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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Ephesians 4

Verse 1

Wherewith ye were called (ης εκληθητε). Attraction of the relative ης to the genitive of the antecedent κλησεως (calling) from the cognate accusative ην with εκληθητε (first aorist passive indicative of καλεω, to call. For the list of virtues here see Colossians 3:12. To ανεχομενο αλληλων (Colossians 3:13) Paul here adds "in love" (εν αγαπη), singled out in Colossians 3:14.

Verse 3

The unity (την ενοτητα). Late and rare word (from εις, one), in Aristotle and Plutarch, though in N.T. only here and verse Ephesians 4:13.

In the bond of peace (εν τω συνδεσμω της ειρηνης). In Colossians 3:14 αγαπη (love) is the συνδεσμος (bond). But there is no peace without love (verse Ephesians 4:2).

Verse 4

One body (εν σωμα). One mystical body of Christ (the spiritual church or kingdom, cf. Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:16).

One Spirit (εν πνευμα). One Holy Spirit, grammatical neuter gender (not to be referred to by "it," but by "he").

In one hope (εν μια ελπιδ). The same hope as a result of their calling for both Jew and Greek as shown in chapter Ephesians 4:2.

Verse 5

One Lord (εις Κυριος). The Lord Jesus Christ and he alone (no series of aeons).

One faith (μια πιστις). One act of trust in Christ, the same for all (Jew or Gentile), one way of being saved.

One baptism (εν βαπτισμα). The result of baptizing (βαπτισμα), while βαπτισμος is the act. Only in the N.T. (βαπτισμος in Josephus) and ecclesiastical writers naturally. See Mark 10:38. There is only one act of baptism for all (Jews and Gentiles) who confess Christ by means of this symbol, not that they are made disciples by this one act, but merely so profess him, put Christ on publicly by this ordinance.

Verse 6

One God and Father of all (εις θεος κα πατηρ παντων). Not a separate God for each nation or religion. One God for all men. See here the Trinity again (Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit).

Who is over all (ο επ παντων),

and through all (κα δια παντων),

and in all (κα εν πασιν). Thus by three prepositions (επι, δια, εν) Paul has endeavoured to express the universal sweep and power of God in men's lives. The pronouns (παντων, παντων, πασιν) can be all masculine, all neuter, or part one or the other. The last "in all" is certainly masculine and probably all are.

Verse 7

According to the measure of the gifts of Christ (κατα το μετρον της δωρεας του Χριστου). Each gets the gift that Christ has to bestow for his special case. See 1 Corinthians 12:4; Romans 12:4-6.

Verse 8

Wherefore he saith (διο λεγε). As a confirmation of what Paul has said. No subject is expressed in the Greek and commentators argue whether it should be ο θεος (God) or η γραφη (Scripture). But it comes to God after all. See Acts 2:17. The quotation is from Psalms 68:18, a Messianic Psalm of victory which Paul adapts and interprets for Christ's triumph over death.

He led captivity captive (ηιχμαλωτευσεν αιχμαλωσιαν). Cognate accusative of αιχμαλωσιαν, late word, in N.T. only here and Revelation 13:10. The verb also (αιχμαλωτευω) is from the old word αιχμαλωτος, captive in war (in N.T. only in Luke 4:18), in LXX and only here in N.T.

Verse 9

Now this (το δε). Paul picks out the verb αναβας (second aorist active participle of αναβαινω, to go up), changes its form to ανεβη (second aorist indicative), and points the article (το) at it. Then he concludes that it implied a previous καταβας (coming down).

Into the lower parts of the earth (εις τα κατωτερα της γης). If the αναβας is the Ascension of Christ, then the καταβας would be the Descent (Incarnation) to earth and της γης would be the genitive of apposition. What follows in verse Ephesians 4:10 argues for this view. Otherwise one must think of the death of Christ (the descent into Hades of Acts 2:31).

Verse 10

Is the same also (αυτος εστιν). Rather, "the one who came down (ο καταβας, the Incarnation) is himself also the one who ascended (ο αναβας, the Ascension)."

Far above (υπερανω). See Ephesians 1:21.

All the heavens (παντων των ουρανων). Ablative case after υπερανω. For the plural used of Christ's ascent see Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 7:27. Whether Paul has in mind the Jewish notion of a graded heaven like the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2 or the seven heavens idea one does not know.

That he might fill all things (ινα πληρωση τα παντα). This purpose we can understand, the supremacy of Christ (Colossians 2:9).

Verse 11

And he gave (κα αυτος εδωκεν). First aorist active indicative of διδωμ. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul uses εθετο (more common verb, appointed), but here repeats εδωκεν from the quotation in verse Ephesians 4:8. There are four groups (τους μεν, τους δε three times, as the direct object of εδωκεν). The titles are in the predicate accusative (αποστολουσ, προφητασ, ποιμενας κα διδασκαλους). Each of these words occurs in 1 Corinthians 12:28 (which see for discussion) except ποιμενας (shepherds). This word ποιμην is from a root meaning to protect. Jesus said the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11) and called himself the Good Shepherd. In Hebrews 13:20 Christ is the Great Shepherd (cf. 1 Peter 2:25). Only here are preachers termed shepherds (Latin pastores) in the N.T. But the verb ποιμαινω, to shepherd, is employed by Jesus to Peter (John 21:16), by Peter to other ministers (1 Peter 5:2), by Paul to the elders (bishops) of Ephesus (Acts 20:28). Here Paul groups "shepherds and teachers" together. All these gifts can be found in one man, though not always. Some have only one.

Verse 12

For the perfecting (προς τον καταρτισμον). Late and rare word (in Galen in medical sense, in papyri for house-furnishing), only here in N.T., though καταρτισις in 2 Corinthians 13:9, both from καταρτιζω, to mend (Matthew 4:21; Galatians 6:1). "For the mending (repair) of the saints."

Unto the building up (εις οικοδομην). See Ephesians 2:21. This is the ultimate goal in all these varied gifts, "building up."

Verse 13

Till we all attain (μεχρ καταντησωμεν ο παντες). Temporal clause with purpose idea with μεχρ and the first aorist active subjunctive of κατανταω, late verb, to come down to the goal (Philippians 3:11). "The whole" including every individual. Hence the need of so many gifts.

Unto the unity of the faith (εις την ενοτητα της πιστεως). "Unto oneness of faith" (of trust) in Christ (verse Ephesians 4:3) which the Gnostics were disturbing.

And of the knowledge of the Son of God (κα της επιγνωσεως του υιου του θεου). Three genitives in a chain dependent also on την ενοτητα, "the oneness of full (επι-) knowledge of the Son of God," in opposition to the Gnostic vagaries.

Unto a full-grown man (εις ανδρα τελειον). Same figure as in Ephesians 2:15 and τελειος in sense of adult as opposed to νηπιο (infants) in Ephesians 4:14.

Unto the measure of the stature (εις μετρον ηλικιας). So apparently ηλικια here as in Luke 2:52, not age (John 9:21). Boys rejoice in gaining the height of a man. But Paul adds to this idea "the fulness of Christ" (του πληρωματος του Χριστου), like "the fulness of God" in Ephesians 3:19. And yet some actually profess to be "perfect" with a standard like this to measure by! No pastor has finished his work when the sheep fall so far short of the goal.

Verse 14

That we may be no longer children (ινα μηκετ ωμεν νηπιο). Negative final clause with present subjunctive. Some Christians are quite content to remain "babes" in Christ and never cut their eye-teeth (Hebrews 5:11-14), the victims of every charlatan who comes along.

Tossed to and fro (κλυδωνιζομενο). Present passive participle of κλυδωνιζομα, late verb from κλυδων (wave, James 1:6), to be agitated by the waves, in LXX, only here in N.T. One example in Vettius Valens.

Carried about (περιφερομενο). Present passive participle of περιφερω, old verb, to carry round, whirled round "by every wind (ανεμω, instrumental case) of teaching." In some it is all wind, even like a hurricane or a tornado. If not anchored by full knowledge of Christ, folks are at the mercy of these squalls.

By the sleight (εν τη κυβια). "In the deceit," "in the throw of the dice" (κυβια, from κυβος, cube), sometimes cheating.

In craftiness (εν πανουργια). Old word from πανουργος (παν, εργον, any deed, every deed), cleverness, trickiness.

After the wiles of error (προς την μεθοδιαν της πλανης). Μεθοδια is from μεθοδευω (μετα, οδος) to follow after or up, to practise deceit, and occurs nowhere else (Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 6:11) save in late papyri in the sense of method. The word πλανης (wandering like our "planet") adds to the evil idea in the word. Paul has covered the whole ground in this picture of Gnostic error.

Verse 15

In love (εν αγαπη). If truth were always spoken only in love!

May grow into him (αυξησωμεν εις αυτον). Supply ινα and then note the final use of the first aorist active subjunctive. It is the metaphor of verse Ephesians 4:13 (the full-grown man). We are the body and Christ is the Head. We are to grow up to his stature.

Verse 16

From which (εξ ου). Out of which as the source of energy and direction.

Fitly framed (συναρμολογουμενον). See Ephesians 2:21 for this verb.

Through that which every joint supplieth (δια πασης αφης της επιχορηγιας). Literally, "through every joint of the supply." See Colossians 2:19 for αφη and Philippians 1:19 for the late word επιχορηγια (only two examples in N.T.) from επιχορηγεω, to supply (Colossians 2:19).

In due measure (εν μετρω). Just "in measure" in the Greek, but the assumption is that each part of the body functions properly in its own sphere.

Unto the building up of itself (εις οικοδομην εαυτου). Modern knowledge of cell life in the human body greatly strengthens the force of Paul's metaphor. This is the way the body grows by cooperation under the control of the head and all "in love" (εν αγαπη).

Verse 17

That ye no longer walk (μηκετ υμας περιπατειν). Infinitive (present active) in indirect command (not indirect assertion) with accusative υμας of general reference.

In vanity of their mind (εν ματαιοτητ του νοος αυτων). "In emptiness (from ματαιος, late and rare word. See Romans 8:20) of their intellect (νοος, late form for earlier genitive νου, from νους).

Verse 18

Being darkened (εσκοτωμενο οντες). Periphrastic perfect passive participle of σκοτοω, old verb from σκοτος (darkness), in N.T. only here and Revelation 9:2; Revelation 16:10.

In their understanding (τη διανοια). Locative case. Probably διανοια (δια, νους) includes the emotions as well as the intellect (νους). It is possible to take οντες with απηλλοτριωμενο (see Ephesians 2:12) which would then be periphrastic (instead of εσκοτωμενο) perfect passive participle.

From the life of God (της ζωης του θεου). Ablative case ζωης after απηλλοτριωμενο (Ephesians 2:12).

Because of the ignorance (δια την αγνοιαν). Old word from αγνοεω, not to know. Rare in N.T. See Acts 3:17.

Hardening (πωρωσιν). Late medical term (Hippocrates) for callous hardening. Only other N.T. examples are Mark 3:5; Romans 11:25.

Verse 19

Being past feeling (απηλγηκοτες). Perfect active participle of απαλγεω, old word to cease to feel pain, only here in N.T.

To lasciviousness (τη ασελγεια). Unbridled lust as in 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19.

To work all uncleanness (εις εργασιαν ακαθαρσιας πασης). Perhaps prostitution, "for a trading (or work) in all uncleanness." Certainly Corinth and Ephesus could qualify for this charge.

With greediness (εν πλεονεξια). From πλεονεκτης, one who always wants more whether money or sexual indulgence as here. The two vices are often connected in the N.T.

Verse 20

But ye did not so learn Christ (Hυμεις δε ουχ ουτως εμαθετε τον Χριστον). In sharp contrast to pagan life (ουτως). Second aorist active indicative of μανθανω.

Verse 21

If so be that (ε γε). "If indeed." Condition of first class with aorist indicatives here, assumed to be true (ηκουσατε κα εδιδαχθητε).

Even as truth is in Jesus (καθως εστιν αληθεια εν τω Ιησου). It is not clear what Paul's precise idea is here. The Cerinthian Gnostics did distinguish between the man Jesus and the aeon Christ. Paul here identifies Christ (verse Ephesians 4:20) and Jesus (verse Ephesians 4:21). At any rate he flatly affirms that there is "truth in Jesus" which is in direct opposition to the heathen manner of life and which is further explained by the epexegetical infinitives that follow (αποθεσθαι, ανανεουσθα δε, κα ενδυσασθα).

Verse 22

That ye put away (αποθεσθα). Second aorist middle infinitive of αποτιθημ with the metaphor of putting off clothing or habits as αποθεσθε in Colossians 3:8 (which see) with the same addition of "the old man" (τον παλαιον ανθρωπον) as in Colossians 3:9. For αναστροφην (manner of life) see Galatians 1:13.

Which waxeth corrupt (τον φθειρομενον). Either present middle or passive participle of φθειρω, but it is a process of corruption (worse and worse).

Verse 23

That ye be renewed (ανανεουσθα). Present passive infinitive (epexegetical, like αποθεσθα, of αληθεια εν τω Ιησου) and to be compared with ανακαινουμενον in Colossians 3:10. It is an old verb, ανανεοω, to make new (young) again; though only here in N.T.

The spirit (τω πνευματ). Not the Holy Spirit, but the human spirit.

Verse 24

Put on (ενδυσασθα). First aorist middle infinitive of ενδυω (-νω), for which see Colossians 3:10.

The new man (τον καινον ανθρωπον). "The brand-new (see Ephesians 2:15) man," though τον νεον in Colossians 3:10.

After God (κατα θεον). After the pattern God, the new birth, the new life in Christ, destined to be like God in the end (Romans 8:29).

Verse 25

Wherefore (διο). Because of putting off the old man, and putting on the new man.

Putting away (αποθεμενο). Second aorist middle participle of αποτιθημ (verse Ephesians 4:22).

Lying (ψευδος),

truth (αληθειαν) in direct contrast.

Each one (εκαστος). Partitive apposition with λαλειτε. See Colossians 3:8 μη ψευδεσθε.

Verse 26

Be ye angry and sin not (οργιζεσθε κα μη αμαρτανετε). Permissive imperative, not a command to be angry. Prohibition against sinning as the peril in anger. Quotation from Psalms 4:4.

Let not the sun go down upon your wrath (ο ηλιος μη επιδυετω επ παροργισμω). Danger in settled mood of anger. Παροργισμος (provocation), from παροργιζω, to exasperate to anger, occurs only in LXX and here in N.T.

Verse 27

Neither give place to the devil (μηδε διδοτε τοπον τω διαβολω). Present active imperative in prohibition, either stop doing it or do not have the habit. See Romans 12:19 for this idiom.

Verse 28

Steal no more (μηκετ κλεπτετω). Clearly here, cease stealing (present active imperative with μηκετ).

The thing that is good (το αγαθον). "The good thing" opposed to his stealing and "with his hands" (ταις χερσιν, instrumental case) that did the stealing. See 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Even unemployment is no excuse for stealing.

To give (μεταδιδονα). Present active infinitive of μεταδιδωμ, to share with one.

Verse 29

Corrupt (σαπρος). Rotten, putrid, like fruit (Matthew 7:17), fish (Matthew 13:48), here the opposite of αγαθος (good).

For edifying as the need may be (προς οικοδομην της χρειας). "For the build-up of the need," "for supplying help when there is need." Let no other words come out.

That it may give (ινα δω). For this elliptical use of ινα see on Ephesians 5:33.

Verse 30

Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God (μη λυπειτε το πνευμα το αγιον του θεου). "Cease grieving" or "do not have the habit of grieving." Who of us has not sometimes grieved the Holy Spirit?

In whom (εν ω). Not "in which."

Ye were sealed (εσφραγισθητε). See Ephesians 1:13 for this verb, and Ephesians 1:14 for απολυτρωσεως, the day when final redemption is realized.

Verse 31

Bitterness (πικρια). Old word from πικρος (bitter), in N.T. only here and Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14; Hebrews 12:15.

Clamour (κραυγη). Old word for outcry (Matthew 25:6; Luke 1:42). See Colossians 3:8 for the other words.

Be put away (αρθητω). First aorist passive imperative of αιρω, old verb, to pick up and carry away, to make a clean sweep.

Verse 32

Be ye kind to one another (γινεσθε εις αλληλους χρηστο). Present middle imperative of γινομα, "keep on becoming kind (χρηστος, used of God in Romans 2:4) toward one another." See Colossians 3:12.

Tenderhearted (ευσπλαγχνο). Late word (ευ, σπλαγχνα) once in Hippocrates, in LXX, here and 1 Peter 3:8 in N.T.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Ephesians 4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/ephesians-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.