Exhortations to Christian Duties Resting on Our
Christian Privileges, as United in One Body, though Varying in the
Graces Given to the Several Members, that We May Come unto a Perfect Man in Christ.
1. Translate, according to the Greek
order, "I beseech you, therefore (seeing that such is your calling of
grace, the first through third chapters) I the prisoner in the Lord
(that is, imprisoned in the Lord's cause)." What the world counted
ignominy, he counts the highest honor, and he glories in his bonds for
Christ, more than a king in his diadem [Theodoret]. His bonds, too, are an argument which
should enforce his exhortation.
vocation—Translate, "calling" to
accord, as the Greek does, with "called" (Eph
4:4; Eph 1:18; Ro 8:28, 30).
3:15 similarly grounds
Christian duties on our Christian "calling." The exhortations of
this part of the Epistle are built on the conscious enjoyment of the
privileges mentioned in the former part. Compare Eph 4:32, with
Eph 1:7; Eph 5:1 with Eph
1:5; Eph 4:30, with
Eph 1:13; Eph 5:15, with
2, 3. lowliness—In classic Greek,
the meaning is meanness of spirit: the Gospel has elevated the
word to express a Christian grace, namely, the esteeming of ourselves
small, inasmuch as we are so; the thinking truly, and because truly,
therefore lowlily, of ourselves [Trench].
meekness—that spirit in which we
accept God's dealings with us without disputing and resisting; and also
the accepting patiently of the injuries done us by men, out of the
thought that they are permitted by God for the chastening and purifying
of His people (2Sa 16:11;
compare Ga 6:1; 2Ti 2:25; Tit 3:2). It is only the lowly, humble
heart that is also meek (Col 3:12). As "lowliness and meekness" answer to
"forbearing one another in love" (compare "love," Eph 4:15, 16), so "long-suffering" answers to
(Greek, 'earnestly' or 'zealously giving
diligence') to keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit (the unity
between men of different tempers, which flows from the presence of the
Spirit, who is Himself 'one,' Eph 4:4) in (united in) the bond of peace" (the
"bond" by which "peace" is maintained, namely, "love," Col 3:14, 15 [Bengel]; or, "peace" itself is the "bond" meant,
uniting the members of the Church [Alford]).
4. In the apostle's creed, the article as to
THE Church properly follows that as to
THE Holy Ghost. To the Trinity naturally
is annexed the Church, as the house to its tenant, to God His temple,
the state to its founder [Augustine,
Enchiridion, c. 15]. There is yet to be a Church, not merely
potentially, but actually catholic or world-wide; then the Church and
the world will be co-extensive. Rome falls into inextricable error by
setting 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 mentioned
here, so the "Lord" (Jesus), Eph 4:5, and "God the Father," Eph 4:6. Thus the Trinity is again set
hope—here associated with "the
Spirit," which is the "earnest of our inheritance" (Eph 1:13, 14). As "faith" is mentioned, Eph 4:5, so "hope" here, and "love," Eph 4:2. The Holy Spirit, as the common
higher principle of life (Eph 2:18, 22), gives to the Church its true unity.
Outward uniformity is as yet unattainable; but beginning by having one
mind, we shall hereafter end by having "one body." The true "body" of
Christ (all believers of every age) is already "one," as joined to the
one Head. But its unity is as yet not visible, even as the Head is not
visible; but it shall appear when He shall appear (Joh
17:21-23; Col 3:4). Meanwhile
the rule is, "In essentials, unity; in doubtful questions, liberty; in
all things, charity." There is more real unity where both go to heaven
under different names than when with the same name one goes to heaven,
the other to hell. Truth is the first thing: those who reach it, will
at last reach unity, because truth is one; while those who seek
unity as the first thing, 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 are "called" to live. Instead of
privileged classes, as the Jews under the law, a unity of dispensation
was henceforth to be the common privilege of Jew and Gentile alike.
Spirituality, universality, and unity, were designed to
characterize the Church; and it shall be so at last (Isa 2:2-4; 11:9, 13; Zep 3:9; Zec 14:9).
5. Similarly "faith" and "baptism" (the
sacramental seal of faith) are connected (Mr 16:16; Col
2:12). Compare 1Co 12:13, "Faith" is not here that which we
believe, but the act of believing, the mean by which we
apprehend the "one Lord." "Baptism" is specified, being the sacrament
whereby we are incorporated into the "one body." Not the Lord's
Supper, which is an act of matured communion on the part of those
already incorporate, "a symbol of union, not of unity"
[Ellicott]. In 1Co 10:17, where a breach of union was in
question, it forms the rallying point [Alford]. There is not added, "One pope, one council,
one form of government" [Cautions for Times]. The Church is one
in unity of faith (Eph 4:5; Jude 3); unity of origination (Eph
2:19-21): unity of
sacraments (Eph 4:5; 1Co 10:17; 12:13): unity of "hope" (Eph 4:4;
Tit 1:2); unity of
charity (Eph 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,
Exposition of the Creed, Article IX].
6. above—"over all." The "one God
over all" (in His sovereignty and by His grace) is the grand source and
crowning apex of unity (Eph 2:19,
through all—by means of Christ "who
filleth all things" (Eph 4:10; 2:20, 21), and is "a propitiation" for all men
in you all—The oldest manuscripts omit
"you." Many of the oldest versions and Fathers and old manuscripts
read, "in us all." Whether the pronoun be read or not, it must
be understood (either from the "ye," Eph 4:4, or from the "us," Eph 4:7); for other parts of Scripture prove
that the Spirit is not "in all" men, but only in believers (Ro 8:9, 14). God is "Father" both by
generation (as Creator) and regeneration (Eph
2:10; Jas 1:17, 18; 1Jo 5:1).
7. But—Though "one" in our common
connection with "one Lord, one faith, &c., one God," yet "each one
of us" has assigned to him his own particular gift, to be used for the
good of the whole: none is overlooked; none therefore can be dispensed
with for the edifying of the Church (Eph 4:12). A motive to unity (Eph 4:3). Translate, "Unto each one of us
was the grace (which was bestowed by Christ at His ascension,
Eph 4:8) given according to," &c.
the measure—the amount "of the
gift of Christ" (Ro 12:3, 6).
8. Wherefore—"For which reason," namely,
in order to intimate that Christ, the Head of the Church, is the author
of all these different gifts, and that giving of them is an act of His
he saith—God, whose word the Scripture
When he ascended—God is meant in the Psalm, 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" (2Sa
6:1-7:1; 1Ch 15:1-29). Paul
quotes it of Christ ascending to heaven,
who is therefore God.
captivity—that is, a band of captives.
In the Psalm, the captive foes of David. In the antitypical meaning,
the foes of Christ the Son of David, the devil, death, the curse, and
sin (Col 2:15; 2Pe 2:4), led as it were in triumphal procession
as a sign of the destruction of the foe.
gave gifts unto men—in the Psalm,
"received gifts for men," Hebrew, "among men,"
that is, "thou hast received gifts" to distribute among men. As
a conqueror distributes in token of his triumph the spoils of foes as
gifts among his people. The impartation of the gifts and graces of the
Spirit depended on Christ's ascension (Joh 7:39; 14:12). Paul stops short in the middle of the
verse, and does not quote "that the Lord God might dwell among
them." This, it is true, is partly fulfilled in Christians being an
"habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph 2:22). But the Psalm (Ps 68:16) refers to "the Lord dwelling in Zion
for ever"; the ascension amidst attendant angels, having as its
counterpart the second advent amidst "thousands of angels" (Ps 68:17), accompanied by the restoration
of Israel (Ps 68:22),
the destruction of God's enemies and the resurrection (Ps 68:20, 21,
23), the conversion of the
kingdoms of the world to the Lord at Jerusalem (Ps 68:29-34).
9. Paul reasons that (assuming Him to be God)
His ascent implies a previous descent; and that the
language of the Psalm can only refer to Christ, who first
descended, then ascended. For God the Father does not ascend or
descend. Yet the Psalm plainly refers to God (Eph 4:8, 17,
18). It must therefore be
God the Son (Joh 6:33, 62). As He declares (Joh 3:13), "No man hath ascended up to heaven,
but He that came down from heaven." Others, though they did not
previously descend, have ascended; but none save Christ can be
referred to in the Psalm as having done so; for it is of God it
lower parts of the earth—The
antithesis or contrast to "far above all heavens," is the argument of
Alford and others, to show that this
phrase means more than simply the earth, namely, the regions
beneath it, even as He ascended not merely to the visible
heavens, but "far above" them. Moreover, His design "that He might fill
all things" (Eph 4:10,
Greek, "the whole universe of things") may imply the same. But
see on Eph 4:10 on those words. Also the leading
"captive" of the "captive hand" ("captivity") of satanic powers, may
imply that the warfare reached to their habitation itself (Ps 63:9). Christ, as Lord of all, took
possession first of the earth the unseen world beneath it (some
conjecture that the region of the lost is in the central parts of our
globe), then of heaven (Ac 2:27, 28). However, all we surely know is,
that His soul at death descended to Hades, that is, underwent the
ordinary condition of departed spirits of men. The leading captive of
satanic powers here, 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. Ac 2:27, 28, and Ro 10:7, favor the view of the reference being
simply to His descent to Hades. So Pearson in Exposition of the Creed (Php 2:10).
10. all heavens—Greek, "all
the heavens" (Heb 7:26; 4:14), Greek, "passed through
the heavens" to the throne of God itself.
might fill—In Greek, the action
is continued to the present time, 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].
11. Greek, emphatical. "Himself" by His
supreme power. "It is He that gave,"
gave some, apostles—Translate, "some
to be apostles, and some to be prophets," &c. The men who filled
the office, no less than the office itself, were a divine gift [Eadie]. Ministers did not give themselves.
Compare with the list here, 1Co 12:10, 28. As the apostles, prophets, and
evangelists were special and extraordinary ministers, so "pastors and
teachers" are the ordinary stated ministers of a particular flock,
including, probably, the bishops, presbyters, and deacons. Evangelists
were itinerant preachers like our missionaries, as Philip the deacon
21:8); as contrasted with
stationary "pastors and teachers" (2Ti 4:5). The evangelist founded the
Church; the teacher built it up in the faith already received.
The "pastor" had the outward rule and guidance of the
Church: the bishop. As to revelation, the "evangelist" testified
infallibly of the past; the "prophet," infallibly of the future. The
prophet derived all from the Spirit; the evangelist, in the special
case of the Four, recorded matter of fact, cognizable to the senses,
under the Spirit's guidance. No one form of 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 the apostolic
times), has the highest sanction of primitive usage. In the case of the
Jews, a fixed model of hierarchy and ceremonial unalterably bound the
people, most 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 as to ceremonies, "Let all things be done decently and in
order" (compare Article XXXIV, 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 XXIII]. That the "pastors" here were the bishops and
presbyters of the Church, is evident from Ac 20:28; 1Pe
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 and not merely instructing, whence it is
applied to kings, rather than prophets or priests (Eze 34:23;
Jer 23:4). Compare the names
of princes compounded of "pharnas," Hebrew, "pastor,"
Holophernes, Tis-saphernes (compare Isa 44:28).
12. For—with a view to; the
ultimate aim. "Unto."
perfecting—The Greek implies
correcting in all that is deficient, instructing and
completing in number and all parts.
for—a different Greek word; the
immediate object. Compare Ro 15:2, "Let
every one … please his neighbor for his good unto
"ministration"; without the article. The office of the ministry is
stated in this verse. The good aimed at in respect to the Church (Eph 4:13). The way of growth (Eph 4:14-16).
edifying—that is, building up
as the temple of the Holy Ghost.
13. come in—rather, "attain unto." Alford expresses the Greek order,
"Until we arrive all of us at the unity," &c.
faith and … knowledge—Full unity
of faith is then found, when all alike thoroughly know
Christ, the object of faith, and that in His highest dignity as
"the Son of God" [De Wette] (Eph
3:17, 19; 2Pe 1:5). Not even
Paul counted himself to have fully "attained" (Php 3:12-14). Amidst the variety of the gifts
and the multitude of the Church's members, its "faith" is to be ONE: as contrasted with the state of "children
carried about with EVERY WIND OF
DOCTRINE." (Eph 4:14).
perfect man—unto the full-grown
man (1Co 2:6; Php 3:15; Heb 5:14); the maturity of an
adult; contrasted with children (Eph 4:14). Not "perfect men"; for the many
members constitute but one Church joined to the one Christ.
stature, &c.—The standard of
spiritual "stature" is "the fulness of Christ," that is, which Christ
has (Eph 1:23; 3:19; compare Ga 4:19); that the body should be worthy of the
Head, the perfect Christ.
14. Translate, "To the end that"; the aim of
the bestowal of gifts stated negatively, as in Eph 4:13 it is stated positively.
tossed to and fro—inwardly,
even without wind; like billows of the sea. So the Greek.
carried about—with every wind from
doctrine—"teaching." The various
teachings are the "winds" which keep them tossed on a sea of
13:9; compare Mt 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 of the dice so that the numbers may turn up
which best suit his purpose.
of men—contrasted with Christ
cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to
deceive—Translate as Greek, "craftiness tending to the
methodized system of deceit" ("the schemes of error") [Alford]. Bengel takes
"deceit," or "error," to stand for "the parent of error," Satan
(compare Eph 6:11);
referring to his concealed mode of acting.
15. speaking the truth—Translate,
"holding the truth"; "following the truth"; opposed to "error" or
"deceit" (Eph 4:14).
in love—"Truth" is never to be
sacrificed to so-called "charity"; yet it is to be maintained in
charity. Truth in word and act, love in manner and spirit, are the
Christian's rule (compare Eph 4:21, 24).
grow up—from the state of "children"
to that of "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 with Him, and become one with Him.
the head—(Eph 1:22).
16. (Col 2:19).
fitly joined together—"being fitly
framed together," as in Eph 2:21; all
the parts being in their proper position, and in mutual relation.
by that which every joint
supplieth—Greek, "by means of every joint of the
supply"; joined with "maketh increase of the body," not with
"compacted." "By every ministering (supplying) joint." The joints are
the points of union where the supply passes to the different members,
furnishing the body with the materials of its growth.
effectual working—(Eph 1:19; 3:7). According to the effectual
working of grace in each member (or else, rather, "according to
each several member's working"), proportioned to the measure of
its need of supply.
every part—Greek, "each one
part"; each individual part.
maketh increase—Translate, as the
Greek is the same as Eph 4:15,
"maketh (carrieth on) the growth of the body."
17. therefore—resuming the exhortation
which he had begun with, "I therefore beseech you that ye
walk worthy," &c. (Eph 4:1).
testify in the Lord—in whom (as our
element) we do all things pertaining to the ministry (1Th 4:1 [Alford];
henceforth … not—Greek,
"no longer"; resumed from Eph 4:14.
other—Greek, "the rest
of the Gentiles."
in the vanity, &c.—as their
element: opposed to "in the Lord." "Vanity of mind" is the waste
of the rational powers on worthless objects, of which idolatry is one
of the more glaring instances. The root of it is departure from the
knowledge of the true God (Eph 4:18, 19; Ro 1:21; 1Th 4:5).
18. More literally, "Being darkened in their
understanding," that is, their intelligence, or
perceptions (compare Eph 5:8; Ac 26:18; 1Th 5:4, 5).
alienated—This and "darkened," imply
that before the fall they (in the person of their first father) had
been partakers of life and light: and that they had
revolted from the primitive revelation (compare Eph 2:12).
life of God—that life whereby God
lives in His own people: as He was the life and light in
Adam before the irruption of death and darkness into human nature; and
as He is the life in the regenerate (Ga 2:20). "Spiritual life in believers is
kindled from the life itself of God" [Bengel].
through—rather as Greek, "on
account of the ignorance," namely, of God. Wilful ignorance in the
first instance, their fathers not "choosing to retain God in their
knowledge." This is the beginning point of their misery (Ac 17:30; Ro 1:21, 23, 28; 1Pe 1:14).
because of—"on account of."
literally, the hardening of the skin so as not to be sensible of touch.
Hence a soul's callousness to feeling (Mr 3:5). Where there is spiritual "life" ("the
life of God") there is feeling; where there is not, there is
19. past feeling—senseless, shameless,
hopeless; the ultimate result of a long process of "hardening," or
habit of sin (Eph 4:18).
"Being past hope," or despairing, is the reading of the Vulgate;
though not so well supported as English Version reading, "past
feeling," which includes the absence of hope (Jer 2:25;
given themselves over—In Ro 1:24 it is, "God gave them up to
uncleanness." Their giving themselves to it was punished in
kind, God giving them up to it by withdrawing His preventing
grace; their sin thus was made their punishment. They gave themselves
up of their own accord to the slavery of their lust, to do all its
pleasure, as captives who have ceased to strive with the foe.
God gave them up to it, but not against their will; for
they give themselves up to it [Zanchius].
lasciviousness—"wantonness" [Alford]. So it is translated in Ro 13:13; 2Pe
2:18. It does not necessarily
include lasciviousness; but it means intemperate,
reckless readiness for it, and for every self-indulgence. "The first
beginnings of unchastity" [Grotius].
"Lawless insolence, and wanton caprice" [Trench].
to work all uncleanness—The
Greek implies, "with a deliberate view to the working (as
if it were their work or business, not a mere accidental
fall into sin) of uncleanness of every kind."
with greediness—Greek, "in
greediness." Uncleanness and greediness of gain often go
hand in hand (Eph 5:3, 5; Col 3:5); though "greediness" here includes
all kinds of self-seeking.
20. learned Christ—(Php 3:10). To know Christ Himself, is the great
lesson of the Christian life: this the Ephesians began to learn at
their conversion. "Christ," in reference to His office, is here
specified as the object of learning. "Jesus," in Eph 4:21, as the person.
21. If so be that—not implying doubt;
assuming what I have no reason to doubt, that
heard him—The "Him" is emphatic:
"heard Himself," not merely heard about Him.
taught by him—Greek, "taught
IN Him," that is, being in vital union
with Him (Ro
as the truth is in Jesus—Translate in
connection with "taught"; "And in Him have been taught, according as is
truth in Jesus." There is no article in the Greek. "Truth" is
therefore used in the most comprehensive sense, truth in its essence,
and highest perfection, in Jesus; "if according as it is thus in
Him, ye have been so taught in Him"; in contrast to "the vanity
of mind of the Gentiles" (Eph 4:17;
compare Joh 1:14, 17; 18:37). Contrast Joh 8:44.
22. That ye—following "Ye have been
taught" (Eph 4:21).
concerning the former conversation—"in
respect to your former way of life."
the old man—your old unconverted
is corrupt according to the deceitful
lusts—rather, "which is being corrupted ('perisheth,' compare
Ga 6:8, 'corruption,' that is,
destruction) according to (that is, as might be expected from)
the lusts of deceit." Deceit is personified; lusts are
its servants and tools. In contrast to "the holiness of the truth,"
4:24, and "truth in Jesus,"
4:21; and answering to
Gentile "vanity," Eph 4:17.
Corruption and destruction are inseparably associated together. The
man's old-nature-lusts are his own executioners, fitting him more and
more for eternal corruption and death.
23. be renewed—The Greek
(ananeousthai) implies "the continued renewal in the
youth of the new man." A different Greek word
(anakainousthai) implies "renewal from the old
in the spirit of your mind—As there is
no Greek for "in," which there is at Eph 4:17, "in the vanity of their mind,"
it is better to translate, "By the Spirit of your mind," that is, by
your new spiritual nature; the restored and divinely informed leading
principle of the mind. The "spirit" of man in New Testament is only
then used in its proper sense, as worthy of its place and governing
functions, when it is one spirit with the Lord. The natural, or animal
man, is described as "not having the Spirit" (Jude 19) [Alford]. Spirit is not in this sense attributed to
the unregenerate (1Th 5:23).
24. put on the new man—Opposed to "the
old man," which is to be "put off" (Eph 4:22). The Greek here (kainon)
is different from that for "re-new-ed" (Eph 4:23). Put on not merely a renovated
nature, but a new, that is, altogether different nature, a
changed nature (compare Note,, see on Col
after God, &c.—Translate, "Which
hath been created (once for all: so the Greek aorist means: in
2:10; so that in each
believer it has not to be created again, but to be put on) after (the
image of) God" (Ge 1:27; Col 3:10; 1Pe 1:15), &c. God's image in which the first
Adam was originally created, is restored, to us far more gloriously in
the second Adam, the image of the invisible God (2Co
4:4; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3).
in righteousness—"IN" it as the element of the renewed man.
true holiness—rather, as the
Greek, "holiness of the truth"; holiness flowing from
sincere following of "the truth of God" (Ro 1:25; 3:7; 15:8): opposed to "the lusts of
deceit" (Greek, Eph 4:22);
compare also Eph 4:21,
"truth is in Jesus." "Righteousness" is in relation to our fellow men,
the second table of the law; "Holiness," in relation to God, the first
table; the religious observance of offices of piety (compare Lu 1:75). In the parallel (Col 3:10) it is, "renewed in knowledge
after the image," &c. As at Colosse the danger was from false
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 around, the renewal in "holiness,"
contrasted with the Gentile "uncleanness" (Eph 4:19), and "righteousness," in contrast to
"greediness," is made prominent.
25. Wherefore—From the general character
of "the new man," there will necessarily result the particular features
which he now details.
putting away—Greek, "having put
away" once for all.
lying—"falsehood": the abstract.
"Speak ye truth each one with his neighbor," is quoted, slightly
changed, from Zec 8:16. For
"to," Paul quotes it "with," to mark our inner connection with
one another, as "members one of another" [Stier]. Not merely members of one body. Union
to one another in Christ, not merely the external command,
instinctively leads Christians to fulfil mutual duties. One member
could not injure or deceive another, without injuring himself, as all
have a mutual and common interest.
26. Be ye angry, and sin not—So the
Septuagint, Ps 4:4. Should
circumstances arise to call for anger on your part, let it be as
Christ's "anger" (Mr 3:5),
without sin. Our natural feelings are not wrong when directed to their
legitimate object, and when not exceeding due bounds. As in the future
literal, so in the present spiritual, resurrection, no essential
constituent is annihilated, but all that is a perversion of the
original design is removed. Thus indignation at dishonor done to God,
and wrong to man, is justifiable anger. Passion is sinful
(derived from "passio," suffering: implying that amidst
seeming energy, a man is really passive, the slave of his anger,
instead of ruling it).
let not the sun go down upon your
wrath—"wrath" is absolutely forbidden; "anger" not so,
though, like poison sometimes used as medicine, it is to be used with
extreme caution. The sense is not, Your anger shall not be
imputed to you if you put it away before nightfall; but "let no
wrath (that is, as the Greek, personal 'irritation' or
'exasperation') mingle with your 'anger,' even though, the latter be
righteous, [Trench, Greek Synonyms of
the New Testament]. "Put it away before sunset" (when the
Jewish day began), is proverbial for put it away at once before
another day begin (De 24:15);
also before you part with your brother for the night, perhaps never in
this world to meet again. So Jona, "Let
not night and anger against anyone sleep with you, but go and
conciliate the other party, though he have been the first to commit the
offense." Let not your "anger" at another's wickedness verge into
hatred, or contempt, or revenge [Vatablus].
27. Neither give place—that is,
occasion, or scope, to the devil, by continuing in
"wrath." The keeping of anger through the darkness of night, is giving
place to the devil, the prince of darkness (Eph 6:12).
28. Greek, "Let him that
stealeth." The imperfect or past tense is, however,
mainly meant, though not to the exclusion of the present. "Let the
stealing person steal no more." Bandits frequented the mountains
near Ephesus. Such are meant by those called "thieves" in the New
but rather—For it is not enough to
cease from a sin, but the sinner must also enter on the path that is
its very opposite [Chrysostom]. The
thief, when repentant, should labor more than he would be called on to
do, if he had never stolen.
let him labour—Theft and idleness go
the thing which is good—in contrast
with theft, the thing which was evil in his past character.
with his hands—in contrast with his
former thievish use of his hands.
that he may have to give—"that he may
have wherewith to impart." He who has stolen should
exercise liberality beyond the restitution of what he has taken.
Christians in general should make not selfish gain their aim in honest
industry, but the acquisition of the means of greater usefulness to
their fellow men; and the being independent of the alms of others. So
Paul himself (Ac 20:35; 2Th 3:8) acted as he taught (1Th 4:11).
29. corrupt—literally, "insipid,"
without "the salt of grace" (Col 4:6), so worthless and then becoming
corrupt: included in "foolish talking" (Eph 5:4). Its opposite is "that which is good to
that which, &c.—Greek,
"whatever is good."
use of edifying—literally, "for
edifying of the need," that is, for edifying where it is needed.
Seasonably edifying; 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 by our fault they
prove injurious instead of useful. Trench explains, Not vague generalities, which would
suit a thousand other cases equally well, and probably equally 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" (Col 4:6).
minister—Greek, "give." The
word spoken "gives grace to the hearers" when God uses it as His
instrument for that purpose.
30. grieve not—A condescension to human
modes of thought most touching. Compare "vexed His Holy Spirit"
(Isa 63:10; Ps 78:40); "fretted me" (Eze 16:43: implying His tender love to us); and of
hardened unbelievers, "resist the Holy Ghost" (Ac 7:51). This verse refers to believers,
who grieve the Spirit by inconsistencies such as in the context are
spoken of, corrupt or worthless conversation, &c.
whereby ye are sealed—rather, "wherein
(or 'in whom') ye were sealed." As in Eph 1:13, believers are said to be sealed
"in" Christ, so here "in the Holy Spirit," who is
one with Christ, and who reveals Christ in the soul: the Greek
implies that the sealing was done already once for all. It is the
Father "BY" whom believers, as
well as the Son Himself, were sealed (Joh 6:27). The Spirit is represented as itself
the seal (Eph 1:13, for
the image employed, see on Eph 1:13). Here the
Spirit is the element IN
which the believer is sealed, His gracious influences being the
unto—kept safely against the day of
redemption, namely, of the completion of redemption in the
deliverance of the body as well as the soul from all sin and sorrow
(Eph 1:14; Lu 21:28; Ro 8:23).
31. bitterness—both of spirit and of
speech: opposed to "kind."
wrath—passion for a time: opposed to
"tender-hearted." Whence Bengel
translates for "wrath," harshness.
anger—lasting resentment: opposed to
"forgiving one another."
clamour—compared by Chrysostom to a horse carrying anger for its rider:
"Bridle the horse, and you dismount its rider." "Bitterness" begets
"wrath"; "wrath," "anger"; "anger," "clamor"; and "clamor," the more
chronic "evil-speaking," slander, insinuations, and surmises of evil.
"Malice" is the secret root of all: "fires fed within, and not
appearing to by-standers from without, are the most formidable" [Chrysostom].
32. (Lu 7:42; Col 3:12).
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 (Mt 18:33).
God for Christ's sake—rather as
Greek, "God in Christ" (2Co 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.
hath forgiven—rather as Greek,
"forgave you." God has, once for all, forgiven sin in
Christ, as a past historical fact.