Ephesians 1:15-23

                                                        September 8, 2019        




                                    The Sealing of the Holy Spirit (vs. 13-14)


“In whom, having believed, ye were scaled.” It is spoken of as a past

process, but, though dating from a certain specific point of time, it is

continuous in its operation.


·   THE NATURE OF THE SEALING. It is something different from

faith, as the scaling of a letter is different from the writing of it. In the

order of nature there must be a difference; in the order of time, the faith

and the sealing may be contemporaneous. The sealing implies the direct

contact of the seal with the thing sealed, and an impression made by it. It

has both an objective and a subjective meaning. It is objective so far as it is

for identification. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,

The Lord knoweth them that are His” (II Timothy 2:19); for the Lord

sets His mark upon believers to keep them safe for Himself (see Ezekiel 9:3-4);

and it is also for security, for “we are sealed unto the day of redemption”

(here, ch. 4:30), that is, to be preserved unto that day, the sealed ones of the

Revelation being expressly sealed for safety (Revelation 7:3). Then it is

subjective as it involves the assurance of faith, saints being thus assured of

their interest in the favor of God and in the blessings of His kingdom. “Faith

is the hand that takes hold of Christ; assurance is the ring which God puts

on faith’s finger.” Believers as sealed by the Spirit have the witness within

themselves that they are children of God (1 John 5:10; Romans 5:5; 8:16).


·   THE SEALER. This is God, not the Holy Spirit; for it is said, “Now He

which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who

hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts”

(II Corinthians 1:21-22). The Holy Spirit is not the Sealer, but the Seal.



JESUS CHRIST. “In whom ye were sealed.” The sealing has direct

relation to our union with Christ, as the passage implies; but the apostle

also says, “He which stablisheth us with you in [rather, ‘into’] Christ is

God ... who hath also sealed us” (as above, II Corinthians 1:22). Jesus said,

“At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in

you.”  (John 14:20)  Thus all the three witnesses in heaven, as well as the

three witnesses on earth, concur in the testimony to our interest in the

blessings of salvation.  Our sealing is indeed in virtue of the sealing of

Christ Himself; for “Him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27).



“Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed till the day of

redemption (Ephesians 4:30), as marking the element or sphere of the

sealing. God stamps the image of His Spirit upon the Christian soul; and all

that is involved in the Spirit’s operation — love, joy, peace, long-suffering,

gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Galatians 5:22-23) —

is worked into man’s spirit; for “we all, with open face beholding as in a

glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to

glory, as from the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18; Romans 12:1-2)),

that is, as reflecting His image. 


·   THE SEALED ARE BELIEVERS. It is not truths, or promises, or

experiences, that are sealed upon the heart; it is believers themselves who

are sealed. A hard, cold, lifeless heart cannot receive the seal. The believing

heart must be melted by the love shed abroad by the Holy Ghost, just as

wax is melted to receive the device carved on the seal, before it can be in a

state receptive enough for taking the impress, that is, the witness of Divine

favor and security.


·   THE INDELIBILITY (making marks that cannot be erased, removed, that cannot

        be eliminated, forgotten, changed) OF THE SEAL. This seems implied in the very

nature of the term employed, “ye were sealed” — in the past tense.

“Whatever bears God’s image will be safely carried home to His bosom.”

The seal that may be broken is no security. “Ye were sealed till the day of

redemption— till no day short of that; but it is a sealing that implies a

perseverance in holiness. It is this security that supplies the strongest

argument why we should not grieve the Spirit. The apostle does not

suggest the fear of the Spirit’s withdrawal, but rather the ingratitude of

believers who could grieve ONE who had done so much for them.





The Holy Spirit seals those who trust in Christ. The Spirit's presence is God's

guarantee that believers are owned by him and secure in him. Since the Holy

Spirit's task is to apply Christ's work to God's people, he anoints believers

"in Christ" the moment they believe ( II Corinthians 1:21-22 ; here, v.13 ).

The Father anointed Christ with the Spirit at His baptism, the inauguration

of His messianic ministry ( Luke 3:22 ; 4:18 ). Similarly, a believer's baptism

marks him or her out as God's. A believer is a secure member of God's family,

not because he or she is "holding on, " but because the Spirit is applying the

promises about Christ. His sealing merely comprises the initial down payment

that anticipates the future, full redemption of God's "marked possession"

(v. 14 ; compare  II Corinthians 5:5 ). In the meantime, Paul commands

Christians not to grieve the Holy Spirit in light of the coming day of

redemption (ch. 4:30). The Christian is marked as a "new self, " a

"re-creation" of God (ibid. v. 24), indwelt by the Holy Spirit. His work

of sealing believers, therefore, implies a moral responsibility. His name,

"Holy" Spirit, is not without significance. His sealing separates the believer:


Ø      from the world and

Ø      from his or her unholy past.


      It is incongruous for a sealed believer to ignore God's present sanctifying

      work through the Spirit, resulting in practical godliness.  (ch. 4:14-6:9)



Ø      A common seal.


o        What the seal is — the Holy Spirit of promise. And what could be

      more equalizing to Gentile Christians (Acts 2:15-17)? This sealing

with the Spirit implies a certain similarity of nature along with His

power of working on us as the Mighty Artificer.


o        What is sealed on us — the Divine image. That image is impressed on

us in what is called character, as being something impressed. It is for

us to be as wax under the working of the Spirit. It is the holiness of

God that He who is the Holy Spirit seals on us.


o        What is sealed to us — that we are the sons of God (Romans 8:16).

In what the Spirit works in us of conformity to the Divine image do

we obtain the comforting assurance that we are born of God.





            The Believer’s Earnest of His Divine Inheritance (v. 14)


The Spirit is the earnest — the sample as well as pledge of future blessedness.

It is now we see the purpose of the seal. It is because the Spirit is an earnest of

our inheritance that His indwelling is a seal. The earnest is the same in kind

with the prospective inheritance. It is “the inheritance in miniature.” It is a

sample of the stock, a pledge that all the rest will come in due time. The

indwelling of the Spirit is part of the blessings of redemption, and a security

for our enjoying the rest. Therefore it is called “the firstfruits of the Spirit.”

(Romans 8:23 - “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy:”

ibid. ch. 11:16 – CY – 2019)  Three times does the word “earnest” occur

in the New Testament in relation to the work of the Spirit.



redemption of the purchased possession,” that is, the final deliverance from

all evil which is to take place in the end of all things. It is an earnest of that

completed redemption.





DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION; for the apostle refers specially to

this fact in II Corinthians 5:5, “Now He that hath wrought us for the

selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the





BODY; for there is a redemption of the body (Romans 8:23), because

the Spirit is equally the Source of the life we derive from Christ, both for

body and soul. This earnest redounds to the praise of God’s glory, as God

is glorified in the security of believers.




                        Paul’s First Prayer for the Ephesians (vs. 15-23)


Having spoken of the inspiration of the adopted children, the apostle

proceeds next to his first prayer on their behalf. He has a still more

remarkable prayer in Ephesians 3, but the present one is most instructive

too. It begins, as usual, with thanksgiving for the faith towards the Lord

Jesus, and love to all the saints which the Ephesians cherish. This need not

detain us, but we may at once proceed to the substance of his petition for

them. In a word, it is that they may know spiritually the Divine purpose

regarding them, and thus be able the better to co-operate with God in the

fulfillment of it. This Divine purpose is determined by the Divine power,

and the progress of the Christian is simply an experience of “the exceeding

greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working

of His mighty power.” The point of the passage and of the prayer consists

in the measure of THE MIGHTY POWER!  This is found in the experience of

Christ. His experience, in fact, becomes the measure of the Christian’s hope. When

the Father can do such wonders in the person of Christ and in the interests of

Christ’s people, how much may we expect Him to do for ourselves!




CHRIST FROM THE DEAD. (v. 20.) The mighty power of God is

illustrated in the work of creation; but, as A. Monod pointedly puts it,

“Creation is an emanation; resurrection is a victory.” Christ was dead;

apparently He had been vanquished; the king of terrors seemed supreme.

But the first day of the week dawned upon a “risen Savior,” and the

Father’s mighty power received ample illustration. Now, it must have been

a marvelous experience for our Savior to rise from death into newness of

life. For the life after He rose was different from the life before He suffered.

IT WAS IMMORTAL!  He could henceforth die no more. Hence He said in

apocalyptic vision, “I am He that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am

alive for evermore.” (Revelation 1:18)  It was thus a transformation from

mortality to immortality, from death to everlasting life. The previous

resurrections, as far as we know, were only to mortal life. The children

raised by Elijah, Elisha, and Christ, and the adults as well, rose to die

once more. So that previous resurrections were only fore-shadowing of

the resurrection of Jesus out of death INTO LIFE ETERNAL!




HEAVENLY PLACES. (vs. 20-21.) Had Christ been left in this world

with His immortal nature, He would have had a wide sphere for influence

and authority. The opposing terrestrial powers would have gone down

before Him in due season, and an emancipated world been the result. But

when we consider how limited in size this earth is compared with the rest

of the system, we can understand how the Father would resolve to put his

best beloved Son in a wider sphere of influence than this world affords.

(I recommend Fantastic Trip in your browser – CY – 2019)

What principalities, powers, mights, and dominions lie beyond this “little

sand-grain of an earth” we cannot yet tell; but we are assured here of one

fact, that the Father has set the Son above them all, at His own right hand in

the heavenly places. Now, the “right hand of God” means the seat of

power. It is the very focus and center of that mighty energy which we are

now considering. Consequently the Father has lifted the Son in His

immortal human nature into THE VERY CENTER OF POWER and given

Him THE UNIVERSE AS HIS EMPIRE!   This, again, must have been a

marvelous experience for Christ. What a joyful enlargement! To pass out of

the narrowness and provincialism of this tiny world into the magnificence

of a universal empire; to have all created things and beings as His subjects;

to be Supreme Administrator under THE  INFINITE FATHER  -  this must

have been a mighty and a joyful experience for the risen Christ.



ALL THINGS UNDER CHRIST’S FEET. (v.22) The administration

is thus guaranteed to be triumphant. Some portions of the vast empire may

be rebellious. They may refuse the reign of the Man Christ Jesus. Their

rash words may be, “We will not have this Man to reign over us.” But they

are only putting themselves under the feet of the reigning Christ. Their

defeat is certain; the Father’s mighty power is pledged to CHRIST’S

SUPREMACTY!  And though, in the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews,

we see not yet all things put under Him, we see Jesus, who was made a little

lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and

honor(Hebrews 2:9) and this is the Father’s pledge of ultimate triumph.




administration of a state and the headship of a Church are very distinct

things. If the Church is the body and Christ the Head, then it stands in

closer relations to Christ than subjects do to any sovereign. Christ thinks

for the Church; the Church acts for Christ. Just as the body is the

instrument of the head, carrying out in the details of practical life the

commandments of the head, the seat of the mind and will, so the Church is

designed to be the instrument in the hand of Christ for the carrying out of

His purposes. What a mighty power is needed to bring about a relation so

close as this! What gracious power is needed to subdue the individual self-

will, and enforce submission to the will and the word of the living Head!

This intimate and glorious union between believers and their Lord is what

the mighty power of the Father has brought and is bringing about, and this

again must be a glorious experience on the part of Christ.

Here, then, we have:


Ø      resurrection,

Ø      ascension,

Ø      enthronement, and

Ø      headship


all secured to the once dead Christ by the mighty power of the Father. In

such a system what possibilities are opened up for each of us! If this is the

measure of the Father’s mighty power, which Paul invoked on behalf of his

Ephesian converts, truly they may lift up their heads in hope of redemption,

complete and glorious, drawing nigh. The more we meditate upon the

mighty power of the gracious Father, the more we are assured that mighty

grace shall be manifested to us as we need it. When our Lord has had such

experience granted Him, His members may expect similar experiences in

their season. We shall see a parallelism in the experience when we advance

            to the succeeding section.




“Every one’s elevation is to be measured first and chiefly by his conception

of this great Being; and to attain a just and bright and quickening knowledge

of Him is the highest aim of thought.”




                                    Spiritual Knowledge (vs. 17-19)


After thankfully recognizing the faith and love of the Christians he is

addressing, Paul describes his prayers for their further endowment with

Divine graces, and shows that he is especially anxious that they should

receive a Spirit of wisdom. Possibly the Christians of Ephesus and its

neighborhood were backward on the intellectual side of the spiritual life;

but more probably wisdom was desirable for them just because they were

exceptionally capable of high thinking, and would therefore profit above

others by enjoying THE LIGHT OF HEAVENLY REVELATION!  In any case,

it is to be observed that faith and love are the more essential graces; that they

must precede wisdom and knowledge, which are not, as is often assumed, to be

expected as the first and fundamental grounds of religion; but that, nevertheless,

the intellectual side of religion is important as an addition to the moral.




Ø      This knowledge comes from God. Paul makes it a matter of prayer.

It is not to be attained, then, merely by intellectual culture, nor

even by our own spiritual experience alone.


Ø      It is given as a revelation. In revelation God makes known what was

naturally and previously hidden. While the curtain is drawn no guesses

can tell what lies behind it. Speculation, unaided by revelation, is as

much at sea in discussing the unseen universe today as it was at the

dawn of Greek philosophy.


Ø      It results from an inspiration of the Spirit of God. We receive a Spirit

of wisdom.” The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of knowledge, leading us into

all truth (John 16:13 – when I was typing in “He will lead you

before I could finish the sentence, I was directed to John 16:13, it is

a great asset to have a search engiine in this modern times for

facilitation of study, but the search engine is literally “light years”

behind the Holy Spirit who “guides us unto all truth!” – CY – 2019),

at once purging us of the sin that blinds our vision, quickening the

life within to a more keen sensitiveness, and bringing us into that

sympathetic state in regard to spiritual things which makes us feel their

presence and understand their character.


·   THE ORGAN OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE. The eyes of our heart

have to be enlightened that we may know spiritual things.


Ø      The heart has its eyes. There is an inner sight. This is not merely

speculative. It is alive with feeling; it is in the heart. Thus the poet will

see what the naturalist overlooks; the mother will know her children

as the schoolmaster cannot know them; the saint will have visions of

DIVINE TRUTH to which the philosopher is blind.


Ø      All that the heart needs in order to see the highest truths IS LIGHT!

      What is wanted is no new declaration, but an enlightening of our eyes.

The landscape is as present when invisible at night as when seen in clear

daylight. Divine truth lies open before us. We require no new voices

from heaven. (Romans 10:6-11)  All that is wanted is a change in

ourselves — the unstopping of our deaf ears and the opening of our

blind eyes.  (“Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall

hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not

perceive:  For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears

are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should

see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with

their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

(Acts 28:26-27)




Ø      Christ. It is “the knowledge of Him” for which Paul first prays. We

must begin with knowing Christ. In knowing Him we know all; for all

the treasures of the gospel dwell in Him.  (Colossians 2:3


Ø      The future inheritance. How vainly we speculate about this! We can

know it only by spiritual illumination. Not that the formal nature of it

can be discerned, but the true character and worth of it will be

appreciated.  There are riches in this inheritance of which we little

dream. (“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered

into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them

that love Him.”  (II Corinthians 2:9)  In our coldness of heart they

look dim and faint. We have yet to learn how infinitely glorious

they are. Such a discovery will gladden, cheer, and encourage us

in the dark battle of the present.  (I once saw on a marquee in

Clarksville, Tennessee:  Lord, we know the beginning and

ending, but it is this middle that we have trouble with!”  - CY –



Ø      The Divine power. By heaping up expressions, the apostle makes us

realize the importance of this subject. God gives us the inheritance.

It is vast and glorious. But terrible difficulties stand between us and it.

Till we understand somewhat of the power of God, the hope will seem

to be unattainable. But this we may understand in so far as we are

enlightened rightly to appreciate the manifestation of it in the

resurrection and triumph of Christthe pledges and grounds



            The Church as the Body and the Fullness of Christ (v. 23)


 We have here the intimate relation of Christ with His Church described in

two aspects:

o       first external, and

o       then internal.





Ø      The Church is joined to Christ. Christ maintains the closest possible

relations with His people. His ascension, instead of removing Him from

us, by taking Him to a distant heaven, brings Him nearer to us, by His

passing into the spiritual universe, through which He can have immediate

contact with individual souls.


Ø      There is one life in Christ and the Church. The same blood pulsates

through the head and through the members of the body. The blood of

Christ must not only be “applied to” Christians, as some people say,

but in them, drunk as wine of life (John 6:56). Thus, by close communion

with Christ in faith, submission, and obedience, the very life of Christ

will flow through us, so that we can say, “Not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

(Galatians 2:20)


Ø      Christ presides over the Church. He is the Head of the body. The

Church is not a republic; it is a kingdom, and Christ is its King.


o       His thought teaches,

o       His will commands,

o       His Spirit gives grace and order to all the movements of

         the body.


Ø      The Church is one in Christ. The head has but one body. Through Christ

a common sympathy should spring up among Christians, just as, through

their connection with the head, the various organs of the body co-operate

harmoniously. When the influence of the head is lost, convulsions or

confused movements are the consequence. So sectarian enmity is a proof

of severance from Christ. Nevertheless, variety is possible and even

necessary in a highly organized body. There are many members, and all

the members have not the same office. The essential unity consists in the

subordination of all the parts TO THE ONE HEAD!


Ø      Severance from Christ is death to the Church. A Christless Church

      is a headless trunk. We may retain the doctrine and ethic of the New

Testament, but, nevertheless, amputation of the Head means death.

Even a partial severance of connection involves paralysis — loss of

spiritual power and loss of spiritual feeling.



is filled with Christ. He is not only the Head above it; He is the life within it.

He does not only teach, bless, command, and lead from without; He

inspires His people and lives in His Church. Christ fills all in all;” i.e. the

Spirit that was in Jesus of Nazareth is in the whole universe, inspiring all

creation and all providence with wisdom and goodness, purity and grace.

The same Spirit is in the Church. As yet, unhappily, the Church is not filled

with Christ. Though Christ is received into the heart of Christians, every

door within is not yet flung open to the gracious Guest. But in the perfect

time, when His authority is everywhere established, HIS PRESENCE


universally immanent (indwelling; inherent). In the ideal Church,

Christ fills:


Ø      the affections with holy love,

Ø      the thoughts with higher truths,

Ø      the imagination with heavenly visions,

Ø      the will with obedient actions.


He fills all and His graces are seen in all. Already He begins the blessed

indwelling. We look forward to HIS GREAT TRIUMPH, when He will as

fully fill His people as He will absolutely conquer His foes.