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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 4

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-32

Ephesians 4:1-2 . I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you a pathetic argument, for if I hear of discords among you it will add affliction to my bonds; that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. We are called with a holy calling, according to his purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:9. We are called to come out from among the wicked, and to regard the earth only as the land of our pilgrimage. 2 Corinthians 6:17. We are called with a high and holy calling as the sons of God, and to eternal glory in Christ Jesus. What manner of persons then ought we to be! Let us walk worthy of the Lord in all lowliness of mind, as in his sight, and with meekness and forbearance in our behaviour towards men. Galatians 5:22-24.

Ephesians 4:3 . Endeavouring, studying, and being solicitous to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Whence arose the schisms in the primitive church? From proud men, who aimed at preĆ«minence, or loved some peculiar opinion more than the peace of the church, and more than all the other doctrines of the gospel. Whence arise our modern schisms and discords? From the same spirit. One having committed sin, will not bear the rod of discipline. Another aims at preferment by flattery, and by unlawful means to the injury of modest and more deserving men. How unlike the primitive bishop, dragged trembling from his study to the church to be invested with the sacred charge. The Moseses, whom the Lord finds keeping their father’s flock, and the Elishas, ploughing with their father’s oxen, make the best pastors.

Ephesians 4:4 . There is one body and one Spirit. It is therefore as unnatural to sin against the church as for a man to afflict his own person. It is the Holy Spirit that actuates the body, adorning it with gifts and graces, and making the gospel efficacious. It is One Lord Christ, head of the living and the dead; one faith, delivered to the saints, Judges 1:3; and one Spirit, baptizing us all, whether jews or gentiles, into one body. The disturbers of religious society should therefore consider that they sin not only against the brethren, but against heaven and earth.

Ephesians 4:6 . One God and Father of all, as illustrated in 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Ephesians 4:8 . And gave gifts to men. To men once rebellious, to the gentiles, some of whom were called to be apostles, prophets, and evangelical men of the first order.

Ephesians 4:10 . He ascended up far above all heavens, as described in Acts 1:9.

Ephesians 4:11 . He gave some, apostles. Dr. Hammond has taken great pains to distinguish the officers of the church. See his notes on John 20:1, 1 Corinthians 12:28. They are here classed under five heads. The apostles represented Jesus Christ. They prayed sinners in Christ’s stead to be reconciled unto God. The prophets are placed next, because they resembled the ancient prophets and the holy apostles in speaking wholly from the Spirit, as Theophylact observes. Judas, Silas, and Agabus were of this class. The didascaloi or doctors are the third. These were preachers, presbyters, or bishops who governed the churches. Evangelists were writers of the gospel as well as preachers; and they composed good books for the edification of the church. The teachers were deacons, catechists, and other laborious persons in word and doctrine. On the subject of bishops and presbyters, Jerome, on this place, affirms, that they were originally the same, the one being a title of age, the other of dignity. On Titus 1:6, he resumes the subject at some length, to the same effect. But Chrysostom makes this distinction, that to the presbyters was committed the care of the churches, but to the bishops the care of the presbyters was conceded.

Ephesians 4:13 . Till we all come to a perfect man, in age, in wisdom, and christian experience; or to use the words of St. John, till we become fathers in Christ, having known him that is from the beginning. Those are fathers, the support and ornament of the church, who are not tossed about with every novelty of doctrine, but stand as pillars in the temple of God.

Ephesians 4:16 . From whom the whole body fitly joined together. Christ, the great architect, enthroned in heaven, superintends the elevation of his living temple; his plan is perfect, and his work is before him. The stones, very rough when first raised from the quarry, are polished and fitted for high and important situations, which they are intended to occupy. This is the house of his glory; he will dwell in it for ever.

Ephesians 4:17-19 . Henceforth walk not as other gentiles. This he said in the Lord, by the special impulse of his Spirit; for the prophets knew the thoughts of their own minds from the dictates of the Spirit of God. Christians are required not to follow after lying vanities, the pleasures and the riches of the world. But the term, vanity, is often restricted to idolatry, for idols are only the work of men. Blinded by crimes, and alienated from God, the great mass of the heathen went on in sin till they had no hope of mercy, and then they launched the reins of passion and appetite. Herodotus, in many places, when describing their feasts, confirms all that Paul had said on the demoralised state of the heathen world. Romans 1:26-32. Livy, on the bacchanalians, and Augustine in his city of God, have borne testimony to the same effect.

Ephesians 4:22 . Put off the old man. See notes on Colossians 3:9.

Ephesians 4:26-27 . Be ye angry, and sin not. All strong passions should be reined with a strong arm. Anger must never supersede the laws of love; otherwise anger is madness. It is safer to be angry with one’s self. Neither give place to the devil, to let him enter your heart, and foster enmity, like Esau, for twenty years against your brother.

Ephesians 4:30 . Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Neither by levity, nor foolish conversation; nor by unhallowed tempers of bitterness and wrath, nor by any unholy passion, or criminal reveries of the mind. Quench not the Spirit, when he draws you to secret and public duties. For when the Spirit is grieved, he hides himself as in a cloud, and leaves the offender, in some sort, under his frowns. He must ever be in your heart what he was in the beginning, the Spirit of grace and supplication, the life, the light, and joy of your soul. It is the Spirit of God that adorns you with all the graces of the heavenly family. He seals you with the beautiful image and name of God: and would you mar and deface that image, to indulge in the folly and sin of any evil propensity? Rather keep the seal perfect in all its marks and configurations, till the day when your bodies shall rise from the tomb.


Paul, the most marvellous of men, having illustrated the exaltation of Christ, as filling all things; having declared the power of his grace in turning sinners from the course of this world, even when dead in trespasses and sins, and the great love of God in raising them up to sit in heavenly places; having enlarged on the entire sanctification of our nature, exhorts the Ephesians to walk worthy of their high vocation. Never surely were arguments more strong, or claims more just. And the arguments to them are equally arguments to us. Without this coincidence of conduct with our calling, we violate the concord of the church, for Zion expects all her children to be clothed with salvation, and the members to resemble their head.

In the descent of our Saviour from heaven to be clothed with flesh, and lie in the tomb; and then to reƤscend where he was before, we see the deity and humanity of the Lord disclosed, and made manifest for the conversion of sinners, to gather all mankind from idols to worship the One true God, and to be instructed in one faith, that the whole church of every name and nation might be one in Christ, and worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. He scatters his gifts with great profusion, and makes the glory of Zion like an ever-rising sun. We here see the church under the figure of a living temple, with walls, arches, and pillars that reach to heaven. Apostles and prophets, martyrs and confessors are her gems and costly stones. Her glory obscures the world, and covers the wicked with confusion of face.

On the other hand, the apostle says, “walk not as other gentiles, in the vanity of their minds.” The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, has built his opposition temple, the temple of Mars, of Moloch or Baal, as described by Chaucer, our oldest poet, in an obscure place.

And downward from a hill under a bent,

There stood the temple of Mars armipotent.

There saw I first the darke imagining

Of felonie, and eke the compassing,

The cruell ire red as any glede,

The pickpurse also, and eke the pale drede.

The smiler, with a knife under the cloke,

* The shepen brenning with a blacke smoke,

The treason of the murdering in the bed,

The open war with wounds all be bled,

Conteke with bloody knives, and sharp manase,

All full of chirking was that sorrie place.

* The shepen brenning; that is, the sheepish looking man burning.

While the temple of Satan is covered with the cloud of its own smoke, the Light himself shines on Zion. She is not hid under a “bent,” but is a city set on a hill a city and temple perfect and complete in Christ. Such also was his sacerdotal prayer for all who should believe on him, through the apostles’ word. “That they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:21. Nothing but a sight of God dwelling in his living temple can make the wicked tremble, and draw the contrite to worship at his feet.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ephesians 4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/ephesians-4.html. 1835.
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