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.
· THE PERSON’ INTO WHOM BELIEVERS ARE SEALED —
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).
· THE SEAL IS THE HOLY SPIRIT HIMSELF.
“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
The Father anointed Christ with the Spirit at His baptism, the inauguration
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"
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.
· IT HAS RELATION TO AN ETERNAL INHERITANCE — to “the
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
· IT IS ALSO AN EARNEST, NOT OF THE RESURRECTION
MERELY, NOR OF THE CHANGE OF LIVING BELIEVERS AT THE
RESURRECTION, BUT OF A CONDITION OF GLORY BETWEEN
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
· THE INDWELLING OF THE SPIRIT IS REPRESENTED IN
ROMANS 8:11 AS THE PLEDGE OF THE FUTURE LIFE 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!
· THE FATHER SHOWED HIS MIGHTY POWER IN RAISING
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!
· THE FATHER SHOWED HIS MIGHTY POWER IN CAUSING
CHRIST TO ASCEND TO HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE
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.
· THE FATHER SHOWED HIS MIGHTY POWER IN PUTTING
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.
· THE FATHER SHOWED HIS MIGHTY POWER IN GIVING
CHRIST THE HEADSHIP OF THE CHURCH. (vs. 22-23.) Now, the
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 enthronement, and
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
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.
· THE SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE.
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.”
· THE SUBJECTS OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE.
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
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 Christ — the pledges and grounds
of OUR FUTURE BLESSEDNESS!
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
o first external, and
o then internal.
· EXTERNALLY, THE CHURCH IS A BODY OF WHICH CHRIST IS
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.”
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
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.
· INTERNALLY, THE CHURCH IS THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST. It
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
WILL BE UNIVERSALLY IMMANENT! His presence will be
universally immanent (indwelling; inherent). In the ideal Church,
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.