Vincent's Word Studies
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
In the Lord
See on Philippians 1:14.
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Lowiness - meekness
See on James 5:7.
See on Luke 9:41.
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
To keep (τηρεῖν)
See on reserved, 1 Peter 1:4.
Unity of the Spirit
Wrought by the Holy Spirit.
Bond of peace
The bond which is peace. Compare Ephesians 2:14, our peace - made both one. Christ, our peace, is thus a bond of peace. Others, however, treat in the bond as parallel with in love of Ephesians 4:2, and cite Colossians 3:14, "love the bond of perfectness."
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
The connection with the preceding verses is as follows: I exhort you to unity, for you stand related to the Church, which is one body in Christ; to the one Spirit who informs it; to the one hope which your calling inspires; to the one Lord, Christ, in whom you believe with one common faith, and receive one common sign of that faith, baptism. Above all, to the one God and Father.
Body - Spirit
The body is the invisible Church, the mystical body of Christ: the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Πνεῦμα spirit, is never used in the New Testament of temper or disposition.
To the facts of one body and one Spirit corresponds the fact of their calling in one hope. Compare Colossians 3:15.
In one hope of your calling (ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν)
In, not by. Their calling took place in the one hope as its moral element or sphere, since they were called to fellowship with Christ who is the one object and the one inspirer of hope. Compare called in peace, 1 Corinthians 7:15; in sanctification, 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (Rev.). Hope here is not the object but the principle of hope. The phrase hope of your calling signifies hope which is characteristic of God's call to salvation, and is engendered by it. See on Ephesians 1:18.
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
The principle of faith; not that which is believed - the body of Christian doctrine, which does not promote unity. See on Acts 6:7.
The external sign of faith, but of no significance without the Lord and the faith. Baptism is emphasized instead of the Eucharist, because the latter assumes and recognizes unity as an established fact; while faith and baptism precede that fact, and are essential to it. Baptism, moreover, is not administered to the Church as a body, but to individuals, and therefore emphasizes the exhortation to each member to be in vital union with the whole body.
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
One God and Father
The fundamental ground of unity. Note the climax: One Church, one Christ, one God.
Above all (ἐπὶ πάντων)
Rev, over: as ruler.
Through - in (διὰ - ἐν)
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Every one (ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ)
Rev., each. From the Church as a whole, he passes to its individual members. In the general unity the individual is not overlooked, and unity is consistent with variety of gifts and offices.
Grace (ἡ χάρις)
The article, omitted by A.V., is important: the one grace of God, manifesting itself in the different gifts.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Confirming by Scripture what has just been said.
When He ascended, etc.
Quoted from Psalm 68:19 (Sept. 67:18). The Hebrew reads: "Ascending to the height thou didst lead captive captivity, and received gifts in man." So Sept. Paul changes thou didst lead, didst receive, into he lead and he gave. The Psalm is Messianic, a hymn of victory in which God is praised for victory and deliverance. It is freely adapted by Paul, who regards its substance rather than its letter, and uses it as an expression of the divine triumph as fulfilled in Christ's victory over death and sin.
The ascent of Jehovah is realized in Christ's ascent into heaven.
In the Hebrew and Septuagint, received or took; but with the sense received in order to distribute among men. Compare Genesis 15:9, take for me: Genesis 18:5, I will fetch for you: Exodus 27:20, bring thee, i.e., take and present to thee: Acts 2:33, "Having received of the Father, etc., He hath shed forth." Thus Paul interprets the received of the Old Testament. His point is the distribution of grace by Christ in varied measure to individuals. He confirms this by Scripture, seeing in the Jehovah of this Old-Testament passage the Christ of the New Testament - one Redeemer under both covenants - and applying the Psalmist's address to Christ who distributes the results of His victory among His loyal subjects. These results are enumerated in Ephesians 4:11 sqq.
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Now that He ascended
Ephesians 4:9 and Ephesians 4:10 are parenthetical, showing what the ascension of Christ presupposes. By descending into the depths and ascending above all, He entered upon His function of filling the whole universe, in virtue of which function He distributes gifts to men. See Ephesians 1:23. Rev., properly, inserts this, thus giving the force of the article which calls attention to the fact of ascension alluded to in the quotation. "Now the or this 'He ascended."'
What is it but
What does it imply?
Descended first (καὶ κατέβη)
His ascent implies a previous descent. A.V. reads first, following the Tex. Rec. πρῶτον. Rev., correctly, He also descended. Compare John 3:13.
The lower parts of the earth (τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς)
The under world. The reference is to Christ's descent into Hades. Some give the words a comparative force, deeper than the earth.
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Fill all things
Compare Ephesians 1:23.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
The gifts specified.
He is emphatic. It is He that gave. Compare given in Ephesians 4:7.
Properly, as apostles, or to be apostles. Christ's ministers are gifts to His people. Compare 1 Corinthians 3:5, "ministers as the Lord gave;" also 1 Corinthians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 3:22. The distinguishing features of an apostle were, a commission directly from Christ: being a witness of the resurrection: special inspiration: supreme authority: accrediting by miracles: unlimited commission to preach and to found churches.
Preachers and expounders under the immediate influence of the Spirit, and thus distinguished from teachers. 1 Corinthians 12:10.
Pastors and teachers
Pastors or shepherds. The verb ποιμαίνω to tend as a shepherd, is often used in this sense. See on 1 Peter 5:2; see on Matthew 2:6. The omission of the article from teachers seems to indicate that pastors and teachers are included under one class. The two belong together. No man is fit to be a pastor who cannot also teach, and the teacher needs the knowledge which pastoral experience gives.
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
For the perfecting (πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν)
Only here in the New Testament. In classical Greek of refitting a ship or setting a bone. The preposition for denotes the ultimate purpose. Ministering and building are means to this end. Hence its emphatic position in the sentence. For perfecting, see on mending, Matthew 4:21; see on perfected, Matthew 21:16; see on Luke 6:40; see on 1 Peter 5:10. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:10; Hebrews 13:21. The radical idea of adjustment is brought out in Ephesians 4:13.
For the work of the ministry (εἰς ἔργον διακονίας)
Rev., much better, unto the work of ministering. Εἰς unto, marks the immediate purpose of the gift. He gave apostles, etc., unto the work of ministering and building, for the perfecting, etc. The prevailing sense of διακονία ministry, in the New Testament, is spiritual service of an official character. See Acts 1:25; Acts 6:4; Acts 20:24; Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:5.
Rev., building up. See on Acts 20:32. Notice the combination of perfecting and building. Building defines the nature of the work of ministry, and perfecting comes through a process.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Specifying the time up to which this ministry and impartation of gifts are to last.
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.
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.
Fullness of Christ
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
See on 1 Corinthians 2:6; see on 1 Corinthians 3:1. As to the connection, Ephesians 4:13 states the ultimate goal of christian training; Ephesians 4:14 that which is pursued with a view to the attainment of that goal. Ephesians 4:14 is subordinate to Ephesians 4:13, as is shown by the retention of the same figure, and is remotely dependent on Ephesians 4:11, Ephesians 4:12. The remote end, Ephesians 4:13, is placed before the more immediate one, as in Ephesians 4:12. See note.
Tossed to and fro (κλυδωνιζόμενοι)
Only here in the New Testament. See on wave, James 1:6. For Paul's use of nautical metaphors, see on Philippians 1:23. Compare Plato: "Socrates. In a ship, if a man having the power to do what he likes, has no intelligence or skill in navigation, do you see what will happen to him and to his fellow-sailors? Alcibiades. Yes, I see that they will all perish" ("Alcibiades," i., 135).
Wind of doctrine
Or of the teaching. The different teachings of philosophers or of religious quacks are represented as winds, blowing the unstable soul in every direction.
Only here in the New Testament. From κύβος a cube or die. Lit., dice-playing.
Cunning craftiness (πανουργίᾳ)
See on Luke 20:23. The craft which gamblers use.
Whereby they lie in wait to deceive (πρὸς τὴν μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης)
Lit., tending to the system of error. Rev., after the wiles of error. Μεθοδεία means a deliberate planning or system. Of error includes the idea of deceit or delusion. See Matthew 27:64; Romans 1:27; 2 Peter 2:18; 2 Peter 3:17; James 5:20. Error organizes. It has its systems and its logic. Ellicott remarks that here it is almost personified.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Speaking the truth (ἀληθεύοντες)
Only here and Galatians 4:16. In classical Greek it means to be true, to arrive at truth, and to speak truth. Here the idea is rather that of being or walking in truth. Rev., in margin, dealing truly.
Some connect with grow up. The parallel construction, tossed and carried about in the sleight, in craftiness, speaking truth in love, favors the A.V. and Rev., as does the awkwardness of speaking truth standing alone. Moreover, Paul's habit is to subjoin, and not to prefix, his qualifying clauses.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Fitly joined - compacted (συναρμολογούμενον - συμβιβαζόμενον)
The present participles denote present, continuous progress. The two participles represent respectively the ideas of harmony or adaptation and compactness or solidity. See on Acts 9:22, and see on Colossians 2:2.
By that which every joint supplieth (διὰ πάσης ἁφῆς τῆς ἐπιχορηγίας)
Lit., through every joint of the supply. For joint, see on Colossians 2:19; for supply, see on 2 Peter 1:5. The supply specifies it as peculiarly Christ's. The phrase joint of the supply signifies joint whose office or purpose it is to supply. Construe with the two participles, as Colossians 2:19.
According to the working
Construe with maketh increase.
In the measure of every part
According as each part works in its own proper measure.
Notice the peculiar phrase; the whole body maketh increase of the body. It is a living organism, and its growth is produced by vital power within itself.
As the element in which the upbuilding takes place. Compare Ephesians 3:17-19.
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
This - therefore
Referring to what follows. Therefore, resuming the exhortation of Ephesians 4:1-3.
Vanity of their mind (ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν)
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
See on Luke 1:51. The moral understanding.
Life of God (ζωῆς)
Through the ignorance
The cause of the alienation. Not to be construed with darkened, since ignorance is the effect, and not the cause, of the darkness of the understanding.
Which is in them (τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς)
The participle of the substantive verb expresses the deep-seated, indwelling character of the ignorance.
See on Mark 3:5. Dependent, like ignorance, on alienated. Arrange the whole clause thus:
The Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind,
being darkened in their understanding,
being alienated from the life of God,
because of the ignorance that is in them,
because of the hardening of their heart.
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Explanatory and classifying: men of the class which.
Being past feeling (ἀπηλγηκοτες)
Only here in the New Testament. Lit, the verb means to cease from feeling pain. Hence to be apathetic.
Have given themselves over (παρέδωκαν)
See on Matthew 4:12; see on Matthew 11:27; see on Matthew 26:2; see on Mark 4:29; see on Luke 1:2; see on 1 Peter 2:23. The verb is frequently used of Christ giving Himself for the world. Romans 4:25; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:5, Ephesians 5:25. It indicates a complete surrender. Meyer says, "with frightful emphasis." Where men persistently give themselves up to evil, God gives them up to its power. See Romans 1:24.
See on Mark 7:22.
To work (εἰς ἐργασίαν)
Lit., to a working. In Acts 19:25, used of a trade. Not precisely in this sense here, yet with a shade of it. They gave themselves up as to the prosecution of a business. The εἰς unto is very forcible.
With greediness (ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ)
The noun commonly rendered covetousness: in an eager grasping after more and more uncleanness. Not with, but in, as the state of mind in which they wrought evil.
But ye have not so learned Christ;
Have not learned (οὐχ ἐμάθετε)
Rev., giving the force of the aorist tense, did not learn; at the time of your conversion, when you were instructed in Christ's precepts. The phrase learn Christ occurs nowhere else. Christ does not stand for the doctrine of Christ; but Christ is the subject of His own message. See Ephesians 4:21.
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
If so be that ye heard Him (εἴ γε αὐτὸν ἠκούσατε)
The indicative mood implies the truth of the supposition: if ye heard as ye did. Him is emphatic. If it was Him that ye heard. Compare John 10:27.
By Him (ἐν αὐτῷ)
Rev., correctly, in Him. In fellowship with.
As the truth is in Jesus (καθώς ἐστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν τῷ Ἱησοῦ)
As corresponds with not so. Ye did not in such a manner learn Christ if ye were taught in such a manner as is truth, etc. Render, as Rev., as truth is in Jesus. Schaff paraphrases: "If you were taught so that what you received is true as embodied in the personal Savior." "Taught in the lines of eternal fact and spiritual reality which meet in him" (Moule). Jesus is used rather than Christ: the historical rather than the official name. The life of Christianity consists in believing fellowship with the historic Jesus, who is the Christ of prophecy.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
That ye put away
Dependent upon ye were taught, and specifying the purport of the teaching.
The old man
Which is corrupt (τὸν φθειρόμενον)
The A.V. misses the force of the participle. The verb is passive, which is being corrupted, and marks the progressive condition of corruption which characterizes "the old man." Rev., correctly, waxeth corrupt.
According to the deceitful lusts (κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης).
Rev., correctly, lusts of deceit. On the vicious rendering of similar phrases in A.V., see on Ephesians 1:19. Deceit is personified.
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
In the spirit of your mind (τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν)
The spirit is the human spirit, having its seat in and directing the mind. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is never designated so as that man appears as the subject of the Spirit. We have Spirit of adoption, of holiness, of God, but never Holy Spirit of man. Furthermore, the apostle's object is to set forth the moral self-activity of the christian life. Hence πνεῦμα spirit, is here the higher life-principle in man by which the human reason, viewed on its moral side - the organ of moral thinking and knowing is informed. The renewal takes place, not in the mind, but in the spirit of it. "The change is not in mind psychologically, either in its essence or in its operation; and neither is it in the mind as if it were a superficial change of opinion either on points of doctrine or practice: but it is in the spirit of the mind; in that which gives mind both its bent and its materials of thought. It is not simply in the spirit as if it lay there in dim and mystic quietude; but it is in the spirit of the mind; in the power which, when changed itself, radically alters the entire sphere and business of the inner mechanism" (Eadie).
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
New man (καινὸν)
See on Matthew 26:29.
See on Ephesians 2:10.
In righteousness and true holiness (ἐν δικιαιοσύνη καὶ ὁσιότητι τῆς ἀληθείας)
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Falsehood (τὸ ψεῦδος)
Lit., the lie; used abstractly. See on John 8:44.
Members one of another
Compare Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Chrysostom says: "Let not the eye lie to the foot, nor the foot to the eye. If there be a deep pit, and its mouth covered with reeds shall present to the eye the appearance of solid ground, will not the eye use the foot to ascertain whether it is hollow underneath, or whether it is firm and resists? Will the foot tell a lie, and not the truth as it is? And what, again, if the eye were to spy a serpent or a wild beast, will it lie to the foot?"
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Be ye angry and sin not (ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε)
Cited from Psalm 4:5, after the Septuagint. Hebrew, stand in awe and sin not. Righteous anger is commanded, not merely permitted.
Irritation, exasperation; something not so enduring as ὀργή anger, which denotes a deep-seated sentiment. See on John 3:36.
Neither give place to the devil.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
That which is good (εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς)
Lit., if any is good. Discourse that is good, whatever it be.
To the use of edifying (πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας)
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Bitter frame of mind.
What is commanded in Ephesians 4:26 is here forbidden, because viewed simply on the side of human passion.
Outward manifestation of anger in vociferation or brawling.
See on Mark 7:22.
The root of all the rest. See on James 1:21.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.