Ephesians 4:32 Commentaries: Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:32
And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Kind . . . tenderhearted.—“Kindness” is gentleness in bearing with wrong (Luke 6:35; Romans 11:22; Ephesians 2:7; 1Peter 2:3). “Tenderheartedness” (see 1Peter 3:8) is more positive warmth of sympathy and love. Both issue in free “forgiveness,” after the model of the universal and unfailing forgiveness “of God in Christ” to us—the only model we dare to follow, suggested by our Saviour Himself in the Lord’s Prayer, and expressly enjoined in Luke 6:36. It is a forgiveness which in us, as in Him, does not imply condonation of evil, or even the withholding of needful chastisement, but which absolutely ignores self, conquers man’s selfish anger, and knows no limit, even up to “seventy times seven.”

4:29-32 Filthy words proceed from corruption in the speaker, and they corrupt the minds and manners of those who hear them: Christians should beware of all such discourse. It is the duty of Christians to seek, by the blessing of God, to bring persons to think seriously, and to encourage and warn believers by their conversation. Be ye kind one to another. This sets forth the principle of love in the heart, and the outward expression of it, in a humble, courteous behaviour. Mark how God's forgiveness causes us to forgive. God forgives us, though we had no cause to sin against him. We must forgive, as he has forgiven us. All lying, and corrupt communications, that stir up evil desires and lusts, grieve the Spirit of God. Corrupt passions of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking, and malice, grieve the Holy Spirit. Provoke not the holy, blessed Spirit of God to withdraw his presence and his gracious influences. The body will be redeemed from the power of the grave at the resurrection day. Wherever that blessed Spirit dwells as a Sanctifier, he is the earnest of all the joys and glories of that redemption day; and we should be undone, should God take away his Holy Spirit from us.And be ye kind one to another - Benignant, mild, courteous, "polite" - χρηστοὶ chrēstoi. 1 Peter 3:8. Christianity produces true courteousness, or politeness. It does not make one rough, crabby, or sour; nor does it dispose its followers to violate the proper rules of social contact. The secret of true politeness is "benevolence," or a desire to make others happy; and a Christian should be the most polite of people. There is no religion in a sour, misanthropic temper; none in rudeness, stiffness, and repulsiveness; none in violating the rules of good breeding. There is a hollow-hearted politeness, indeed, which the Christian is not to aim at or copy. His politeness is to be based on "kindness;" Colossians 3:12. His courtesy is to be the result of love, good-will, and a desire of the happiness of all others; and this will prompt to the kind of conduct that will render his conversation. with others agreeable and profitable.

Tender-hearted - Having a heart disposed to pity and compassion, and especially disposed to show kindness to the faults of erring brethren; for so the connection demands.

Forgiving one another - see the notes on Matthew 6:12.

As God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you - As God, on account of what Christ has suffered and done, has pardoned you. He has done it:

(1) "freely" - without merit on your part - when we were confessedly in the wrong.

(2) "fully;" he has forgiven "every" offence.

(3) "Liberally;" he has forgiven "many" offences, for our sins have been innumerable.

This is to be the rule which we are to observe in forgiving others. We are to do it "freely, fully, liberally." The forgiveness is to be entire, cordial, constant. We are not to "rake up" old offences, and charge them again upon them; we are to treat them as though they had not offended, for so God treats us Learn:

(1) That the forgiveness of an offending brother is a duty which we are not at liberty to neglect.

(2) the peace and happiness of the church depend on it. All are liable to offend their brethren, as all are liable to offend God; all need forgiveness of one another, as we all need it of God.

(3) there is no danger of carrying it too far. Let the rule be observed, "As God has forgiven you, so do you forgive others." Let a man recollect his own sins and follies; let him look over his life, and see how often he has offended God; let him remember that all has been forgiven; and then, fresh with this feeling, let him go and meet an offending brother, and say, "My brother, I forgive you. I do it frankly, fully, wholly. So Christ has forgiven me; so I forgive you. The offence shall be no more remembered. It shall not be referred to in our contact to harrow up your feelings; it shall not diminish my love for you; it shall not prevent my uniting with you in doing good. Christ treats me, a poor sinner, as a friend; and so I will treat you."

32. (Lu 7:42; Col 3:12).

even as—God hath shown Himself "kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to you"; it is but just that you in turn shall be so to your fellow men, who have not erred against you in the degree that you have erred against God (Mt 18:33).

God for Christ's sake—rather as Greek, "God in Christ" (2Co 5:19). It is in Christ that God vouchsafes forgiveness to us. It cost God the death of His Son, as man, to forgive us. It costs us nothing to forgive our fellow man.

hath forgiven—rather as Greek, "forgave you." God has, once for all, forgiven sin in Christ, as a past historical fact.

And be ye kind; sweet, amiable, facile in words and conversation, Luke 6:35.

Tender-hearted; merciful, quickly moved to compassion: so we have bowels of mercies, Colossians 3:12.

Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you; be placable, and ready to forgive, therein resembling God, who for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you more than you can forgive to one another. And be ye kind one to another,.... Good, affable, courteous; which appears in looks, words, and actions; by looking pleasantly on each other, speaking kindly to one another, and mutually doing every good office that lies in their way, and in their power:

tender hearted: which is opposed to a being hard hearted to them that are in distress, and close at hand to the needy; to cruelty and severity to such who are subject to them, or have injured them; and to a rigid and censorious spirit to them that are fallen:

forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you; whatever offences are given, or injuries done by the saints one to another, and so far as they are committed against them, they should forgive, and should pray to God for one another, that he would manifest his forgiveness of them, as committed against him; and this should be done in like manner as God forgives in Christ, and for his sake; that is, fully and freely, and from their hearts; and so as to forget the offences, and not to upbraid them with them hereafter; yea, they should forgive them before they repent, and without asking for it, and that for Christ's sake, and because they are members of his: the Complutensian edition reads, "even as Christ hath forgiven us": the Arabic version also reads us, and so some copies: the words may be rendered, "giving freely to one another, even as God in Christ has given freely to you"; saints should give freely to one another, for outward support, where it is needful; and should impart spiritual gifts and experience for inward comfort, where it is wanted, and as they have ability; and that from this consideration, that all they have, whether in temporals or spirituals, is freely given by God in Christ, and for his sake; with whom he freely gives them all things; in whom he has given them grace, and blessed them with all spiritual blessings; as peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, {19} even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

(19) An argument taken from the example of Christ, most grave and strong, both for the pardoning of those injuries which have been done to us by our greatest enemies, and much more for having consideration of the miserable, and using moderation and gentle behaviour towards all men.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 4:32. γίνεσθε δὲ εἰς ἀλλήλους χρηστοί: but become ye kind one to another. The δέ is omitted by [478], k, 177, Clem., etc., while οὖν is substituted for it in [479]1[480], 114. It is bracketed by WH and by Tr marg., and is omitted by [481]. But it is quite in place, having its combined connecting and opposing force; cf. on Ephesians 4:15 above. γίνεσθε (not ἐστέ), = “become ye,” or “show yourselves,” rather than “be ye”. The idea is that they had to abandon one mental condition and make their way, beginning there and then, into its opposite. χρηστοί, = kind, benignant, used of God (Luke 6:35; Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 2:3), but here (its only occurrence in the Epistles) of ηνηεὔσπλαγχνοι: tender-hearted. There could be no better rendering. In Colossians 3:12 the same disposition is expressed by σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ. It is only in Scripture and in eccles. Greek that the adject. conveys the idea of compassion (Pray. of Manass., 7; Test. XII. Patr., Test. Zab., § 9).—χαριζόμενοι ἑαυτοῖς: forgiving each other. Partic. co-ordinate with the χρηστοί, εὔσπλαγχνοι, denoting one special form in which the kindness and tender-heartedness were to show themselves. χαρίζομαι means either to give graciously (Luke 7:21; Romans 8:32; Php 2:9, etc.), or to forgive (Luke 7:42; 2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 2:13; Colossians 3:13). Some adopt the former sense here (Vulg., donantes; Eras., largientes). But the second is more in harmony with the context. For the use of ἑαυτοῖς as = ἀλλήλοις in classical Greek (e.g., Soph., Antig., 145) see Kühner, Greek Gram., ii., p. 497; Jelf, Greek Gram., § 54, 2. In the NT the same use prevails (1 Corinthians 6:7; Colossians 3:13; Colossians 3:16, etc.). The two forms are often conjoined in the same paragraph or sentence, both in classical Greek (Xen., Mem., ii., 7, iii., 5, 16, etc.) and in the NT (as here, Colossians 3:13; 1 Peter 4:8, etc.). If there is any distinction between them, it is that the idea of fellowship or corporate unity is more prominent in ἑαυτοῖς; cf. Blass, Gram. of N. T. Greek, pp. 169, 170; Light. and Ell. on Colossians 3:13.—καθὼς καὶ ὁ Θεὸς ἐν χριστῷ ἐχάρισατο ὑμῖν: even as also God in Christ forgave you. καθὼς points to the Divine example; καὶ places the two instances, the Divine and the human, over against each other; the reference and the comparison indicate the supreme reason or motive for our fulfilment of the injunction. ἐν χριστῷ is not “for Christ’s sake” (AV) or per Christum (Calv.), but “in Christ” as in 2 Corinthians 5:19; the God who forgives being the God who manifests Himself and acts in the suffering, reconciling Christ. The aor. should be rendered did forgive with Wicl., Tynd., Gen., Bish., RV (not “hath forgiven” as in AV, etc.), the point being the forgiveness effected when Christ died. The reading ὑμῖν, supported by [482] [483] [484] [485], 37, Sah., Boh., Vulg., Goth., Eth., etc. is to be preferred on the whole to ἡμῖν which appears in [486] [487] [488], 17, 47, Syr., Arm., etc., L gives ἡμῖν in text; TrWHRV give it in margin.

[478] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[479] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[480] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[481] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[482] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[483] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[484] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

[485] Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. Ephesians 2:13-16.

[486] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[487] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[488] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.32. be] Lit., become; shew yourselves, in the actions and developments of life.

kind] The Gr. word (noun or adj.) occurs in similar contexts, Luke 6:35; Romans 2:4; Romans 11:22 (“goodness”); 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:12. Its primitive meaning is “useful”; hence “helpful,” and so “kindly.”—It is the original of “easy” in Matthew 11:30; the Lord’s “yoke” is a real yoke, but instinct with the lovingkindness of Him who imposes it.

tender-hearted] The same Gr. word as in 1 Peter 3:8 (A.V., “pitiful”). It occurs nowhere else in N.T. Kind-hearted may perhaps be a better rendering, as somewhat wider. The word carries the idea of the previous word a little more into life and detail.

forgiving one another] Lit., “forgiving yourselves.” Usage and common sense alike fully justify the rendering of A.V. and R.V. (which reads, somewhat needlessly, “each other”). The “yourselves,” as a grammatical fact, indicates the solidarity of the body within which the reciprocity takes place; though this fine shade of meaning must not be exaggerated.

For a close parallel to the precept see Colossians 3:13. The holy duty of heartfelt forgiveness, entire and unreserved, is prominent in the Lord’s teaching; cp. especially the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4); Matthew 18:21, &c. No duty is more readily owned in the abstract, none more repugnant to the will in many a case in the concrete. But the law of Christ knows no exceptions, and grace is able to meet every demand for fulfilment.—It is humbling and instructive to see here, as in the Lord’s Prayer, that the abiding need for mutual forgiveness is assumed.

even as] The Divine pardon is at once supreme example and sacred motive. Cp. just below, ch. Ephesians 5:2.

God] The Father, “Fount of Deity,” and as such styled often simply God where Christ is also and distinctively named (John 17:3; 2 Corinthians 5:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Judges 21). The Son has also Deity, but as in the Stream, not in the Fountain. See Pearson, On the Creed, Art. 1.

for Christ’s sake] Lit. and better, in Christ. The reason of pardon, and the process of it, are alike summed up “in Christ,” “in” Whom the Father reveals Himself as God of Peace: “in” Whom resides the immediate atoning reason of Peace; and “in” Whom, by grace and faith, are the human objects of pardon, “very members incorporate” of Him Who is eternally the Accepted One of the Father.—Cp. Ephesians 1:7.

hath forgiven] Lit., and better, did forgive; ideally and in covenant, “before the world was”; historically, when the Son was accepted and glorified as the perfect Propitiation, raised from the dead; in individual experience, when each person believed (Romans 5:1, &c.) It is important to observe how the Apostle bids them deal with Divine forgiveness not as a hope but as a fact. Cp. 1 John 2:12.

you] There is considerable, but not preponderating, evidence for a reading “us”. The question between the two readings is not of practical importance.Ephesians 4:32. Ἐχαρίσατο, has forgiven) He has shown Himself kind, merciful, forgiving.Verse 32. - But be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another (opposed to bitterness, wrath, anger; Bengel). Kind (χρηστοί), sweet, amiable in disposition, subduing all that is harsh and hasty, encouraging all that is gentle and good; tender-hearted (εὔσπλαγχνοι), denoting a specially compassionate feeling, such as may arise from the thought of the infirmities, griefs, and miseries to which more or less all are subject; these emotional conditions to bear the practical fruit of forgiveness, and the forgiveness to be mutual (χαριζόμενοι ἑαυτοῖς), as if under the feeling that what you give today you require to ask tomorrow, net being too hard on the faults of others, remembering that you have your own. Even as God in Christ also forgave you. The A.V. rendering, "for Christ's sake," is objectionable every way: it is not literal; it omits the characteristic feature of the Epistle, "in Christ," losing the force of the consideration that the forgiveness was dispensed by the Father, acting with or wholly one with the Son; and it gives a shade of countenance to the great error that the Father personally was not disposed to forgive till he was prevailed on to do so by the interposition of the Son. The aorist, "forgave," is more literal and better than the perfect, "hath forgiven;" it points to a definite time when forgiveness was bestowed, viz. the moment of real belief in Christ, and hearty acceptance of his grace. The vague atmosphere in which many envelop the question of their forgiveness is very hurtful; it checks their thanksgivings, dulls their joy, quenches hope, and dilutes the great dynamic power of the gospel - the power that impels us to forgive our brother, as well as to abound in the work of the Lord with a tender conscience, the sense of forgiveness urges to the most full and hearty doing of God's will; but when hypocrites, with seared consciences claim to be forgiven, they steal what is not their own, and become more abandoned to wickedness.



Be ye (γίνεσθε)

Lit., become, as following the putting away of anger, etc.

Kind (χρηστοί)

See on easy, Matthew 11:30; see on gracious, 1 Peter 2:3.

Each other (ἑαυτοῖς)

Lit., yourselves. See on Colossians 3:13. "Doing as a body for yourselves that which God did once for you all" (Alford).

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