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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - EPHESIANS 4
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    CHAPTER 4

    Eph 4:1-32. EXHORTATIONS TO CHRISTIAN DUTIES RESTING ON OUR CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGES, AS UNITED IN ONE BODY, THOUGH VARYING IN THE GRACES GIVEN TO THE SEVERAL MEMBERS, THAT WE MAY COME UNTO A PERFECT MAN IN CHRIST.

    1. Translate, according to the Greek order, "I beseech you, therefore (seeing that such is your calling of grace, the first through third chapters) I the prisoner in the Lord (that is, imprisoned in the Lord's cause)." What the world counted ignominy, he counts the highest honor, and he glories in his bonds for Christ, more than a king in his diadem [THEODORET]. His bonds, too, are an argument which should enforce his exhortation.
    - vocation--Translate, "calling" to accord, as the Greek does, with "called" (Eph 4:4; Eph 1:18; Ro 8:28, 30). Col 3:15 similarly grounds Christian duties on our Christian "calling." The exhortations of this part of the Epistle are built on the conscious enjoyment of the privileges mentioned in the former part. Compare Eph 4:32, with Eph 1:7; Eph 5:1 with Eph 1:5; Eph 4:30, with Eph 1:13; Eph 5:15, with Eph 1:8.

    2, 3. lowliness--In classic Greek, the meaning is meanness of spirit: the Gospel has elevated the word to express a Christian grace, namely, the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so; the thinking truly, and because truly, therefore lowlily, of ourselves [TRENCH].
    - meekness--that spirit in which we accept God's dealings with us without disputing and resisting; and also the accepting patiently of the injuries done us by men, out of the thought that they are permitted by God for the chastening and purifying of His people (2Sa 16:11; compare Ga 6:1; 2Ti 2:25; Tit 3:2). It is only the lowly, humble heart that is also meek (Col 3:12). As "lowliness and meekness" answer to "forbearing one another in love" (compare "love," Eph 4:15, 16), so "long-suffering" answers to (Eph 4:4) "endeavoring (Greek, 'earnestly' or 'zealously giving diligence') to keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit (the unity between men of different tempers, which flows from the presence of the Spirit, who is Himself 'one,' Eph 4:4) in (united in) the bond of peace" (the "bond" by which "peace" is maintained, namely, "love," Col 3:14, 15 [BENGEL]; or, "peace" itself is the "bond" meant, uniting the members of the Church [ALFORD]).

    4. In the apostle's creed, the article as to THE CHURCH properly follows that as to THE HOLY GHOST. To the Trinity naturally is annexed the Church, as the house to its tenant, to God His temple, the state to its founder [AUGUSTINE, Enchiridion, c. 15]. There is yet to be a Church, not merely potentially, but actually catholic or world-wide; then the Church and the world will be co-extensive. Rome falls into inextricable error by setting up a mere man as a visible head, antedating that consummation which Christ, the true visible Head, at His appearing shall first realize. As the "SPIRIT" is mentioned here, so the "LORD" (Jesus), Eph 4:5, and "GOD the Father," Eph 4:6. Thus the Trinity is again set forth.
    - hope--here associated with "the Spirit," which is the "earnest of our inheritance" (Eph 1:13, 14). As "faith" is mentioned, Eph 4:5, so "hope" here, and "love," Eph 4:2. The Holy Spirit, as the common higher principle of life (Eph 2:18, 22), gives to the Church its true unity. Outward uniformity is as yet unattainable; but beginning by having one mind, we shall hereafter end by having "one body." The true "body" of Christ (all believers of every age) is already "one," as joined to the one Head. But its unity is as yet not visible, even as the Head is not visible; but it shall appear when He shall appear (Joh 17:21-23; Col 3:4). Meanwhile the rule is, "In essentials, unity; in doubtful questions, liberty; in all things, charity." There is more real unity where both go to heaven under different names than when with the same name one goes to heaven, the other to hell. Truth is the first thing: those who reach it, will at last reach unity, because truth is one; while those who seek unity as the first thing, may purchase it at the sacrifice of truth, and so of the soul itself.
    - of your calling--the one "hope" flowing from our "calling," is the element "IN" which we are "called" to live. Instead of privileged classes, as the Jews under the law, a unity of dispensation was henceforth to be the common privilege of Jew and Gentile alike. Spirituality, universality, and unity, were designed to characterize the Church; and it shall be so at last (Isa 2:2-4; 11:9, 13; Zep 3:9; Zec 14:9).

    5. Similarly "faith" and "baptism" (the sacramental seal of faith) are connected (Mr 16:16; Col 2:12). Compare 1Co 12:13, "Faith" is not here that which we believe, but the act of believing, the mean by which we apprehend the "one Lord." "Baptism" is specified, being the sacrament whereby we are incorporated into the "one body." Not the Lord's Supper, which is an act of matured communion on the part of those already incorporate, "a symbol of union, not of unity" [ELLICOTT]. In 1Co 10:17, where a breach of union was in question, it forms the rallying point [ALFORD]. There is not added, "One pope, one council, one form of government" [Cautions for Times]. The Church is one in unity of faith (Eph 4:5; Jude 3); unity of origination (Eph 2:19-21): unity of sacraments (Eph 4:5; 1Co 10:17; 12:13): unity of "hope" (Eph 4:4; Tit 1:2); unity of charity (Eph 4:3): unity (not uniformity) of discipline and government: for where there is no order, no ministry with Christ as the Head, there is no Church [PEARSON, Exposition of the Creed, Article IX].

    6. above--"over all." The "one God over all" (in His sovereignty and by His grace) is the grand source and crowning apex of unity (Eph 2:19, end).
    - through all--by means of Christ "who filleth all things" (Eph 4:10; 2:20, 21), and is "a propitiation" for all men (1Jo 2:2).
    - in you all--The oldest manuscripts omit "you." Many of the oldest versions and Fathers and old manuscripts read, "in us all." Whether the pronoun be read or not, it must be understood (either from the "ye," Eph 4:4, or from the "us," Eph 4:7); for other parts of Scripture prove that the Spirit is not "in all" men, but only in believers (Ro 8:9, 14). God is "Father" both by generation (as Creator) and regeneration (Eph 2:10; Jas 1:17, 18; 1Jo 5:1).

    7. But--Though "one" in our common connection with "one Lord, one faith, &c., one God," yet "each one of us" has assigned to him his own particular gift, to be used for the good of the whole: none is overlooked; none therefore can be dispensed with for the edifying of the Church (Eph 4:12). A motive to unity (Eph 4:3). Translate, "Unto each one of us was the grace (which was bestowed by Christ at His ascension, Eph 4:8) given according to," &c.
    - the measure--the amount "of the gift of Christ" (Ro 12:3, 6).

    8. Wherefore--"For which reason," namely, in order to intimate that Christ, the Head of the Church, is the author of all these different gifts, and that giving of them is an act of His "grace" [ESTIUS].
    - he saith--God, whose word the Scripture is (Ps 68:18).
    - When he ascended--GOD is meant in the Psalm, represented by the ark, which was being brought up to Zion in triumph by David, after that "the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies" (2Sa 6:1-7:1; 1Ch 15:1-29). Paul quotes it of CHRIST ascending to heaven, who is therefore GOD.
    - captivity--that is, a band of captives. In the Psalm, the captive foes of David. In the antitypical meaning, the foes of Christ the Son of David, the devil, death, the curse, and sin (Col 2:15; 2Pe 2:4), led as it were in triumphal procession as a sign of the destruction of the foe.
    - gave gifts unto men--in the Psalm, "received gifts for men," Hebrew, "among men," that is, "thou hast received gifts" to distribute among men. As a conqueror distributes in token of his triumph the spoils of foes as gifts among his people. The impartation of the gifts and graces of the Spirit depended on Christ's ascension (Joh 7:39; 14:12). Paul stops short in the middle of the verse, and does not quote "that the Lord God might dwell among them." This, it is true, is partly fulfilled in Christians being an "habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph 2:22). But the Psalm (Ps 68:16) refers to "the Lord dwelling in Zion for ever"; the ascension amidst attendant angels, having as its counterpart the second advent amidst "thousands of angels" (Ps 68:17), accompanied by the restoration of Israel (Ps 68:22), the destruction of God's enemies and the resurrection (Ps 68:20, 21, 23), the conversion of the kingdoms of the world to the Lord at Jerusalem (Ps 68:29-34).

    9. Paul reasons that (assuming Him to be God) His ascent implies a previous descent; and that the language of the Psalm can only refer to Christ, who first descended, then ascended. For God the Father does not ascend or descend. Yet the Psalm plainly refers to God (Eph 4:8, 17, 18). It must therefore be GOD THE SON (Joh 6:33, 62). As He declares (Joh 3:13), "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven." Others, though they did not previously descend, have ascended; but none save Christ can be referred to in the Psalm as having done so; for it is of God it speaks.
    - lower parts of the earth--The antithesis or contrast to "far above all heavens," is the argument of ALFORD and others, to show that this phrase means more than simply the earth, namely, the regions beneath it, even as He ascended not merely to the visible heavens, but "far above" them. Moreover, His design "that He might fill all things" (Eph 4:10, Greek, "the whole universe of things") may imply the same. But see on Eph 4:10 on those words. Also the leading "captive" of the "captive hand" ("captivity") of satanic powers, may imply that the warfare reached to their habitation itself (Ps 63:9). Christ, as Lord of all, took possession first of the earth the unseen world beneath it (some conjecture that the region of the lost is in the central parts of our globe), then of heaven (Ac 2:27, 28). However, all we surely know is, that His soul at death descended to Hades, that is, underwent the ordinary condition of departed spirits of men. The leading captive of satanic powers here, is not said to be at His descent, but at His ascension; so that no argument can be drawn from it for a descent to the abodes of Satan. Ac 2:27, 28, and Ro 10:7, favor the view of the reference being simply to His descent to Hades. So PEARSON in Exposition of the Creed (Php 2:10).

    10. all heavens--Greek, "all the heavens" (Heb 7:26; 4:14), Greek, "passed through the heavens" to the throne of God itself.
    - might fill--In Greek, the action is continued to the present time, both "might" and "may fill," namely, with His divine presence and Spirit, not with His glorified body. "Christ, as God, is present everywhere; as glorified man, He can be present anywhere" [ELLICOTT].

    11. Greek, emphatical. "Himself" by His supreme power. "It is HE that gave," &c.
    - gave some, apostles--Translate, "some to be apostles, and some to be prophets," &c. The men who filled the %%%

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