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4. Unity in the Body of Christ

1I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, 2with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all. 7But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men. 9(Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: 13till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 15but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; 16from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love. 17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; 19who being past feeling gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20But ye did not so learn Christ; 21if so be that ye heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: 22that ye put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, that waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit; 23and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. 25Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. 26Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27neither give place to the devil. 28Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need. 29Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear. 30And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: 32and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.

5. Living as Children of Light

1Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; 2and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell. 3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; 4nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks. 5For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience. 7Be not ye therefore partakers with them; 8For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord; 11and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them; 12for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of. 13But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light: for everything that is made manifest is light. 14Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee. 15Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; 19speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. 22Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30because we are members of his body. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church. 33Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband.

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29. No filthy speech. He first forbids believers to use any filthy language, including under this name all those expressions which are wont to be employed for the purpose of inflaming lust. Not satisfied with the removal of the vice, he enjoins them to frame their discourse for edification. In another Epistle he says, “Let your speech be seasoned with salt.” (Colossians 4:6.) Here a different phrase is employed, if any (speech) be good to the use of edifying, which means simply, if it be useful. The genitive, of use, may no doubt be viewed, according to the Hebrew idiom, as put for an adjective, so that for the edification of use (πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τὢς χρείας) may mean for useful edification; but when I consider how frequently, and in how extensive a meaning, the metaphor of edifying occurs in Paul’s writings, I prefer the former exposition. The edification of use will thus mean the progress of our edification, for to edify is to carry forward. To explain the manner in which this is done, he adds, that it may impart grace to the hearers, meaning by the word grace, comfort, advice, and everything that aids the salvation of the soul.

30. And grieve not. As the Holy Spirit dwells in us, to him every part of our soul and of our body ought to be devoted. But if we give ourselves up to aught that is impure, we may be said to drive him away from making his abode with us; and, to express this still more familiarly, human affections, such as joy and grief, are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. 151151     “According to our view, the verse is a summation of the argument — the climax of appeal. If Christians shall persist in falsehood and deviation from the truth — if they shall indulge in fitful rage, or cherish sullen and malignant dislikes — if they shall be characterized by dishonesty, or insipid and corrupt language, then do they grieve the Holy Spirit of God; for all this perverse insubordination is in utter antagonism to the essence and operations of Him who is the Spirit of truth; and inspires the love of it; who assumed, as a fitting symbol, the form of a dove, and creates meekness and forbearance; and who, as the Spirit of holiness, leads to the appreciation of all that is just in action, noble in sentiment, and healthful and edifying in speech.” — Eadie. Endeavour that the Holy Spirit may dwell cheerfully with you, as in a pleasant and joyful dwelling, and give him no occasion for grief. Some take a different view of it, that we grieve the Holy Spirit in others, when we offend by filthy language, or, in any other way, godly brethren, who are led by the Spirit of God. (Romans 8:14.) Whatever is contrary to godliness is not only disrelished by godly ears, but is no sooner heard than it produces in them deep grief and pain. But that Paul’s meaning was different appears from what follows.

By whom ye are sealed. As God has sealed us by his Spirit, we grieve him when we do not follow his guidance, but pollute ourselves by wicked passions. No language can adequately express this solemn truth, that the Holy Spirit rejoices and is glad on our account, when we are obedient to him in all things, and neither think nor speak anything, but what is pure and holy; and, on the other hand, is grieved, when we admit anything into our minds that is unworthy of our calling. Now, let any man reflect what shocking wickedness there must be in grieving the Holy Spirit to such a degree as to compel him to withdraw from us. The same mode of speaking is used by the prophet Isaiah, but in a different sense; for he merely says, that they “vexed his Holy Spirit,” (Isaiah 63:10.) in the same sense in which we are accustomed to speak of vexing the mind of a man. By whom ye are sealed. The Spirit of God is the seal, by which we are distinguished from the wicked, and which is impressed on our hearts as a sure evidence of adoption.

Unto the day of redemption, — that is, till God conduct us into the possession of the promised inheritance. That day is usually called the day of redemption, because we shall then be at length delivered out of all our afflictions. It is unnecessary to make any observations on this phrase, in addition to what have already been made in expounding Romans 8:23, and 1 Corinthians 1:30. In this passage, the word sealed may have a different meaning from that which it usually bears, — that God has impressed his Spirit as his mark upon us, that he may recognize as his children those whom he perceives to bear that mark.

31. Let all bitterness. He again condemns anger; but, on the present occasion, views in connection with it those offenses by which it is usually accompanied, such as noisy disputes and reproaches. Between wrath and anger (Θυμὸν καὶ ὀργὴν) there is little difference, except that the former denotes the power, and the latter the act; but here, the only difference is, that anger is a more sudden attack. The correction of all the rest will be greatly aided by the removal of malice. By this term he expresses that depravity of mind which is opposed to humanity and justice, and which is usually called malignity.

32. And be ye kind one to another. With bitterness he contrasts kindness, or gentleness of countenance, language, and manners. And as this virtue will never reign in us, unless attended by compassion, (ουμπάθεια,) he recommends to us to be tender-hearted This will lead us not only to sympathize with the distresses of our brethren, as if they were our own, but to cultivate that true humanity which is affected by everything that happens to them, in the same manner as if we were in their situation. The contrary of this is the cruelty of those iron-hearted, barbarous men, by whom the sufferings of others are beheld without any concern whatever.

Forgiving one another. The Greek word here rendered forgiving, (χαριζόμενοι ἑαυτοῖς,) is supposed by to mean beneficence. Erasmus, accordingly, renders it (largientes) bountiful. Though the word admits of that meaning, yet the context induces me to prefer the other view, that we should be ready to forgive It may sometimes happen, that men are kind and tender-hearted, and yet, when they receive improper treatment, do not so easily forgive injuries. That those whose kindness of heart in other respects disposes them to acts of humanity, may not fail in their duty through the ingratitude of men, he exhorts them to discover a readiness to lay aside resentment. To give his exhortation the greater weight, he holds out the example of God, who has forgiven to us, through Christ, far more than any mortal man can forgive to his brethren. 152152     See Calvin's Commentary on Philippians, Colossians, etc., page 213.

1. Be ye therefore followers. The same principle is followed out and enforced by the consideration that children ought to be like their father. He reminds us that we are the children of God, and that therefore we ought, as far as possible, to resemble Him in acts of kindness. It is impossible not to perceive, that the division of chapters, in the present instance, is particularly unhappy, as it has made a separation between parts of the subject which are very closely related. If, then, we are the children of God, we ought to be followers of God. Christ also declares, that, unless we shew kindness to the unworthy, we cannot be the children of our heavenly Father.

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
(Matthew 5:44,45.) 153153     “To institute an action against one who has injured us is human; not to take revenge on him is the part of a philosopher; but to compensate him with benefits is divine, and makes men of earth followers of the Father who is in heaven.” — Clem. Ep., quoted by Eadie.

2. And walk in love as Christ also hath loved us. Having called on us to imitate God, he now calls on us to imitate Christ, who is our true model. We ought to embrace each other with that love with which Christ has embraced us, for what we perceive in Christ is our true guide.

And gave himself for us. This was a remarkable proof of the highest love. Forgetful, as it were, of himself, Christ spared not his own life, that he might redeem us from death. If we desire to be partakers of this benefit, we must cultivate similar affections toward our neighbors. Not that any of us has reached such high perfection, but all must aim and strive according to the measure of their ability.

An offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savor. While this statement leads us to admire the grace of Christ, it bears directly on the present subject. No language, indeed, can fully represent the consequences and efficacy of Christ’s death. This is the only price by which we are reconciled to God. The doctrine of faith on this subject holds the highest rank. But the more extraordinary the discoveries which have reached us of the Redeemer’s kindness, the more strongly are we bound to his service. Besides, we may infer from Paul’s words, that, unless we love one another, none of our duties will be acceptable in the sight of God. If the reconciliation of men, effected by Christ, was a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savor, 154154     “The offering, in being presented to God, was meant to be, and actually was, a sweet savor to Him. The phrase is based on the peculiar sacrificial idiom of the Old Testament. (Genesis 8:21; Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17; 2:9, 12; 3:5.) It is used typically in 2 Corinthians 2:14, and is explained and expanded in Philippians 4:18 — ‘a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.’ The burning of spices or incense, so fragrant to the Oriental senses, is figuratively applied to God.” — Eadie. we, too, shall be “unto God a sweet savor,” (2 Corinthians 2:15,) when this holy perfume is spread over us. To this applies the saying of Christ,

“Leave thy gift before the altar, and go and be reconciled to thy brother.” (Matthew 5:24.)