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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Ephesians 4



Other Authors
Verse 1

Wherewith ye were called (ης εκλητητεhēs eklēthēte). Attraction of the relative ηςhēs to the genitive of the antecedent κλησεωςklēseōs (calling) from the cognate accusative ηνhēn with εκλητητεeklēthēte (first aorist passive indicative of καλεωkaleō to call. For the list of virtues here see note on Colossians 3:12. To ανεχομενοι αλληλωνanechomenoi allēlōn (Colossians 3:13) Paul here adds “in love” (εν αγαπηιen agapēi), singled out in Colossians 3:14.

Verse 3

The unity (την ενοτηταtēn henotēta). Late and rare word (from ειςheis one), in Aristotle and Plutarch, though in N.T. only here and Ephesians 4:13.

In the bond of peace (εν τωι συνδεσμωι της ειρηνηςen tōi sundesmōi tēs eirēnēs). In Colossians 3:14 αγαπηagapē (love) is the συνδεσμοςsundesmos (bond). But there is no peace without love (Ephesians 4:2).

Verse 4

One body (εν σωμαhen sōma). One mystical body of Christ (the spiritual church or kingdom, cf. Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:16).

One Spirit (εν πνευμαhen pneuma). One Holy Spirit, grammatical neuter gender (not to be referred to by “it,” but by “he”).

In one hope (εν μιαι ελπιδιen miāi elpidi). The same hope as a result of their calling for both Jew and Greek as shown in chapter 2.

Verse 5

One Lord (εις Κυριοςheis Kurios). The Lord Jesus Christ and he alone (no series of aeons).

One faith (μια πιστιςmia pistis). One act of trust in Christ, the same for all (Jew or Gentile), one way of being saved.

One baptism (εν βαπτισμαhen baptisma). The result of baptizing (βαπτισμαbaptisma), while βαπτισμοςbaptismos is the act. Only in the N.T. (βαπτισμοςbaptismos in Josephus) and ecclesiastical writers naturally. See note on Mark 10:38. There is only one act of baptism for all (Jews and Gentiles) who confess Christ by means of this symbol, not that they are made disciples by this one act, but merely so profess him, put Christ on publicly by this ordinance.

Verse 6

One God and Father of all (εις τεος και πατηρ παντωνheis theos kai patēr pantōn). Not a separate God for each nation or religion. One God for all men. See here the Trinity again (Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit).

Who is over all (ο επι παντωνho epi pantōn), and through all (και δια παντωνkai dia pantōn), and in all (και εν πασινkai en pāsin). Thus by three prepositions (επι δια ενepiπαντων παντων πασινdiaen) Paul has endeavoured to express the universal sweep and power of God in men‘s lives. The pronouns (pantōnpantōnpāsin) can be all masculine, all neuter, or part one or the other. The last “in all” is certainly masculine and probably all are.

Verse 7

According to the measure of the gifts of Christ (κατα το μετρον της δωρεας του Χριστουkata to metron tēs dōreas tou Christou). Each gets the gift that Christ has to bestow for his special case. See note on 1 Corinthians 12:4.; Romans 12:4-6.

Verse 8

Wherefore he saith (διο λεγειdio legei). As a confirmation of what Paul has said. No subject is expressed in the Greek and commentators argue whether it should be ο τεοςho theos (God) or η γραπηhē graphē (Scripture). But it comes to God after all. See note on Acts 2:17. The quotation is from Psalm 68:18, a Messianic Psalm of victory which Paul adapts and interprets for Christ‘s triumph over death.

He led captivity captive (ηιχμαλωτευσεν αιχμαλωσιανēichmalōteusen aichmalōsian). Cognate accusative of αιχμαλωσιανaichmalōsian late word, in N.T. only here and Revelation 13:10. The verb also (αιχμαλωτευωaichmalōteuō) is from the old word αιχμαλωτοςaichmalōtos captive in war (in N.T. only in Luke 4:18), in lxx and only here in N.T.

Verse 9

Now this (το δεto de). Paul picks out the verb αναβαςanabas (second aorist active participle of αναβαινωanabainō to go up), changes its form to ανεβηanebē (second aorist indicative), and points the article (τοto) at it. Then he concludes that it implied a previous καταβαςkatabas (coming down).

Into the lower parts of the earth (εις τα κατωτερα της γηςeis ta katōtera tēs gēs). If the αναβαςanabas is the Ascension of Christ, then the καταβαςkatabas would be the Descent (Incarnation) to earth and της γηςtēs gēs would be the genitive of apposition. What follows in Ephesians 4:10 argues for this view. Otherwise one must think of the death of Christ (the descent into Hades of Acts 2:31).

Verse 10

Is the same also (αυτος εστινautos estin). Rather, “the one who came down (ο καταβαςho katabas the Incarnation) is himself also the one who ascended (ο αναβαςho anabas the Ascension).”

Far above (υπερανωhuperanō). See note on Ephesians 1:21.

All the heavens (παντων των ουρανωνpantōn tōn ouranōn). Ablative case after υπερανωhuperanō For the plural used of Christ‘s ascent see note on Hebrews 4:14 and note on Hebrews 7:27. Whether Paul has in mind the Jewish notion of a graded heaven like the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2 or the seven heavens idea one does not know.

That he might fill all things (ινα πληρωσηι τα πανταhina plērōsēi ta panta). This purpose we can understand, the supremacy of Christ (Colossians 2:9.).

Verse 11

And he gave (και αυτος εδωκενkai autos edōken). First aorist active indicative of διδωμιdidōmi In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul uses ετετοetheto (more common verb, appointed), but here repeats εδωκενedōken from the quotation in Ephesians 4:8. There are four groups (τους μενtous men τους δεtous de three times, as the direct object of εδωκενedōken). The titles are in the predicate accusative (αποστολουσ προπητασ ποιμενας και διδασκαλουςapostolousποιμεναςprophētasclass="greek-hebrew">ποιμην poimenas kai didaskalous). Each of these words occurs in 1 Corinthians 12:28 (which see note for discussion) except ποιμαινωpoimenas (shepherds). This word poimēn is from a root meaning to protect. Jesus said the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11) and called himself the Good Shepherd. In Hebrews 13:20 Christ is the Great Shepherd (cf. 1 Peter 2:25). Only here are preachers termed shepherds (Latin pastores) in the N.T. But the verb poimainō to shepherd, is employed by Jesus to Peter (John 21:16), by Peter to other ministers (1 Peter 5:2), by Paul to the elders (bishops) of Ephesus (Acts 20:28). Here Paul groups “shepherds and teachers” together. All these gifts can be found in one man, though not always. Some have only one.

Verse 12

For the perfecting (προς τον καταρτισμονpros ton katartismon). Late and rare word (in Galen in medical sense, in papyri for house-furnishing), only here in N.T., though καταρτισιςkatartisis in 2 Corinthians 13:9, both from καταρτιζωkatartizō to mend (Matthew 4:21; Galatians 6:1). “For the mending (repair) of the saints.”

Unto the building up (εις οικοδομηνeis oikodomēn). See note on Ephesians 2:21. This is the ultimate goal in all these varied gifts, “building up.”

Verse 13

Till we all attain (μεχρι καταντησωμεν οι παντεςmechri katantēsōmen hoi pantes). Temporal clause with purpose idea with μεχριmechri and the first aorist active subjunctive of κατανταωkatantaō late verb, to come down to the goal (Philemon 3:11). “The whole” including every individual. Hence the need of so many gifts.

Unto the unity of the faith (εις την ενοτητα της πιστεωςeis tēn henotēta tēs pisteōs). “Unto oneness of faith” (of trust) in Christ (Ephesians 4:3) which the Gnostics were disturbing.

And of the knowledge of the Son of God (και της επιγνωσεως του υιου του τεουkai tēs epignōseōs tou huiou tou theou). Three genitives in a chain dependent also on την ενοτηταtēn henotēta “the oneness of full (επιepi̇) knowledge of the Son of God,” in opposition to the Gnostic vagaries.

Unto a full-grown man (εις ανδρα τελειονeis andra teleion). Same figure as in Ephesians 2:15 and τελειοςteleios in sense of adult as opposed to νηπιοιnēpioi (infants) in Ephesians 4:14.

Unto the measure of the stature (εις μετρον ηλικιαςeis metron hēlikias). So apparently ηλικιαhēlikia here as in Luke 2:52, not age (John 9:21). Boys rejoice in gaining the height of a man. But Paul adds to this idea “the fulness of Christ” (του πληρωματος του Χριστουtou plērōmatos tou Christou), like “the fulness of God” in Ephesians 3:19. And yet some actually profess to be “perfect” with a standard like this to measure by! No pastor has finished his work when the sheep fall so far short of the goal.

Verse 14

That we may be no longer children (ινα μηκετι ωμεν νηπιοιhina mēketi ōmen nēpioi). Negative final clause with present subjunctive. Some Christians are quite content to remain “babes” in Christ and never cut their eye-teeth (Hebrews 5:11-14), the victims of every charlatan who comes along.

Tossed to and fro (κλυδωνιζομενοιkludōnizomenoi). Present passive participle of κλυδωνιζομαιkludōnizomai late verb from κλυδωνkludōn (wave, James 1:6), to be agitated by the waves, in lxx, only here in N.T. One example in Vettius Valens.

Carried about (περιπερομενοιperipheromenoi). Present passive participle of περιπερωperipherō old verb, to carry round, whirled round “by every wind (ανεμωιanemōi instrumental case) of teaching.” In some it is all wind, even like a hurricane or a tornado. If not anchored by full knowledge of Christ, folks are at the mercy of these squalls.

By the sleight (εν τηι κυβιαιen tēi kubiāi). “In the deceit,” “in the throw of the dice” (κυβιαkubia from κυβοςkubos cube), sometimes cheating.

In craftiness (εν πανουργιαιen panourgiāi). Old word from πανουργοςpanourgos (παν εργονpanπρος την μετοδιαν της πλανηςergon any deed, every deed), cleverness, trickiness.

After the wiles of error (Μετοδιαpros tēn methodian tēs planēs). μετοδευωMethodia is from μετα οδοςmethodeuō (πλανηςmetahodos) to follow after or up, to practise deceit, and occurs nowhere else (Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 6:11) save in late papyri in the sense of method. The word planēs (wandering like our “planet”) adds to the evil idea in the word. Paul has covered the whole ground in this picture of Gnostic error.

Verse 15

In love (εν αγαπηιen agapēi). If truth were always spoken only in love!

May grow into him (αυχησωμεν εις αυτονauxēsōmen eis auton). Supply ιναhina and then note the final use of the first aorist active subjunctive. It is the metaphor of Ephesians 4:13 (the full-grown man). We are the body and Christ is the Head. We are to grow up to his stature.

Verse 16

From which (εχ ουex hou). Out of which as the source of energy and direction.

Fitly framed (συναρμολογουμενονsunarmologoumenon). See note on Ephesians 2:21 for this verb.

Through that which every joint supplieth (δια πασης απης της επιχορηγιαςdia pasēs haphēs tēs epichorēgias). Literally, “through every joint of the supply.” See note on Colossians 2:19 for απηhaphē and Philemon 1:19 for the late word επιχορηγιαepichorēgia (only two examples in N.T.) from επιχορηγεωepichorēgeō to supply (Colossians 2:19).

In due measure (εν μετρωιen metrōi). Just “in measure” in the Greek, but the assumption is that each part of the body functions properly in its own sphere.

Unto the building up of itself (εις οικοδομην εαυτουeis oikodomēn heautou). Modern knowledge of cell life in the human body greatly strengthens the force of Paul‘s metaphor. This is the way the body grows by cooperation under the control of the head and all “in love” (εν αγαπηιen agapēi).

Verse 17

That ye no longer walk (μηκετι υμας περιπατεινmēketi humas peripatein). Infinitive (present active) in indirect command (not indirect assertion) with accusative υμαςhumas of general reference.

In vanity of their mind (εν ματαιοτητι του νοος αυτωνen mataiotēti tou noos autōn). “In emptiness (from ματαιοςmataios late and rare word. See note on Romans 8:20) of their intellect (νοοςnoos late form for earlier genitive νουnou from νουςnous).

Verse 18

Being darkened (εσκοτωμενοι οντεςeskotōmenoi ontes). Periphrastic perfect passive participle of σκοτοωskotoō old verb from σκοτοςskotos (darkness), in N.T. only here and Revelation 9:2; Revelation 16:10.

In their understanding (τηι διανοιαιtēi dianoiāi). Locative case. Probably διανοιαdianoia (δια νουςdiaνουςnous) includes the emotions as well as the intellect (οντεςnous). It is possible to take απηλλοτριωμενοιontes with εσκοτωμενοιapēllotriōmenoi (see note on Ephesians 2:12) which would then be periphrastic (instead of της ζωης του τεουeskotōmenoi) perfect passive participle.

From the life of God (ζωηςtēs zōēs tou theou). Ablative case απηλλοτριωμενοιzōēs after δια την αγνοιανapēllotriōmenoi (Ephesians 2:12).

Because of the ignorance (αγνοεωdia tēn agnoian). Old word from πωρωσινagnoeō not to know. Rare in N.T. See note on Acts 3:17.

Hardening (pōrōsin). Late medical term (Hippocrates) for callous hardening. Only other N.T. examples are Mark 3:5; Romans 11:25.

Verse 19

Being past feeling (απηλγηκοτεςapēlgēkotes). Perfect active participle of απαλγεωapalgeō old word to cease to feel pain, only here in N.T.

To lasciviousness (τηι ασελγειαιtēi aselgeiāi). Unbridled lust as in 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19.

To work all uncleanness (εις εργασιαν ακαταρσιας πασηςeis ergasian akatharsias pasēs). Perhaps prostitution, “for a trading (or work) in all uncleanness.” Certainly Corinth and Ephesus could qualify for this charge.

With greediness (εν πλεονεχιαιen pleonexiāi). From πλεονεκτηςpleonektēs one who always wants more whether money or sexual indulgence as here. The two vices are often connected in the N.T.

Verse 20

But ye did not so learn Christ (υμεις δε ουχ ουτως εματετε τον ΧριστονHumeis de ouch houtōs emathete ton Christon). In sharp contrast to pagan life (ουτωςhoutōs). Second aorist active indicative of μαντανωmanthanō f0).

Verse 21

If so be that (ει γεei ge). “If indeed.” Condition of first class with aorist indicatives here, assumed to be true (ηκουσατε και εδιδαχτητεēkousate kai edidachthēte).

Even as truth is in Jesus (κατως εστιν αλητεια εν τωι Ιησουkathōs estin alētheia en tōi Iēsou). It is not clear what Paul‘s precise idea is here. The Cerinthian Gnostics did distinguish between the man Jesus and the aeon Christ. Paul here identifies Christ (Ephesians 4:20) and Jesus (Ephesians 4:21). At any rate he flatly affirms that there is “truth in Jesus” which is in direct opposition to the heathen manner of life and which is further explained by the epexegetical infinitives that follow (αποτεσται ανανεουσται δε και ενδυσασταιapothesthaiananeousthai dekai endusasthai).

Verse 22

That ye put away (αποτεσταιapothesthai). Second aorist middle infinitive of αποτιτημιapotithēmi with the metaphor of putting off clothing or habits as αποτεστεapothesthe in Colossians 3:8 (which see) with the same addition of “the old man” (τον παλαιον αντρωπονton palaion anthrōpon) as in Colossians 3:9. For αναστροπηνanastrophēn (manner of life) see note on Galatians 1:13.

Which waxeth corrupt (τον πτειρομενονton phtheiromenon). Either present middle or passive participle of πτειρωphtheirō but it is a process of corruption (worse and worse).

Verse 23

That ye be renewed (ανανεουσταιananeousthai). Present passive infinitive (epexegetical, like αποτεσταιapothesthai of αλητεια εν τωι Ιησουalētheia en tōi Iēsou) and to be compared with ανακαινουμενονanakainoumenon in Colossians 3:10. It is an old verb, ανανεοωananeoō to make new (young) again; though only here in N.T.

The spirit (τωι πνευματιtōi pneumati). Not the Holy Spirit, but the human spirit.

Verse 24

Put on (ενδυσασταιendusasthai). First aorist middle infinitive of ενδυωenduō (νω̇nō), for which see note on Colossians 3:10.

The new man (τον καινον αντρωπονton kainon anthrōpon). “The brand-new (see note on Ephesians 2:15) man,” though τον νεονton neon in Colossians 3:10.

After God (κατα τεονkata theon). After the pattern God, the new birth, the new life in Christ, destined to be like God in the end (Romans 8:29).

Verse 25

Wherefore (διοdio). Because of putting off the old man, and putting on the new man.

Putting away (αποτεμενοιapothemenoi). Second aorist middle participle of αποτιτημιapotithēmi (Ephesians 4:22).

Lying (πσευδοςpseudos), truth (αλητειανalētheian) in direct contrast.

Each one (εκαστοςhekastos). Partitive apposition with λαλειτεlaleite See Colossians 3:8 μη πσευδεστεmē pseudesthe f0).

Verse 26

Be ye angry and sin not (οργιζεστε και μη αμαρτανετεorgizesthe kai mē hamartanete). Permissive imperative, not a command to be angry. Prohibition against sinning as the peril in anger. Quotation from Psalm 4:4.

Let not the sun go down upon your wrath (ο ηλιος μη επιδυετω επι παροργισμωιho hēlios mē epiduetō epi parorgismōi). Danger in settled mood of anger. ΠαροργισμοςParorgismos (provocation), from παροργιζωparorgizō to exasperate to anger, occurs only in lxx and here in N.T.

Verse 27

Neither give place to the devil (μηδε διδοτε τοπον τωι διαβολωιmēde didote topon tōi diabolōi). Present active imperative in prohibition, either stop doing it or do not have the habit. See note on Romans 12:19 for this idiom.

Verse 28

Steal no more (μηκετι κλεπτετωmēketi kleptetō). Clearly here, cease stealing (present active imperative with μηκετιmēketi).

The thing that is good (το αγατονto agathon). “The good thing” opposed to his stealing and “with his hands” (ταις χερσινtais chersin instrumental case) that did the stealing. See note on 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Even unemployment is no excuse for stealing.

To give (μεταδιδοναιmetadidonai). Present active infinitive of μεταδιδωμιmetadidōmi to share with one.

Verse 29

Corrupt (σαπροςsapros). Rotten, putrid, like fruit (Matthew 7:17.), fish (Matthew 13:48), here the opposite of αγατοςagathos (good).

For edifying as the need may be (προς οικοδομην της χρειαςpros oikodomēn tēs chreias). “For the build-up of the need,” “for supplying help when there is need.” Let no other words come out.

That it may give (ινα δωιhina dōi). For this elliptical use of ιναhina see note on Ephesians 5:33.

Verse 30

Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God (μη λυπειτε το πνευμα το αγιον του τεουmē lupeite to pneuma to hagion tou theou). “Cease grieving” or “do not have the habit of grieving.” Who of us has not sometimes grieved the Holy Spirit?

In whom (εν ωιen hōi). Not “in which.”

Ye were sealed (εσπραγιστητεesphragisthēte). See note on Ephesians 1:13 for this verb, and Ephesians 1:14 for απολυτρωσεωςapolutrōseōs the day when final redemption is realized.

Verse 31

Bitterness (πικριαpikria). Old word from πικροςpikros (bitter), in N.T. only here and Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14; Hebrews 12:15.

Clamour (κραυγηkraugē). Old word for outcry (Matthew 25:6; Luke 1:42). See note on Colossians 3:8 for the other words.

Be put away (αρτητωarthētō). First aorist passive imperative of αιρωairō old verb, to pick up and carry away, to make a clean sweep.

Verse 32

Be ye kind to one another (γινεστε εις αλληλους χρηστοιginesthe eis allēlous chrēstoi). Present middle imperative of γινομαιginomai “keep on becoming kind (χρηστοςchrēstos used of God in Romans 2:4) toward one another.” See notes on Colossians 3:12.

Tenderhearted (ευσπλαγχνοιeusplagchnoi). Late word (ευ σπλαγχναeusplagchna) once in Hippocrates, in lxx, here and 1 Peter 3:8 in N.T.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Ephesians 4:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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