PRACTICAL PORTION OF THE EPISTLE

 

                                                            Ephesians 4

 

      Church Principle of Growth and Progress – the Church as a Body (vs. 1-16)

 

1  I therefore,” - Inference not only from last chapter, but the whole Epistle. Paul’s interest

in the Ephesians led him to a double application of the great subject which he had expounded:

 

  • to ask God on their behalf that He would bestow on them the full

            measure of the blessing to which of His grace they were entitled

            (ch. 3:14-21); and

 

  • to entreat them on God’s behalf to live in a way befitting their high

            calling (chps. 4-6.). To this second application he proceeds now.

 

“the prisoner in the Lord,” - Not merely “of the Lord,” but ejn, Kuri>w|, en koo’-ree-o;

in the Lord” – the usual formula for vital communion with Christ, indicating that his

captivity was the captivity of a part or member of the Lord. An exhortation from

such a prisoner ought to fall with double weight – “beseech you that ye walk worthy

of vocation wherewith ye were called.” The word “vocation” means “call” - their call

was to be God’s people (comp. Romans 9:25); this not a mere speculative distinction,

but one that must have practical form and that must lead to suitable fruit. True grace in the

heart must show itself by true goodness in the life. They were not to conceal their religion,

not to be ashamed of it, but to avow it and glory in it, and their lives were not to be

disgraced by unworthy conduct, but to be brightened and elevated by their relation

to Christ.  Our walk is to be a pattern for others to follow, pointing to Christ, as we

follow Him!  It is a great obligation and a great blessing to walk that walk!  Christ has

given us an ensample that we should follow.  (I Peter 2:21) – Every Christian

congregation should have a number of model Christians fitted to be examples to the

rest, especially, among the elderly.  The world has a keen eye for inconsistencies of

Christians, and exposes them mercilessly. It takes comfort from them to continue in sin.

Sins detestable in the godly are thought nothing of in the worldly. If what David did in

re Uriah had been done by Nebuchadnezzar, no one would have said anything. A

consistent walk is, by God’s help, within the reach of all. It is an impressive sermon

to the world, a continual sermon, an unanswerable sermon. Let all preach this sermon,

though it be their only one. The “walk worthy” is a walk of holiness, humility,

forbearance, forgiveness, patience, charity. In order to promote it, let us be

much with Christ, and as far as we can, with those who are like Christ. Let

us study the biographies of Christ-like men and aim at conformity to their

example. Let us often pray the prayer of the third chapter of this book, and

other prayers of the like tenor. Let us use earnestly our means of grace,

praying that each sabbath, each sermon, each sacrament, may serve to

make us more worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called.

 

Christianity includes duties as well as doctrines. It does not merely hold out a refuge

to the guilty, but takes all who accept Christ under its supreme and exclusive

direction. It evangelizes human life by impregnating its minutest transactions

with the spirit of the gospel. But we must be always careful, in preaching the

necessity of good works and in enforcing Christian duties, to ground them, as the

Scriptures ground them, in the doctrines of grace.  The true walk of the saint

tends powerfully to promote the unity of the church.

 

2  With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another

in love.”  Here are some points of a worthy walk.  He begins his enumeration with

passive graces — eminently those of Christ.  Lowliness or humility may well be gendered

by our remembering what we were when God’s grace took hold of us (ch. 2:1-3).

Believers are not to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Romans 12:3),

nor exalt themselves above their degree (II Corinthians 10:13-15), but to esteem others

better than themselves (Philippians 2:3). Let believers, therefore, have a humble

apprehension of their knowledge, for “knowledge puffeth up” (I Corinthians 8:1);

and humble thoughts of their goodness, for we cannot understand all our errors, and

need to be cleansed from our secret faults (Psalm 19:12). Let them “put on

humbleness of mind,” as the brightest ornament of Christian character (Colossians 3:12).

 

Meekness is the natural expression of a lowly state of mind, opposed to boisterous

self-assertion and rude striving with others; it genders a subdued manner and a

peace-loving spirit that studies to give the soft answer that turneth away wrath. (Proverbs

15:1) - Christian victories are often gained by meekness and endurance — what Milton

called “the invincible might of meekness.” It is that disposition which does not arraign

God and does not avenge itself on man. As regards God, it implies a ready submission

to the authority of His Word (James 1:21), and a cheerful resignation to His

providence, as opposed to murmuring and fretfulness (Psalm 39:9; see whole psalm).

As regards man, the meek will have a calm temper under provocations; he will

be “slow to wrath” (James 1:19); he will give “the soft answer that turneth away wrath”

(Proverbs 15:1); he will show that ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which adorns

more than rubies (I Peter 3:4).  When joined with strength, it makes one of the most

effective characters. It is especially to be esteemed in a religious life. Therefore the apostle

says, “Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom”

(James 3:13). It is with meekness and fear that we are to give a reason of our hope

(I Peter 3:15), and it is in a spirit of meekness we are to recover the erring (Galatians 6:1).

It is one of the nine graces of the Spirit (Ibid. 5:23).  The meek man has great power with

men. See how it contributes to the comfort of life; for it keeps him from the friction of

temper that so often detracts from true repose; it brings us nearer and nearer to Him who

was pre-eminently “meek and lowly of spirit” (Matthew 11:29); and it has the promise of

the earth for an inheritance (Matthew 5:5). Let us, therefore, seek meekness (Zephaniah 2:3).

 

“Longsuffering” is the disposition that leads us to suppress our anger (II Corinthians 6:6;

Galatians 5:22); and is opposed to that irritability often expressively called shortness of

temper, which is quick to show resentment. This spirit is of great moment in the Church,

where there may be frequent collisions of opinion, or interest, or feeling, and it waits with

patience till the passionate or obstinate see their way to more reasonable courses.

God commands it (Romans 12:17). He exemplifies it (Matthew 5:44; Romans 5:6-8),

and His Son has left us a most impressive exhibition of it (I Peter 2:21-23). We all fail in

our duty and need to have due consideration made to our failings. We are above all to

bear and. forbear in matters of religious fellowship (Romans 15:1). 

 

“forbearing one another in love” - Christians are not to resent injuries or retaliate for

wrongs done to them, but are to bear with each other’s infirmities, to cover each other’s

weaknesses, to pity each other’s frailties, and to forgive the provocations they inflict upon

each other. This is to be done, not from a principle of merely worldly courtesy or from

contemptuous indifference, but from that love which suffereth long, and is kind.”

(I Corinthians 13: 4) - It is “charity which covereth a multitude of sins,” (James 5:20;

I Peter 4:8) - just as surely as “hatred stirreth up strife” (<201012>Proverbs 10:12).

 

Long-suffering and loving forbearance are phases of the same state  of mind — denoting

the absence of that irascibility and proneness to take offence which flares up at every

provocation or fancied neglect, and strives to maintain self-control on every occasion.

It is from such qualities in God that our redemption has come; it is miserable to accept

the redemption and not try to attain and exhibit its true spirit. Neglect of this verse has

produced untold evil in the Christian Church.  These graces have reference mainly to the

ordinary intercourse of social life; what follows has to do more with the public life

of` the Church.

 

Believers are not to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Romans

12:3), nor exalt themselves above their degree (II Corinthians 10:13-15), but to esteem

others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

  

3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit” - The concord to be preserved is

the “unity of the Spirit” —the unity of which the Holy Spirit is the Author; not

mere external uniformity, but inward agreement. It is a fact that there is much inward

agreement wherever the Spirit of God works. It is our duty to preserve this — to keep

it from being broken or even appearing as if broken.  Spouda>zontev - spoudazontes

-“striving” – make haste to be zealous – is stronger than the A.V. “endeavoring,” and

denotes an object to be carefully and earnestly watched for and promoted. “The unity

of the Spirit” is equivalent to the unity of which the Spirit is the Author. In all in whom

He works savingly, the Spirit produces a certain oneness in faith, in repentance, in

knowledge, in their views of sin, grace, Christ, the world, etc. This oneness exists, and

cannot but exist, even when Christians are not careful of it, but the manifestation of it

is lost; it seems to the world as if there were no such oneness. “Many men, many minds,”

says the world, when believers differ much and contend much, and are at no pains to

preserve and manifest the unity wrought by the Spirit. It is due to the Spirit, as well as

to the interests of the kingdom of God, that the unity of the Spirit be maintained “in the

bond of peace.” - This unity is to be maintained by the bond which consists of “peace;”

by a peace-loving and peace-seeking spirit, that spirit of which Christ said, “Blessed

are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) –

The danger of breaking the unity of the Spirit is great; readiness to take offence, pride,

regardlessness of the welfare of others, forgetfulness of the vast Christian work and

warfare committed to us, are temptations to this. On the other hand, the habitual striving

after the graces enumerated above, and trying to exercise them habitually, tend to preserve

the unity of the Spirit, and to a large extent, too, to preserve external agreement in the

government and worship and work of the Church. The genitive, eijrh>uhv, - i-ray’-nay; 

- peace – is commonly held to be that of apposition, the bond which consists of peace

a peace-loving spirit, a spirit laying more stress on the points in which Christians agree

than those in which they differ. Those who are combative, censorious, careless of peace,

do not walk worthy of their vocation.  We are called by the God of peace, redeemed by

Christ who is our Peace, sanctified by the Spirit whose fruit is peace, and edified

 by the gospel of peace, that we may walk as sons of peace.

 

 

                                    Seven Particulars of Unity (vs. 4-6)

 

4  “There is one body,” - (see ch. 2:16). The Church is an organic whole, of

which believers are the members, and Christ the Head, supplying the vitalizing power:

The real body, being constituted by vital union with Christ, is not synonymous with

any single outward society - “and one Spirit;” -  viz. the Holy Spirit, who alone applies

the redemption of Christ, and works in the members of the Church the graces of the new

creation – All sins against unity are sins against the indwelling Spirit.  Sectarian or diversive

course have a tendency to grieve the Spirit.  Indeed, it is a mark of a separating

APOSTASY that it has not the spirit!  (Jude 1:19) -  “even as ye also were called

in one hope of your calling.”  This is one of the results of the Spirit’s work; when the

Spirit called you He inspired you all with one hope, and this one hope was involved in

the very essence of your calling (comp. Titus 2:13, “Looking for the blessed hope, even

the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ”). To all

believers the Spirit imparted this one blessed hope. Hope is the expectation of future

good.  All believers have the same aspirations, the same anticipations of the coming

glory – we have “a lively hope”  because of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

 (I Peter 1:3)

 

5  “One Lord;” -  Jesus Christ, unique and beyond comparison: as Teacher, all hang

on His words; as Master, all own His supreme authority; to His example all refer

 as the standard; His likeness all covet as the highest excellence (where Mary is

worshipped, though nominally you have but one Lord, virtually you have two) –

There is no part of our being, there is no event of our lives, that is not subject to

this authority which brooks NO RIVAL!  “one faith;” -  not objective in the sense of

creed, but as denoting the one instrument  of receiving salvation (ch. 2:8), the one belief

in the one Savior by which we are justified,  adopted, and in other ways blessed – The

grace of faith has a thoroughly uniting tendency, because it brings us near to the Savior,

and the nearer we stand to Him we stand the nearer to one another -  “one baptism.”  

One initiatory rite admitting into the visible Church — baptism in name of Father, Son,

and Holy Ghost, symbolic of the washing of regeneration, the one way of entering the

Church invisible.

 

6  “One God and Father of all,” -  We rise now to the fountain of Godhead, the one

supreme Being with whom all have to do, the only Being who is or can be the Father of

us all; who can be to us what is implied in the name “Father,” whose love and grace

can satisfy our hearts  - There is no part of our being, there is no event of our lives, that

is not subject to His authority which brooks no rival -  “who is above all;” - the supreme

and only Potentate, (I Timothy 6:15) exercising undivided jurisdiction, “doing according to

His will in the armies of heaven.” etc. – “and through all;” pervading the whole universe,

sustaining and ruling it, not dwelling apart from His works, but pervading them; not,

however, in any pantheistical sense, but as a personal God, whose essence is separate

from His works – “and in you all.”  A closer and more abiding influence; He dwells in

them, and walks in them, molding their inner being, and filling them with His own light

and love. Some commentators of mark have tried to find a reference to each of the

persons of the Godhead in the three prepositions over, through, and by, but this seems

a strained view. The three persons, however, appear clearly in the seven elements of unity,

but, as before (ch. 3:16- 19), in the reverse of the common order — first, the Spirit; second,

the Son; and third, the Father. These seven elements constitute the true rarity of the Church.

 

The unity of the Church finds its consummation at last in God, who originated the scheme

of grace and from whom all the other unities are derived. If God be our Father, then are we

members of one family, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and are therefore bound to live

together in unity. The counsel may well come to us, “See that ye fall not out by the way”

 (Genesis, 45:24).

 

 

                The Variety of Gifts in Connection with Unity and the Use to be Made of Them (vs. 7-16)

 

The marks of Christ’s care for His church are innumerable, they recede back through

all eternity and forward for evermore.  (ch. 3:18-19)

 

The subject of gifts divides into two:

 

  • The Gift Giving – vs. 7-11
  • The End or Purpose for which the Gifts are Given – vs. 12-16

 

7  “But to each one of us is grace given according to the measure of the gift of

Christ.”  Christ leaves no one out!  To every one of us is given grace!  In the Church

all do not get alike; grace is not given in equal measures as the manna in the wilderness;

Christ, as the great Bestower, measures out His gifts, and each receives according to

His measure. Compare parable of talents. “Grace” does not refer merely to supernatural

gifts, but also to the ordinary spiritual gifts of men. These are varied, because what each

 gets he gets for the good of the rest; the Church is a  fellowship or brotherhood, where

each has an interest in all and all in each, and is bound to act accordingly.

 

  • THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH IS CONSISTENT WITH GREAT

            DIVERSITY OF GIFTS. As in the human body there are many members

            with different functions, so the Church is “not one member, but many.”

            Diversity of gift, so far from being inconsistent with unity, is really essential

            to it. “If all were one member, where were the body?” (I Corinthians 12:

            14, 20) All the great purposes of life would be frustrated if every part of the

            organism did not find its due place.

 

  • EACH MEMBER OF THE CHURCH HAS HIS SEPARATE GIFT.

            This does not say that any one member has all gifts. Each has received his

            measure. There are those who would make the Church all “tongue,” as if

            all were called to the gospel ministry. The gifts differ both in nature and in

            measure. One has the gift of speech, another the gift of sagacity, another

            the gift of enterprise, another the gift of sympathy, another the gift of

            wealth and influence. All ought to be contributory to the unity of the

            Church.

 

  • THE ORIGIN AS WELL AS MEASURE OF THE GIFTS IS TO BE

            TRACED TO CHRIST. The position of each member in the body is not

            determined by itself, but by God. The eye does not make itself the eye, nor

            the hand the hand. So the position of believers in the Church is determined,

            not by themselves, but by Christ. The grace “is given according to the

            measure of the gift of Christ.” Christ is the Source of all spiritual gifts, and

            He determines their adjustment as well as their amount. He does not give

            according to our merit, or our capacity, or our desires, but according to His

            sovereign pleasure. There is, therefore,

 

ü      no room for self-inflation if we have received the largest gifts;

ü      there is no room for envy or jealousy because others have received

                        more gifts than ourselves;

ü      but rather an argument in the fact that one has a grace which another

                        wants, for our helping each other in the Lord. Thus the true unity of the

                        Church is promoted.

 

8  “Wherefore He saith, When He ascended on high He led captivity captive,

and gave gifts unto men.” The speaker is God, the author of Scripture, and the place

is the Psalm 68:18. That psalm is a psalm of triumph, where the placing of the ark

on Zion is celebrated as if it had been a great victory. As this quotation shows, the psalm

in its deepest sense is Messianic, celebrating the victory of Christ. The substance rather

than the words of the passage are given, for the second person (“thou hast ascended,”)

is changed into the third; and whereas in the psalm it is said, “gave gifts to men,” as

modified by the apostle it is said, “received gifts for men.” As in a literal triumph, the

chiefs of the enemy’s army are led captive, so the powers of darkness were led captive

by Christ (captivity, aijcmalwsi>a, aichmalosiacaptivity – and denotes prisoners);

and as on occasion of a triumph the spoils of the enemy are made over to the conqueror,

who again gives them away among the soldiers and people, so gifts were given to

Christ after His triumph to be given by Him to His Church. We must not force the

analogy too far: the point is simply this — as a conqueror at a triumph gets gifts to

distribute, so Christ, on His resurrection and ascension, got the Holy Spirit to bestow

on His Church (comp. ch.1:22

 

The same Lord who went about every day doing good upon earth, is now doing

good every day in the fullness of spiritual blessings which He is dispensing from

the throne of His ascension-glory.

 

Even the unworthy may be recipients of these gifts. “Yea, for the rebellious also”

(Psalm 68:18). They were for men, as the apostle asserts; for rebels, as the psalmist

asserts. It is not usual for conquerors to divide their spoils among rebels, yet our

conquering Lord gives gifts even to those who put Him to death. The ministry is

still the Lord’s gift to a wicked world, for He is still the Source of the inward life of

the Church and of its authority.

 

9  (“Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first” -

The ascent implied a previous descent; that is, the ascent of the Son of God —

of one who was Himself in heaven, who was in the bosom of the Father

(comp. John 3:13), implied that He had come down from heaven, a striking

proof of His interest in and love for the children of men. And the descent was

not merely to the ordinary condition of humanity, but to a more than ordinarily

degraded condition, not merely to the surface of the earth, but “into the lower

parts of the earth?” This has sometimes been interpreted of Hades.  If the

expression denotes more than Christ’s humble condition, it probably means the

grave. This was the climax of Christ’s humiliation; to be removed out of men’s

sight, as too offensive for them to look on - to be hidden away in the depths of

the earth, in the grave, was indeed supremely humbling. The object is to show

that, in bestowing gifts on men, Christ did not merely bring into play His inherent

bountifulness as the Son of God, but acted as Mediator, by right of special

purchase, through His work of humiliation on earth; and thus to lead us to think

the more highly both of the Giver and of His gifts. 

 

10  “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all

heavens” - ).  When Christ came to earth and took upon Himself our form, it

was no holiday visit to earth!  He was taken from prison and from

judgment”  (Isaiah 53:8)  Yet even there He triumphed over all His enemies, and

now He is exalted “far above all heavens.” This last expression is very remarkable,

especially in the view of what modem astronomy teaches on the extent of the heavens.

It is a marvelous testimony to the glory of the risen Lord. Still higher is the

testimony to his glory in the purpose for which he has gone on high —

“that he might fill all things.”  There was a proportion between the descent and the ascent.

His descent was deep — into the lower parts of earth; but His ascent was more glorious

than His descent had been humbling. The Hebrew idea of various heavens is brought in;

the ascent was not merely to the third heaven, but far above all heavens – “that He

might fill all things.”)   A very sublime view of the purpose for which Christ reigns

on high. The specific idea with which the apostle started — to give gifts to men —

is swallowed up for the moment by a view far grander and more comprehensive,

to fill all things.” Jesus has gone on high to pour His glory and excellence over

every creature in the universe who is the subject of grace, to be the Light

of the world, the one Source of all good. As in the solar system it is from

one sun that all the supplies of light and heat come, all the colors that

beautify earth, sea, and sky, all the influences that ripen the grain and

mature the fruit, all the chemical power that transforms and new-creates;

so the ascended Jesus is the Sun of the universe; all healing, all life, all

blessing are from Him. It is quite in the manner of the apostle, when He

introduces the mention of Christ, to be carried, in the contemplation of His

person, far above the immediate occasion, and extol the infinite perfection

and glory that distinguish Him.

 

11  “And He gave some (to be) apostles;” - Coming back to the

diversity of gifts (v. 7), He enumerates some of these, as Christ (aujto<v,

he, emphatic) bestowed them. The organization of the Church is not a

mere human arrangement; its officers are of Divine appointment. The first

gift is, His apostles. It is not meant that He gave to some the gifts needed to

constitute them apostles, though that is true; but that, having qualified

some to be apostles, He gave them to the Church. An apostle had his

commission direct from Christ (Matthew 10:5); he possessed supernatural

gifts (Matthew 10:8); it was necessary for him to have seen the Lord

(Acts 1:22); his diocese was the whole world (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15).

The apostles were the constituent body of the Church — they had all necessary

gifts for setting it up, and as all Christian history has testified, they were a

marvelous gift of Christ to His Church - “and some, prophets;” -  next to

the apostles in point of value, as gifts to the Church, having supernatural

knowledge of God’s will present and future (Acts 21:11). Prophets were

indispensable before the New Testament was given as the Church’s infallible

guide to the will of God, but not apparently necessary after the will of God

was fully recorded -  “and some, evangelists;” - The nature of this office is

known only from the meaning of the term and the work of those who bore

the designation (Acts 21:8; II Timothy 4:5) — persons not attached to a

particular congregation, but who went about preaching the glad tidings, and

otherwise building up the Church, but without the full powers of apostles.

“and some, pastors and teachers;”  The more ordinary settled ministers of

congregations, called pastors, because they watched over the flock, trying

to lead all in right ways; and teachers, because they communicated Divine

knowledge. Some have thought that each expression denotes a separate

office, but, coupled as they are together, it is better to regard them as

indicating two functions of one office (see I Timothy 5:17; Acts 13:1).

 

12  “For the perfecting of the saints,” - The ultimate end for which the gifts

bestowed (comp.Hebrews 12:1).  Christ has a work of perfection on hand.

This denoted by — “for the perfecting of the saints , and “unto a perfect

man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13).

What a high aim with reference to creatures so poor and needy as the

members of His Church!  A work of completion is in hand, which must

be fulfilled (see v. 13): the saints, now compassed about with infirmity, have

to be freed from all stain (ch. 5:26-27), and as instruments towards this end,

the ministers of the Church are given by Christ; they are not mere promoters

of civilization, men of culture planted among the rude, but instruments for

advancing men to complete holiness - . “for the work of the ministry,” –

The preposition is changed from pro<v to eijv pro<v denoting the ultimate

end, eijv the immediate object (comp. Romans 15:2); the office of the

Church officers is not lords, but diakonoi>, servants, as Christ Himself was

(Matt, 20:28) -  “for the edifying of the body of Christ:” - Bringing bone

to its bone and sinew to its sinew, increasing the number of believers, and

promoting the spiritual life of each; carrying on all their work as Christ’s

servants and with a definite eye to the promotion of the great work which

He undertook when He came to seek and to save the lost.

 

A revival of religion is always accompanied or followed by “a building up

 of the body of Christ.”

 

13  “Till 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 -  “in 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 (v. 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 v. 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.

 

“A perfect man” -  points to the full development of our manhood. We are

fragmentary and often one-sided. The believer is imperfect both in faith and in

knowledge, but he is growing into that unity of life which involves perfect knowledge

and perfect holiness unto “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.

The true standard is conformity to Christ. The stature of the Church is ever expanding,

as it receives of Christ’s fullness, into that very fullness. The end of this growth cannot

be seen in this life. The Bible nowhere represents the perfection of the Church as

occurring on earth. It is to be without spot or wrinkle when the day of its glorious

presentation comes. Thus the design of the Christian ministry is to labor for the

perfection of the Church.

 

14  “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and

carried about by every wind of doctrine,” - The apostle goes back to

illustrate in another way the purpose of the ministry; it is designed to

remedy childish fickleness and the causes that lead to it. We are consequently

warned not to continue children, but to advance steadfastly towards manhood.

Children are immature and inexperienced.  They have not become so firmly

rooted in the truth as to be settled  against the influences in their world within

or without!  They are like “a wave of the sea driven of the wind and tossed.”

(James 1:6) - Believers ought to be well founded in the truth; not mere babes,

but such as “are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses

exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).  They are warned

against the tendency to be blown about by the winds of doctrine that blow from-every

quarter. The counsel is much needed in this age of startling suggestion, radical denial,

(separation of church and state, to the entirety of separation from God and things

spiritual – CY – 2010) and deep unsettlement. There are men who go the rounds of

all the sects, swinging from side to side with a movement which indicates that they are

true to nothing but the love of change. (Mr. Spurgeon once said that “There is nothing

new except that which is FALSE” – CY – 2010) - It is hard for unstable natures to

hold the poise of their judgment in the midst of such terrible cross-fires of theological

and DIABOLICAL PHILOSOPHICAL SPECULATION!  The ignorant and

inexperienced lie at the mercy of abler persons, and, when there is no regular ministry

provided by Christ, are liable to be swept along by any plausible person that professes

to be a Christian teacher, and such persons are often very dangerous, working “by

the sleight of men,” i.e. the cunning legerdemain by which the teachings of men —

teachings devised by the hearts of men — are made to appear to the uninitiated the

same as Christ’s teaching - “and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to

deceive” (like their father “The Old Deluder Satan” – CY – 2010)  - That Satan often

succeeds in seducing the unwary by the dexterous tricks of such teachers, who

cunningly mingle the truth with such error as robs it of its healing virtues.

 Such teachers employ crafty methods, apparently harmless, but tending to  further the

method or scheme of error. The strong language here used corresponds with that in

which, at Miletus, the apostle warned the elders of Ephesus of the “grievous wolves” that

were to come in among them, and of the men “speaking perverse things” that were to

arise among themselves, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29-30).

 

15  “But speaking the truth in love,” - jAlhqeu>ontevaletheuontes - is

hardly translatable in English it implies being true as well as speaking the truth

and following the truth. We are to speak the truth, especially as the truth

is in Jesus – (v. 21) Truth is the element in which we are to live, move, and

have our being; fidelity to truth is the backbone of the Christian ministry.

But truth must be inseparably married to love; good tidings spoken harshly

are no good tidings; the charm of the message is destroyed by the discordant

spirit of the messenger. The more painful the first impression which a truth is

fitted to produce (ch. 2:1-3), the more need is there for dealing with it in love 

- a much-needed and much-neglected exhortation.  . “may grow up into Him

in all things, which is the head, even Christ” - The whole Church is articulated

with Christ; (see ch. 3:20-22 – today I have been working on laying stones for

steps to my house – a part of the building – we are like those stones joined

together in Christ – CY – 2010) its parts are articulated with each other, but

all are designed to communicate with the Head, and to GROW!  So it is in

the human body; it is all jointed and connected together; but the object of

this is to facilitate the transmission of the vital force throughout the whole.

Growing up into Christ is like baptizing into the Name of the Father, etc.; it

implies that the growth tends to a closer union to Christ, as, on the other hand, union

to Christ causes the growth: the two act and react on each other. This growth is to be

in all things” - in the whole man — in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, in all

the communicable properties of Christ. How great the work of growth is that should

be sought in the case of every living believer is evident from the enormous

gulf there is between his spiritual and moral state and that of Christ. Yet

such growth is reasonable, considering the relation of the body to Him, its

Head. The fact of this relation should encourage us to seek and expect the

growth, and encourage ministers to labor hopefully towards promoting it

 

(Like it or not, the following paragraph tells the story of our wonderful plight –

CY – 2010) - As the Church is a spiritual body, so the characteristics of the

natural body are found in it. It is a body divinely framed as truly as the

 natural body, and designed to bring greater glory to God than the body

which types it. Its Head is the Lord Himself. It has its being and form in Him,

as well as all its nurture, such as its life and light, grace and joy, strength and fruitfulness;

it depends upon the Head for subsistence and for safety; it is united to the Head by a

bond that is both close and indissoluble.

 

The agent of this growth is THE HOLY SPIRIT. For “by one Spirit were we all

baptized into one body” (I Corinthians 12:13).  As the one spirit of man wields at

will all the functions of the body, and concentrates the various members upon its

purposes as they arise, so the Holy Spirit gives each member of the mystic body its

peculiar action and power in the divinely appointed diversity which contributes to its

eventual unity.

 

16  “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by

that which every joint supplieth,” - The relation of ejk in this verse to eijv in

v. 15 is to be noted — growing up vitally into Him, the body derives vital substance

from Him. Not, however, in a mere individual sense, but as an organization, the

parts being adapted and articulated to one another (this process being continuous;

see present participles, (sunarmologou>menon - soon-ar-mol-og-eh’-omenon

fitly compacted together; and sunbibazo>menon - soom-bib-ad’-zo-menonknit

together). In the Church there are babes in Christ, also young men and old men; some

are clear in intellect, some strong in faith, some warm in love, some excel in passive

virtues, some in active; but in a well-ordered Church these should be getting

jointed together, and learning to work with and for one another, no one

despising gifts which he has not but another has; in this sense, there ought

to be a spiritual communism, for all are one spiritual body. But spiritual

communism does not involve social communism or even social equality,

nor will social distinctions be obliterated in a pure Church, except so far as

they hinder spiritual communion - “The whole body is fitly joined together and

compacted by that which every joint supplieth.” Each member is in relation

with all other members as well as with the Head. Each is dependent upon the other.

No member can dismiss another as useless;  none is so great as not to be indebted

to the least. “God has tempered the body together.” (I Corinthians 12:24) - Now,

just as the parts of the human frame are necessarily of different functions, and set, some

in superior, some in inferior, places, yet all act together in the fullest sympathy; so all the

members of Christ’s body must keep rank and order, acting within their own sphere

with due wisdom, harmony, and love, the eye not doing the work of the hand, nor the

hand the work of the foot, but abiding each in his own calling -  “according to the

effectual working of the measure (proportion) of every part,”  This clause seems to

be most naturally connected with what follows. In the fit framing of the body, channels as

it were are laid for the propagation and working of the vital force throughout the body;

this force is not alike, but of various amount in the different parts; some members have

much of it, some little, but the measure of this vital three regulates the growth –

maketh increase of the body” – or growth of the body. The middle voice,

poiei~tai,  - poieotai - indicates that it is a growth from within, while depending

on the energy furnished by Christ - “unto the edifying of itself in love.”

This is the end, so far as the body itself is concerned, though, of course, the

completed spiritual body, like the completed natural body, has work to do outside

itself. In a healthy Church there is a continual work of building up: construction,

not destruction, is its proper business — promoting peace, purity, prayerfulness,

trust, activity in the work of the Lord, but all in love, the absence of which makes winter

instead of summer, declension instead of progress, death instead of life. In illustration

of the various measure of grace, and yet its real efficiency in all the members of the

Church, Eadie says, “No member or ordinance is superfluous. The widow’s mite

was commended by Him who sat over against the treasury. Solomon built a temple.

Joseph provided a tomb.  Mary the mother gave birth to the child, and the other

Marys wrapped the corpse in spices. Lydia entertained the apostle, and Phoebe

carried an Epistle of old, the princes and heroes went to the field, and wise-hearted

women did spin. While Joshua fought, Moses prayed. The snuffers and trays were

as necessary as the magnificent lamp-stand.... The result is that the Church is

built up,  for love is the element of spiritual progress. That love fills the renewed

nature.” The Church has been defined as an institution that has truth for its

nourishment, love for its atmosphere, and CHRIST FOR ITS HEAD!

 

One great lesson here is that, as Christ is the Truth, so He also is the Life.

The gospel as a system of truth has Christ in the center; so the Church as a

living agency has Christ in the center. Take Christ from either, and

Ichabod (I Samuel 4:21) may be inscribed on the wall.

 

 

 

Principles of Gentile and Christian Character Contrasted (vs. 17-24

 

Paul has presented a very high standard of Christian privilege in the preceding chapters,

and now presents an equally high standard of Christian duty.

 

17  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord,” - There is no sign of the apostle,

when he comes to the practical part of his Epistle, deeming it of less importance than

the doctrinal. The formula is very expressive; the apostle sinks his personality, and

brings forward Christ as the Exhorter“that ye henceforth not walk as other

Gentiles walk,” -  First, he indicates what they are not to be. “Be not conformed to

This world.” In four particulars they are to be different from Gentiles. The first

of these is “in the vanity of their mind.” The allusion is to their frivolous,

empty aims in life, and their unfixed, unsettled impulses. The Gentiles were

chasing shadows, blowing bubbles, doing anything to make time pass

agreeably; not considering or knowing either what they were, or whence

they came, or whither they were going.  Morally, the heathen walked in a vain

show, looked for happiness in riches, honors, and power, and pursued foolish or

wicked courses in the effort to attain these objects of desire. The end of such a walk

must always be disappointing.

 

18  Having the understanding darkened,”  (second point of difference),

and thus blind to all that is most vitalignorant of God, of the way of salvation,

of the love of Christ. Even at best the natural understanding cannot discover these

things, and when it is not only imperfect but darkened — made more obscure than

ever by sin (see after) — its guidance is altogether defective. It has been said truly

that the youngest scholar in a Sunday school that has been taught the elements

of the gospel has more light than the wisest of the heathen.  (How sad to think

that the direction the United States of America is headed will lead to

heathenism and that the admonitions of this passage is directed to us – CY – 2010)

Not that the natural genius of the heathen was obscured, for the world must always

admire the classics of Greece and Rome; but there was all but utter extinction of

spiritual light in the heathen mind. There was no saving knowledge. The god of this

world had blinded their minds, (II Corinthians 4:4-6) and their growing apostasy entailed

a judicial blindness which issued in utter darkness.  This moral estrangement from God

comes from “being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in

them, because of the blindness of their heart:” - (third point of difference). Two

causes are given for their alienation, viz. ignorance, and hardness of heart, this last

being the ultimate cause. Through worldly living, their hearts have become hard,

callous, insensible to spiritual influences, perceiving no beauty in Divine

things, no preciousness in Divine promises, no excellence in the Divine

image; this makes them ignorant, careless, foolish; and such being their

state of heart, they are alienated from the life of God, can’t bear vital

religion, hate the very idea of spiritual and holy service.

 

19  “Who being past feeling” -  Without sense of shame, without

conscience, without fear of God or regard for man, without any perception

of the dignity of human nature, the glory of the Divine image, or the

degradation of sin – “have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to

work all uncleanness” - (fourth point of difference). This is the climax —

heathenism in its worst and fullest development, yet by no means rare.

(Witness what passes off on TV in our homes, what passes off as

entertainment and theoretical art coming out of Hollywood, etc. ad nauseum

CY – 2010)  The sensuality of the heathen was and is something dreadful.

Many of them gave themselves to it as a business, worked at it as at a trade or

employment (witness some of the specials on TV documenting Pompei – CY –

2010) - details, such as even the walls of that city furnish, and that under

ash, are unfit for the public eye. – “with greediness.”   Pleonexi>a

pleh-on-ex-ee’-ah; - covetous practices, greediness – means the desire of

having more, and has reference to the insatiable character of sensual sins.

(Ezekiel 16:28-30) - Sometimes it is translated (A.V.) “covetousness,” as

ch. 5:3.

 

20  But ye have not so learned Christ.” -  “But” emphatic — a great

contrast, that must come home to the conscience of every Christian, and to

his whole heart and soul. The expression, “learned Christ,” is a pregnant one,

corresponding to “preaching Christ” (Acts 8:5) — all about Christ,

Christ in all His offices, and in all His influence. He that learns Christ

appropriates Him in the efficacy of His atonement, in the power of His Spirit,

in the force of His lessons, and in the spirit of His influence, and finds the

whole to be diametrically opposite to the godless world.

 

21  “If so be that ye have heard Him,” –  word of caution. We are not to

assume too readily that we are in a right relation to Christ. We must look

within and make sure of that. To hear Him, here, is to hear Him as His sheep

hear His voice and follow Him, recognizing the voice of the Shepherd, a

voice to be implicitly obeyed -  “and have been taught by Him, as truth is in

Jesus.”   The peculiar force of this clause is the double ejn,  - en – in, at, on, by,

etc. -  not given in the first clause in A.V., thereby obscuring the sense, which is,

that all teaching and all truth acquires a different hue and a different character

when there is a personal relation to Jesus. Truth apart from the person of Christ

has little power; abstract doctrines have little influence; the very atonement may

be a barren dogma. But the atonement taught “in Jesus,” in connection with the

living, loving, dying, risen Savior tells; the blood of redemption in

connection with the Son of God incarnate thus loving us, and meekly,

patiently suffering the agonies of the cross in our room, is not only a

power, but the greatest moral power that can move the heart.

 

22  “That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man” - The

sum of Christ’s practical lessons is given in two particulars — putting off and

putting on. The change is very decided and very complete. It is emphatically

personal; not a mere change of opinions or of religious observances, but of life,

habit, character; not altering a few things, but first putting off the man as we

put off a garment. “It is a change which brings the mind under the government

of truth, and gives to the life a new aspect of integrity and devoutness.” –“which

is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;” – or “which is rotting according to

the lusts of deceit. There is a progressive moral disintegration, which is inconsistent

with the life of God or the happiness of man. The moral nature goes to pieces under

the action of this corruption. Then it finds its natural development in” lusts of deceit.”

These lusts are deceitful, for they promise pleasure and bring pain; they promise liberty

but bring bondage; they promise secrecy and bring shame; they promise impunity

but bring retribution. Christians are well taught to put off this old man.

The present participle, fqeiro>menon, - fthi’-ro-menoncorrupt –

indicates continuance or progress in corruption. Sin is a disintegrating dissolving

thing, causing putridity, and in IN ALL CASES, WHEN UNCHECKED tending

towards it. Deceit is personified; it is an agent of evil, sending out lusts which seem

harmless but are really ruinous — their real character is concealed; they come as

ministers of pleasure, they end as destructive tyrants.   Give Satan a ride and he

will end up wanting to drive).  Lust of power, lust of money, lust of pleasure,

have all this character; they are the offspring of deceit, and always to be shunned.

In the lusts of the flesh, pleasure is a shadow and misery is the substance,

and it is easier to suppress the first impure desire than to satisfy all that

follow!  - (Charles Haddon Spurgeon) 

 

23  And  be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” -  Between the first and

second practical change, derived from being taught by Christ, the apostle

inserts this counsel applicable to both. This renewal is the work of the Holy Spirit;

how, then, can it be the subject of an exhortation to us? In this sense, that we are

to prize, long for, encourage, watch, this work of the Holy Spirit, feeling it to be

most vital and essential, not to be neglected without awful sin and danger. Usually

the Holy Spirit works in us by stirring up our spirit to desire and endeavor after

holiness; to resist these strivings of the Spirit, or even to be indifferent to them, is

a deadly and most dangerous sin.

 

24  And that ye put on the new man” -  The “new man” is a creation, just

as man was a creation at the beginning!  “We are God’s workmanship” – (ch. 2:10)

As the fruit of inward renewal, let there be outward renovation. A new object is

clean, fresh, tidy; let your life have something of the same aspect — let your principles,

aims, habits, be new, in the sense of being conformed to Christ, who is your life

which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (of truth).” 

“After God,  equivalent to “after the image of Him that created him”

(Colossians 3:10).  Some think “the new man” equivalent to “Christ” (Romans 13:14),

constituted the Head of renewed humanity, as Adam of depraved. But this would not

correspond with the exhortation to put off the old man, nor should we be

exhorted to put on Christ after being exhorted to be renewed in the spirit

of our minds. In what sense, then, has the “new man” been created? The idea

presented itself to the apostle in the abstract — there has been a creation of a

new man; but concretely, we have to conform to the Divine creation, in

respect of righteousness and holiness; righteousness denoting personal

uprightness and fidelity to all social duties; holiness, the state of the spirit

toward God. The last words, “of truth,” denote the relation of righteousness

and holiness to the truth.  The words are opposed to “of deceit” in v. 22.

Lust is bred of deceit, but righteousness and holiness of truth. They never

deceive, never disappoint, and are solid to the end.

 

Two features of the new creation are righteousness and holiness.  Righteousness,

including integrity, honest, true, fair, open dealing; doing justly out and out, in every

place and in every relation — in the house, the market, the counting-house, the shop,

among neighbors, among strangers, everywhere and at all times. Holiness of truth,

including high reverence for God and all that is Divine, sympathy and congeniality of

heart with God, cleanness of nature, purity of soul, conformity to the image of Christ,

who is the Image of the invisible God.

 

 

Rags of the Old Man and Robes of the New (vs. 25-32)

 

The rags of the old man to be put off are lying, anger, stealing, coarse language, bitterness,

wrath, anger, clamor, evil-speaking, and malice (see Exposition below). Three reasons

are given, more or less explicitly, why such things should be put away.

 

  • We are members one of another (v. 25), and ought to assist instead of

            injuring one another (v. 28).

  • We ought not to give place to the devil (v. 27).
  • We ought not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God (v. 30).

 

The robes of the new man to be put on are truthfulness, honest industry,

edifying speech, kindness, tenderness of heart, forgiveness, imitation of

God, and the loving walk which becomes His followers. Three reasons are

given likewise why these robes should be put on.

 

  • God in Christ forgave us (v. 32).
  • Christ loved us.  (ch. 5:2)
  • Christ gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God of

            a sweet-smelling savor.  (Ibid.)

 

This is one of the most comprehensive and beautiful summaries of the

Christian life. It is the quintessence of practical Christianity. It furnishes an

admirable rule for self-examination, and an admirable incentive to progress

in the life of God. It is a passage, not only to be got by heart, but written

on the heart. We may well say, as we read these verses, “This is

Christianity; this is the walk worthy of our vocation.” If the writer of the

hundred and nineteenth psalm had such boundless delight in the Law of

God, though it had not to him the delightful evangelical aroma it has to us,

what ought our feelings to be? Under all dispensations of the covenant, the

Law is still the rule of our life, though salvation is of grace; and the prayer

that continually becomes us is, “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies;”

 quicken thou me, that I may keep thy Law.” (Psalm 119:36-37) -  Rags

or robes: why should any hesitate between them?  To most men rags are most

repulsive. To wear literal rags — to appear shabby, dirty, untidy, is very unpleasant.

How much more, in the eyes of God and the saints and angels, to wear

 moral rags! Many a one clothed in purple and fine linen wears the filthiest rags

of the old man; and some, on the other hand, in the plainest and coarsest attire,

have put on the beautiful robes of righteousness, and shall be crowns of glory in

the hands of the Lord and royal diadems in the hands of their God.  (Contrast

the rich man Dives – “clothed in purple and fine linen” -  [Luke 16:19-31] with

John the Baptist “clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about

hios loins” [Mark 1;6] – CY – 2010)

 

 

25  Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor:”

Speaking the truth is a religious duty as lying is a sin against which the ninth

commandment warns “Thou shalt not bear false witness” – (Exodus 20:16) –

It is also a social duty to tell the truth and not to lie!  A lie is a breach of the social

contract.  It tends to make society impossible, for society only exists through the

trust that man exercises in man.  Lying turns that instrument of speech, which God has

given us for our mutual comfort, into a means of estrangement. Therefore “the

righteous man hateth lying” (Proverbs 13:5).  God the Father who is “a God of

truth (Deuteronomy 32:4), who “is not a man that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19),

and is He who gave oath and promise as the two immutable things, in which it is

 impossible that God should lie.” -  (Hebrews 6:18) – Jesus Christ is the

Truth as well as the Life (John 14:6) - “the faithful and true Witness  -

(Revelation 3:14) having “no guile found in his mouth; (I Peter 2:22) –

and the Holy Spirit  is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), and has given us the

Scriptures of truth.  Let us pray with the psalmist, “Remove far from me the

way of lying.” (Psalm 119:29; Proverbs 30:8) - Let them not tolerate liars in

their society (Psalm 101:7).   Religion promotes the well-being and comfort of

society. Truth is the cement of society.  Remember that the devil is the father

of liars (John 8:44), and that “whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” shall not enter the

heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 22:15).

 

Lying or falsehood is pre-eminently a heathen vice, as missionaries in India and

other countries abundantly testify. It is an attribute of fallen humanity: “They go

astray from the womb, speaking lies;” (Psalm 58:3) - and one of the earliest vices

that appear in children is deceit. Not only is it God’s will and command that we

speak the truth, but it is peculiarly incumbent on Christians as children of the light,

as followers of Him who is the Truth, as having renounced the devil, who is the

father of lies. Another reason is added – “for we are members one of another.”

Falsehood is always designed to mislead; but to deceive our own members is

Emphatically wicked. Says Chrysostom (quoted by Eddie), “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?”

 

26  Be ye angry, and sin not:” – Quotation from the Septuagint version of

Psalm 4:5.  The apostle teaches that we are not to allow the irritations or

exasperations of life to become the occasion of sin.  This affection is, indeed,

implanted in our nature for righteous ends. It arms the passions quickly against evil,

and operates with the force and effectiveness of an instinct. If it is mingled with

malice, it becomes sinful; but if it is associated with a holy disposition, it is safe and

good. Jesus regarded the conduct of the Jews “with anger” (Mark 3:5). Anger is

often attributed to God Himself (Psalm 7:11), but it can have no sinful elements in

the Divine mind.  “Be ye angry and sin not” – This command implies that it is

an easy matter to sin in our anger, and a hard thing to be angry and not to sin.

Anger, the feeling and expression of displeasure, is not wholly forbidden, but is

guarded by two checks. Our Lord did not make anger a breach of the sixth

commandment, but being angry with a brother without cause. The first check

is to beware of sinning; to keep your anger clear of bitterness, spite, malevolence,

and all such evil feelings. The second is, “let not the sun go down on your wrath:”

It is hard to avoid sin in our anger if we indulge it for an undue length of time. “Let

not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Anger may flash suddenly out from the

lips of a good man, but it resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

There is a limit even to righteous anger; not that we are not to have a continual anger

against sin; but we are not to carry our anger against a brother into the next day.

We are not to harbor resentment or keep it rankling in our bosom, lest it should

change into downright hatred or revenge.  We should examine ourselves

in the evening, and see that we are tranquil.  Let us take the apostle’s meaning

rather than his words — with all possible speed to depose our passion; not

understanding him so literally that we may take leave to be angry till sunset;

then might our wrath lengthen with the days, and men in Greenland, where day

lasts above a quarter of a year, have plentiful scope of revenge. And as the English,

by command of William the Conqueror, always raked up their fire, and put out their

candles when the curfew bell was rung, let us then also quench all sparks of anger

and heat of passion.” It is especially becoming in men, when about to sleep the

sleep of death, to see that they are in peace and charity with all men; it were

seemly always to fall asleep in the same temper.

 

27  “Neither give place to the devil.”  Place or room, opportunity

and scope for acting in and through you. There seems no special reference

to the last exhortation, but as that demands a special act of vigilance and

self-control, so the activity of the devil demands vigilance and self-control

on all occasions, and especially on those on which the devil is most apt to

try to get a foothold. The reference to the devil is not a figure, but an

obvious recognition of his personality, and of the liability of all Christians

to fall under his influence.

 

There is an old Latin proverb, “He who goes angry to bed has the devil for

a bedfellow.” Anger, if cherished, supplies a motive to yield to his evil suggestions.

The devil is in full sympathy with a resentful spirit. Yet, though he wields the

resources of this world as its god; though he is incarnate in the lust of the flesh, the

lust of the eye, and the pride of life (I John 2:16); he has no power to enter any

heart except with the will of its owner.  Let not Christians, then, allow that

heart, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost, to be opened, in a moment of holy

anger, to the intrusive suggestions of the evil one. The counsel of the apostle is

well calculated to promote the comfort and the usefulness of life. Let Christians

take care that their anger is not without cause, or without measure, or without

justice, and that it should not be so inconsistent with love that we cannot

pray for those against whom it is directed.

 

28  Let him that stole steal no more:” JO kle>ptwn - klep’-ton; - stealer;

may be translated either as a noun or as the present participle. In either case it

implies that even Christians might continue to steal, and that they had to be

warned against the habit. This may seem strange to us, but not to those who

consider how little theft was thought of among the pagans, and how liable

such habits are to remain among converts from heathenism. Where there is

a low moral tone and an uneducated conscience, very great irregularities

may be found. Dishonesty in trade, deceit in business, are just the same.

Among the Ephesians, thieving was probably the result of idle habits and of

dislike to hard work. Hence the apostle says,  “but rather let him labor,

working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to

give to him that needeth.”  Idleness is mean, labor is honorable; Christ

calls us to work, not for this reason only, but in order that we may have

something to give away. Paganism would rob others of what is rightfully

their own; Christianity leads me to give to others what is rightfully my

own. This different genius of the two systems appears here very clearly.

Observe the true use of superfluities — look out for the needy, and give

for their relief.

 

Stealing springs out of the deep selfishness of the heart.  It is a breach of

the eighth commandment – “Thou shalt not steal” – (Exodus 20:15)

and is a violation of the Great Commandment of Love – that love “which

worketh no ill to his neighbor.”  (Romans 13:10)

 

The remedy prescribed to prevent theft is honest work.   “Let him labor, working

 with his hands.”  God is our Employer. He has appointed our work and He

requires it at our hands (Acts 20:34; I Thessalonians 4:11). It ought to be part of

our worship. The gospel does not forbid our making an honest gain, nor

does it countenance any indifference to our mere earthly advantage. It

gives no encouragement to asceticism.  It must be honest work. “Working with

his hands the thing which is good.” We may not steal, either to enrich others

or ourselves. We may not seek our own advantage by oppression or injury to others,

or by the gain of callings dishonoring to our Christian profession. “The matter of our

alms must be goods righteously gotten; otherwise it is robbery, not righteousness.”

 

It is work for the benefit of others as well as ourselves. “That he may

have to give to him that needeth.” We are not to amass wealth for our own

enjoyment, but that we may supply the necessities of others. There are some who

cannot work. Their wants we are bound to supply, for no man liveth to himself.

“The righteous man giveth and spareth not” (Proverbs 21:26). “Who would

not rather be a laborer than a loiterer, seeing the sluggard is so miserable a wretch,

but the just man happy and able to do good works?”

 

Idleness is inconsistent with Christian life and leads to many dangers.

“Idleness occasions poverty, brings men to want, increases their necessities;

and then they betake themselves to indirect and unlawful means to supply them.”

(They want what others have without working for it – CY – 2010)  There were

persons at Thessalonica who were “working not at all, but were busybodies”

(II Thessalonians 3:11). Christianity gives no encouragement to monkish idleness.

Christianity was designed for a busy world.

 

29  Let no corrupt communication  proceed out of your mouth,” -Not

pagans only, but some of whom better things might be expected, need this

charge. How revolting is the tendency in some circles to foul and

blasphemous conversation; to profane and obscene jests, songs, and

allusions: to feed as it were on moral garbage! From Christian mouths no

such word should ever issue — it is simply abominable –  Corrupt speech

argues a corrupt heart,  for “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,

murders, adulteries, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). It is

thus the tongue defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of

nature (James 3:6). It is “out of the abundance of the heart that the

mouth speaketh (Matthew 12:34).  Corrupt speech is a fearful perversion

of the noble/acuity of speech with which God has endowed us -  “but that

which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the

hearers.” Our speech should build up the hearers in faith, holiness, and wisdom,

calculated to improve both heart and mind, tending to make men wiser and better!

Speaking should ever bear on improvement or edification, especially on turning

passing things to good account. This should be the aim; it does not require

speaking to be uniformly grave, but to have an object. It may be quite right to

have an enlivening object, but among Christians it should always be such as

befits their profession, and tends to help on the exalted objects at which they aim.

 

30  “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God,” -  Very solemn and

emphatic counsel. The name is given with unusual fullness, in order to

show the magnitude of the sin — to< Pneu~ma to< a[gion tou~ Qeou~, “The

Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God.” By an anthropopathy the Spirit is

represented as grieved by such treatment as would grieve us — e.g. when

His work is obstructed, when sin is trifled with, when Deity is treated

carelessly, when place is given to the devil, when the spirit of the world is

cherished. Those who act thus resemble the Sanballats and Tobiahs of the

time of the restoration, who hindred the rebuilding of the temple and the

restoration of order and prosperity. (Book of Nehemiah) - When the Holy Spirit

would urge consecration, separation from the world, holy exercises, active service,

our indolent and worldly hearts are liable to rebel and vex him. To grieve a

parent heedlessly is a great sin; how much more to grieve the Spirit of

God?  - “whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” This

passage implies our perfect security till the day of Judgment.  The term “sealing”

implies security.  This sealing is spoken of as a past act and will involve

the rejoining of body and soul in their changeless incorruptibility.  The Spirit

being rather the Seal than the Sealer, who is the Father (see ch. 1:13), it is better

to translate in whom than whereby; besides, this preserves the force of the ejn,

which, whether used of Christ or of the other persons of the Godhead, is so

characteristic of the Epistle. To grieve the Spirit is to help to obliterate the seal,

and thus weaken the evidence of our redemption.

 

31  Let all bitterness,” - not only in speech, but in mind,  disposition, and habit –

This points, not to mordant speech merely, but to a sour, irritable, splenetic

temperament, which places a man in an attitude of constant antagonism with his

fellow-men. It argues want of love and consideration for others. Its effects are

 

  • to spoil our own comfort;
  • to excite the hatred of others;
  • to destroy our influence for good.

 

 and wrath and anger;” -  nearly synonymous, but perhaps “wrath” is

equivalent to the tumultuous excited state of mind, out of which comes

anger, the settled feeling of dislike and enmity –  It suggests the fierce mental

excitement that springs out of bitterness. It is “a fever in the heart, and a

calenture in the head, and a fire in the face, and a sword in the hand, and a

fury all over.” Wrath is sinful because it springs from want of love, from

misunderstanding, and from pride (Proverbs 21:24) - “and clamor and evil

speaking, be put away from you;” – “clamor” - equivalent to the loud noise

of strife, the excited shouting down of opponents; “evil-speaking,” the

more deliberate habit of running down their character, exciting an evil

feeling against them in the minds of others -  ‘with all malice:” - equivalent to

wishing evil, whether in a more pronounced or in a latent and half-conscious

form, whether expressing itself in the way of coarse malediction

or lurking in a corner of the heart, as an evil spirit of which we should be

ashamed; all are rags of the old man, as disgraceful to Christians as literal

rags to a man of position; utterly unworthy of the regenerated child of

God. Chrysostom, rather fancifully, treats them as a genealogy: “Bitterness

bred wrath, wrath anger, anger clamor, clamor evil-speaking, which is

railing.”  Malice marks the rooted enmity out of which all the five forms of evil

naturally spring. It has been remarked that their genealogical relationship is

manifest in the very order of their mention: “Acerbity of temper exciting passion,

that passion matured into strong indignation, that indignation throwing itself off

in indecent brawling, and that brawling darkening into libel and abuse, a

 malicious element lying all the while at the basis of these flagrant enormities.”

We are commanded to put them all away.  They find their true place among the works

of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).  They are not only inconsistent with but opposite to

the nine graces of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,

goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and their indulgence in any degree by

Christians has the effect of grieving the Spirit.  They are inconsistent with that

worthy walk which belongs to the vocation with which we are called (v. 1)

 

Instead of bitterness, there ought to be kindness; instead of wrath, anger,

clamor, and evil-speaking, there ought to be tender-heartedness; instead of

malice, a loving and hearty forgiveness.

 

32  And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving

one another (opposed to bitterness, wrath, anger; Bengel). Kind

(crhstoi>), khrase-toi;  kind - sweet, amiable in disposition, subduing all that

is harsh and hasty, encouraging all that is gentle and good; tender-hearted

(eu]splagcnoi), yoo’-splangkh-noi;  - sympathetic – tender hearted  -

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 (carizo>menoi eJautoi~v),  khar-id’-zom-enoi  heh-ow-tois;  -

forgiving one another - as if under the feeling that what you give today you

require to ask tomorrow, not 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.

 

Consider how kindness is to be manifested:

 

  • By desiring one another’s good (I Timothy 2:1);
  • By rejoicing in one another’s prosperity (Romans 12:15);
  • By pitying one another’s miseries (Ibid);
  • By helping one another’s necessities (I John 3:17-18).

 

The motive to kindness:

 

  • The example of God Himself, who is said to be “kind to the

            unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35-36);

 

We ought to follow the example of our heavenly Father, who is rich in mercy,

and whose tender mercies are over all His works; (Psalm 145:9) and of His dear

Son Jesus Christ, who was often moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36), and,

as the High Priest of our profession, cannot but be touched with the feeling of our

infirmities (Hebrews 6:15).

 

We are to have a forgiving spirit because God forgives.   “Forgiving one another,

 even as God also in Christ forgave you.” These words imply:

 

  • That Christians will often do to one another much that needs

            forgiveness. They are “of like passions with other men,  (James

            5:17) beset by infirmities of temper, or apt to come into collision with

            others either in a way of opinion or of interest. Faults will be committed,

            offence will be given.

 

  • That it is a Christian. duty to forgive others. Our Lord gave repeated

            injunctions respecting it (Matthew 6:14; Luke 17:4).

 

  • Our forgiving our brethren must be a certain factor in our own prayer

            for Divine forgiveness.

 

  • The motive or measure of our forgiveness is to be the very forgiveness

            of God Himself. Note:

 

ü      It is God who forgives; it is an act of His grace (ch. 1:7).

 

ü      He does it in Christ, not merely for His sake, but in Him as our

                        Mediator.

 

ü      It is a past act. Believers are forgiven in Christ in the very moment of

                        their conversion.

 

ü      How miserable we should be without it! — God angry with us; hell

                        under our feet; the very blessings of life a curse to us.

 

ü      How happy we are with this forgiveness! God will never condemn you

                        nor remember your sins; all things will be blessed to you; the love of

                        God the guarantee of your final glorification

 

 

 

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