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Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

4:1 prisoner. See note on Ephesians 3:1.

4:1 walk worthy. A Christian’s “walk” should both match and balance his doctrine.

4:1 vocation. “Vocation” is “calling,” and we are “called” to be separated unto Christ and to walk in Him (Colossians 2:6).

4:3 unity. It is noteworthy that the only references to Christian “unity” in the New Testament—in so far as the word itself is concerned—are here in this chapter. “The unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:13) is vital, but so is “the unity of the Spirit.” There can be no real spiritual unity without doctrinal unity, and vice versa. In one sense, the two are synonymous, because sound doctrine includes the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His “fruit” produced in the lives of true believers. Note also I Corinthians 1:10.

4:4 one body. The doctrine of Christian unity, including both doctrinal and spiritual unity, incorporates seven units: one body, composed of all the individual members that make up a body, as stressed by Paul (I Corinthians 12:12); one Spirit who indwells each believer and has baptized them into that body (I Corinthians 12:13); one hope, centered on Christ’s return to complete His work of redemption (Ephesians 1:14; Titus 2:13); one Lord, Jesus Christ, who has purchased each believer with His own blood (Ephesians 1:7; I Peter 1:18-19); one faith, that body of truth which has been “once [for all] delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3); one baptism, by which we have all been identified with and united with Christ; and one God and Father of us all.

4:5 one faith. All people, even atheists, have faith in something. The Christian faith, however, is the only saving faith (Ephesians 2:8). It is an understanding faith (Hebrews 11:3), a justifying faith (Romans 5:1), a purifying faith (Acts 15:9), a living faith (Galatians 3:11), a stable faith (II Corinthians 1:24), and a triumphant faith (I John 5:4). But this true faith may be rare on earth when Christ returns (see note on Luke 18:8).

4:5 one baptism. Whether this “one baptism” refers to Spirit baptism or water baptism has been extensively argued. Since both aspects of baptism are taught in the Bible, with water baptism being the visible sign and testimony to the Spirit’s baptism, and since no modifying words or phrases are attached to the word here to identify it as one or the other, it is probable that both aspects are in view, it being implicit that both go together in one unifying reality. See notes on I Corinthians 12:13 and Romans 6:3-5.

4:6 One God and Father. Note another reference to the three Persons of the Godhead in these verses (compare Ephesians 1:17; 2:18; 3:14-19)—the Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), the Lord (Ephesians 4:5), the Father (Ephesians 4:6). The Father is above all things; the Son manifests God through all things; and the Spirit is in all believing Christians.

4:7 every one of us. In spite of the seven-fold unity just described (Ephesians 4:4-6), each individual has received his or her own distinct gift(s) from Christ.

4:8 Wherefore he saith. This quotation is from Psalm 68:18, the context of which is apparently describing the Lord among His heavenly hosts of angels, riding as a mighty conqueror returning home with the spoils of battle, the spoils consisting of “captivity” led forth “captive.” Evidently this prize of battle had consisted of a band of prisoners that had been held captive in an alien land, but now had in turn been captured from the enemy by the returning king. The latter—none other than the Lord Himself (Psalm 68:17)—as he returned to His “holy place,” “ascended up on high” to do this, evidently returning from somewhere below.

4:9 lower parts. The ascending Lord was not merely ascending back from the earth, but from “the lower parts of the earth.” This somewhat enigmatic geographical reference could, by itself, perhaps refer to the deep ocean bottom, but this would not yield captives. More likely it refers to the great pit at the center of the earth, indicated in the Bible as the prison confining the souls of the dead, the place called sheol in the Old Testament Hebrew and hades in the Greek New Testament, but often translated “hell” in the King James Translation.

One of Christ’s purposes when He came to earth was “to preach deliverance to the captives, set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). This statement of Jesus was taken from Isaiah 61:1, where it read “ proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” When Christ died on the cross, He in the Spirit “went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (I Peter 3:19). The word “preached” can better be translated “proclaimed”—that is, proclaimed His victory over Satan. Christ had said prophetically (Psalm 16:10), “thou wilt not leave [i.e., ‘abandon’] my soul in hell” (Acts 2:27). He returned from Hades with “the keys of hell and death” (Revelation 1:18), bringing “captivity captive” with Him as He returned. His spirit returned to His body resting in Joseph’s tomb, and He arose from the dead, alive forever more. The souls of those who had died in faith came with Him from their resting place in hades in “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22), and then, in a mighty miracle, “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose” (Matthew 27:52). With the thief on the cross who had also believed, the Lord then presumably took them all with Him into “paradise,” in “the third heaven” (Luke 23:43; II Corinthians 12:2,4), where they will remain with the Lord until He comes to earth again with them, and with the souls of all who have died as Christian believers since that time (I Thessalonians 3:13; 4:14).

4:10 above all heavens. Jesus, in pre-incarnate theophanies, had previously “ascended to heaven” and come “down from heaven,” even while remaining “in heaven” (John 3:13). Now, however, He “ascended up far above all heavens”—above the atmosphere, above the stars, even above the third heaven of paradise, “that He might fill all things.” He is Creator and Redeemer of the entire universe, being omnipresent in the Spirit, even though residing at the right hand of the Father in His glorified human body.

4:11 he gave. Continuing the analogy with returning human conquerors, who gave gifts to their countrymen, the ascended Christ, by His Spirit, has given spiritual gifts to His subjects individually, to be exercised for the benefit of the “one body,” corporately. Many of these gifts of the Spirit are listed in Romans 12:4-8, and I Corinthians 12:4-12,27-30. Only four (or five) of the more essential gifts are listed here. As noted before, however, the gifts of apostles and prophets to the body ceased with the completion of the New Testament and the death of John, the last of the apostles (see notes on Ephesians 3:5-6).

4:11 pastors and teachers. The Greek here may be read “pastors-teachers,” suggesting that this may be one gift, rather than two. However, the gift of teaching is also mentioned in the other two lists of gifts (Romans 12:7; I Corinthians 12:28), so must be a distinct gift not necessarily combined with the pastoral (or “shepherding”) gift. The only other gift mentioned in all the three lists is that of prophecy, but this gift has ceased.

4:12 edifying. The gifts are all to be used for “edifying”—that is, “building up”—the body of Christ, both individually and corporately, adding stones to the building, as it were (Ephesians 2:22) and also strengthening the individual members.

4:13 unity of the faith. See note on Ephesians 4:3. Also note Romans 16:17-18.

4:13 and. “And” could better be rendered “even.” That is, the unity of the faith is essentially synonymous with “the knowledge of the Son of God.”

4:14 wind of doctrine. If this characteristic was true in the apostolic age, it is far more so today. The word “children” actually means “babes” (note Hebrews 5:13). The number of cults and heresies and compromises has multiplied almost without number, and vigilance against the crafty “deceiver,” Satan is needed more than ever (see note on Revelation 12:9).

4:15 truth in love. This is almost the antidote to false doctrine and even rank unbelief. “Speaking the truth” is actually one word in the Greek—“truth-speaking.” We should speak only if we speak the truth, remembering that “thy Word is truth” (John 17:17), and we should do so only in love (i.e., Christian charity, unselfish concern for those to whom we speak).

4:18 understanding darkened. Pagan unbelievers may be intellectual, “in the vanity of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17), but their “understanding [is] darkened.” Despite their worldly learning, they are ignorant and blind to real truth. Therefore we are to “walk not as other Gentiles walk,” trying to please them.

4:22 conversation. See note on II Corinthians 1:12.

4:24 created. The “new man” is an actual new creation (II Corinthians 5:17), a miracle of regeneration performed by the Holy Spirit on a heart and mind receiving Christ by faith as personal Savior and Lord.

4:30 sealed. The “sealed work” (see Ephesians 1:13) of the Spirit is conclusive, and it cannot be “unsealed,” even though we may “grieve the Spirit” by such sins as noted in these verses.

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