Ephesians 4:13
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Till we all come.—The marginal rendering is correct: till we all arrive at the unity of the faith. The “one faith” has been spoken of above; the full grasp of that faith by each and all is the first object of all the ministries of the Church, since by it both the individual perfection and the corporate unity begin to be secured. Such faith always goes on to knowledge, that is (as in Ephesians 1:17) “full knowledge” of Him in whom we have believed. So in 2Peter 1:17, “Add to your faith virtue” (that is, energy in well-doing), “and to virtue knowledge.” This knowledge (see Ephesians 3:17-19) is gained mainly through the love in which faith is made perfect.

Of the Son of God.—These words should be connected with the word “faith” (as in Galatians 2:20) as well as “knowledge.” They are probably to be considered as a distinctive phrase, designating our Lord especially as glorified and exalted to the right hand of the Father in “the glory which he had with the Father before the world was.” So in Romans 1:4, He is “declared to be the Son of God by the Resurrection;” and in Hebrews 4:14, “Jesus the Son of God” is “the High Priest ascended into the heavens.” Compare also our Lord’s declaration that “if any man speaks against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him” (Matthew 12:32) with the declaration of the certain vengeance on him who “treads under foot the Son of God” (Hebrews 10:29). Note again, in St. John’s First Epistle, the constant reference to the belief in and confession of Jesus as “the Son of God” as the one thing needful (Ephesians 4:15; Ephesians 5:5; Ephesians 5:10-12; Ephesians 5:20). For on the belief not only of what He was on earth, but of what He is in heaven, all distinctive Christianity depends. If He is only “Son of Man” He cannot be the universal Saviour.

Unto a perfect (that is, full-grown) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.—In these words are described the second great object of the ministries of the Church—not only the production of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, but the formation of Christ in the soul, as “dwelling in the heart through faith.” This image of Christ in “fullness” is the absolutely perfect humanity, showing forth the image of God. Each can partake of it only up to “the measure” which God gives him. (See Ephesians 4:7.) When he so partakes of it to the utmost, he is “full-grown” (relatively, not absolutely, perfect) up to the spiritual “stature” assigned to him, although (as in the body) that stature may vary in different persons, and in none can perfectly attain to the whole “fulness” of Christ. The rendering, “stature” is preferable to age, as suiting better the context, though both are fully admissible under New Testament usage. On the word “fulness,” see Note to Ephesians 1:23.

EPHESIANS

THE GOAL OF PROGRESS

Ephesians 4:13The thought of the unity of the Church is much in the Apostle’s mind in this epistle. It is set forth in many places by his two favourite metaphors of the body and the temple, by the relation of husband and wife and by the family. It is contemplated in its great historical realisation by the union of Jew and Gentile in one whole. In the preceding context it is set forth as already existing, but also as lying far-off in the future. The chapter begins with an earnest exhortation to preserve this unity and with an exhibition of the oneness which does really exist in body, spirit, hope, lord, faith, baptism. But the Apostle swiftly passes to the corresponding thought of diversity. There are varieties in the gifts of the one Spirit; whilst each individual in the one whole receives his due portion, there are broad differences in spiritual gifts. These differences do not break the oneness, but they may tend to do so; they are not causes of separation and do not necessarily interfere with unity, but they may be made so. Their existence leaves room for brotherly helpfulness, and creates a necessity for it. The wiser are to teach; the more advanced are to lead; the more largely gifted are to encourage and stimulate the less richly endowed. Such outward helps and brotherly impartations of gifts is, on the one hand, a result of the one gift to the whole body, and is on the other a sign of, because a necessity arising from, the imperfect degree in which each individual has received of Christ’s fulness; and these helps of teaching and guidance have for their sole object to make Christian men able to do without them, and are, as the text tells us, to cease when, and to last till, we all attain to the fulness of Christ. To Paul, then, the manifest unity of the Church was to be the end of its earthly course, but it also was real, though incomplete, in the present, and the emphasis of our text is not so much laid on telling us when this oneness was to be manifested as in showing us in what it consists. We have here a threefold expression of the true unity, as consisting in a oneness of relation to Christ, a consequent maturity of manhood and a perfect possession of all which is in Christ.

I. The true unity is oneness of relation to Christ.

The Revised Version is here to be preferred, and its ‘attain unto’ brings out the idea which the Authorised Version fails to express, that the text is intended to point to the period at which Christ’s provision of helpful gifts to the growing Church is to cease, when the individuals composing it have come to their destined unity and maturity in Him. The three clauses of our text are each introduced by the same preposition, and there is no reason why in the second and third it should be rendered ‘unto’ and in the first should be watered down to ‘in.’

There are then two regions in which this unity is to be realised. These are expressed by the great words, ‘the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God.’ These words are open to a misunderstanding, as if they referred to a unity as between faith and knowledge; but it is obvious to the slightest reflection that what is meant is the unity of all believers in regard to their faith, and in regard to their knowledge. It is to be noted that the Apostle has just said that there is one faith, now he points to the realisation of that oneness as the very end and goal of all discipline and growth. I suppose that we have to think here of the manifold and sad differences existing in Christian men, in regard to the depth and constancy and formative power of their faith. There are some who have it so strong and vigorous that it is a vision rather than a faith, a trust, deep and firm and settled, to which the present is but the fleeting shadow, and the unseen the eternal and only reality; but, alas! there are others in whom the light of faith burns feebly and flickers. Nor are these differences the attributes of different men, but the same man varies in the power of his faith, and we all of us know what it is to have it sometimes dominant over our whole selves, and sometimes weak and crushed under the weight of earthly passions. To-day we may be all flame, to-morrow all ice. Our faith may seem to us to be strong enough to move mountains, and before an hour is past we may find it, by experience, to be less than a grain of mustard seed. ‘Action and reaction are always equal and contrary,’ and that law is as true in reference to our present spiritual life as it is true in regard to physical objects. We have, then, the encouragement of such a word as that of our text for looking forward to and straining towards the reversal of these sad alterations in a fixed and continuous faith which should grasp the whole Christ and should always hold Him. There may still be diversities and degrees, but each should have his measure always full. ‘Thy Sun shall no more go down’; there will no longer be the contrast between the flashing waters of a flood-tide and the dreary mud-banks disclosed at low water. We shall stand at different points, but the faces of all will be turned to Him who is the Light of all, and every face will shine with the likeness of His, when we see Him as He is.

But our text points us to another form of unity-the oneness of the knowledge of the Son of God.

The Apostle uses an emphatic term which is very familiar on his lips to designate this knowledge. It means not a mere intellectual apprehension, but a profound and vital acquaintance, dependent indeed upon faith, and realised in experience. It is the knowledge for which Paul was ready to ‘count all things but loss’ that he might know Jesus, and winning which he would count himself to ‘have apprehended.’ The unity in this deep and blessed knowledge has nothing to do with identity of opinion on the points which have separated Christians. It is not to be sought by outward unanimity, nor by aggregation in external communities. The Apostle’s great thought is made small and the truth of it is falsified when it is over-hastily embodied in institutions. It has been sought in a uniformity which resembles unity as much as a bundle of faggots, all cut to the same length, and tied together with a rope, resemble the tree from which they were chopped, waving in the wind and living one life to the tips of its furthest branches. Men have made out of the Apostle’s divine vision of a unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God ‘a staunch and solid piece of framework as any January could freeze together,’ and few things have stood more in the way of the realisation of his glowing anticipations than the formation of the great Corporation, imposing from its bulk and antiquity, to part from which was branded as breaking the unity of the spirit.

Paul gives no clear definition here of the time when the one body of Christian believers should have attained to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, and the question may not have presented itself to him. It may appear that in view of the immediate context he regards the goal as one to be reached in our present life, or it may be that he is thinking rather of the Future, when the Master ‘should bring together every joint and member and mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection.’ But the time at which this great ideal should be attained is altogether apart from the obligation pressing upon us all, at all times, to work towards it. Whensoever it is reached it will only be by our drawing ‘nearer, day by day, each to his brethren, all to God,’ or rather, each to God and so all to his brethren. Take twenty points in a great circle and let each be advanced by one half of its distance to the centre, how much nearer will each be to each? Christ is our unity, not dogmas, not polities, not rituals: our oneness is a oneness of life. We need for our centre no tower with a top reaching to heaven, we have a living Lord who is with us, and in Him, we being many, are one.

II. Oneness in faith and knowledge knits all into a ‘perfect man.’

‘Perfect,’ the Apostle here uses in opposition to the immediately following expression in the next verse, of ‘children.’ It therefore means not so much moral perfection as maturity or fulness of growth. So long as we fall short of the state of unity we are in the stage of immaturity. When we come to be one in faith and knowledge we have reached full-grown manhood. The existence of differences belongs to the infancy and boyhood of the Church, and as we grow one we are putting away childish things. What a contrast there is between Paul’s vision here and the tendency which has been too common among Christians to magnify their differences, and to regard their obstinate adherence to these as being ‘steadfastness in the faith’! How different would be the relations between the various communities into which the one body has been severed, if they all fully believed that their respective shibboleths were signs that they had not yet attained, neither were already perfect! When we began to be ashamed of these instead of glorying in them we should be beginning to grow into the maturity of our Christian life.

But the Apostle speaks of ‘a perfect man’ in the singular and not of ‘men’ in the plural, as he has already described the result of the union of Jew and Gentile as being the making ‘of twain one new man.’ This remarkable expression sets forth, in the strongest terms, the vital unity which connects all members of the one body so closely that there is but one life in them all. There are many members, but one body. Their functions differ, but the life in them all is identical. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of thee,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ Each is necessary to the completeness of the whole, and all are necessary to make up the one body of Christ. It is His life which manifests itself in every member and which gives clearness of vision to the eye, strength and deftness to the hand. He needs us all for His work on the world and for His revelation to the world of the fulness of His life. In some parts of England there are bell-ringers who stand at a table on which are set bells, each tuned to one note, and they can perform most elaborate pieces of music by swiftly catching up and sounding each of these in the right place. All Christian souls are needed for the Master’s hand to bring out the note of each in its place. In the lowest forms of life all vital functions are performed by one simple sac, and the higher the creature is in the scale the more are its organs differentiated. In the highest form of all, ‘as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.’

III. This perfect manhood is the possession of all who are in Christ.

The fulness of Christ is the fulness which belongs to Him, or that of which He is full. All which He is and has is to be poured into His servants, and when all this is communicated to them the goal will be reached. We shall be full-grown men, and more wonderful still, we all shall make one perfect man, and individual completenesses will blend into that which is more complete than any of these, the one body, which corresponds to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

This is the goal of humanity in which, and in which alone, the dreams of thinkers about perfectibility will become facts, and the longings that are deeply rooted in every soul will find their fulfilment. By our personal union with Jesus Christ through faith, our individual perfection, both in the sense of maturity and in that of the realisation of ideal manhood, is assured, and in Him the race, as well as the individual, is redeemed, and will one day be glorified. The Utopias of many thinkers are but partial and distorted copies of the kingdom of Christ. The reality which He brings and imparts is greater than all these, and when the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, and is planted on the common earth, it will outvie in lustre and outlast in permanence all forms of human association. The city of wisdom which was Athens, the city of power which was Rome, the city of commerce which is London, the city of pleasure which is Paris, ‘pale their ineffectual fires’ before the city in the light whereof the nations should walk.

The beginning of the process, of which the end is this inconceivable participation in the glory of Jesus, is simple trust in Him. ‘He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit,’ and he who trusts in Him, loves Him, and obeys Him, is joined to Him, and thereby is started on a course which never halts nor stays so long as the faith which started him abides, till he ‘grows up into Him in all things which is the head, even Christ.’ The experience of the Christian life as God means it to be, and by the communication of His grace makes it possible for it to become, is like that of men embarked on some sun-lit ocean, sailing past shining headlands, and ever onwards, over the boundless blue, beneath a calm sky and happy stars. The blissful voyagers are in full possession at every moment of all which they need and of all of His fulness which they can contain, but the full possession at every moment increases as they, by it, become capable of fuller possession. Increasing capacity brings with it increasing participation in the boundless fulness of Him who filleth all in all.4:7-16 Unto every believer is given some gift of grace, for their mutual help. All is given as seems best to Christ to bestow upon every one. He received for them, that he might give to them, a large measure of gifts and graces; particularly the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not a mere head knowledge, or bare acknowledging Christ to be the Son of God, but such as brings trust and obedience. There is a fulness in Christ, and a measure of that fulness given in the counsel of God to every believer; but we never come to the perfect measure till we come to heaven. God's children are growing, as long as they are in this world; and the Christian's growth tends to the glory of Christ. The more a man finds himself drawn out to improve in his station, and according to his measure, all that he has received, to the spiritual good of others, he may the more certainly believe that he has the grace of sincere love and charity rooted in his heart.Till we all come - Until all Christians arrive at a state of complete unity, and to entire perfection.

In the unity of the faith - Margin, into. The meaning is, until we all hold the same truths, and have the same confidence in the Son of God; see the notes on John 17:21-23.

And of the knowledge of the Son of God - That they might attain to the satire practical acquaintance with the Son of God, and might thus come to the maturity of Christian piety; see the notes on Ephesians 3:19.

Unto a perfect man - Unto a complete man. This figure is obvious. The apostle compares their condition then to a state of childhood. The perfect man here refers to the man "grown up," the man of mature life. He says that Christ had appointed pastors and teachers that the infant church might be conducted to "maturity;" or become strong - like a man. He does not refer to the doctrine of "sinless perfection" - but to the state of manhood as compared with that of childhood - a state of strength, vigor, wisdom, when the full growth should be attained; see 1 Corinthians 14:20.

Unto the measure of the stature - Margin, or age. The word "stature" expresses the idea. It refers to the growth of a man. The stature to be attained to was that of Christ. He was the standard - not in size, not in age - but in moral character. The measure to be reached was Christ; or we are to grow until we become like him.

Of the fulness of Christ - see the notes on Ephesians 1:23. The phrase "the measure of the fulness," means, probably, the "full measure" - by a form of construction that is common in the Hebrew writings, where two nouns are so used that one is to be rendered as an adjective - "as trees of greatness" - meaning great trees. Here it means, that they should so advance in piety and knowledge as to become wholly like him.

13. come in—rather, "attain unto." Alford expresses the Greek order, "Until we arrive all of us at the unity," &c.

faith and … knowledge—Full unity of faith is then found, when all alike thoroughly know Christ, the object of faith, and that in His highest dignity as "the Son of God" [De Wette] (Eph 3:17, 19; 2Pe 1:5). Not even Paul counted himself to have fully "attained" (Php 3:12-14). Amidst the variety of the gifts and the multitude of the Church's members, its "faith" is to be ONE: as contrasted with the state of "children carried about with EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE." (Eph 4:14).

perfect man—unto the full-grown man (1Co 2:6; Php 3:15; Heb 5:14); the maturity of an adult; contrasted with children (Eph 4:14). Not "perfect men"; for the many members constitute but one Church joined to the one Christ.

stature, &c.—The standard of spiritual "stature" is "the fulness of Christ," that is, which Christ has (Eph 1:23; 3:19; compare Ga 4:19); that the body should be worthy of the Head, the perfect Christ.

Till we all come, or meet; all we believers, both Jews and Gentiles, (who while in the world not only are dispersed in several places, but have our several degrees of light and knowledge), meet, or come together, in the unity of, &c.

In the unity of the faith; either that perfect unity whereof faith is the bond, or rather that perfect uniformity of faith in which we shall all have the same thoughts and apprehensions of spiritual things, to which as yet, by reason of our remaining darkness, we are not arrived.

And of the knowledge of the Son of God; or acknowledgment, i.e. not a bare speculative knowledge, but such as is joined with appropriation and affection.

Unto a perfect man: he compares the mystical body of Christ to a man, who hath his several ages and degrees of growth and strength, till he come to the height of both, and then he is a perfect man, or a man simply, in opposition to a child, 1 Corinthians 13:11. The church of Christ (expressed by a man, in the singular number, to show its unity) hath its infancy, its childhood, its youth, and is to have hereafter its perfect manhood and state of consistency in the other life, when, being arrived to its full pitch, it shall be past growing.

Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; either actively, that measure of stature or age which Christ fills up in it, or hath allotted to it, Ephesians 4:7; or rather passively, that measure which, though it do not equal, yet it shall resemble, being perfectly conformed to the fulness of Christ. As in Ephesians 4:12 he showed the end of Christ’s appointing officers in his church, so here he shows how long they are to continue, viz. till their work be done, the saints perfected, which will not be till they all come to the unity of the faith, &c. Till we all come in the unity of the faith,.... These words regard the continuance of the Gospel ministry in the church, until all the elect of God come in: or "to the unity of the faith"; by which is meant, not the union between the saints, the cement of which is love; nor that which is between Christ and his people, of which his love, and not their faith, is the bond; but the same with the "one faith", Ephesians 4:5 and designs either the doctrine of faith, which is uniform, and all of a piece; and the sense is, that the ministration of the Gospel will continue until the saints entirely unite in their sentiments about it, and both watchmen and churches see eye to eye: or else the grace of faith, which as to its nature, object, author, spring, and cause, is the same; and it usually comes by hearing; and all God's elect shall have it; and the work and office of the ministry will remain until they are all brought to believe in Christ;

and of the knowledge of the Son of God; which is but another phrase for faith in Christ, for faith is a spiritual knowledge of Christ; it is that grace by which a soul beholds his glory and fulness, approves of him, trusts in him, and appropriates him to itself; and such an approbatory, fiducial, appropriating, practical, and experimental knowledge of Christ, is here intended; and which is imperfect in those that have it, and is not yet in many who will have it; and inasmuch as the Gospel ministry is the means of it, this will be continued until every elect soul partakes of it, and arrives to a greater perfection in it: for it follows,

unto a perfect man; meaning either Christ, who is in every sense a perfect man; his human nature is the greater and more perfect tabernacle, and he is perfectly free from sin, and has been made perfect through sufferings in it; and coming to him may be understood either of coming to him now by faith, which the Gospel ministry is the means of, and encourages to; or of coming to him hereafter, for the saints will meet him, and be ever with him, and till that time the Gospel will be preached: or else the church, being a complete body with all its members, is designed; for when all the elect of God are gathered in and joined together, they will be as one man; or it may respect every individual believer, who though he is comparatively perfect, and with regard to parts, but not degrees, and as in Christ Jesus, yet is in himself imperfect in holiness and knowledge, though hereafter he will be perfect in both; when he comes

unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: not of Christ's natural body, but of his mystical body the church, which will be his fulness when all the elect are gathered in; and when they are filled with his gifts and graces, and are grown up to their proportion in it, they will be come to the measure and stature of it: or it may be understood of every particular believer, who has Christ formed in him; who when the work of grace is finished in him, will be a perfect man in Christ, and all this will be true of him; till which time, and during this imperfect state, the Gospel ministry will be maintained: the phrase is taken from the Jews, who among the forms and degrees of prophecy which the prophets arrived to, and had in them the vision of God and angels, make , "the measure of the stature" (z), a principal one; and is here used for the perfection of the heavenly state in the vision, and enjoyment of God and Christ.

(z) Maimon. in Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 11. sect. 1. Cosri, par. 4. sect. 3. p. 213. 2.

{8} Till we all come in the {q} unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the {r} stature of the fulness of Christ:

(8) The use of this ministry is perpetual so long as we are in this world, that is, until that time that having put off the flesh, and thoroughly and perfectly agreeing between ourselves, we will be joined with Christ our head. And this thing is done by the knowledge of the Son of God increasing in us, and he himself by little and little growing up in us until we come to be a perfect man, which will be in the world to come, when God will be all in all.

(q) In that most near joining which is knit and fastened together by faith.

(r) Christ is said to grow up to full age, not in himself, but in us.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 4:13. Goal, up to the contemplated attainment of which Christ has bestowed the different teachers, Ephesians 4:11, for the purpose specified in Ephesians 4:12. μέχρι is put without ἄν (comp. Mark 13:30) because the thought of conditioning circumstances is remote from the apostle’s mind. See Lobeck, ad Phryn p. 14 ff.; Hartung, Partikellehre, II. p. 291 ff.

καταντήσωμεν] shall have attained to unity, i.e. shall have reached it as the goal. Comp. Acts 26:7; Php 3:11; 2Ma 6:14; Polyb. iv. 34; Diod. Sic. i. 79, al. Some have found therein the coming together from different places (Vatablus, Cornelius a Lapide, and others), or from different paths of error (Michaelis); but this is purely imported.

οἱ πάντες] the whole, in our totality, i.e. the collective body of Christians, not all men (Jerome, Moras, and others), Jews and Gentiles (Hammond), which is at variance with the use of the first person and with the preceding context (πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων).

εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστ. καὶ τῆς ἐπιγν. τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ] does not stand for ἐν τῇ ἑνότητι κ.τ.λ. (Grotius), but is that which is to be attained with the καταντ. The article is put with ἑνότ., because not any kind of unity is meant, but the definite unity, the future realization of which was the task of the teachers’ activity, the definite ideal which was to be realized by it.

τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ is the object—accordant with their specific confession[219]—not only of the ἐπίγνωσις, but also of the πίστις (see on Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16). The goal then in question, to which the whole body of believers are to attain, is, that the πίστις in the Son of God and the full knowledge (more than γνῶσις; see Valckenaer in Luc. p. 14 f., and comp. on Ephesians 1:17) of the Son of God may be in all one and the same; no longer—as before the attainment of this goal—varying in the individuals in proportion to the influences of different teaching (Ephesians 4:14). καὶ τῆς ἐπιγν., however, is not to be taken as epexegesis of τῆς πίστ. (Calvin, Calovius, and others), which is precluded not by καί (see on Galatians 6:16), but by the circumstance that there is no ground at all for the epexegetic view, and that πίστις and ἐπίγνωσις are different notions, although the two are mutually related, the former as the necessary condition of the latter (Php 3:9-10; 1 John 4:16). Peculiar, but erroneous, is the view of Olshausen (whom Bisping has followed), that the unity between faith and knowledge is to be understood, and that the development, of which Paul speaks, consists in faith and knowledge becoming one, i.e. in the faith, with which the Christian life begins, becoming truly raised to knowledge. At variance with the context, since the connection speaks of the unity which is to combine the different individuals (Ephesians 4:3 ff.); and also opposed to the whole tenor of the apostle’s teaching elsewhere, inasmuch as faith itself after the Parousia is not to cease as such (he merged in knowledge), but is to abide (1 Corinthians 13:13).

εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον] concrete figurative apposition to what precedes: unto a full-grown man, sc. shall have attained, i.e. shall have at length grown up, become ultimately developed into such an one.[220] The state of the unity of the faith, etc., is thought of as the full maturity of manhood; to which the more imperfect state, wherein the ἑνότης is not yet attained (Ephesians 4:14), is opposed as a yet immature age of childhood. Comp. 1 Corinthians 13:11. Paul does not say εἰς ἄνδρας τελείους, because he looks upon the πάντες as one ethical person; comp. Ephesians 2:15 f. On τέλειος, of the maturity of manhood, comp. 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Hebrews 5:14 (and Bleek thereon); Plato, Legg. xi. p. 929 C, i. p. 643 D; Xen. Cyr. i. 2. 4; Polyb. iv. 8. 1, v. 29. 2. Comp. also, for the figurative sense, Philo, de agric. I. p. 301, Leg. ad Caium, init.

εἰς μέτρον κ.τ.λ.] second apposition, for the more precise definition of the former. The measure of the age of the fulness of Christ is the measure, which one has attained with the entrance upon that age to which the reception of the fulness of Christ is attached (see the further explanation below), or, without a figure: the degree of the progressive Christian development which conditions the reception of that fulness. The ἡλικία in question, namely, is conceived of as the section of a dimension in space, beginning at a definite place, so that the ἡλικία is attained only after one has traversed the measured extent, whose terminal point is the entrance into the ἡλικία. Comp. Hom. Il. xi. 225: ἐπὶ ῥʼ ἥβης ἐρικυδέος ἵκετο μέτρον, Od. xi. 317: εἰ ἥβης μέτρον ἵκοιτο, 18:21. ἡλικία, however, is not statura (Luke 19:3), as is supposed by Erasmus, Beza, Homberg, Grotius, Calixtus, Erasmus Schmid, Wolf, Bengel, Zachariae, Rückert, and others, which would be suitable only if the ἀνὴρ τέλειος always had a definite measure of bodily size; but it is equivalent to aetas (Matthew 6:27), and that not, as it might in itself imply (Dem. 17. 11; 1352. 11; Xen. Mem. iv. 2. 3), specially aetas virilis (so Morus, Koppe, Storr, Flatt, Matthies, Holzhausen, Harless, and others), since, on the contrary, the more precise definition of the aetas in itself indefinite is only given by τοῦ πληρ. τ. Χρ., which belongs to it (Winer, p. 172 [E. T. 238]); so that ἡλικία τοῦ πληρ. τ. Χρ. taken together characterizes the adult age of the Christians.

τοῦ πληρώματος τ. Χρ.] defines the age which is meant, as that to which the fulness of Christ is peculiar, i.e. in which one receives the fulness of Christ. Before the attainment thereof, i.e. before one has attained to this degree of Christian perfection, one has received, indeed, individual and partial charismatic endowment from Christ, but not yet the fulness, the whole largas capias of gifts of grace, which Christ communicates. πλήρωμα is here, just as at Ephesians 3:19, not the church of Christ (Storr, Koppe, Stolz, Flatt, Baumgarten-Crusius), which in Ephesians 1:23 is doubtless so characterized, but not so named. This also in opposition to Baur, p. 438, according to whom τὸ πλήρ. τ. Χρ. means: “Christ’s being filled, or the contents with which Christ fills Himself, thus the church.” All explanations, moreover, which resolve πλήρωμα into an adjectival notion (πληρωθείς) are arbitrary changes of the meaning of the word and of its expressive representation, whether this adjectival notion be connected with ἡλικίας[221] or with τοῦ Χριστοῦ.[222] Grotius, doubtless, leaves πλήρ. as a substantive; but, at variance with linguistic usage, makes of it the being full, and of τ. Χρ (so already Oecumenius), the knowledge of Christ (“ad eum staturae modum, qui est plenus Christi, i. e. cognitionis de Christo”). Rückert takes πλήρωμα as perfection, and τοῦ Χριστοῦ as genitive of the possessor. The meaning of the word he takes to be: “We are to become just as perfect a man as Christ is.” Christ stands before us as the ideal of manly greatness and beauty, the church not yet grown to maturity, but destined to be like Him, as perfect as He is,—which is a figure of spiritual perfection and completion. But πλήρωμα nowhere signifies perfection (τελειότης), and nowhere is Christ set forth, even in a merely figurative way, as an ideal of manly greatness and beauty. He stands there as Head of His body (Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 4:15-16). As little, finally, as at Ephesians 3:19, does πλήρωμα τοῦ Χρ. here signify the full gracious presence of Christ (Harless; comp. Holzhausen). So also Matthies: “the fulness of the Divinity manifest in Christ and through Him also embodied in the church.” Where the πλήρωμα τοῦ Χρ. is communicated, there the full gracious presence of Christ is in man’s heart (Romans 8:10; Galatians 3:20), but τὸ πλήρ. τοῦ Χρ. does not mean this.

[219] The sum of the confession, in which all are to become one in faith and knowledge,—not merely, as Bleek turns it, are to feel themselves one in the communion of faith and of the knowledge of Christ.

[220] The most involved way, in which the whole following passage can be taken, is to be found in Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 129 ff. He begins, in spite of the absence of a particle (οὖν or δέ), with εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον a new sentence, of which the verb is αὐξήσωμεν, ver. 15; the latter is a self-encouragement to growth; but ἵνα μηκέτι κ.τ.λ. is dependent on αὐξήσωμεν. In this way, in place of the simple evolution of the discourse, such as is so specially characteristic of this Epistle, there is forced upon it an artificially-involved period, and there is introduced an exhortation as yet entirely foreign to the connection (only with ver. 17 does Paul return to the hortatory address).

[221] So Luther: “of the perfect age of Christ.” Comp. Castalio, Calvin (“plena aetas”), Estius, Michaelis, and others; in which case τοῦ Χριστοῦ has by some been taken sensu mystico of the church, by others (see Morus and Rosenmüller) ad quam Chr. nos ducit, or the like, has been inserted.

[222] So most expositors, who take ἡλικία as stature. It is explained: stature of the full-grown Christ, as to which Beza says, “Dicitur … Christus non in sese, sed in nobis adolescere;” Wolf, on the other hand: “Christus … in exemplum proponitur corpori suo mystico, … ut, quemadmodum ipse qua homo se ostendit sapientia crescentem, prout annis et statura auctus fuit, ita fideles quoque sensim incrementa capiant in fide et cognitione, tandemque junctim perfectum virum Christo … similem sistunt.” Comp. Erasmus, Paraphr.

REMARK 1.

The question whether the goal to be attained, indicated by Paul in Ephesians 4:13, is thought of by him as occurring in the temporal life, or only in the αἰὼν μέλλων, is answered in the former sense by Chrysostom, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Jerome, Ambrosiaster, Thomas, Luther, Cameron, Estius, Calovius, Michaelis, Morcs, and others, including Flatt (who thinks of the last times of the church on earth), Rückert, Meier, de Wette, Schenkel; in the latter sense,[223] by Theodoret (τῆς δὲ τελειότητος ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι βίῳ τευξόμεθα), Calvin, Zanchius, Koppe, and others, including Holzhausen; while Harless judges that Paul sets forth the goal as the goal of the life of Christian fellowship here upon earth, but says nothing on the question as to “whether it is to be attained here or in the life to come; as also Olshausen is of opinion that Paul had not even thought of the contrast between here below and there. But Ephesians 4:14-15 show most distinctly that Paul thought of the goal in Ephesians 4:13 as setting in even before the Parousia; and to this points also the comparison of Ephesians 3:19, where, in substance, the same thing as is said at our passage by εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας κ.τ.λ., is expressed by ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ. The development of the whole Christian community to the goal here described Paul has thus thought of as near at hand, beyond doubt setting in (Ephesians 4:14) after the working of the antichristian principle preceding the Parousia (see on Ephesians 6:11; Usteri, Lehrbegr. p. 348 f.), as a consequence of this purifying process, and then the Parousia itself. We have consequently here a pointing to the state of unity of faith and knowledge,[224] which sets in after the last storms τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος αἰῶνος πονηροῦ (Galatians 1:4), and then is at once followed by the consummation of the kingdom of Christ by the Parousia.[225] With this view 1 Corinthians 13:11 is not at variance, where the time after is compared with the age of manhood; the same figure is rather employed by Paul to describe different future conditions, according as the course of the discussion demanded. Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:20; Ephesians 4:13. μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα: until we all attain unto the unity. The AV wrongly makes it “come in”; Tynd., “grow up unto”; Cran., better, “come to”. But best, “arrive at,” or (with RV) “attain unto”. The statement of the great object of Christ’s gifts and the provision made by Him for its fulfilment is now followed by a statement of the time this provision and the consequent service are to last, or the point at which the great end in view is to be realised. It is when the members of the Church have all come to their proper unity and maturity in their Head. The tendency of late Greek to use the subj. without ἄν, especially after temporal particles, renders it doubtful whether much may be made of the unconditioned μέχρι here. The absence of ἄν, however, and the use of the subj., seem to point to the event as expected, and not as a mere hypothetical possibility; cf. Mark 13:30; and see Hartung, Partikl., ii., p. 291; Hermann, Part., ἄν, p. 66; Win.-Moult., pp. 378, 387. καταντάω, followed in NT by εἰς, elsewhere also by ἐπί, conveys the idea of arriving at a goal (cf. Acts 26:7; Php 3:11), the aor. subj. also having the force of “shall have attained”. οἱ πάντες evidently refers not to men generally, but to Christians and to these in their totality. The article goes appropriately with the ἑνότητα, the unity in view being the definite unity denoted by the words that follow.—τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ: of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. τοῦ υἱοῦ is the gen. obj., and it is best taken as dependent on both nouns. Some (e.g., Haupt), however, are of opinion that the repetition of the article before ἐπιγνώσεως implies that the τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ is dependent only on the latter. The καί shows that the ἐπιγνώσεως is not an epexegesis of the πίστεως; and the πίστις (here in its usual Pauline sense of trusting, saving faith) and the ἐπίγνωσις express distinct, though related, ideas (cf. Php 3:9-10; 1 John 4:16). The unity in view, therefore, is oneness in faith in Christ and oneness also in the full experimental knowledge of Him. The point of the clause is not any unity between faith and knowledge themselves, to the effect, e.g., of rising from the former to the latter as a higher Christian endowment (Olsh.), but a unity which shall make all the members of Christ’s body at one in believing in Him and knowing Him. The title υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ as applied to Christ occurs frequently in the Pauline as well as in the Johannine writings, but never in 2 Thess., Phil., Philem., or the Pastoral Epistles. In passages like the present, if they stood by themselves, it might be difficult to say whether the metaphysical, the theocratic, or the ethical idea is in view. But the analogy of such statements as those in Romans 1:4; Romans 8:3; Romans 8:32; Galatians 4:4, and the general Pauline conception of Christ as a transcendent Personality, different from men as such, and to be named together with God, point to a relation to God in respect of nature as the force of the designation here.—εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον: unto a perfect man. τέλειος, as in 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Hebrews 5:14, and as is suggested by the subsequent νήπιοι, means perfect in the sense of full grown. The state in which unity is lacking is the stage of immaturity; the state in which oneness in faith and knowledge is reached is the state of mature manhood in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:11). The singular ἄνδρα instead of ἄνδρας is appropriately used (as we have already had ὁ καινὸς ἄνθρωπος) when the idea of unity is in view. The goal to be reached is that of a new Humanity, regenerated and spiritually mature in all its members.—εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας: unto the measure of the stature. A clause in apposition to the former, further defining the τέλειον, and giving a fuller and yet more precise description of the goal which is to be reached. Is ἡλικίας, however, to be rendered age or stature? The noun appears to have both senses. In Luke 19:3 it is certainly = stature, and probably so also in Luke 2:52; while in John 9:21; John 9:23 it is clearly = age, and most probably so also in Matthew 6:27 and Luke 12:25, altho’ the latter two are held by some to be referable to the other meaning; cf. Field, Otium Norv., iii., p. 4. The adj. ἥλικος in the NT has the idea of magnitude (Colossians 2:1; Jam 3:5), and that is its most frequentsense in non-Biblical Greek. Much depends, therefore on the context. The antithesis between τέλειον and νήπιοι favours the idea of age (so Mey., Harl., Abb., etc.). But the idea of stature is suggested by the μέτρον, the πληρώματος, the αὐξήσωμεν and the αὔξησιν, and is on the whole to be preferred (so Syr., Goth., Copt., Eth. prob., AV., RV., Erasm., Grot., Beng., Rück., Alf., Ell., etc.).—τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ: of the fulness of Christ. The πλήρωμα here is taken by some in the sense of perfection. So Rück., who makes it “the perfection possessed by Christ,” and Oltramare who renders it “the measure of the height of the perfection of Christ”. But τελείοτης is one idea, and πλήρωμα another. Not less foreign to the real meaning of the noun are such interpretations as “the gracious presence of Christ” (Harl.); “the perfect age of Christ” (Luth.; cf. Calvin’s plena aetas); “the stature of the full grown Christ,” etc. Nor can the phrase be taken as a designation of the Church (Storr; also Baur, who holds it = that with which Christ fills Himself or is completed, i.e., the Church). For that would give the incongruous idea that we are to attain to the Church. The Χριστοῦ is the poss. gen., and the phrase means the fulness that belongs to Christ, the sum of the qualities which make Him what He is. These are to be imaged in the Church (cf. Ephesians 1:23), and when these are in us we shall have reached our maturity and attained to the goal set before us. Thus the whole idea will be this—“the measure of the age, or (better) the stature, that brings with it the full possession on our side of that which Christ has to impart—the embodiment in us the members, of the graces and qualities which are in Him the Head”. It has also been asked whether the goal thus set before us is regarded as one to be reached in our present temporal life by way of development, or one to be attained to only in the future life. As between these two ideas the preference must be given (with Chrys., Oec, Jer., Luth., de Wette, etc.) to the former, in view of the general tenor of the exhortation introducing the paragraph, the point of Ephesians 3:19, the place given to unity and maturity, etc. So Mey. thinks it refers to the Christian condition to be reached “after the last storms and before the Parousia”. Not a few of the Fathers, however, take the resurrection to be specially in view, and interpreters like Theod., Calv., etc., think it looks to the perfected life of the other world. But Paul gives no clear indication of the time, and it may be, therefore, that he has in view only the goal itself and the attainment of it at whatever time that may take effect.13. till we all come in] Render, come unto. The thought is of the holy Community converging into the spiritual harmony of a developed, equal, identical faith in and knowledge of the Son of God, under the mutual influence of individual believers stimulated and guided by the spiritual ministry. This would take place by growth and development in the faith and knowledge of individuals; but the cohesion of the true Church would bring these individual growths to converge and result in the maturity of the collective faith and knowledge, so to speak, of the whole Body, the ideal “fullgrown Man” of which the “fullgrown men” were the elements and miniatures.

of the faith, and of the knowledge of] I.e., faith in Him and knowledge of Him. “Faith of” often, in the N.T., means “faith in”; e.g. Galatians 2:20 (A.V., “the faith of the Son of God,” identically as here). See above on Ephesians 3:12.—“Knowledge:—the Gr. word indicates true, full, developed spiritual knowledge, but too delicately, perhaps, to admit translation. See above on Ephesians 1:17.

the Son of God] This sacred Title belongs to the Saviour specially, among other respects, as He is the Head of the Church, the Firstborn, “in Whom” the “children” have adoption and regeneration; “in Whom” they are one with the Father. Their progress in the regenerate life and likeness will be largely effected through their “faith in Him and true knowledge of Him” as such.

perfect] Better, as R.V., full-grown. The maturity of the life to come is in view; the state in which the mutual “edification” of the present life will have done its work.

man] The Gr. corresponds to the Latin vir, not homo. It indicates man as against child. See next verse.

unto the measure of the stature] The metaphor is of height, not age, though the word rendered “stature” means “age” as readily, by itself. The imagery of growth in this passage decides the alternative here.—“The measure:—the allotted, proper, standard.

the fulness of Christ] Cp. the phrases “fulness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25), and “fulness of the time” (Galatians 4:4), and note on Ephesians 1:23. The phrase here appears to be analogous: the total, at length attained, of what is meant by Christ. And “Christ” in this passage (so full of the idea of the oneness in and with the Lord of His mystical Body) is, in effect, Christ and His Church (see above on Ephesians 1:23); as in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “as the body is one, and hath many limbs … so also is Christ.” The Lord the Son becomes in accomplished fact all that He wills, and is willed, to be, only when He is the Head of a perfected mystical Body which lives by His sacred Life and is His incorporate “limbs,” His immortal vehicle of action, if we may so speak. So He and they are guardedly and reverently spoken of here and there as One Christ, with full reservation, from other Scriptures, of the truth of the undying personality of each individual “limb” of the glorious Head, and of His Divine Personality.—See further above on Ephesians 1:22.

It is possible to explain the present phrase to mean “the fulness which flows from Christ,” the full, ideal, supply of grace and glory derived to the members from the Head. But we think this less probable, in view of the passage above quoted, 1 Corinthians 12:12. See also below, Ephesians 4:15-16.Ephesians 4:13. Μέχρι, till) Not even the apostles thought themselves to have reached the goal, Philippians 3; much less the Church. They had always to go forward, not to stand still, much less to fall behind. And now the Church must not contemplate from behind the idea of its own excellence, but keep before its eyes that idea as a future one, which is yet to be attained. Attend to this, ye who do not so much follow antiquity as make it an excuse.—καταντήσωμεν, till we arrive at) This tense, following the past tense, is imperfect [He gave some apostles, etc., till, and in order that, we all might arrive at]. This ought to have already taken place at the time when Paul wrote; for faith [which he speaks of, “the unity of the faith”] belongs to travellers.[59]—οἱ πάντες) all, viz. the saints.—εἰςΕἸςΕἸς, untountounto) [Asyndeton] The repetition is without a connective particle. The natural age (life) grows up towards wisdom, strength, and stature. The things which correspond to these in the spiritual age (life), are, unity of faith, the mind strengthened [Ephesians 4:13, τέλειον ἄνδρα, and Ephesians 4:16, answer to this], and the fulness of Christ.—ἑνότητα, unity) This unity is placed in friendly opposition to the variety of gifts, and to the whole body [“we all”] of the saints; and the contrary of this unity is every wind, Ephesians 4:14.—τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως, of faith and knowledge) These two words both agree and differ; for knowledge means something more perfect than faith.—τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, of the Son of God) The highest point in the knowledge of Christ is, that He is the Son of God.—εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, to a perfect man) The concrete for the abstract; for unity and measure are abstract nouns: concerning perfection, comp. Php 3:15.—ἡλικίας, of the stature) that Christ may be all and in all: ἡλικία, spiritual stature is the fulness of Christ.

[59] The sense seems, though not very clear, owing to Bengel’s extreme brevity, All ought to have been by this time on the one and the same path of faith. For faith is the distinguishing characteristic of those who, as travellers, are seeking to arrive at the goal.—ED.Verse 13. - Until we all come. This marks the duration of the office of the ministry. Some maintain that it implies that all these offices are to continue in the Church until the result specified is obtained (Catholic Apostolic or Irvingite Church): this is contradicted by Scripture and by experience, so far as apostles and prophets are concerned, for the gifts for these offices were not continued, and without the gifts the offices are impossible. The meaning is that, till the event specified, there is to be a provision in the Church of the offices that are needed, and the apostle, in using "until," probably had in view the last office in his list - pastors and teachers. To the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God. Both genitives are governed by unity; already there is one faith (ver. 5), but we all, i.e. all who compose or are yet to compose the body of Christ, the totality of this body, have to be brought to this faith. As in ver. 5 "faith" is not equivalent to "creed," or truth believed, but the act of believing; so here the consummation which the ministers of the Church are given to bring about is a state in which faith in the Son of God shall characterize all, and that, not a blind faith, but a faith associated with knowledge. Usually faith and knowledge are opposed to each other; but here faith has more the meaning of trust than of mere belief - trust based on knowledge, trust in the Son of God based on knowledge of his Person, his work, and his relation to them that receive him. To bring all the elect to this faith is the object of the ministry; when they are all brought to it, the body of Christ will be complete, and the functions of the Christian ministry will cease. Unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The idea of organic completeness is more fully expressed by these two clauses; the consummation is the completeness of the whole body of Christ as such; but that involves the maturity of each individual who is a constituent part of that body; and the measure or sign of maturity, both for the individual and for the whole, is the stature of the fullness of Christ (comp. Romans 8:29, "Whom he did foreknow, them he also foredained to be conformed to the image of his Son"). The question has been put - Will this consummation be in this life or the next? The one seems to melt into the other; the idea of a complete Church and that of a new economy seem inseparable; as the coming of Christ will terminate the observance of the Lord's Supper, so it will terminate the ministries ordained by Christ for the completion of his Church. Till (μέχρι)

Specifying the time up to which this ministry and impartation of gifts are to last.

Come (καταντήσωμεν)

Arrive at, as a goal. See Acts 16:1; Acts 18:19; Acts 25:13. Rev., attain.

In the unity (εἰς)

Rev., correctly, unto. Compare one faith, Ephesians 4:5.

Knowledge (τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως)

The full knowledge. Not identical with faith, since the article puts it as a distinct conception; but related to faith. Compare Philippians 3:9, Philippians 3:10; 1 John 4:16. "Christians are not to be informed merely on different sections of truth and erring through defective information on other points, but they are to be characterized by the completeness and harmony of their ideas of the power, work, history, and glory of the Son of God" (Eadie).

Of the Son of God

Belongs to both faith and knowledge. Faith in Him, knowledge of Him.

Perfect (τέλειον)

Rev., full grown. See on 1 Corinthians 2:6.

Measure of the stature (μέτρον ἡλικίας)

Defining perfect man. For stature, see on Luke 12:25. The word is rendered age, John 9:21, John 9:23; Hebrews 11:11. So here, by some, the age when the fullness of Christ is received. But fullness and grow up (Ephesians 4:15) suggest rather the idea of magnitude.

continued...

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