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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Ephesians 4

 

 

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Verse 1

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

The practical portion begins here.

Greek order, 'I exhort [ parakaloo (Greek #3870)] you, therefore (seeing that such is your calling of grace, Ephesians 1:1-23; Ephesians 2:1-22; Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 3:14); I, the prisoner in the Lord' (i:e., imprisoned in the Lord's cause: in Ephesians 3:1, "the prisoner of Jesus," the imprisonment is attributed to Him as its author; but here, to union with Him). What the world counted ignominy, he counts honour, glorying in his bonds for Christ more than a king in his diadem (Theodoret). His bonds enforce his exhortation.

Vocation - translate 'calling,' to accord with "called" (Romans 8:28; Romans 8:30; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 5:4). Colossians 3:15 similarly grounds Christian duties on our "calling." The exhortations in this part of the letter rest on realization of the privileges in the former part. Compare Ephesians 4:32 with Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 5:1 with 1:5; 4:30 with 1:13; 5:15 with 1:8.


Verse 2-3

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

Lowliness , [in classic Greek, tapeinophrosunee (Greek #5012) is meanness of spirit: the Gospel elevated the word to express a Christian grace] - namely, esteeming ourselves small, as we are so; the thinking truly, and therefore lowlily, of ourselves (Trench).

Meekness , [ prautees (Greek #4240)] - that spirit in which we accept God's dealings without disputing; also the injuries done by men, patiently, out of the thought that they are permitted by God for the purifying of His people (2 Samuel 16:11 : cf. Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 3:2). A sense of dependence on God is the groundwork (Matthew 11:29). It is only the lowly heart that is also meek (Colossians 3:12-13). As "lowliness and meekness" answer to "forbearing one another in love" (cf. "love," Ephesians 4:15-16), so "long-suffering" ("slow to wrath," James 1:19; forbearance; not immediately punishing a fault) answers to (Ephesians 4:4) "endeavouring [ spoudazontes (Greek #4704), 'zealously giving diligence;' for it needs pains to check the inward feelings when provoked] to keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit (the unity between men of different tempers, which flows from their having the Spirit, who is Himself "one," Ephesians 4:4) in (united in) the bond of peace" (the "bond" by which "peace" is maintained-namely, "love," Colossians 3:14-15) (Bengel); or, "peace" itself is the "bond" uniting the Church members: the element in which the unity is maintained (Ellicott).


Verse 4

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

In the apostles' creed the article as to THE CHURCH follows that as to THE HOLY SPIRIT. To the Trinity naturally is annexed the Church, as the house to its tenant, to God His temple, the state to its founder (Augustine). There is yet to be a Church, not merely potentially, but actually Catholic: then the Church and the world will be co-extensive. Rome sets up a mere man as a visible head, antedating that consummation which Christ, the true visible Head, at His appearing shall first realize. As the "SPIRIT" is here, so the "LORD" (Jesus), Ephesians 4:5, "GOD the Father," Ephesians 4:6. The Trinity is again set forth.

Hope - associated with "the Spirit," the "earnest of our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:13-14). As "faith" is mentioned, Ephesians 4:5, so "hope" here, and "love," Ephesians 4:2. The Holy Spirit, as the common principle of life (Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 2:22), gives to the Church its true unity (1 Corinthians 12:13). Outward uniformity is as yet unattainable; but beginning by having one mind, we shall hereafter have "one body." The true "body" of Christ (all believers of every age) is already "one," as joined to the one Head (Romans 12:5; Colossians 1:24). But its unity is not yet visible, as the Head is not visible; but it shall appear when He shall appear (John 17:21-23; Colossians 3:4). Meanwhile the rule is, 'In essentials, unity; in doubtful questions, liberty; in all things, charity.' There is real unity where both go to heaven under different names; none, when with the same name one goes to heaven, the other to hell. Truth is first: those who reach it will reach unity, because truth is one. Those who seek unity at first may purchase it at the sacrifice of truth, and so of the soul itself.

Of your calling. The one "hope" flowing from our "calling" is the element "IN" which we were "called." The oneness of the Spirit in the Church-the "one body" - is shown by the oneness of our hope. Instead of privileged classes, as under the law a unity of dispensation is the common privilege of Jew and Gentile alike. Spirituality, universality, and unity were designed to characterize the Church: it shall be so at last (Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 11:13; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 14:9).


Verse 5

One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Similarly "faith" and "baptism" (the sacramental seal of faith) are connected (Mark 16:16; Colossians 2:12). "Faith" is not here that which we believe, but the act of believing, the one mean by which all believers in common apprehend the "one Lord." "Baptism" is the one and only visible sacrament whereby we are once for all united to "one Lord" (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27), and incorporated into the "one body." Not the Lord's supper, which implies the matured communion of those already incorporate. Baptism, by its single celebration and individual reference, symbolizes unity; the Lord's supper union (Ellicott). In 1 Corinthians 10:17, where a breach of union was in question, the latter forms the rallying-point (Alford). There is not added, 'One Pope, one council, one form of government.' The Church is one in unity of faith (Ephesians 4:5; Jude 1:3), of origination (Ephesians 2:19-21), of sacraments (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:5), of "hope" (Titus 1:2; 5:4 ), of charity (Ephesians 4:3); unity (not uniformity) of discipline and government: for where there is no order-no ministry with Christ as the Head-there is no Church (Pearson).


Verse 6

One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Above , [ epi (Greek #1909)] - 'over all' (Romans 9:5). The 'one God over all' (in His sovereignty and His grace) is the crowning apex of unity (Ephesians 2:19, end). 'Over, through, in' express God's threefold relation to his creatures.

Through all - by the mediation of Christ, who 'filleth all things' (Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 2:20-21; Ephesians 5:10), and is "a propitiation" for all men (1 John 2:2).

In you all - by His Spirit. 'Aleph (') A B C, Coptic, omit "you." D G f g, Vulgate, both Syriac versions, read 'in us all.' The pronoun must be understood (either from the "ye," Ephesians 4:4, or from the "us," Ephesians 4:7); for Scripture proves that the Spirit is not 'in all' men, but only in believers (Romans 8:9; Romans 8:14). God is "Father" both by generation (as Creator) and regeneration (Ephesians 2:10; James 1:17-18; 1 John 5:1).


Verse 7

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

But - though "one" in our common connection with "one Lord," etc., yet 'each' has assigned to him his particular gift (1 Corinthians 12:11) for the good of the whole: none is overlooked; none can be dispensed with for the edifying of the Church (Ephesians 4:12). A motive to unity (Ephesians 4:3). Translate, 'unto each one of us was the grace bestowed at Christ's ascension (Ephesians 4:8) given according to,' etc.

The measure - the amount "of the gift" which Christ gives (Romans 12:3; Romans 12:6).


Verse 8

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Wherefore - `for which reason,' namely, to intimate that Christ, the Head, is the author of these different gifts, as an act of His "grace" (Estius).

He saith - God, whose word the Scripture is (Psalms 68:18).

When he ascended - GOD represented by the ark, which was being brought up to Zion in triumph by David, after that "the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies" (2 Samuel 6:1-23; 2 Samuel 7:1; 1 Chronicles 15:25). Paul quotes it of CHRIST ascending to heaven, who is therefore GOD.

Captivity - i:e., a band of captives. In the psalm, the captive foes of David. Antitypically, the foes of Christ the Son of David-Satan, Death, the curse, and Sin (Colossians 2:15; 2 Peter 2:4), led in triumphal procession to their ultimate destruction (Revelation 20:10; Revelation 20:14).

Gave gifts unto men - in the psalm, 'thou hast received gifts [b


Verse 9

(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? That he ascended. The psalm's assertion of His ascent (assuming Him to be God) implies a previous descent, which only holds good of Christ, who first descended, then ascended; for the Father does not ascend or descend. Yet the psalm plainly refers to God (Ephesians 4:8; Ephesians 4:17-18). It must therefore be GOD THE SON (John 6:33; John 6:62), as Himself declares (John 3:13). Others, though they did not previously descend, have ascended; none except Christ can be referred to in the psalm as having done so, for it is of God it speaks.

Lower parts of the earth. The antithesis to "far above all heavens" is Alford's argument for this phrase meaning more than the earth-namely, the regions beneath, even as He ascended not merely to the visible heavens, but "far above" them. Moreover, his design, "that He might fill all things" (Ephesians 4:10, Greek, 'the whole universe of things'), may imply the same; but see note there. Also the leading "captive" of the 'captive band' ("captivity") of Satanic powers may imply that the warfare reached to their habitation itself (Psalms 63:9). Christ, as Lord of all, took possession first of the earth and the unseen world beneath it (some conjecture that the region of the lost is in the center of our globe), then of heaven (Acts 2:27-28). All we surely know is, that His soul at death descended to hades; i:e., underwent the ordinary condition of departed spirits of men. The leading captive of Satanic powers is not said to be at His descent, but at His ascension; so that no argument can be drawn from it for a descent to the abodes of Satan. Acts 2:27-28 and Romans 10:7 favour the view of the reference simply to His descent to hades. So Pearson 'On Creed' (Philippians 2:10).


Verse 10

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

The same - rather [ autos (Greek #846)], HE.

All heavens - Greek, 'all the heavens' (Hebrews 4:4; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 7:26; Greek, 'passed through the heavens' to the throne of God itself).

Might fill , [ pleeroosee (Greek #4137)] - 'that He (both) might' and 'may fill;' namely, with His divine presence and Spirit, not with His glorified body. 'Christ, as God, is present everywhere; as glorified man, He can be present anywhere' (Ellicott). The attribute of Yahweh (Jeremiah 23:24).


Verse 11

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

[ Autos (Greek #846)] 'Himself,' by His supreme power. 'It is HE that gave,' etc. (the same One as HE in Ephesians 4:10.)

Gave some, apostles. Their marks were a call from Christ Himself (Galatians 1:1): the working of miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12); the superintendence of the churches in all lands (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 11:28); chiefly the eye-witnessing of Christ's resurrection (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1). Translate, 'gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets,' etc. Not only the office, but the men who filled it, were a divine gift. Ministers did not give themselves. Compare 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28. As the apostles, prophets, and evangelists were special ministers, so "pastors and teachers" are the ordinary ministers of a flock, including, probably, superintending bishops, presbyters (1 Timothy 3:2, end; Titus 1:9), and deacons. Evangelists were itinerant missionary-preachers, as Philip the deacon (Acts 21:8); "pastors and teachers" (2 Timothy 4:5) were stationary. The evangelist founded the Church; the teacher built it up in the faith, speaking sometimes in the Spirit, at other times from his own resources.

The 'pastor' had the outward rule and guidance of the Church: the bishop: since kings are called 'shepherds' (Isaiah 44:28, Cyrus; Ezekiel 34:23, David). As to revelation, the evangelist testified infallibly of the past; 'the prophet,' also of the future. The prophet derived all from the Spirit; the evangelist, in the case of the four, recorded facts cognizable to the senses, under the Spirit's guidance. No one church polity, as permanently unalterable, is laid down in the New Testament; though the apostolical order of bishops, or presbyters, and deacons, superintended by higher overseers (called bishops after apostolic times), has the sanction of ancient usage. The Old Testament Church was bound to a fixed hierarchy and a ceremonial minutely detailed in the law. In the New Testament the absence of minute directions for church government and ceremonies shows that a fixed model was not designed; the general rule is, obligatory - " Let all things be done decently and in order" (cf. Article 34: Church of England); and that a succession of ministers be provided, not self-called, but 'called to the work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation, to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard' (Article 23:, Church of England). That the 'pastors' here are the superintending rulers and bishops or presbyters of the Church is evident from Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-2, where the bishops' and presbyters' office is said to be "to feed" the flock. The term 'shepherd,' or 'pastor,' is used of guiding and governing, not merely instructing, whence it is applied to kings, rather than prophets or priests (Jeremiah 23:4). [Compare the names of princes compounded of Pharnas, Hebrew, 'pastor:' cf. Holo-phernes, Tissa-phernes].


Verse 12

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

For - with a view to [ pros (Greek #4314)]; the ultimate aim.

Perfecting - the [ katartismon (Greek #2677)] correcting all that is deficient: instructing and completing in all parts. Compare Ephesians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 13:9.

For - a different preposition [ eis (Greek #1519)]: the immediate object. Compare Romans 15:2, "Let everyone please his neighbour for [eis] his good unto [ pros (Greek #4314)] edification."

Of the ministry , [ diakonias (Greek #1248)] - of ministration: without the article. The office is stated in this verse. The good aimed at as to the Church (Ephesians 4:13). The way of growth (Ephesians 4:14-16).

Edifying - i:e., building up as the temple of the Holy Spirit.


Verse 13

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Come in , [ kantanteesoomen (Greek #2658) eis (Greek #1519)] - rather, 'until we arrive the whole [ hoi (Greek #3588) pantes (Greek #3956)] of us at the unity,' etc. Then the ministry will no longer be needed.

Faith, and of the knowledge. Unity of faith is found when all savingly and fully know [ epignooseoos (Greek #1922)] Christ, the object of faith, as "the Son of God" (Ephesians 3:17; Ephesians 3:19; 2 Peter 1:5). Not even Paul thought he had fully "attained" (Philippians 3:12-14). Amidst the variety of gifts, and the multitude of members, the Church's "faith" is ONE: as contrasted with "children ... carried about with EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE" (Ephesians 4:14).

Perfect man - `unto the full-grown man' (1 Corinthians 2:6; Philippians 3:15; Hebrews 5:14); adult maturity. contrasted with "children" (Ephesians 4:14). Not 'perfect men;' for the many members constitute but one Church joined to the one Christ.

Stature ... The standard ("measure") of spiritual "stature" is "the fullness of Christ;" i:e., which Christ has (Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 3:19 : cf. Galatians 4:19); that the body should be worthy of the Head, the perfect Christ.


Verse 14

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

'To the end that:' the aim of the bestowal of gifts stated negatively, as in Ephesians 4:13 positively.

Tossed to and fro - inwardly, even without wind [ kludoonizomenoi (Greek #2831)]; like billows of the sea. Compare James 1:6.

Carried about with every wind - from without.

Doctrine , [ didaskalias (Greek #1319)] - 'teaching.' The various teachings are the 'winds' which keep them tossed on a sea of doubts (Hebrews 13:9 : cf. Matthew 11:7).

By - Greek, 'in:' expressing 'the evil atmosphere in which the varying currents of doctrine exert their force' (Ellicott).

Sleight - literally, 'dice-playing.' The player frames his throws so that the numbers may turn up which best suit his purpose.

Of men. Contrasted with Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

And - Greek, 'in.'

Cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive , [ panourgia (Greek #3834) pros (Greek #4314) teen (Greek #3588) methodeian (Greek #3180) tees (Greek #3588) planees (Greek #4106)] - 'craftiness, tending to the methodized system of deceit.' Bengel takes 'deceit' for 'the parent of error,' Satan (cf. Ephesians 6:11); referring to his concealed mode of acting.


Verse 15

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Speaking the truth , [ aleetheuontes (Greek #226)] - 'holding' or 'following the truth:' opposed to 'error' or 'deceit' (Ephesians 4:14).

In love - in contrast to "in craftiness;" spurious professions of love by crafty teachers of error. "Truth" is never to be sacrificed to so-called 'charity;' yet is to be maintained in charity. Truth in word and act, love in manner and spirit (cf. Ephesians 4:21; Ephesians 4:24).

Grow up - from the state of "children" to be 'full-grown men.' There is growth only in the spiritually alive, not in the dead.

Into him - so as to be more and more incorporated, and become one with Him.

In all things , [ ta (Greek #3588) panta (Greek #3956)] - 'in all the elements of our growth' (Ellicott).

The head (Ephesians 1:22).


Verse 16

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

From whom - as the Fountain-head of 'making increase.' The energy of vital power varies with the distance from the head (Elliott) (Colossians 2:19). Fitly joined together - `being fitly framed together,' in harmony [ sunarmologoumenon (Greek #4883)]; as in Ephesians 2:21; all the parts in their proof position, and in mutual relation.

Compacted - in firm consolidation. [ Sumbibazomenon (Greek #4822) implies the aggregation; sunarmologoumenon (Greek #4883), the inter-adaptation of THE parts (Ellicott).]

By that which every joint supplieth [dia pasees aphis tees epichoreegias] - 'by means of eve joint of the supply' (Philippians 1:19). 'By every supplying joint.' The joints are the points of union where the supply of the spiritual gifts from Chest passes to the different members, furnishing the body with the materials of growth.

According to the effectual working (Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 3:7) - of grace, proportioned to the 'measure of each one part's [B Delta f g: but A C, Vulgate, melous for merous: 'member's'] capability of receiving growth: join this clause with "maketh increase," etc.

Maketh increase - the same Greek as Ephesians 4:15, 'maketh (carrieth on) the growth of the body.' The repetition, 'the body maketh increase of the body unto the edification of itself,' implies it is a living organism whose growth is due, not to aggregations from without, but to vital forces from within (Stier in Ellicott).


Verse 17

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

Therefore - resuming the exhortation (Ephesians 4:1), 'I therefore beseech you that ye walk worthy,' etc.

Testify in the Lord - IN whom (as our element) we discharge our ministry (1 Thessalonians 4:1, Greek; Romans 9:1).

Henceforth walk not , [ meeketi (Greek #3370)] - 'no longer;' resumed from Ephesians 4:14,

Other - Greek, 'the rest of the Gentiles.'

In the vanity ... - as their element: opposed to "in the Lord." 'Vanity of mind' (Romans 1:21) is the waste of the rational and moral powers on worthless objects, of which idolatry is a glaring instance. The root of it is departure from the knowledge of the trite God (Ephesians 4:18-19; 1 Thessalonians 4:5).


Verse 18

Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

'Being darkened in their understanding' [ tee (Greek #3588) dianoia (Greek #1271)]; i:e., intelligence (cf. Ephesians 5:8; Acts 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 : contrast Ephesians 1:18).

Alienated - this and "darkened" imply that before the fall they (in the person of their first father) had been partakers of life and light, but had revolted from primitive revelation (cf. Ephesians 2:12).

Life of God - the life and light in Adam before the irruption of death and darkness into human nature; also the life whereby God lives in the regenerate soul Galatians 2:20). 'Spiritual life in believers is kindled from the life of God' (Bengel).

Through , [ dia (Greek #1223) teen (Greek #3588) agnoian (Greek #52)] - 'on account of the ignorance;' namely, of God; Wilful ignorance originally, their fathers not 'choosing to retain God in their knowledge:' the beginning point of their misery (Acts 17:30; Romans 1:21; Romans 1:23; Romans 1:28; 1 Peter 1:14).

That is in them - deep-seated, indwelling: the defect of the intellect, owing to the defect of the heart.

Because of - on account of.

Blindness , [ pooroosin (Greek #4457), from pooroo (Greek #4456)] - from pooros (a kind of stone): to petrify; to make hard; literally, used of the skin, so as not to feel the touch. Hence, a soul's callousness feeling (Mark 3:5). Where there is spiritual "life," there is feeling; where there is not, there is 'hardness.'


Verse 19

Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Who being , [ hoitines (Greek #3748)] - as being persons who: inasmuch as they.

Past feeling - senseless, shameless, hopeless, with conscience, seared: the ultimate result of a long process of 'hardening' or habit of sin (Ephesians 4:18). Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'being past hope,' despairing. A B, Origen, support "past feeling," which includes past hope (Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 18:12).

Given themselves over. In Romans 1:24 it is, "God gave them up to uncleanness." Their giving themselves to it was punished in kind, God judicially giving them up to it by withdrawing His preventing grace: their sin was made their punishment. They gave themselves up to the slavery of their lust, to do all its pleasure, as captives who have ceased to strive with the foe: so God gave them up to it.

Lasciviousness , [ aselgeia (Greek #766)] - 'wantonness.' So Romans 13:13; 2 Peter 2:18. It does not necessarily include lasciviousness, but incontinent, reckless readiness for it, and for every self-indulgence. 'The first beginnings of unchastity.' 'Lawless insolence and wanton caprice,' (Trench). To work all uncleanness , [ eis (Greek #1519) ergasian (Greek #2039)] - 'with a deliberate view to the working (as their business; not a mere accidental fall into sin) of uncleanness of every kind.'

With greediness - Greek, 'IN greediness.' Uncleanness and greediness of gain go hand in hand (Ephesians 5:3; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5); though "greediness" [ pleonexia (Greek #4124)] here includes all kinds of self-seeking.


Verse 20

But ye have not so learned Christ;

Learned Christ (Philippians 3:10). To appropriate Christ Himself is the great lesson of the Christian life: this the Ephesians began at their conversion. "Christ," in His office, is here the object learned; "Jesus," in His person, in the following verse.


Verse 21

If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

If so be that , [ ei-ge (Greek #1489), with indicative] - Assuming what I have no reason to doubt, that, etc.

Heard him. The Him is emphatic: heard Himself, not merely about Him (John 10:27).

Taught by him - Greek, 'taught IN Him;' i:e., in vital union with Him (Romans 16:7): the further instruction, besides having "heard Him" at conversion.

As the truth is ... Connect with "taught:" 'And in Him, have been taught, according as is truth in Jesus.' There is no article. "Truth" is truth in its essence and perfection in Jesus; 'if according as it is in Him, ye have been so taught in Him:' in contrast to 'the vanity of mind of the Gentiles' (cf. John 1:14; John 1:17; John 18:37; Ephesians 4:17). Knowledge of Christ not accompanied with 'putting off lusts' is not true, but spurious. 'What in Jesus is truth, not semblance, is to become truth also in the faithful' (Olshausen). Contrast John 8:44.


Verse 22

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

That ye - following ye "have been taught" (Ephesians 4:21).

Put off - as an old garment (cf. Ephesians 4:24; Zechariah 3:4; Romans 13:12).

Concerning the former conversation - `in respect to your former way of life.'

The old man - your old unconverted nature (Romans 6:6).

Is corrupt [ ftheiromenon (G5351)] according to the deceitful lusts - rather, 'which is being corrupted (waxeth corrupt: involving destruction: cf. Galatians 6:8) according to (i:e., as might be expected from) the lusts of Deceit.' Deceit is personified: lusts (all world and fleshly desires) are its tools. In contrast to 'holiness of the truth,' Ephesians 4:24, and 'truth in Jesus,' Ephesians 4:21 : answering to Gentile "vanity," Ephesians 4:17. Corruption and destruction are inseparably associated. Man's old-nature lusts are his own executioners, fitting him more and more for eternal corruption.


Verse 23

And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

Be renewed , [ ananeousthai (Greek #365) implies 'the continued renewal in the youth of the new man;' but anakainousthai, 'renewal from the old state']

In the spirit of your mind. As there is no Greek for 'in,' as at Ephesians 4:17, translate, 'by the spirit of your mind;'

i.e., by the Holy Spirit united with your spirit, and influencing your mind [ nous (Greek #3563)] Romans 12:2). The "spirit" of man is only then recognized when it is one spirit with the Lord. The natural or animal [ psuchikoi (Greek #5591)] man is described as "having not the Spirit" (Jude 1:19). Not filling its true function as receptacle of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the unregenerate is in abeyance (1 Thessalonians 5:23).


Verse 24

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Put on the new man - opposed to "the old man," which is to be "put off" (Ephesians 4:22) [ kainon (Greek #2537) is different from "re-newed," Ephesians 4:23]. Put on not merely a renovated nature, but the new - i:e., altogether different, changed-nature, which redemption contemplates (Colossians 3:9-10; Colossians 3:12, note).

After God ... Translate, 'which hath been created (once for all [ ktisthenta (Greek #2936)] in Christ, Ephesians 2:10; so that in each believer this new holy garment has not to be created again, but to be put on) after (the image of) God,' (Genesis 1:27; 1 Peter 1:15, etc.) God's image, which we lost in the first Adam, is restored to us more gloriously in the second Adam, the image of the invisible God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).

In righteousness - "IN" it as the element of the renewed man: opposed to "greediness," which covetously disregards right (Ephesians 4:19).

True holiness - opposed to "uncleanness:" Greek, 'piety [ hosiotes (Greek #3742)] of the truth;' flowing from following "the truth of God" (Romans 1:25; Romans 3:7; Romans 15:8): opposed to 'the lusts of deceit' (Greek, Ephesians 4:22 : cf. also Ephesians 4:21, "truth in Jesus"). "Righteousness" relates to our fellowmen, the second table; "holiness" to God, the first table: the religious observance of offices of piety (cf. Luke 1:75). In the parallel (Colossians 3:10) it is "renewed in knowledge after the image," etc. As at Colosse the danger was from pretenders to knowledge, the true "knowledge" which flows from renewal of the heart is dwelt on; so at Ephesus, the danger being from the corrupt morals prevalent, the renewal in "holiness," "righteousness," contrasted with Gentile "uncleanness" (Ephesians 4:19), and "greediness," is prominent.


Verse 25

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Wherefore. From the general character of "the new man," there necessarily result the particular features which he details.

Putting away , [ apothemenoi (Greek #659)] - 'having put away' once for all.

Lying - `falsehood' in every form [ to (Greek #3588) pseudos (Greek #5579)]; flowing from selfishness, the essence of all sin (Muller): opposed to "the truth" (Ephesians 4:24); the abstract. 'Speak ye truth each one with his neighbour' is slightly changed from Zechariah 8:16. For "to" Paul has "with," to mark our inner connection with one another, as "members one of another" (Stier). Not merely of one body. Union in Christ, the Truth and the Life, instinctively leads Christians to truth toward one another. One member could not injure another without injuring himself, as all have a common spiritual life and interest.


Verse 26

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Be ye angry, and sin not. So the Septuagint (Psalms 4:4; see note on rigzuw (Hebrew #7264) there, and Paul's application of it under the Spirit). Should circumstances call for anger on your part, let it be as Christ's (Mark 3:5), without sin. Natural feelings are not wrong when directed to their legitimate object, and not exceeding due bounds. As in the future literal, so in the present spiritual, resurrection, no essential constituent is removed, but only whatever is a perversion of the original design. Indignation at dishonour to God and wrong to man, as "lying" (Ephesians 4:25), is justifiable anger. Passion is sinful (derived from 'passio,' suffering: implying that amidst scheming energy, a man is really passive; the slave of anger, instead of ruling it).

Let not the sun go down upon your wrath - "wrath" is forbidden; "anger" not so, though, like poison used as medicine, it needs extreme caution. The sense is not, Your anger shall not be imputed if you put it away before nightfall; but 'Let no wrath (i:e. [ parorgismos (Greek #3950)], personal "irritation," "exasperation"), mingle with your "anger," however righteous' (Trench). 'Before sunset' (when the Jewish day began) is proverbial for 'put it away at once before another day begin' (Deuteronomy 24:15); also before you part for the night, perhaps never in this world to meet again. The Pythagoreans, if they had disputes, embraced one another before sunset. So John, 'Let not night and anger sleep with you, but conciliate the other party, though he have committed the offence.' Let not your 'anger' at another's wickedness verge to hatred.


Verse 27

Neither give place to the devil.

Neither give place (i:e., room) to the devil (whose name implies he seeks in us scope to accuse) - by continuing "wrath." Keeping anger through the dark night is giving place to the prince of darkness (Ephesians 6:11-12).


Verse 28

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Greek, 'Let the stealing person (whether a bandit, a thief, or one more covert in dishonesty) steal no more.' Bandits frequented the mountains near Ephesus.

But rather. It is not enough to cease from a sin; you must do its opposite. The stealer, when repentant, should labour more than he would be called on to do if he had never stolen.

Let him labour. Theft and idleness go together.

With his hands - in contrast with his former thievish use of his hands. "His" [A Delta G 'Aleph (') g read idiais (Greek #2398), 'his own']: opposed to his past living on the labours of others' hands. B, Vulgate, omit it.

The thing which is good - in contrast with the thing which was evil in his past character. That he may have to give - `that he may have wherewith to impart.' He who has stolen should exercise liberality beyond restoring what he has taken. Christians should make not selfish gain their aim in industry, but honest independence and the acquisition of means of greater usefulness to their fellow-men. So Paul himself (Acts 20:35; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:8).


Verse 29

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Corrupt , [ sapros (Greek #4550)] - 'insipid;' without 'the salt of grace' (Colossians 4:6); so worthless, then becoming corrupt: included in "foolish talking" (Ephesians 5:4). Its opposite is "that which is good to ... edifying."

Communication - language.

That which ... - Greek, 'whatever is good.'

Use of edifying - literally, 'for edifying in respect of the need;' according as the occasion and present needs of the hearers require-now censure, at another time consolation. Even words good in themselves must be introduced seasonably, lest they prove injurious instead of useful. Trench, Not vague generalities, which would suit a thousand other cases equally well or ill: our words should be as nails fastened in a sure place, words suiting the present time and the present person, being 'for the edifying of the occasion.'

Minister - Greek, 'give.' The Word 'gives grace (a blessing: Ellicott) to the hearers' when God uses it as His instrument for that purpose.


Verse 30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Grieve not - a touching condescension to human conceptions. Compare "vexed" (Isaiah 63:10; Psalms 78:40); "fretted me" (Ezekiel 16:43 : implying His tender love); and of hardened unbelievers, "resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51). Believers grieve the Holy Spirit by inconsistencies, such as corrupt or worthless conversation, etc.; implying how far from harmless such 'communications' are: they grieve our "Holy" and dearest Friend. This proves His personality. To warn us the more, the blessing believers receive from Him follows.

Whereby ye are sealed , [ en (Greek #1722) ho (Greek #3588) esfragistheete (Greek #4972)] - 'wherein (or 'IN whom') ye were sealed' once for all (aorist). As in Ephesians 1:13, believers are said to be sealed "in Christ," so here, in "the Holy Spirit," who is one with Christ, and reveals Christ in the soul. It is the Father 'BY' whom believers, as well as the Son Himself, were sealed (John 6:27). The Spirit is itself the seal in Ephesians 1:13. Here the Spirit is the element IN which the believer is sealed, His gracious influences being the seal.

Unto - kept safely against the day (Malachi 3:17, margin) of redemption; namely, of the completion of redemption in the deliverance of the body as well as the soul (Luke 21:28; Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:14).


Verse 31

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Bitterness - both of spirit and of speech: opposed to "kind."

Wrath , [ thumos (Greek #2372)] - passion for a time: opposed to "tender-hearted." Bengel translates harshness.

Anger , [ orgee (Greek #3709)] - lasting resentment: opposed to "forgiving one another."

Clamour - Chrysostom, A horse carrying anger for its rider: 'bridle the horse, and you dismount its rider.' "Bitterness" begets "wrath;" "wrath,": "anger;" "anger," "clamour;" "clamour," the more chronic "evil-speaking" [ blaspheemia (Greek #988)], reviling. "Malice" is the root of all (Colossians 3:8) [ kakia (Greek #2549)]; of which poneeria (Greek #4189) is the manifestation 'fires fed within, not appealing to bystanders, are the most fermidable' (Chrysostom).


Verse 32

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

And - `But.'

Be ye - `become' [ ginesthe (Greek #1096)] (Luke 7:42; Colossians 3:12-13).

Tender-hearted , [ eusplangchnoi (Greek #2155)] - with 'bowels of compassion,' Greek (1 Peter 3:8).

Forgiving one another - literally, 'yourselves:' in forgiving one another, it is yourselves that you forgive (Origen).

Even as. God has shown Himself 'kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to you;' it is but just that you in turn should be so to your fellow-men, who have not erred against you in the degree that you have against God (Matthew 18:33). God for Christ's sake - Greek, 'God in Christ' (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is in giving Christ as a propitiation for our sins 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.

Hath forgiven - Greek, 'forgave you:' a past fact. God has, once for all, forgiven sin in Christ.

You. So 'Aleph (') A G f g, Vulgate; against Delta, reading 'us.'

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ephesians 4:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ephesians-4.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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