Ephesians 4
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,


CHAP. 4–6:20

1. The Theme of the Whole Part:

Walk worthy of the calling love and unity

Ephesians 4:1–3

1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you [I exhort you therefore, I the prisoner in the Lord,]1 that ye walk worthy of the vocation [calling] wherewith ye are [were] called, 2With all lowliness and meekness,2 with long-suffering, forbearing 3one another in love; Endeavoring [Earnestly striving] to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Eph 4:1 a. The connection. I exhort you therefore, I the prisoner in the Lord [ΙΙαρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ].—The verb παρακαλῶ, placed first for emphasis, marks what follows as the ethical part. Οὑ̄ν, “therefore,” joins this practical, hortatory portion of the letter with the previous theoretical part, and that too as a consequence, so that the one forms a foundation for the other; the context indicating the reference more closely.—Ὁ δέσμιος, “the prisoner,” resumes what was expressed in 3:1 and continued further in Eph 4:13, 14. As Paul in his bonds prays for the Church, so he exhorts it also. Although the paronomasia (παρακαλῶκλήσεως) recalls ἐκκλησια, yet the reference is not to ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Eph 4:21, but to the whole of what precedes (τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ has occurred already in 1:22), which is, however, summed up in the concluding doxology. Hence MEYER is incorrect in taking οὖν as an inference from 3:21 merely.3 The exhortation of the Apostle gives special emphasis to ἐγώ, “I,” even though it stands after ὑμᾶς, “you,” in the Greek. The phrase, ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ4 “the prisoner in the Lord” (which can be taken together grammatically, and must be taken together in view of the reference to 3:1), marks the importance of the exhortation of Paul, who as a “faithful member of Christ” bears chains in and for the cause of Christ. CALVIN: Erant (vincula) enim veluti sigillum honorificæ illius legationis, quam obtinuerat. THEODORET: Τοῖς διὰ τὸν Χριστὸν δεσμοῖς ἐναβρύνεται μᾶλλον ἤ βασιλεὺς διαδήματι. He is a shining example, and elsewhere he refers to his own walk in agreement with his preaching (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17); he speaks accordingly ad excitandum effectum, quo sit efficacior exhortatio (ESTIUS), but not ut Paulum obsequio exhilararent (BENGEL). He wishes to gain attention and efficacy for his παρακαλεῖν by appealing, not to his imprisonment, which in itself was incapable of strengthening his exhortation, but to his willing, joyful, worthy wearing of the bonds; thus at the same time also strongly urging self-denial. The verb itself means originally to call hither, to invite (Acts 18:20); then to address either hortatively (Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 2:8) or consolingly (2 Cor. 2:7; 1:6; 7:6, 7). Ὑμᾶς, “you,” designates the Church in its individual members; he always conceives of the Church as a fellowship of particular persons.

The fundamental exhortation. Eph 4:1 b.

That ye walk worthy of the calling [ἆξιώς περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως—The infinitive περιπατῆσαι (see 2:2), as in Acts 27:33, 34, sets forth the purport of the exhortation. The emphasis, of course, rests upon the closer qualification ἀξίως (“worthy”), which stands first; for the kind of walk is the important matter. The genitive (as in Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:10; Rom. 16:2; 1 Thess. 2:12) τῆς κλήσεως denotes that call of God, to which the walk must correspond, in order to be worthy.

Wherewith ye were called, ἦς (instead of ᾑ̄ 1 Cor. 7:20) ἔκλήθητε.5 This relative clause joined per attractionem (see on 1:8) indicates that the call has already taken place and been accepted. He speaks of a walk corresponding to the call already received, not as though we should walk worthy, in order to be called, but, since we are called through the grace of God without our merit or worthiness, we should not be unworthy of such grace (CALVIN). Comp. Eph 4:17–30; 2:10; Tit. 2:11 ff.; Rom. 8:4 if.; Gal. 5:19 ff.

Closer definition of the Christian walk; Eph 4:2, 3.

Eph 4:2. With all lowliness and meekness [μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραύ̈τητος. See Textual Note2].—This clause defines more closely “walk worthy of the calling,” joining with it two attendants which belong to the Christian walk (WINER, p. 353).6 First stands “lowliness,” which has for its opposite “minding high things” (Rom. 12:16), “thinking one’s self to be something” (Gal. 6:3); it is πάσης ἀρετῆς ὑποθέσις (CHRYSOSTOM). Comp. Phil. 2:3; Col. 2:18, 23; 3:12, 13. It is belief in our poverty over against faith in Christ, so that we know we have nothing, know nothing, can do nothing, having only an empty hand, yet an open one, to receive what the Lord will give. Accordingly, as in Matt. 5:3, 4, 5, to “the poor in spirit” and “they that mourn” (=οἱ ταπεινοφρονοῦντες) are joined “the meek,” so here “meekness,” πραύ̈της is added, that mildness which is gentle toward others, because it thinks: Have I been helped, then I do not know, who should not be helped! Comp. Gal. 6:1; 2 Cor. 10:1; 1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Tim. 2:25. [See TRENCH, Syn. N. T. § 42, perhaps the most discriminating essay on these words which can be found.7—R.] The adjective πάσης, “all,” denotes all the various relations and situations of lowliness and meekness; the former must manifest itself in both intellectual and ethical spheres, before God and men, the latter toward friend and foe, under violations of our own rights and property as well as those of our neighbor.

With long-suffering, μετὰ μακροθυμίας, is co-ordinate in form with the other two, standing closely connected, yet taken up by itself. Long-suffering (Matt. 18:26, 29; 1 Cor. 13:4; 2 Cor. 6:6; Gal. 5:22) is a manifestation of meekness; much depends upon it frequently in the life of a church. Hence it accords with the context to distinguish this by a second μετά and to conjoin it to the other terms. [The word means, not taking swift vengeance or inflicting speedy punishment, though it becomes more general in its sense=forbearance of every kind. The pointing of the E. V. is correct, making the phrase a separate clause. Besides the objection which Braune urges below against connecting it with what follows we may add, that thus the phrase would receive undue emphasis and the parallelism of the participial clauses be disturbed.—R.]

Forbearing one another in love [ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ].—We would expect the accusative here instead of the nominative: παρακαλῶ ὑ μᾶςπεριπατῆσαιἀνεχομένους. It is not however the ὑμᾶς, “you,” which is to be more closely defined, but the “walking,” not the subject, who should walk, but the predicate, how the walk is to be conducted; the two participles (here and Eph 4:3) do not then present secondary and additional thoughts. The passage is continued as though, in accordance with the sense, περιπατήσατε were to be read. So 1:18; Col. 3:16; 2:2, 10. WINER, p. 532. Ἀνεχόμενοι are those who endure the injuries and sins of others; ἀνοχή is the action of μακροθυμία “long-suffering,” which as the disposition, virtue, is to be perceived in the former. Comp. Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 11:1; 2 Thess. 1:4. Ἀνέχεσθαι is the active forbearance, ὑπομένειν the quiet endurance. TITTMANN, Syn. I. p. 194. The genitive ἀλλήλων “one another,” refers to the fact, that each one, who has to endure from another, gives occasion also for endurance; “long-suffering” is well aware of this.

In love, ἐν ἀγάπῃ.—This shows at once that the forbearance should not be mere coldness, indifference, obtuseness. Love should be the element of the endurance (3:18). Aliorum infirmitates æquo animo ferimus, nec ob ea, quæ nobis in proximo displicent, ab ejus amicitia recedimus, sed PERSONAM constanter amamus, etsi vitia in odio habeamus (CALOVIUS). Hence “in love” is not to be joined with what follows (OLSHAUSEN); nor are we besides this qualification of “forbearing,” to take “with long-suffering,” as still another such (CALVIN, RUECKERT, HARLESS, STIER and others): for the “forbearing” is the act of the “long-suffering,” and the latter is not therefore the attendant (μετά) of the former, but its ground, its cause; a forbearing without love is conceivable and actually occurs, but never without long-suffering and yet in love, since love, according to its very nature, “suffereth long” (μακροθυμεῖ, 1 Cor. 13:4). Still less allowable is it to join the first μετά with ἀνεχόμενοι (BENGEL). [MEYER properly urges against this view that it makes an abrupt, instead of an easy, transition from the general: “walk worthy,” to the special: “forbearing one another.”—R.]

Eph 4:3. Earnestly striving to keep [σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν].—The participle is to be regarded grammatically like the preceding one. [“This clause is parallel to the preceding, and indicates not so much, as MEYER says, the inward feelings by which the ἀνέχεσθαι is to be characterized, as rather the motive to it, and the accompanying or simultaneous effort” (EADIE).—R.] It describes the zealous striving (LUTHER: be diligent), as Gal. 2:10; 1 Thess. 2:19. The present infinitive τηρεῖν denotes the continued maintenance which is necessary every day, since dangers constantly approach. The idea of the verb refers to retaining possession of property, which has not first to be gained. Etiam ubi nulla fissura est, monitis opus est (BENGEL).

The unity of the Spirit, την ἑνότητα τοῦ πνευματου, not τοῦ νοός, is the unity which the Holy Spirit effects. So CHRYSOSTOM: τὸ πνεῦμα τους γένει και τροποις διαφόροις διεστηκότας ἑνοῖ and most. It is not the unity peculiar to the Spirit, which needs not to be preserved by us (SCHENKEL), but the unity and concord of the Church and its members, and indeed only that which the Holy Ghost works; that accomplished by the spirit of the age is not the object of zealous preservation (τηρεῖν), but only of purification. [The genitive is that of the originating cause (EADIE, ELLICOTT) rather than a possessive.—The reference to the human spirit is altogether inadmissible, yet is advocated by ANSELM, ERASMUS, CALVIN, ESTIUS, RUECKERT, and others.—R.]

In the bond of peace, ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης—This defines more closely the “keeping” which is the object of the “earnestly striving,” and in the same way (ἐν) as in Eph 4:2 (“forbearing”—“in love”), since something depends upon the motive and mode of preserving unity. The very “unity,” which is “of the Spirit,” required and wrought by the Spirit, can be fostered, furthered and preserved in a carnal manner, from political and egotistical grounds. Against this our phrase is directed. Ὁσύνδεσμος with the exception of Acts 8:23, occurs only here and in the Epistle to the Colossians (2:19; 3:14); to Eph 4:2, 3, Col. 3:13, 14 are evident parallels. There “love” is “the bond of perfectness,” hence a bond well adapted to preserve the unity of the Spirit. “Peace” is indeed itself a condition corresponding alike with “unity” and “love;” it is in spiritual life, and for the Church, first peace with God, and then that peace of heart which is undisturbed by the assaults, temptations and ills of the world and the flesh, not even by the disquiet of the conscience; and further with respect to our neighbor, it is peace with him in love to him, out of love to the Lord of the Church, the Saviour, to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, and to His children through Him. Hence love is the bond which cherishes peace in the Church, and in such love should that unity be preserved, which God’s Spirit will work in the Church of Christ; “love edifieth” (1 Cor. 8:1). Accordingly “the bond of peace” is love itself (so BENGEL). The genitive is, therefore, not epexegetical (BLEEK), nor the genitive of apposition (MEYER, SCHENKEL); else, as RUECKERT aptly remarks, the foundation of the building would be sustained by a perishable roof, the unity of the Spirit be preserved in or through peace with our neighbor, while the Apostle says, that the unity of the Spirit should be preserved in the efficient strength of the power, which fosters this very peace; that is love, which has peace through faith in love, and brings, establishes and retains peace. Where it is wanting, there is carnal nature and discord (1 Cor. 3:3). Accordingly the preposition “in” designates love as the element in which the unity of the Spirit is to be maintained; hence ἐν is not=διά (BLEEK).

[Braune’s view takes the genitive as gen. objecti. It is adopted by BENGEL, RUECKERT, HARLESS, STIER, following THEOPHYLACT. But it is open to serious objection. It is far from probable that the Apostle would express the notion “in love” by such a periphrasis, especially as the parallel clauses are not parallel in the meaning of their several parts. Certainly the Ephesians would not have the Colossian Epistle at hand to suggest to them this sense, and it is not at all obvious without that suggestion. The assumption that ἐν was instrumental may have led to this view of the phrase (MEYER). On the other hand if the genitive be taken as one of apposition, defining the “bond” as “peace” (so FLATT, OLSHAUSEN, MEYER, EADIE, HODGE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT), we have an obvious and simple interpretation, suiting the sense of ἐν. RUECKERT’S objection really applies only to the instrumental sense of the proposition. ALFORD: Peace binds together the Church as a condition and symbol of that inner unity which is only wrought by the indwelling Spirit of God—Far more than the union of Jew and Gentile is meant.—R.]


1. Doctrine and Exhortation. “The distinction of doctrinal and hortatory parts must not assume the unapostolical character of that modern fiction, according to which exhortation is so severed from doctrinal discussion, as to contain no doctrine at all. As little as an apostolic Epistle is a mere doctrinal discussion, so little is an apostolic, or even a Christian, exhortation without doctrine. What the Apostle requires, are not requirements in addition to and outside of doctrine, but requirements of doctrine, if by doctrine we mean the knowledge of Christian saving truth. This is the very order, which distinguishes Christian ethics from all other.” The Apostle now shows his readers, “what the gospel requires,” after he has called to their memories what it has given them. It requires manifestations of life from those who had been quickened, not from the dead. It expects works of love and righteousness from those who believe and are justified, from him who has been new-created unto good works (comp. on 2:10). It expects good fruit from a good tree. The opinion that men can gather grapes of thorns, see works of holiness without faith, and make man just before God without the Redeemer; the preaching of morality and the theory of good works without faith, all constitute a perversion of Christian intelligence and of the apostolic order into the futility and confusion of pseudo-Christianity (HARLESS). [The Apostle’s “therefore” rebukes both the dogmatism of dead orthodoxy, and the cry: give us something practical, none of your dry doctrine. At one time the application to the former was more necessary, but the tendency of the present day calls for special attention to the other phase of the matter. When professing Christians or churches tire of the facts respecting God’s love in Christ (the real Christian doctrine on which the Apostle’s “therefore” rests), they have already ceased to be in earnest about the worthy walk.—R.]

2. Paul’s right to exhort. The exhortation of the Apostle proceeds rather from the Christian worthiness of “the prisoner of the Lord,” than from the apostolic dignity of the ambassador of the Lord; the latter is more the merely outward, the former more the inward authority, both belonging together; the latter could not exist without the former and vice versa. The former would have neither courage nor right without the latter, but the latter would lack fervency, sincerity and emphasis without the former. The most winning exordium as well as the most powerful Amen, is still the Christianity of the servant of Christ. Vita clerici evangelium est populi. Non bene auditur, qui non bene diligitur (GREGORY the Great). There should be no complaint, because at the present time so much is made to depend on the person, to this first of all men will look.

3. The calling. With the calling which God proffers to us, which we have experienced, the Christian life begins. At first we have only to hear (hören), then it comes about that we hearken (zuhören), and finally we adhere (zugehören). Many are the methods of the call: through God’s word sung or spoken in the sanctuary, in the pictures of sacred art, in holy action, in the statements of pious Christians, or in the Scriptures as we read in the closet, from the mouth of a mother or a child, from events in the life of others or ourselves, in the voice of conscience and the immediate suggestion of the Spirit, suddenly, or in the way of gradual consideration, of recollection of what was previously learned and perhaps long-forgotten—thus often is the call addressed to each: every one is more than once, yes many times called by God to Himself. To this the walk should correspond, to this it should give testimony.

4. The worthiness of the walk is determined first and chiefly by the relation of him who is called to the revelation of grace which introduces and regulates the spiritually received, personal fellowship of grace with God. Thus the foundation of the Christian life is laid. In the received benefits and possession lies the germ of all the blessings of eternity. The great matter is constancy, fidelity, personal fidelity to the inwardly efficient word of God, to the personal fellowship with God wrought by the Holy Ghost who calls us, not to a precept, a law, rule, maxim, not even to one’s own nature and soul; this comes in as a result of the first, which is the cause, the basis, the foundation work, followed by a superstructure of fidelity to the renewed soul.

5. Lowliness is the first attendant (μετά) of the Christian walk, beginning after the call of God: He who hears the call, recognizes Jesus as the Christ, feeling. He has more and is more, His, heavenly and Divine fellowship is beyond all our experience, He knows and explains and presents the Father’s will in overpowering clearness, strength and beauty, and thus he who is called ever feels himself to be more insignificant, sinful and needy. In listening to and looking unto Jesus, lowliness springs up within him; he became a Christian not having this, he did not need to bring it to Christianity or as a price for it, but by becoming a Christian he becomes humble, and that too in the most profound earnestness and lively sorrow over his own sin and poverty and weakness. The more the Christian knows and feels himself to be exalted as a child of God, as a member of the body whose Head is Christ, so much the more does he feel himself to be exalted without any desert or worthiness, only through the fellowship of grace with his Creator, Redeemer and Comforter. He rejoices in his peculiar gifts, but only as given, not as profitable or abused. He well knows, that he is of worth before God, but also that what he is and has is little in comparison with what he should and might be and have, that he is an unprofitable servant and yet is a child of God, a joint heir with Christ.

6. Meekness is joined with lowliness. This is not a soft, yielding natural disposition, nor a prudent bridling of a passionate nature, but it is humility applied to the world, not taking offence at the offences of the world, even though misunderstood, mercilessly treated, oppressed and persecuted. This does not estrange her, for she knows herself. The knowledge and experience of corruption and of salvation through Christ in our own heart, produces either no permanent feeling, or else a common feeling, a fellow-feeling, which looks upon him who gives or prepares offence, as one who is suffering under sin, as unfortunate, rather than as evil-minded and rejoicing in sin; accordingly she remains without bitterness, because she has herself experienced the rich grace of God, and perseveres in patience, because she knows God’s patience. [It is also exercised toward God, in submission, which is the foundation of its manifestations toward men.—R.]

7. Long-suffering is added as an especial attendant of the Christian walk in social life. It is meekness towards the sins of others, whom we can punish, meekness, keeping its ground against a long series of these. She knows out of her own experience of the long-suffering of God, that sin is misery, out of which condemning and judging never helps us, but rather grace and mercy, if one will let himself be helped. Long-suffering refrains from punishment, that rejects, cuts off, expels from fellowship and friendship, having instead entreaty, exhortation, instruction, discipline in word and deed. She can lovingly hope, is lovingly spirited and brave. She bears with her neighbor, does not weakly yield, does not stand by coldly and stolidly, nor yet embittered and in carnal anger; she is not whimpering and feeble, but strong and heroic in her love, like a mother or a friend.

8. Unity should be the object of zealous striving, but only that unity which the Holy Ghost works. It is not first to be made, is not factitious, but unity, wrought from above, which we have only to preserve. Over against this, the Christian must keep at a distance from all party combinations, which in effect introduce discord and schism into church-life. But he must also avoid jumbling together the great variety and wealth of gifts and powers, and seeking to unite all under external form and letter. No carnal strife, but also no slothful peace, no patched-up, hypocritical or dead unity.

9. The impulse under which we must endeavor to keep this peace, is peaceable love, which can have foes, but is a foe to none, rejoicing in every gift and creature of God, embracing such and leading them into the life of the church, employing and enjoying them, as a nation in time of peace with its various classes, labors and powers, strives in every direction to perform its task, not from the motions of the flesh, but from the basis which God has given, out towards the appointed goal.

10. Paul conceives of the Church of Christ above all as a living company of Christian persons, not as an institution with all its regulations. But the sacredness does not rest upon the individuals, but inheres in the whole organism, which the Holy Ghost animates.


Suffer as a Christian, in order to be able to work in the service of the Master.—Show thyself in deed a servant of Christ, in order in such service to be able to direct aright in word, those who are directed to thee.—Loosen doctrine from the precept which it contains, but do not sever them from one another; distinguish, but do not divide them. There is no Christianity without Christ, and no religion without morality, but at the same time those ethics are of no value which have no doctrine behind them. True the conscience is the voice of God, but what were that, if it were without the Word of God?—He who walks unworthy of his vocation is doubly culpable, more than a heathen; do not despise the calling.—As a child of man, a son of earth, no one stands alone and solitary, but with others, as child of God also dost thou belong to a family; take heed thereto! Thou belongest not merely to the visible, but also to the invisible church.—The three chief virtues of a Christian: Lowliness, meekness, and long-suffering [Demuth, Sanftmuth, Langmuth].—Humility is the basis of all Christian virtue; without it all is wicked, however praiseworthy it may otherwise appear. It is nothing more than evangelical truth applied to all cases; a doctrine which does not make us humble is of no account.—Christian practice in walk and conversation is indispensable; it is more important to be skilful in this, than to have special insight respecting the theory.

STARKE:—Christians have a great and important calling, to walk worthily according to the commands of their Saviour. O that we ever had this calling before our eyes in all our doings!—Where there is much cross, there much light is. Tribulation brings experience; he preaches best who preaches out of his experience.—What God gives and how He gives should satisfy us. Bread and honor are the twin-portions of our calling.—He lives in no shame, who has an unpleasant calling, for God has set him in it. Has God ordained, our pleasure’s gained!—Without lowliness, gentleness and patience the unity of the Spirit cannot be maintained. All discord, heresy and schism come from the vices which are opposed to these virtues.—A gentle spirit is the garden in which patience grows.—Unity of the Spirit, the highest ornament of Christians. How? should those live in discord, who are members of one body, of one Head, Jesus Christ? But that is the very sign of a corrupted Christianity, that there are so many sects, so much discord and strife among Christians.

RIEGER:—Paul has just prayed so heartily, now he can exhort so profitably. Have you never found that after secret intercourse with God in prayer, your neighbor’s heart also inclines more to you, and is more willing to receive a word which is redolent of prayer?—The call entitles us indeed to the kingdom and glory of God, but it obligates us also to sanctification, and to adorn the doctrine of God and our Saviour.—Humility stands in the feeling of her own defects, and knows how slowly the growth of the inner man proceeds; hence in meekness she does not exact too much of others, and in long-suffering does not lose patience, when an enduring love is necessary in meeting others. Endurance is keenly felt, but love sweetens it, as we see in the case of our children, what we can endure in them, in order in love to help them out of their infirmities. Endeavor overcomes all difficulties: only ever revert to confidence in God.—Unity in the Spirit we dare not make, but only keep it.—To maintain peace is better than to maintain right.

HEUBNER:—The Christian should be and remain conscious of the fellowship to which he belongs: it is a calamity in the Christian church, that this consciousness has been so greatly extinguished. This consciousness should not be maintained proudly but humbly, because the higher the aim, the greater the required perfection, so much the more should each one be conscious of his distance from it and his weakness. The principle of the Christian communion is: to humble ourselves, to become the least, to serve; out of this grows meekness, which shows itself towards those who make the fulfilment of the duty difficult for us.—Endurance presupposes, that every one has something that is obnoxious to others. It is necessary, because we ourselves are troublesome to others, and because we are all members of one body, and because it is God who places others by our side.—The unity in the Spirit is something very different from corporate, external, conventional, superficial unity; it dwells deep within, in the entire will and disposition, it is holy, proceeding from the Spirit, not from mere prudence, concerning itself about essentials, not about non-essentials. From this we infer what real union is; the Spirit alone can create it, that made by man is as a rule of no value.—SPANGENBERG says: “I hold that no one is a child of God merely because he belongs to this or that religion [i.e., Christian confession]; to him who receives Jesus Christ, power will be given to become a son of God. In Christ Jesus nothing avails save faith, which works by love. He in whom I find this faith is my brother. Is he of another religion, that makes no difference, he is still my brother and nearer to me than my fellow-professors who have no faith. Indeed, because he is of another religion, in which the gospel does not shine so brightly, he is to me a miracle of grace.”—The Moravians have been very unjustly accused of narrow-heartedness.

PASSAVANT:—The calling of men was from the beginning, to live innocently and holily, thankfully and obediently toward their God. The calling of the sinner is: to repent, to forsake the ways of sin, to seek pardon, grace and peace; to turn to the holy and living God, whom he has long forsaken. The calling of the Christian is this: internally and externally, with word and work, with his whole life, in all things, at all times in the church, before believers and unbelievers, to give glory to God the Father in Jesus Christ.—One may endure the faults of his neighbor from want of feeling, from mildness of temperament, from human good-nature, from earthly politeness, from temporal policy, from pharisaical hypocrisy; nothing is so common; but it is rarely done out of real Christian love.

STIER:—What is not rooted in humility does not deserve the name of a virtue.—Always and everywhere this alone is of avail, to cherish the unity of the Spirit; thus out of every desolation a new edifice is formed, without this the most beautiful structure becomes rotten and finally breaks.

GERLACH:—Patience manifests itself in the quiet endurance of injuries, long-suffering, more in the active maintenance of others in necessities, even when criminal.

SERMONS on the Epistle for the 17th Sunday after Trinity (4:1–6). WESTERMEIER: Unity in., the Spirit: 1. What is it? 2. By what means is it preserved? a) in general (Eph 4:1); b) in particular (Eph 4:2, 3); 3. On what grounds should it be maintained (Eph 4:4–6).

ZIEL:—Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit! 1. On what this admonition is based (Eph 4:4–6). 2. How we obey it (Eph 4:1–3).

AHLFELD:—Walk worthy of your Christian calling! 1) Your calling as children of God; 2) your calling as brethren to each other; 3) your calling, to derive the power for such a walk from the right sources.—Our joy in the congregation of the saints. 1) Who are these saints and how far does this fellowship extend? 2) What is the bond which encircles them? 3) What blessing and what joy do we derive from this fellowship of the saints?

RAUTENBERG:—The unity of the children of God. 1) How the Divine call requires it; 2) in what it consists; 3) from what it proceeds; 4) to what it obliges every one.

KAPFF:—Endeavor to keep the unity in the Spirit! 1. Let go what disturbs unity. 2. Hold fast what confirms it.

HEUBNER:—The unity of the Christian Church. 1. Oneness of life: a) Worthy walk, b) brotherly love, c) peaceableness. 2. Oneness of faith: a) in one Holy Ghost, b) in one Saviour, c) in one God and Father.—The duties of Christian church-membership. 1. A walk which is worthy of the call into the church (Eph 4:1). 2. Specially fraternal walk in humility and love (Eph 4:2). 3. A concordant, harmonious walk, not mere external but internal unity (Eph 4:3), for the fellowship of the Church is not merely a body, but a Spirit (Eph 4:4); it is founded upon one faith in Christ and one confession (Eph 4:3) and is perfected in God the Father.—The communion of the saints. 1. A description: not of a place, nor of a form, but of love and of faith. 2. How is it established: not by force, by human power or act, but by the Spirit of God. 3. Its importance. The equality of our fellowship in Christianity. 1. Proof: we have one calling, one Saviour, one Father. 2. Application: Thanksgiving to God, caution against pride, consolation for the lowly and poor, awakening endeavors after this fellowship.

PRÖHLE:—Endeavor to keep the unity in the Spirit! 1. Only in sorrow can we receive this exhortation now-a-days. 2. May it knock loudly upon the conscience of every one. 3. And may it bind anew in firm union our hearts and hands.—Forbearing one another in love. 1. Meaning: a) We should follow after peace, as husbands, wives, kinsmen, masters, servants, b) This is possible through lowliness, meekness, long-suffering. 2. Motive: a) The duty of brotherly love, b) our own defects; to-day I must bear with you, to-morrow you must bear with me.


[1]Eph 4:1.—Nearly all MSS. have: ἐν κυρίῳ;א.:ἐν κυρίῳ [The change of order is for the purpose of bringing out the emphatic force of παρακαλῶ (exhort rather than beseech); the second I being required in English. In is substituted for of as more correct, while calling is in itself a better word than vocation, serving here to preserve the correspondence between the substantive and verb (aorist: were called).—R.]

[2]Eph 4:2.—[The spelling πραΰτητος (א. B. C. 17) is considered by Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott, as the best attested form in the dialect of the New Testament. Comp. Gal. 5:23. Braune apparently prefers πραότητος (Rec., A. D. F. L., most cursives). His rendering of the three terms is very neat: mit aller Demuth und Sanftmuth, mit Langmuth.—R.]

[3][EADIE accepts a reference to the preceding paragraph; ALFORD to the all that precedes (so HODGE), but adds: “here perhaps also a resumption of τούτου χάριν Eph 3:1, 14, and thus carried back to the contents of chaps. 1:2.” ELLICOTT: “To those passages in the preceding chapter which relate to the spiritual privileges and calling of the Ephesians, e. g., Eph 4:6, 12, but especially to Eph 4:14 ff., in which the tenor of the prayer incidentally discloses how high and how great that calling really was.” The objection to the more general reference in my mind is, that it assumes the Epistle to have been by the Apostle himself purposely divided into two parts, doctrinal and practical, like the divisions of a sermon. Paul’s method is rather that of concatenation.—R.]

[4][The choice of this phrase here, following 3:1, where the genitive occurs, is overlooked in the E. V. Ἐν is not here=διά or σύν (it is doubtful if it ever is), but denotes the sphere or element of the captivity. As distinguished from 3:1, this passage gives prominence to the fellowship with Christ and devotion to His cause, while the genitive marks Christ more definitely as the author or originator of the captivity. “In the Lord” seems to be at times, ELLICOTT remarks, little more than a qualitative definition, yet there is far more danger of abridging than extending its profound spiritual significance.—The phrase cannot be joined with the verb, as is done by SEMLER and KOPPE.—R.]

[5][MEYER thinks the attraction is from the accusative ἥν, though admitting that a dative might be proper here. DE WETTE denies the propriety of the expression κλῆσιν καλεῖν (cognate accusative), though it is defended by WINER, p. 154, and occurs in Arrian, Epict.: καταισχύνειν τὴν κλῆσιν ἧν κέκληκεν. The dative gives the simpler grammatical form and through a slight violation of the law of attraction, is sustained by the analogy of 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 5:20 is not decisive since ἐν with the dative precedes and the relative might be attracted into that case, though it probably is not.—R.]

[6][Σύν denotes coherence, often with the same idea of assistance; μετά refers to an accompaniment or attendant.—R.]

[7][TRENCH properly objects to CHRYSOSTOM’S proud humility, which shows itself in his definition of the first term: “making ourselves small when we are great,” defining it rather: “the esteming ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so: the thinking truly, lowlily of ourselves.”—The second term is more than gentleness, to which Braune and HODGE seem to limit it; it rests on the former as its foundation, accepting God’s dealings in humility, and manifesting itself toward men, because they are His instruments.—R.]

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
2. Three motives to the preservation of the unity in the Spirit

Ephesians 4:4–16

a. The working of the Triune God in the Church

(EPH 4:4–6)

4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called [as ye were also called] 5in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above [over]8 all, and through all, and in you all [in all].


Connection.—These three verses are joined to what precedes without any connecting particle, and, as parallel clauses, follow each other without any such particle, since the context, being quite clear, requires none. THEODORET: πανταχοῦ τὸ ἓν καὶ εἱ̄ς τέθκεικεν εἰς συμφωνίαν συνάπτων τὴν ἐκκλησίαν. BUGENHAGEN: omnia, unde Christiani sumus, unitate nobis commendantur. The exhortation to maintain the unity of the Spirit has mainly occasioned these verses; they give a reason for it; γάρ is wanting however, on account of the liveliness of the discourse, and for emphasis.9 The objective bases for unity in the Spirit, to which they have been exhorted, the motives for such exhortation are stated.10 Hence we should supply ἐστίν, and not ἐστέ, as though it were continued exhortation (Syriac, CALVIN, HOFMANN, Schriftbeweis, II. 2, p. 127, and others). [Braune’s view is that generally received, and by far the most tenable.—R.]

Eph 4:4. The nature of the fellowship.—There is one body and one Spirit [ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα].—Ἓν σῶμα (1:23; 2:16; Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13, 20) designates the totality of Christians as a corpus mysticum; it is not=ἐκκλησιά, church, which is to be viewed as the external phenomenon, the body of Christ is hidden, but a reality, like the body of nerves, a hidden reality, which can be traced, making itself perceptible, the invisible church, the unity of which is emphasized by the Apostle and to be held fast.—Καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα is added to designate the soul of this body, the Holy Ghost, which forms and moulds the body, and to show that this σῶμα of Christ is no πτῶμα. He is not speaking therefore of an ideal invisible church, which does not actually exist, but of the actual, real essence of the church, which is internal, but comes into being continuously. It is foolish to explain here, we should be united penitus, corpore et anima, non ex parte duntaxat (CALVIN and others).

Since Christ’s body and the Holy Ghost are perceptible, not in their essence, but only inwardly and in their effects and consequences, Paul refers next to their own experience:

As ye were also called in one hope of your Calling [καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν].—According to the calling (καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε), by means of which he who is called has obtained or can obtain knowledge and perception of the “body” and “Spirit” just mentioned! This calling points likewise (καί) to the unity, because it is consummated “in one hope;” as soon as a man is called of God, he is in the hope of salvation (σωτηρία, κληρονομία) and this hope is one and the same for each and all who are called, by right, in tendency and effect. This “hope” belongs so especially to the being called (ἐκλήθητε) that it can be termed all along “of your calling;” hope and calling are not to be separated from each other. BENGEL is excellent: Spiritus est ARRHABO, atque ideo cum ejus mentione conjungitur SPES HEREDITATIS. They belong together from the beginning; Paul here however refers to the history of the origin of church-fellowship which is to be maintained, whether one looks at the unity of the church, or of principle, or of aim. It cannot be said that the calling consists in hope (BENGEL: ἐν exprimit indolem rei, HARLESS and others), still less that it takes place by means of hope (MEYER), or that ἐν is=εἰς. WINER, p. 385.

[See EADIE for a list of prepositions used with καλέω in the New Testament. He, with ALFORD and ELLICOTT, rightly supports the usual meaning of ἐν here: the element in which the calling took place. ELLICOTT speaks of this sense of the preposition as being, “so to say, its theological meaning.” He takes the genitive as one of originating cause, but it is rather that of possession, “the genitive of the correlative noun, suggesting what belongs to the call and characterized it, when they received it. The ‘hope’ is ‘one,’ for it has one object, and that is glory; one fountain, and that is Christ” (EADIE). Ἐλπίς is of course subjective.—R]

Eph 4:5. Christ and the union with Him.—One Lord, one faith, one baptism.—This refers to the way and the means of salvation. Εἱ̄ς κύριος, “one Lord,” is Christ, the Lord par excellence. See Eph 4:1; 1:21. The word found in Deut. 6:4 is now applied in the New Testament to Christ (1 Cor. 8:4–6). His will has authority over all. Each one stands equally near to Him; for there is “one faith,” which unites with Him; faith (1:1, 15; 2:8; 3:12, 17) unites inwardly to the one Lord, trusts Him as Lord. Hence there is but one faith, and not several kinds: fides, qua creditur; it is not then a faith in abstracto (HARLESS), nor the doctrine of faith (GROTIUS and others); for this faith is actually and efficiently present and a living power, a believing. [A vast deal of difficulty as well as of error is avoided by bearing in mind that πίστις, “faith,” in the New Testament, almost invariably means subjective faith (Gal. 1:23 is the only exception, and this perhaps an apparent one). The conception of “faith” as a universal dogma belongs to a later age, and while it has preserved Roman Catholic uniformity, has not “kept the unity of the Spirit.” So the Apostle implies: Because there is one faith, keep unity, not because we need unity, lay down one objective Catholic undoubted Christian faith. Dr. HODGE defends the objective sense here, but must make limitations which are of necessity indefinite enough to cast doubt on his own view. Still the context plainly points to the “one Lord” as the object of the “one faith;” and in the nature of things one subjective recognition of this eternal truth respecting Christ, this apprehension of Him in His Person and work, necessarily involves a common objective profession of it, and thus we pass to the third term of the verse, which is to be regarded as the external sign of faith, and in one aspect as a profession objectively made.—R.]

Faith, which is one, begins with baptism, which is also only one; the former is an internal subjective medium, the latter an objective one, from without and above; these two factors make the Lord our own, and us the Lord’s own. Modo baptismus modo fides præponitur, Mark 16:16; Col. 2:12 (BENGEL). [The order of the words does not justify this view of Dr. Braune’s. ALFORD takes the verse as presenting three great facts on which unity rests, the first objective, the second subjective, the third compounded of the two: “the objective seal of the subjective faith, by which, as a badge, the members of Christ are outwardly and visibly stamped with His name.” To find a reference to one mode of baptism is unwarranted by text or context.—R.]

Why the Lord’s Supper is not mentioned, is evident from the context, which contains the motives for the exhortation, to desire to preserve the unity of the Spirit. The Lord’s Supper is rather an act of the preserved unity, than a motive for its preservation. It is celebrated by those who have been reconciled with God and hold each other to be brethren; it does not so much give an impulse to peaceableness, as it is a result of the same, as a common celebration of those who have become united together, as an attestation of the church which has become one in the Lord. DE WETTE refers to this by intimating that the Lord’s Supper is not mentioned, because it is a representation of unity.11 The reference to the fundamental conditions of the Christian communion at its beginning is an insufficient ground for the omission of this sacrament (HARLESS and others). Still less admissible is it to suppose that it is included in the one sacrament of baptism (CALOVIUS), or in the “one Lord, one faith” (OLSHAUSEN), or to explain historically, that there has been as yet no separate celebration (MEYER), or that this is prophetic foresight, since the unify of the sacred feast would be broken nevertheless (STIER), or because he did not wish to hinder the manifold form of the rite (SCHENKEL), or because a definite expression for it was wanting (BLEEK).

Eph 4:6. The deepest basis of true unity. One God and Father of all.—Hero God the Father is referred to, after the Spirit (Eph 4:4) and the Son (Eph 4:5) have been made prominent. As little as God can be disunited with Himself, so little should you who are His children be among yourselves. Hence to the phrase “one God,” there is added epexegetically: “and Father,” the genitive “of all,” under which Christ cannot be included, leading us to understand it as the Father of believers, of those who have become God’s children in Christ. “Father” cannot then mean merely “creator,” according to the heathen conception, nor can “of all” be neuter in this context. Nam omnes ad unitatem rediguntur (BENGEL), and the following “all” (πάντων πᾶσι) takes up the first one again, referring to persons, to the members of the Church, who should preserve the unity in the Spirit; on which account Eph 4:7 continues: “to every one of you.” It is accordingly neither neuter (IRENÆUS and others), nor to be extended to men in general (HOLZHAUSEN).

Who is over all, ό ἑπὶ πάντων marks the Ruler, Guardian, Guide (WINER, p. 351) governing over all (WINER, p. 390). CHRYSOSTOM: ἐπάνω πάντων, τὴν δεσποτείαν σημαίνει.

And through all, καὶ διὰ πάντων, per omnes operans (BENGEL); the individuals are instruments, means, as Rom. 15:18; 1 Cor. 3:9; Gal. 1:1: διʼ ἀνθρώπουδιά Ἰησοῦ. See WINER, p. 390.

And in all, καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν, dwelling in all (BENGEL, WINER), filling them, perfecting them (John 14:23). All three qualifications refer to “God and Father,” hence are not to be interpreted in a trinitarian sense, of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, so that He who is “through all” is the Head working through all, and He who is “in all” is the indwelling Spirit, yet such a reference lies unmistakably in the background (Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 12:4–6; 2 Cor. 13:13), at all events was not far off, so that HARLESS can discover here a recapitulation of “one God,” “one Lord,” “one Spirit,” which STIER and others think was intentional. Comp. HOFMANN, Schriftbeweis, I. p. 201 f., who doubts any reference to the trinity, but applying it to the Father not without the Son and the Spirit, excludes no one Person. The reference to Redemption alone is clearer, hence “through all” is not to be understood of the all-pervading creative power, nor of Providence in general.

[While the mention of “one baptism,” with its Trinitarian formula, suggests the great probability of a reference to the Trinity in the several expressions of this verse, which is further favored by the first and third prepositions, it is far safer not to press it. The express mention of the “Father” is against it; διά can be referred to the work or office of the Son only by departing from its proper sense or inverting its relation to the rest of the verse (“per quem omnia facta sunt,” AQUINAS, so OLSHAUSEN), and as EADIE remarks: “In previous portions of the Epistle triune relation has been distinctly brought out; here the representation is different, for unity is the idea dwelt on, and it is the One God and Father Himself who works through all and dwells in all.” ELLICOTT here confessedly allows doctrinal considerations to outweigh his exegetical convictions, and it is precisely thus, that those who defend the well-grounded doctrine of the church lose in their contests with those who impugn it. They attack our exegesis of a passage like this, and we must defend the doubtful, unimportant outpost at a disadvantage.—One thing is certain that this passage refers to believers alone, neither teaching God’s Fathership of all men (though ALFORD thinks it is referred to as a lost possession), nor pantheism of any kind.—R.]


1. The unity of the Church. Although ἐκκλησία and σῶμα (Χριστοῦ) describe so nearly the same, that of the former it is said (1:23): “which is his body,” while in Col. 1:24 we read of “his body, which is the church,” yet the two may be thus distinguished: the former designates the church as an assembly of believers, of saints; the latter as a living organism, the organ of Him who is the Head, thus with the corpus Christi mysticum, giving more prominence to the inner concealed side, the unity of the same. Hence there are indeed “churches,” but no “bodies of Christ.” The Nicene creed was right in adding: UNAM to sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam (the Apostles’ has only: sanctam ecclesiam catholicam); so the Augsburg Confession, Art. vii: quod UNA sancta ecclesia perpetuo mansura sit. Strictly there is but one Church of Christ, though in groups of congregations with different confessions. No confessional church (though, strictly speaking, the term is a misnomer) is the Church of Christ, it is only a church by the side of others, through which the body of Christ extends itself.

2. The distinction of the body of Christ from the Spirit is indicated definitely enough by their being placed side by side, yet the latter at the same time gives prominence to the church as the working-place of the Spirit.12

3. The call, when accepted and effectual, begins within the called, not with a mere promise which he receives, but with a hope corresponding thereto, so that the objective call of God and the subjective acceptance of the man come together, and he from the very beginning knows and feels himself to be shown out of the lower sphere of life into the higher one.

4. Christ is the One Lord, and no faith in Him is genuine, except it be in Him as Lord. It is not sufficient to believe the Master or Teacher; it is not enough to feel and deem ourselves scholars, hearers, disciples. The Christian must be servant, subject of Christ, not merely to bear or listen to Him, but to belong to Him, to hearken to Him, to obey, to follow Him as His vassal, attendant, servant. No human dignity, in the history of our lives or of the world exceeds the dignity of Christ: He is the one only Lord; who gives Him up, must give up faith and the fellowship of the church.

5. Baptism, with which faith begins (regeneratio præcedit fidem) imparts the germ of the new life, the beginning of the gift of the Holy Ghost, the principle of faith in the subject, as at birth, upon coming to the light of the world, man is endowed with reason. It is not merely a symbolical act, nor a mere prophecy of the cleansing which begins later, but it is the incorporation into the body of Christ, animated by the Spirit, implantation into the soil of divine life. [This is the Lutheran view, approaching, in its estimate of the objective grace of this Sacrament, the position of Romanism and Anglicanism. Certainly the fact that baptism is mentioned at all, puts it into an exalted position, from which unchurchly Zwinglianism would degrade it. But it is not placed before faith, nor is there here any warrant for the assertion that faith begins with baptism. The Reformed or Calvinistic view is most in accordance with our passage. See Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 69–74; Belgic Confession, 34; Westminster Confession, 28; comp. especially Romans, p. 206, Doct. Note 3.—While there is no reference to the one mode of baptism, there is probably an allusion to the fact that baptism is not or should not be repeated.—R.]

6. God, the Father of believers, is not far from them, over them, but near to them, disposing concerning them, working through them, yes, dwelling in them, as in a temple, furnishing His work as in a work-shop. God is a Person, who not only rules throughout the universe, but gives to His own a special personality.

7. The Atheist denies the Father, the Deist the Son, the Pantheist the Holy Ghost, because he substitutes for it the unholy “spirit of the world” (BAADER).


Ever return from multiplicity to unity, and in freedom to obligation; but never let your view of the unities be disturbed. Do not hold faith higher than baptism, penetrate into the communion of the Church until you reach the Spirit which is its soul, and do not sunder the Lord Jesus and God the Father!

STARKE:—There is but one Church, which receives life and movement from the Holy Ghost, and hence but one ship, with which we can sail into the haven of bliss; all other vessels destroy and drown.—Christians are all equal in the fellowship of heavenly possessions, and no one has a better God, Christ, Spirit, Faith, etc., but what one has, the others have also, although one may have a greater enjoyment of such possessions than another.

RIEGER:—The body of Christ is ruled by one Spirit; one Lord gave Himself for the Redemption of all; out of one Word of truth and of faith are we convinced; one baptism is the door of entrance for us into the kingdom of God. Therefore God administers such a government of love over all, that as much as possible equality is established; out of his property every one can contribute something to the common benefit: as God on the other hand so gives Himself to be enjoyed by each, that he dare not look too anxiously upon others, still less through secret envy render difficult his keeping peace with all.—HEUBNER, see Homil. Notes on the preceding section.

PASSAVANT:—There is one path, one goal, one house, one family, one home to which you have been called; you all hope for one heaven, and in the same heaven to obtain a common inheritance, an identical blessedness and glory in the heavenly life.—“I do not know, how it happens, that we glory in being the children of God so confidently and yet at the same time forget brotherly love.”

STIER:—Where there is still body, there is also Spirit—that is the Apostle’s great thought.—Baptism and Faith belong together: 1. As faith is the subjective appropriation, so baptism is the objective representation of the same; 2. Faith takes out of the Lord’s hand, in baptism we have the firm foundation and beginning from the Lord.—I confess that I find the one faith on the Lord in many a [Roman] Catholic with the hearty joy of fraternal agreement, and in many a zealot for the pure Word and Sacrament I might look for it with pain and in vain.

[EADIE:—“One baptism” is the result and expression of the “one faith” in the “one Lord,” and, at the same time, the one mode of initiation by the “one Spirit” into the “one body.”—All this unity is but the impress of the great primal unity—one God.—Christ’s claim for the preservation of unity is upon all the churches—a unity of present connection and actual enjoyment—not a truce, but an alliance, with one living and cognizance—not a compromise, but a veritable incorporation.—HODGE:—All sins against unity are sins against the Holy Ghost.—R.]

[Seven times does the word “one” occur in these verses, but the middle term is “one Lord,” next on either side “one hope”—“one faith.”—How great a unity results from “one faith,” the same trust of the heart on the “one Lord;” one creed often leads and always permits us to chop logic and split hairs, but where the “faith” is “one,” hearts are one, and no earnest Christian has failed to notice how quickly this manifests itself.—It is a comfort to come back from the jars of the church of to-day and the wars of the church of the past, to the simple truth: There is one body: but here too faith is required.—R.]


[8]Eph 4:6.—The Rec. inserts ὑμῖν (with very slight authority), while D. F. K. L., good versions and a few fathers, 40 cursives, read ἡμῖν; no pronoun occurs in א. A. B. Cּ, 10 cursives. Most fathers also sustain the omission, which is accepted by nearly all editors and commentators since Lachmann, the pronouns being regarded as exegetical glosses to confine the assertion to Christians.—R.]

[9][So EADIE with more correctness than ALFORD and ELLICOTT, for though γάρ is not to be supplied, yet the logical connection of the assertion is argumentative. It is one of the rare cases where the grammatical nicety of the commentator last named has led him somewhat astray.—R.]

[10][So MEYER: “Objective relations of unity, to which the non-observance of the precept in Eph 4:3 would be opposed. These are: 1. The Church itself constituted as a unity—one body, one Spirit, one blessed consummation, Eph 4:4; 2. That by which this constitution of the same as a unity has and does come to pass—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, Eph 4:5; 3. The supreme Ruler, Administrator and Preserver of this entire unity—one God and Father, etc., Eph 4:6. Notice the triple tri-partite division.”—R.]

[11][On this question, which seems to have occupied undue prominence from the sacramental tendencies of many commentators, ELLICOTT remarks that if a reason must be assigned, “it must be referred to the fundamental difference between the sacraments. The one is rather the symbol of union, the other, from its single celebration and marked individual reference, presents more clearly the idea of unity,—the idea most in harmony with the context.”—R.]

[12][HODGE: “There are many passages to which the doctrine of the Trinity gives a sacred rhythm, though the doctrine itself is not directly asserted. It is so here. There is one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father. The unity of the Church is founded on this doctrine. It is one, because there is to us one God the Father, one Lord, one Spirit. It is a truly mystical union; not a mere union of opinion, of interest, or of feeling: but something supernatural arising from a common principle of life. This life is not the natural life which belongs to us as creatures; nor intellectual, which belongs to us as rational beings; but it is spiritual life, called elsewhere the life of God in the soul. And as this life is common on the one hand to Christ and all His members, and on the other to Christ and God, this union of the Church is not only with Christ, but with the Triune God.”—R.]

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

(EPH 4:7–10)

7But unto every [to each] one of us is given grace [was the13 grace given] according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8Wherefore he saith, When he ascended 9up on high, he led [a] captivity captive, and14 gave gifts unto [to] men. ([omit parenthesis] Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first [omit 10first]15 into the lower parts16 of the earth? He that [who] descended is the same also that [he it is also who] ascended up far [omit far] above all [the] heavens, that he might fill all things.) [omit) ].


Eph 4:7. Every one is cared for by Christ.—But to each one of us, ἑνὶ δὲ ἑκάστῳ ἡμῶν.—Antithetical to “through all and in all,” in order to explain it and to give prominence to the subjective condition, which is a motive for the preservation of unity; “of us” holds fast to the circle of Christians, of believers; it recalls 3:20: “in us.” After the seventh “one” and the fourth “all,” prominence is given to the specializing of what is common to all, to what is peculiar to the individuals. [Hence ἑνὶ in addition to ἑκάστῳ.—R.] It cannot be referred to teachers (PASSAVANT), or to extraordinary Christians (BAUMGARTEN-CRUSIUS), or to the relation of Jewish and Gentile Christians (OLSHAUSEN). Each has a part in salvation, and should prove it in concord; each has a part in salvation, and hence should be treated in a fraternal manner.

Was the grace given [ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις].—The verb stands first for emphasis: Every one has received, no one has it of himself; each has to recognize that, for himself, in order not to be proud, for another, in order not to despise or avoid him. That which was given by Christ is “the grace,” God’s grace, which is active and noticeable in Christianity,17 and of which he has already spoken in ver.6 (HARLESS); or the grace imparted.

According to the measure of the gift of Christ [κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τῆς δωρεᾶς τοῦ Χριστοῦ].—One kind of grace is given, and yet very differently. It is given by Christ; hence the genitive Χριστοῦ is the genitive subjecti, on which account we find in ver.8: “and gave gifts,” Eph 4:11: “and He gave,” accordingly that gift which He has given, not received (OEDER, in Wolf). He gives to each individual, to one more, to another less, to each the entire grace, but in peculiar form, with differently manifested strength, efficacy and tendency; hence “according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” [“In proportion to the amount of the gift which Christ gives” (ELLICOTT), the first genitive being a simple possessive genitive, and the second that of the agent, or both being subjective. STIER tries to combine the ideas of giving and receiving in the phrase: “of Christ.” “The rule is not our merit, or our previous capacity, nor our asking, but His own good pleasure” (HODGE).—R.]

Christ has power thereto; Eph 4:8–10. a) The quotation (Eph 4:8). b) The further exposition and application (Eph 4:9, 10).

Eph 4:8. Wherefore he saith.Διό denotes that in the quotation there is a reference and proof, i.e., for “the gift of Christ;” as will appear. We most naturally supply ἡ γραφή, the Scripture, with λέγει, “saith” (Jas. 4:6; Rom. 15:10; Gal. 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:16: φησίν), and not ὁ θεός (MEYER, SCHENKEL), or ὁ λέγων (BLEEK: the writer). [The fact that Paul frequently supplies ἡ γραφή (Rom. 4:8; 9:17;10:11; Gal. 4:30; 1 Tim. 5:18) is against Braune’s view; for in some of these passages there is a reason for its insertion (see Romans, p. 314), and as the Scriptures are God’s Word (MEYER), the natural aim and obvious subject is ὁ θεός. So ALFORD, ELLICOTT and most.—R.] The quotation is from Psalm 68:19: עָלִיתָ לַמָּרוֹס שָׁבִיתָ שֶׁבִי לָקָחְתָּ מַתָּנוֹת בָּאָדָם: LXX: ἀναβὰς εἰς ὕψος ἠχμαλώτευσας αἰχμαλωσίαν ἔλαβες δὁματα ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ. In Paul it reads:

When he ascended upon high he led a captivity captive, and gave gifts to men, ἀναβὰς εἰς ὕψος ἠχμαλώτευσεν αἰχμαλωσίαν καὶ ἔδωκε δόματα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις.—The citation is unmistakable up to the last clause: Paul has used the third person instead of the second, because he would mark the application and not merely quote; but in the last clause he substitutes “give” for “receive,” and the dative τοῖς ἀνθρώποις for ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ. The article is found in the Hebrew, in the Kamets, and in the singular, the general idea, which Paul expresses by the plural, inheres. Accordingly there remains but three variations of any consequence: לקח, λαμβάνειν, to receive, what is in itself inadmissible, δίδοναι, to give; instead of באדם, the dative, which is not represented by בְ, but by לְ, and the added καί. What in the glorious Psalm is said of God, whose triumphant doings on the earth are praised, and who takes up His abode on Mount Zion, in His sanctuary, to which the people festively draw near, and whither the Gentiles also will come, this the Apostle here applies to Christ. David sang of the ark of the covenant, which, after a great victory, was transferred (STIER) or brought back (HENGSTENBERG) to Zion. In this fact he sees the principle of the history of the Kingdom of God, appearing in ever widening circles and nobler manner; the fact is to him a type of the method and course of the Messianic kingdom. Hence the general view (Eph 4:2–7 and 29–36) and the reminiscence of the journey through the wilderness from Sinai to Zion (Eph 4:8–19). So that the Apostle is perfectly justified in finding the singer’s eye directed towards Christ and thus interpreting it. The height (“on high”) in the Psalm is first of all Zion (Eph 4:16, 17; comp. Jer. 17:12, 38; 31:12; 34:14, where מַרוֹם is spoken of Zion); but this is a type of heaven; of the most holy height, on which account the Apostle has heaven in his mind (Eph 4:10).18 By “captivity,” αἰχμαλωσία, according to Judith 2:9; Ezra 6:5; Rev. 13:10, we must understand captives, a troop or group of them, and not prison, captivity (LUTHER). This the parallelism which follows in the Psalm (70: ἀπειθοῦντες, Vulgate: non credentes) teaches us; indeed the next clause (ἔλαβες δόματα ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ) indicates plainly enough that the notion of αἰχμαλωσία is that of a turba captivorum, a crowd of captives, since the passage speaks of gifts in the man (in the human race), in men, presents consisting in men, whom He received and bore with Him into the same sanctuary.19 This however the Apostle does not simply take up in his quotation, does not place it after the first clause without any connecting particle, but with καί, which denotes advance, something further, passes from the quotation over into the meaning: and He gave. For what God conquers, overcomes, leads with Himself, takes to Himself, makes His own, He does not wish to retain for Himself, but He transforms it, endows it, and makes it a gift: His captives become His servants, Israel’s servants. He makes the enemies and antagonists of His theocracy its servants. So in a higher sense Christ; He made Saul Paul, the enemy and destroyer of His church an Apostle. God’s taking, receiving, points to a subsequent giving, Christ’s giving to a previous receiving. Thus the taking of gifts in men passes over into a giving for men, and the citation from David’s Psalm the Apostle interprets as referring to Christ. By “men,” τοῖς ἀνθρώποις we must understand chiefly men conquered by Him, His men, to whom He has given gifts of grace, that they themselves may and can become gifts for men in wider circles (see Eph 4:11; Acts 2:33).

After all this, it cannot be said that the citation is not from Ps. 68:19, but ex carmine, quod ab Ephesiis cantitari sciret (STORR, FLATT), or that Paul did not know the exact words (RUECKERT), nor nonnihil a genuino sensu detorsit, de suo adjecit (CALVIN), or to invent an exegetical tradition from the Targums (which were made not earlier than the third century, and the Syriac and Arabic versions, altered to accord with the Apostle, and to suppose the Apostle had followed this (HOLZHAUSEN, MEYER and others). Nor should we go beyond the context, and find a reference, as in Col. 2:15, to Satanic powers, which He has led captive (CHRYSOSTOM, BEZA, CALOV., BENGEL, STIER and others), since this does not comport with the Apostle’s interpretation, or to the souls released from Hades (ESTIUS, DELITZSCH, Psychology, p. 358, and others), since enemies are spoken of. Finally we cannot infer from this passage in the Psalms and the use Paul makes of it this difference between the Old and New Testaments, that in the former God receives gifts from or among men, but in the latter gives to men (SCHENKEL).

[The real difficulty of this verse lies in the form of the last clause. That Paul quotes from the Psalm which has a Messianic reference, that Christ is represented as returning victoriously to heaven with a crowd of captives, is evident, and occasions no difficulty. But as the point of the section is Christ’s giving to men, it is singular that the words: “gave gifts to men” are not found in the Psalm, which says: “received gifts among men.” (בָאָדָם, lit., in the man), or as Braune takes it, “consisting in men,” i.e., the captives. Dr. J. A. ALEXANDER (Psalms, in loco): “To receive gifts on the one hand and bestow gifts on the other are correlative ideas and expressions, so that Paul, in applying this description of a theocratic triumph to the conquests of our Saviour, substitutes one of these expressions for the other.” If this be deemed satisfactory, and Braune’s view, which obviates the difficulty in בָאָדָם, be accepted, the solution is complete. But if the latter be rejected (see footnote on αἰχμαλωσίαν), then we can render the original passage: “has taken gifts among men” (the collective sense is clearly correct) and consider the whole phrase recast by the Apostle to express the correlative idea which is at hand, and which is contained in the further, fuller, and deeper meaning of the Psalm, here succinctly, suggestively and authoritatively unfolded (ELLICOTT). This seems to be more satisfactory than to attempt to prove that the Hebrew expresses this meaning. It may be admitted that it is often=danda sumpsit (as EADIE clearly proves) but that it means this in the Psalm in question is very doubtful. The same view would render בָאָדָם, for men, which becomes to men, after the bestowal of the gift. See EADIE in loco.—R.]

Eph 4:9. Now that he ascended, τὸ δὲἀνέβη, taken from the ἀναβάς.—[Not the word, which does not occur in the passage quoted, but the predicate, which is contained in ἀναβάς (MEYER). The δέ introduces a slight explanatory transition; not strictly a proof (HODGE, ELLICOTT, following HOFMANN and MEYER) of the correctness of the Messianic application of the passage cited, but a further explanation of what it means as thus applied. MEYER now (4th ed.) gives up his former view, remarking that such a proof was unnecessary and illogical, since the subject of the Psalm in its Messianic fulfilment was self-evident, and God Himself is conceived of in the Old Testament as ὁ καταβάς—R.]

What is it [What does it imply] but that he also descended [τί ἐστιν εἰ μὴ ὅτι καὶ κατέβη].—Τί ἐστιν=what is thereby expressed (Matth. 9:13; John 16:17 ff.; 10:6)? Ὅτι καὶ κατέβη, He has not merely ascended, but has also previously descended; the former presupposes the latter: Thus heaven is indicated as His original dwelling-place (John 3:13) and His Person as that glorious, helping One, who can and will give gifts. [So MEYER. It is impossible to understand the verse otherwise than as indicating heaven to be the point of departure and the place of return for Him who descends and ascends. The doubt respects only the place whither He descended and whence He ascended.—R.]

Into the lower parts of the earth, εἰς τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς.—This closer definition of the descending evidently indicates the depths of the lower world, the subterranean world, which is below the surface of the earth; the genitive is partitive, governed by μέρη. The thought occurs in a variety of forms (Phil. 2:10: καταχθονίων; Acts 2:27, 31: εἰς ᾅδην; 1 Pet. 3:19: ἐν φυλακῇ. The expression here corresponds to κατώτατα τῆς γῆς (Ps. 63:10), grammatically τῆς γῆς might be the genitive of apposition (WINER, p. 494), like εἰς τὸ ὕψος τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (Isa. 38:14). It is also true that the context up to this point would permit us to refer the phrase to the earth alone. But the following τὰ πάντα (Eph 4:10) and the design of the Apostle to show the power of Christ, require the fullest justifiable meaning of the expression, and hence the application to Hades. There is no reference to burial (CHRYSOSTOM and others), nor in accordance with Ps. 139:15 to the mother’s womb (CALIXTUS and others).

[This interpretation of the phrase: “the lower parts of the earth” is the one anciently received, current among Romanist expositors, and adopted more recently by BENGEL, RUECKERT, OLSHAUSEN, STIER, TURNER, WORDSWORTH, ALFORD and ELLICOTT. The other view: the lower parts, viz., the earth, is accepted by the majority of modern commentators, such as CALVIN, GROTIUS, HARLESS, DE WETTE, HOFMANN, HODGE and EADIE (who gives a full statement of views and a good defence of this interpretation). It may be remarked that while one class of expositors may have been led to the one conclusion by a desire to sustain the article of the Apostles’ Creed; “He descended into hell,” the other may have been quite as much influenced by a fear of favoring the Romanist appendages to that article. Both views are alike grammatical, for while the positive would more naturally express the latter sense and the superlative the former, we have here the indefinite comparative, which may mean either. Doctrinally either view is admissible, while the considerations mentioned by Braune perhaps make the ancient view the preferable one. On Christ’s descent into Hades, see Dr. SCHAFF’S note, Matthew, pp. 228–229, and LANGE and MOMBERT, First Peter, pp. 63 f., 67–72. ZANCHIUS, BARNES and others favor the notion that the phrase signifies, in general, lowliness or humiliation, a view altogether untenable, because opposed to the context, and an unnecessary departure from the literal meaning.—R.]

Eph 4:10. He who descended, he it is also who ascended [ὁ καταβὰς αὐτός ἐστιν καὶ ὁ ἀναβάς].—Both thoughts are here brought together, without οὖν, in a lively, joyous manner, marking the identity of the Person. Κα·ταβάς stands first, having the emphasis, and αὐτός [He, emphatic], not ὁ αὐτός [the same, as in E. V.], gives prominence to the Person, who ascended out of the deepest depths, above all the heavens, ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν; the strongest antithesis to Eph 4:9. Under the term “heavens” there is no necessity for reckoning either three (HARLESS and others) according to 2 Cor. 12:2, or seven (MEYER and others), according to the prevalent Jewish opinion.20 Similar expressions: Heb. 4:14; 7:26.

That he might fill all things, ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα.—The Apostle thus gives the motive for what he has presented [in Eph 4:7]. There is nothing into which He cannot penetrate. Comp. 1:23. Τὰ πάντα designates all regions into which He can carry His gifts, can penetrate with His grace and glory, all regions and all persons within them.21 There is no reference to a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (ANSELM, KOPPE and others), or to the completion of the work of Redemption (RUECKERT and others); nor is it to be limited to Christians (BEZA, GROTIUS, SCHENKEL and others), for He rules also among and in His enemies (Ps. 110:2). CHRYSOSTOM is excellent: τοῦτό ἐστι τῆς ἐνεργείας αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς δεσποτείας, that He lets none slip, gives to every one, who has permitted himself to be conquered; the gracious and efficient presence of Him, the God-man, is thus established, and Eph 4:7 explained.


1. The idiosyncracy and freedom of the individual is as little altered by the gift of Christ’s grace as the former is of itself able to replace the latter by its own self-originated development. There must be giving, and indeed in this there is necessary a repeated proffering, making receptive or preparing, appropriating and preserving; the Lord offers ten times before we once receive, accept, take; so little does the Lord limit the freedom of the recipient. With the gift (Gabe), however, a task (Aufgabe) is at the same time appointed to the recipient: he must use it, gain with it. The gift does not obliterate national, corporate, local, temporal, individual differences, but purifies and ennobles them. Temperament and natural mental powers, talents and inclinations are only refined, directed, moved and used for the Lord’s kingdom and our own salvation. “It is self-evident that the gifts of grace are not mere developments of the natural talents of the man,—but this does not deny that they are planted in a natural talent” (KAHNIS, Lehre vom heil. Geist I. p. 72).

2. Christ is the Lord, who gives. He has fought the fight of Redemption, and stands as a conqueror there; has overcome as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and as the Lamb of God, who bears the sins of the world. He can give to every one and He is willing to do so. His χρίσμα, by means of which He makes men Christians, is a χάρισμα, grace in a special manner adapted to the individual. Comp. 1 Cor. 12:8 ff.

3. Respecting the internal connection of the Old and New Testament, as well as for Hermeneutics and Homiletics, much can be deduced from the application of this citation from the Psalms in our passage.

a. “The Apostle knows that what the Old Testament contains, the New Testament must also contain, only in a more glorious manner. Comp. 2 Cor. 3:7–11. He knows that however different according to the different relations, which are indicated in the very character of the Old Testament revelation, it still inheres in the nature of this unity of the two revelations, to bear witness of this unity to those who can and will seek it. All that was written aforetime was written εἰς ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν (Rom. 15:4).” HARLESS. Besides the definite prophecies, there are in the Old Testament enough types and things typical of Christ and what has taken place in and through Him. What occurred in the people of Israel and is narrated as history or sung by holy men of old, is something pointing to the future; while at the time indeed it is accomplished fact or acute sketching of a living person, yet beyond this it has a validity for the Messianic period, so that when this comes in it is related to it as σκιά to σῶμα, shadow to body. In the Old Testament the Logos is concerned, but concealed, in all; in the New Testament manifested openly in all glory, full of grace and truth. The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Redeemer in the New. Comp. RIEHM, Lehrbegriff des Hebräerbriefs, I. p. 131 ff.

b. Hermeneutics should perceive and show forth, in the acts of God narrated or sung in the Holy Scriptures, His administration, both going back to seek the preparatory and prophetic types, and forwards to point out the advancing accomplishment. But there must be a distinction made between what the passage to be expounded expresses as the sense and meaning of the writer, and what the deed or person, so simply and transparently described, signifies in the kingdom of God, in His people, of which signification the writer may be entirely unconscious. “The knowledge which looks back to the guidance of youth is the knowledge belonging to Christianity; the guidance of youth is the history of the Old Testament theocracy; the veil which rests on the guidance of youth disappears with the knowledge of manhood in Christ (2 Cor. 3:4–16).” HARLESS. Every important poet, every skilful artist, may first perceive in the later inspection of his work thoughts therein, of which he neither was nor became conscious in making it. So in the Scripture often enough is there more than the writer had in his consciousness. [Comp. Exeg. and Doctr. Notes, Galatians, 4:19–30. Even EADIE, who is most earnest in the effort to prove that the Apostle cites from the Psalm in accordance with its original and exact sense, says: “Our position is, that the same God is revealed as Redeemer both under the Old and New Testament, that the Jehovah of the one is the Jesus of the other, that Psalm 68 is filled with imagery which was naturally based on incidents in Jewish history, and that the inspired poet, while describing the interposition of Jehovah, has used language which Was fully realized only in the victory and exaltation of Christ.”—R.]

c. Homiletics may and should place the biblical history of the Old and New Testament, as a concrete manifestation of a Divine thought or of Divine guidance and ways, which enclose love and wisdom for men, besides others in the present life of the world or of individuals, in order to place these latter in that true light, which the former gives. For God and the Saviour Jesus Christ is the same in the Old and the New Testament, and at all times, ours as well, in His Church. GAUPP (Homiletik I. p. 174) calls this the tropological view. [Admitting both the usefulness of teachings drawn from analogy, since analogy, figure, type, etc., all indicate the harmony of the Divine will in Creation, Providence and Redemption, and the propriety of such extensions and applications of the Old Testament on the part of an inspired Apostle, we must remember that our tropological exposition is not authoritative, and that we can base no doctrine or precept upon it, but only use it to elucidate established doctrine or enforce plain precept.—R.]

4. The Christology of this passage. It says that Christ is originally in heaven; there is His eternal dwelling-place. But He betook Himself into lowliness and penetrated the universe even to the lower regions, in order to fill all with His glory. He works as King, dispensing victoriously, where He has wrought as champion. His pre-existence is taken for granted, while we are especially taught His eternal activity of grace in all directions and for all times and for every man.


Only take what Christ gives thee; thou needst envy no one.—Thankfully recognize what He has given to another; it benefits thee also.—Do not be satisfied with the natural endowments of your nation, your class, your family, or your intellect; let them be sanctified, purified, penetrated by grace in Christ. The most highly gifted natural man is always smaller and poorer than a living Christian (GOETHE, TERSTEEGEN).—Christ is King, Lord; His sword is His word, but this is a sword.—He has descended into the deep as a Redeemer: thy sin is not too deep and thy heart is not too bad: He can fill it.

STARKE:—Each member must be contented with his measure of gifts, received without pride, shared without envy.—Dear Christian, wilt thou ascend with Christ and reach His glory, then must thou first descend and suffer.

RIEGER:—No one has all, and no one need be concerned lest he come away entirely empty.—The origin of all gifts is to be found especially in the exaltation of Christ, which began with the victory over the rulers of darkness, over the principalities and powers who held us captive, who were themselves taken captive in the deep path of Christ’s humiliation, and in the moment of Christ’s death, when they believed they had gained the mastery over Him, must find and feel Him to be their Conqueror and Destroyer.

HEUBNER:—The diversity of gifts as respects degree and subject, should not occasion boasting or envy. In working together for the Kingdom of God there can be no envy; where there is envy, there the labor is for personal advantage.—Christ’s Kingdom embraces also the invisible Kingdom of God. Would this be conceivable, were He a mere man?

PASSAVANT:—It has ever been the indiscretion and folly of men in the world, that they have forgotten the One Great Giver in the gifts and gifted, looking with especial astonishment to this teacher, with especial love to this benefactor, with especial admiration to this hero;—a virtual idolatry.—The main blow and the victory for all time and for eternity took place in and with the death of Christ—in and with His Resurrection.

STIER:—Each for himself and all together have to walk the same way in Christ.—The gifts of Christ are themselves at the same time men; all gifts of grace are pre-eminently official gifts.


Eph 4:7. The law of the Church is essential unity in the midst of circumstantial variety. Each gift in its own place completes the unity.

Eph 4:9. Reproach and scorn and contumely followed Him as a dark shadow. Persecution at length apprehended Him, accused Him, calumniated Him, scourged Him, mocked Him, and doomed “the man of sorrows” to an ignominious torture and a felon’s death. His funeral was extemporized and hasty; nay, the grave He lay in was a borrowed one. He came truly “to the lower parts of the earth.”

Eph 4:10. But as His descent was to a point so deep, His ascent is to a point as high. His position is the highest in the universe.—R.]


Eph 4:7. To refuse to occupy the place assigned to us in the Church, is to refuse to belong to it at all.

Eph 4:9, 10. All other comings were typical of His coming in the flesh, and all ascensions were typical of His ascension from the grave.—It is God clothed in our nature who now exercises this universal dominion; and therefore the Apostle may well say of Christ, as the incarnate God, that He gives gifts unto men.—R.]


[13]Eph 4:7.—[The article is omitted in B. D.1 F. G. L., a few cursives, by Lachmann; bracketted by Alford; inserted in א. A. C. D.3 K., accepted by Tischendorf and most recent editors. The omission was probably due to the η which precedes, and some glosses still further sustain its genuineness.—The order of the E. V. is altered for the sake of retaining the article, and was substituted for is, to bring out the force of the aorist.—R.]

[14]Eph 4:8.—[Καί is omitted in א. A. C.2 D.1 F., versions and fathers; rejected by Lachmann, Tischendorf (ed. 2), Ellicott. It is found in (Rec.) א.3 B. G.13 D.3 K. L., nearly all cursives, versions (Syrian, etc.), fathers; accepted by Tischendorf (ed. 7), Meyer, Alford, Braune. As it is wanting in the LXX, the internal evidence seems to decide in its favor; an insertion for the sake of connection is not probable.—See Exeg. Notes for the text of the original Hebrew and the LXX.—R.]

[15]Eph 4:9.—The Rec. inserts πρῶτον. on the authority of א.3 B. C.3 K. L., cursives, versions and fathers; it is not found in א. A. C. D.1.F?., and is rejected by modern editors as an explanatory gloss.—R.]

[16]Eph 4:9.—[The authority for μέρη is much stronger than for πρῶτον (א. A. B. C. D 3 K. L., nearly all cursives, a few versions and fathers), though it is open to suspicion as an explanatory gloss, and is rejected by Tischendorf, Meyer and Ellicott (omitted in D.1 F, most fathers). It is however retained, on account of the strong uncial support, by Lachmann, Scholz, Rückert, Alford and Braune.—R.]

[17][The aorist points to a definite act: “by Christ, at the time of His exaltation—when He bestowed gifts on men” (Alford).—“The grace,” as the article is to be retained, has some shade of a transitive force, denoting the energizing grace which manifests itself in the peculiar gift (ELLICOTT) rather than the spiritual gift itself and the influence, function, or office flowing from it (HODGE).—R.]

[18][The inspired and prophetic character of the Psalm, and its antiquity are undoubted (see HITZIG, HENGSTENBERG, DELITZSCH against DE WETTE and EWALD). It was probably composed after a battle, and quite as probably (against EADIE) “at some bringing up of the ark to the hill of Zion,” which took place after a victory (HENGSTENBERG: taking of Rabbah, 2 Sam. 12:26). ALFORD, with reference to the return of the ark. says: “It is therefore a Messianic Psalm. Every part of that ark, every stone of that hill, was full of spiritual meaning. Every note struck on the lyres of the sweet singers of Israel, is but part of a chord, deep and worldwide, sounding from the golden harps of Redemption. The partial triumphs of David and Solomon only prefigured as in a prophetic mirror the universal and eternal triumph of the Incarnate Son of God. Those who do not know this, have yet their first lesson in the Old Testament to learn.” Comp. Doctr. Note 3.—R.]

[19][In the revision, by Four Anglican Clergymen, captives is substituted for captivity. “A captivity” is a literal rendering which points to the concrete sense.—As regards this concrete sense, there is little difference of opinion, the only question being: Who are the captives? Obviously enemies who have been overcome, either (a) men who become His servants, those referred to in τοῖς ἀνθρώποις (Braune, following some fathers, HARLESS, OLSHAUSEN and others), who were previously prisoners of Satan (though Braune does not bring this out, or (b) Satan, sin, death (CHRYSOSTOM, BENGEL, MEYER, STIER, EADIE, ALFORD, HODGE, ELLICOTT); CALVIN seeks to combine the two. The former view greatly lessons the difficulty in the last clause of the quotation, helping to justify the substitution of the notion of giving for that of receiving in the original passage. But this very fact lays it open to suspicion as an exegesis for an emergency. The other view is favored by Col. 2:15 (though not to be limited by the reference there), it preserves the analogy of the comparison, and gives a forcible meaning. Other views have been suggested, but not very probable ones.—R.]

[20][Alford: “It is natural that one who, like St. Paul, had been brought up in the Jewish habit of thought, should still use their method of speaking.” But this does not imply an acceptation of such a division of the heavens; rather this: “Whatsoever heaven is higher than all the rest which are called heavens, into that place did He ascend” (BISH. PEARSON in ELLICOTT).—R.]

[21][So HODGE, EADIE, ALFORD and ELLICOTT. Even Dr. Braune does not attempt to justify the use made of this passage to defend the doctrine of the ubiquity of Christ’s body (Farm. Concord.). On which ELLICOTT aptly says: “Christ is perfect God, and perfect and glorified man; as the former He is present everywhere, as the latter He can be present anywhere.”—R.]

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
c. The organization and organism of the Church

(EPH 4:11–16.)

11And he gave some, apostles [some to be apostles]; and some, prophets; and 12some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For [Unto]22 the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry [or of ministration], for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in [unto] the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [full-grown] man, unto the 14measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more [To the end that we be no longer] children, tossed to and fro [tossed as waves], and carried about with every wind of doctrine [teaching], by [in] the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive [in craftiness tending to 15the system23 of error]; But speaking [holding]24 the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which [who] is the head, even Christ:25 16From whom the whole [all the] body fitly joined [framed] together and compacted [,]26 by that which every joint supplieth [by means of every joint of the supply], according to the effectual [omit effectual] working in the measure of every [each several] part,27 maketh increase [the growth] of the body unto the edifying [building up]28 of itself in love.


Eph 4:11. Christ’s gift for the Church.And he gave [καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν].—“And” joins with what precedes (“that he might fill all things”), what follows, which has the former as its aim. As the clause of design (Eph 4:10) refers to the beginning (Eph 4:7: “according to the measure of the gift of Christ”), so the clause “he gave,” αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν, refers back also (Eph 4:10: αὐτὸς Eph 4:8: ἔδωκε, Eph 4:6: ἐδόθη).29 Αὐτός gives emphatic prominence to the Person of the Giver, the Exalted One: He and none other. Ipse, summa potestate; and repetitur ex 5:10. Ministri non dedere se ipsos (BENGEL). It is not=ὁ αὐτός (SCHENKEL), nor is ἔδωκε=ἔθετο (THEOPHYLACT, HARLESS) in accordance with 1 Cor. 12:28. [EADIE remarks (and ALFORD approves): “The idea is, that the men who filled the office, no less than the office itself, were a Divine gift.”—R.] Nor should the aorist be pressed, so as to express only something momentary, passing; Paul is himself included, as one whom the Exalted One gave to be an Apostle; the historical fact is indicated. CALVIN has justly said: et suscitat interdum prout temporum necessitas postulat, although he accepts the first three classes of officers as belonging only to the beginning of the Church (Institutes, IV. 3, 4).

Some to be Apostles [τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους].—Τοὺς μέν, τοὺς δέ is not=ἑνίους, some [i.e., some Apostles], since this is only a numeral, while the former expression points as a demonstrative to definite persons, whom He has prepared to be the gift, and given as ἀποστόλους. “Apostles” are those immediately called and equipped by the Lord to extend His work; they were especially endowed by Him, and had personally great advantages and prerogatives. First of all there were twelve; after the apostasy of Judas, Matthias was chosen by the disciples somewhat precipitately, before the day of Pentecost, while Paul was called by the Lord Himself as the twelfth.30 Still Barnabas was called an apostle in connection with Paul (Acts 14:4, 14) and others also (Rom. 16:7; 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25), hence this is not an abuse of the term (BLEEK), so that one might thus name those men, chosen and specially endowed by the Lord, appointed to found churches, as Boniface the Apostle of the Germans, Egede the Apostle of Greenland, Ziegenbalg and Schwartz the Apostles of India.

Some prophets.—“Prophets” are (2:20; 3:5) men, who receive revelation (ἀποκάλυψις) from God, and, perceiving God’s will and thought with clearness, announce the same with discretion and power; the prophet is μάντις, as far as he has revelation (1 Cor. 14:26); the latter becomes a prophet through interpretation; “glossarily” (to be distinguished from the Pentecostal miracle) is a morbid species of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:27 ff.). They appear in Acts 11:27; 13:1; 15:32; 21:10. They are concerned, not so much with the future (BENGEL) as with the eternal. To them correspond in the progress of ages those theologians with more profound insight into God’s truth and will, as well as into the character and course of His Kingdom, such as Luther. [Comp. the excellent note of EADIE in loco. HODGE: “As the gift of infallibility was essential to the Apostolic office, so the gift of occasional inspiration was essential to the prophetic office.”—R.]

And some evangelists.—“Evangelists,” such as the deacon Philip (Acts 21:8; 8:4–12), περιϊόντες ἐκήρυττον (THEODORET), as travelling missionaries31 (NEANDER), but also in permanent positions (2 Tim. 4:5; comp. 2 Cor. 8:18), in consequence of their own view of the facts of the Gospel (John 16:26 ff.), or mediate tradition (Luke 1:1–4). It must not be referred to “those writing the Gospel” (CHRYSOSTOM); BENGEL also goes too far in ascribing to them præterita; they hare to do with the life of the Lord in prophecy and fulfilment.

And some pastors and teachers, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους.—JEROME: Non ait, alios autem pastores et alios magistros, sed alios pastores et magistros, ut qui pastor sit, esse debeat et magister et nemo pastoris sibi nomen assumere debet, nisi possit docere quos pascit. BENGEL: Pastores et doctores hic pinguntur, nam pascunt (and regunt) docendo maxime, tum admonendo, corripiendo, etc. The pastors are=προἵστάμενοι (Rom. 12:8), who have the office of κυβέρνησις (1 Cor. 12:28) and must be “apt to teach,” διδακτικοί (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24; Tit. 1:9), they are “bishops,” ἐπίσκοποι (Acts 20:28). Οἱ κατὰ πόλιν καὶ κώμην ἀφωρισμένοι in distinction from εὐαγγελισταί (THEODORET). BLEEK takes them as distinct; and he is right to this extent only, that the “teachers” are not always “pastors;” it is as “apostles and prophets” (2:20; 3:5); hence despite this distinction, they form one category beside the previous ones.

[There has been much dispute whether these terms refer to two classes of stationary church officers, or to one whose twofold duty is indicated by two titles. The latter view is favored by the absence of the distinctive τοὺς δέ, and is accepted by AUGUSTINE, JEROME, BENGEL, HARLESS, OLSHAUSEN, MEYER, HODGE, EADIE and ALFORD.32 The former is accepted by THEOPHYLACT, CALVIN, GROTIUS, NEANDER, DE WETTE, STIER, though the definitions of the distinction vary greatly. ELLICOTT says: “The ποιμένες (a term probably including ἐπίσκοποι and πρεσβύτεροι) might be and perhaps always were διδάσκαλοι, but it does not follow that the converse was true. The χάρισμα of κυβέρνησις is so distinct from that of διδασκαλία, that it seems necessary to recognize in the διδάσκαλοι a body of men (scarcely a distinct class) who had the gift of διδαχή, but who were not invested with any administrative powers and authority.” Is the teacher then the parish schoolmaster or the professor of theology? or a preacher who does no pastoral duty? The Reformed Church polity has usually recognized the distinction (Westminster Directory, Constitution of Reformed [Dutch] Church in America, etc.), but practically it has amounted to nothing, as indeed little good has ever resulted from the attempt to reproduce accurately or jure divino those distinctions which expositors discover in the offices of the primitive Church. It may be remarked that while this phrase shows that every pastor ought to be a teacher, putting the former phase of duty first, it will ever be the case that through native endowment some ministers are better adapted for one part of the duty than for the other, though there is no warrant for total neglect of either, or for appointing in one congregation one minister to be pastor and another to be teacher; for the latter would now-adays take undue precedence of the former. Those who are “teachers,” in our sense of the word, are also in the most important sense “pastors.”—R.]

It is unmistakable that these four categories above named, so divide themselves, that the first three do not belong to a single congregation, but to the whole Church or a number of congregations, the last however is definitely appointed to one congregation. A gradation from higher to lower is noticeable also, in this manner, that the higher includes the lower grade or grades. Thus Jesus is called and calls Himself “Apostle” (Heb. 3:1, after Jno. 20:21); “Prophet” (Matt. 13:57; Luke 13:33; Acts 3:22 ff., 7:37); εὐαγγελιζόμενος (Luke 4:18, 43; 20:1); “Shepherd,” ποιμήν (Jno. 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:25); “Teacher” (Matt. 23:8; Jno. 13:14). Accordingly BENGEL says: Cum summis gradibus conjuncti poterant esse inferiores; omnes Apostoli simul etiam vim propheticam habuerunt. Sed prophetæ et evangelistæ non simul etiam Apostoli fuerunt. Finally it must be noticed, that the offices themselves are not named here, and that in distinction from 1 Cor. 12:28, the official persons stand in the foreground as gifts, in Corinthians the gifts of office, the offices themselves falling into the back-ground in both cases. See further, Doctr. Notes 1, 2.

Eph 4:12. The immediate aim of the activity of the persons in office. [Note on the relation and dependence of the clauses of this verse. There is great difference of opinion, but of the various views those numbered (4) and (5) are most worthy of consideration. Braune adopts (4); but (5) seems to be preferable.

1. The clauses are taken as co-ordinate (CHRYSOSTOM, ZANCHIUS, BENGEL, E. V.), but this is opposed by the change of preposition, and in that case we would have a different order, the second clause would come first.

2. The trajection (GROTIUS, KOPPE and others), which actually put that clause first, is altogether unwarranted.

3. The second and third clauses are taken as parallel (by HARLESS and OLSHAUSEN), but as dependent on the first, in a partitive sense: some to teach, others to be edified. But there is nothing to indicate such a sense, and it is logically inadmissible, since the “saints” of one clause and “the body of Christ” of the other are identical.

4. Braune follows ERASMUS, DE WETTE, MEIER, FLATT, RUECKERT, SCHENKEL and many others, in taking the second and third as dependent on the first, or rather the second dependent oh the first and the third on the second. The meaning then is: “For the perfecting of the saints unto all that variety of service which is essential unto the edification of the body of Christ.” As this view is fully presented below, the objections to it alone require mention at this point. These as urged by MEYER are: a. That as the context treats of offices in the Church, it is improper to enlarge the meaning of διακονία beyond that of official service (Rom. 11:13; 2 Cor. 4:1; 6:3; comp. Acts 6:4; 2 Cor. 3:7 ff.; 9:12, etc.). b. That with such a meaning πάντων would have been so essentially necessary with ἅγίων that it could not have been omitted. These objections are sufficiently strong to lead him to adopt the next view.

5. The second and third clauses are taken as co-ordinate, and dependent on ἔδωκε “he gave;” the first expressing the more ultimate and final purpose (πρός) of the action, the other two the more immediate end (εἰς). This view is adopted by ALFORD, ELLICOTT, HODGE, EADIE (2d ed.), and gives this sense: “He gave Apostles, etc.,—to fulfil the works of the ministry, and to build up the body of Christy, His object being to perfect His saints.” So HOFMANN substantially. The great objection is the strange order which place the more ultimate end first, but as the difficulty seems to inhere in the Apostle’s own choice of prepositions, it is not decisive against this view. While preferring it, I would not insist on its correctness, but, leaving Dr. Braune’s notes as they stand, add in footnotes the requirements of this interpretation.—R.]

Unto the perfecting of the saints [πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων].—Πρός marks the end aimed at, viz.: “the perfecting of the saints.” Καταρτισμός, occurring only here, like κατάρτισις in 2 Cor. 13:9 designates the re-establishment of an affair, so that it is ἄρτιος (only 2 Tim. 3:17, τέλειος various reading), integer, as it should be (1 Cor. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:11; Gal. 6:1; 1 Thess. 3:10; Heb. 10:5; 11:3; 13:21; 1 Pet. 5:10). Non potuit honorificentius verbi ministerium commendare, quam dum hunc illi effectum tribuit (CALVIN). Through the ministers of Christ the Christians should become complete, perfect.33 For what purpose?

For the work of the ministry [or of ministration, εἰς ἔργον διακονίας].—Hence there is no thought of merely external increase (PELAGIUS, BEZA). Εἰς marks that for which the saints should become expert, complete. The nouns, without the article, have here a more general meaning: ἔργον indicates the efficiency of the διακονίας, and the latter denotes that every work which it does, is a service to our neighbor and then to the whole. Διακονία is a general service (2 Tim. 4:11; 2 Cor. 11:8). This meaning is demanded here by the context, the connection with the saints, the members, each one of which has his office (Rom. 12:4) and needs the other (1 Cor. 12:21). Comp. 2 Tim. 3:17: πρὸς πᾶν ἐργον ὰγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος. It must not be referred to church service, ecclesiastical office, the diaconate in a technical sense (MEYER).34 Comp. on Eph 4:16.

For the building up of the body of Christ, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ.35—The aim of the “ministry” is again subjoined with the preposition εἰς. So great is the significance of the preparing of Christians through the ministers of the Church to ministering activity in the congregation! The body of Christ is there, it exists, but new members are continually incorporated in it, it extends and increases; hence both of the figures derived from the body (1:23; 2:20–22) are included. LUTHER is very good: “that the saints may be fitted to the work of the ministry, that thus the body of Christ may be edified.” Accordingly the three clauses are not co-ordinate (CHRYSOSTOM, BENGEL and others); nor are the two subjoined with εἰς co-ordinate (RUECKERT, MEYER, HARLESS and others), nor yet dependent on ἔδωκε as some think, while others make them dependent on καταρτισμόν. Quite as little can we accept a trajection of the second number before the first (GROTIUS, KOPPE and others). [See above for a classification of opinions.—R.] Comp. Doctr. Note 3.

Eph 4:13. The end of the perfecting. Till we all come [μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες].—Μέχρι denotes the final, highest aim, not the beginning and entrance of the same, ἄχρι, but the presence and enjoyment of it (TITTMANN, Syn. 1. p. 33 ff.). [Comp. Dr. SCHAFF’S note, Romans, p. 181]. Καταντήσωμεν, the conjunctive without ἄν denotes simply the future; the verb itself however is=φθάνειν (ŒCUMENIUS), the arriving at the destination, as frequently in the Acts (16:1; 18:19, 24, etc.), in a local sense; here and Phil. 3:11 however in the spiritual sense, prominence being given to the free movement, which is occasioned, strengthened and animated by the educating καταρτισμός.36

Under the term οἱ πάντες, “all,”=οἱ ἅγιοι, as a complete whole, the Apostle includes himself; it is therefore implied that those in whom there has been a beginning of πίστις (HARLESS), even the greatest, the Apostles, are in need of progress towards the goal, are not yet there, even although in advance of others, but further their own progress when they labor for others (Phil. 3:13, 14; Rom. 1:11, 12). Accordingly “all” is not to be extended to all men (JEROME). BENGEL is excellent: Ne apostoli quidem se putarunt metam assecutos, nedum ecclesia. Semper proficiendum fuerat, non standum, nedum deficiendum. Et nunc ecclesia ideam sui optimæ non a tergo respiciat oportet, sed ante oculos habeat, ut futuram, etiam num assequendum. Notate hoc, qui antiquitatem non tam sequimini, quam obtenditis.

Unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίοτεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγμώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ.—The preposition marks the goal. The repeated article demands absolutely, that “faith” and “knowledge” be kept apart as distinct, independent ideas, although the genitive which they have in common (“of the Son of God”) occasions a connection by means of the copulative conjunction. “Faith” designates the immediate possession, “knowledge” the assurance obtained by means of knowing (MATTHIES); the former is applicable to an ethical, the latter to an intellectual sphere; the latter proceeds constantly anew from the former, the former is itself the permanent beginning, the constant principle, not merely an initiatory stage to be surpassed; both belong together accordingly. The unity of both, since “one faith” is presupposed: (Eph 4:5), refers to the various degrees of clearness and power in the individual members (οἱ πάντες), to littleness of faith, weakness of faith, want of maturity, etc. Accordingly the genitive, “of the Son of God,” defines both more closely, indicating that they are as strong, as He possessed them, and that thus we, being God’s children who will grow up and become educated, should possess them; He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2) and knowledge, thus Example and Standard. If He is not the object, there is neither faith nor knowledge at all. Hence it is the genitive subjecti (STIER), not objecti, as most consider it. But unity of faith and knowledge is not meant, either alone (OLSHAUSEN), or in connection with the other meaning (STIER); we should rather refer it to the unity of the individuals, of the church-members, which is effected by the faith and knowledge of Christ.

[The view of OLSHAUSEN is, that the unity is the state in which faith and knowledge are identified; fides implicita developing into fides explicita (BISPING). EADIE and ALFORD virtually accept this as included here, the latter citing DE WETTE: “True and full unity of faith is then found, when all thoroughly know Christ, the object of faith, alike, and that in His highest dignity as the Son of God.” But the second term is not epexegetical of the first, and faith is not to be lost in knowledge, but abides (1 Cor. 13:13).—The strong word ἐπίγνωσις must be noticed. If any prefer the more common view of the genitive as that of the object, the following statement (HODGE) will be satisfactory: “Faith and knowledge express or comprehend all the elements of that state of mind of which the Son of God is the object—a state of mind which includes the apprehension of His glory, the appropriation of His love, as well as confidence and devotion. This state of mind is in itself eternal life.” “The unity of faith is now confined to the first principles; the unity of faith contemplated in this place is that perfect unity which implies perfect knowledge and perfect holiness.”—R.]

Unto a full-grown man, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον.—The singular marks the unity of the Church, which grows up into a perfect man.37 Here a “development” (werden) is spoken of, which is involved in the καταντᾳν; the Church, the body of Christ, becomes a personality educated and completed to the perfect life-degree of Christ. For τέλειος is the opposite of νήπιος (Eph 4:14); like 1 Cor. 3:1; 2:6 and Heb. 5:13, 14, it means one in ripe, full manhood.

Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ [εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ].—“Unto the measure of the stature” points to a definite measure; it does not therefore extend in infinitum. Ἠλικία from ἧλιξ, qui adultæ et maturæ ætatis est, certainly designates, as in Luke 19:2, the stature, the bodily size, elsewhere (Matt. 6:27; Luke 12:25; 2:52; Heb. 11:11; Jno. 9:21, 23) however, the age, generally the age of manhood; it is, more fully expressed, the maturity, the full growth, and in accordance with the context the spiritual maturity (STIER).38 The genitive: τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῡ, “of the fulness of Christ,” defines more precisely the measure of the maturity: it is conditioned by the fulness, the state of being filled, which comes from Christ, accordingly by Himself, who lives in it and by His gifts and powers. We should become perfect, as He, the Head was, 1 Cor. 12:12. Hence Luther is incorrect: in the measure of perfect age; for πληρώματος is not to be made an adjective qualifying ἡλικία. The explanation: full gracious presence of Christ (HARLESS) is insufficient; still more so the meaning given by RUECKERT: Christ stands before us as the ideal of manly size and beauty.—Whether this goal will be reached in this life or only in the next, is decided by πίστις in the context, to this extent, that we must refer it to this life also, although indeed many a one first attains unto it in the future life, since this coming to the appointed goal extends through centuries. Comp. Doctr. Notes 4, 5.

The purpose, Eph 4:14, 15. a) negatively, Eph 4:14; b) positively, Eph 4:15.

Eph 4:14. To the end that we be no longer children [ἵνα μηκέτι ὧμεν νήπιοι].—Ἵνα sets forth the purpose, which aims at the fulfilment of μηκέτι ὤμεν νήπιοι, and this must accordingly take place before the goal is reached, “unto a perfect man.” It is not to be joined to Eph 4:13 (SCHENKEL),39 but to Eph 4:11, 12, more particularly to ἔδωκε, and unfolds wherein the “perfecting of the saints” consists. As the Apostle, who, although the most advanced, still in humble sense of fellowship, bears and suffers in the imperfection of the Church, includes himself (ὦμεν), we must not find here a reproach, but a point or state of transition, which does not continue, hence μηκέτι, which does not recall false teachers in Christendom generally (MEYER). The Gentiles are not yet νήπιοι; Christians in their incipiency are such (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21; 1 Cor. 3:1; 8:11; Gal. 4:13; Heb. 5:13); they should not however remain so, but advance to ripe manhood.

Tossed to and fro [as waves] and carried about [κλυδωνιζόμενοι καὶ περιφερόμενοι].—This describes more closely the νηπιότης, with reference to appearances and experiences observed and felt in the churches, inclusive of the false teachers who had appeared and would appear. “Tossed as waves”40 (fluctuantes, Vulgate), moved as waves, intrinsecus, sursum deorsum, etiam citra ventum (BENGEL), “and carried about,” extrinsecus, hue illuc, aliis nos adorientibus (BENGEL), describes the ready excitability of the unsubstantial, the immature (Jas. 1:6; Heb. 13:9; Jude 12); they are dependent on their surroundings, on influences and insinuations, are moved:

By every wind of teaching, παντὶ ἀνέμῳ τῆς διδασκαλίας.—The wind has a great variety (παντί), from the aura seculi, levis aura popelli to the strong continuing trade-wind, and as to its origin from coarse to refined carnal interests, as well as in its tendency toward aims against the Church or in favor of a false church. [The dative is the dynamic dative, KRUEGER.—R.] “Teaching” is introduced under the figure of the wind, because it is something pneumatic and because, as the wind in proportion to its strength or the free situation of the water, stirs this from ripples to foam, so the teaching sets in motion the spirit of the νήπιος, which is so easily tossed to and fro. The νήπιος will learn, know; that is the proper way to perfection. But beside the one wholesome teaching of truth there appears the multifarious teaching of error as a great danger,41 and the greater because it works, moves, attracts and hurries along:

In the sleight of men.Ἐν τῇ κυβείᾳ, belonging to the participles, refers with the article to “teaching;” through the sleight befitting the doctrine, and with the substantive (from κύβος, die), to dice-playing, in order to denote, that the teachers deal with the Scriptures and the truth and men, as players with dice (LUTHER). [Braune agrees with DE WETTE, MEYER, HODGE, and the E. V., in regarding ἐν as instrumental, but as this seems pleonastic after the dative, “and would mar the parallelism with ἐν ἀγάπῃ (Eph 4:15), the preposition appears rather to denote the element, the evil atmosphere as it were in which the varying currents of doctrine exist and exert their force” (ELLICOTT). So HARLESS, OLSHAUSEN, EADIE and ALFORD.—R.] The genitive (“of men”) indicates that the νήπιοι stand under the influence of men, instead of their placing themselves under the guidance of Christ (MEYER), and also under that of many instead of one. But this is not all; the added parallel clause carries the matter further; there is not only human sleight, temeritas, but a plan also:

In craftiness tending to the system of error [ἐν πανουργίᾳ πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης].—Ἐν connects with the previous phrase. Πανουργίᾳ corresponds with κυβεία, and gives prominence to what the latter does not indicate, the nequitia, the conscious malice; hence it is incorrect to find this in the previous phrase (HARLESS, STIER). The article can be dispensed with, since the closer qualification is added. The preposition, as in Eph 4:12 (πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμόν), denotes toward what the craftiness proceeds (WINER, p. 378). This is τὴν μεθοδείαν (only here and 6:11, where the plural is used), which is derived from μεθοδεύειν, to follow in order to track up something, then machinare, meaning therefore machinatio, crafty pursuing (LUTHER: erschleichen, to sneak upon), to follow and come upon in a sneaking manner; in this there is found pre-arrangement, system. The principle which μεθοδεύει is indicated by the genitive τής πλάνης. This is not error mentis, but lying, the opposite of ἀλήθεια (1 John 4:6); hence, especially as τοῦ διαβόλου is added in 6:11, BENGEL is on the right track when he says: i.e., Satanæ.42 It is true the πλάνη is in the main only personified (MEYER); but it has a kingdom and a πνεῦμα, that operates through men, the false teachers (τῇ κυβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων), as through serviceable tools, proper instruments.

Eph 4:15. But holding the truth in love, may grow up into him, ἀληθεύοντες δὲ ἐν ἀγαπῃ αὐξήσωμεν εἰς αὐτόν, is to be joined with ἵνα (Eph 4:14) as the antithesis (δέ) to “no longer children.” Hence LUTHER is incorrect: “but let us be honest in love and grow.” Christiana (οἱ πάντες, Eph 4:13), not merely teachers, are the subject. Αὐξάνειν is simply to grow, not to remain νήπιος, to come out of the νηπιότης. Hæc αὔξησις, augmentatio (Eph 4:16), media est inter infantes et virum (BENGEL). Accordingly εἰς points to the goal; hence “into Him” (MATTHIES, STIER); it corresponds to the εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, we should become a perfect man, as He is. The phrase “Head” from the following relative clause should not be pressed (HOFMANN, MEYER), in order to make the meaning still; more difficult; τὰ πάντα stands between, and this accusative of reference will not allow εἰς αὐτόν to be=grow in respect to Him (MEYER), whatever that may mean. [“Unto and into Him,” as the goal and standard of our growth, with a secondary thought apparently of the incorporation of all the Church in Christ, which is developed in the subsequent context. The phrase is not to be joined with “in love” (HARLESS).—R.] Still less can it mean: ipsius cognitions (GROTIUS), virtute et influxu (A-LAPIDE).

While εἰς αὐτόν denotes the goal of the growth, ἀληθεύοντες ἐν ἀγάπῃ designates the condition under which, the state in which it takes place. Hence the two are to be joined: true in love. Ἀληθεύειν is—ἀληθὴς εἶναι (PASSOW, sub voce); the context explains it further. In the New Testament only here and Gal. 4:16. There ὑμῖν indicates that it means speaking the truth, here the context is a different one. While αὐξήσωμεν forms an antithesis to νήπιοι ὦμεν, ἀληθεύοντες stands in contrast to the manner of such (“tossed as waves and carried about”) and to “teaching” in general, as well as that of the deceitful false teachers in particular. BENGEL is excellent: VERANTES, LUTHER (Gen. 42:16): if you design truth. The whole personality is spoken of, in walk and nature, and the meaning is more than merely; to be true in speech, verum dicere (HOFMANN, Schriftbeweis, II. 2, p. 130, MEYER).43

Ἐν ἀγάπῃ sets forth the sphere or element in which the ἀληθεύειν moves; ἀγάπη and ἀλήθεια are correlative ideas.44 Comp. 1 Cor. 13:6. Love is here entirely undefined, hence genera: love for the truth, for the brethren, who come into danger through false teachers, or themselves become false teachers, to the Church as a whole, to God. There is accordingly no reference to forbearance toward error (HARLESS), or love towards those of different profession (MEYER), or something of the same; nor is ἐν=διά (SCHENKEL), or σύν, on merely upright in love (LUTHER and others).

In all things who is the head, even Christ [τὰ πάντα, ὸς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή, Χριστός].—Τὰ πάντα.45 without a preposition, as 1 Cor. 9:25; 10:33; 11:2, or with κατά (Col. 3:20) denotes, on account of the article, all, to which reference has been made, into which we must grow: faith, knowledge, truth, love, etc. “Who is the Head, even Christ,” with great emphasis, in order to furnish a motive for growing up into Him. We might have found τὸν Χριστόν, in apposition to εἰς αὐτόν, but it can either be in apposition to ἡ κεφαλή, or in the first instance still be in the nominative (WINER, p. 495).

Eph 4:16. Comprehensive conclusion.From whom, ἐξ οὖ, marks the cause, the source, and as the context demands, a continuing one. Christ is the goal (εἰς αὐτόν) and the source of the life-development of the Church (MEYER). If then CHRYSOSTOM says: σφόδρα ἀσαφῶς ἡρμήνευσε τῷ πάντα ὁμοῦ θελῆσαι εἰπεῖν, an exact analysis of the sentence will show what is incorrect (ἀσαφῶς). Col. 2:19 is parallel.

a. The subject.All the body fitly framed together and compacted [πᾶν τὸ σῶμα συναρμολογούμενον καὶ συνβιβαζόμενον ].—“All the body” takes the term “all” (Eph 4:13) as a unity; the main idea is that of totality. [“All the body,” which the E. V. gives in Col. 2:19, is perhaps preferable to “the whole body,” the idea being of the entire body as including every member, rather than of the body as a whole (τὸ πᾶν σῶμα more accurately expresses this). The latter notion becomes the stronger one in the close of the verse.—R.] The double definition, “fitly framed together and compacted,” describes the Church in its present development (present participle). The first adjective (see 2:21; of a building) indicates the individual parts and members (ἁρμός, groove, joint, member), which are printed together (σύν), the other, used more precisely of men who enter into a society, marks these members as individuals, as persons. In this the difference and the reason of the double expression is found. In such a union the Church is conceived of, because it is a building; besides a society is spoken of, a society of persons, a congregation. Accordingly such a two-fold designation sets forth, either the figure and fact (MEYER) or harmony and solidity (BENGEL). ELLICOTT suggests, in accordance with the simple meaning of the words, that the latter term refers to the aggregatim, the former to the inter-adaptation of the component parts.—R.]

[By means of every joint of the supply.—This phrase, which presents more difficulties than any other in our verse, is discussed below by Dr. Braune, who joins it with the predicate, not with the subject (i.e., as a qualification of the participle) as is done in the E. V. The latter view of the connection is adopted by the majority of commentators (so HODGE, EADIE, ELLICOTT), and is favored by the position of the phrase and the parallel, Col. 2:19. The former is defended by MEYER, STIER, ALFORD, CHRYSOSTOM, THEODORET, BENGEL). It may be remarked in favor of this, that it gives more perspicuity to the passage, “the whole instrumentality and modality here described belonging to the growth” (ALFORD), the repetition of σῶμα is more natural in an involved predicate, while the complicated subject is much more awkward. As regards the parallel, the position there is totally different. It ought to be added that the earlier defenders of this view advocated a sense of the word ἁφή(=αἴσθησις, the perception of the vital energy imparted from the head), which did not admit so readily of the connection with the participles. Still Braune’s view is preferable.—R.]

b. The predicate.Maketh the growth of the body, τὴν αὔξησιν τοῦ σώματος ποιεῖται.—Col. 2:19: αὔξῃ τὴν αὔξησιν The repetition of τοῦ σώματος (“of the body”) instead of ἑαυτοῦ (“itself”) marks the permanent effect proceeding from the cause, and as compared with Christ’s continued influence, puts into the background the self-development as an entirely independent one. Only when the principle of life in the Church has grown and been strengthened through Christ, does it become perceptible (εἰς οἰκοδονὴν ἑαυτοῦ); yet it is already indicated by the middle (ποιεῖται). This repetition is therefore not to be explained by the distance of the predicate from the subject (σῶμα) as an effort at distinctness (MEYER), or as negligence (RUECKERT), or as a Hebraism (GROTIUS), or because the interest of individuals is not under discussion (HARLESS, STIER).46

The predicate is then enlarged by a designation of the means: by means of every joint of the supply [διὰ πάσης ἁφῆς τῆς ἐπιχορηγίας].—Ἀφή (from ἄπτεσθαι) cannot according to Col. 2:19, where it is put in one category with συνδέσμων and connected with ἐπιχορηγούμενον καὶ συνβιβαζόμενον mean the same band, yet must be something similar.47 It cannot be=αἴσθησις (CHRYSOSTOM), sensation (MEYER), contact (HOFMANN). Since ἁφὴν ἔχειν, means to have something enchaining, enticing (PASSOW, sub voce), and the singular is found here, the most natural and correct meaning will be: connection or grasp. Ἐπιχορηγία (from χορηγία) means to lead a choir, to defray the expenses of a choir, to render a public service, the contribution to expenditures, public, common rendering of service; accordingly the growth of the Church is by means of every grasp of contribution or service rendered (genitive objecti, and not of apposition, SCHENKEL, nor=πρός, GROTIUS, HOFMANN and others).

[To this view of Dr. Braune it may be objected that it loses sight of the strict anatomical figure without substituting for it the subtler interpretation of Chrysostom and others. It seems better to take ἁφή in the sense indicated by Col. 2:19, and render it “joints.” The qualifying genitive is as ELLICOTT remarks: “a kind of genitive definitions, by which the predominant use, purpose, or destination of the ἁφή is specified and characterized.” “The joints are the points of union where the supply passes to the different members, and by means of which the body derives the supply by which it grows” (ALFORD). HODGE is undoubtedly correct in interpreting this supply as “the Divine life or Holy Spirit communicated to all parts of the Church” (against, Braune, who seems to refer it to the service rendered by the individual members), but it is very doubtful whether he is right in saying that the άφαί “are the various spiritual gifts and offices which are made the channels or means of this Divine communication.” Most recent commentators have wisely refrained from thus particularizing. Certainly when these αφαί are taken as meaning the officers mentioned in Eph 4:11, despite all saving clauses, a step is taken toward the Romanist and High Anglican view of the clergy. The figures of Scripture, through wrested and strained interpretation, have been made subservient to great error.—R.]

According to the working in the measure of each several part [κατ̓ ἔνέργειαν ἐν μέτρῳ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου μέρους]. —This qualifies the phrase which precedes. κατʼ ἐνέργειαν, without the article on account of the following qualification (1:19; 3:7), defines the ἐπιχορηγία as an efficient one, while the proportion of this efficiency rests “in the measure of each several part,” in the measure, which every part, the individual member of the Church in himself has from Christ. The service rendered proceeds therefore from the individual parts, from each one, so that it is not to be referred merely to the ministry, the officers of the church (HARLESS). This efficient service of the individuals is to the advantage of the whole and conditions the growth of the whole. Comp. Eph 4:7, 12. This part of the sentence is therefore to be closely connected with ἐπιχορηγίας and not joined immediately with αὔξησιν ποιεῖται (MEYER), with which it is connected only through the former.48

Unto the building up of itself in love, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ.—The aim is thus set forth, and as in Eph 4:12 it is οἰκοδομή; the self-development is here marked, since the powers of growth thereto are given from Christ. This self-edification is consummated only in love, as the life-sphere rendering it possible. “In love” therefore depends grammatically on “edifying” (BLEEK), not on “maketh increase”

(MEYER).49 With this so emphatic conclusion (“unto the building up of itself in love”) the Apostle is brought back to his starting-point (Eph 4:1–3), to the bond of peace.


1. Christ gives official persons (Eph 4:11). It is not so much that Christ established certain regulations binding on the Church, as that He has bestowed on it persons, charisms for the endowment of an office, a ministry. He is the Author and Possessor of the office, not only the first, but the only one, who has never relinquished it and never will to the very end. “Christ gives the Church’s ministers, the Church takes those given and sets them in the service of the Church. Accordingly the Church, or he who represents the rights and duties of the Church, never has to choose the subjects arbitrarily, but to know and recognize those endowed by Christ as those given by Him, and to place them in the ministry; hence the highest idea of the ecclesiastical directory is to examine whether those concerned are given by Christ, without prejudice however to other requisites which are matters of ecclesiastical polity.” MEYER. Concerning the double aspect of the office, which is both diviniand humani juris, a divine institution as well as a human, ecclesiastical arrangement, the passage does not speak more definitely. But three things are plain: 1) It is incorrect to affirm that Christ now raises up no apostolic men, no prophets nor evangelists, but only pastors and teachers. See the Exeg. Notes. He does this according to the necessity of the times. 2) It is also erroneous to find no offices at all appointed, and to be unwilling to institute any, as if it were only a human notion to establish a teaching ministry. So the Quakers (according to Barclay in GUERICKE, Christl. Symbol, p. 626) and SCHENKEL, Ephesians, p. 66, 5; the former accept only the authority of the Divine endowment of persons, the latter regards the service alone as from the Lord, but the office as a human regulation. 3) Just as little however should these official persons whom the Lord gave at the beginning and still gives to the Church, be fixed in number, as the Irvingites would do, or be stiffened into a hierarchy as among the Roman Catholics.50

2. The distinction between the official persons, involving as it does no subordination of one class to the other, since indeed the Apostle Matthew is specially designated as Evangelist, John as prophet and Evangelist, while Peter calls himself “presbyter” (1 Pet. 5:1), is altogether irrelevant as respects the teaching office: this individualizes itself in the other offices. Subordination exists only as respects Christ who gives them. They have no reason for self-exaltation on account of their gifts or special calling, nor has the congregation any for aversion to recognize and respect them and their calling: the Lord works with His word and Spirit in them and through them (Acts 13:21; 15:28), and this arrangement belongs to the living and animating organism of the Church, in which the life of Christ develops itself. The officers should be called neither clerics nor Geistliche, nor should the Church be divided into ecclesia repræsentans and repræsentata. For every Christian belongs to the κλῆρος θεοῦ, has a part in the κληρονομία (1:11, 15), should be “geistlich,” and have to τὸ πνεῦμα and the ministers as the Lord’s servants must labor in and for the Church, to serve her, not to represent her, but the Lord.

3. The task of the official persons with their gifts for their special calling, over against the other members of the body of Christ with the general call, is “the perfecting of the saints,” and this reaches also to “the work of the ministry,” to “the edifying of the body of Christ.” As certainly then as the servants of the Lord have to serve the Church and its individual members, hence not in the commission of the Church, as though this were always and everywhere the only efficient impulse, nor yet out of their own authority, so certainly should these ministers be prepared for their special service by their labors in the Church, as they have been called and installed by her. As the Lord works upon the Church, and this should permit itself to be acted upon, so she has the duty of working again according to His purpose, of leading back to Him under His guidance and the help of God, which He will grant and furnish for her welfare. The first link in the chain of congregational activity is the officers, the second is every Christian in healthy activity at his post, and thus the joyous upbuilding of the whole is advanced, which reacts on the ministers and individual members of the Church. Thus it goes from above to below, from the ministers in immediate rapport with the Lord to the individuals, the Church, the whole, and from individual to individual, and through them to the whole, and from this back again to the individuals. The lay element must be cultivated, set in motion, sustained, animated and guided. The design is to bless men, to serve the people, the people, the people, as LUTHER (1 Adv. Kirchenpostille, ed. Franke I. p. 42) preaches. In avoiding the Scylla of priestly rule, many fall into the Charybdis of congregational or lay rule.51 This is of importance for all Church polity.

4. Like all pedagogy, the pedagogy of the church also should make itself superfluous and unnecessary. The utility of the ecclesiastical office is appointed to this end, and should be managed accordingly.52 But this gives neither right nor occasion to undervalue at the time what will and should cease after its time. Fidelity to the Master demands that it should be left to Him, when and how He will break up the form, lest we in doing so should spill and lose its contents and substance.

5. In connection with the prospect that we all (Eph 4:13) shall attain unto the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, it must be remarked:

(1) That this is not spoken of in any way (see Exeg. Notes) of the apocatastasis: “A communion of the enjoyment of salvation” (SCHNECKENBURGER.) is not indicated, but the progress from the militant to the triumphant church, the development, not from unbelief to blessedness, not from eternity to God, to heirship with Him, but from faith to sight, from service according to God’s will to participation in the glory of His Nature.

(2) A uniformity of expression, of forms and formulas, is not meant, but that condition is meant which the Lord Himself foretells (John 10:16), when there shall be “one fold” and “one Shepherd,” when the church of Christ is developed out of and beyond all “fermentation,” is ripened, ministers and members furthering each other’s advance, the individual parts and the whole in accord, and on the basis of a deeper unity the proper variety existing in glorious harmony.

It cannot be overlooked, that, although the differences, which divide, will disappear, because error attaches to them, or at least immaturity, the removal of differences cannot be anticipated, unless the church, instead of growing up unto a perfect man, should become an assembly of offensively over-prudent children. Even the distinction of sex shall be removed (Matt. 22:30), as that of corporealness in general; but that is no reason why we should treat the body as a prison of the soul, and desire to be without sex, before we enter the company of the angels. Let each one be faithful to his own church and to his Lord! Beyond Christ we cannot go, without Him or against Him there is no progress.

6. He who allows himself to be determined by external influences, is still immature, is as yet no man, independent, firm and clear, unless these influences come from the source of truth and life, from Christ: from Him and to Him our life comes and goes. Influences of an unchristian character are brought by the spirit of this world into every age, and many a one may unconsciously serve this spirit against the truth; as in the history of the world there is presented a plan of God, so in these there is a method which points beyond them into the kingdom of darkness and lies.

7. Truth and Love, which belong together, since the former has an ethical character, and the latter is not blind, are the fundamental elements of growth, requiring Christ as the aim and spring of our life, the gifts of Christ and the acceptance on the part of the church, her receptivity and self-activity, the reciprocity of the whole and each individual member. By this we may judge the wrong and error of the separate divisions and generations of the church. The Catholics do not let Christ work as a fresh streaming fountain, nor rightly value the life of the members of the church, but put the apostolic power of the Pope with his hierarchy in the front and centre; they undervalue the Head and members and overvalue the ministers of the church, who become masters. The Lutherans have hampered the lay element, and suffer the consequences of the abridgement: the fellowship of the church is too little developed. The Reformed are wanting in the sacramental element; they foster what is individual and social, rather than that which is formative and established, as the sects proceeding from them plainly show.—By this passage every position and every age regulate itself.


Take heed, pastor, that thou not only hast an office and ministry shown to thee, which thou administerest, but that thou art and becomest more and more thyself a gift of Christ to His church.—Rejoice, O church, that the servants of Christ are Christ’s gifts for thee and use them according to His will against thy lust and errors.—Thou shouldst not say, that Christ raised up Apostles, prophets, evangelists, only in the first century and never since; nor deny that He raises up the pastors and teachers of His church.—All ministry, even the most important minister is in vain, if he does not labor further into the house and the bye-ways, so that each in his place may do his duty as a Christian; but if the spiritual teachers do their duty, the church will not remain unspiritual.—Do not reckon according to visible results; concealed and gradual is the progress of the work, reaching its mark at last and in glory. But do not think hastily and proudly, now is the time of maturity! You may in the end mistake the impulse of the spirit of the age for the showers of Christ’s Spirit and the Shibboleth of party-spirit for the word of life, and this deception would be fearful.—No one is so much a minor as to be without responsibility and strength to resist; have regard to this, proving all things by the truthfulness in love, by Christ, the End and Source of all growth! Preach the word simply and purely! Certainly, but not less: love it in the same way. Love does not, indeed, work by means of injustice, untruth, deception, counterfeiting, intrigue, misrepresentation and pretence. But she creates fellowship, and truth is the cause, not of the isolated individual, but of the fellowship of heaven and earth, of the nations, of the earth, and of centuries, aye of thousands of years.

STARKE: For as rogues so manage dice that they must fall according to their wish, so do schismatics and fanatics act with the sacred Scriptures.—Truth and love must be side by side. True teaching and lovely living. That is the sum of all Christianity. Love and unity edify.

RIEGER: The goal of our growth is a long distance before us, the hindrances are many; but growth is the most certain way thither. For as little as in physical growth is advance made all at once with immoderate rapidity, but as in the use of the ordained means, with proper labor and exercise, in confidence on God and His bestowed blessing, in love and peace with one another, the body grows, not one member only, but one just as another, so we, through God’s word, prayer, embracing all the means afforded us in the church, the school and the home, reach the position of men of God furnished for every good work.

HEUBNER: Christ’s kingdom embraces even the invisible kingdom of God. Would this be conceivable, if He were a mere man?—The variety of offices should not lead to ambition and place-hunting, but to the service of the church.—The stature of manhood in a Christian consists in this, that he, irrespective of men has spiritual majority and independence. Teachers should not wish to keep the congregation in a state of immaturity, but their task is to render themselves unnecessary.—It is the duty of the Christian to strive after this maturity.—Humanity is capable of an ever-increasing perfection by means of Christianity. Progress in Christianity is, however, no advance beyond Christianity.—The Christian is firm in his faith and free from the miserable dependence on foreign and worldly opinion.—How much is still wanting in the mutual support of all in the Christian church. All should be for the furtherance of the Christian life: for example, the household life should be a school of Christianity, the State should further the church, and the schools of learning educate for Christianity, all arts and sciences should subserve religion.—It is child’s play, even when not detrimental, to speculate how far this figure of the body can be carried out into detail, who, for example, is eye, ear, breast, back, etc. This can lead to results of as revolting a character, as the Hindoo system of caste.

PASSAVANT: One class, as well as another, is chosen to their particular service by the Master of the church; and He who on earth was in the form of a servant, will regard the more lowly of His servants with special looks of love. He sees the heart, and fidelity in what is little is precious in His sight.—To seek truth always and everywhere, in all things and among all persons; to act in truth with all, towards all, with one’s self and before God; to base one’s inmost thoughts and impulses always in and on the truth—this keeps the heart, amid all the lies, lusts and illusions of this false world, firm and quiet, as the ship that has escaped the waves and cast anchor in the harbor.—All genuine truth and love come alone from Christ upon us and into us, leading us back again to Christ.

GERLACH: In every false teaching which separates men from Christ and His word, the Apostle shows us also a work of wickedness. Human nature was not created by God so perverse as to choose without the fault of man, a lie instead of the truth.

ZELLER: These are the instruments by which the Lord has chosen to build His Church, not Popes, not Emperors and kings, not princes and great ones, the mighty monarchs of this world, but Apostles, Evangelists, pastors and teachers, men illuminated by His spirit, endued with power from on high, not merely by men, but given and appointed by Himself. It is to take place through the peaceful means of preaching, pastoral care, instruction.

[EADIE: Eph 4:12. The spiritual advancement of the Church, is the ultimate design of the Christian pastorate. The ministry preaches and rules to secure this, which is at the same time the purpose of Him who appointed and who blesses it.

Eph 4:13. Christians are all to attain to oneness of faith, that is, all of them shall be filled with the same ennobling and vivifying confidence in this Divine Redeemer—not some leaning more to His humanity, and others showing an equally partial and defective preference for His Divinity—not some regarding Him rather as an instructor and example, and others drawn to Him more as an atonement—not some fixing an exclusive gaze on Christ without them, and others cherishing an intense and one-sided aspiration for Christ within them—but all reposing a united confidence in Him—“the Son of God.”—The Christian church is not full grown, but it is advancing to perfect age.

Eph 4:14. How many go the rounds of all sects, parties, and creeds, and never receive satisfaction. If in the pride of reason they fall into rationalism, then if they recover, they rebound into mysticism. From the one extreme of legalism they recoil to the farthest verge of antinomianism, having travelled at easy stages all the intermediate distance.

Eph 4:15. That character is nearest perfection in which the excessive prominence of no grace throws such a withering shadow upon the rest, as to signalize or perpetuate their defect, but in which all is healthfully balanced in just and delicate adaptation.

Eph 4:16. The church is built up, for love is the element of spiritual progress. That love fills the renewed nature, and possesses peculiar facilities of action in edifying the mystical body of Christ. Whatever parts it may have, whatever their forms, uses, and position, whatever the amount of energy resident in them, still, from their connection with the one living Head, and from their own compacted union and mutual adjustment, they compose but one growing structure “in love.”—R.]

[HODGE: Eph 4:12. If Christ has appointed the ministry for the edification of His body, it is in vain to expect that end to be accomplished in any other way.

Eph 4:14. Error can never be harmless, nor false teachers innocent. Two considerations, however, should secure moderation and meekness in applying these principles. The one is, that though error implies sin, orthodoxy does not always imply holiness. The character most offensive to God is that of a malignant zealot for the truth. The other consideration is, that men are often much better than their creed: that is, the doctrines on which they live are much nearer the truth than those which they profess. They deceive themselves by attaching wrong meaning to words, and seem to reject truth, when in fact they only reject their own misconceptions.

Eph 4:16. The church is Christ’s body. The body grows. Concerning this growth, the Apostle says: 1. It is from Him. He is the causal source from whom all life and power are derived. 2. It depends on the intimate union of all the parts of the body with the Head, by means of appropriate bands. 3. It is symmetrical. 4. It is a growth in love.—R.]


[22]Eph 4:12.—[Unto is substituted for the preposition for, to indicate the difference in the Greek prepositions. In order to, with a view to, would express one view of the meaning of the verse, but unto suits the view of Dr. Braune better. Ministration is preferable to ministry, since the latter is now confined by usage to the office of the preacher and pastor. Building up is Saxon, edifying Latin.—R.]

[23]Eph 4:14.—[א. B. 1 D. 1 F. K. L. support the form μεθοδίαν, adopted by Tischendorf (ed. 7); but μεθοδείαν (Rec.) is preferable, “as changes in orthography which may be accounted for by italicism or some mode of erroneous transcription must always be received with caution” (Ellicott).—The periphrasis is necessary to express the force of πρός.—R.]

[24]Eph 4:15.—[See Exeg. Notes, especially the additional footnote.—R.]

[25]Eph 4:15.—[The article is found in the Rec., א³ D. F. K. L., most cursives, and is accepted by De Wette; but it is omitted in א¹ A. B. C., and rejected by Lachmann. Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott (now by Meyer). It occurs with Χριστός 31 times, and is omitted in 53 instances (Ellicott).—R.]

[26]Eph 4:16.—[The view of the connection taken in the Exeg. Notes requires the insertion of a comma here, to indicate that the subsequent phrases qualify the main verb.—The less usual form: συνβιβασόμενον is sustained by א. A. B. (?) C. D.¹ F. G., adopted by Tischendorf, Ellicott and others. Comp. 3:6, where the usual euphonic changes in the prefixed preposition are ignored in the best MSS.—Effectual is omitted to avoid conveying the impression that the working is God’s ἐνέργεια.—R.]

[27]Eph 4:16.—[A. C., some versions and fathers sustain the reading μέλους, but it is probably a gloss occasioned by σῶμα; μέρους is found in א. B. D. F. K. L., and accepted by all recent editors.—R.]

[28]Eph 4:16.—[א D. 1 F. read αὐτοῦ, but ἑαυτοῦ is sustained by most authorities.—R.]

[29][ELLICOTT: “There is here no direct resumption of the subject of Eph 4:7, as if Eph 4:8–10 were merely parenthetical, but a regression to it; while at the same time the αὐτός is naturally and emphatically linked on to the αὐτός of the preceding verse. This return to a subject, without disturbing the harmony of the immediate connection or the natural sequence of thought, constitutes one of the high excellences, but at the same time one of the chief difficulties in the style of the great Apostle.”—R.]

[30][On the position of Matthias, comp. 1:1 and Acts (in loco). EADIE thus enumerates the essential elements of the apostolate: 1. That the Apostles should receive their commission immediately from the living lips of Christ. 2. That having seen the Saviour after He rose again, they should be qualified to attest to the truth of His resurrection. 3. They enjoyed a special inspiration. 4. Their authority was therefore supreme. 5. In proof of their commission and inspiration, they were furnished with ample credentials. 6. Their commission to preach and found churches was universal and in no sense limited. This statement, approved by ALFORD and ELLICOTT, involves further: That they have no personal successors, can have none; that no supreme authority exists in any ecclesiastical office, unless that office be the Apostolate. See further, Galatians, 1:1–5, Doctr. Notes; Romans, p. 59.—R.]

[31][Dr. HODGE, in an excellent note here, remarks that the prevalent view at the time of the Reformation (see CALVIN in loco) regarded this term as applied to “vicars of the Apostles,” such as Luke Timothy, Titus. This is altogether untenable, and no doubt arose from the effort, made by CALVIN and others, to prove that all the offices referred to except that of “pastors and teachers,” were of a temporary nature, and thus to establish the principle of “parity of the clergy.”—R.]

[32][ALFORD remarks that the figure in ποιμένες, if pressed, would imply that they were entrusted with some special flock, which they tended; and then the “teaching” would necessarily form a chief part of their work. EADIE says the former term implies careful, tender, vigilant superintendence and government, being the function of an overseer and elder. The official name ἐπίσκοπος (“bishop”), he adds, is used by the Apostle in addressing churches formed principally out of the heathen world (Ephesus, Philippi, Crete), while πρεσβύτερος (“elder”), the term of honor, is more Jewish in its tinge (Acts, Epistles of James, Peter and John). “Speaking to Timothy and Titus, the Apostle styles them elders (and so does the compiler of the Acts, in referring to spiritual rulers); but describing the duties of the office itself, he calls the holder of it ἐπίσκοπος.”—R.]

[33][HODGE gives the following meanings which have been suggested here: 1. The completion of the saints (“the number of the elect”). 2. Their renewing or restoration. 3. Their reduction to order and union as one body. 4. Their preparation for service (so Braune). 5. To their perfecting. The last he prefers, as is required by the view taken of the relation of the clauses.—R.]

[34][The term is not to be restricted to the diaconate, nor to the ministry, i.e., the office of pastor and teacher (HODGE), but seems to refer to “spiritual service of an official nature” (so MEYER). Hence ministration is preferable to the more technical word ministry, though Braune extends the signification in accordance with his view. On the absence of the article ELLICOTT remarks: “Δισκονία may possibly have been left studiously anarthrous in reference to the different modes of exercising it alluded to in Eph 4:11, and the various spiritual wants of the Church; ἔργον however seems clearly definite in meaning, though by the principle of correlation (Middleton, Art. iii. 3, 6) it is necessarily anarthrous in form.”—R.]

[35][ELLICOTT remarks that this clause is parallel to, but at the same time more nearly defining the nature of the ἔργον. The article is not required, as edifying generally is the object. There is no confusion of metaphors, since both words have a distinct metaphorical meaning, where the original allusion is in a measure lost.—R.]

[36][All reference to coming together from different starting-points, or coming out of previous wanderings is imaginary (MEYER). ELLICOTT remarks that too much weight must not be laid on the omission of ἄν as giving an air of less uncertainty to the subjunctive, since there was an evident tendency in later Greek to omit it in such cases, adding: “the use of the subjunctive (the mood of καταντᾶν is represented not only as the eventual, but as the expected and contemplated result of the ἔδωκεν.”—R.]

[37][“Metaphorical apposition to the foregoing member, the concrete term being probably selected rather than any abstract term, as forming a good contrast to the following νήπιοι (Eph 4:14), and as suggesting by its ‘singular’ the idea of the complete unity of the holy personality, further explained in the next clause into which they were united and consummated” (ELLICOTT). As a curiosity ALFORD cites from AUGUSTINE (Civ. Dei, xxii. 17): “Nonnulli. propter hoc quod dictum est, Eph. iv. 13, nec in sexu fœmineo resurrecturas fœminas credunt, sed in virili omnes aiunt.”—R.]

[38][As the word undoubtedly means either stature or age, the latter being more common, or perhaps includes both, like the German Erwachsenheit, the sense here must be determined by considerations drawn from the passage itself. KOPPE, HOLZHAUSEN, HARLESS, MEYER, HODGE prefer the sense: age, because “full-grown men,” “children” (Eph 4:14), point to this; the phrase which follows is then a characterizing genitive. But “measure” seems more appropriately used in reference to “stature” and the idea of magnitude is indicated by the words “fulness,” “grow up” (Eph 4:15) and by the figure of Eph 4:16. This sense is adopted by ERASMUS, GROTIUS, BENGEL, RUECKERT, STIER, EADIE, ELLICOTT, ALFORD. It may be added that πλήρωμα does not refer to the Church (STORR and others), nor to the knowledge of Christ (GROTIUS). The genitive τοῦ Χριστοῦ is a genitive subjective: Christ’s fulness: “This stature grows just as it receives of Christ’s fulness; and when that fulness is wholly enjoyed, it will be that of a ‘perfect man’ ” (EADIE). Some of the Fathers referred this passage to the resurrection, teaching that man shall rise from the grave in the perfect age of Christ, having the form and aspect of thirty-three years of age, the age of Christ at His death. See MEYER, who has a note on the time of fulfilment in which he brings out his favorite views about the Second Advent and Paul’s expectation of its speedy coming.—R.]

[39][SCHENKEL’S view is somewhat novel. He takes our verse as giving the purpose of Eph 4:13, and to the objection that this places perfection before the state of childhood answers, that the last verse refers to the whole Church, this to individuals. Because the whole Church is perfect, the members should be no longer children. But this is very unsatisfactory. The two leading views are those of HARLESS and MEYER. The former takes our verse as co-ordinate with Eph 4:13, and immediately dependent on Eph 4:11, 12, giving the purpose of the ministry (so FLATT, BLEEK, HODGE). MEYER, who has a clear statement of the case in loco, takes this verse as sub-ordinate to Eph 4:13, and remotely dependent on Eph 4:11, 12. He holds that Eph 4:13 defines the “terminus ad quem,” which characterizes the functions of the Christian ministry, while Eph 4:14 thus explains the object, our ceasing to be children, contemplated in the appointment of such a “terminus,” and thence more remotely in the bestowal of a ministry so characterized. To the former view there is the decided grammatical objection that a clause introduced by ἵνα is made co-ordinate with those introduced by εἰς, in that case too Eph 4:13 would follow Eph 4:14, 15. The latter view avoids these difficulties without being open to the logical objection which probably led to the adoption of the former.—R.]

[40][Not by the waves, like a deserted ship, as MEYER and others hold, but like the billow itself.—R.]

[41][EADIE: “The article τῆς before διδασκαλίας gives definitive prominence to ‘the teaching,’ which, as a high function respected and implicitly obeyed, was very capable of seducing, since whatever false phases it assumed, it might find and secure followers.” The substantive is abstract and general; teaching is preferable to doctrine, because it brings out the active agency employed with more distinctness.—R.]

[42][On the reading μεθοδείαν see Textual Note2. As to its meaning, we may remark that the bad sense is not necessarily inherent in the term, which signifies: “a deliberate planning or system.” Still here the bad sense is fixed on it by the genitive which follows, and we might render it: stratagem, though in the full phrase, “system of error,” the meaning is sufficiently evident. EADIE renders “a system,” but “the system of error” is one. The force of the preposition can be brought out in English only by a periphrasis: tending to, leading to, not according to. The word πλανῆς here includes the idea of deceit no doubt, but is perhaps better expressed by error, “error in its most abstract nature.” The genitive is subjective, the error plans and machinates. That the Apostle meant to characterize “error” as evil, morally as well as intellectually wrong, is evident enough from the context. When RUECKERT says that this was Paul’s weak side, to stigmatize those in error, in a spirit of dogmatical defiance, he betrays his usual incapacity for comprehending the Apostle. If truth be not sanctifying, and error demoralizing, then the Scriptures and human experience are alike at fault.—R.]

[43][Though the more extended meaning is stoutly denied by MEYER, it is accepted by CALVIN, DE WETTE, RUECKERT, ALFORD, HODGE, EADIE and ELLICOTT. The difficulty is to express the sense in English: being true is literal, but not satisfactory; walking truthfully, walking in truth, though giving the correct sense, would be inapt here; holding the truth is the best rendering, if the care is taken not to give an objective sense to truth.”—Comp. the remarks of ALFORD (who renders: being followers of truth) and ELLICOTT.—R.]

[44][The question of connection is much disputed. Many, perhaps most, join “in love” with the participle (CALVIN, GROTIUS, ALFORD, RUECKERT, HODGE, STIER, BLEEK among others), while HARLESS, MEYER, OLSHAUSEN, EADIE and ELLICOTT connect it with the verb “grow.” In favor of the former, the order, the parallelism of structure with Eph 4:14, the otherwise feeble and awkward position of the participle at the beginning of the sentence, Paul’s habit of subjoining his qualifying phrases, and the vital association between love and truth, may be urged. The latter view is supported by MEYER as better agreeing with his rendering of the participle: speaking the truth; he urges also that “in love” ought to be joined with the same verb as in Eph 4:16, and that thus “in love,” at the beginning here and at the close there, receives its due emphasis. Still the other seems preferable, for the connection in Eph 4:16 is equally open to discussion. It is not “a ‘fiat justitia, ruat cœlum’ truthfulness: but must be conditioned by love; a true-seeking and true-being with loving caution and kind allowance” (ALFORD).—R.]

[45][This the accusative of the quantitative object (ELLICOTT); “we are to grow in all those things in which the Christian must advance” (OLSHAUSEN).—R.]

[46][The repetition is generally regarded as made for the sake of perspicuity, especially as ἑαυτοῦ is found in the next clause. Perhaps however the body as a whole comes more into view now.—The middle is apparently not so much reflexive as intensive and indicative of the energy with which the spiritual process is earned on (EADIE, WORDSWORTH, ELLICOTT).—R.]

[47][In Colossians (p. 55) Braune seems to limit the word to “nerves,” in accordance with the view which joins each of the substantives there used with one of the participles. As this is scarcely tenable (see in loco), and as the article is not repeated with the second substantive in that passage, the category “joints and bands” decides yet more definitely against any interpretation of this word which removes it out of the general class of the anatomical arrangements.—R.]

[48][It is difficult to decide the question of connection. In favor of the view taken by Braune “is the position of the words, and also the congruity of the figure. It is more natural to say that the Divine influence is according to the working of every part—i. e., according to its capacity and function—than to say, ‘the growth is according to the working,’ etc.” (HODGE). ELLICOTT and ALFORD connect it with the verb however. The “working” is the functional energy of the body, not Divine inworking, as seems to be indicated by the E. V.: “effectual working.”—R.]

[49][MEYER’S view overloads the verb with qualifications. “Love is just as much the element in which the edification, as that in which the growth takes place” (ALFORD).—In the hope of giving clearness to the exegesis of this verse, a summary is added: From whom (Christ) all the body (each and every member) fitly framed together (jointed together) and compacted (forming one whole) grows (as if possessed of life in itself) by means of every joint (every special adaptation in gift and office) of supply (which Christ grants to these joints as means and instruments, the supply being) according to the working in the measure of each several part (Christ’s vital energy is serviceable only as supplied by the means He has chosen, and He chooses to supply it as the several parts of the body exercise their functions, so that the growth is not only from Him, but symmetrical and organic also) unto (the end being) the building up of the body itself in love (as the element of edification).—R.]

[50][EADIE: “We are ignorant to a very great extent of the government of the primitive Church, and much that has been written upon it is but surmise and conjecture. The Church represented in the Acts was only in process of development, and there seem to have been differences of organization in various Christian communities, as may be seen by comparing the portion of the Epistle before us with allusions in the three letters to Rome, Corinth and Philippi. Offices seem to be mentioned in one which are not referred to in others. It would appear, in fine, that this last office of government and instruction was distinct in two elements from those previously enumerated; inasmuch as it was the special privilege of each Christian community—not a ministerium vagum, and was designed also to be a perpetual institute in the Church of Christ. The Apostle says nothing of the modes of human appointment or ordination to these various offices. He descends not to law, order or form, but his great thought is, that though the ascended Lord gave such gifts to men, yet their variety and number interfere not with the unity of the Church.” As this Epistle has for its fundamental thought, “the Church which is in Christ Jesus,” it is remarkable how the Apostle in it scarcely touches upon those points, which seem to fill the minds of many who profess to hold an exalted estimate of the Church: Nothing about the ministry constituting the Church though enough to show the necessity for the ministry; nothing about the Church maintaining the succession through fixed forms, but a good deal about Christ’s giving real pastors and teachers (the Church sometimes fails to receive such through the most ancient order of succession); nothing about Church polity, but much about the means of her advancement toward unity of faith and knowledge, toward perfection, toward the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.—R.]

[51][All questions of Church polity assume an entirely different aspect, when viewed in the light of the voluntary principle, which totally deprives the State of any control in the internal affairs of the Church. There can be no question that the Erastianism prevalent in Germany has done as much to hinder the development of the lay element in Church work in that country, as the opposite principle has to further that development in America. But the latter state of things has its dangers, e.g., incapable Sunday School superintendents and teachers, elders or deacons or church wardens or whatever they may be called, who, while contributing little to the spiritual advancement of the Church, take advantage of their office, or of the influence of their purse in the annual estimates, to control and annoy him whom God gave to be “pastor and teacher.”—R.]

[52][EADIE: “The meaning (Eph 4:13) is, that not only is there a blessed point in spiritual advancement set before the church, and that till such a point be gained the Christian ministry will be continued, but also and primarily, that the grand purpose of a continued pastorate in the church is to enable the church to gain a climax which it will certainly reach; for that climax is neither indefinite in its nature nor contingent in its futurity.” On the question whether the goal plainly set before the church in Eph 4:13, is attainable here in this world there is great difference of opinion. That it will first be reached hereafter is held by THEODORET, CALVIN, HODGE and others, and that it is attainable here is affirmed by CHRYSOSTOM, THEOPHYLACT, JEROME, LUTHER, DE WETTE, MEYER, STIER, SCHENKEL. That πίστις is mentioned does little to decide the matter, nor is there anything to indicate that the distinction of here and hereafter, entered into the Apostle’s mind. He regards the church as one, speaks of the goal set before her on the earth, not stating whether it is to be attained on earth (So HARLESS, OLSHAUSEN, EADIE, ELLICOTT). Besides eschatological views do much to give indefiniteness to the terms “here and hereafter” in our use of them. “In such sketches the Apostle holds up an ideal which, by the aim and labor of the Christian pastorate, is partially realized on earth, and ought to be more vividly manifested; but which will be fully developed in heaven, when, the effect being secured, the instrumentality may be dispensed with” (EADIE). That effect has not yet been secured, that instrumentality may not yet be dispensed with: yet those who are tossed as waves, who are carried about by every wind of doctrine, who according to the Apostle show most clearly the present necessity for the ministerial office, are readiest to cry out that it is useless. Would that the church needed ministers less! Then they might go out into the world more frequently to win souls for Christ! Paul here certainly does not prophesy of that “church of the future,” in which there shall be neither pastor nor teacher, because each member is able to take care of himself, and there is nothing to be held up to “faith.” That “Church” in the view of those who proclaim its coming, will be based on “knowledge;” but it will be γνῶσις not ἐπίγνωσις perception of some fragments of truth, not the grasping and knowing with “faith and knowledge” all Truth, in the Person “of the Son of God.”—R.]

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

Ephesians 4:17–5:21.

a. The principle of the new walk, with reference to the contrast of the old and the new man

Ephesians 4:17–24.

17This I say therefore [therefore I say], and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not [no longer walk] as other Gentiles [the rest of the Gentiles]53 walk, in the vanity of their mind. 18Having the understanding darkened [Being darkened54 in their understanding], being alienated from the life of God [,] through [because of] the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness [hardness] of the heart: 19Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness [to wanton-ness], to work all uncleanness with [in] greediness. 20But ye have not so learned 21[did not so learn] Christ; If so be that ye have heard [If indeed ye heard] him, and have been [were] taught by [in] him, as the truth is [as is truth]55 in Jesus: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation [as regards your former way of life] the old man, which is [waxeth] corrupt according to the deceitful lusts [lusts 23of deceit]; And be [become] renewed in the spirit [or by the Spirit]56 of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is [hath been] created in righteousness and true holiness [holiness57 of the truth].


Eph 4:17 a. The connection. This therefore I Say [τοῦτο οὖν λέγω].—Τοῦτο refers to what follows, and with emphasis (WINER, p. 152); οὖν, however, as the subsequent context shows, going back of the digression (4:4–16), which contains the motives of the exhortation (4:1–3), refers to “walk worthy.” THEODORET: πάλιν ἀνέλαβε τῆς παρανέσεως τὸ προοίμιον.58 But the simple “I say” is not enough for the Apostle; he adds: And testify in the Lord, καὶ μαρτύρομαι ἐν κυρίῳ.—He presents himself in his apostolic authority as a witness, not in his own, but in the Lord’s cause. [“By thus sinking his own personality, the Apostle greatly enhances the solemnity of his declaration” (ELLICOTT).—R.] It is similar to Rom. 9:1; 1 Thess. 4:1. The Lord is the element in which he lives and in this case bears witness, and at the same time the ground on which he stands in common with the Ephesians; on this account he reckons on their acceptance of his urgent appeal. It is not=πρὸς κυρίου, per Dominum (even the Greek Fathers, and many others).

The heathen walk as a type of the natural walk in general; Eph 4:17 b–19.

Eph 4:17 b. That ye no longer walk [μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεὶν.—This infinitive is the object of λέγω (it being unnecessary to understand δεῖν) expressing, however, what ought to be (EADIE) more than what is; ELLICOTT thinks an imperative sense involved (“that ye no longer must walk”), as indeed the context indicates (ALFORD).—R.] This says negatively what is expressed positively in Eph 4:1: “walk worthy.” “No longer” denotes their once walking, as they should not and dare not now, being Christians.—As the rest of the Gentiles walk.—[See Textual Note!] Καθώς introduces the kind of walk which they should avoid. Καί is joined with emphasis and admonitory force to τὰ λοιπά ἔθνη to which class they belong.59 The heathen are those who remained behind, they no longer belong to the heathen who now “walk,” and how?

In the vanity of their mind, ἔν ματαιότητιτοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν.—This is the briefest characterization of the natural heathen walk, presenting both its religious and moral side. It is the explanation of THEODORET (τὰ μὴ ὄντα θεοποιε͂ιν) in accordance with Rom. 1:21; 8:20; 1 Pet. 1:18. This “vanity” [betokening a waste of the whole rational powers on worthless objects (ALFORD).—R.] is, of course, one brought about through sin, another nature as it were. It has penetrated even the will of the human spirit, corrupting this high faculty, the ἡγεμονικόν in the nature of man.60 Hence there is no special reference to philosophy (GROTIUS). To this general sketch are added special traits in Eph 4:18, 19.

Eph 4:18. Being darkened in their understanding, ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες.—The masculine form indicates the reference to persons, to particular individuals, and not to the whole, τὰ ἔθνη, as such. The verb (σκοτόω), only here and Rev. 16:10, instead of the more usual σκοτίζω, is in the perfect, to denote a state not previously existing, but having come into being, which the present participle, (ὄντες) designates as present. That to which the darkness clings is set forth by τῇ διανοίᾳ,61 which means the intellectual power of the mind, the mode of thought, the character, since the reference is not to the formal faculty, but to its condition. Comp. Rom. 1:21 f.; 11:10. It is incorrect to join ὄντες with what follows (RUECKERT) [EADIE]; it follows thus in Tit. 1:16 also, and τῇ διανοίᾳ forms one conception, together with the participle in its emphatic position.

Being alienated from the life of God, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ.—See on 2:12: “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” The perfect participle must be noted here also; BENGEL correctly remarking: participia præsupponunt, gentes ante defectionem suam a fide patrum—fuisse participes lucis et vitæ. Conf. renovari Eph 4:23.—Ζωή, the opposite of θάνατος (2:1), is the intensive spiritual, eternal life, belonging to God (τοῦ θεοῦ), vita, quæ accenditur ex ipsa Dei vita (BENGEL), qua Deus vivit in suis (BEZA), vera vita, qui est Deus (ERASMUS); LUTHER: the life, that is out of God. [Comp. TRENCH, Syn. § XXVIII; OLSHAUSEN, STIER in loco.—R.] See WINER, p. 175. Thus “the vanity of their mind” is designated as to its two sides, the ethically intelligent, and the ethically practical. [This clause sets forth an “objective result of the subjective ‘being darkened’ ” (ALFORD).—R.] To this corresponds what is immediately added.

Because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart, διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν62 τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν.—These two clauses are added without a connecting particle, because they refer to the two preceding ones, as their purport requires, and because the one requires and furthers the other. “Because of the ignorance that is in them,” points to an ignorance which has become immanent, is now natural and peculiar (Acts 3:17; 17:30; 1 Pet. 1:14), as the ground (διὰ. with the accus., see WINER, p. 372) of the darkening, and which is ever increasing, going from ignorance to ignorance. “Because of the hardness of their heart,” renders prominent in the same way the hardness, unsusceptibility of the heart as the ground of the estrangement from the life of God. The two are ever conjoined in the natural man: There is not intellectual obscuration beside practical estrangement from God, nor ignorance beside hardness of heart; the one conditions the other, working destructively as they reciprocally affect each other. Hence it cannot be affirmed, that the former applies more to the Gentiles, the latter to the Jews (STIER and others); the Gentiles alone are spoken of, as a type of the natural character. But at the same time the “ignorance” is not to be regarded as merely a consequence, and these two clauses (with διά) referred to the last participial clause alone (MEYER).

[This parallelism of construction in which the first and third, second and fourth clauses are connected together is accepted, by BENGEL, DE WETTE, OLSHAUSEN, FORBES (Symmetrical structure of Scripture, p. 21), SCHENKEL and others. It is opposed by MEYER, HODGE, EADIE and ELLICOTT; but the objection they urge, that “ignorance” is not the cause of “darkness,” loses its force when it is remembered that the Apostle is speaking of a process rather than a condition. Nor is it contrary to the Apostle’s style, in which parallelisms abound, far less so than to explain: “Darkness of mind is the cause of ignorance, ignorance and consequent obduracy of heart are the cause of alienation from God” (HODGE), thus trajecting the third and fourth clauses between the first and second. This is the view of MEYER, who makes the last clause subordinate to the third (though both are introduced by διά): a needless complication, which leads to the removal of the comma, while the view of Braune requires the insertion of one after θεοῦ. See Textual Note2.—R.]

Eph 4:19. Who οἵτινες [men who, such as], introduces the explanation, the proof of this condition.—Being past feeling have given themselves over [ἀπηλγηκότες ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν].—Ἀπηλγηκότες; (from ἀπὸ and ἄλγος, ἀλγέω,), unsusceptible of pain, and according to the context, in the heart, the moral consciousness, hence not feeling the unrest and punishment of conscience, the correction of God (Jer. 5:3), they have given themselves over, ultro (BENGEL); that is the ἀγαισθησία, sponte sese in gurgitem omnium vitiorum præcipitans. CALVIN: Homines a Deo relicti, sopita conscientia, exstincto divini judicii timore, amisso denique sensu tanquam attoniti, belluino impetu se ad omnem turpitudinem projiciunt. [The pronoun ἑαυτούς is used “with terrible emphasis” (MEYER).—R.] Self-reprobation is consummated in becoming apathetic, just as Rom. 1:24: “God delivered them over, in the lusts of their hearts.” Our passage marks the freedom and guilt of men, the passage in Romans the rule, will and power of God, but both of them indicate the means: the lust corrupting even unto want of feeling; here prominence is given to the consequence, the condition which has arisen and becomes aggravated (ἀπηλγηκότες),63 there to the ground, the active power (“lusts”).

To wantonness, τῇ άσελγείᾳ.—The term, apparently from θέλγω, schwelgen [allied to the English swell, and meaning to over-eat, carouse, debauch], occurs quite frequently (Mark 7:22; Rom. 13:13; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; 1 Pet. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:2, 7, 18; Jude 4), almost always in connection with sensual sins, denoting, however, not special sin, but reckless, unbridled, extravagant and excessive character in general. Comp. TITTMANN, I, p. 150 ff., on ἀσέλγεια and ἀκαθαρσία, [TRENCH, § 16., and Exeg. Notes on Gal. 5:19, in this volume.—R.] It is not to be limited to sensual lasciviousness (MEYER).

To work all uncleanness, εἰς ἐργασίαν ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης.—[The preposition introduces the conscious aim of this self-abandonment.—R.] Ἐργασία marks the managing, the assiduous, connected labor [the working at it as though it were a trade], and ἀκαθαρσία, extended by πάσης,64 sets forth what has come to pass in the service of ἀσέλγεια. We should apply it to all kinds of uncleanness, especially libidinous, but also to the lust of the eye and pride, natural and unnatural, refined and coarse, solitary and social, in thought, word and deed (Rom. 1:24–32). Still less is this to be limited to libidinous filthiness (MEYER), or to trade in harlotry, quæstus ex impudicitia (GROTIUS, BENGEL and others). The next phrase will not justify this.

In greediness, ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ.—This word means to want to have more, greediness, avarice, graspingness, limited usually to earthly possession, to money (5:3; Col. 3:5; Mark 7:22; Luke 12:15); but the limitation arises from the context, not from the word itself. The context here does not admit of any such limitation: ἐν, in, marks the ground on which the “uncleanness” moves, and this is not avarice, but greed in general unto insatiableness. Hence the GREEK FATHERS thus explain it (CHRYSOSTOM: ἀμέτρως, THEODORET: ἀμετρία, ŒCUMENIUS: κωθ̓ ὑμερβολήν καὶ ἀνενδότως. Ἐν is not=σύν (LUTHER: together with avarice); there is not a new special vice, avarice, added to another special one, unchastity (MEYER, SCHENKEL); neither the context nor the word itself favors the explanation: gluttony (HARLESS).65

Reminder respecting Christ and Christian instruction; Eph 4:20, 21.

Eph 4:20. But ye, ὑμεῖς δἐ, in opposition to “the rest of the Gentiles” [just described].—Did not so learn Christ.—Οὑχ οὕτως is a very emphatic litotes=entirely otherwise, not at all in such a way that you can live afterwards as you did before. Ἐμάθετε [the historical aorist] τὸν Χριστόν marks Christ as the object, the substance of the preaching of the Apostles and of Christ. Himself; His person we must attain to; He Himself must be accepted and appropriated in us (Eph 4:13, 15; Col. 2:6; 1 Cor. 1:23; 2 Cor. 1:19). Hence it is not=the doctrine of Christ, as was once almost generally thought. [This use of the verb with an accusative of the person is probably unique (ELLICOTT), and properly so, for in no other learning is a Person so directly and fully the object. Hence the explanation: learnt to know is inadmissible as without lexical authority and insufficient. BEZA’S exegesis is totally unwarranted: “Ye are not so—ye have learned Christ.”—R.]

Eph 4:21. If indeed ye heard him [εἴγε αὐτὸν ἠκούσατε]—̓́Ειγε, as in 3:2, marks in a fine turn of expression a definite, undoubted fact (“that he heard him”), particula non miruit, sed auget vim admonitionis (BENGEL). It is not however—“so as” (STIER). Αὐτόν is in emphatic position; “heard” denotes the beginning of the discipleship; hence it is not merely, heard of Him (LUTHER), but heard Him Himself in spirit, even though through the instrumentality of others. He is the subject of the very first instruction. Hence Paul adds:

And were taught in him, καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐδιά χθητε.—The two designations66 correspond to those in Matt. 28:19, 20: “disciple all nations”—“teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” “In,” ἐν, is neither=περί, concerning (PISCATOR), nor ὑπό (FLATT), nor διά, by (BEZA) [E. V.], nor illius nomine, quod ad illum attinet (BENGEL), but an instruction not merely having its result, a being or living in Him, but in accordance with the fellowship with Him (WINER, p. 366); in ipso=ipsi insiti and docti are equivalent (BUCER); doceri is inseri.

As is the truth in Jesus [καθώς ἐστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ].—“As” refers only to the instruction, to its quality; it corresponds to “not go” (Eph 4:20); what was there negatively and briefly indicated, is here positively expressed, and then given in detail.67 “Is truth” gives prominence to the agreement of the teaching with the reality: in the instruction they hear Him really, possess Him as He is. Ἐστιν, coming first, denotes the existence, the reality, and that, too, as a present, now valid and continuing reality.

Consequens (τοῦ audire. et τοῦ doceri est τὸ discere BENGEL): they have therefore learned, as truth is in Him. “Truth” is here opposed to the heathen “vanity;” as the latter was a self-made foundling, the former is something bestowed, real, excluding the subtleties of human origin or change of any kind. [The notion of the Greek adjective αληθινός is thus included by Dr. Braune. The clause setting forth the manner of the instruction (the substance follows in Eph 4:22–24), may be thus explained: If ye were taught so that what you received was according to what is true (true and real) as embodied in a personal Saviour: The literal rendering: “as is truth in Jesus” gives most nearly the exact force.—R.] In the expression ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ, the article is significant, pointing to the known Person, the personal name being chosen instead of the official title, Christ. BENGEL: Expressius ponit nomen Ἰησοῦ. CHRISTI, ideam perfectissime et fulgidissime explevit JESUS; this preserves the received instruction from obliteration.—The clause is, therefore, not parenthetical (BEZA, RUECKERT and others), “truth” is neither agnitio Dei (BENGEL), nor true doctrine of Christ (PISCATOR and others), nor true holiness, goodness (ERASMUS, HARLESS [HODGE] and others). We should not connect “in Jesus” with what follows (HOFMANN, Schriftbeweis, II, 2, p. 291).

The Christian walk; Eph 4:22–24, a. Negative side; Eph 4:22, b. Positive side; Eph 4:23, 24.

Eph 4:22. That ye put off, ἀποθέσθαιὑμᾶς.—This infinitive depends grammatically on the entire thought, that they heard Him and were taught in Him, as the truth in Jesus is (BLEEK), although STIER and BENGEL are not incorrect in connecting it in sense with “I say and testify” (Eph 4:17); they recognise, however, “a certain reference to the nearest words” (Eph 4:21). The emphasis rests on the verb, coming first, which has its antithesis in “put on” (Eph 4:24). It is incorrect to accept a dependence on the last clause alone (MEYER) and a contrast between “Jesus” and “ye” (JEROME, HARLESS, and others), which would be indicated by an emphatic position for ὑμᾶς and the insertion of οὕτως.68 In the frequently occurring figures of putting on and off the clothes to represent the external appearance from which the internal state may be inferred, it is not necessary to find an allusion to a race before which, or a baptism (of a proselyte) at which the clothes should be taken off; the context gives no warrant for either. The Lord Himself (Luke 24:49) transferred into the New Testament the usage of the Old Testament in describing an instantaneous, sudden inspiration. Comp. STIER, Words of Jesus, 7 p. 323 f. Paul extended the figure (Eph 4:25; 6:11, 14; Rom. 13:12, 13; Col. 3:8, 9, 10; 1 Cor. 15:53, 54; Gal. 3:27; 1 Thess. 5:8). The verb includes the sense of a decided casting away, not merely a gentle putting off, since this is required of the followers of Jesus, among whom a preserving of the old man and the heathen walk is intolerable.

As regards your former way of life [κατὰ τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφήν.—Κατά introduces that with respect to which the putting off takes place. The substantive (αναστροφή), like the verb, includes a course of conduct arising from a corresponding disposition, the manifestation of what is within, as Gal. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:11, 12; 1:17, 18 (STIER), and is more than περιπατεῖν, preparing the way for the mention of the internal disposition which should be put off. It is not enough to put off merely the former heathen (προτέραν) walk.69 Antitheton versus 23 totus (BENGEL).

The old man [τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον].—“Man” denotes here the Ego (ἐγώ, Rom. 7:9, 10; 17–21). “Old” designates that it is condemned to be put away, old over against Jesus the second Adam; hence “the old man” (Col. 3:9; Rom. 6:6) means the sinful Ego deranged by sin, the natural man in the corruption of his sin.70 This condition is then described:

Which waxeth corrupt according to the lusts of deceit [τὸν φθειρόμενον κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης].—The present participle denotes the present condition, which is not however a purely passive one: “which is corrupted,” but in accordance with Eph 4:19: “which corrupts himself.” It is then neither imperfect: which corrupted himself (BENGEL), nor to be taken as referring to the future judgment (RUECKERT and others); yet it is not merely=morally destroying himself (HARLESS). The antithesis is creatum (BENGEL) and the use of φθορά and φθείρεσθαι (Gal. 6:8; Rom. 8:20, 21) points to the whole man, body and soul. [MEYER and HODGE refer it to eternal destruction: “which tends to destruction,” but this does not do justice to the present participle, the peculiar force of which, as indicating a process not entirely passive, is brought out by “waxeth corrupt” (ELLICOTT). HODGE’S objection, that “old” already expresses the idea of corruption, has no force against this description of the progressive character, while his own view introduces an objective element into a delineation which is strictly subjective.—R.]

The accomplishment of the corruption is more closely defined by the phrase: “according to the lusts of deceit,” The corruption is accomplished in accordance with the lusts, the factors of the corruption; and these are affairs of sin, which are here personified in accordance with the power of deceiving and betraying inherent in it (Rom. 7:11; 1 Cor. 11:3; 2 Thess. 2:9). The genitive, which is that of the subject, is not to be resolved into an adjective (GROTIUS [E. V.] and thus weakened, nor applied merely to error technicus (BENGEL). The antithesis is secundum Deumin justitia et sanctitate veritatis (BENGEL).

Eph 4:23. And become renewed [ἀνανεοῦσθαι δέ],—The contrast is marked by δέ, which introduces the positive side (Eph 4:23, 24), The verb in the passive71 points to the fact that a work and operation of God is spoken of (2:10; 4:24; κτισθέντα; see Tit. 3:5, 2 Tim. 1:9). The present refers to an operation which is not concluded in a moment, but continues. The roots of the word (νέος [recent], new) points to a becoming rejuvenated, to the beginning, the coming into being, of what was not, or not yet, or no longer; καινός [novus] refers to the character of that which exists, as compared with its former condition; άνακαινουν is to put away the ruins of the present condition and to supply new powers, to transfer into a condition of newness, as distinguished from the previous one. Hence we never find νέα κτίσις, but καινή, since νεότης is already implied in κτισις. See TITTMANN, Syn. I., p. 60 f. [TRENCH, Syn. (§ xviii; Colossians, p. 65,) ALFORD and HODGE in loco.—R.] Ἁνά indicates not merely a setting up, but according to the participles in Eph 4:18, 19, a restitution of the original creation. The infinitive is in the same dependence as ἀποθέσθαι, although in these infinitives there is latent, a hortatory imperative, which comes out in Eph 4:25. Still this inheres in the thought, not in the form.

In the Spirit [or by the Spirit] of your mind [τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ύμῶν].—The renewal, the letting themselves be renewed, is accomplished in this. The dative is one of reference, the genitive that of the subject. HARLESS says: ψυχή designates the immediateness of the personal life, καρδία the same as the internal life of a human person, νοῦς is the habitus corresponding to this existence and life, πνεῦμα the motive power which calls forth and conditions this habitus. To this the organism of the human spirit corresponds. BENGEL: spiritu mentis, 1 Cor. 14:14. Spiritus est intimum mentis. That inexplicabile coming from God (OETINGER) must be renewed, is seized by the corruption of sin, needs redemption from “the vanity of the mind.” We may not take πνεύματι as instrumental on account of the genitive and understand it of the Holy Spirit (OEKUMEN, and others), nor can both explanations be combined (STIER: through the Spirit yet living in you); in that case the middle, contrary to the usage which gives it an active sense, and contrary to the Biblical view, which never speaks of men renewing themselves, is taken as reflexive. Nor is the “spirit” of man to be regarded as opposed absolutely to the “flesh,” as if it could never be subject to the latter (SCHENKEL).

[The view of Braune, which takes τῷ πνεύματι as a dative of reference referring exclusively to the human spirit, is accepted by most commentators. HODGE takes πνεῦμα here as the “interior life—that of which the νοῦς, καρδία, ψυχή are the modes of manifestation,”—a psychological statement inferior to that of HARLESS, and probably resulting from the desire to avoid any trichotomic opinion.—MEYER has wavered in his views: adopting in the 1st, 3d and 4th eds. the usual opinion, and in the second that of FRITZSCHE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT and others. This takes the dative as instrumental, and as referring to the human spirit acted upon by the Holy Spirit (see Romans, p. 235), or to the Holy Spirit in a gracious union with the human spirit (ELLICOTT, 3d ed.). To this view I incline, but not decidedly. The other interpretation is open to objections both of an exegetical and psychological nature. This sense of πνεῦμα is now clearly established, and indispensable in exegesis. In fact as ALFORD says: “the πνεῦμα a of man is only then used ‘sensu proprio’ as worthy of its place and governing functions, when it is one Spirit with the Lord.” The trouble is, that this πνεῦμα would hardly be spoken of as the instrument; the answer being that a process is described as going on, the agent being “the restored and Divinely informed leading principle of their νοῦς.”—The genitive is their possessive.—R.]

Eph 4:24. And that ye put on, καὶἑνδύσασθαι, is an internal act done by us, having an effect upon the walk and thus manifesting itself.—The new man, τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον, we have as present, given, outside of ourselves, in Christ; hence Rom. 13:14: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Who after God hath been72 created [τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα].—This marks both the reality and the character of the new man. The designation evidently points to Gen. 1:26, 27; which is even more prominent in the parallel passage, Col. 3:10 (“after the image of Him that created”). Comp. 1 Pet. 1:15. It should be noticed that this qualification compels us not to take “new man” as exactly=Christ; for He is not “created,” but rather “God, the image of Him who creates,” after whom (κατὰ) the new man is created. Hence we should refer it to the new human personality as respects Christ, which the Christian should become. Thus in the Epistle to the Colossians we find: τὸν νέον τὸν ἀνακαινόμενον, the young, tender, newly born, which is renewed, developed in contrast with the previous one. The creation of the protoplast is however merely recalled; the expressions are borrowed from it, to designate the new creation taking place in Christ and to put it in relation to the first.73

In righteousness and holiness of the truth [ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητιτῆς ἀληθείας].—This characterizes the new man and sets forth the distinguishing marks of its character; the preposition adjoining to “created” that in which the created man appears, with which he is endowed, equipped. The Apostle proceeds from without to within. The two notions are united together and applied to God (Rev. 16:5), to men (1 Thess. 2:10; Tit. 1:1; Luke 1:75), ὄσιος is predicated of God (Rev. 15:4), of Christ (Heb. 7:26; Acts 2:27; 13:35), of men (1 Tim. 2:8). ̔Οσιότης refers to the inmost nature, the disposition, the immaculate purity of love (1:4; 5:27; Heb. 7:26), δικαιοσύνη to the action and mode of dealing, which keeps all relations within the bounds of truth and right (STIER). TITTMANN, Syn. I. 25 ff. Here we may not apply the frequent usage of Plato, who joins both notions, of which Philo says: ὀσιότης μὲν πρὸς θεόν, δικαιοσύνη δὲ πρὸς ἀνθρώπους θεωρεῖται. MEYER regards δικαιοσύνη as moral rectitude in itself, ὁσιοτης specially in reference to God. SCHENKEL takes the former as respecting the world, the latter God; the latter is evidently opposed to “uncleanness” (Eph 4:19) and the former to “wantonness” and “greediness.” [So STIER and ELLICOTT]. The genitive sets forth the ground of both; “the truth” is personified, like “love” (Eph 4:22), the cause of the righteousness and holiness; out of the eternal Divine basis of truth springs the ethical personal life, which is conditioned by this as true: without this man would lapse into “vanity” (Eph 4:17). LUTHER incorrectly renders the genitive by an adjective: in real righteousness and holiness. [So CALVIN, BEZA, HOLZHAUSEN and the E. V., while PELAGIUS explains: “in the truth,” καὶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ (the reading of D. F. and some fathers) There seems to be an antithesis between “truth” here and “deceit” in Eph 4:22 (HODGE, EADIE and others), which suggests that the notion “real” is prominent here.—R.] It is incorrect to take the preposition as instrumental (MORUS), or as=εἰς. The new man is not created by this ethical quality but by God, nor is this the end, but the accompanying gift of this creation, as is manifest in Christ, to whom this belonged from the beginning, not becoming His in the course of His life.

[OLSHAUSEN’S remarks are generally accepted: Δικαιοσύνη, betokens a just relation among the powers of the soul within, and towards men and duties without. But ὁσιότης, like the Hebrew תָּמִים, betokens the integrity of the spiritual life, and the piety towards God of which that is the condition. Hence both expressions together complete the moral idea of perfection. As here the ethical side of the Divine image is brought out, Col. 3:10 brings out the intellectual. The new birth alone leads to ἐπίγνωσις: all knowledge which proceeds not from renewal of heart, is but outward appearance; and of this kind was that among the false Colossian teachers. On the other hand, in Wisdom 2:23 the physical side of the Divine image is brought out.” ELLICOTT deems the last reference somewhat doubtful—R.]


1. The nature of the heathen life is “vanity of the mind.” This designates the type of the natural character among Jews and Christians [“The ethical and religious element of their life was unsatisfactory and cheerless, alike in worship and in practice, the same as to present happiness as to future prospect, for they knew not man’s chief end” (EADIE).—R.]

2. The “vanity of the mind” is the result of a fall from a previous possession and enjoyment of original gifts, which is accomplished in a twofold series of acts reciprocally requiring and furthering each other; the intellectual and moral side of man’s nature being in turn solicited, and thus roused in selfishness, it is ever further removed from the truth in God and from the God of truth. Indeed, the result, the vanity of the mind, is itself capable of increase and must develop into extreme corruption, if aid does not come and a retrograde movement begin.

3. The intellectual and moral side of man require and promote each other. The Reason cannot remain healthy and clear, or susceptible, as from the beginning, if the will is or becomes warped or weakened. The obscuration, weakening of the Reason necessarily enters with the enfeebling and confusion of the will. The Apostle comprises both under the term πνεῦμα74 (Eph 4:23); the former he designates νοῦς (Eph 4:17, 23), δι νοια (Eph 4:18); the latter καρδια (Eph 4:18). The Apostle Paul places the initiative in the lusts (Eph 4:22: “corrupted according to the lusts of deceit”), as Luther sharply indicates in his incorrect translation (which corrupts itself through lusts in error). The perverted will, executing what is wrong, makes the understanding a sophistical attorney, a crafty counsellor for its unrighteousness.

4. The factors of corruption are three: God, who hardens (Exod. 4:21; 7:3; 14:4, 8; Jno. 12:40; Rom. 9:18; 1:24), man himself (1 Sam. 6:6; Ps. 95:8; Heb. 3:8), the surrounding circumstances, through which and under which it takes place (Gen. 7:13; 8:15; Heb. 3:13). According to the context man is here described as the cause of the corruption (Eph 4:19), because personal guilt and the evoking of self-activity is treated of, while in Rom. 1:24 God is termed the Author in the same matter, since there the final and deepest ground is touched upon. Usually its consummation appears as a history, which is pragmatically sketched by the external circumstances, the Power above the man and the concealed doings within him not being brought into prominence. What comes to pass is never loosed from the dealings of God and His holy rule, nor from the consent and opposition of man or without the influences of historical circumstances and persons. Consider, however, that thy guilt is at once God’s punishment and thine own guilt, and forget not that the two appear together as a developing history.

5. The dangerous element of sin is the deceit of lust, which plays the role of pleasure, and is not really ἡδονή, but φθορά and φθεί. ει. This is God’s appointment, that what is unholy should be unwholesome, as wrong is ill; the lustful one, turning away from God, naturally ruins himself, which is possible only in self-deception.

6. Renewal is not accomplished by man in his own strength, but only in the acceptance and use of the vital strength promised and imparted to him with justification, hence in the appropriated power of God, in the strength of Divine life. Comp. notes 8, 10.

7. Renewal too, like corruption, has its history. As the latter proceeds from ἀνομία to ἀνομία, even to the end, θάνατος (Rom. 6:19, 21), so in the former advance is made from hearing Christ to being taught in Him, from the scholar to the friend, the intimate of Christ, and from the servant of God, who permits himself to be thus termed, to heirship and participation in His kingdom. [Comp. Exegetical Notes on Eph 4:23.—R.]

8. The beginning of the Christian walk is the putting off the previous vices (Eph 4:28–32), and from resistance, even if with feeble result, advance is made to victorious crucifixion of the flesh and its lusts (Gal. 5:16, 17, 24).

9. In this too knowing and willing stand in reciprocal action conditioning each other: learning Christ and putting on Christ, Christian science and Christian life. Theological faculties and the Church of Christ belong together. No knowledge should sunder itself from life, nor the science of Theology from the Christian Church. Where faith in Christ is not active, the scientific culture of individuals and churches will fare badly enough.

10. The vital power of faith must in the moral life-process prove itself real (τῆς ἀληθείας) and permeate the whole mode of life (ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ) from within to without (ἐν ὁσιότητι) and thus manifest itself in the walk. Faith, in itself a moral act, must prove itself in an ethical life-process.

[11. “This passage is of special doctrinal importance, as teaching us the true nature of the image of God in which man was originally created. That image did not consist merely in man’s rational nature, nor in his immortality, nor in his dominion, but specially in that righteousness and holiness, that rectitude in all his principles, and that susceptibility of devout affections, which are inseparable from the possession of the truth, or true knowledge of God. This is the Scriptural view of the original state of man, or of original righteousness, as opposed, on the one hand, to the Pelagian theory, that man was created without moral character; and, on the other, to the Romish doctrine, that original righteousness was a supernatural endowment not belonging to man’s nature. Knowledge, and consequently righteousness and holiness, were immanent or con-created in the first man, in the same sense as were his sense of beauty and susceptibility of impression from the external world.” HODGE.—R.]


Deal earnestly with the conduct of those committed to you, as did the Apostle, and take care that none of your children can say: Father and mother have not told me of it.—Much depends upon this, that every one in his circle and place bears witness against the walk of the natural character and in favor of Christian conduct.—Consider, no one is lost except through his own fault; but perhaps through yours too!—Sin binds the will, so that it is not free, and blinds or darkens the Reason, so that it is not healthy. The two faculties act and react upon each other; it is madness for a sinner to boast of a sound reason. It is a fearful truth however, thou wilt have life, enjoy the world and yet thou destroyest thyself, most certainly thy soul at least. Where God’s life and gift, peace and pure pleasure of the heart is wanting, there man wastes himself away, grasping in darkness for light, in emptiness for fulness, in apathy for life, aiming at these, and yet, at last, comfortless and unsatisfied.—Hold to Christian instruction and constantly try, whether thou art learning Christ: He is the measure of all truth.—Never forget: He is the Light; whoso is athirst, let him come to Him—and drink! You may know everything in the world, but not knowing Him, thy knowledge is nothing; you may know nothing of the world, knowing Him, trusting in Him, thy knowledge is rich.—The toil of self-denial and denial of the world cannot be spared you; but begin in the centre, in thyself, thy will and heart. What avails external alteration: that is by no means growing better. One must not be ever setting the tools and the plough in order; draw furrows through the field of thy heart and sow good seed therein, thus wilt thou reach the harvest and the harvest home. The sun makes the Spring and rejuvenates the earth, not single sunbeams, however, but the sun itself ever mounting higher, ever working longer. So Christ, who renews thee. Look how Peter with his sanguine temper became the rock-man, became constant, and John with his choleric disposition (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:54) was renewed into the Apostle of energetic love.

STARKE:—The natural knowledge of God is not the right one, and is far from sufficing for salvation, 1 Cor. 1:21.—The origin of all our sins is the “vanity of the mind” and the darkened understanding. We do not understand what the true good is, nor how we can attain to it. If we are to be helped, we must be helped in these respects, else a hardening results, and we become at last “without feeling.”—All, even the best, in man is corrupted by nature, accordingly nothing is to be expected from his own strength.—Mark, man, the stripes of thy conscience, they are a favor from God; despise them not, lest thy heart be gradually led by the deceit of sin into obduracy.—He who does not live devoutly has not rightly learned or heard Christ.—In Christ Jesus is the truth, not a doctrine merely, but a righteous life, and this truth consists in a putting off of the old man and a putting on of the new.—He who rightly knows Christ, must, to honor Him, live holily.—It is a sheer impossibility to be a Christian and to be willing to continue walking in heathenish lusts.—Through a long habit of sinning, the understanding at length becomes so darkened, the conscience so insensible, the will so stubborn, that the man no longer perceives the danger of his sinful condition, has no more conscience about sin, and no desire to desist from sin.—Where sin began, there repentance must begin.

RIEGER:—The understanding would otherwise be a pre-eminent ornament of man, but it too has suffered much from the inroads of sin.—A proper character begins in us with the knowledge and confession of the might of sin, how it has clung to us from the time of our birth and extended itself as an old man over all our powers and members.

HEUBNER:—Where the will is corrupt, the understanding is darkened; blindness is the result of hardening.—Heathenism is life without God, Christianity life from God.—The Christian must ever begin anew and at the same time afresh. Daily repentance is needed, if we know the weakness, impurity, inconstancy of our hearts.—We will be ever seeing remnants of the old man appearing and returning here and there, and then a putting off of the old and putting on the new man is at once necessary again, and a purging process must be begun as in the case of sick people.—There is no more certain sign of an unspiritual mind, than the question: What then is so bad in me? Am I then so entirely unlike the image of God?

PASSAVANT:—The history of the heathen of all ages and countries is a history of such vanity of mind, and of vanities; and all this vain character and action is renewed, re-decked and increased in the history of the character and doings of the heathen now-a-day, of the unbelieving and God-forsaken in Christendom. In the latter case the guilt is indeed greater, the injury deeper and the vanity worse.—This story of the origin of all heathen character and action, and of all idolatry in the world, repeats itself in every heart, which permits itself to be led through lustfulness and vanity of the mind away from the only true God into unbelief, disobedience and ingratitude. The will becomes perverted and evil, seducing in its turn the understanding and all the senses of man; and the mind, when it has once become false and vain, seduces in turn the impure heart, which has forsaken truth and faith; and here, in this impurity is the damnable ground and beginning of all ignorance and obduracy. That which is most exalted in us, which shall inherit immortality, our most beautiful, thinking, poetizing, loving, that which moves our whole heart and soul, what is inmost and most intellectual, our most profound life, our “spirit” itself must be renewed within us.

STIER:—The natural man in the vanity of his mind chooses what is void, empty and perishing, instead of what is Divinely real. Lust and deceit are akin.—Hearing, learning, becoming learned, are the three orderly degrees.—Man, corrupt by nature, destroys that which was created, God’s Spirit in our spirit breaks anew the first creation. Once for all in the Person of Christ is that created and prepared for us, which we are to put on.

GERLACH:—The lusts paint joy for us and then bring misery, place man in opposition to his Creator, his eternal destiny, himself, making out of the whole character a lie.

ZIEL: The heathenish nature in our Christian congregations of to-day. From the text (Eph 4:17–32) we may perceive as in a mirror: 1) In what inward character of the heart (Eph 4:17–19), 2) in what outward form of the conduct it still manifests itself among us (Eph 4:25–32). Conclusion: To extirpate it by the roots, each one for himself, puts and must put it away from him.

On the Epistle for the 19th Sunday after Trinity, 4:22–28.—LANGBEIN: How it is chiefly shown in social life, that something really new is born within us? When there is found, 1) in our mouth, instead of a lie, the truth, 2) in our heart, instead of wrath, placability, 3) in our hands, instead of unjust property, the gift of mercy.

THOLUCK: The virtue of Christian love of truth. 1. How does it manifest itself a) toward God, b) toward our neighbor, c) towards ourselves? 2. How do we attain to it? a) Through the consciousness of the continued presence of that eye, which sees in secret and to which a lie is an abomination, b) by taking the right standard, the Word of God.

F. A. WOLF: On the proper conduct of all in authority for the promotion of fidelity and probity in their subordinates. 1. Strict love of truth. 2. Forbearing earnestness in discipline and admonition. 3. Zeal for the public good in our own place and calling.

FLOREY:—A new man, a new life! 1) In words of truth, 2) mastery over the passions, 3) blamelessness in walk, 4) turning away from what is unjust, 5) activity in one’s calling, 6) brotherly love in the heart.—Some principles for Christian parents in the education of their children. 1. To convince them of the evil nature of their hearts. 2. To be helpful to the renewal of their mind in the Holy Ghost (Baptism, Home, School, Church). 3. To contend against their darling sins (lying, quick temper, slandering, purloining, tattling) and to help to the opposite virtues.

BRANDT: The new man in Christ. 1. Truthfulness his ornament. 2. His heart breathes love. 3. He allows himself to be guided by benevolence and trustfulness. 4. Faithful and honorable, is his watchword.—A rich harvest blessing is an urgent demand to put off the old man and to put on the new. Without this 1) we do not fulfil the design of God in bestowing this blessing, 2) with all our thanksgiving we cannot please God; 3) we are in danger of turning the blessing into a curse.

SPITTA: Believing and pious Christians should not walk as the heathen. 1. How the heathen walk. 2. Why Christians should not walk thus? 3. How they show proper earnestness in this.

GENZKEN (Preparatory discourse): The blessed barter (after Matt. 9:16 f.). The old ragged mantle of the old man is cast away (the web of lust and error); 2. The Lord Jesus is put on (the garment of righteousness and honor).

[EADIE: Eph 4:17. In the case of the heathen, all the efforts and operations of their spiritual nature ended in dreams and disappointment.

Eph 4:18. Deep shadow lay upon the Gentile mind, unrelieved save by some fitful gleams which genius occasionally threw across it, and which were succeeded only by profounder darkness. A child in the lowest form of a Sunday School, will answer questions with which the greatest minds of the old heathen world grappled in vain.—There could be no light in their mind, because there was no life in their hearts, for the life in the Logos is the light of men.

Eph 4:19. Self-abandonment to deeper sin is the Divine judicial penalty of sin.—Self was the prevailing power—the gathering in of all possible objects and enjoyments on one’s self was the absorbing occupation. This accompaniment of sensualism sprang from the same root with itself, and was but another form of its development.

Eph 4:20. Once dark, dead, dissolute and apathetic, they had learned Christ as the light and the life—as the purifier and perfecter of His pupils.

Eph 4:22. This deceit is not simply error. It has assumed many guises. It gives a refined name to grossness, calls sensualism gallantry, and it hails drunkenness as good cheer. It promises fame and renown to one class, wealth and power to another, and tempts a third onward by the prospect of brilliant discovery. But genuine satisfaction is never gained, for God is forgotten.

Eph 4:24. While this spiritual creation is God’s peculiar work—for He who creates can alone recreate—this truth in Jesus has a living influence upon the heart, producing, fostering, and sustaining such rectitude and piety.—R.]

[SCHENKEL:—The characteristic marks of heathenish disposition: 1. Darkening of the mind, where the knowledge of what is Divine is concerned; 2. Hardening of the heart, where the repression of their own evil lusts is concerned.—Lust and greed the two fundamental sins of the natural man: 1. Their internal connection; 2. Their external difference.—To learn Christ 1) the Christian’s first duty, 2) his highest wisdom.—The seal of true Christianity is the new birth; for 1) where this is wanting, all good works are but seeming, and 2) where it is present the life with good works must really he teeming.—The deceit of sin and the truth of redemption: 1. Sin corrupts man under the deceitful representations of evil lust; 2. Redemption heals man by restoring his original truth, in righteousness and holiness.—R.]


[53]Eph 4:17.—[The reading is doubtful: א3 D.2 3 E. K. L., most cursives, Syriac, Chrysostom (Rec., Tischendorf, Meyer, Eadie, Braune), sustain λοιπά; it is wanting in א.1 B. D.1 F. G., 5 cursives, Vulgate and other versions, and rejected by Lachmann, Alford, Ellicott. The external evidence against it is slightly preponderating, but internal grounds are in its favor. It was probably misunderstood, and the omission further confirmed by 1 Thess. 4:5.—R.]


Eph 4:18.—[א. A. B.: ἐσκοτωμένοι, which, as more rare, is preferred by most recent editors to ἐσκοτισμένοι (Rec., D. F. K. L.). The comma after “God,” is required by the view taken of the construction as a parallelism:

a Being darkened in their understanding,

b Being alienated from the life of God,

a Because of the ignorance that is in them,

b Because of the hardness of their heart.

The first and third, second and fourth members correspond, the alternation being probably due to the reciprocal interaction which is also implied.—R.]

[55]Eph 4:21.—[This rendering is literal, see Exeg. Notes.—The aorists in Eph 4:20, 21 are best rendered by the English past tense.—In is substituted for by, as is so often necessary.—R.]

[56]Eph 4:23.—[The two leading interpretations are suggested by the two readings given above. See Exeg. Notes.—Became renewed is adopted (from ELLICOTT) to indicate the force of the present, which here marks a continuing process.—R.]

[57]Eph 4:24.—[א.1 gives: ὁσιότητι καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ.—The hendiadys of the E. V. here (and at the close of Eph 4:22: “deceitful lusts”) must be guarded against.—Hath been created is preferable here to was created, for though the Greek aorist is historical, the latter rendering “tends to throw the κτίσις further back than is actually intended; the reference being to the new κτίσις in Christ” (ELLICOTT).—R.]

[58][The οὖν is resumptive rather than illative, but as Alford says: “The digression is all in the course of the argument. The fervid style of St. Paul will never divide sharply into separate logical portions—each runs into and overlaps the other.” EADIE defends the connection with what immediately precedes.—R.]

[59][If λοιπά be rejected, there is still an allusion in καί to the fact that they were once thus walking, i. e., were once Gentiles. The only point of difference is, that the fuller reading implies they are so still. “Though the Ephesians did not walk so now, their returning to such a course is made the logical hypothesis” (ALFORD).—R.]

[60][So EADIE and most; HODGE however takes νοῦς as the whole soul, just as on the other hand in Rom. 7:23–25, he refers it to the renewed nature, in both cases sacrificing exactness to doctrinal considerations.—R.]

[61][This is a dative of reference, giving the sphere or element m which. On the difference between it and the accusative it may be said that the latter is more objective, denoting that the darkness extended over the mind, the former more subjective, denoting that it has its seat in the mind. The word itself is here=the understanding (Verstand).—R.]

[62][On the etymology and meaning of πώρωσις. See FRITZCHE, Rom. 11:7. It undoubtedly means hardness, obduracy (not blindness), used by medical writers of the “callus” at the extremity of fractured bones.—R.]

[63][Some textual variations occur, but not sufficiently supported to raise any question. From ἀπηλπικότες (D. and others) the sense desperantes seems to have come. But it is incorrect; the semi-technical term πώρωσις suggests a continuation of the figure.—R.]

[64][The unusual position of πάσης leads ELLICOTT to render: “uncleanness of every kind.”—R.]

[65][HODGE renders: “together with covetousness,” “which is doubly objectionable. The wider sense of πλεονεξία is accepted by EADIE, ALFORD and ELLICOTT. The last named, however, properly objects to obliterating the underlying notion of covetousness and self-seeking which seems bound up in the word. Comp. Col. 3:5, p. 64; and TRENCH, Syn. §24, who links it most closely with sins of lust.—R.]

[66][ALFORD renders: “If, that is, it was Him that ye heard and in Him that ye were taught” following MEYER in regarding both as included in “ye learned Christ,” the first clause referring to the first reception, the second to further instruction. So ELLICOTT. Perhaps ALFORD restricts the meaning too much when he explains “heard Him,” “if ye really heard at your conversion the voice of the Shepherd Himself calling you as His sheep.”—R.]

[67][This view properly excludes the interpretation “inasmuch,” which Dr. HODGE here, as elsewhere, attaches to καθώς.—R.]

[68][MEYER insists that ὑμᾶς forbids the dependence on ἐδιδάχθητε, but ELLICOTT suggests that it marks a contrast, not with “Jesus,” but with the “Gentiles” and their own previous condition as implied in the next phrase. The infinitive has, not in itself, but from its independence, an imperative force, as in “walk” (Eph 4:1): “that ye must put off.” As an aorist it probably refers to the speedy and single nature of the act. The dependence on the entire preceding thought is a satisfactory solution: The substance of what you heard, were taught, when yon heard Him and were taught in Him in the correct way “as is truth in Jesus,” was “to put off,” “that you must put off,” etc.—R.]

[69][ALFORD) thus indicates the train of thought: “for you were clothed with it (the old man) in your former conversation.” The phrase qualified the verb, not the substantive: “That as regards your former way of life you put off.”—R.]

[70][The reader is referred to Romans, p. 203; comp. pp. 235–244. The opinions there advocated are expressed in ELLICOTT’S notes on “the old man:” “personification of oar whole sinful condition before regeneration, opposed to the καινος or νέος ἄνθρωπος (Eph 4:24; Col. 3:10) and the κὰινὴ κτίσις (Gal. 6:15), or, if regarded in another point of view to the ἔσω ἄνθρωπος (3:16; Rom. 7:22).”—R.]

[71][The middle form of the verb is active in meaning (HARLESS), so that we must insist on the passive here. STIER objects that “to be renewed” is not a proper subject of exhortation. But the Apostle is giving the substance of the teaching (Eph 4:21), and as ALFORD well remarks: “we have perpetually this seeming paradox of God’s work encouraged or checked by man’s co-operation or counter-action,” He renders: “undergo renewal.”—R.]

[72][“Not created in the case of each individual believer, but created once for all (initio rei Christianæ, Bengel) and then individually assumed” (ELLICOTT). Comp. Textual Note 5.—R.]

[73][The doctrine of the restoration to us of the Divine image in Christ, as here implied, is not to be overlooked. MUELLER, Lehre von der Sünde, ii. p. 485 ff., denies any allusion to it here, but on insufficient grounds, as indeed he himself virtually allows. Not the bare fact of Gen. 1:27, but the great truth which that fact represents is alluded to. The image of God in Christ is a far more glorious thing than Adam ever had, or could have had: but still the κατ̓ εἰκονα θεοῦ=κατᾶ θέόν, is true of both” (ALFORD). Comp. Colossians, p. 68.—R.]

[74][Whatever view may be taken of Eph 4:23, or whatever psychological distinctions may be allowable in the exegesis of the New Testament, there is nothing here or elsewhere to indicate that man has a “spirit” unsubdued by the “flesh,” unaffected by the fall. The natural state is the more awful, because the “spirit,” the higher part, the point of connection with Divine influences, is under the dominion of sin.—R.]

[75]Eph 4:26.—[Ye is omitted for the sake of euphony, and is inserted in Eph 4:25 for the same reason.—On the other changes Bee Exeg. Notes.—R.]

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
b. Special traits of the new walk

Ephesians 4:25–32

25Wherefore putting [having put] away lying [falsehood], speak every man truth [speak ye truth each one] with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. 26Be ye angry [Be angry],75 and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath 27[irritation]:76 Neither [Nor yet]77 give place to the devil. 28Let him that stole [who stealeth] steal no more [longer]: but rather let him labor, working with his hands78 the thing [that] which is good, that he may have to give [impart] to him that needeth [who hath need]. 29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which [whatever] is good to the use of edifying [for the building up of the need],79 that it may minister [give] grace unto the hearers [to those who hear]. 30And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby [in whom] ye are [were] sealed unto the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and 32clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be [become]80 ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another [each other], even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven [in Christ forgave]81 you.82


The general basis: no lie but the truth (Eph 4:25); the special points as respects disposition (Eph 4:26, 27), as respects work (Eph 4:28), word (Eph 4:29, 30); comprehensive conclusion (Eph 4:31, 32).

Eph 4:25. The general basis. Wherefore, διό, gives the connection with what precedes (“no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk”), and, as the exhortations with their positive and negative sides show, with special reference to Eph 4:22–24. Hence immediately: having put away falsehood, ἀποθέμενοι τὸ ψεῦδος.—According to Ps. 116:11 (“all men are liars”); 62:10; Rom. 3:4, the first duty of every natural man is to put away the lie, especially as the connection with the kingdom of darkness is thereby indicated. For the devil is the liar from the beginning, who slew man, leading him away out of the truth of life in God (Jno. 8:44). Hence [the abstract]83 τὸ ψεῦδος, which is not τὸ ψεύδεσθαι, nor=lies (LUTHER); it is the opposite of the “truth as it is in Jesus.” Comp. 1 Jno. 2:4; 4:20; 5:10. It does not occur then, because it is the principal spiritual sin of heathenism and has as its result a darkening of the spirit (SCHENKEL). This requirement is of deeper scope than to allow it to be said that even heathen ethics could designate and forbid this as sin.

Speak ye truth each one with his neighbor [λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν ἕκαστος μετὰ τοὺ πλησίον αὐτοῦ].—This exhortation is [a reminiscence] from Zech. 8:16 (LXX.): λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν ἔκαστος πρὸς τὸν πλησίον αὐτοῦ. The article is wanting with ἀλήθειαν, in order to mark that not the complete, entire truth is to be spoken; that cannot be done at the beginning; only let what you do say be true. Paul substitutes the preposition μετά for πρός, in order to give special prominence to the intercommunion in the speaking with each other [STIER] and to bring to mind the Christian brother, as the context requires. The reference is not to “neighbor” in the wider sense, to all men. The Apostle is treating of the Church of Christ.

For we are members one of another [ὄτι ἐσμὲν ἀλλήλων μέλη].—This is the motive: to be members one of another and to belie one another, how contradictory (MEYER)! Esther enim monstrum, si membra inter se non consentiant imo si fraudenter inter se agant (CALVIN). Christians are “members one of another,” not merely members of the body of Christ, but each has to do for the other, to give to him, as well as to receive from him and permit him to do in return. The reciprocal ἐπιχορηγία of speaking the truth (STIER) is marked. It is entirely similar to Rom. 12:5–8; 1 Cor. 12:15–27.84 The passage is full of significance, not inexact (GROTIUS, RUECKERT and others), and is not to be applied to the Gentiles and the Jews, as is done even by BENGAL.

THE PARTICULAR POINTS: a.) As respects the disposition: anger without sin, since in the Church so great occasion to anger especially is given to the Christian with his natural man, and the fellowship is so easily disturbed thereby, and the Christian himself corrupted; Eph 4:26–27.

Eph 4:26. Be angry and sin not [ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε].—The first verb is to be taken as imperative, in this series of imperatives (Eph 4:25–32). This is further required by the circumstance, that it is a citation (Ps. 4:5: רִגְזוּ וְאַל־תֶּחֱטָאוּ translated by the LXX. precisely as Paul here writes it): the original and the Greek version are undoubtedly imperative. The passage in the Psalms is rendered by LUTHER: Be angry, so that ye sin not; this passage: Be angry and sin not. The sense is evidently equivalent to ὀργιζόμενοι μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε (WINER, p. 292), which not only states the case in which they would become angry, but also expresses that the anger is allowed, aye commanded and righteous. This is only the more strongly marked by the two imperatives joined with καὶ, the second of which only is negatived (μή); accordingly Paul used this form, this citation.85 The original text in the Psalm, in which the main matter is the transformation of the angry quousque tandem to rest and gentleness, is correctly rendered by the LXX. (HENGSTENBERG, HITZIG, STIER, against EWALD, HARLESS and others). It can only be affirmed that Paul did not wish to prove anything by the citation (HARLESS); he wishes only to use the words of David, but does not use the words of the LXX. to strengthen those which they are acquainted with; it is incorrect to suppose that nothing depends on the sense of the original passage (RUECKERT). The Sacred Scriptures, which speak of the wrath of God, showing us Christ in anger at the cleansing of the temple (John 2:13–16; Matt. 21:12, 13), do not reject anger: Jas. 1:19, 20; Rom. 12:19; Eccles. 7:9. So here, for we do not read: Do not be angry and sin, the negative cannot be moved forward so as to qualify the first verb (WINER, p. 460). Hence we need not accept an unwilling permission of anger (DE WETTE, WINER); in that case ἀλλά would be found in place of καί. Nor is “be angry” in accordance with an assumed Hebraism to be taken conditionaliter on account of the connection with a following imperative (RUECKERT, ZYRO, Stud. u. Krit., 1841, p. 690), [HODGE apparently]; that would really mean: if ye are angry, ye will not sin. The limitation of “sin not” to reconciliation (HARLESS), to the exclusion of enmity against others (ZYRO), is incorrect because not in accordance with the context. The acceptance of an interrogation (GROTIUS: are ye angry?) is inadmissible on account of the quotation.

Let not the sun go down upon your irritation [ὁ ἤλιος μὴ ἐπιδυέτω ἐπὶ τῷ παροργισμῷ ὑμῶν].—This thought is occasioned by the citation (Ps. 4:5) and the matter itself. There is also in the expression “let not the sun go down,” a reminiscence of Deut. 25:13, 15, according to which the poor man should receive his cloak, given in pledge, and wages should be paid before sundown. There is no reference to the Pythagorean precept to be reconciled before sunset; and quite as little to Christ, the Sun of Righteousness (AUGUSTINE), certainly none to the Reason (LOMBARD). The [non-classical and rare] word παροργισμός occurs only here; it is related to παροργίζεσθαι (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21; Rom. 10:19), meaning the anger aroused in us, the being or becoming angry, which should not continue, nor be carried about and nourished. Affectus noctu retentus alte insidet (BENGEL). Anger thus becomes hate, rancor. What is right towards the occurrence, viz., being angry, should not when that is past, be retained against the person, who remains. The preposition παρά does not indicate something wrong (ZANCHIUS), [WORDSWORTH], and the article, marking the momentary being angry, connected with ὀργίζεσθαι, is not incorrect (STIER). [Comp. Textual Note2. ALFORD brackets the article, suggesting that the omission gives the sense “upon any παροργισμός.” The word irritation preserves the reference to occasion given indicated by παρά, and at the same time distinguishes (in English) from the “wrath” which is forbidden in Eph 4:31.—R.]

Eph 4:27. Nor yet give place to the devil [μηδὲ δίδοτε τόπον τῷ διαβόλῳ.]—Μηδέ is disjunctive and adds something new (Matt. 6:25); while μήτε is adjunctive, adding something which belongs to the foregoing (Matt. 5:34–36). Comp. WINER, p. 457.86 Besides not sinning by prolonging wrath, they should not sin by giving place to the devil. Δίδοτε τόπον designates, as in Rom. 12:19, affording free play, wide space, of course in the heart. But to whom? to the devil, as in 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:26, even though it does not elsewhere occur in this sense in Paul’s writings, but more frequently describes slanderers, or a slanderous manner (1 Tim. 3:6, 7, 11; Tit. 2:3).87 The antithesis is found in Eph 4:30. Hence it does not mean: the blasphemer (LUTHER and others) or talebearer, as many hold. Nor is the verse to be applied to social life (HARLESS); the context requires a reference to individuals. Sinful anger brings even the Christian’s heart into the power of Satan, from whom he was freed, destroying the fellowship with the Redeemer and His grace.

Eph 4:28 b. As respects work: Honesty reaching to benevolence. Let him who stealeth steal no longer [ὁ κλέπτων μηκέτι κλεπτέτω].—Ὁ κλέπτων, which is neither=ὁ κλέψας, nor=ὁ κλέπτης, marks the act or the action, not the character; hence it is stronger than “him who stole,” and weaker than “the thief.” Comp. WINER, p. 331. LUTHER is therefore incorrect [rendering as in E. V.]; BENGEL also: qui furabatur, adding however: præsenti hic non excluso.88 The notion of stealing, however, must not be limited here by the definition of criminal law and police regulation, but be conceived of from the stand-point of Christian ethics, as in the case of the eighth commandment. That deportment of the natural man over against the possessions of his neighbor, which ought to be overcome, is here treated of. It is incorrect to suppose idle habitual thieves are meant (SCHENKEL).—In the Christian ethical sense there is added: μήκετι κλεπτέτω. Hence it is unnecessary to inquire why nothing is said of restitution (MICHAELIS), and the opinion that this exhortation is unsuitable, because it does not correspond with the Apostle’s strictness (DE WETTE), is not pertinent. The Apostle’s strictness and the Christian view follow immediately:

But rather let him labor, working with his hands that which is good [μᾶλλον δὲ κοπιάτω ἐργαζόμενος ταῖς χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν. See Textual Note4.].—Μᾶλλον δέ gives prominence to the antithesis. With the emphatically placed κοπιάτω Paul includes laziness and idleness as the beginning and ground of theft (BENGEL: sæpe furtum et otium sunt una), and all the more decidedly by designating as the antithesis: “working with his hands that which is good.” The participle denotes the active, assiduous performance, corresponding slightly with ἐργασία, Eph 4:19 (STIER); it is not earning, gaining, as the object is not external possessions, or handicraft, trade (MEYER, DE WETTE). BENGEL is excellent: Antitheton ad furtum, prius manu piceata (i.e., hands to which whatever comes near sticks as to pitch, pix) male commissum; on “with his hands” (the hands of the thief), he adds: quibus ad furtum abusus erat.89 Rom. 6:19. The hands should now do the good, that in its proper time and place must be done; then there will not be wanting something to bestow upon the needy.

That he may have to impart to him who hath need [ἴνα ἔχῃ μεταδιδόναι τῲ χρείαν ἔχοντι].—“That he may have” sets forth the purpose, not of him who labors, as if the work should be done on this account, but of the enjoining Apostle, the ruling Lord.90 He should have something to give (μεταδιδόναι), for “we are members one of another” (Eph 4:25). This should take the place of stealing. “To him who hath need,” to him from whom recompense is not to be expected. Instead of stealing there is required an honesty and activity, which impels to beneficence. Whether the question about restitution is necessary and ethical earnestness and depth are missed here—is evident enough. See Doctr. Notes.

c. As respects speech: no foul word, but gracious discourse tending to edification; Eph 4:29, 30.

Eph 4:29. Let no corrupt communication proceed oat of your mouth [πᾶς λόγος σαπρὸς ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν μῆ ἐκ πορευέσθω].—The subject: πᾶς λόγος σαπρός is assumed as present in the mouth of the readers while the predicate forbids: let it not proceed out; not one such should be expressed, 5:5; John 3:16; 1 John 2:21. [Literally: “let every foul saying not come forth.”—R.] See WINER p. 162 f. BENGEL: si jam in lingua sit, resorbete. Σαπρός, from αήπω, σαπῆναι, spoiled by putrefaction, corrupt, used of fishes (Matt. 13:48), of fruit (Matt. 12:33; Luke 6:43), of a tree (Matt. 7:17, 18; 12:33; Luke 6:43), denotes according to the antithesis (αγαθὸς πρός) uselessness, but it is certainly chosen to designate both what is decayed, wornout, ruined, and what is disgusting and stinking; BENGEL: vetustatem redolens. Comp. κενὸς λογός, 5:6; ρῆμα ἀργόν, Matt. 12:36. In these passages the emptiness and unprofitableness is more prominent, here however the loathsomeness. THEODORET: αἰσχρολογία, λοιδορία, συκοφαντία, βλασφημία, ψευδολογία καὶ τὰ τούτοις ποίσοιμα.

But whatever is good for the building up of the need.Ἀλλὰ (sc. ἐκπορευέσθω), εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς (sc. ἐστι) πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας. Over against the prohibition the acceptance of wholesome speech takes a very modest attitude; over against πᾶς we have here εἴ τις. BENGEL: non postulatur ab omnibus par facundia. ̓Αγαθός, however, as in Rom. 15:2, designates what is internally, morally good, not merely what is fitting (HARLESS), [HODGE, EADIE, ALFORD, ELLICOTT]; that would be too external. The genitive of reference has been aptly rendered by LUTHER: where it is needed. This refers to the time when, to the place where, to the person to whom, to the method how, and to the purport which, we are to speak. “According to Jerome it applies also juxta opportunitatem loci, temporis et personæ ædificare audientes” (STIER). Col. 4:6: “How ye ought to answer every man.” [ELLICOTT also takes the genitive as one of reference; “edifying as regards the need, i.e., which satisfies the need.” ALFORD follows MEYER in regarding it as the regular objective genitive=“the defect to be supplied by edification,” so that the sense is “the edification of the present deficiency or need calling for it.” The hypallage of the Syriac, BEZA, followed in the E. V., is clearly wrong, also qua sit opus (ERASMUS and others).—R.]. It is incorrect to take ἡ χρεία=οἰ χρείαν ἔγοντες (RUECKERT, OLSHAUSEN).

That it may give grace to those who hear [ἵνα δῷ χάριν τοῖς ἀκούουσι].—“That” refers to the design of the enjoining Apostle, not that of the obeying member of the congregation. The subject of “give grace” is “good word;” we do not then read “that ye may give.” LUTHER presents very well the manner, the esthetic side: “that it may be gracious;” for χάρις means also the gracefulness, agreeableness, of the discourse; just as in Col. 4:6: “in grace,” Luke 4:22. But the inner side, the matter, must not be overlooked, nor put in a secondary place; it must be a kindness. HARLESS includes this alone, but incorrectly; a befriending, agreeable act of kindness is meant, which should make this impression on the hearers: whether it profits them, is their own affair. STIER seems to be not incorrect, in finding here (δῷ) an echo of Eph 4:28 (μεταδιδόναι), and a spiritual gift in the seasoned but pleasant word spoken with unction. [ALFORD retains the theological meaning of χάρις: “minister spiritual benefit; be a means of conveying through you the grace of God” (so E. V.). HODGE on the other hand follows HARLESS, holding that the phrase always means to confer a favor; “that it may benefit the hearers.” ELLICOTT accepts the non-theological sense of χάρις, but adds that owing to its change of meaning in the New Testament, there seems to be even in this phrase a reference to spiritual benefit. He renders: “that it may impart a blessing.”—R.]

Eph 4:30. And, καί, connects closely with what precedes; so much depends on proper speech.—Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, μὴ λυπεῖτε πνεῦμα τὸ ἄγιον τοῦ θεοῦ.—The verb forbids injuring, disturbing, rendering sorrowful, pointing thus to an intimate fellowship, in which joyous love toward and among each other should prevail, and to a tender conduct and intercourse; for it happens per sermones putres (BENGEL). The object is “the Holy Spirit of God.” This full designation shows the importance of the matter and compels us to recognize the objective reality and Personality of the Holy Ghost. Shepherd of Hermas, ii. 10: μὴ θλῖβε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τὸ ἐν σοὶ κατοικοῦν, μήποτε ἐντεύξηται κατὰ σοῦ καὶ ἀποστῆ ἀπὸ σοῦ. He who speaks out the foul thing which comes from his mind to his lips, injures thus the Holy Spirit in himself, and in others also. The plural means also: Ye, each one in himself, or in others too. The Holy Ghost like God is not apathetic, but capable of being affected. Rom. 8:26. He feels what occurs in us, as a loving Friend, who does not Himself change, but will help us and change us, so long as we grant that He be not rejected. This is a possible final result, in spite of the close connection in which He stands to us, and in spite of the help and blessedness, which He produces in us. Both ideas are added in the relative clause which follows:

In whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption, ἐν ᾦ ἐσφραγίσθητε εἰς ἡμέραν ἀπολυτρώσεως.—The first thought is contained in the expression: “in whom ye were sealed,” in whom91=in fellowship with whom, ye were sealed (1:13); the other is marked by “unto the day of redemption” (1:14); hic dies est novissimus, cujus representatio quædam est in die mortis; præsupponit dies citeriores (Rom. 2:16); in illo maxime die referet, quis inveniatur obsignatus (BENGEL). Isa. 63:10 (where the LXX. have incorrectly rendered עִצְּבוּ, παρώξυναν; the Vulgate is better: (afflixerunt) should be compared, not as though this were a citation, but on account of the similar thought.

Accordingly λυπεῖν is not to be pared down to a mere troubling (BENGEL: turbare), nor is the human spirit to be regarded as the object (DE WETTE; Christian feeling), nor is the capability of being affected which belongs to God and the Holy Ghost to be rejected or regarded as a mere anthropomorphism; the reference to the possibility of being forsaken by the Holy Ghost should not be denied (SCHENKEL). There is both great kindness and earnestness in the warning thus formulated and emphasized: “in the case of the unredeemed sin it is a transgression of the law (Rom. 4:15, etc.), in the case of the redeemed it is a wounding of the Holy Ghost” (HARLESS), whose tempter he is (2:22). Not by threatenings respecting the punishment of hell, but by holy dread of grieving the Holy Ghost, and wholesome fear of the day of Judgment, which with Him is only the day of Redemption, does the Apostle seek to persuade and strengthen.92

Comprehensive conclusion; Eph 4:31, 32. a. The negative side, Eph 4:31; b. The positive side, Eph 4:32.

Eph 4:31. Let all bitterness.Πικρία (Heb. 13:15; Acts 8:23; Rom. 3:14) is ill-temper, animosity, unholy indignation, as πικραιύρσθαι, Col. 3:19. Comp. ζῆλος πικρός, Jas. 3:14. It is entirely internal, concealed in the heart [“the prevailing temperament and frame of mind” (ELLICOTT).—R.].—And wrath.θυμός is excitement, passionate movement of the temper, in selfishness, unrestrained and disorderly.—And anger.Ὀργή is the passion concentrating itself, directed against a particular person with the purpose of hurting him. ̔Ο θυμὸς γεννητικός ἐστι τῆς ὁργῆς (ŒCUMENIUS). According to the context carnal anger is spoken of; hence there is nothing to be inferred respecting Eph 4:26 from this passage. BENGEL is incorrect: hactenus descendit climax; but he properly compares the first with χρηστοί, the second with εὔσπλαγχνοι, the third with γαροζόμενοι (Eph 4:32) as their respective antitheses. Comp. TITTMANN, Syn. I, p. 131 ff. [Also TRENCH, Syn. § 37; DONALDSON, New Cratylus, §§ 476, 477; Galatians 5:20.]

We now pass to the breaking out of what was within, to its becoming perceptible in look, mien and gesture: and clamor.Κραυγή (Acts 23:9) is wild, rough crying, refers to the voice, improperly strained and sharpened, as in scolding, upbraiding, to the casting about of words uninterruptedly. It is the steed of anger (CHRYSOSTOM).93And evil speaking, βλασφημία, pointing to the purport of the speaking, is aspersion of one’s neighbor, λοιδορία (Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 6:4; Matt. 12:31; 15:19), yet sharper than this, not merely like “Raca “(Matt. 5:22), abusing the mental or civil capacity of a brother, but like “thou fool,” the moral capacity for God’s kingdom, and hence not without a reference to God (STIER), blaspheming possibly or probably. “All,” which belongs to all the substantives, refers to the various degrees, from the coarsest among common people to the most refined among the educated; so θυμοί, 2 Cor. 12:20.

Be put away from you.̓Αρθήτω ἀφ̓ ὐμῶν is a stronger conclusion of “putting away” (Eph 4:25); it must take place with power in the mighty help of One stronger than we, to whom all this clings.—With all malice.Σὺν πάσῃ κακίᾳ, the fermentum of the bitterness (MEYER) and the rest [“the active principle to which they are all due”], refers to malice, malignitas and malitia (Rom. 1:29; Col. 3:8), both the quality and its manifestation, in order to sum up in conclusion all that cannot be enumerated.

[EADIE: “This verse contains not only a catalogue, but a melancholy genealogy of bad passions; acerbity of temper exciting passion; that passion heated into indignation; that indignation throwing itself off in indecent brawling, and that brawling darkening into libel and abuse; a malicious element lying all the while at the basis of these enormities.”—R.]

Eph 4:32. The positive side. And become ye, γίνεσθε δέ.—Thus the antithesis is strongly marked at the very start, as not finished at one stroke, but having a development, a history.94Kind one to another.Εἰς ἀλλήλους is put first, marking chiefly the fellowship. Χρηστοί (Luke 5:39; 6:35; 1 Pet. 2:3; Rom. 2:4) helping the χρεία; ingeniosius quam verius is the reference to the name: Christians (OLSHAUSEN). Comp. TITTMANN, Syn. I., 140, 195.—Tender-hearted, εὐσπλαγχςοι (like 1 Pet. 3:8) refers to sympathy, fellow-feeling, hearty compassion. [Comp. Colossians, p. 69].—Forgiving each other, χαριζόμενοι ἑαυτοῖς (2 Cor. 2:7, 10; 12:13), marks the tender, considerate, forbearing, forgiving life among themselves; ἑαυτοῖς points more strongly than ἀλλήλοις to the existing unity, where one deals with another as himself (Col. 3:13). [The former thought is from STIER, the latter from ORIGEN, but they are not to be pressed too far.—R.]

Even as God in Christ forgave you [καθὼς καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἐν Χριστᾦ ἐχαρίσατο ὑμῖν],—Καθώχ95 is as in 1:4 (HARLESS). Καί joins the readers to God, to the clause “God in Christ forgave you.” The notion is as in Matt. 6:12, 14. God’s mercy and grace is manifest in Christ, proved itself in Christ, in the death (2 Cor. 5:19) of Him who accomplished the reconciliation of the world with God. “In Christ” belongs to the verb, the predicate, not to “God,” the subject. [Either connection presents a truth: God in Christ, manifested in Christ, forgave us, but God forgave in Christ, in giving Him to be a propitiation for our sins. The latter thought seems more appropriate with the aorist which refers to a definite past act; it is neither “hath forgiven” (E. V.), nor “will forgive,” a gloss our feeble faith puts on it.—R.]


1. The lie is put first by the Apostle as a fundamental vice. It is the loveless misuse of language and the means for communicating the thoughts of the heart, with the design of deceiving our neighbor. It injures love, therefore one’s own heart, and one’s neighbor, it injures fellowship and truth, and thus one’s own heart again, which needs these, and our neighbor, who needs them no less. The untruth must be intentional; otherwise it is merely not true, an error, not amounting to a lie. The deception must be intentional: Drama, irony, satire, joke, conventionalities are not lies; for in these it is presupposed that our neighbor understands this language and can translate it into his own. What is conventional is the language of humanity, which should come from the heart and become natural, as in Fenelon. A lie is an act of lovelessness against our neighbor, even when not intended to injure him, perhaps only to help or assure ourselves or others, to make preposterous stories, something out of nothing, like all frivolous lies, which, however innocent they may appear, are still the school for turning frivolity into mischief. The word itself does not necessarily make the lie; it may be consummated in silence, in countenance, in gesture or act; but at all events it is an abuse of God’s gift for the manifestation of our thoughts and perceptions. Its opposite is truthfulness, love of truth, which is at the same time love to mankind. It is indeed not possible without some circumspection and restriction, since it does not consist in having the heart on the tongue, but in having the tongue in the heart.

This vice is less strange among men than many others, so that even the better class of people, the pious world also, has an elastic conscience respecting this point. The conventional mode of life with its illusion and deception makes truthfulness utterly impossible, unless Christ becomes a living power in us. In lying as in stealing, a beginning is made in a little thing, and then come bolder advances, until an extreme is reached: one lie is told to conceal another, instead of forgiveness being sought, and then comes shameless, impudent untruth. If comes from the devil and leads to him; it is the devil’s own vice (John 8:44). The Scripture forbids it unconditionally, especially the Lord Himself (Matth. 12:36, 37); it does not approve of the untruths of the Hebrew midwives, of Michal, Jonathan, etc., only narrating them as facts. Although lying mainly injures fellowship, yet it is not to be so connected therewith as to be considered allowable where no fellowship exists; nor is it to be so contra-distinguished from love, that a lie is not to be regarded as such, where the latter is active, even though the untruth is spoken with an intention of deceiving. The former principle applies to robbers, murderers and thieves; the latter to children, lunatics, drunkards and passionate people. In the first case it is not allowable like stratagem in war or in peril of life, and in the other truth should not become poison or poniard.96 Over against the sophistry: verbal truth should not stand against hearty love, the rigoristic principle, which allows no lie in an emergency, is justified. It is better inconsistently to deny in books and in the pulpit the right of untruth, and in life and in the household to practise it, than at the expense of truth to serve a false one. To speak an untruth on account of a neighbor’s necessity out of love for him is still a lie; personal need, personal interest does not first give it this character; the necessity of a neighbor gives no justification to a lie in a case of emergency.

2. Anger, which, in God, is the energy of holy love against sin and corruption disturbing and perverting moral order, is justified in the Scriptures. Affirmed of God more than three hundred times, it cannot be wrong of itself in man who is created after the image of God; it is rather a witness and basis of active love in the surroundings of an unholy world. The right to he angry is admitted and granted, but to be angry rightly however. Loveless anger is as incorrect as angerless love. Without ardent hatred towards what is wicked, there can be no lawful anger towards those who are wicked. It is difficult to separate the two; comp. Jude 23; Rev. 2:6, 15; Rom. 12:9; Ps. 97:10; Amos 5:15. The Apostle here gives prominence to the pernicious element of that anger which becomes a lingering grudge, and to the danger of thus falling a prey to the devil; it corrupts man inwardly and makes him the slave of Satan; the “irreconcilable remains the unreconciled, incurring the wrath and judgment of God.” See PALMER, Moral, p. 373.

3. Property and Theft stand in the closest relation. The latter attaches not only to the lack of the former, but rather to its acquisition, preservation and expenditure. A Christian should have more than he requires for himself; there should be a surplus for others, even though he be a day-laborer. The opposite of thievishness is Industry, which leads to opulence; with this many continued and varied exercises of Christian virtue stand connected, and Benevolence, personal, private benevolence, both secret and open; this is required, not the public, municipal charity. The emphasis rests on personal benevolence, which succors and devotes itself to need, not on police alms. Honesty should proceed toward benevolence, and what hampers and weakens the latter, has the blot of dishonesty upon it. Avarice, dissipation, vanity, laziness, negligence, debauchery and idleness are theft. See BRAUNE, Die heilig. 10 Gebote, pp. 178–189; PALMER, Moral, p. 375.

[The scope of the negative precept (“steal no longer”) may be inferred from the positive statement which follows: It forbids idleness in general (“labor”) and laziness (“working”), implying also that those who are neither idle nor lazy may yet “steal,” because their work is neither “with the hands” nor for “that which is good” (speculation, sinecures, sharp business habits, etc.). Further all labor, however assiduous, proper and honest, which does not aim at a surplus to give away is not distinctively Christian. Though no one has a right to demand from capital (i.e., the accumulated surplus of labor), yet here is the responsibility of the Christian capitalist. On the other hand, the positive principle of honesty here set forth bids us labor, that we may have a capital for benevolence; so that begging, combining to extort, or even legislating in favor of idleness, is not in accordance with the Apostle’s view. Paul by his example (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 2 Thess. 3:8), as well as by the strongest precepts (Acts 20:35; 2 Thess. 3:10) exalts the dignity of manual labor. To despise labor is a mark of barbarism, involving as a result either the indigence of savage freedom or the injustice of not less savage slavery. Unless the curse pronounced (Gen. 3:19) upon the man be accepted and transformed by such acceptance into a blessing, it becomes a worse misfortune. As a working man then Paul appears equally removed from the capitalist hoarding only for self and from those champions of labor who talk too much to work and who ask the same wages for the ignorant and lazy as belongs of right to skill and industry. Appealing to his hands hardened by toil, he says: “So laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”—R.]

4. The entire scope of speech is here in question: The essential characteristic of Christian speech, well-pleasing to God, is “good for the edifying of the need,” a furthering in accordance with the necessity of the case. This applies to the preacher and pastor, to the social circle, the popular orator, be he democratic or conservative, and to the statesman as well. To have regard to place, time and auditors, and to regulate both matter and manner accordingly: this is the conscientious scrupulousness of the Christian! The minister should spare all pious phraseology which is not to edification, and not be content with sharing and proving his Confession of Faith, without any regard to the necessities of the occasion. Magna vis est in colloquiis piis (BENGEL). Much therefore depends on the fitting word; comp. BRAUNE, Die heil. Gebote, p. 205 ff.

5. General remarks: a. Sin is universal; it attaches not to the heathen only, but to the natural, unregenerate man as a ruling power; nor is it to be found especially in one class, race or period.—b. Sin as a whole is referred to: sin of thought, word and deed; here too the coarser or finer form, the secret or open manner makes no difference.—The Apostle so sketches the substance of sin, that at first glance we are shocked, and can imagine, it exists only in numerous circles, strata and periods, in the heathen or the remarkably degraded; but if we look more closely, we find it everywhere and in all ages, often indeed under the gloss of culture and elegant manners. The appearance of sin is in the extremities, but its seat is in the very noblest organs, from which it extends through the whole body of our race, without He helps who is the Head of His Church.

6. The motives presented are: God’s mercy in Christ over us, the precious gift of the Holy Ghost in us, the thought of the day of decision before us. God’s own aim is what is morally good; to injure this is to injure Him, to obstruct, disturb and destroy His working for us and in us. God’s unchangeableness is not the impossibility of being affected; that would be imperfection, indolence (Jas. 5:16–18). Our new birth may, like the life of one born, be again taken away, the sealing of the Holy Ghost be again taken from us. He who does not look at the goal not yet attained and still held up, does not preserve what he has received in his spirit from the Spirit of God. We can lose the grace of God, can again fall into condemnation without recovery, much as it is denied.97 Heb. 6:4–6.


Comp. Doctr. Notes.—On Eph 4:22–28 (the Epistle for the 19th Sunday after Trinity) see the preceding section.—Virtue helps to cast off vice, and the casting off of vice introduces virtue, both thus acting reciprocally.—Two classes of men sin against the Apostle’s precept respecting sinless anger: those who rage and those who can never be angry. Sinful anger is a raging storm which lays waste a planting of God’s; righteous anger is a priest, who slays the sacrifice of righteousness and casts all care and anxiety from herself upon the Lord with a Hosanna. As in the Psalm (4:5) so here the allusion is to night, to intercourse with one’s self, to quiescence about and in us; the day of anger should be the day of reconciliation; in prayer before God let all animosity be still; let not radiant love of God set for us, with the sun in the heaven. With anger we give a lodgement to the murderer of souls, the devil; who does not slay anger, him anger slays. Hot temples are the easiest bridges for the devil into our hearts.—As room can be given to the devil, so is there also a withdrawal of the Holy Ghost,—For the commonest virtues we need what is highest of all: the kindness of God in Christ; without this there is a relapse into the heathen vices.

STARKE:—Truth is a lovely virtue, a glorious ornament, and sparkles brighter than the most beautiful diamond. If you have the truth, speak the truth from your heart, and walk in the truth, then are you certainly a beloved child of God.—Anger must not be taken to bed and allowed to go to sleep with us, lest it become hatred. Where anger takes the upper hand, Christ goes down with His gracious light.—The slanderer and blasphemer has the devil on his tongue, and whoever purposely listens to the slander gets him in his ears, and whoever takes delight in it, has him in his heart.—There is no dignity, no office, in which peculations are not practised by many. It is only a pity that they are so bedecked and behung with the fine show and appearance and well-adorned cloak of right. Not only are the rich bound to have compassion on the needy, but those who maintain themselves by labor, should share with those who cannot work.—See how put of the glow of sin one spark after another rises up, each greater than the last, until a great fire is made out of it.

The enigmatical, mysterious, unfathomable, people, who never let their hearts be seen, do not bear this Divine stamp; it is as if they did not wish their evil tricks to be betrayed.—The Christian should never lay his head unreconciled to rest, and he has no rest, if he has injured any one, or knows himself to be at enmity with any one. Gentle rest belongs only to a heart free from passion. Examine thyself, whether any one sighs over thee. The Pythagoreans, if they had fallen out with each other in words, gave each other the hand before sundown, kissed each other, and were reconciled.—The aim of labor, of earning, should be the weal of others. The worth of labor is this, that it furnishes us the means of doing good and tasting the sweetness of doing good.

The perceptible alterations, of life which must occur in the regenerate. 1. In general, in the prevailing mind, Eph 4:22–24. a) An entire laying off of the old evil mind, a cessation of the old lust. b) Putting on of an entirely new holy mind, of God’s likeness, like God to think and will, and daily renewed zeal in reaching after the likeness of God. 2. Specially, Eph 4:25–28. Through the virtues which the renewed man exhibits: a) Purity, chastity, b) Truthfulness, c) Gentleness, d) Inoffensiveness. e) Honesty and Rectitude.

The great difference between Christian culture and that of the world. 1. In general, a) The world’s culture leaves the old humanity untouched, unimproved, only whitewashes it. b) Christian culture ennobles man from the foundation up, by substituting the Divine mind for selfishness.

2. Specially. a. Culture hinders only the great outbreaks of vice, Christianity makes the heart pure. b. Culture teaches to shun great lies, Christianity makes inwardly true. c. Culture makes outwardly refined, Christianity gives true gentleness, d. Culture guards against coarse injustice, but Christianity makes truly honest, even where one is not remarked.—Real improvement must begin at the bottom of the heart.—Would not the world fare better, if all became real Christians?—Christians are new men.—The speech of a Christian should always have a moral purpose. Paul describes Christian eloquence both as to its matter: it speaks what is serviceable for improvement, awakens good impulses, leaves a sting behind it in the hearts of others; and as to its manner, which is to be kind, so that love is thereby expressed and made perceptible. The Christian is no babbler, does not allow himself to become a mountebank or court-fool!—The Holy Ghost can be grieved: 1. In Himself, one frustrates His work partly in his own heart, and partly in others, which especially happens through evil speeches. 2. In others, when one grieves the pious Christians, who are full of this Spirit. Consider, whom you should respect in such persons, the Holy Ghost dwelling in them!—The Christian should not be bitter, without on this account becoming sweet. Wrath is the full outbreak of hate against others. Clamor is a token of a hasty, vehement, uncontrolled, rough spirit.

PASSAVANT:—All—liars, because all, sinners, for in every sin is falsehood, a denial of the truth, a deception upon and against ourselves and before God.—Better die than lie! says an old Church Father.—In the case of the unconverted every sin is a wrong against the holy law; in the case of the converted it is at the same time a wrong against the Holy Ghost.

GERLACH:—The Holy Ghost is estranged by empty, vain babbling, but grieved by foul talk.—STIER:—To drive out every sin dwelling in the old man, the practice of the opposite virtue must be employed.—Either we slay again, or it slays us. If a man goes to bed with poison, it creeps through all his members during sleep. Anger is a murderer. Who would sleep with a murderer? To be angry is human, but to cherish it long is devilish (HEINRICH MUELLER).


Eph 4:26. Anger is not wholly for bidden; it is an instinctive principle—a species of thorny hedge encircling our birthright. But in the indulgence of it, men are very apt to sin.—“When the curfew bell rings, let us then also quench all sparks of anger and heat of passion” (THOS. FULLER).

Eph 4:27. Give the devil “place” but in a point, and he may speedily cover the whole platform of the soul.

Eph 4:29. Words so spoken may fall like winged seeds upon a neglected soil. Comp. Prov. 25:11.

Eph 4:30. 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.—It may be said to a prodigal son—grieve not your father lest he cast you off; or grieve not your mother lest you break her heart. Which of the twain is the stronger appeal?

Eph 4:31. “Anger sets the house on fire, and all the spirits are busy upon trouble, and intend propulsion, defence, displeasure or revenge; it is a short madness, and an eternal enemy to discourse, and sober counsels, and fair conversation; it is a fever in the heart, and a calenture in the head, and a fire in the face, and a sword in the hand, and a fury all over; and therefore can never suffer a man to be in a disposition to pray” (JEREMY TAYLOR).

Eph 4:32. In the exercise of Christian forgiveness his authority was their rule, and his example their model. They were to obey and also to imitate, nay, their obedience consisted in imitation.—R.]

[Eph 4:25. The ground of Christian truthfulness and its negative and positive sides.

Eph 4:26, 27. Anger. 1) may be right; 2) is far more likely to be wrong; 3) certainly is, if it lasts long: 4) becomes worse yet by giving entrance to the devil.

Eph 4:28. Obedience here would stop many a business, and deplete the ranks of many a profession, by increasing the number of honest laborers; but how much it would do for the weal of mankind!—Legislative charity is not Christian charity, nor the payment of taxes for the support of the poor, an essentially Christian virtue.

Eph 4:29. The Apostle implies here: 1. That corrupt things rise very naturally to the lips, but should never be spoken; 2. That useful things are rarer.—Much speaking is likely to be evil-speaking.—Profitable conversation: 1. How rare; 2. Little sought for; 3. Selfishness the cause.—This verse would shut many a mouth in prayer-meeting, often enough in the pulpit too.—Would that it did, for is it not by unedifying words as well as evil ones, that the Spirit is grieved?

Eph 4:31. “Evil speaking,” i.e., slander, is “blasphemy” in Greek; it stands last in this catalogue. It always breaks the sixth and ninth commands, usually the seventh, and is an offence against the third also.

Eph 4:32. Kindness is well, compassion is better, but forgiveness is like God in Christ.—Who forgave us? God in Christ; how did He forgive us? in Christ; whom did He forgive? us in Christ.—R.]


[76]Eph 4:26.—[The article τῷ is omitted in א.1 A. B.; rejected by Lachmann, Meyer, bracketed by Alford, but on the authority of א.3 D. F. K. L., fathers, retained (as in Rec.) by most editors. The probability of its being omitted because the substantive was defined by ὑμῶν is very great.—R]

[77]Eph 4:27.—[Instead of μήτε (Rec., a few cursives, Chrysostom) most modern editors accept μηδέ on the authority of all our MSS. (א. A. B., etc).—On the grammatical objection to the former reading, see Exeg. Notes.—Nor yet, see Ellicott’s note on the translation of 1 Thess. 2:3.—R.]

[78]Eph 4:22.—[The variations are great: 1. We have the long reading ταἵς ʼιδιαις χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν (א.1 A. D. E. F. G., many versions), accepted by Lachmann, Tischendorf (ed. 1), Wordsworth, Eadie, Ellicott and others; the same words appearing with τὸ ἀγαθόν coming first in K. and some cursives. 2. In many authorities ἰδίαις is omitted, and there is a strong suspicion of its interpolation from 1 Cor. 4:12. Here too there is variety in the order; א.3 B. some fathers read: ταῖς χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν (Meyer, Alford, 4th ed.), while the order is reversed in the Rec., L., majority of cursives, many fathers (Griesbach, Scholz, Tischendorf, eds. 2, 7). 3. We have besides two briefer readings, almost wholly conjectural, though each claims a Father in support; the one ταῖς χερσίν alone (regarding τὸ ἀγαθόν as interpolated from Gal. 6:10), the other τὸ ἀγαθόν alone.—It will be seen then that the evidence strongly sustains the position of τὸ ἀγαθόν at the end of the clause; accepting this, the only other question deserving attention is the genuineness of ἰδἰαις. The mass of authority is in its favor, but very good authorities omit it. The internal evidence seems to be against it, for it may have been inserted from 1 Cor. 4:12, and the special force attached to it by Ellicott (see Exeg. Notes) scarcely amounts to an argument for retaining it.—Braune’s preference is rendered uncertain by an evident typographical error, but he rejects ἰδίαις.—R.]

[79]Eph 4:29.—[D.1 F., some fathers read πίστεως instead of χρείας; an evident correction.—Give is more literal than minister, which at the same time puts upon grace the sense of “Divine grace,” hearers too is somewhat too technical in its present use.—R.]

[80]Eph 4:32.—[B. and some minor authorities omit δέ (Lachmann), while οὖν is found in D.1 F. G., both readings probably due to a misapprehension of the relation between Eph 4:31, 32.—Become is more exact than be; each other (ἑαυτοῖς) than one another.—R.]

[81]Eph 4:32.—[Never was the E. V. more unfortunate in its rendering of the phrase ἐν Χριστῷ.—The aorist requires here: forgave.—R.]

[82]Eph 4:32—[B. (according to Alford’s personal inspection, not B.2) D. E. K. L. and a number of minor authorities read ἡμῖν; accepted by Lachmann. But א. A. F. and other authorities support ὑμῖν. The probability of an alteration from 5:2 has decided most recent editors of the correctness of the second person.—R.]

[83][Notice the frequent use of abstract nouns, almost personifications, in this chapter. Here “the vice and habit of lying” is meant, which is a chief characteristic of the “old man,” a natural and immediate result of the essential selfishness of sin. The aorist participle is preferred here (=having put away), “because the man must have once for all put off falsehood as a characteristic before he enters the habit of speaking truth” (ALFORD).—R.]

[84][“The force of the exhortation does not rest on any mere ethical considerations of our obligations to society, or on any analogy that may be derived from the body (Chrysostom), but on the deeper truth that in being members of one another we are members of the body of Christ.”—ELLICOTT. The analogy CHRYSOSTOM draws is striking, however, and deserving of notice: “If the eye were to spy a serpent or a wild beast, will it lie to the foot?” etc.—R.]

[85][This is perhaps the view now generally received. Both imperatives are jussive; anger is not only allowable, but commanded in certain cases, yet the Apostle forbids the joining of sin with it; in so doing the emphasis resting on the second imperative obscures the jussive force of the first one, rendering it rather assumptive: Be angry (for this must be so) and do not sin. So EADIE, ALFORD, MEYER, ELLICOTT and others.—R.]

[86][In addition to the critical grounds for rejecting μήτε, the grammatical objection should be noted. Μήτε here would presuppose another μήτε, while μή precedes. The sequence is therefore abnormal. MEYER suggests that it might occur, if the second member were an after-thought, but it never does occur in Paul’s writings. This verse is therefore connected with the preceding, but as an affirmative sentence would be through δέ.—R.]

[87][In two of these instances the meaning is: the devil, in the other two, without the article, it may mean slanderous (as an adjective applied to women in both cases). MEYER is probably right in affirming that the substantive διαβολος in the New Testament always means: the devil. So HODGE, ALFORD and ELLICOTT. “A name derived from the fearful nature and, so to say, office of the Evil One.”—R.]

[88][EADIE: “Some, shocked at the idea that any connected with the Ephesian Church should be committing such a sin, have attempted to attenuate the meaning of the word.” So JEROME, CALVIN, and HODGE who accepts the past sense. But such sinners may yet have been in the Church. See 1 Cor. 5:1; 2 Cor. 12:21. In the service of the Reformed Church for the ordination of Deacons, this gloss occurs: “Let him that stole (or who hath been burthensome to his neighbor),” as an admonition to those who too long depend on the charities of the Church.—R.]

[89][ELLICOTT retains ἰδίαις and says: “The thievish man lives by the labors and hands of others: he is now himself to labor, and with his own hands, not at τὸ κακόν, but at τὸ ἀγαθόν.” But such an antithesis seems doubtful. The verse is better explained thus: He who steals (whether a thief or a so-called “business-man”) should stop this, and go to work, to real labor. The participial clause then adds how: let him accomplish by assiduous effort with his hands something good, instead of this past evil. The purpose of the effort follows in the next clause. The sum of the whole is: Honest manual labor. 1. Labor, 2. better with the hands than with the dishonest wits; 3. above all let it be honest as to means and good as to end.—R.]

[90][This is evidently stated by the Apostle as “the true specific object of all Christian labor, and just to the extent that the work is done on this account, will it be itself Christian. The laborer may be unconscious of this end at times, but it is necessarily his end in labor as a Christian. The verse is worth a whole library of volumes on social science. Its precepts would make many a so-called merchant or professional man go to manual labor, while on the other hand this last clause would settle the “workman’s question” far more effectually than the whole array of socialistic theories, Agrarian appeals, trades unions and “strikes.” But Prud-homme is too often preferred to Paul.—R.]

[91][Not by whom (whereby, E. V.), HODGE, since God is the Sealer, the Spirit the seal; comp. 1:13.—R.]

[92][It is precisely this thought of the Apostle, so correctly stated by Braune, which throws doubt upon the reference to the possibility of losing the seal, found here by HARLESS, STIER, ALFORD and Braune (Doctr. Note 6). But the mention of a seal is not suggestive of such a possibility, nor is “grieving the Spirit”=resisting the Spirit, the latter being predicated of unbelievers only (Acts 5:51). Besides had Paul wished to convey this idea παροξύνετε (from Isa. 63:10, LXX.) was probably in his memory, and this would have expressed such a thought far better. Of course the caution assumes a logical possibility of falling, which is practical enough, but the appeal is to love not to fear. While the Scriptures always thus exhort men, it seems to be a species of anthropomorphism also, for the more theological and soteriological statements preclude such a possibility. Even here where the verse begins with such a caution, there is at once added a mention of the “seal” and of “the day of redemption” as the end, which suggests the doctrine of “final perseverance” rather than the opposite. Comp. EADIE and HODGE in loco.—R.]

[93][CHRYSOSTOM adds: “Let women especially attend to this, as they on every occasion cry out and brawl. There is but one thing in which it is needful to cry aloud, and that is in teaching and preaching.”—R.]

[94][ALFORD is scarcely justified in saying that “become” removes the precept too far from the present. ELLICOTT rightly takes the verb as implying evil elements among them, yet to be taken away; hence the appropriation of δέ. See Textual Note6.—R.]

[95][This particle introduces an example, having at the same time an argumentative force; not=because, as HODGE renders it here also.—R.]

[96][Lies to children are fearfully common. Surely the motive (“for we are members one of another”) in this case has unusual force. To say that such lies are necessary, is to say that it is necessary to blacken a child’s heart. In the liveliness of childish imagination they are great romancers themselves, but at the same time sensitive to an untruth told them. How can they have faith in God, when those who stand for the time being in the place of God prove unworthy of belief? What they cannot understand should be declared incomprehensible to them, not misstated. What would we think of our Heavenly Father, if He dealt otherwise with us?—R]

[97][In the original Dr. Braune adds: “by the Methodists and Baptists,” an oversight which is singular enough; it may be accounted for by remembering that these two denominations are almost the only ones which operate among German Protestants as missionaries. The representative of the State Church (Dr. Braune is General Superintendent) naturally classes them together. On the question whether the possibility of falling from grace is here taught, see Exeg. Notes. The passage in Hebrews teaches either: no fall is possible, or: the first fall is fatal, an alternative not usually accepted by the advocates of such a possibility.—R.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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