The Spirit

 

Home
Preface
Abbreviations Used

Introduction
General Subjects
Exposition
  Matthew
  Mark
  Luke
  John
  John 14-16
  Acts
  Romans
  1 Corinthians
  2 Corinthians
  Galatians
  Ephesians
  Philippians
  Colossians
  1 & 2 Thess.
  1 & 2 Timothy
  Titus
  Hebrews
  James
  1 & 2 Peter
  1 John
  Jude
  Revelation
Gifts of the Spirit
Inter-Ecclesial Offices
Word Studies
Bibliography
Index
Epilogue Acknowledgements
Exposition of The Spirit in Ephesians
 

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, was less encumbered with pastoral cares than, for example, in his first letter to Corinth. This enabled him to explain the Ministry of the Spirit in sublime detail to the contemporary generation and for those who would experience the result of it in later generations.

One key word in Ephesians related to the subject of the Spirit is the Greek verb pleroo (translated "to fill, to be filled"). Paul does not use the phrase "baptism in Spirit" in Ephesians but he uses pleroo, which is linked with the meaning of bapto1 in its secondary sense as employed in Acts. It should be noted that pleroo is a cognate of pletho, the word used in Acts 2:4 to describe the baptism in Spirit of the Disciples.

The Father’s Gifts to His Children (4:1-16).

There was a real danger that the Spirit gifts which they had received would detract from the unity which was necessary in the Truth. This was the experience of the Corinthian ecclesia (1 Cor. 12) and Paul hastened to prevent a repeat performance. In the fourth chapter we have a detailed explanation of the gifts so that the reason why they had been given would not be lost sight of.

The following points are covered:

  1. the unity of the family of God (v. 1 -6).
  2. origin of the gifts (v.7-10).
  3. the nature of the gifts (v. 11).
  4. the reason for the gifts (v.12-16).

Ephesians is very logically presented and on a very high spiritual level. The latter seems to be the reason why the Spirit is mentioned so much. The logical progression may be summarized as follows:

  1. Prayer that the Ephesians might receive the additional Spirit gifts of wisdom and knowledge so that they could reflect the fulness of God. (1:17, 23).
  2. An exhortation not to follow the spirit of disobedience, but to remember the hope that they were now related to - "a habitation of God".
  3. Paul prays that they might grow to maturity.
  4. In Chap. 4 he explains that the gifts had been given to assist them to that end.
  5. In Chap. 5 he demonstrates what the fruit of the Spirit should be.
  6. Chapter 6 presents a mature person who is able to successfully fight against spiritual wickedness without the help of the Spirit gifts.

The progression is from childhood, to maturity, to being a soldier for Christ.

There may seem to be a contradiction between Paul’s prayer in 1:17 and chapter 4. On the one hand Paul prayed that they would receive more gifts, yet on the other hand it seems they already had an abundance of the gifts. The solution lies in the fact that chapter 4 does not describe gifts that they already had. These were inter-ecclesial offices, but not necessarily offices that existed at Ephesus before the time of the writing of Ephesians.


1 See Section B - "Baptism of the Spirit".
Eph. 1:13,14
"in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed1 with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession."

Problem:

This verse is sometimes cited to try to demonstrate that we have the Holy Spirit as a seal of approval and if we do not have it then "we are none of His". It "is an indication of the present promised power of the Father of all, close at hand, in the hearts of those who will receive him".2

Solution:

  1. The order should be carefully noted. The verse does not say that they received the gospel by being given the Spirit. Christ did not think into their minds the gospel nor were the Ephesians intuitively led to belief. Rather the order was:
    A. "after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation "(v. 13).
    B. "having also believed"
    C. only then "you were sealed".

  2. "Earnest" = Grk. arrhabon = pledge3, installment4. It was similar to our "deposit" or down payment5. It was not a continuing subsidy. It is, therefore, not reasonable to cite this passage in claiming "continued possession of the Spirit".

  3. The word "until" has misled some into thinking the spirit gifts would continue to the day of redemption. The word is "unto" as most translations certify, i.e. "with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession."

  4. Because the first century believers had this seal, there is no reason for us to suppose we should have it since Paul tells us the Spirit manifestations were "powers of the age to come." (Heb. 6:5).

  5. This Holy Spirit power was therefore, an earnest or tasting of the fulness to come in the time of the kingdom.

1 "The word ‘sealed’ in the Greek is a mercantile term that referred to the distinctive mark used for identification of ownership. Thus, when Christians exercised their Spirit gifts in public they showed to the world that they bore the stamp of God", TEST, V. 43, P. 228.
2 NTFE, Part 2, side 2.
3 (Y) and NASB. It was a guarantee (2 Cor. 5:5. RSV), cf. 2 Cor. 1:22.
4 MOFF
5 NASB margin

Eph. 1:17
"that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him."

Problem:

This verse is wrested by some to mean that God gives them the Spirit (which is then possessed by them) which intuitively leads them in wisdom and/or revelation.

Solution:

  1. A contextual exegesis of this verse is the only correct one. It seems clear that Paul is reflecting on his experiences in life and that he now prayed that the Ephesians would experience what he had. He prayed thus for two reasons:
    1. That the Ephesians should be to the praise of the glory of Christ even as he had been.
    2. Since their manifested faith and love was evidence that their emotions had been effected by the gospel ("the eyes of your heart having been enlightened1"),

      Paul wanted them to experience epignosis and wisdom in the ecclesia just as he had advanced in his life in Christ. (1:8).

  2. Paul was praying that the Ephesians would receive:
    1. The gift of the "word of wisdom" (1 Cor. 12:8).
    2. The gift of "revelation" which probably the apostles, prophets and teachers had. (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26, Eph. 4:11-14).

    These gifts would enable the Ephesians to become nature in his absence as defined by verses 18 and 19.

  3. This verse cannot be applied to anyone today because the Spirit gifts are not available.

1 This is a parenthetical expression (ROTH, NEST, MARS, DIAG).

PRESENT APPLICATION
God, in his mercy, provided the written word for our edification. We do not have these Spirit gifts which Paul prayed the Ephesians would receive ("childish things", 1 Cor. 13:11); but we have that which is "mature". This is all that we require by way of revelation.


Eph. 1:23
"the fullness" Grk. pleroma
This is a derivative of pleroo used in this phrase also. These words clearly link with the Lord’s promise of "baptism in Spirit" (Acts 1:4) which in its fulfilment is described in Acts as being "filled with Holy Spirit". cf. John 1:16 and notes there.

"of him" i.e. Christ.

The fulness of Spirit in Christ was in turn "poured out" on believers, so that they were "filled with Holy Spirit".

"that filleth" = Grk. pleroo (cf. 3:19; 4:10; 5:18; Acts 2:2; 13:52) where this word clearly is associated with the Spirit gifts.

"all in all"

This phrase occurs in 1 Cor. 12:6 RV, NASB "There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God, which worketh all things in all". J. Thomas translates this verse "the fulness of him who filleth all things - all Spirit gifts - in all the spirituals"

Christ had "filled" his ecclesia, baptizing it in Spirit, as the miraculous sign that it was his "body". Here is no vague, mystical charisma. Paul affirms instead that the "filling" was an extension of Christ’s own resurrection and glory, a pouring out of the same miraculous Spirit power by which Christ had been raised from the dead and lifted into heaven. (v.20-23).


TCM, Vol. 13, P. 99.
Eph. 2:18,22
"For through him we both have access in one Spirit, to the Father." "In whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the spirit"

Problem:

These verses are cited by some to show that we have the Holy Spirit now; that it is a present possession and that unless we do we cannot have proper access to the Father, because we are not truly His.

Solution:

  1. Would anyone suggest that God did not answer the prayers of those Samaritans (who believed Philip and were baptized) until they received the Spirit?

    No, of course not! But there is still a better example than that. Take Cornelius. God told him through his angel, before he was either baptized or had the Holy Spirit:

    "Thy ... prayers are come up ... before God;"

    but Cornelius had no Holy Spirit at that time. Dismiss from your mind, therefore, that God answers only the prayers of those who have the Spirit.

  2. If it is insisted that "spirit" always refers to Holy Spirit then look at Eph. 2:2. Is this the Holy Spirit? "God forbid!" Cf. James 4:5.

  3. The verse clearly says that it is through him (Christ) that we have access. It is, therefore, not because of any present possession of Holy Spirit that the access occurs. The verse can be translated "for it is through him that we, the Jews and Gentiles, united in one spirit, (mind) are now able to approach the Father." (TCNT) "The word access (Grk. prosagoge) = properly, the introduction, a technical term for presentation to a royal presence3."

    The idea is that those united in one mind, (that mind being energized by the Word) both Jews and Gentiles, have the opportunity of being presented before the throne of God through Christ.

  4. How does God hear our prayers? By His Spirit probably. But this does not require us to "possess" it. Paul, however, in this verse is not describing the medium of transmission but the Mediator. The Greek does not say "by" but "in one Spirit."

  5. When will v. 22 be realized? When this spiritual temple is erected:

    "Ye are being built together into a dwelling place4."

    Only when all the saints are gathered together after the return of Christ will the saints be immortalized and be fitted into their prepared place.


1 Let it be remembered that there is no capital S on Spirit in the Greek text.
3 SEME, P. 40 (cf. Eph. 3:12).
4 MARS, P. 763.

Eph. 3:5
(The mystery) "is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit"

Paul points out in this context that the mystery (of the Gentiles being included as fellow heirs with the people of Israel) was communicated to him and the other apostles "by the Spirit". Paul shows that he had been particularly commissioned for this work, and had been specially endowed with the "gift of the grace of God" (Holy Spirit) for this purpose (v.2-8).


Eph. 3:7
"Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power."

Problem:

This verse is seen by those who claim that they have the Spirit as a present possession as an indication of "the effectual working of the Spirit convincing the believer of the reality of the love of God1."

Solution:

  1. How was Paul to convince the believer of the reality of God’s love? Verse 8 supplies the answer. By preaching! Paul did not give the-believer the Spirit to do this. He spake the Gospel confirming it with miracles2.

  2. Paul had the Holy Spirit but that did not convince him of the reality of the love of God. He saw this reality long before on the road to Damascus as a light from heaven and heard it as the voice of the glorified Jesus.

  3. This Holy Spirit power that Paul had was given so that other men might gain salvation.

    "Unto me is this grace given ... that I should preach among the Gentiles ... and to make all men see..."

    It was not given for Paul’s personal benefit.


Eph. 3:16
"He would grant you, ... to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;" NASB

Problem:

"If such verses have any meaning at all, then it is abundantly clear that the REAL children of God have in all ages received the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Solution:

  1. Here the figure of speech metonymy* is used. "Spirit" stands for what the Holy Spirit has produced (i.e. the Word of God.)

  2. The object of this strengthening was that they might

    "not lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf" v.13.

    The Spirit was never given to prevent trial.

  3. Paul’s thought can be seen in the parallel passage in Colossians:

    "Strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy." (1:11)

  4. Paul’s prayer was that they might be invigorated to exploit their potential by the mental absorption of the word3 of God4."

  5. If all they had to do was receive strength directly from God by the "indwelling of the spirit" then Paul would not exhort the Ephesians to

    "be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might" (6:10)

    nor would Paul have listed those 6 pieces of armour5 and called them the "whole armour of God."

  6. Paul was not exhorting them to seek from God some mysterious inner strength. He rather prayed that the inner man (the new man in Christ Jesus, which had been conceived and brought into existence by the Word of God which issued forth from the lips of the Spirit filled apostles, prophets etc.) might be strengthened by the same Spirit; that the Spirit of God working among the brethren of their ecclesia might so minister to their needs, supplying them with the milk and Christ dwell, firmly and securely, in their hearts by faith6. Verse 5 sets this pattern.

Notes
The new man (2:15) in Christ must be looked after and further nurtured in the things of the Truth. So Peter, having directed us to consider the way in which we have been born again by the Word, proceeds to exhort, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). Paul in Heb. 5:13-14 speaks of the need to progress from milk to "strong meat" which is to be found in the oracles of God.

Paul’s prayer in Eph. 3 on behalf of the Gentiles is along these lines. He wanted the Father, who had brought them into His Family (v.15) by His word, to strengthen this "inner man" by His Spirit.

Peter says that the newborn babe is strengthened by the word; Paul prays that they might be strengthened by the Spirit. Do they contradict each other or is there two sources of strength, or is there a third alternative?

They do not contradict each other nor are they saying that there are two sources of revelation for us. The Holy Spirit gifts were given to the brethren of the first century in order that they might be guided into all truth (among other things). Paul in 3:5 spoke of new revelation being given by the Spirit to the apostles and prophets. Peter, likewise speaking of the word which brings about the new birth says:

"This is the word by which the Gospel is preached unto you."

Of this gospel, in the same chapter he says that it was

"preached ... with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven" (1 Pet. 1:12,15).

Paul is not praying that God would grant the believers some mystical inner power of righteousness. He is praying that the "inner man" which had been conceived by the Word, developed by the Word, quickened by the Word and brought into existence by the Word, might now be further strengthened by the Word as new revelation and instruction fell from the lips of the Spirit gifted apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers - that the Spirit of God working among the ecclesias of those days might so minister to their needs, supplying them with milk and then with the meat of the Word, that they might be truly strong and in the Apostles words, "Christ ... dwell in (their) hearts by FAITH" (v.17).

The notes on Eph. 4:7-14 demonstrate that this working of the Spirit in the Ecclesia was only for a limited period of time. For believers today to expect God to strengthen them in some mysterious way by His Spirit is to expect what God never promised at any time and to misunderstand the workings of the Spirit in the first century. It was not the Spirit that saved men even then, but the Word of God which fell from the lips of those who spoke as they were moved by God’s Spirit. Much of what these N.T. apostles and prophets spoke had been written down and classed with the O.T. as Scripture (2 Pet. 3:16).

The Word of God, in its written form, is no less powerful than when it fell from the lips of the Spirit gifted apostles and prophets. Only in the pages of God’s Word can we hope to increase our appreciation of divine things to the extent where we become rooted and grounded in love and "able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth all knowledge" (v. 18, 19).

To seek such direct from heaven is to take the first major steps down the road to that brand of apostasy which we see in the Evangelical churches7.


1 TBSM, Vol. 1, P. 69.
2 cf. 1 Cor. 2:5 "that your faith might rest in the power of God." RSV.
† AMAX, P. 3.
* where the cause is put for the effect.
3 for them probably spoken but for us written.
4 SEME, P. 53.
5 a) "loins girded with truth" d) "shield of faith"

b) "breastplate of righteousness" e) "helmet of salvation"

c) "gospel of peace" covering the feet. f) "sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
6 TBSM, Vol. 1, P. 105. (John Allfree).
7 This is largely quoted from TBSM, Vol. 5, P. 78.


Eph. 3:17
"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith"

The definite article "through the faith" is present. This is an idiomatic expression for "the gospel understood and obeyed". Today we use "the Truth". "The Faith", understood and obeyed, causes us to be born again into a state termed "in Christ". This is a new way of life in which obedience and fellowship go together. The closest we could come to a definition of "Christ" in this verse is "a Christ like attitude".


Eph. 3:19
"that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God".

The Ephesian believers formed an ecclesia in which the Spirit was miraculously alive, not only with "signs and wonders", but also as the source of revelation and knowledge of Christ’s redeeming works in atonement as well as in coming kingly glory. As yet, Scriptures from the Christian prophets1 were few because their work was at first largely oral within the Ecclesial assembly.

Against such a background, it is not difficult to understand what Paul’s message was intended to mean when he wrote v. 16 - 19.

Paul’s prayer for the Gentiles is that ultimately they might be "filled with all the fulness of God". The key word is "all". The contextual location of the above phrase demonstrates that this is the end result, not something which achieves the result.

Although the Apostles could say at the time of the writing of John’s gospel

"And of His fulness we have all received, even grace upon grace"2

they could not claim that which was said of Christ:

"For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells" (Col. 2:9) (cf. also Col. 1:19).

The full realization of this prayer must wait, for not until mortality is swallowed by life will we be free from "sin that dwelleth in (us)." But there must be progress now. Christ must dwell in our hearts by faith. The inner man must be built up so that he can demonstrate his existence by works of love. Characters must be developed in all dimensions that resemble God Himself as revealed through His Son.


1 see Section E.
2 John 1:16, NASB.

Eph. 3:20
"Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within3 us."

Problem:

This is a favourite verse of those who claim that "God guides and directs a Brother’s thoughts by the power of His Spirit, so that the words spoken are in accord with the divine plan and purpose"4.

Solution:

In the next chapter, Paul proceeds to consider this power - the Holy Spirit gifts, as they operated in the first century Ecclesias. He shows clearly that those special gifts were given for a specific purpose and only for a limited time.

To claim the power described in the problem is to claim the Spirit gifts of prophecy by which revelation was given.

The result of that power - the written word - still works. This "word of God is alive and powerful" and can perform the same function as the spoken word did in the first century.


3 Although the Greek preposition "en" is translated "in" well over 1,000 times, it is rendered "among" on 114 occasions (Y) and this seems to be the most appropriate rendering here.
4 F. B. "The answer to Prayer" TBSM, p. 69 (A letter to the editor).

a) The unity of the family (4:1-6)

v. 3 "Endeavouring to keep the unity of1 the Spirit in the bond of peace". This was an appeal by Paul to maintain that bond which bound Jew and Gentile together, even the peace of Christ (2:16-17).

The diversified gifts, distributed among ecclesial members (4:7-12) were Christ’s appointed means to enable them to attain this unity; "be no more children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, but speaking the truth in love . . . may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (4:13-15).

However the gifts could be misused in such a way as to bring discord rather than unity, so Paul first labours the unity that should abound in the family of God.

This usage of spirit may be idiomatic, meaning (as in verse 13), "the unity of the faith".

4:4 "There is one body and one Spirit" This reminds us of Paul’s word picture in 1 Cor. 12:12-27 about the body (especially v. 12):

"for as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ."

In that chapter also we have Paul emphasizing that the various gifts come from "one and the selfsame Spirit" (v. 11) (cf. also v. 13, 4).

b) The Origin of the Gifts (v.7-10)

v.7 "But unto every one of us", "each" (RV)

This demonstrates the widespread nature of the spirit gifts at Ephesus.

"is given grace"

The word grace2 here refers to the Spirit gifts mentioned in this context.

"according to the measure of the gift (doreas) of Christ"3

This ties the acceptance by God of the completed work of Christ on earth with the outpoural of the gifts.

Paraphrased v. 7 reads

"But while we have all these in common, to each of us severally a special grace has been given, in the measure with which Christ has bestowed his gift on each4."

PROBLEM:

It is claimed that perhaps some of the manifestations of the Spirit at Ephesus were not miraculous; thereby inferring that the claimant to present possession of the Spirit need not demonstrate his claim.

SOLUTION:

  1. The "gifts" were given "unto men" so that they could be:
    1. apostles
    2. prophets
    3. evangelists
    4. pastors and teachers.
    All these were gifts that could be demonstrated and there would be no doubt who possessed them.
  2. The gifts were given for three stated purposes:

    1. "for the perfecting of the saints"
    2. "for the work of the ministry"
    3. "for the edifying of the body of Christ"
    and were given only for a specific period of time,
    i.e. "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God." (v.13 RSV).
  3. These gifts were not given for the benefit of the individual who received them, but were to be used to make the ecclesia "mature".

v.8 "he (Christ) gave gifts to men." It is apparent that there is a difference in the wording of Psalm 68:18 ("hast received5 gifts") and its quotation in Ephesians ("gave gifts"). The Levites were a gift from God to the nation of Israel, (Num. 8:19; 18:6) but they were also a gift to God (Num. 8:16).

It is possible that the Levites were the "gifts", alluded to in Psa. 68:18

"that the LORD God might dwell among them".

The thought here in Ephesians is exactly parallel to that in Exod. 31:1-6. In both instances the LORD "gave" special men, recipients of special gifts, for the work of building the habitation of God, that the Lord might dwell among them.

There are five stages mentioned by Paul in v.8-10 and the thoughts expressed by him have their origin in the Exodus deliverance. The following stages are noted by Paul:

  1. he descended first.
  2. he ascended.
  3. he led captivity captive.
  4. he received gifts for men.
  5. that God might dwell among them.

We may briefly trace these stages in the Exodus deliverance:-

(1) God DESCENDED first (manifest in the Angel of the Presence).

"Yahweh said, lam come down to deliver them "(Exod. 3:7-8).

The people were delivered, and their Deliverer descended into the depths of the Red Sea leading in procession those who had been subject to Egyptian bondage.

(2) HE ASCENDED ON HIGH - the deliverance for which He came down having been accomplished and the people led to Sinai, we read that "Moses went UP unto God, and Yahweh called unto him out of the mountain . . ." (Exod. 19:3).

God had ascended up on high.

(3) HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE - "Thou hast led in procession a body of captives" (ROTH). Concerning Israel in Egypt it is written, "The children of Israel sighed by reason of BONDAGE, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the BONDAGE" (Exod. 2:23).

From this bondage God, having descended into the lower parts of the earth, delivered them and ascended up on high.

(4) He received (GAVE) GIFTS FOR (TO) MEN - see (5).

(5) THAT YAHWEH MIGHT DWELL AMONG THEM. Concerning the tabernacle we read - "Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Exod. 25: 8).

The way in which this tabernacle was built is very relevant - "See, I have called by name Bezaleel… I have filled him with the SPIRIT OF GOD, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" - i.e. so that they could make the tabernacle (Exod. 31:2-3. See also verse 6 and ch. 35:30-35).

Thus at the time of the Exodus, Spirit gifts were given to men so that they might prepare a dwelling place for God.

We must note that:

  1. God could not dwell among His people until the dwelling place existed.
  2. Spirit gifts were given so that the tabernacle might be built.

(c) It is evident that once the tabernacle was built, the need for these gifts ceased - there is no evidence that when Bezaleel and his companions died that these gifts were passed on to others.

The work of God through the Lord Jesus and the ecclesia was typified by the events of the Exodus and the tabernacle in the wilderness. This is the basis of Paul’s remarks in Ephesians 4. We may trace out the same process in the work of God through His Son:-

(1) HE DESCENDED FIRST (manifest in the Son).

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath VISITED and redeemed his people" (Luke 1:68).

"God with us" (Matt. 1:23).

"I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world" (John 16:28).

(2) HE ASCENDED ON HIGH

"Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" (John 16:28).

"No man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of Man, which is in heaven" (John 3:13 RV).

(3) HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE - (He led in procession a multitude of captives). "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death (the "deep" of Rom. 10:7 cf. Red Sea in Exodus) he might… deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to BONDAGE" (Heb. 2:14-15).

(4) HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.

"Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear… the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:33-38).

(5) THAT GOD MIGHT DWELL AMONG THEM.

The purpose of the gifts.

"He that ... ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things."

This "fill (pleroo) all things" refers to the pouring out of the Spirit gifts at Pentecost in fulfillment of John 14:16. Paul’s use of this verse in this context is conclusive of that. Christ ascended, and shortly afterwards the Spirit gifts descended to compensate for his physical separation from his disciples. It should be noted that Paul’s reference to Christ’s "filling all things" after his ascension is immediately followed by a catalogue of the Spirit-gifted offices of the first century.

The all things of this verse are therefore to be identified with those first century believers who were privileged to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" and who constituted the body of Christ, their head (Eph. 1:22-23). This filling of the ecclesia was to serve not only within their own lifetime, but also afterwards because they left on record the revelations and teachings that they wrote. This was and still is an all-sufficient provision for bringing the body of Christ to maturity.


1 "that comes from"?
2 See Section B - "Grace".
3 The CEV is a better translation "Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us." This is in keeping with the plural gifts in the next verse.
4 F.F. Bruce, Expanded Paraphrase of the Epistles of Paul, (Paternoster Press), 1965.
5 The Hebrew ‘LAQACH’ can carry the meaning of receiving or giving. (Y).

c) The Nature of the Gifts v.11

See Footnote 4 of Grace in Section B which relates this list of inter-ecclesial offices5 to other New Testament occurrences.

The table below shows how every major work that Jesus promised the "Comforter" would perform was fulfilled in the giving of the Spirit gifts.

EPH. 4:11

JOHN 14 - 16

apostles
prophets
evangelists
pastors
teachers
"bring all things to your remembrance" (14:26).
"testify of me" (15:26).
"shew you things to come" (16:13).
"reprove the world" (16:8).
"guide you into all truth" (16:13).
"teach you all things" (14:26).

d) The Reason for the Gifts (v. 12-16)

v. 12 "for the perfecting of the saints"

The gifts were not given to personally benefit a saint, but were given so that he may assist other saints to be perfected. This is an important point6. The NASB has:

"for the equipping of the saints for the work of service".

"for the work of the ministry" The Acts and Epistles record the accomplishment of this work by the Apostles, Prophets and teachers.


5 See also Section E - "Inter- ecclesial Offices." 6 See Section B - "Did Not Cause Righteousness."

"for the edifying of the body of Christ"

This was a major aspect of the inter-ecclesial offices of 1 Cor. 12:28.

"until we all attain to the unity of the faith" (NASB)

The ecclesia was then in its infancy. The gifts were given so that it might attain the maturity of full grown manhood. When this was achieved the purpose of the gifts would cease. As a result of the labours of the Spirit gifted brethren, this was accomplished.

Ecclesias were established throughout the "world", elders were appointed, early problems were solved and the New Testament written. The work having been accomplished, there was no further need for the gifts. The ecclesial tabernacle having been built, the gifts were no longer required and therefore ceased.

"unto a perfect man" Perfect is the Greek "teleios" meaning mature. It is translated "men" in 1 Cor. 14:20 and "full age" in Heb. 5:14. It is parallel to Paul’s expression in 1 Cor. 13:10.

Note that it says "perfect man" not "perfect men". Jesus is the head of this perfect man and the ecclesia is his body. The whole forms "the fulness of Christ". However v.17 demonstrates that their cooperation was required for this to materialize. The mere possession of the Spirit gifts did not guarantee it. In order for the gifts as manifested in the offices of v.11 to produce this unity, the faithfulness of the ecclesia was required. This is an important point and leads to our next thought.

The application today

Although we have no Spirit gifts today, we have in the Word of God the distilled essence of those gracious words which fell, under Spirit guidance, from apostolic lips. This written word is just as powerful in the form we have it as it was when the apostles spoke it or wrote it with their pen. This Word is "living and powerful". It can make us "no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." By the Truth which the risen Lord has communicated to us through the Spirit filled apostles of the first century, the ecclesia today can be "joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth" (4:16).

v.30 "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

PROBLEM:

It is sometimes claimed that this does not refer to the gifts of the Spirit but to inner peace, joy and righteousness, in the "heart".

SOLUTION:

1. The context demands that it refer to the gifts and/or to inner-ecclesial positions, established by Christ giving these gifts unto men.

he gave some apostles, and some prophets and some evangelists and some pastors and teachers2." (Eph. 4:11)


1 see Section B - "Did Not Cause Righteousness". 2 cf. 1 Cor. 12:28.

2. The context also demands that it did not cause peace, etc.

"let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil speaking be put away from you" (v.31) cf. 28, 29.

3. Grieve "the Holy Spirit" meant to abuse or misuse the gifts or to act in a manner which was unholy.

4. Israel did the same thing in the days of Moses:

"In all their affliction He (God) was afflicted and the angel of His presence3 saved them… But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit."3 (Isa. 63:9-10).

5. Literally, the Holy Spirit is impersonal - it is power. But it is used by metonymy for God who had given it. The use of the figure suggests that God is grieved at the lack of response to His goodness (shown by the fact that they had been sealed by this power). The Ephesians lacked response in that they still spoke "unwholesome words".

5:9 "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness ..." (AV).

"fruit of the light" (NASB, DIAG, RV). (See also ASV, WEY, PHI, NEB).

The contextual and textual evidence is that the word should be "light" not Spirit. Contextually, Paul is contrasting light and darkness, v.8, 11, 13.

v.18,19 "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;"

PROBLEM:

These verses are used by some as proof that they have the "Spirit" as a present possession.

SOLUTION:

1. The verse does not prove anything of the sort. It can not even be established that all the saints at Ephesus had the Spirit gifts.

Chapter 4:11 is a strong evidence that only some received the Spirit and only for a specified time*. Once the Scriptures were completed this need ceased.

2. These verses can not be interpreted as literally as the claimant of "present possession" would like, e.g.

a. A person who speaks to themselves is today regarded as being a bit mental.

b. It is not literally possible to sing and make melody in one’s heart. Singing is produced by the action of wind on vocal chords, mouth, tongue etc.

Making melody is the process of playing notes on a musical instrument.

Verse 19 does not require or allow this exactly literal interpretation and neither does the phrase "be filled with the Spirit".


3 cf. notes on the Parakletos (John 14-16 Additional notes). Although every member did not receive Spirit gifts, all received the benefits which flowed to the ecclesia from the gifts (cf. v.7). * v.13 "Till we come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man."

3. The contrast3, as most commentators recognize, is not between "wine" and "Spirit" but between "drunk" and "filled". The contrast is

  1. "be not drunk"
  2. "but be filled".

This important fact leads on to the next point.

4. It seems very likely that the figure of speech termed metonymy4 is employed by Paul in the words "be filled with Spirit". The cause or instrument was the Spirit5, the effect or state produced was that of being "filled" with the word. This filling found expression in singing and speaking to others the message of joy.

5. How did the Spirit produce this state of being filled?

Was it a power that physically entered the Ephesians or was it a revelation given to the Apostles and elders who in turn spoke, sang and wrote what had been revealed to them? The record shows that it was the latter6. The parallel passage in Colossians helps us to understand Paul’s figure here.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord" (3:16).

  1. In this context to be "filled with Spirit" means to be filled with "the word of Christ7" to such an extent that it causes joy in our hearts. Instead of the excitement of wine, we must have the exhilaration that comes from the ardent love of the word of God.
  2. No doubt Paul is alluding to the gross misconduct that was evident at Corinth during the Lord’s supper, (1 Cor. 11:20, 21).

6:17 "And take... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

PROBLEM:

Some very weird ways of looking at this verse have been aired recently.

e.g. "let it be noted it is the armour of God, not something which we ourselves can provide. For any one of us to claim that we can use that sword by our own intellectual skill… is worldly presumption."

"The reference is not to the Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture".


3 "The contrast is not between the instruments but between the states - between two elevated states, one due to the excitement of wine, the other to… enlightenment." EXPO P. 363. 4 "When one noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation". Bullinger "Biblical Figures of Speech" (London: Eyre and Spottiswoods, 1898). 5 Carter agrees with this. "The Spirit is the filler, and through the Spirit they become full" CLTE, Carter, P. 140, cf. Psa. 119:11: "I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee". 6 cf. Section B - "Enlightenment", and ch. 4:11-16. 7 Paraphrased: "Seek the fullness which the Spirit gives." NBCR, P. 1120.

SOLUTION:

1. God has given us the sword and he has given us the intellectual capacity to understand, to obey and to wield that sword. These facts are not worldly presumption but facts which those filled with worldly presumption generally ignore.

2. The only people promised the sort of ability mentioned in the second part of the problem were the first century believers who had the gift of the ‘word of knowledge’. The work of the Parakletos, as demonstrated in the notes on John 14-16, was both miraculous and limited in time.

Those who pretend to fight the type of warfare mentioned by Paul without their Bible are deluded indeed. We may be sure that the sword of the Spirit is the whole of God’s word, not "individual" parts of it.

3. ‘The Word is the "sword of the Spirit" by a metaphor which contemplates the Spirit in prophets and apostles in ancient times, as a warrior. By this, men may be subdued to God - that is enlightened, purified and saved, if they receive the word into good and honest hearts, and "bring forth fruit"… By this they become "Spiritually minded" … The present days are barren days, as regards the Spirit’s direct operations.’1

4. This sword is active and energetic and more cutting than any two edged sword.


6:18 "Praying always with all power and supplication in the Spirit"

PROBLEM:

"There are only two sources of spiritual knowledge for us… the first is the Bible… The second source is… prayer."

SOLUTION:

  1. The above statement disagrees with the BASF2 and all the evidence of the Bible3. It may have been true in David’s case and in the case of the New Testament Prophets, but it is not part of the fabric of our lives.

  2. Prayer in Spirit is sincere, hearty, and true. "In spirit" means "in a way which is acceptable" and is based on an understanding of God and the Gospel.

  3. There is no reason to suppose that the prayer was for knowledge.

1 Christendom Astray, R. R., TCM. 1940, P. 100. 2 See Section B -‘BASF’. 3 See Section B -‘Prayer, Divine Assistance’, etc