10

Ephesians 4:10

He who -- Reference to Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension back to heaven. (Mark 16:19).

descended -- (From heaven to earth - the incarnation.) John 1:14 Philippians 2:6-7.) But more properly here it means Jesus descended into hades and conquered Satan and the grave. Acts 2:27 Romans 10:6-7 John 3:13 Philippians 2:6-7.

ascended -- Jesus’ ascension back into heaven. Psalms 68:18; Isaiah 53:12. John 3:13; John 20:17 Acts 1:9-11 Acts 2:34

Verse 11

Ephesians 4:11

apostles -- Jesus selected 12 to be apostles to the Jews, and Paul to be the apostles to the Gentiles. cf. Matthew 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:28.

prophets -- Prophets spoke (taught) under direct prompting of the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21.

Prophet = one who speaks forth from God. (Our connotation today is one who "foretells" the future, which was sometimes included in his message. But the prophet was a "forth-teller" from God to man by inspiration.

The reference here to "prophets" is to those in New Testament times. see Ephesians 2:20 and Ephesians 3:5. Acts 11:27; Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 14:1.

v. 11 What - special gifts

v. 12 Why - for the maturing of the saints, etc.

v. 13 When - until unity, (until all truth given to both Jew and Gentiles) until mature in Christ cf. v.14 the purpose -

evangelists -- Such as Timothy (probably Titus and others named but not specified as such in the New Testament) who had the laying on of elder’s hands to ordain him 1 Timothy 4:14, and had Paul’s hands on him that imparted some special gift (2 Timothy 1:6) which is not named. Timothy’s gift may have been to "preach" or to "organize" and put order into churches (Titus 1:5).

A term sometimes used of such men was the term "man of God". (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 3:17) In the OT of Moses Deuteronomy 33:1; Joshua 14:6), Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, David, and unnamed prophets (i.e., 1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Kings 12:22; 1 Kings 13:1).

pastors -- The titles "elders" (presbuteroi), "bishops" (episkopoi), and "pastors" (poimenas) all refer to one function and later office (cf. Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; and Titus 1:5-7). The term "elder" had an OT background, while the term "bishop" or "overseer" had a Greek city-state background. The Greek syntax (one conjunction de and one article tous) links these two titles together as one function, cf. Acts 15; cf. Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; James 5:14.

Some in the first century were especially recognized and appointed by inspired men. (Paul in Acts 14:23 didn’t require a long time frame to be able to know whom to appoint. The Holy Spirit apparently directed Paul at Ephesus whom to appoint - Acts 20:28. Timothy, not being inspired as Paul or an apostle or prophet, needed the instruction from an inspired man to know the kind of men who should be appointed (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7).

teachers -- This word denotes those who instruct, or communicate knowledge. It is clear that it is used to denote a class of persons different, in some respects, from those who prophesied and from those who exhorted as evangelists. This class, not inspired nor given revelations, but apparently had a gift for teaching.

Verse 12

Ephesians 4:12

This verse indicates the Purpose of the gifts (Ephesians 4:8-12). For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, ... the building up of the body of Christ. cf. NASB.

For the perfecting -- equipping, maturing, etc.

On the meaning of the word rendered here as “perfecting” - καταρτισμὸν katartismon - It properly refers to “the restoring of anything to its place;” then putting in order, making complete, etc. Here it means that these various officers were appointed in order that everything in the church might be well arranged, or put into its proper place; or that the church might be “complete.”

Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, vol. 1, p. 680, assert that artios (complete, adequate, fully equipped for the assigned task), with all its different prepositional compounds (epi and kata), are all synonyms (cf. Luke 6:40; 2 Corinthians 13:9, 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:17).

The term "equip" means to cause something to be ready for its assigned purpose. It is used of:

1. broken limbs being healed and made useful again

2. torn fishing nets being mended and thereby able to catch fish

3. ships being fitted with ropes and sails and tacked for sea

4. chicks who had grown large enough to be taken to market

For the work of ministry -- All the "gifts" in the previous verse are engaged in the work of the ministry, though in different ways. In the first century all of these gifts were needed to establish and edify the church.

Gus Nichols uses the illustration how that in building a great building you need scaffolding to frame up the building. But when the building is completed and is being used, the scaffold is no longer needed. The first century need the inspired apostles and prophets to reveal and teach God’s word. But after the "Faith" [Judges 1:3] had been delivered and contained in inspired NT Scripture, the "frame-work" was no longer required.

Today we have evangelists, teachers, and elders and deacons to "maintain" the ministry of the church.

to the building up [edifying] of the body of Christ -- Paul mixes his building metaphor (cf. Ephesians 2:20-22) with his body metaphor (cf. Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 5:30).

the body of Christ -- The church, Ephesians 1:22-23.

- - - - - - -

IV. Growth - v. 12-16 - Evidence of spiritual growth - v.13

1. Christ-like minds - v.12

2. Stability - v.14

3. Joining truth and love - v.15

Truth without love is brutal.

Love without truth is hypocrisy.

4. Cooperation - v.16

Joined and knit together. Every part doing its share.

Verse 13

Ephesians 4:13

until -- The duration of these gifts of v.8-11. These gifts were to help homogenize the Jews and Gentiles into one body.

unity of the faith -- Faith here refers to the body of revealed truth that constitutes Christian teaching, particularly featuring the complete content of the gospel. Oneness and harmony among believers is possible only when it is built on the foundation of sound doctrine.

the knowledge of the Son of God -- Till the disciples understood and had knowledge of Christ and the manner of men that Christ wanted them to be.

mature manhood [perfect man] -- to be complete, mature, (fully furnished).

the fullness of Christ -- God wants every believer to manifest the qualities of His Son, who is Himself the standard for their spiritual maturity and perfection.

Verse 14

Ephesians 4:14

V. 14 explains the reasons for these gifts. These gifts were in order that God’s children not be like drift wood on water, or wavering children, but, v.15, make proper growth. cf. 1 Corinthians 13:11 The gifts were to give stability to the infant church.

no longer be children -- In some respects Christians “are” to be like children. They are to be docile, gentle, mild, and free from ambition, pride, and haughtiness; Matthew 18:2-3. But children are often changeable Matthew 11:17; they are influenced easily by others, and led astray, In these respects, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to be no longer children to be led astray by false teachers. (Gal_1.6; Galatians 3:1;)

tossed to and fro -- Literally, “billowed”; carried up and down as on waves.

and carried about with every wind of doctrine - - With no settled course; no one at the helm. The idea is that of a vessel on the restless ocean, that is tossed about with every varying wind, and that has no settled line of sailing. So many persons are in regard to religious practices. They have no fixed views and principles.

by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes -- This obviously refers to the false teachers, who seem to be a combination of Greek philosophers and Jewish legalists. This phrase refers to the deception of false teachers and to the craftiness of their deceitful schemes.

Verse 15

Ephesians 4:15

cf. Ephesians 4:12.

3. Joining truth and love - v.15

Truth without love is brutal.

Love without truth is hypocrisy.

4. Cooperation - v.16

Joined and knit together. Every part doing its share.

speaking the truth -- ἀληθεύοντες δὲ. ‘Being’ or ‘Living the truth.’ The context shows that far more than truth-speaking is required, and the use of ἀληθεύειν in LXX. is in favour of a wide extension of meaning to truth in all relations of life. - CBSC

speaking in truth in love -- Margin, “being sincere.” The translation in the text is correct - literally, “truthing in love” - BN

This stands in stark contrast with the action of Ephesians 4:14 of being cunning, crafty and deceitful. - WG

we grow up -- The idea is maintaining truth in love in both speech and life is the ideal for Christ’s followers.

It is the metaphor of Ephesians 4:13 (the full-grown man). We are the body and Christ is the Head. We are to grow up to his stature. - RWP

into him which is the head, even Christ -- Our growth must be fitting with our head, Christ.

Verse 16

Ephesians 4:16

from whom -- Christ is the head, and the body should follow his leadership.

the whole body -- The Church is one unified group directed by Christ to accomplish His purposes—yet there are many parts to it. Paul uses this metaphor to explain how many people with different roles and gifts can work together in unity (compare 1 Corinthians 12:12-20).

joined and held together -- Just as all parts of the body are joined together creating one whole, so each part of the spiritual body works to benefit the whole, this is unity.

when each part is working properly -- Godly, biblical church growth results from every member of the body fully is doing his part, living properly and being a Christian influence, and in cooperation with other Christians (cf. Colossians 2:19).

makes the body grow -- This is the proper way for the growth of the church, growing in love and truth.

it builds itself up in love -- The church is self-edifying, and thrives in an atmosphere of love.

Verse 17

Ephesians 4:17

#2 Walking In Holiness (Purity) v. 17-31

4:17–32 Continuing his emphasis on unity, Paul urges believers to abandon former ways of living that have nothing to do with Christ. He reminds them of their previous life apart from God (Ephesians 4:17-19) and exhorts them to discard the old self, since they have been made new in Christ (Ephesians 4:20-24). As members of Christ’s body, believers are called to show integrity, kindness, and grace. They must overcome bitterness and anger and learn to forgive (Ephesians 4:25-32). - FSB

Paul sets forth how the Gentiles walked:

v.17

1) vanity of minds

v.18

2) Understanding darkened

3) Alienated from God

4) Because of ignorance

5) Blindness of heart

v. 19

6) Past feeling

I say and testify in the Lord -- Paul is speaking the truth from the Lord himself.

no longer walk -- “Walk” expresses daily conduct and refers back to what Paul has said about the believer’s way of living "truth" and "love" a manner worthy of Christ.

Because Christians are part of the body of Christ, and have set themselves apart to him, they should not continue to live like the ungodly (1 John 2:6).

futility of their minds [vanity] -- which leads to nothing (Romans 1:21-22) When they lived apart from God, the Gentiles’ entire way of thinking was ineffectual, distorted by the powers of sin (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Verse 18

Ephesians 4:18

Paul sets fort how the Gentiles walked:

v.17

1) vanity of minds

v.18

2) Understanding darkened

3) Alienated from God

4) Because of ignorance

5) Blindness of heart

v. 19

6) Past feeling

darkened in their understanding -- On “the understanding” note above in Ephesians 2:3 (where it is “mind”). The Greek word may fairly be said to mean the reasoning in action. Here the "reasoning" is blind because of darkness.

Paul doesn’t say that they could not have perceived the truth; or that they had no ability to understand it. He speaks of a simple and well-known fact - that one’s reasoning or judgment become tainted or darkened by indulgence in sin.

Barnes put it: "A man who is unchaste, has no perception of the loveliness of purity. A man who is avaricious or covetous, has no just views of the beauty of benevolence."

alienated from the life of God -- Gentiles were not only excluded from Israel (eph 2:12); they were cut off from the very life of God. Their ignorance of God and His ways led to enmity with God (eph 2:12–13), resulting in the need for reconciliation.

the ignorance that is in them -- Pagan Gentiles just did not know what God was wanting from man-kind.

their hardness of heart -- The Gentiles’ exclusion from the life of God resulted not only from their ignorance, but from their willful and stubborn rejection of Him.

Verse 19

Ephesians 4:19

become callous [being past feeling] -- callous, insensitive to right and wrong. Hardened in sin. Totally lacking of emotion on moral subjects.

The Greek relative pronoun indicates a certain conditionality, Past feelingliterally “having got over the pain,” as when mortification sets in; a deeply suggestive metaphor.

given themselves up [ over] to sensuality [lasciviousness] -- Voluntarily, like a traitor, and preferring "wantonness". It means intemperate, reckless readiness for lasciviousness, and for every self-indulgence.

themselves -- is emphatic by its position in the sentence.

greedy to practice -- (here for impurity); Greedy either with covetousness, and then it refers to those who prostitutes themselves for gain; or with an insatiable desire of still going on in their filthiness.

The Greek word is rendered “covetousness,” Luke 12:15. But it means much more than the desire of money, or property, with which we specially associate “covetousness.” It occurs in close connexion with the subject of fleshly impurity 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:6; and below, Ephesians 5:3; Ephesians 5:5. See too Colossians 3:5. “Greed” has a strong and terrible connexion with impurity, as is obvious.

every kind of impurity-- lasciviousness, as describe in Romans 1:24-26. The word occurs in the N.T. 11 times. The root-idea of the word is not specially fleshly impurity, but rebellion against restraint as such; petulance, wantonness, as shown in violence.

Verse 20

Ephesians 4:20

not ... learned -- You have not been taught this by Christ. The followers of Jesus are taught to abandon such a course of life.. to learn Christ’s teaching..

They became Christians by learning.

That which they learned was was imitate the way Christ lived.

Verse 21

Ephesians 4:21

if indeed -- The Greek expression used here, ei ge, is sometimes translated using a conditional statement (“if”), but it actually implies confidence. Paul’s point is that his audience does know and follow Christ. The same expression begins Ephesians 3:2.

assuming that you have heard ..were taught -- If you have listened to the true nature of Jesus and the way of life they had been taught about him.

were taught -- As Paul had taught them about the Lord Jesus. (John 14:6, John 6:44-45;)

as the truth is in Jesus -- Paul proceeds to teach again the truth teaching of Jesus in the following verses.

Verse 22

Ephesians 4:22

What follows in the next several verses is the "truth that is taught in Jesus." cf. Ephesians 4:20-21.

to put off -- The Greek verb is aorist infinitive and denotes a singleness of action. Some would render this "that you have (or did) putt off."

The "instruction in Christ" had informed them about such a "putting-off" of a certain way of life, and the "putting-on" of what was expected from Christ. The question is, does this crisis appear here as a past or future one? The answer found found in the words "old man". Paul is teaching that at one’s conversion the "old" way of living changes and a new life is expected from the Lord. (See also Colossians 3:9 which favors a reference to a crisis past.)

to put off -- Paul again uses the metaphor of putting on/off clothing to teach that Jesus’ disciples are to renounce a certain course of life, and to follow the life Jesus wants from his followers.

From the way Paul gives this instructions it seems that some of his intended readers had been following a contrary course. It is possible some false teachers had made light of the Christian life.

Five Sins to be Discarded (Formular: Negative / Positive)

Some Things to Put Off

1. Ephesians 4:25 - stop lying - speak truth

2. Ephesians 4:26-27 - be angry and sin not

3. Ephesians 4:28 - stop stealing - start working

4. Ephesians 4:29 - stop corrupt speech - speak godly, edifying

5. Ephesians 4:30 - stop grieving the H.S.

6. Ephesians 4:31 - put off bad disposition toward others - be kind

your former manner of life -- The word (noun and verb) is almost always used by Paul in reference to a sinful way of life.

you old self (old man) -- Similar phrase in Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:9. And in translated "your former conduct"; "your former way of life" "the way you use to live" "your old way of life", etc.

and is corrupt through deceitful lusts -- Rather, the Greek [G5351] is "which is being corrupted". The way of life Christ expects you to live is corrupted (destroyed, subverted, comes to destruction ) when you give in to such lusts.

deceitful desires -- Deceitful with promises of joy and gain. Lusts and passions which are deceitful and morally decaying.

Verse 23

Ephesians 4:23

be renewed -- A present infinitive in the Greek. The word used here - ἀνανεόω ananeoō G365, - does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament; but it has the same meaning as the word used in 2 Corinthians 4:16, and Colossians 3:10. It means to renew, being in the middle passive, for self to be continually renewed insofar as one’s spiritual life is concerned. Thus there is the idea of progress and growth which is opposite to the "corruption" of verse 22. A renewal, a freshening, a continual making fresh again. A "revival" if you please.

in the spirit of your minds -- Not a physical "make-over" but one of the mind, heart, or spirit.

Verse 24

Ephesians 4:24

that you put on -- 2 Corinthians 5:17 Continuing the metaphor from Ephesians 4:22 similar to the putting off and on of clothing. "to put off" negative v.22, and here positive v.24.

the new self [man] -- This is called in other places, the “new creature, or the new creation” [see the note on 2 Corinthians 5:17], and refers to the condition after the heart is changed.

This change is brought on by repentance and obedienct to the gospel.

created after the likeness of God -- The real point is that God wants us to imitate His own atitudes and characteristics, as "sons of God" Colossians 3:10. Christians should have the family characteristics of God (cf. Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 4:19). We have been created in the likeness of God, Genesis 1:26, and we have the ability to know right and wrong and we sin when we choose the opposite of godliness and disobey God.

This phrase also proves that, when man was created, he was a righteous holy being.

righteousness -- In righteousness and true holiness. From G1342; Thayer describes such a one as upright, innocent, faultless, guiltless, and used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God. See on Luke 1:75.

The word (noun, adjective, or adverb) occurs (as here) with “righteous” or “righteousness” Luke 1:75; 1 Thessalonians 2:10; Titus 1:8. It is the almost invariable rendering in the LXX. for the Heb. châsîd; e.g. Psalms 16:10, quoted Acts 2:27; Acts 13:35 (A.V. “thy Holy One”); and Isaiah 55:3, quoted Acts 13:34 (where lit. “the holy things of David,” the inviolable promises given to him[38]). - CBSC

in true righteousness -- "True" as opposed to deceit, Ephesians 4:22, and likewise personified. Righteousness and holiness are attributes of truth.

holiness -- The Greek "holiness of the truth". The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges says "Literally, sanctity of the truth. use “sanctity” rather than “holiness,” to mark the fact that the Greek word (hosiotés) is not akin to that commonly rendered “holy.” (CBSC)

Verse 25

Ephesians 4:25

4:25-32 A Christian Is Not To Wrong His Neighbor

Therefore -- Continuing the thought from Ephesians 4:15 how we are to speak.

Therefore [wherefore] -- From the characteristics of "the new man" the particular features that follows now result.

putting away [lay aside]-- Continuing the metaphor of clothing (Ephesians 4:24). Greek "having put away" once for all.

falsehood [lying] -- "Speak ye truth each one with his neighbor," is quoted from Zechariah 8:16. Notice that Paul quotes the Old Testament as encouragement for New Testament Christians (Ephesians 4:26). It is said that lying was a universal vice among the pagan world.

speak truthfully to his neighbor -- Speak as things are, and act sincerely and candidly.

all members of one body -- Christians belong to the same body of Christ. The idea of falsehood tends to loosen the bonds of brotherhood. Falsehood among Christians is something considered unconceivable. Christians live in a family and not as isolated individuals.

Verse 26

Ephesians 4:26

This verse begins a series of present imperatives with the negative particle which usually means to stop an act already in progress (cf. Ephesians 4:26-30). (Utley)

Be ye angry and sin sin not [KJV]-- If the case be that one becomes angry do not let it led into sinnng against your neighbor.

Do not let the sun go down on your anger -- This quote from the LXX is from Psalms 4:4. It may also be an allusion to Deuteronomy 24:15. The Jewish day began at sunset (cf. Genesis 1:5). Anger is a powerful emotion which must be dealt with quickly.

Wetstein quotes a curious parallel from Plutarch, (De Fraterno Amore, p. 488 b.), who says of the Pythagoreans that it was their rule, if betrayed into angry reviling, to shake hands before the sun set.

angry -- ὀργὴ G3710, is forbidden absolutely in Ephesians 4:31 in the sense of personal outburst of passion. There is good reason therefore for taking this verse as referring to ‘righteous indignation’; cf. James 1:19 βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν. For the anger here is regarded as inevitable and right, though needing to be kept in strict restraint. Indeed the obligation to speak truth involves at times the saying of hard things. - CBSC

The section Matthew 5:22 ff. may have the same meaning, especially with the omission of εἰκῇ. The phrase ἔνοχος τῇ κρίσει simply asserts that every one who is angry will have to give an account. It does not say that he will necessarily be condemned.

wrath -- "Wrath" is absolutely forbidden; "anger" not so. (JFB) cf. Jesus in Mark 3:5.

Verse 27

Ephesians 4:27

Neither give place -- Don’t give place to one who would attempt to intrude at a half-open door, intent on occupying the house. (CBSC)

“Do not yield to the suggestions and temptations of Satan, who would take every opportunity to persuade you to unkind and angry feelings, and to keep up a spirit of resentment among brethren.” (BN)

The devil is always busy when we are angry, and in some way, if possible, will lead us into sin;.

the devil -- Behind that which called forth angry.

Paul’s use elsewhere of the word diabolos (literally “Accuser”) for the great Enemy.

The term "devil" is a Greek compound (diabolos) [G1228] which meant "to throw across" (cf. Acts 13:10; Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:11; 1 Timothy 3:6-7; 2 Timothy 2:26). It was a metaphorical way of referring to Satan the accuser. Paul referred to Satan in several passages (cf. Acts 26:18; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Timothy 1:20; 1 Timothy 5:15). Satan was apparently an angelic being who rebelled against God (cf. Genesis 3; Job 1-2; Zechariah 3). It is biblically difficult to talk about Satan because

1. the Bible never speaks definitively of the origin or purpose of evil

2. the OT texts which are usually seen as possibly related to Satan’s rebellion are specifically directed to the condemnation of prideful earthly rulers (King of Babylon, Isaiah 14 and King of Tyre, Ezekiel 28) and not Satan (see Special Topic: Personal Evil at Ephesians 2:2)

It is obvious from several NT passages that there was conflict in the spiritual realm (Matthew 4:10; Matthew 12:26; Matthew 16:23; John 13:27; John 14:30; John 16:11; Acts 5:3; 2 Corinthians 4:4. Ephesians 2:2; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 2:24; Revelation 3:9; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2; Revelation 20:7). Where, when, and how are all mysteries. Believers do have an angelic enemy (cf. Ephesians 2:2)! (-Utley)

Verse 28

Ephesians 4:28

Let the thief no longer steal -- Theft, like lying, was, and is, almost a universal vice among the pagan. The practice of pilfering prevails in, probably, every pagan community, and no property is safe which is not guarded, or so locked up as to be inaccessible. Hence, as the Christian converts at Ephesus had been long addicted to it, there was danger that they would fall into it again; - BN

stole -- steal -- Many early Christians were slaves; many of whom were given to stealing and pilfering.

but rather let him labor -- Let him seek an honest means of living.

working with is own hands -- Let him pursue honest employment. Paul was not ashamed to labour with "his own hands" Acts 20:35; Acts 18:1-3. God made man to work Genesis 2:15.

something to share -- The Christians is to be compassionate rather than covetous.

Verse 29

Ephesians 4:29

corrupt communication -- Further admonition regarding their "speaking" cf. Ephesians 4:15; Ephesians 4:25.

The word rendered “corrupt” (σαπρὸς sapros) means bad, decayed, rotten, and is applied to putrid vegetable or animal substances. Then it is applied to a tree that is of a useless character, that produces no good fruit; Matthew 7:17. Then it is used in a moral sense, as our word “corrupt” is, to denote that which is sinful, evil. contaminating, and may denote here anything that is obscene, offensive, or that tends to corrupt others. (BN)

communication -- Here simply means one’s talk, speech or language.

good for building up [edifying] -- Speech is a great tool. Like a hammer, it can be used to tear down or to built up. We should use speech for the good of others. The one who talks for the mer sake of talking will say some foolish things, and even while not meaning, may be very hurtful to others. Matthew 12:36; Ecclesiastes 5:2; Proverbs 10:19; James 1:19.

give grace -- Let your speech be an instrument creating favor to others, favor toward God for for self.

Verse 30

Ephesians 4:30

And -- Shouts a connection with above verses. By corrupt (worthless) speech.

grieve not -- Paul warns his readers not to repeat the mistake of the Israelites who “rebelled and grieved” the Holy Spirit in the wilderness (Isaiah 63:10).

A distinct indication of the Personality of the Blessed Spirit. “Grief is certainly a personal affection, of which a Quality is not capable” - CBSC

grieve not -- The word used here - λυπεῖτε lupeite - means properly to afflict with sorrow; to make sad or sorrowful. It is rendered to make sorry, or sorrowful, Matthew 14:9; Matthew 17:23; Matthew 18:31; Matthew 19:22; Matthew 26:22, Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:19; John 16:20; 2 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 7:8-9, 2 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13. It is rendered “grieved,” Mark 10:22; John 21:17; Romans 14:15; 2 Corinthians 2:4-5; Ephesians 4:20; and once. “in heaviness,” 1 Peter 1:6. The verb does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The common meaning is, to treat others so as to cause grief. - BN

Sealed -- "stamped" Seal of an official on a document or letter. Marked as God’s possession. See noted at 2 Corinthians 5:5. 2 Corinthians 1:22;

Better, ye were sealed, at the definite crisis of reception. See above, Ephesians 1:13 and notes. - CBSC

Day of redemption -- “the redemption of the purchased possession,” Ephesians 1:14, where see note.

Verse 31

Ephesians 4:31

all bitterness -- Both of spirit and of speech. "Bitterness" as opposed to "kind." "Bitterness" may imply a secret lurking of displeasure at another. (Poole)

wrath -- (thumos G2372) refers to a fast burning anger or rage (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20; Colossians 3:8). The boiling up of passion that is harsh and vengeful, as opposed to "tender-hearted."

anger -- Lasting resentment; as opposed to "forgiving one another."

clamor -- Picture of a horse that has anger for its rider. The inordinate loudness of men in anger which breaks out into words and actions. The noise, disorder, and harsh words that men use in a brawl. Christians are to be calm and serious. Harsh contentions and strifeful brawls are to be unknown among them. Acts 23:9.

"Bitterness" begets "wrath"; "wrath," "anger"; "anger," "clamor"; and "clamor," the more chronic "evil-speaking," slander, insinuations, and surmises of evil.

slander [evil speaking] -- Either with resect to God or man, though the latter seems particularly meant here. Backbiting, angry expressions, tale-bearing, railing, reviling, reporaching, the ordinary effects of uncontrolled anger.

be put away -- Aorist passive imperative, "be put away from yourself." Christians must remove these characteristics. They are not consistent with being a follower of the Lord Jesus.

malice -- Literally "with all evil" or wickedness, κακίᾳ kakia, G2549. Every sort of evil is to be put away, and you are to manifest only that which is good.

"Malice" is the secret root of all: "fires fed within, and not appearing to by-standers from without, are the most formidable" [CHRYSOSTOM].

Verse 32

Ephesians 4:32

Positive side of the proceeding verse.

Be -- From the Greek sentence struture the enphasis is on the verb γίνεσθε, Present imperative, "you become and keep on becoming" G1096, (V-PNM-2P) "this is what you are to become" --‘Show yourselves in thought, word and deed, and live according to your true nature as Christians.

Be kind -- Mild, courteous, pleasant, polite, helpful, χρηστοὶ chrēstoi. G5543, 1 Peter 3:8.

[see 4x6 file card-WG]

to one another -- εις G1519 PREP to αλληλους one to another G240 C-APM

tenderhearted -- Compassionate and understanding. Having a heart disposed to pity and compassion, and especially disposed to show kindness to the faults of erring brethren; for so the connection demands.

forgiving one another -- Matthew 6:12.

ἑαυτοῖς. The change from εἰς ἀλλήλους in the opening phrase should be noticed, but as Robinson shows (after Blass, Gr. N.T. § 48, 49) too much must not be made of it. The same change is found in Colossians 3:13; Colossians 3:16; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 Peter 4:10 and Luke 23:12. Certainly in this last passage the change can only be due to the love of variety. - CBSC

God in Christ [God for Christ’s sake] -- The Greek, is "God in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is in Christ that God vouchsafes forgiveness to us. It cost God the death of His Son, as man, to forgive us. It costs us nothing to forgive our fellow man.

even as -- God hath shown Himself "kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to you"; it is but just that you in turn shall be so to your fellow men, who have not erred against you in the degree that you have erred against God (Matthew 18:33). - JFB

as God in Christ forgive you -- God, on account of Christ’s death as the sacrifice for sin making atonement our our behalf has forgiving us, and so we also should be forgiving of other’s transgressions toward us. God’s example of being "forgiving" is ours to imitate.

The reason for these positive commands is that in Christ God is kind (Ephesians 2:7), compassionate (Mark 1:41), and gracious (Romans 8:32) to believers. - BKC

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Ephesians 4". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/ephesians-4.html. 2021.
 
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