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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Ephesians 4



Other Authors
Verse 1


The foundation for the exhortations that follow is now securely laid in the vision of truth unfolded both by direct exposition and by prayer, the prayer being no digression but an integral part of the exposition. So at this point we pass to the second main division of the Epistle.


Ephesians 4:1. Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς. Cf. the transition in Romans 12:1.

ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος. Cf. on Ephesians 3:1.

ἐν κυρίῳ. Probably qualifying ὁ δέσμιος, cf. Philippians 1:13, though it may be taken with παρακαλῶ, cf. Ephesians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:12. παρακαλῶ however is often used without qualification in St Paul, and the connexion with ὁ δέσμιος is favoured by the order.

ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως. Cf. Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Philippians 1:27. On περιπατῆσαι cf. Ephesians 2:2; τῆς κλήσεως, Ephesians 4:4; see on Ephesians 1:18. Cf. Philippians 3:14.

Verse 2

2. μετἀ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραὔτητος. Cf. Colossians 3:12. The combination irresistibly recalls Matthew 11:29, and is perhaps a conscious echo of it. ταπεινοφροσύνη in Acts 20:19; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 5:5 describes an attitude of mind towards our fellow men. St Paul is here thinking primarily of the conditions of peace among men. But humility has also a God-ward side closely connected with the Divine indwelling, Isaiah 57:15, which need not be excluded. The two sides pass easily into each other as the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican shows.

πραὔτητος. ‘Meekness.’ This connotes the opposite of self-assertion. It is humility in action, cf. 2 Corinthians 10:1.

μετὰ μακροθυμίας., Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4. ‘Patience’ under provocation further defined in the next clause.

ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων. ‘Putting up with one another,’ cf. Colossians 3:13; Romans 2:4.

ἐν ἀγάπῃ. Cf. on Ephesians 1:4. Here love provides the condition in which alone true humility, meekness and long-suffering can be developed. Cf. Pro Christo et Ecclesia (p. 65) ‘Except as the expression of love, meekness and humility are not virtues.’

Verse 3

3. σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης. The reference here to the unity described in Ephesians 2:14 ff. is unmistakeable. It is the condition of the growth and ultimate perfecting of the Church, and therefore needs to be guarded with zealous care, whether in the Church as a whole (as in Ephesians 2:18) or in any local congregation, as in 1 Corinthians 12:12 f.; Philippians 2:2. This implicit reference to chap. 2 makes it probable that ‘the unity of the Spirit’ is the unity in mind and heart and will which is characteristic of men who recognize each other as members of the same body, and is directly the gift of the Holy Spirit. The reference to peace in the same chapter makes it clear that ‘the bond of the peace’ is also specific. St Paul is not merely telling men to be at peace as a means of preserving unity, a form of expression not easy to defend from the charge of tautology. He is reminding them of the power (Ephesians 2:14 ff.) which, as it had in the first instance made them one, was able, if they would surrender themselves to its influence, to keep them one, cf. Colossians 3:15 ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ χριστοῦ βραβευέτω, and Philippians 4:7 ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ θεοῦφρουρήσει. ‘The unity’ it should be noticed is regarded as an already existent fact, something not needing to be created but simply to be ‘kept.’ From another point of view (as in Ephesians 4:13; cf. John 17:23) it is regarded as the ultimate goal which we must strive to attain.

Verse 4

4. ἔν σῶμα καὶ ἔν πνεῦμα. ‘As the body is one so also is the spirit.’ The unity of the body is taken as an axiom, and the unity of the spirit, on which attention is being concentrated, is shown to be a necessary corollary. Cf. Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 2:18.

καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν. St Paul has already called attention (Ephesians 1:18) to the hope implied in a call from God. Here the thought is that of the unifying power of a common goal. Different as the manner of the different ‘callings’ may be, and various as are the conditions in which the call of God finds a man, yet the end is one. The hope is the hope of the glory (Colossians 1:27; Romans 5:2) at once present and future.

Verse 5

5. The ‘subjective’ unity of the Spirit in love and hope has an ‘objective’ counterpart in the service of a common Lord, confessed by a common Creed sealed by a common Sacrament of incorporation.

εἶς κύριος. Cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 1:2 (where the confession of a common faith in Jesus Christ as Lord is recognized as a link between men ‘in every place’) and Romans 10:12 (where the distinction of Jew and Gentile is done away on the same ground).

μία πίστις. Cf. Titus 1:4 and 2 Corinthians 4:13. See also 2 Peter 1:1. Here ‘faith,’ which is one as resting upon and directed towards a common object, is practically identical with ‘Creed.’ See Westcott’s note in loc.

ἔν βάπτισμα. Baptism is seen as a unifying power in 1 Corinthians 12:13, and indirectly, but none the less effectively, in the indignant disclaimer in connexion with the rise of party divisions in 1 Corinthians 1:13.

Verse 6

6. εἶς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων, ὁ ἑπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν. The deepest ground of unity, underlying and sustaining both the unity of love and hope, and the unity of common service of the One Lord who has been revealed in human flesh, is the unity and universal fatherhood of God. This truth St Paul had proclaimed at Athens as the ground of the unity of the race, Acts 17:26; Acts 17:28; cf. Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 12:9. The thought of the Fatherhood was at the heart of the prayer, Ephesians 3:14. The unity of God in the same way knits Jew and Gentile in Romans 3:30 and is the ground of all-inclusive intercession in 1 Timothy 2:1-5. In Romans 11:36 St Paul has been describing the working out of the counsel of God in human history, and God is therefore acknowledged as the source and way and goal of the whole development, ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα. Here the thought is of the fundamental constitution of the universe, and God is ἐπὶ πάντων ‘supreme over all’ (cf. Romans 9:5), ‘all-pervading’ διὰ πάντων: the thought is not easy to define or to parallel. Robinson paraphrases ‘operative through all.’ It is possible, esp. if we read ἴνα πληρωθῇ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ in Ephesians 3:19, that it may mean ‘to whose perfect manifestation all things minister’) ‘and immanent in all’ ἐν πᾶσιν, the converse of Acts 17:28 (ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν). πάντων and πᾶσιν may be either masc. or neuter. In connexion with πατὴρ it is natural to take πάντων as personal. But there seems no reason to limit the reference in the prepositional phrase. In any case the addition of ἡμῖν to ἐν πᾶσιν is alien to the spirit of the passage.

Verse 7

7. Ἐνὶ δὲ ἑκάστῳ ἡμῶν. Cf. Ephesians 4:16. The all-embracing unity which St Paul has been describing calls for resolute self-repression on the part of each individual. Strange as it may seem, individuality is not thereby destroyed or weakened. It is consecrated and perfected. For, on the one hand, the perfection of the whole requires the perfection of each separate part, and on the other hand no part can attain its perfection except by consecrating its characteristic activity to the service of the whole.

ἐδόθη [] χάρις. Cf. Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:7 of the grace given to St Paul. In his case the revelation made to him was his call and his endowment for his special office as Apostle of the Gentiles. It is possible to take (as Robinson) ἡ χάρις here in the same sense. The one revelation may be regarded as conferring on each his peculiar responsibility for making it known to others, and the endowment necessary for the task. See Hort Chr. Eccl. p. 156. In any case cf. 1 Corinthians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 12:7; Romans 12:6; 1 Peter 4:10.

κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τῆς δωρεᾶς τοῦ χριστοῦ. Cf. Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 4:16. What comes to each is none the less due to the free bounty of the giver, though it is not given indiscriminately or in like measure to all. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14 ff.) supplies a partial illustration of the thought, cf. also Mark 13:34. Here the giver, as the context shows, is the Ascended Christ. Cf. Acts 2:33.

Verse 8

8. διὀ λέγει. Cf. Ephesians 5:14. Supply ἡ γραφὴ as in Romans 4:3; Romans 9:17; Romans 10:11; Romans 11:2; Galatians 4:30; 1 Timothy 5:18. Similarly indeterminate are Romans 9:25; Romans 10:8; Romans 15:10; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Galatians 3:16. The quotation is introduced to give definiteness to the conception of the bounty of the Christ. It is true that only two words, ἀνέβη and ἔδωκεν, are selected for special illustration; it does not, however, follow that the rest of the quotation is otiose.

Ἀναβὰς κ.τ.λ. The quotation from Psalms 68[67]:19 differs in two respects from the Hebrew and LXX.: [1] by the substitution of the third person for the second (cf. א and Just.); [2] ἔδωκεν δόματα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις takes the place of ἔλαβες δόματα ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ (or ἀνθρώποις). The Psalm describes the triumphal ascent (or return) of the Ark to Zion followed by a train of captives and tributary gifts. Following apparently a current Targum, St Paul assumes that the spoils were to be distributed by the conqueror as largesse to his people. The passage as a whole then supplies him with a vivid anticipation of the Ascension of the Christ. It is worth notice [1] that the gifts which St Paul has in mind are men qualified to fulfil special functions in the Church on behalf of humanity; [2] that in 2 Corinthians 2:14 St Paul regards himself and the other preachers of the Gospel as prisoners following the chariot of a conqueror in his triumphal procession; [3] that these thoughts would give especial point to αἰχμαλωσίαν and to τοῖς ἀνθρώποις in the quotation as St Paul gives it. The clause that follows in the Hebrew וְאַף סוֹרְרִים לִשְׁכֹּן יָהּ אֱלֹהִים is obscure, but the reference to the dwelling of God with men is a marked feature in the context (Ephesians 4:16 f.), and would give the quotation further point in view of Ephesians 2:22.

Verse 9

9. τὸ δέ Ἀνέβη τί ἐστιν εἰ μὴ ὄτι καὶ κατέβη κ.τ.λ. It is possible that the Ascent of the Ark to Zion was also a return, but it is more likely that St Paul simply takes occasion from the occurrence of the word in the quotation to call attention to a further feature in the Antitype. This passage is in language closely parallel to John 6:62; John 17:5. St Paul’s thought, however, is quite distinct from St John’s. He is not seeking in the Ascension a proof of the Incarnation, nor even emphasizing as in Philippians 2:8 f. the correspondence between the height of our Lord’s present glory and the depth of His earthly humiliation. He is calling attention to the absolute completeness of the experience through which the Christ had passed.

εἰς τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς. There seems little doubt that this phrase refers (so Westcott and Robinson) to ‘Sheol,’ cf. Psalms 63:10; Psalms 139:15. ‘The descent into Hades’ is implied in Acts 2:31, and dwelt upon in 1 Peter 3:19. In combination with the Ascension ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν it seems both here and in Romans 10:7 ff. to indicate the universality of Christ’s power over created spirits in every stage of degradation or exaltation. The language of ‘space’ provides a natural symbol of varieties of spiritual condition.

Verse 10

10. ὁ καταβὰς αὐτός ἐστιν καὶ ὁ ἀναβὰς. The personal identity of the subject of these contrasted experiences is the condition of His power. St Paul is led to lay stress upon it in order that all who are working for the perfecting of the Body might realize that there was no condition so low that the power at their disposal would not enable them to raise a soul out of it, no height of sanctity that they need despair of helping another to attain. In other words, there is no polemic underlying the phrase, though it does no doubt protest in advance against the Cerinthian division of the Christ from Jesus.

ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν. Cf. Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 7:26.

ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα. ‘To bring the universe to its consummation.’ See Additional Note on πλήρωμα; cf. Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 1:23.

Verse 11

11. αὐτὸς is emphatic. He who descended and ascended. The stress laid on the direct action of the Ascended Lord in supplying the Church with living agents is in keeping with the whole thought of the passage, cf. Ephesians 4:7 τῆς δωρεᾶς τοῦ χριστοῦ and Ephesians 4:16 ἐξ οὖ. It carries on the reference in Ephesians 2:14 to the personal activity of Christ Jesus in the work of reconciliation, esp. Ephesians 2:15 as ‘creating the two in himself into one new man.’ In 1 Corinthians 12:28 we read καὶ οὔς μὲν ἔθετο ὁ θεὸς ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, πρῶτον ἀποστόλους. In Acts 20:28 we find ἐν ᾦ ὑμᾶς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἔθετο ἐπισκόπους. It is clear that all ministry in the Church in St Paul’s view is of Divine appointment. On the other hand he gives us no hint in his Epistles of the method by which the Divine will was made known in any particular case. His own practice was to appoint officers to take charge of the Churches of his own founding (Acts 14; cf. 1 Tim. and Tit.). It has however rightly been pointed out by Robinson (cf. Westcott) that the chief forms of ministry indicated here refer to the Church as a whole, especially in its missionary aspect, e.g. Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists. It is only the Pastors and Teachers whose characteristic function would be the care of a settled congregation.

ἔδωκεν. Repeated from Ephesians 4:8. The gifts are men, members it would seem of ‘the band of captives.’ If this interpretation is accepted it would throw light on the curious use of συναιχμάλωτος in Romans 16:7 : Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:23. For the thought of αἰχμαλωσία is of a prisoner of war, not of imprisonment for a civil offence.

τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους. Cf. on Ephesians 2:20, Ephesians 3:5. It is true that the word is capable of a wide use (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13) as the Didachç has conclusively shown. But the primacy ascribed to it both here and 1 Corinthians 12:28 seems to suggest that St Paul is here using it strictly.

τοὺς δὲ προφήτας. Cf. Ephesians 2:20, Ephesians 3:5.

τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς. Besides ‘Philip the Evangelist,’ Acts 21:8, who was settled at Caesarea and had been ‘one of the Seven’ and had ‘evangelized’ the eunuch, Acts 8:35, Timothy is exhorted (2 Timothy 4:5) ‘to do the work of an Evangelist’ whether among the members of his own congregation or among the heathen it is not easy to say. We read also of a brother (2 Corinthians 8:18), most probably St Luke, ‘whose praise in the Gospel’ is spread through all the Churches.

τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους. ‘Shepherds and Teachers’ constitute a single class. The functions would naturally, but (see 1 Timothy 5:17) not necessarily, be exercised by the same person. The ‘Pastoral’ ideal goes back to words of the Lord (John 10:11; John 21:16; cf. Matthew 9:36; Matthew 26:31). It is applied to the work of the Christian Ministry by St Paul (Acts 20:28; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:7) and St Peter (1 Peter 5:2); and cf. O.T.

διδασκάλους. This corresponds to the Jewish title ‘Rabbi.’ It occupies the third place in 1 Corinthians 12:28. It occurs only once in Acts of certain ‘Prophets and Teachers’ (Acts 13:1) at Antioch. St Paul twice claims the title for himself in the Pastoral Epistles side by side with κῆρυξ καὶ ἀπόστολος. See 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11.

Verse 12

12. πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων εἰς ἔργον διακονίας. ‘With a view to the equipment of the saints for ministerial duty.’ This whole clause must be taken together, the saints, i.e. all the members of the Church, are to be fitted to render their appropriate service, cf. Ephesians 2:10. It is however not clear whether it defines the activity of the pastors and teachers, or whether it is connected directly with ἔδωκεν and defines the purpose which lay behind the special endowments granted to particular individuals. The weight of the clause and its close connexion with the main thought of the sentence are strongly in favour of connecting it closely with the main verb.

διακονία. The most inclusive word covering the whole range of ministration from the highest to the lowest. The Christian use of it would seem to rest upon the word of the Lord in Mark 10:45.

εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ χριστοῦ. ‘To result in building up the body of the Christ,’ cf. Ephesians 4:16. Here again the connexion of the clause is not quite certain. It may be connected, as the preceding clause, with ἔδωκεν, and describe the ultimate goal contemplated in the gift. It is, however, probably better, seeing that the building up of the body is in Ephesians 4:16 so directly dependent on the activity of each several part, to regard it as co-ordinate with ἔργον διακονίας, i.e. as the result of the κατ. τ. ἁγ. The ‘building up’ has two sides. It consists partly in the drawing in of fresh members into the body, and partly in the perfecting of those who are already members. Cf. Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 2:22; and Acts 20:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 14:5. The goal is described in the next clause.

Verse 13

13. καταντήσωμεν. Cf. Philippians 3:11; Acts 26:7.

οἱ πάντες. ‘One and all.’ The whole of redeemed humanity. Cf. Romans 11:32.

εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως κ.τ.λ. Cf. on Ephesians 4:3. Unity is at once our starting point and our goal. The unity from which we start is the unity of the Spirit among those who are already disciples of the One Lord, the unity which we have to achieve is the unity of humanity brought to realize their true relationship to one another and to their Head by the exercise of Christian faith. The sequence of thought is closely parallel to that in John 17:20 ff. ἴνα πάντες (sc. οἱ πιστευόντες διὰ τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ) ἔν ὦσινἴνα ὁ κόσμος πιστεύῃ ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλαςἵνα ὦσιν τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἔν, ἵνα γινώσκῃ ὁ κόσμος ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας, where, as here, the unity of believers is to bring the world to faith in and the knowledge of the mission of the Son.

ἐπιγνώσεως. The stress on knowledge as a further development of faith is characteristic of this group of Epp. See esp. Colossians 2:2; Colossians 3:10.

τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ. The use of this title is rare in St Paul. In this form only Galatians 2:20 and Acts 9:20. Yet cf. Romans 1:4; Romans 1:9; Galatians 4:6. It recalls the thought of the Fatherhood which runs through the Ep.

εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον. Each up to the standard of a fully developed man. Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:11 ὅτε γέγονα ἀνήρ, and Hort on James 3:2. St Paul is fond of the contrast between the full-grown and the babes (cf. νήπιοι, Ephesians 4:14), 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 14:20. The thought is connected esp. with intellectual maturity, cf. Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28; Colossians 4:12. The maturity of the whole and the maturity of the parts are interdependent. See Hebrews 11:40. But St Paul is here thinking of the perfection of each individual (cf. Ephesians 4:14) as in Colossians 1:28. He uses ἄνθρωπος (Ephesians 2:15) not ἀνὴρ for ‘the New Man.’

εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ χριστοῦ. ‘Up to the measure of maturity provided by the perfection of the Christ.’ It is difficult to fix any point at which a man may be regarded as having attained to the full realization of all the capacities of his being. Our nature is complex and the different parts mature at different times. ‘The fulness of the Christ’ supplies at once the standard and the power by which that standard can be attained universally.

Verse 14

14. ἵνα μηκέτι ὦμεν νήπιοι. The ‘infant’ is still dependent on others for instruction (Romans 2:20; Galatians 4:2). The Christian ideal is not satisfied until every member is capable of exercising his own judgement on the problems of life and thought by which he is confronted; cf. Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 5:13. And as this passage shows, the authority of Teachers in the Church is given them to this end. No individual Christian, however, can hope to attain to a right judgement in isolation from his fellows; cf. on Ephesians 3:18. This clause is to be regarded (Westcott and Robinson) as co-ordinate with Ephesians 4:13, i.e. the putting away childish things has not to wait until we have attained our ultimate perfection, it marks out the way which we have to go.

κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι παντὶ ἀνέμῳ. St Paul is describing under an entirely fresh metaphor the disadvantages of lingering in a condition of spiritual childishness. The figure is that of a boat tossed on a rough sea (see Hort’s note on James 1:6) and swung round by every wind (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:7 ἡ συκοφαντία περιφέρει σοφόν). It is the opposite condition to that indicated in Ephesians 3:17 ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι, and Colossians 1:23.

τῆς διδασκαλίας. It is strange that the chief danger against which the members of the body have to be guarded by the ministry of pastors and teachers comes from teaching. But the conflict of truth and error in regard to the spiritual realities is clearly an inevitable part of the conflict to which we are called even ‘in the heavenlies.’ Nor is there any simple mechanical test by which the false teacher can be distinguished from the true. The wolves, of whom we are to beware (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29), come in sheep’s clothing. Satan transforms himself into an Angel of Light and his ministers follow his example (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Nothing therefore can relieve us of the responsibility of direct and personal communion with the Truth, each for himself, if we are to discriminate the guiding of the Spirit from the shifting gales of human invention. The warning against (all) teaching, without qualification, is parallel to the warning in 1 John 4:1 ‘Trust not every spirit’ (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:20 f. προφητείας μὴ ἐξουθενεῖτε πάντα δὲ δοκιμάζετε). Otherwise it would be tempting to suppose that, as in Colossians 2:8 the false teachers came with a philosophy of their own, so those whom St Paul has specially in mind have arrogated the title of ‘the doctrine’ for their own system. In the Pastoral Epistles ἡ ὑγιαίνουσα διδασκαλία seems to stand in contrast with a specific rival. Hort however, Eccl. p. 162, interprets the clause of ‘the old heathen state of distracted beguilement by unworthy teachers,’ on the analogy perhaps of 1 Corinthians 12:2.

ἐν τῇ κυβίᾳ. ‘Recklessness,’ lit. dice-playing. It refers to lack of seriousness in principle in dealing as teachers with truth.

τῶν ἀνθρώπων. The thought recalls Colossians 2:8 and Ephesians 4:22, which itself recalls Isaiah 29:13 and Mark 7:6 ff.; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:3. Human nature trusting to itself is (Ephesians 2:2) under the dominion of ‘the spirit that is at work even now in the sons of disobedience.’

ἐν πανουργίᾳ. ‘By knavery.’ The word has not necessarily a bad meaning, e.g. Proverbs 1:4 ἴνα δῷ ἀκάκοις πανουργίαν, but St Paul uses it so in a somewhat similar context 2 Corinthians 4:2 and of the subtlety of the serpent, 2 Corinthians 11:3. Here it is better with Robinson to connect it closely with the following clause.

πρὸς. Cf. Luke 12:47 ποιεῖν πρὸς τὸ θέλημα, ‘corresponding to,’ ‘following the guidance of.’

τὴν μεθοδίαν. Cf. Ephesians 6:11. ‘The scheming.’

τῆς πλάνης. Cf. Hort quoted on Ephesians 2:2, ‘A collective term for the moral anarchy of heathenism.’ Cf. ἡ ἀπάτη, Ephesians 4:22, τὸ ψεῦδος, Ephesians 4:25, and ct. τῆς ἀληθείας, Ephesians 4:24. The parallel in Ephesians 6:11 shows that μεθοδία is naturally connected with an active force. Πλανᾶν is used of Satan Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:10; cf. Revelation 13:14 of ‘the False Prophet’; cf. ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου, Mark 4:19. It seems better therefore to regard it here in its active rather than in its passive sense. The schemings are not merely mistaken but misleading. The true state or the false state of the society to which we belong, the ideal of the Church and the ideal of the world, exercise an influence over our judgements especially in matters of right and wrong of a most practical kind. Cf. Hort on κόσμος in St James.

Verse 15

15. ἀληθεύοντες δὲ. ‘Being’ or ‘Living the truth.’ The context shows that far more than truth-speaking is required, and the use of ἀληθεύειν in LXX. is in favour of a wide extension of meaning to truth in all relations of life. Genesis 20:16 καὶ πάντα ἀλήθευσον = Niph. יָכַח ‘in respect of all thou art righted’; Proverbs 21:3 ποιεῖν δίκαια καὶ ἀληθεύειν = ‘to do justice and judgement’ = מִשְׁפָּט; Isaiah 44:26 τὴν βουλὴν τῶν ἀγγέλων αὐτοῦ ἀληθεύων = שָׁלַם Hi. = ‘performeth the counsel of his messengers.’ Sirach 31[34]:4 καὶ ἀπὸ ψευδοῦς τί ἀληθεύσει; ‘Of that which is false what shall be true?’ The context is treating of the unsubstantial character of dreams. This corresponds to the fuller meaning of ἀλήθεια as ‘truth in fact,’ ‘actual reality,’ and not merely ‘correctness’ of statement, for which Whitaker contends, and to the use of ἀληθινός and ποιεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν in St John.

ἐν ἀγάπῃ. Here as in Ephesians 4:2 (cf. on Ephesians 1:4) ‘love’ is at once the definition of a life in accordance with the truth (hatred or indifference being a violation of the relationship in which by the very constitution of our being we stand both to God and to our brethren) and the power by which alone a life can be kept true.

αὐξήσωμεν εἰς αὐτὸν. The parallels εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας suggest (so Abbott) [1] ‘up to Him’ as the standard (cf. Ephesians 3:19 εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα) or goal of our development, i.e. ‘until we become identified with Him.’ It would be possible to take it [2] = ‘unto Him,’ i.e. for His possession, as Colossians 1:16 τὰ πάνταεἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται, or [3] ‘into Him,’ into closer and closer union until at last our incorporation is complete. This would reach the same end as [1] by a different route. The apparent paradox of members of a body having to grow into their places in the body is inevitable in the spiritual region where the objective fact necessarily precedes the subjective realization, and the battle of life is ‘to become’ what we ‘are.’ The exhortation to the branches ‘to abide in’ the Vine (John 15:4 ff.) implies the same paradox. Cf. the strange phrase in the parallel context in Colossians 2:19 οὐ κρατῶν τὴν κεφαλήν = ‘refusing to abide in.’

τὰ πάντα. ‘In regard to every element in our being,’ nothing being withheld from His dominion.

ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή. Cf. Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 5:23, and esp. Colossians 2:19. The main thought is of sovereignty. It is a somewhat perplexing accident, both here and in Ephesians 1:22, that the metaphor is drawn from the relation of one part of the body to the rest.

Verse 16

16. ἐξ οὗ is to be connected with τὴν αὔξησιν ποιεῖται as with αὔξει in Colossians 2:19. It is used of the dependence of all on God in Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 11:12. Cf. γεννᾶσθαι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ in Jn.

συναρμολογούμενον καὶ συνβιβαζόμενον. Cf. Ephesians 2:21, ‘fitted and knit together.’ The parts have to be fitted into one another, as the stones in a building or as the bones in the skeleton, and the whole structure has to be knit into one. See Robinson’s note.

διὰ πάσης ἁφῆς τῆς ἐπιχορηγίας. ‘By every band (or ligament) with which Christ furnishes it.’ In Colossians 2:19 ‘the whole body’ is equipt and knit together by means of the ligaments and bands. Here the ligaments are regarded as constituting either the whole or part of the equipment, and our attention is concentrated on their function in maintaining the unity and coherence of the whole structure. ἁφὴ, as Robinson has shown, here as in Colossians 2:19 = a band or fastening, from ἅπτω, I bind. It may be a technical physiological term for a ligament. The translation ‘joint’ has no authority. ἁφὴ (from ἅπτω, I touch) cannot mean more than a point of contact.τῆς ἐπιχορηγίας (see Robinson). The ligaments are in no sense sources of supply, i.e. of nutriment to the body. They are part of its furniture or equipment. The word would seem to be chosen to pick up the thought of the bounty of Christ (Ephesians 4:11) in supplying the Church with leaders. They constitute the ‘ligaments’ of the Body, just as in Ephesians 2:20 the Apostles and Prophets constitute ‘the foundation’ of the Temple.

κατʼ ἐνέργειαν ἐν μέτρῳ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου μέρους. ‘In accordance with the activity in due measure of each individual part,’ i.e. as each organ of the body fulfils its appointed function in due relation to the rest. Here St Paul repeats the thought of Ephesians 4:7; Ephesians 4:12. Each member of the body has its share in the building up of the whole. The clause may be connected either with the participles or with the finite verb. It really belongs to both.

τὴν αὔξησιν τοῦ σώματος ποιεῖται,, Ephesians 4:15. The normal result of the unified and ordered activity of the living organism is growth. αὔξησιν ποιεῖσθαι = αὐξάνεσθαι by a familiar classical idiom. The full form is used here because St Paul desires to lay stress both on the fact of the growth and of its dependence on the energy developed within the body itself.

εἰς οἰκοδομὴν ἑαυτοῦ,, Ephesians 4:12. Once more the thought of ‘growth’ is linked with the thought of building. In the spiritual structure each element abides: it has what the material particles of a living body have not—a permanent place in the whole.

ἐν ἀγάπῃ. Cf. Ephesians 4:15. The last as it is the first condition of vital development.

Verse 17

17. St Paul resumes the exhortation begun in Ephesians 4:1. But this time from the negative side—the side of the evil habits that have to be given up. This section extends to Ephesians 4:14. It falls into two divisions: Ephesians 4:17-24. The contrast between the old and the new in principle. Ephesians 4:25 to Eph_5:14. The contrast in detail.

Verses 17-24


μαρτύρομαι. Of solemn protest. Acts 20:26 (at Ephesus), Acts 26:22; Galatians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

ἐν κυρίῳ., Ephesians 2:21, Ephesians 4:1.

περιπατεῖν. Cf. on Ephesians 2:2.

ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν. The picture of the ‘gentile’ manner of life should be compared with the fuller treatment of the same subject in Romans 1:18-32; cf. 1 Peter 4:1-4. ματαιότητι, cf. Romans 1:21; 1 Peter 1:18. On the latter passage Hort says: ‘Its vanity’ (i.e. of a life not guided by belief in the true God) ‘consists in its essential unreality and want of correspondence to the truth of things, its inability to fulfil the promises which it suggests, and its universal unproductiveness.’

τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν. Cf. Ephesians 4:23. νοῦς in St Paul (esp. note Romans 1:28; Romans 7:23; Romans 7:25; Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:18; 1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 3:8) is the faculty pre-eminently of moral discernment—blunted by sin, but capable of renewal in Christ.

Verses 17-32


Verse 18

18. ἐσκοτωμένοι. Cf. Ephesians 5:8; Ephesians 5:11, Ephesians 6:12. Darkness is the condition of the Gentile world apart from Christ; cf. Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13, 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 1:17. There is an O.T. background to the thought in Isaiah 9:1 = Matthew 4:16; Luke 1:79. And in words of the Lord John 8:12; John 12:46. In Romans 1:21 the darkness is part of the judgement on idolatry. In 1 John 2:11 it is the result of ‘hating the brother.’ Cf. Matthew 6:23.

τῇ διανοίᾳ. Cf. Hort on 1 Peter 1:13. In LXX. an alternative translation with καρδία for לֵב or לֵבָב for the centre of thought. The Gospel is here regarded primarily as a revelation of Truth.

ὄντες. Westcott Hort connect with ἐσκοτ., Robinson with ἀπηλ. In any case redundant.

ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι., Ephesians 2:12; Colossians 1:21.

τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ. In Ephesians 2:12 the alienation is from ‘the commonwealth of Israel,’ the communion of saints, here it is from the source of personal holiness. The phrase, ‘the life of God,’ does not seem to occur elsewhere. The thought is best illustrated by Psalms 36[35]:9 [10], “With Thee is the well of life, and in Thy light shall we see light’ (for the life of God is self-communicating), and by the parable of the Vine, John 15:5. The life consists in and is imparted by communion with God, which is expressed on our side by ‘the knowledge of God’; cf. John 17:3. St Paul’s thought here is therefore parallel to Romans 1:28. For the relation of ‘life’ and ‘light’ cf. John 1:4; John 8:12. For the condition of ‘death’ in which the grace of God found them see Ephesians 2:1.

ἄγνοιαν like σκότος is a characteristic of the Gentile position: cf. Acts 17:30; 1 Peter 1:14. This ignorance is not to be regarded as an extenuation of their guilt. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:34; 1 Timothy 1:13. It is self-caused (Romans 1:28).

διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν. Probably best taken as giving the source of the ignorance. The callousness of their hearts, their insensibility to the voice of conscience, shuts out the consciousness of His presence with them. The darkness blinded their eyes. Cf. 1 John 2:11. πώρωσις, as Robinson shows, expresses the hardening which indicates irresponsiveness rather than wilful rebellion and so is practically equivalent to blindness. τῆς καρδίας virtually synonymous with διάνοια, the seat of moral illumination; cf. on Ephesians 1:18.

Verse 19

19. ἀπηλγηκότες, ‘in a state of moral insensibility.’ ‘Past feeling.’

ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν. Just as in Exodus the narrative speaks at times of Pharaoh’s hardening his heart, and at times of the Lord as hardening Pharaoh’s heart, so here the Gentiles are said ‘to give themselves up,’ whereas in Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28 with solemn iteration we read παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεός. Cp. also Wisdom 14; 1 Peter 4:3 for parallel pictures of the moral degradation of heathenism.

τῇ ἀσελγείᾳ., Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3 : ‘lasciviousness’ with the further thought of passion unrestrained by any sense of propriety, shocking public decency.

εἰς ἐργασίαν ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης, ‘to consummate in act’ rather than ‘to make a business of.’

ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ, ‘with greediness,’ ‘with a miser’s greed’ (Lightfoot). Lust is inherently insatiable and selfish. The word is often used in close connexion with uncleanness, cp. Ephesians 5:3; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 5:10, but this is not inherent in the word itself, but is due rather to the common root from which the vices spring. See further on Ephesians 5:3.

Verse 20

20. In sharp contrast with this picture of heathen degradation St Paul puts the moral ideal of the Gospel. This illustrates afresh the manifold applicability of St Paul’s fundamental truth. As ‘in Christ’ we are brought into unity with the Father, and with our brethren, so we each find the law of our individual development, and the power to fulfil it ‘in Him.’ Christ is not the Truth only, He is also the Way and the Life.

Ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἐμάθετε τὸν χριστόν. οὐχ οὕτως, cf. Luke 22:26, where, as here, it marks the contrast of the old ideal and the new. Christ is here the lesson, not as in Matthew 23:10 the Teacher. Matthew 11:29 is a real parallel in thought, all the more noteworthy from the echo of the same text in Ephesians 4:2. Cp. also Philippians 4:9. There is an ideal Messianic character as well as office and work pourtrayed in O.T. See Romans 15:3 f. Cf. Matthew 12:18 f., and perhaps 2 Thessalonians 3:5 and 2 Corinthians 10:1. In any case the thought here is of ‘the Christ’ as embodying a moral ideal binding on all His members. It is the application to the individual conscience of ‘the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.’ Grammatically ‘learning’ Christ is correlative with preaching and proclaiming Christ, Galatians 1:16; Philippians 1:15 f. In 1 Corinthians 1:23 and Colossians 2:6 the additional definitions soften the strangeness of the phrase.

Verse 21

21. εἴ γε. Cf. on Ephesians 3:2 not implying doubt.

αὐτὸν ἠκούσατε. ‘If He was the subject of the message that ye heard.’ If St Paul had thought of Him as the speaker he would (as in Romans 10:14) have used the gen.

καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐδιδάχθητε. Cf. on Ephesians 1:13. ἐν αὐτῷ, in realized union with Him. Our use of ‘in’ as defining a subject of instruction may mislead us here. There seems no instance of such a use of ἐν. Even in Colossians 1:28 διδἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ, the ἐν is probably instrumental.

καθὼς ἔστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ. ‘As there is truthfulness in Jesus.’ The clause is difficult. It is important in interpreting it to bear in mind in the first place that it is a parenthesis. The infinitives ἀποθέσθαι and ἀνανεοῦσθαι that follow depend on ἐδιδάχθητε. It is therefore, to say the least, unlikely that the clause contains a statement on an important Christological problem. An allusion to the perfect embodiment of the Christ in the humanity of Jesus might have been in place in controversy with Cerinthus, but it seems to belong to a region of thought remote from the present context. We need not therefore consider farther the possibility of reading (with Hort) ἀληθείᾳ for ἀλήθεια. In the second place, it is impossible to dissociate the use of ἀλήθεια here from the use of ἀληθεύειν in Ephesians 4:15, and of τῆς ἀληθείας in Ephesians 4:24. As the contrast with ἡ πλάνη (Ephesians 4:14), ἡ ἀπάτη (Ephesians 4:22) and τὸ ψεῦδος (Ephesians 4:25) shows, ἀλήθεια has throughout the passage a vital and moral even more than an ‘intellectual’ content. It might be rendered on the one side ‘reality,’ on the other ‘truthfulness.’ As a personal characteristic it implies a perfect response on our part to the facts of the position in which we find ourselves, i.e. to the relationships by which we are surrounded, facts and relationships to which our natural selfishness makes us continually untrue. It is at once to guide and to stimulate the effort, that such truthfulness will require of us, that St Paul reminds us of the abiding presence of just this quality in the humanity of our Lord.

ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ. The use of the name Jesus by itself is rare in St Paul. It is used here because the reference is to a personal quality possessed by Him, and not in the first instance by us in virtue of our union with Him. There seems to be only one instance (Revelation 1:9) where ἐν Ἰησοῦ stands in this latter sense as the equivalent of the Pauline ἐν Χριστῷ or ἐν Κυρίῳ. There is an instructive contrast with many points of contact with St Paul’s language here, in John 8:44. Notice esp. τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶνὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν αὐτῷὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος. The interpretation given above is on the lines suggested by Origen’s comment. J.T.[126]

[127] vol. III. p. 418. ὥς ἐστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν μαθοῦσι τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ αὐτὸν ἀκούσασι καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ διδαχθεῖσιν, ἀποθεμένοις τε κατὰ τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφὴν τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον κ.τ.λ. Compare also Whitaker.

Verse 22

22. ἀποθέσθαι., Romans 13:12; Colossians 3:8; cf. 1 Peter 2:1; James 1:21; Hebrews 12:1. ‘Laying aside.’ The context in the Pauline passages suggests the figure of putting off clothes, expressed most forcibly in Colossians 3:9 ἀπεκδυσάμενοι. Notice the Aor. It implies a resolute effort to take a decisive step.

κατὰ τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφὴν. Cf. on Ephesians 2:3 : ‘in regard to.’

τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον,, Colossians 3:9; Romans 6:6. The phrase is the natural antithesis to ὁ καινὸς ἄνθρωπος, Ephesians 4:24 (ὁ νέος ὁ ἀνακαινούμενος, Colossians 3:10); cf. Ephesians 2:15. In Ephesians 2:15 the One New Man is a corporate unit, and mankind is one in Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22; cf. Romans 5:12) as in Christ. But here and in the kindred passages (cf. 1 Peter 3:4 ὁ κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος) the thought is of the ruling principle in the individual character. So in Galatians 5:24 (|| Romans 6:6) ἡ σάρξ takes the place of ὁ παλ. ἡμ. ἀνθ.

τὸν φθειρόμενον. In 2 Corinthians 4:16 the thought is of physical decay. Here our attention is called to the moral degeneration, of which the physical is the symbol. Notice with Origen the force of the present. The limit of corruption whether in the individual or in Society had not yet been reached, cf. 2 Timothy 3:13; ct. ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ, Ephesians 6:24.

κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης. Cf. John 8:44 quoted above and Ephesians 2:3 ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν. ‘Desires that are excited by the spirit of deceit.’ External objects of all kinds attract us with promises of gratification which continually disappoint us when we pursue them without reference to the higher Law. So our Lord speaks of ‘the deceitfulness of riches.’ St Paul here ascribes the origin of the attraction to an active principle of deceit working through these false objects of desire. Such desires, continually failing of satisfaction, are responsible for the progressive deterioration of the old man.

Verse 23

23. ἀνανεοῦσθαι δὲ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν, ‘be made young again in the spirit of your mind.’ Notice the present. The process of renewal is continuous. Notice also the characteristically Pauline thought of the newness of life to which the Gospel gives access. In O.T. the thought is found in Isaiah 40:31; cf. Psalms 103:5. Besides the prophecies of the new Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) and of the new Heaven and the new Earth (Isaiah 65), the closest parallel would seem to be the new Heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and the new Spirit (Ezekiel 11:19). In the Gospel our Lord speaks of the new wine and the fresh wineskins—of the new Covenant in His blood, and of the new Commandment. In St Paul we have ‘the new Creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) and the newness of Life into which we pass at baptism. It is coupled with λουτρὸν παλιγγενεσίας in Titus 3:5. The thought is closely connected with the thought of ‘being born again’ or ‘begotten again’ in John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:23 (cf. Hort in loc.). But here and in Colossians 3:10 the stress is laid on a continuous process which is dependent at every point on the consent of our wills.

τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν. Cf. Ephesians 4:17 : ‘in the spirit of your mind.’ Dat. local not instr. νοῦς in N.T. is almost confined to St Paul (22 times), Lk [1], Apoc. [2]. It is rare in LXX. for לב or לבב (6 times). It is ‘the organ of moral thinking and knowing’ (see Delitzsch, Bib. Psych.). As it is the seat of the deepest corruption (cf. Ephesians 4:17; Romans 1:28), so the renewal must begin there. Cf. Romans 7:25; Romans 12:2. ‘The spirit of the mind’ is an unique phrase. It must mean the spiritual root or ground out of which the conscious mind springs, ‘intimum mentis,’ Bengel.

Verse 24

24. καὶ ἐνδύσασθαι, the Aorist again. ‘Putting on’ is the natural antithesis to the ‘putting off,’ cf. Ephesians 4:22. Cf. Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14 and esp. Colossians 3:10; Colossians 3:12. In Gal. and Rom. ‘Christ’ or ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’ is the new vesture. Here and in Colossians 3:10 it is the ‘New Man.’ In Colossians 3:12 it is ‘pity, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.’

τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον κ.τ.λ. This describes in detail what St Paul expresses in the earlier epistles by the concise phrase ‘καινὴ κτίσις’. It is the character produced in the man who realizes his position in Christ and yields himself to be moulded by His Spirit after His likeness, that is after the likeness of God.

κατὰ θεὸν. In justification of the rendering ‘after the likeness of God’ see Hort on 1 Peter 1:15 κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα.

κτισθέντα. Cf. on Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 2:15. The new Creation like the old is regarded as ideally complete. Though it needs all the ages for its realization, the pattern has been perfectly expressed in the humanity of Jesus Christ.

ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητι τῆς ἀληθείας. Cf. Luke 1:75. In Wisdom of Solomon 9:3 Man is fashioned to administer the world ἐν ὁσιότητι καὶ δικ. ὁσιότης is rare in LXX., once for ישֶׁר ‘uprightness,’ twice for תֹּם ‘integrity.’ ὅσιος is constant in the Psalter for חָסִיד. See Lightfoot on 1 Thessalonians 2:10.

τῆς ἀληθείας. Appropriate to and springing from the truth revealed and lived. So in John 17:17 sanctification is in the truth.

Verse 25

25. We pass on now to consider in detail special forms of evil that must be put off.

Διὸ ἀποθέμενοι τὸ ψεῦδος. τὸ ψεῦδος after ἡ ἀπάτη and ἡ πλάνη cannot be simply ‘the habit of lying,’ it must include the whole false attitude towards life, the principle of selfishness from which every form of evil springs.

λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν ἕκαστος μετὰ τοῦ πλησίον αὐτοῦ. The first result will be resolute truthfulness in speech. This quality according to Zechariah 8:3; Zechariah 8:16 f. (cf. Psalms 15:2 and John 1:17) was to characterize the inhabitants of the restored Israel.

ὅτι ἐσμὲν ἀλλήλων μέλη. Cf. Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:25. At first sight this is a strange reason for speaking truth to one another. The ground of it becomes clearer on reflection. All hope of mutual understanding, all social intercourse, all effective corporate action is bound up with a deep sense of the sacredness of language as our chief means of communication. Lying is before all things an anti-social sin. In Colossians 3:9 the exhortation is given in the negative form μὴ ψεύδεσθε εἰς ἀλλήλους.

Verses 25-32

Ephesians 4:25 to Ephesians 5:14. THE CONTRAST IN DETAIL

Verse 26

26. ὀργὴ is forbidden absolutely in Ephesians 4:31 in the sense of personal outburst of passion. There is good reason therefore for taking this verse as referring to ‘righteous indignation’; cf. James 1:19 βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν. For the anger here is regarded as inevitable and right, though needing to be kept in strict restraint. Indeed the obligation to speak truth involves at times the saying of hard things.

ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε is taken from LXX. of Psalms 4:4, and is apparently an accurate translation of a difficult phrase. The section Matthew 5:22 ff. may have the same meaning, esp. with the omission of εἰκῇ. ἔνοχος τῇ κρίσει simply asserts that every one who is angry will have to give an account. It does not say that he will necessarily be condemned.

ὁ ἥλιος μὴ ἐπιδυέτω ἐπὶ παροργισμῷ ὑμῶν. παροργισμὸς seems to be used more of provocation given than of offence taken. In that case the injunction would suggest consideration of the feelings of others rather than watchfulness over our own. The duty would be to seek reconciliation with any whom we have irritated, before sunset. Certainly that method of approaching the matter would leave the least room for the devil to get a lodging within the community for the destruction of its peace. It would also correspond most closely the interesting Pythagorean precedent quoted by Wetstein: εἶτα μιμεῖσθαι τοὺς Πυθαγορικοὺς οἱ γένει μηθὲν προσήκοντες, ἀλλὰ κοινοῦ λόγου μετέχοντες, εἴποτε προσαχθεῖεν εἰς λοιδορίας ὑπʼ ὀργῆς, πρὶν ἢ τὸν ἥλιον δῦναι τὰς δεξιὰς ἐμβάλλοντες ἀλλήλοις καὶ ἀσπασάμενοι διελύοντο, Plut. De Am. Frat. 488 B.

Verse 27

27. δίδοτε τόπον, ‘give room’ or ‘allow scope.’ Romans 12:19; Sirach 4:5; Sirach 19:17; Sirach 38:2. See Robinson

τῷ διαβόλῳ. See Hort on James 4:7.

Verse 28

28. ὁ κλέπτων μηκέτι κλεπτέτω. This implies, as indeed Ephesians 4:17 does, that the bad habits of their former life still hung about some of the converts. The moral atmosphere of an establishment of slaves must have been terribly degrading for those who were still immersed in it. St Paul, however, as the next clause shows, must have been thinking in the main of free men.

μᾶλλον δὲ κοπιάτω. Cf. Acts 20:34 f. The distaste for the steady work necessary to earn a living is not peculiar to any generation. St Paul’s fixed principle of self-support served a further purpose besides distinguishing him from the tribe of charlatans.

ἐργαζόμενος ταῖς χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν,, 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:11. ἐργ. τὸ ἀγαθόν is not to be confused with the phrase in Romans 2:10; Galatians 6:10. The best parallel is Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14 καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι. There were disreputable methods of making a living, the evil of which would not be purged by a charitable subscription, so the addition of τὸ ἀγαθὸν is not superfluous.

ἵνα ἔχῃ μεταδιδόναι τῷ χρείαν ἔχοντι. Neither St Paul (1 Timothy 6:17 f.) nor our Lord (Luke 16:9) denounces the institution of private property. Both find its chief end in the power that it gives for social service.

Verse 29

29. σαπρὸς. It is worth notice that in Matthew 12:33 ff. the reference to δένδρον σαπρὸν and καρπὸν σαπρὸν is connected directly with a reference to the character of words proceeding out of the mouth, cf. Luke 6:45 (which has points of contact with Matthew 12:34 f. no less than with Matthew 7:17 f.). σαπρὸς is not worthless merely but foul, loathsome to a healthy taste, and spreading corruption. This would include ill-natured gossip no less than language of the kind with which St Paul deals more at length in Ephesians 5:4.

μὴ ἐκπορευέσθω. Cf. the Homeric ποῖόν σε ἔπος φύγεν ἕρκος ὀδόντων. We cannot prevent the thought occurring to our minds. We can refuse to give it utterance.

πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας, ‘to supply what is wanted on each occasion.’ Cf. the praise of ‘the word in season’ Proverbs 15:23; Sirach 20:6 f., esp. Sirach 20:19 ἄνθρωπος ἄχαρις μῦθος ἄκαιρος.

δῷ χάριν. To a Greek, as the comments of Chrysostom and Theodoret show, the phrase here suggested inevitably the thought of ‘giving pleasure to,’ ‘gratifying the sense of fitness in the hearers,’ men it is presumed of spiritual perception. It cannot here (any more than in James 4:6 (cf. 1 Peter 5:5), see Hort in loc.) have primarily the meaning of ‘Grace’ in the technical theological sense. But no doubt the fitting word would bring spiritual blessing with it. The parallel exhortation in Colossians 4:6 expresses the thought more fully from the positive side.

Verse 30

30. καὶ μὴ λυπεῖτε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τοῦ θεοῦ, κ.τ.λ. Cf. Ephesians 1:13. This verse introduces a further consideration which would help to the control of the tongue, because the Spirit is especially connected with the gift of Christian utterance, cf. Ephesians 6:17; Luke 12:12. The Spirit however is also in a special sense the guardian of the corporate life (Ephesians 4:3), so the thought has a wider range, covering all the topics discussed in this section. The presence of the Spirit in and with all the members of the Body carries with it, as we were taught in Ephesians 1:13, a mark of God’s possession, and a pledge of coming deliverance. We are reminded here that the Spirit is a Person, Who cannot be regarded as indifferent to our response to His care and guidance. The appeal to the love of the Spirit in Romans 15:30 is parallel; cf. Hebrews 10:29; Isaiah 63:10; Hermas, Mand. x. 2.

Verse 31

31. πᾶσα πικρία καὶ θυμὸς καὶ ὀργὴ καὶ κραυγὴ καὶ βλασφημία. We pass now to a warning against all tokens of an unbrotherly temper. The stress laid on this side of Christian Ethics by all the N.T. writers is worth careful attention. The words here mark the stages in the development of a quarrel: πικρία is the feeling of bitterness that refuses reconciliation, θυμὸς an outburst of passion, ὀργὴ the settled state of irritation, κραυγὴ noisy denunciation, βλασφημία slanderous reviling.

ἀρθήτω ἀφʼ ὑμῶν. The phrase suggests indignant rejection, cf. Acts 22:22.

σὺν πάσῃ κακίᾳ. ‘With every form of malice.’ Cf. 1 Peter 2:1; James 1:21, with Hort’s notes.

Verse 32

32. St Paul passes from the discord to sketch in a few pregnant lines the nature and the ground of the Christian harmony.

γίνεσθε. ‘Show yourselves in thought and word and deed,’ ‘live according to your true nature.’ No doubt in a real sense the character is acquired (we win our souls, Luke 21:19) as the habit of living in accordance with it is formed by repeated acts. But the result is never represented in the N.T. as the reward of effort self-directed and self-supported. That would be to make it what St Paul describes as a ‘righteousness of our own rooted in law’ Philippians 3:9. It is always the appropriation of what is already ours by the free gift of God in and through Jesus Christ. So we are told to ‘become’ sons of our Father in Heaven by following the laws of His action Matthew 5:45. Cf. the use of γίνεσθαι in 1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 3:6 with Hort’s note.

χρηστοί, kindness shown in helpful action, a constant attribute of God both in O. and N.T.

εὔσπλαγχνοι. According to its biblical sense ‘tender-hearted’ = σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ, Colossians 3:12.

χαριζόμενοι ‘forgiving.’ The final antithesis to the spirit of bitterness.

ἑαυτοῖς. The change from εἰς ἀλλήλους in the opening phrase should be noticed, but as Robinson shows (after Blass, Gr. N.T. § 48, 49) too much must not be made of it. The same change is found in Colossians 3:13; Colossians 3:16; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 Peter 4:10 and Luke 23:12. Certainly in this last passage the change can only be due to the love of variety.

καθὼς καὶ ὁ θεὸς. St Paul here writes out at length the thought implied in κατὰ θεὸν in Ephesians 4:24. The Divine Example as the ultimate standard and as a constraining motive in the Christian life, appears in its clearest form in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36). The Gospel of St John helps us to realize the character of a life lived continuously in submission to this law. For the O.T. background for the thought and the Gentile aspirations in the same direction, see Hort on 1 Peter 1:15. For the special application of the example to the duty of forgiveness cf. Matthew 18:32 f. and Luke 6:35. The sight of Stephen praying for his murderers must have been St Paul’s first introduction to this side of the activity of the Christian Spirit.

ἐν Χριστῷ. See pp. lxii–lxxvi. Christ is both the message and: the reality of God’s forgiveness for men.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Ephesians 4:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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