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Ephesians 4:1-16

Live in Unity

4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, 1  urge you to live 2  worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 3  4:2 with all humility and gentleness, 4  with patience, bearing with 5  one another in love, 4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 4:8 Therefore it says,When he ascended on high he captured 6  captives; he gave gifts to men.” 7  4:9 Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended 8  to the lower regions, 9  namely, the earth? 10  4:10 He, the very one 11  who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things. 4:11 It was he 12  who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 13  4:12 to equip 14  the saints for the work of ministry, that is, 15  to build up the body of Christ, 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to 16  the measure of Christ’s full stature. 17  4:14 So 18  we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. 19  4:15 But practicing the truth in love, 20  we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 4:16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together 21  through every supporting ligament. 22  As each one does its part, the body grows in love.

1 tn Grk “prisoner in the Lord.”

2 tn Grk “walk.” The verb “walk” in the NT letters refers to the conduct of one’s life, not to physical walking.

3 sn With which you have been called. The calling refers to the Holy Spirit’s prompting that caused them to believe. The author is thus urging his readers to live a life that conforms to their saved status before God.

4 tn Or “meekness.” The word is often used in Hellenistic Greek of the merciful execution of justice on behalf of those who have no voice by those who are in a position of authority (Matt 11:29; 21:5).

5 tn Or “putting up with”; or “forbearing.”

6 tn Grk “he led captive captivity.”

7 sn A quotation which is perhaps ultimately derived from Ps 68:18. However, the wording here differs from that of Ps 68 in both the Hebrew text and the LXX in a few places, the most significant of which is reading “gave gifts to” in place of “received gifts from” as in HT and LXX. It has sometimes been suggested that the author of Ephesians modified the text he was citing in order to better support what he wanted to say here. Such modifications are sometimes found in rabbinic exegesis from this and later periods, but it is also possible that the author was simply citing a variant of Ps 68 known to him but which has not survived outside its quotation here (W. H. Harris, The Descent of Christ [AGJU 32], 104). Another possibility is that the words here, which strongly resemble Ps 68:19 HT and LXX (68:18 ET), are actually part of an early Christian hymn quoted by the author.

8 tc The majority of mss (א2 B C3 Ψ Ï) read πρῶτον (prwton, “first”) here in conjunction with this verb: “he first descended.” The shorter reading, which lacks πρῶτον, should be considered original on the basis of both external and internal evidence: It has strong external support from the Alexandrian and Western texttypes (Ì46 א* A C* D F G Ivid 082 6 33 81 1739 1881 pc); internally, the inclusion of πρῶτον is most likely an addition to clarify the sense of the passage.

9 tc The Western texttype (D* F G it) lacks the plural noun μέρη (merh, “regions”); the shorter reading cannot be dismissed out of hand since it is also supported by Ì46 (which often has strong affinities, however, with the Western text). The inclusion of the word has strong external support from important, early mss as well as the majority of Byzantine cursives (א A B C D2 I Ψ 33 1739 1881 Ï). Certain scribes may have deleted the word, thinking it superfluous; in addition, if the shorter reading were original one would expect to see at least a little variation in clarifying additions to the text. For these reasons the inclusion of μέρη should be regarded as original.

10 tn Grk “to the lower parts of the earth.” This phrase has been variously interpreted: (1) The traditional view understands it as a reference to the underworld (hell), where Jesus is thought to have descended in the three days between his death and resurrection. In this case, “of the earth” would be a partitive genitive. (2) A second option is to translate the phrase “of the earth” as a genitive of apposition: “to the lower parts, namely, the earth” (as in the present translation). Many recent scholars hold this view and argue that it is a reference to the incarnation. (3) A third option, which also sees the phrase “of the earth” as a genitive of apposition, is that the descent in the passage occurs after the ascent rather than before it, and refers to the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost (cf. Acts 4:11-16). Support for this latter view is found in the intertestamental and rabbinic use of Ps 68:18 (quoted in v. 8), which is consistently and solely interpreted as a reference to Moses’ ascent of Mt. Sinai to “capture” the words of the law. The probability, therefore, is that the comments here in v. 9 reflect a polemic against the interpretation of Ps 68:18 in certain circles as a reference to Moses. See W. H. Harris, The Descent of Christ (AGJU 32), 46-54; 171-204.

11 tn The Greek text lays specific emphasis on “He” through the use of the intensive pronoun, αὐτός (autos). This is reflected in the English translation through the use of “the very one.”

12 tn The emphasis on Christ is continued through the use of the intensive pronoun, αὐτός (autos), and is rendered in English as “it was he” as this seems to lay emphasis on the “he.”

13 sn Some interpreters have understood the phrase pastors and teachers to refer to one and the same group. This would mean that all pastors are teachers and that all teachers are pastors. This position is often taken because it is recognized that both nouns (i.e., pastors and teachers) are governed by one article in Greek. But because the nouns are plural, it is extremely unlikely that they refer to the same group, but only that the author is linking them closely together. It is better to regard the pastors as a subset of teachers. In other words, all pastors are teachers, but not all teachers are pastors. See ExSyn 284.

14 tn On the translation of πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων (pro" ton katartismon twn Jagiwn) as “to equip the saints” see BDAG 526 s.v. καταρτισμός. In this case the genitive is taken as objective and the direct object of the verbal idea implied in καταρτισμός (katartismo").

15 tn The εἰς (eis) clause is taken as epexegetical to the previous εἰς clause, namely, εἰς ἔργον διακονίας (ei" ergon diakonia").

16 tn The words “attaining to” were supplied in the translation to pick up the καταντήσωμεν (katanthswmen) mentioned earlier in the sentence and the εἰς (eis) which heads up this clause.

17 tn Grk “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” On this translation of ἡλικία (Jhlikia, “stature”) see BDAG 436 s.v. 3.

18 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

19 tn While the sense of the passage is clear enough, translation in English is somewhat difficult. The Greek says: “by the trickery of men, by craftiness with the scheme of deceit.” The point is that the author is concerned about Christians growing into maturity. He is fearful that certain kinds of very cunning people, who are skilled at deceitful scheming, should come in and teach false doctrines which would in turn stunt the growth of the believers.

20 tn The meaning of the participle ἀληθεύοντες (alhqeuonte"; from the verb ἀληθεύω [alhqeuw]) is debated. In classical times the verb could mean “to speak the truth,” or “to be true, to prove true.” In the LXX it appears five times (Gen 20:16; 42:16; Prov 21:3; Isa 44:26; Sir 34:4) and translates four different Hebrew words; there it is an ethical term used of proving or being true, not with the idea of speaking the truth. In the NT the only other place the verb appears is in Gal 4:16 where it means “to speak the truth.” However, in Ephesians the concept of “being truthful” is the best sense of the word. In contrast to the preceding verse, where there are three prepositional phrases to denote falsehood and deceit, the present word speaks of being real or truthful in both conduct and speech. Their deceit was not only in their words but also in their conduct. In other words, the believers’ conduct should be transparent, revealing the real state of affairs, as opposed to hiding or suppressing the truth through cunning and deceit. See H. W. Hoehner, Ephesians, 564-65, and R. Bultmann, TDNT 1:251.

21 tn The Greek participle συμβιβαζόμενον (sumbibazomenon) translated “held together” also has in different contexts, the idea of teaching implied in it.

22 tn Grk “joint of supply.”

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