THE practical portion of the Epistle now commences, or as Theodoret says- ἐπὶ τὰ εἴδη προτρέπει τῆς ἀρετῆς. But doctrine has been expounded ere duty is enforced. Instructions as to change of spiritual relation precede exhortations as to change of life. It is in vain to tell the dead man to rise and walk, till the principle of animation be restored. One must be a child of God before he can be a servant of God. Pardon and purity, faith and holiness, are indissolubly united. Ethics therefore follow theology. And now the apostle first proceeds to enjoin the possession of such graces as promote and sustain the unity of the church, the members of which are “rooted and grounded in love”-a unity which, as he is anxious to show, is quite compatible with variety of gift, office, and station. Then he dwells on the nature, design, and results of the ministerial functions belonging to the church, points out its special and divine organization, and goes on to the reprobation of certain vices, and the inculcation of opposite graces.
(Ephesians 4:1.) παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ—“I exhort you then, I the prisoner in the Lord.” The retrospective οὖν refers us to the preceding paragraph-Christian privilege or calling being so rich and full, and his prayer for them being so fervent and extensive. The personality of the writer is distinctly brought out—“I the prisoner,” ἐγώ. Ephesians 3:1. The phrase ἐν κυρίῳ is closely connected with ὁ δέσμιος, as the want of the article between the words also shows. Some, indeed, prefer to join it to the verb παρακαλῶ—“I exhort you in the Lord.” Such was the view of Semler, and Koppe does not express a decided opinion. But the position of the words is plainly against such a construction. Winer, § 20, 2. The verb παρακαλῶ is not used in its original sense, but signifies “I exhort,” as if equivalent to προτρέπω. It has, however, various shades of meaning in the Pauline writing. See Knapp's Scrip. Var. p. 125 et seq. Nor can ἐν κυρίῳ signify “for Christ's sake,” as is the opinion of Chrysostom, Theophylact, Koppe, and Flatt. When we turn to similar expressions, such as τοὺς ὄντας ἐν κυρίῳ (Romans 16:11)- ἀγαπητὸν ἐν κυρίῳ (Philemon 1:16)- γαμηθῆναι, μόνον ἐν κυρίῳ (1 Corinthians 7:39)- τὸν ἀγαπητόν μου ἐν κυρίῳ (Romans 16:8)-the meaning of the idiom cannot be doubted. It characterizes Paul as a Christian prisoner-one who not only was imprisoned for Christ's sake, but who was and still is in union with the Lord, as a servant and sufferer. See on κύριος, ch. Ephesians 1:2-3. The apostle in Ephesians 3:1 uses the genitive which indicates one aspect of relationship-that of possession; but here he employs the dative as denoting that his incarceration has its element or characteri stic, perhaps origin too, from his union with Christ. But why again allude to his bondage in these terms? Not simply to excite sympathy, and claim a hearing for his counsels, nor solely, as Olshausen and Harless maintain, to represent his absolute obedience to the Lord as an example to his readers. All these ideas might be in his mind, but none of them engrossingly, else some more distinctive allusion might be expected in his language. Nor can we accede to Meyer and the Greek fathers, that there is in the phrase any high exultation in the glory of a confessor or a martyr-as if, as Theodoret says, he gloried more in his chains, ἤ βασιλεὺς διαδήματι. But his writing to them while he was in chains proved the deep interest he took in them and in their spiritual welfare-showed them that his faith in Jesus, and his love to His cause, were not shaken by persecution-that the iron which lay upon his limb had not entered into his soul-and that his apostolical prerogative was as intact, his pastoral anxiety as powerful, and his relation to the Lord as close and tender as when on his visit to them he disputed in the school of Tyrannus, or uttered his solemn and pathetic valediction to their elders at Miletus. Letters inspired by love in a dungeon might also have a greater charm than his oral address. Compare Galatians 6:17. “I exhort you”-
ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε—“that ye walk worthy of the calling with which ye were called.” κλῆσις is the Christian vocation-the summons “to glory and virtue.” See under Ephesians 1:18; Romans 11:29; Philippians 3:14; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1, etc. In ἧς ἐκλήθητε is a common idiom- ἧς being probably by attraction or assimilation, as Krüger, § 51, 10, prefers to call it, for ᾗ, but perhaps for ἥν (Arrian, Epict. p. 122), and the verb being used with its cognate noun. Winer, § 24, 1; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Corinthians 7:20. See also under Ephesians 1:8; Ephesians 1:19-20, Ephesians 2:4. ῎αξιος in the sense of “in harmony with,” is often thus used. Matthew 3:8; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11. On the peculiar meaning of περιπατέω see under Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 2:10. It is a stroke of very miserable wit which Adam Clarke ascribes to the apostle, when he represents him as saying, “Ye have your liberty and may walk, I am deprived of mine and cannot.” Their calling, so high, so holy, and so authoritative, and which had come to them in such power, was to be honoured by a walk in perfect correspondence with its origin and spirit, its claims and destiny. See also under Ephesians 4:4.
The apostle now enforces the cultivation of those graces, the possession of which is indispensable to the harmony of the church: for the opposite vices - pride, irascibility, impatient querulousness-all tend to strife and disruption. On union the apostle had already dwelt in the second chapter as a matter of doctrine-here he introduces it as one of practice.
(Ephesians 4:2.) ΄ετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, μετὰ μακροθυμίας, ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ—“With all lowliness and meekness, with long - suffering, forbearing one another in love.” Colossians 3:12. ΄ετά is with-accompanied with-visible manifestation. Winer, § 47, h. On πάσης see Ephesians 1:8. Some suppose the various nouns in the verse to be connected with ἀνεχόμενοι, but such a connection mars the harmony and development of thought, as it rises from general to special counsel.
ταπεινοφροσύνη is lowliness of mind, opposed to τὰ ὑψηλα φρονοῦντες. Romans 12:16. It is that profound humility which stands at the extremest distance from haughtiness, arrogance, and conceit, and which is produced by a right view of ourselves, and of our relation to Christ and to that glory to which we are called. It is ascribed by the apostle to himself in Acts 20:19. It is not any one's making himself small- ὅταν τις μέγας ὤν-as Chrysostom supposes, for such would be mere simulation. Every blessing we possess or hope to enjoy is from God. Nothing is self-procured, and therefore no room is left for self-importance. This modesty of mind, says Chrysostom, is the foundation of all virtue- πάσης ἀρετῆς ὑπόθεσις, Trench, Synon. § 43; Tittmann, De Syn. p. 140.
πραΰτης is meekness of spirit in all relations, both toward God and toward man-which never rises in insubordination against God nor in resentment against man. It is a grace ascribed by the Saviour to Himself (Matthew 11:29), and ascribed to him by the apostle. 2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:23. It is not merely that meekness which is not provoked and angered by the reception of injury, but that entire subduedness of temperament which strives to be in harmony with God's will, be it what it may, and, in reference to men, thinks with candour, suffers in self-composure, and speaks in the “soft answer” which “turneth away wrath.” For some differences in spelling the word, see Passow, sub voce, and Lobeck, ad Phrynich. p. 403. The form adopted is found only in B and E, but it seems supported by the analogy of the Alexandrian spelling.
The preposition μετά is repeated before the next noun, μακροθυμίας, and this repetition has led Estius, Rückert, Harless, Olshausen, and Stier to connect it with ἀνεχόμενοι in the following clause. We see no good ground for this construction. On the contrary, ἀνεχόμενοι has ἐν ἀγάπῃ to qualify it, and needs not μετὰ μακροθυμίας, which, from its position, would then be emphatic. Some, like Lachmann and Olshausen, feeling this, join ἐν ἀγάπῃ as unwarrantably to the following verse. The first two nouns are governed by one preposition, for they are closely associated in meaning, the “meekness” being after all only a phrase of the “lowliness of mind,” and resting on it. But the third noun is introduced with the preposition repeated, as it is a special and distinct virtue-a peculiar result of the former two-and so much, at the same time, before the mind of the apostle, that he explains it in the following clause.
΄ακροθυμία—“long-suffering,” is opposed to irritability, or to what we familiarly name shortness of temper (James 1:19), and is that patient self-possession which enables a man to bear with those who oppose him, or who in any way do him injustice. He can afford to wait till better judgment and feeling on their part prevail, 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 4:2. In its high sense of bearing with evil, and postponing the punishment of it, it is ascribed to God, Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22. The participle ἀνεχόμενοι is in the nominative, and the anacolouthon is easily explained from the connection with the first verse. An example of a similar change is found in Ephesians 3:18. Winer, § 63, 2. It is useless, with Heinsius and Homberg, to attempt to supply the imperative mood of the verb of existence—“Be ye forbearing one another.” ᾿ανέχομαι, in the middle voice, is to have patience with, that is, “to hold oneself up” till the provocation is past. Colossians 3:13. Verbs of its class govern the genitive. Kühner, § 539. ᾿εν ἀγάπῃ describes the spirit in which such forbearance was to be exercised. Retaliation was not to be allowed; all occasionally needed forbearance, and all were uniformly to exercise it. No acerbity of temper, sharp retort, or satirical reply was to be admitted. As it is the second word which really begins the strife, so, where mutual forbearance is exercised, even the first angry word would never be spoken. And this mutual forbearance must not be affected coolness or studied courtesy; it must have its origin, sphere, and nutriment “in love”-in the genuine attachment that ought to prevail among Christian disciples. OEcumenius justly observes- ἔνθα γὰρ ἐστιν ἀγάπη, πάντα ἐστιν ἀνεκτά.
(Ephesians 4:3.) σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος—“endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit.” This clause is parallel to the preceding, and indicates not so much, as Meyer says, the inward feelings by which the ἀνέχεσθαι is to be characterized, as rather the motive to it, and the accompanying or simultaneous effort. πνεῦμα cannot surely mean the mere human spirit, as the following verse plainly proves. Yet such is the view of Ambrosiaster, Anselm, Erasmus, Calvin, Estius, Rückert, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Bloomfield. Calvin also says-Ego simplicius interpretor de animorum concordia; and Ambrosiaster quietly changes the terms, and renders-unitatis spiritum. Others, again, take the phrase to denote that unity of which the Spirit is the bond. Chrysostom says- διὰ γὰρ τοῦτο τὸ πνεῦμα ἐδόθη, ἵνα τοὺς γένει καὶ τρόποις διαφόροις διεστηκότας ἑνώσῃ. This view is perhaps not sufficiently distinctive. The reference is to the Spirit of God, but, as the next verse shows, to that Spirit as inhabiting the church—“one body” and “one Spirit.” The “unity of the Spirit” is not, as Grotius says, unitas ecclesiae, quae est corpus spirituale, but it is the unity which dwells within the church, and which results from the one Spirit-the originating cause being in the genitive. Hartung, Casus, p. 12. The apostle has in view what he afterwards advances about different functions and offices in the church in Ephesians 4:7; Ephesians 4:11. Separate communities are not to rally round special gifts and offices, as if each gift proceeded from, and was organized by, a separate and rival Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4, etc. And this unity of the Spirit was not so completely in their possession, that its existence depended wholly on their guardianship. For it exists independently of human vigilance or fidelity, but its manifestations may be thwarted and checked. They were therefore to keep it safe from all disturbance and infraction. And in this duty they were to be earnest and forward- σπουδάζοντες, using diligence, “bisie to kepe,” as Wycliffe renders; for if they cherished humility, meekness, and universal tolerance in love, as the apostle hath enjoined them, it would be no difficult task to preserve the “unity of the Spirit.” And that unity is to be kept-
ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης - “in the bond of peace.” Some understand the apostle to affirm that the unity is kept by that which forms the bond of peace, viz. love. Such an opinion has advocates in Theophylact, Calovius, Bengel, Rückert, Meier, Harless, Stier, and Winzer, who take the genitive as that of object. Such an idea may be implied, but it is not the immediate statement of the apostle. The declaration here is different from that in Colossians 3:14, where love is termed “a bond.” See on the place. εἰρήνης appears to be the genitive of apposition, as Flatt, Meyer, Matthies, Olshausen, Alford, and Ellicott take it. Winer, § 59, 8; Acts 8:23. “The bond of peace” is that bond which is peace. ᾿εν does not denote that the unity of the Spirit springs from “the bond of peace,” as if unity were the product of peace, or simply consisted of peace, but that the unity is preserved and manifested in the bond of peace as its element. Winer, § 48, a. “Peace” is that tranquillity which ought to reign in the church, and by the maintenance of which its essential spiritual unity is developed and “bodied forth.” This unity is something far higher than peace; but it is by the preservation of peace as a bond among church members that such unity is realized and made perceptible to the world. John 17. The outer becomes the symbol and expression of the inner-union is the visible sign of unity. When believers universally and mutually recognize the image of Christ in one another, and, loving one another instinctively and in spite of minor differences, feel themselves composing the one church of Christ, then do they endeavour to keep “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The meaning of the English verb “endeavour” has been somewhat a ttenuated in the course of its descent to us. Trench on Authorized Version, p. 17. Unity and peace are therefore surely more than mere alliance between Jew and Gentile, though the apostle's previous illustrations of that truth may have suggested this argument.
(Ephesians 4:4.) ῝εν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα—“One body and one Spirit.” The connection is not, as is indicated in the Syriac version-Keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, in order that you may be in one body and one spirit. Others construe as if the verse formed part of an exhortation—“Be ye, or ye ought to be, one body,” or keeping the unity of the Spirit as being one body, etc. But such a supplement is too great, and the simple explanation of the ellipsis is preferable. Conybeare indeed renders—“You are one body,” but the common and correct supplement is the verb ἐστι. Kühner, indeed (§ 760, c), says that such an asyndeton as this frequently happens in classic Greek, when such a particle as γάρ is understood. Bernhardy, p. 448. But the verse abruptly introduces an assertatory illustration of the previous statement, and in the fervent style of the apostle any connecting particle is omitted. “One body there is, and one Spirit.” And after all that Ellicott and Alford have said, the assertatory (rein assertorisch, Meyer) clause logically contains an argument-though grammatically the resolution by γάρ be really superfluous. Ellicott, after Hofmann, gives it as “Remember there is one body,” which is an argument surely to maintain the unity of the Spirit. The idea contained in σῶμα-the body or the church-has been already introduced and explained (Ephesians 1:23, Ephesians 2:16), to the explanations of which the reader may turn. The church is described in the second chapter as one body and one Spirit- ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι- ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι; and the apostle here implies that this unity ought to be guarded. Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Colossians 1:24. The church or body is one, though its members are οἱ πανταχοῦ τῆς οἰκουμένης πιστοί. (Chrysostom.) There are not two rival communitie s. The body with its many members, and complex array of organs of very different position, functions, and honour, is yet one. The church, no matter where it is situated, or in what age of the world it exists-no matter of what race, blood, or colour are its members, or how various the tongues in which its services are presented-is one, and remains so, unaffected by distance or time, or physical, intellectual, and social distinctions. And as in the body there is only one spirit, one living principle-no double consciousness, no dualism of intelligence, motive, and action-so the one Spirit of God dwells in the one church, and there are therefore neither rivalry of administration nor conflicting claims. And whatever the gifts and graces conferred, whatever variety of aspect they may assume, all possess a delicate self-adaptation to times and circumstances, for they are all from the “one Spirit,” having oneness of origin, design, and result. (See on Ephesians 4:16.) The apostle now adds an appeal to their own experience-
καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν—“even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling.” καθὼς καί introduces illustrative proof of the statement just made. The meaning of this clause depends very much on the sense assigned to ἐν. Some, as Meyer, would make it instrumental, and render it “by;” others, as Grotius, Flatt, Rückert, and Valpy, would give it the meaning of εἰς, and Chrysostom that of ἐπί. Harless adopts the view expressed by Bengel on 1 Thessalonians 4:7, and thinks that it signifies an element-indoles-of the calling. We prefer to regard it as bearing its common signification-as pointing to the element in which their calling took place-in una spe, as the Vulgate. 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Winer, § 50, 5. Sometimes the verb is simply used, both in the present and aorist (Romans 8:30; Romans 9:11; Galatians 5:8), and often with various prepositions. While ἐν represents the element in which the calling takes effect, ἐν εἰρήνῃ, 1 Corinthians 7:15; ἐν χάριτι, Galatians 1:6; ἐν ἁγιασμῷ, 1 Thessalonians 4:7 : ἐπί represents the proximate end, ἐπ᾿ ἐλευθερίᾳ, Galatians 5:13; οὐκ, ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ, 1 Thessalonians 4:7 : εἰς depicts another aspect, εἰς κοινωνίαν, 1 Corinthians 1:9; εἰρήνη- εἰς ἥν, Colossians 3:15; εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς, 1 Peter 2:9 -and apparently also the ultimate purpose, εἰς περιποίησιν δόξης, 2 Thessalonians 2:14; εἰς βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν, 1 Thessalonians 2:12; τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς εἰς ἥν, 1 Timothy 6:12; εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον αὐτοῦ δόξαν, 1 Peter 5:10; other forms being εἰς τοῦτο, 1 Peter 2:21; εἰς τοῦτο ἵνα, 1 Peter 3:9 -while the instrumental cause is given by διά ; the inner, διὰ χάριτος, Galatians 1:15; and the outer, διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, 2 Thessalonians 2:14. The following genitive, κλήσεως, is that of possession—“in one hope belonging to your calling.” See under Ephesians 1:18, on similar phraseology. The genitive of originating cause preferred by Ellicott is not so appropriate, on account of the preceding verb ἐκλήθητε, the genitive of the correlative noun suggesting what belongs to the call and characterized it, when they received it. The “hope” is “one,” for it has one object, and that is glory; one foundation, and that is Christ. Their call- ἡ ἄνω κλήσις (Philippians 3:14), had brought them into the possession of this hope. See Nitzsch, System. § 210; Reuss, Théol. Chrét. vol. ii. p. 219. “There is one body and one Spirit,” and the Ephesian converts had experience of this unity, for the hope which they possessed as their calling was also “one,” and in connection with-
(Ephesians 4:5.) εἷς κύριος, μία πίστις, ἓν βάπτισμα—“One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Further and conclusive argument. For the meaning of κύριος in its reference to Christ, the reader may turn to Ephesians 1:2. Had Irenaeus attended to the common, if not invariable Pauline usage, he would not have said that the father only is to be called Lord-Patrem tantum Deum et Dominum. Opera, tom. 1.443, ed. Stieren, Lipsiae,1849-50. There is only one supreme Governor over the church. He is the one Head of the one body, and the Giver of its one Spirit. This being the case, there can therefore be only-
“One faith.” Faith does not signify creed, or truth believed, but it signifies confidence in the one Lord-faith, the subjective oneness of which is created and sustained by the unity of its object. Usteri, Paulin. Lehrb. p. 300. The one faith may be embodied in an objective profession. There being only one faith, there can be only-
“One baptism.” Baptism is consecration to Christ-one dedication to the one Lord. Acts 19:5; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27. “One baptism” is the result and expression of the “one faith” in the “one Lord,” and, at the same time, the one mode of initiation by the “one Spirit” into the “one body.” Tertullian argues from this expression against the repetition of baptism-felix aqua quod semel affluit. De Bap. xv. Among the many reasons given for the omission of the Lord's Supper in this catalogue of unity, this perhaps is the most conclusive-that the Lord's Supper is only the demonstration of a recognized unity in the church, whereas faith and baptism are the initial and essential elements of it. These last are also individually possessed, whereas the Lord's Supper is a social observance on the part of those who, in oneness of faith and fellowship, honour the “one Lord.” Still farther and deeper-
(Ephesians 4:6.) εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων—“One God and Father of all”-ultimate, highest, and truest unity. Seven times does he use the epithet “One.” The church is one body, having one Spirit in it, and one Lord over it; then its inner relations and outer ordinances are one too; its calling has attached to it one hope; its means of union to Him is one faith; its dedication is one baptism: and all this unity is but the impress of the great primal unity-one God. His unity stamps an image of itself on that scheme which originated in Him, and issues in His glory. Christians serve one God, are not distracted by a multiplicity of divinities, and need not fear the revenge of one while they are doing homage to his rival. Oneness of spirit ought to characterize their worship. “One God and Father of all,” that is, all Christians, for the reference is not to the wide universe, or to all men, as Holzhausen, with Musculus and Matthies, argue-but to the church. Jew and Gentile forming the one church have one God and father. (An illustration of the filial relationship of believers to God will be found under Ephesians 1:5.) The three following clauses mark a peculiarity of the apostle's style, viz. his manner of indicating different relations of the same word by connecting it with various prepositions. Galatians 1:1; Romans 3:22; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16; Winer, § 50, 6. It is altogether a vicious and feeble exegesis on the part of Koppe to say that these three clauses are synonymous-sententia videtur una, tantum variis formulis synonymis expressa. A triple relationship of the one God to the “all” is now pointed out, and the first is thus expressed-
ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων—“who is over all.” These adjectives, πάντων and πᾶσι, are clearly to be taken in the masculine gender, as the epithet πατήρ would also suggest. Erasmus, Michaelis, Morus, and Baumgarten-Crusius take them in ἐπὶ πάντων and διὰ πάντων as neuter, while the Vulgate, Zachariae, and Koppe accept the neuter only in the second phrase. ῾ο ἐπὶ πάντων is rendered by Chrysostom- ὁ ἐπάνω πάντων. The great God is high over all, robed in unsurpassable glory. There is, and can be, no superior-no co-ordinate sovereignty. The universe, no less than the church, lies beneath, and far beneath, His throne, and the jurisdiction of that throne, “high and lifted up,” is paramount and unchallenged.