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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Ephesians 4

Verse 1

In the Lord. See on Philippians 1:14.

Verse 2

Lowiness - meekness. See on Matthew 11:29; Matthew 5:5.

Long - suffering. See on James 5:7.

Forbearing [ανεχομενοι] . See on Luke 9:41.

Verse 3

Endeavoring [σπουδαζοντες] . Not strong enough. Originally the verb means to make haste. So the kindred noun spoudh haste, Mark 6:25; Luke 1:39. Hence diligence. Rev., here, giving diligence.

To keep [τηρειν] . See on reserved, 1 Peter 1:4.

Unity of the Spirit. Wrought by the Holy Spirit.

Bond of peace. The bond which is peace. Compare ch. 2 14, our peace - made both one. Christ, our peace, is thus a bond of peace. Others, however, treat in the bond as parallel with in love of ver. 2, and cite Colossians 3:14, "love the bond of perfectness."

Verse 4

The connection with the preceding verses is as follows : I exhort you to unity, for you stand related to the Church, which is one body in Christ; to the one Spirit who informs it; to the one hope which your calling inspires; to the one Lord, Christ, in whom you believe with one common faith, and receive one common sign of that faith, baptism. Above all, to the one God and Father.

Body - Spirit. The body is the invisible Church, the mystical body of Christ : the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Pneuma spirit, is never used in the New Testament of temper or disposition.

Even as. To the facts of one body and one Spirit corresponds the fact of their calling in one hope. Compare Colossians 3:15.

In one hope of your calling [εν μια ελπιδι της κλησεως υμων] . In, not by. Their calling took place in the one hope as its moral element or sphere, since they were called to fellowship with Christ who is the one object and the one inspirer of hope. Compare called in peace, 1 Corinthians 7:15; in sanctification, 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (Rev.). Hope here is not the object but the principle of hope. The phrase hope of your calling signifies hope which is characteristic of God 's call to salvation, and is engendered by it. See on ch. Ephesians 1:18.

Verse 5

Faith. The principle of faith; not that which is believed - the body of Christian doctrine, which does not promote unity. See on Acts 6:7. Baptism. The external sign of faith, but of no significance without the Lord and the faith. Baptism is emphasized instead of the Eucharist, because the latter assumes and recognizes unity as an established fact; while faith and baptism precede that fact, and are essential to it. Baptism, moreover, is not administered to the Church as a body, but to individuals, and therefore emphasizes the exhortation to each member to be in vital union with the whole body.

Verse 6

One God and Father. The fundamental ground of unity. Note the climax : One Church, one Christ, one God.

Above all [επι παντων] . Rev, over : as ruler.

Through - in [δια - εν] . Through, pervading : in, indwelling. Compare ch. Ephesians 2:22; Ephesians 3:17.

Verse 7

Every one [ενι εκαστω] . Rev., each. From the Church as a whole, he passes to its individual members. In the general unity the individual is not overlooked, and unity is consistent with variety of gifts and offices. Grace [η χαρις] . The article, omitted by A. V., is important : the one grace of God, manifesting itself in the different gifts.

Verse 8

Wherefore. Confirming by Scripture what has just been said.

When He ascended, etc. Quoted from Psalms 68:19 (LXX Psalms 67:18). The Hebrew reads : "Ascending to the height thou didst lead captive captivity, and received gifts in man." So Sept. Paul changes thou didst lead, didst receive, into he lead and he gave. The Psalm is Messianic, a hymn of victory in which God is praised for victory and deliverance. It is freely adapted by Paul, who regards its substance rather than its letter, and uses it as an expression of the divine triumph as fulfilled in Christ 's victory over death and sin.

Ascended. The ascent of Jehovah is realized in Christ 's ascent into heaven.

Captivity. Abstract for the body of captives. See on Luke 4:18. The captives are not the redeemed, but the enemies of Christ 's kingdom, Satan, Sin, and Death. Compare on Colossians 2:15, and 2 Corinthians 2:14. Gave. In the Hebrew and Septuagint, received or took; but with the sense received in order to distribute among men. Compare Genesis 14:9, take for me : Genesis 18:5, I will fetch for you : Exodus 27:20, bring thee, i e., take and present to thee : Acts 2:33, "Having received of the Father, etc., He hath shed forth." Thus Paul interprets the received of the Old Testament. His point is the distribution of grace by Christ in varied measure to individuals. He confirms this by Scripture, seeing in the Jehovah of this Old - Testament passage the Christ of the New Testament - one Redeemer under both covenants - and applying the Psalmist's address to Christ who distributes the results of His victory among His loyal subjects. These results are enumerated in ver. 11 sqq.

Verse 9

Now that He ascended. vers. 9 and 10 are parenthetical, showing what the ascension of Christ presupposes. By descending into the depths and ascending above all, He entered upon His function of filling the whole universe, in virtue of which function He distributes gifts to men. See ch. Ephesians 1:23. Rev., properly, inserts this, thus giving the force of the article which calls attention to the fact of ascension alluded to in the quotation. "Now the or this 'He ascended." ' What is it but. What does it imply?

Descended first [και κατεβη] . His ascent implies a previous descent. A. V. reads first, following the Tex. Rec. prwton. Rev., correctly, He also descended. Compare John 3:13.

The lower parts of the earth [τα κατωτερα μερη της γης] . The under world. The reference is to Christ 's descent into Hades. Some give the words a comparative force, deeper than the earth.

Verse 10

Fill all things. Compare ch. 1 23.

Verse 11

The gifts specified.

He gave. He is emphatic. It is He that gave. Compare given in ver. 7. Apostles. Properly, as apostles, or to be apostles. Christ 's ministers are gifts to His people. Compare 1 Corinthians 3:5, "ministers as the Lord gave;" also 1 Corinthians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 3:22. The distinguishing features of an apostle were, a commission directly from Christ : being a witness of the resurrection : special inspiration : supreme authority : accrediting by miracles : unlimited commission to preach and to found churches.

Prophets. Preachers and expounders under the immediate influence of the Spirit, and thus distinguished from teachers. 1 Corinthians 12:10. Evangelists. Traveling missionaries.

Pastors and teachers. Pastors or shepherds. The verb poimainw to tend as a shepherd, is often used in this sense. See on 1 Peter 5:2; Matthew 2:6. The omission of the article from teachers seems to indicate that pastors and teachers are included under one class. The two belong together. No man is fit to be a pastor who cannot also teach, and the teacher needs the knowledge which pastoral experience gives.

Verse 12

For the perfecting [προς τον καταρτισμον] . Only here in the New Testament. In classical Greek of refitting a ship or setting a bone. The preposition for denotes the ultimate purpose. Ministering and building are means to this end. Hence its emphatic position in the sentence. For perfecting, see on mending, Matthew 4:21; perfected, Matthew 21:16; Luke 6:40; 1 Peter 5:10. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:10; Hebrews 13:21. The radical idea of adjustment is brought out in ver. 13.

For the work of the ministry [εις εργον διακονιας] . Rev., much better, unto the work of ministering. Eijv unto, marks the immediate purpose of the gift. He gave apostles, etc., unto the work of ministering and building, for the perfecting, etc. The prevailing sense of diakonia ministry, in the New Testament, is spiritual service of an official character. See Acts 1:25; Acts 6:4; Acts 20:24; Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:5.

Edifying [οικοδομην] . Rev., building up. See on Acts 20:32. Notice the combination of perfecting and building. Building defines the nature of the work of ministry, and perfecting comes through a process.

Verse 13

Till [μεχρι] . Specifying the time up to which this ministry and impartation of gifts are to last.

Come [καταντησωμεν] . Arrive at, as a goal. See Acts 16:1; Acts 18:19; Acts 25:13. Rev., attain.

In the unity [εις] . Rev., correctly, unto. Compare one faith, ver. 5. Knowledge [της επιγνωσεως] . The full knowledge. Not identical with faith, since the article puts it as a distinct conception; but related to faith. Compare Philippians 3:9, Philippians 3:10; 1 John 4:16. "Christians are not to be informed merely on different sections of truth and erring through defective information on other points, but they are to be characterized by the completeness and harmony of their ideas of the power, work, history, and glory of the Son of God" (Eadie).

Of the Son of God. Belongs to both faith and knowledge. Faith in Him, knowledge of Him.

Perfect [τελειον] . Rev., full grown. See on 1 Corinthians 2:6.

Measure of the stature [μετρον ηλικιας] . Defining perfect man. For stature, see on Luke 12:25. The word is rendered age, John 9:21, John 9:23; Hebrews 11:11. So here, by some, the age when the fullness of Christ is received. But fullness and grow up (ver. 15) suggest rather the idea of magnitude.

Fullness of Christ. Which belongs to Christ and is imparted by Him. See John 1:16, and compare ch. 3 19.

Verse 14

Children [νηπιοι] . See on 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 3:1. As to the connection, ver. 13 states the ultimate goal of christian training; ver. 14 that which is pursued with a view to the attainment of that goal. Ver. 14 is subordinate to ver. 13, as is shown by the retention of the same figure, and is remotely dependent on vers 11, 12. The remote end, ver. 13, is placed before the more immediate one, as in ver. 12. See note.

Tossed to and fro [κλυδωνιζομενοι] . Only here in the New Testament. See on wave, James 1:6. For Paul 's use of nautical metaphors, see on Philippians 1:23. Compare Plato : "Socrates. In a ship, if a man having the power to do what he likes, has no intelligence or skill in navigation, do you see what will happen to him and to his fellow - sailors ? Alcibiades. Yes, I see that they will all perish" (" Alcibiades, " 1, 135).

Wind of doctrine. Or of the teaching. The different teachings of philosophers or of religious quacks are represented as winds, blowing the unstable soul in every direction.

Sleight [κυβεια] . Only here in the New Testament. From kubov a cube or die. Lit., dice - playing.

Cunning craftiness [πανουργια] . See on Luke 20:23. The craft which gamblers use.

Whereby they lie in wait to deceive [προς την μεθοδειαν της πλανης] . Lit., tending to the system of error. Rev., after the wiles of error. Meqodeia means a deliberate planning or system. Of error includes the idea of deceit or delusion. See Matthew 27:64; Romans 1:27; 2 Peter 2:18; 2 Peter 3:17; James 5:20. Error organizes. It has its systems and its logic. Ellicott remarks that here it is almost personified.

Verse 15

Speaking the truth [αληθευοντες] . Only here and Galatians 4:16. In classical Greek it means to be true, to arrive at truth, and to speak truth. Here the idea is rather that of being or walking in truth. Rev., in margin, dealing truly.

In love. Some connect with grow up. The parallel construction, tossed and carried about in the sleight, in craftiness, speaking truth in love, favors the A. V. and Rev., as does the awkwardness of speaking truth standing alone. Moreover, Paul 's habit is to subjoin, and not to prefix, his qualifying clauses.

Verse 16

Fitly joined - compacted [συναρμολογουμενον - συμβιβαζομενον] . The present participles denote present, continuous progress. The two participles represent respectively the ideas of harmony or adaptation and compactness or solidity. See on Acts 9:22, and Colossians 2:2.

By that which every joint supplieth [δια πασης αφης της επιχορηγιας] . Lit., through every joint of the supply. For joint, see on Colossians 2:19; for supply, see on 2 Peter 1:5. The supply specifies it as peculiarly Christ 's. The phrase joint of the supply signifies joint whose office or purpose it is to supply. Construe with the two participles, as Colossians 2:19.

According to the working. Construe with maketh increase.

In the measure of every part. According as each part works in its own proper measure.

Maketh. Notice the peculiar phrase; the whole body maketh increase of the body. It is a living organism, and its growth is produced by vital power within itself.

In love. As the element in which the upbuilding takes place. Compare ch. 3 17 - 19.

Verse 17

This - therefore. Referring to what follows. Therefore, resuming the exhortation of vers. 1 - 3.

Testify. Solemnly declare. Compare Acts 20:26; Galatians 5:3.

Other Gentiles. Omit other.

Vanity of their mind [ματαιοτητι του νοος αυτων] . For vanity see on Romans 1:21; Romans 8:20. For mind, on Romans 7:23.

Verse 18

Understanding [διανοια] . See on Luke 1:51. The moral understanding.

Life of God [ζωης] . See on John 1:4. The life which God bestows; life in Christ. See 1 John 5:11.

Through the ignorance. The cause of the alienation. Not to be construed with darkened, since ignorance is the effect, and not the cause, of the darkness of the understanding Which is in them [την ουσαν εν αυτοις] . The participle of the substantive verb expresses the deep - seated, indwelling character of the ignorance.

Hardening [πωρωσιν] . See on Mark 3:5. Dependent, like ignorance, on allienated. Arrange the whole clause thus : The Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart.

Verse 19

Who [οιτινες] . Explanatory and classifying : men of the class which. Being past feeling [απηλγηκοτες] . Only here in the New Testament. Lit, the verb means to cease from feeling pain. Hence to be apathetic. Have given themselves over [παρεδωκαν] . See on Matthew 4:12; Matthew 11:27; Matthew 26:2; Mark 4:29; Luke 1:2; 1 Peter 2:23. The verb is frequently used of Christ giving Himself for the world. Romans 4:25; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:5, Ephesians 5:25. It indicates a complete surrender. Meyer says, "with frightful emphasis." Where men persistently give themselves up to evil, God gives them up to its power. See Romans 1:24.

Lasciviousness [ασελγεια] . See on Mark 7:22.

To work [εις εργασιαν] . Lit., to a working. In Acts 19:25, used of a trade. Not precisely in this sense here, yet with a shade of it. They gave themselves up as to the prosecution of a business. The eijv unto is very forcible.

With greediness [εν πλεονεξια] . The noun commonly rendered covetousness : in an eager grasping after more and more uncleanness. Not with, but in, as the state of mind in which they wrought evil.

Verse 20

Have not learned [ουχ εμαθετε] . Rev., giving the force of the aorist tense, did not learn; at the time of your conversion, when you were instructed in Christ 's precepts. The phrase learn Christ occurs nowhere else. Christ does not stand for the doctrine of Christ; but Christ is the subject of His own message. See ver. 21.

Verse 21

If so be that ye heard Him [ει γε αυτον ηκουσατε] . The indicative mood implies the truth of the supposition : if ye heard as ye did. Him is emphatic. If it was Him that ye heard. Compare John 10:27.

By Him [εν αυτω] . Rev., correctly, in Him. In fellowship with. As the truth is in Jesus [καθως εστιν αληθεια εν τω ιησου] . As corresponds with not so. Ye did not in such a manner learn Christ if ye were taught in such a manner as is truth, etc. Render, as Rev., as truth is in Jesus. Schaff paraphrases : "If you were taught so that what you received is true as embodied in the personal Savior." " Taught in the lines of eternal fact and spiritual reality which meet in him " [μουλε] . Jesus is used rather than Christ : the historical rather than the official name. The life of Christianity consists in believing fellowship with the historic Jesus, who is the Christ of prophecy.

Verse 22

That ye put away. Dependent upon ye were taught, and specifying the purport of the teaching.

The old man. See on Romans 6:6. Compare Colossians 3:9.

Which is corrupt [τον φθειρομενον] . The A. V. misses the force of the participle. The verb is passive, which is being corrupted, 170 and marks the progressive condition of corruption which characterizes "the old man." Rev., correctly, waxeth corrupt.

According to the deceitful lusts [κατα τας επιθυμιας της απατης] . Rev., correctly, lusts of deceit. On the vicious rendering of similar phrases in A. V., see on ch. Ephesians 1:19. Deceit is personified.

Verse 23

In the spirit of your mind [τω πνευματι του νοος υμων] . The spirit is the human spirit, having its seat in and directing the mind. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is never designated so as that man appears as the subject of the Spirit. We have Spirit of adoption, of holiness, of God, but never Holy Spirit of man. Furthermore, the apostle 's object is to set forth the moral self - activity of the christian life. Hence pneuma spirit, is here the higher life - principle in man by which the human reason, viewed on its moral side - the organ of moral thinking and knowing is informed. The renewal takes place, not in the mind, but in the spirit of it. "The change is not in mind psychologically, either in its essence or in its operation; and neither is it in the mind as if it were a superficial change of opinion either on points of doctrine or practice : but it is in the spirit of the mind; in that which gives mind both its bent and its materials of thought. It is not simply in the spirit as if it lay there in dim and mystic quietude; but it is in the spirit of the mind; in the power which, when changed itself, radically alters the entire sphere and business of the inner mechanism" (Eadie).

Verse 24

New man [καινον] . See on Matthew 26:29.

Created [κτισθεντα] . See on ch. Ephesians 2:10.

In righteousness and true holiness [εν δικιαιοσυνη και οσιοτητι της αληθειας] . Rev., correctly, in righteousness and holiness of truth. See on Luke 1:75. Truth. Opposed to deceit, ver. 22, and likewise personified. Righteousness and holiness are attributes of truth.

Verse 25

Falsehood [το ψευδος] . Lit., the lie; used abstractly. See on John 8:44.

Members one of another. Compare Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Chrysostom says : "Let not the eye lie to the foot, nor the foot to the eye. If there be a deep pit, and its mouth covered with reeds shall present to the eye the appearance of solid ground, will not the eye use the foot to ascertain whether it is hollow underneath, or whether it is firm and resists? Will the foot tell a lie, and not the truth as it is? And what, again, if the eye were to spy a serpent or a wild beast, will it lie to the foot ?"

Verse 26

Be ye angry and sin not [οργιζεσθε και μη αμαρτανετε] . Cited from Psalms 4:5, after the Septuagint. Hebrew, stand in awe and sin not. Righteous anger is commanded, not merely permitted.

Wrath [παροργισμω] Irritation, exasperation; something not so enduring as ojrgh anger, which denotes a deep - seated sentiment. See on John 3:36.

Verse 27

Place. Room.

Verse 29

Corrupt [σαπρος] . See on Luke 6:43, and Colossians 4:6.

That which is good [ει τις αγαθος] . Lit., if any is good. Discourse that is good, whatever it be.

To the use of edifying [προς οικοδομην της χρειας] . Lit., for the building up of the need. Rev., edifying as the need may be. Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

Verse 31

Bitterness [πικρια] Bitter frame of mind Wrath. What is commanded in ver. 26 is here forbidden, because viewed simply on the side of human passion.

Anger [θυμος] Violent outbreak. See on John 3:36; James 5:7.

Clamor [κραυγη] Outward manifestation of anger in vociferation or brawling.

Evil - speaking [βλασφημια] . See on Mark 7:22.

Malice [κακια] . The root of all the rest. See on James 1:21.

Verse 32

Be ye [γινεσθε] . Lit., become, as following the putting away of anger, etc.

Kind [χρηστοι] . See on easy, Matthew 11:30; gracious, 1 Peter 2:3. Each other [εαυτοις] Lit., yourselves. See on Colossians 3:13. "Doing as a body for yourselves that which God did once for you all" (Alford).

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/ephesians-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.