4. The practical application of oneness, 4:1-6:9

i] Mutual ministries


The introduction to this passage, "I urge you to walk worthily of your calling", heralds a move from theology to ethics - from what we are in Christ, to the business of being what we are in Christ, namely, living a life worthy of our calling. In the passage before us, Paul deals with the substantial issue of how the diverse Spirit-empowered ministries promote unity in Christ. The Ephesian believers must strive to build community in their church through love, through respect and forgiveness of each other in their life together, v1-3. Unity is the very nature of church, v4-6, but unity is not conformity, given the diversity and variety of spiritual gifts which have been bestowed on the church by Christ through the Spirit, v7-10. Of this diversity of gifts, the word gifts take precedence because they serve to build knowledge and thus maturity in the Christian life, v11-13. Given that error is all around, God's revealed truth is the most important tool we possess for building a church community, v14-16.


i] Context: See 1:1-2. In deliberative rhetoric, having laid out his argument, the probatio, a speaker will often develop some of the points of his argument in a digressio. In his letters / sermons, Paul tends to follow up his argument with ethics - doctrine followed by duty. In Ephesians, practical instruction and exhortation (paraenesis) further develops the issues raised in the first three chapters. In chapters 1-3 we have one imperative, but in chapters 4-6 we have 40 imperatives. There is little in the way of exhortation in the first three chapters, whereas the next three are dominated by exhortations.

It is possible to divide up Paul's application of his all one in Christ theme by his use of the verb peripatew, "to walk" = "to conduct oneself." Each use of the word seems to indicate a different aspect of the Christian walk / life, cf., 4:1, 17, 5:2, 8, 15. Hoehner offers the following structure:

Walk in unity, 4:1-16;

Walk in holiness,4:17-32;

Walk in love, 5:1-6;

Walk in light, 5:7-14;

Walk in wisdom, 5:15-6:9.

In the opening three chapters, the Ephesian believers are reminded of their status and their destiny in Christ, reconciled to God and each other, and reconciling all things, in heaven and on earth. This high calling demands that they live it. The opening passage, 4:1-6, serves as an overview of the more detailed community and household responsibilities which follow in 4:7-6:9 - "I urge you to live a life (walk) worthy of the calling you have received", 4:1. Paul then explains "how diversity may be combined with unity", Best, 4:7-16, before moving into the more practical issues of believers living in community. In 4:17-24 the reader is reminded that through faith in Christ they have put off the old self and put on the new, they have died with Christ and are risen anew with Christ. The reader is then called upon to abandon the corruption of the old life and live out the new, some of the elements of which are described in 4:25-5:2. These elements further developed in 5:3-14, and this with an eye to divine judgment and the need for the church to confront sin within its ranks. The passage that follows, 5:15-20, serves as a bridge to Paul's practical instructions - the Christian walk, of a life lived within these evil days which is supported by corporate Spirit-filled worship in word and song. Practical household matters dealing with marriage, family and business obligations follow in 5:21-6:9.

So, The practical application of oneness, 4:1-6:9, presents as follows:

Mutual ministries, 4:1-16

No longer old but new, 4:17-24

Imitators of Christ, 4:25-5:2

From lust to light, 5:3-14

Living in the light, 5:15-20

Marriage, 5:21-33

Family obligations, 6:1-4

Business obligations, 6:5-9


ii] Background: See 1:1-2.


iii] Structure: Mutual ministries:

Unity in the church, v1-6:

A call to maintain unity, v1-3;

The unifying realities for those in Christ, v4-6;

Diversity in unity, v7-16:

Proposition: The diversity of gifts in the church, v7;

Text: Psalm 68:18, v8;

Exposition: v9-10;

The nature and purpose of ministry gifts, v11-16.


iv] Interpretation:

The nature of the church is expressed in its oneness in Christ, under God. Yet, in this unity, there is diversity, particularly noted in the diversity of ministry gifts. Christ has given a range of spiritual abilities to his people to use in the upbuilding of the church. The "gift" (blend of spiritual abilities) is given to the individual to minister. This ministry is also, in a sense, a gift of Christ to the church. The ministries of the Word (requiring personal gifts of "wisdom", "knowledge"... etc. cf., 1Cor.12:7-11) are listed in order of importance. "Apostles" are listed first. Although the gifted word-ministry of apostle does not exist today, their ministry served to convey God's revelation of the new / renewed covenant, which revelation is recorded for us in the New Testament. The ministry of "prophet" may refer to those who also provided primary revelation now recorded in the New Testament. Yet, it seems more likely that Paul is referring to those who strengthen, encourage and comfort us in the exposition of the Bible within the framework of Biblical theology, cf., 1Cor.14:3. "Pastors and teachers" are most likely one group - those who lead us through instruction of the Scriptures. Fee argues that this list most likely defines function rather than office, although this is disputed by most commentators.


The quotation from Psalm 68:18, v8, and its interpretation, v9-10. This passage has prompted numerous interpretations. The four possible meanings of Christ's descent are:

*to hades, and then to heaven;

*to the earth at the incarnation, and then to heaven;

*to the earth / grave at the crucifixion, and then to heaven;

*up to heaven and then to earth at the descent of the Spirit.

The fourth meaning is to be preferred and is argued by DWB Robinson. Robinson proposes that the quotation was taken at the time to refer to Moses going up Mount Sinai, receiving the law, descending from the mountain, giving the law to the people of Israel gathered below and then leading them to the promised land. So, this depiction of Moses is used to describe Christ's going up to heaven, his ascent on high to the throne of the living God (the ascension), then descending as the Spirit of Christ upon his church to pour out his ministry-gifts upon his people. The order, therefore, is not down and then up, but up, v9, followed by down, v10.

Hoehner opts for the third option, O'Brien, Mitton, Bruce, Schnackenburg, ... opt for the second, "the one who came down is the one who went up victorious", while the first option is supported by a large number of commentators ranging from Aquinas through to Alford, Meyer, Beare, .... These notes, following Robinson, opt for the fourth option: the coming down follows the victorious ascent, and refers to the coming down of the Spirit of Christ at Pentecost.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 4:1

Mutual ministry: 4:1-16: i] Believers must strive to maintain the unity they possess in Christ, v1-6. a) An exhortation for unity, v1-3. Paul begins by encouraging his readers to maintain fellowship in their congregation. From his prison (somewhere in Rome between 56-60AD) he urges his readers to live a life worthy of their standing as followers of Christ. He gives practical expression to this exhortation in v2. He calls for humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and tolerance, cf., Col.3:12-13. So, in v3, Paul encourages his readers to strive to live in unity with one another in the Christian fellowship, and in so doing, maintain the integral union they have with God through the Spirit of Christ.

egw "-" - [therefore] i [a prisoner]. Emphatic by use. "Prisoner stands in apposition to "I".

en + dat. "for [the Lord]" - in [the lord]. Probably expressing space, "in union with / in relationship with", but possibly a dative of interest, as NIV. "Lord" is most likely Jesus. Note 3:1, "prisoner of Christ Jesus."

oun "then" - therefore. Drawing a logical conclusion - on the basis of the theology laid down in the previous chapters, and Paul's standing as an apostle in chains, "I therefore urge you ...." Alford is too specific when he argues that the referent is toutou carin, "because of this ...... I therefore urge you ...", 3:1, 14.

parakalw (parakalew) pres. "I urge you" - i encourage, urge, exhort [you]. "I beg you", Phillips.

peripathsai (peripatew) aor. inf. "to live a life[ worthy of]" - to walk [worthily of]. The infinitive introduces a dependent statement of indirect speech, exhorting, expressing what Paul urges, "I urge that you live ..." "Walk" in the sense of conduct one's life. A typical Pauline imperative where indicative balance is maintained - the believer is set apart in Christ and is therefore, as Christ is, but is still encouraged to conduct their life in accord with their standing in Christ.

thV klhsewV (iV ewV) gen. "the calling" - Genitive after the adverb of manner axiwV, "worthily".

h|V gen. pro. "[you received]" - which [you were called]. Genitive by attraction to thV klhsewV - more properly accusative.


"Walking worthily" is explained by three qualities, the first being humility, lowliness; "I urge you to walk worthily ..... with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering." In common use, the word carries the sense of servility, or weakness, but in the Bible it carries the sense of divine recognition and submission. Jesus is the perfect example of a person who is "meek and lowly in heart." The "all" serves to accentuate the quality

meta + gen. "[be completely humble]" - with [all humility]. Here the preposition is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of a believer's walk; "with all humility and gentleness, with patience", ESV.

prauthtoV (hV htoV) "gentle" - [and] meekness, gentleness. Again, a quality found in Jesus. A gentle attitude toward others which is accepting and non-judging.

makroqumiaV (a) "patient" - [with] long-suffering. As God is patient with us so we should be patient with others, in the sense of forgiving.

anecomenoi (anecomai) pres. part. "bearing with" - forbearing [one another]. This participle, along with spoudazonteV "being eager", v3, may be adverbial, instrumental, expressing means; "I urge you to walk ....... by forbearing one another." Larkin suggests that it is a periphrastic participle missing the imperative verb to-be. It may well just be attendant on the infinitive "to walk", in which case it serves as an imperative; "I urge you .......... to bear / that you bear with one another in love and be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit." Paul encourages his readers to bear with the faults / sins of their brothers and sisters, "forbear"; "patiently put up with each other", CEV.

en + dat. "in" - in [love]. Possibly describing the type of "bearing", a loving bearing, ie., adverbial, modal = manner, but also possibly identifying the ground of "bearing", namely, the divine character of love which is ours in Christ. "Lovingly bear with one another", Barclay.


spoudazonteV (spoudazw) pres. part. "make every effort" - being eager, zealous, giving diligence to, making every effort. The participle as for "forbearing" above, is probably attendant on "to walk"; "I urge you to / that you walk ...... to be / that you be zealous ..." "Yours is the initiative! Do it now!" Barth.

threin (threw) pres. inf. "to keep" - to keep, maintain, preserve. Epexegetic infinitive specifying the participle "being eager", although Larkin suggests that it is complementary, in that it completes the sense of the participle.

tou preumatoV (oV) gen. "of the Spirit" - [the oneness] of the spirit. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / of production, cf., Wallace - in that the Spirit produces the unity. Possibly a genitive of author, so BAGD, or a genitive of originating cause, Ellicott, or a genitive of source, O'Brien. The Spirit establishes the unity in Christ where both Jews and Gentiles are one. It is the responsibility of believers to keep / maintain that unity.

en "through" - in [the bond of peace]. The NIV takes the preposition as instrumental, expressing means, "through"; peace is the means by which the unity is maintained. O'Brien suggests that it is locative; peace is the bond in which (rather than by which) their unity is maintained, ie., expressing space, so also Hoehner. Believers should maintain the unity of the Spirit in that state of peace which exists in the godhead and between the godhead and redeemed humanity. "In the uniting bond of peace, the unity given by the Spirit", Weymouth.


b) The basis for unity, v4-6. The unity / oneness that should exist in the fellowship of believers is now supported by seven descriptives which show the close alignment that believers possess through their relationship with Christ, v4-6. The descriptives serve to establish the basis for unity. Unity is intrinsic for the brotherhood, for we are all members of the same body, having the same Lord, faith, baptism and God.

Note: there is no linking verb or conjunction as we move from exhortations, v1-3, to statements of fact, v4-6; Paul builds on a trinitarian formula; Alignment, rather than unity, is highlighted by the use of "one", ei|V, mia, e}n. Although usually translated "one", it is far better to take the adjective to mean "same"; we are one together as believers because we are all part of the same body, united by the same Spirit etc.....

"There is" - The verb is assumed and we may rightly also assume gar, "for", introducing a causal clause explaining why we are one people in Christ; "for we share the same body and the same Spirit."

eJn adj. "one" - one = same [body and one = same spirit]. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. As already indicated, if we understand "one" to mean "same", we can see how these words of Paul back up his exhortation. We all serve the same Lord. We are all saved on the basis of the same faith. We are all filled by the same Spirit. We all worship the same God and Father.

kaqwV "just as" - as, like, just as [also]. Comparative, as NIV, rather than adverbial, "even as", ASV.

eklhqhte (kalew) aor. pas. "you were called" - you were called. We share in the same hope that springs from our calling. The clause breaks the sequence of the list of phrases, but still serves to define the unity shared by believers. "Just as you were called."

en + dat. "to" - in [one = same hope]. Possibly instrumental, "by one hope", but better local, sphere, "in the same hope of your calling."

thV klhsewV (iV ewV) "when [you] were called" - of the calling [of you]. The genitive could be temporal, as NIV, but is most likely ablative expressing source - hope springs from / out of our calling. Hoehner classifies it as verbal, subjective, "hope produced by your call."


kurioV "Lord" - [one = same] lord. We all serve the same Lord. The translation "one Lord" has prompted the martyrdom of many!!!!

mia pistiV (iV ewV) "one faith" - Either, "one faith" means "the same body of belief", or "the same means of salvation", ie., by grace through faith in Christ.

eJn baptisma (a atoV) "one baptism" - The reference to "one baptism" has been used to argue against rebaptism where a person, initially baptized as an infant, is later baptized again as a believing adult. Those who take a catholic position (Romans, Anglicans, Lutherans, etc.) argue that it is against scripture to baptize a second time. Those who support believers' baptism claim that baptism as an infant is invalid and therefore, they don't really rebaptize. This problem has grown out of a flawed understanding of ei|V, "one = same", and baptisma, "baptism = immersed." We automatically think that baptisma refers to water baptism. If that is the case here, then the focus would not be on the sign, but rather that which the sign signifies, namely "repentance". None-the-less, most references to "baptism / immersed" in the New Testament have to do with "the baptism / washing of the Holy Spirit" - the gift of the Spirit at the time we put our faith in Christ. This is most likely the meaning here. So, the sense is: "the same baptism of the Spirit."


pantwn "of all" - [one = same god and father] of all. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic, expressing subordination; "over all"; "God and Father over all. He is over all ....." Paul concludes his list with an ascription of praise to God for his providence. Yet, is this providence over "all" people (masculine) or over "all" things (neuter)? If "all people", the sense is most likely of God's providential care over all believers, rather than all humanity. The en, "in all", properly applies to believers and not all humanity; "in union with all believers." We should also note that the New Testament often uses "all" in the sense of "all believers." If "all things", the sense is of God's providential care of the cosmos.

oJ "who" - the one. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the coordinate prepositional construction into a substantive standing in apposition to "the same God the Father."

epi + gen. "over" - over [all]. Expressing influence; God's sovereign authority over all believers.

dia + gen. "through [all]" - through, by means of [all and in all]. Instrumental, expressing means. God "accomplishes his purposes through the instruments of believers", Hoehner.


ii] Paul now appeals for diversity in unity, and this for maturity, v7-16: a) The giving of gifts of ministry, v7. Paul has made the point that there is an integral unity in the Christian fellowship. This is based on the commonality of our faith - the same God, etc. He now introduces the idea of unity in diversity. The diversity has to do with the diverse gifts of the Spirit.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional connective marking a step in the argument and therefore not translated. Paul now qualifies the unity possessed of believers by identifying the diversity that exists within unity. Unity does not mean uniformity.

ekastw/ dat. adj. "to each" - to each [one]. Dative of indirect object / interest, emphatic by position.

hJmwn gen. pro. "one of us" - of us. The genitive is adjectival, partitive, as NIV.

hJ cariV (iV ewV) "grace" - grace [was given]. Here cariV does not mean "unmerited favor", but, given the particularizing article and the context, "gifts" (gifts of ministry) is intended, even though Paul is focused on the provider of the cariV and his kindness exhibited in the gift. These "gifts" are abilities which are apportioned to each member of the Christian fellowship by Christ to enable each to minister for Christ. They are most likely spiritually accentuated natural abilities which we all have. Here Paul uses the phrase "to each one of us grace has been given". He has often used the word "grace" to describe the gifts of ministry, particularly for himself. He can never quite get over the free and unmerited favor ("grace") of God toward him in giving him the ministry of apostle to the Gentiles, especially since he once persecuted the church. So, here "grace" takes the particular sense of "gift of ministry."

kata + acc. "as" - according to [the measure of the gift]. Expressing a standard.

tou Cristou (oV) gen. "Christ" - of christ. The genitive is probably ablative, expressing source, origin / agent; "the overflowing measure of grace that flows from / is apportioned by Christ."

thV dwreaV (a) gen. "apportioned it" - [the measure] of the gift, bounty. The genitive is adjectival, attributive; "the bountiful measure of Christ."


b) Scriptural support, v8-10. The quotation from Psalm 68:18 was, at the time, understood to refer to Moses going up Mount Sinai, receiving the law, descending the mountain, giving the law to the people of Israel and then leading them to the promised land. Paul now applies this thinking to Jesus. Jesus ascended on high, to the very throne of the living God (his ascension), received glory and power, descended as the Spirit of Christ upon his church, and now pours out his ministry-gifts upon his people.

Sometimes this passage in Ephesians is used to support the idea that Jesus descended into hell after his crucifixion, and then rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. But note the movement. It is not down and then up, rather it is up and then down. The Spirit, who came upon us bearing gifts, is the same one who ascended from earth after his crucifixion. He comes upon us in order that he might "fill the whole earth" - pervade the whole universe with his presence. See extended note above.

dio legei (legw) "this is why it says" - therefore it says. Serving to introduce a quote from scripture. The inferential dio, "therefore", serves to indicate that the point just made can be deduced from this scripture. Note that the sense "gifts of ministry" for "grace" is confirmed by this quote from Psalm 68:18.

anabaV (anabainw) aor. part. "when he ascended" - having ascended, gone up [to height]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV.

h/cmalwteusen (aicmalwteuw) - aor. "he led captive" - he carried off [captivity]. The quote concerns the Lord's triumphant ascent of Mount Zion as the victorious king and was later interpreted in terms of Moses ascending Mount Sinai, receiving the law and coming down the mountain to give the law to the gathered people. The image is therefore of Christ's victory over sin and death, although if we take G.V. Smith's line (below), the captives are believers.

edwken domata "gave gifts" - he gave gifts. These words carry the weight of the quote in that the victorious king gives gifts to his people, namely, gifts of ministry. The problem is that both the Hebrew and Greek texts have "[you] received gifts" rather than "gave gifts". G.V. Smith suggests that Paul has in mind God's action of taking and receiving the Levites as a gift, then giving them back to his people in order to minister to the congregation. If Smith is correct, Paul expounds the verse in terms of captive believers ascending with Christ and then being given back to the church to minister (a bit left-field!).

toiV anqrwpoiV (oV) "to men" - Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.


c) Exposition of the quote, v9-10.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional connective, indicating a move to the exposition; "now".

to "-" - the. The article serves as a nominalizer, introducing an element from the text to be studied; "as to the meaning of the element from the text stating 'he ascended'." In referencing the text, the whole text may be intended, but it is more likely just the verb "he ascended", so O'Brien.

tiv estin (eimi) "what does [he ascended] mean" - what is [the going up, ascending]? "now, as to the meaning of this quote / what is the meaning of 'he ascended'?"

ei mh oJti kai "except that [he] also" - if not = except that also [he descended]. The ei mh introduces an exceptive clause which establishes a contrast by designating an exception - the kai is adjunctive, "also". The conjunction oJti, "that", is epexegetic, specifying the content of the exception, namely that the one who ascended obviously also descended. "The fact that he ascended can't mean anything else except that he also obviously descended"; not previously descended, but subsequently descended.

thV ghV (h) gen. "[the lower] earthly [regions]" - [into the lower parts] of the earth. The genitive is adjectival, partitive, although often taken as comparative, "into the parts lower than the earth", ie., ref., Jesus descent into Hades, an ancient error which still lives with us today, cf., 1Pet.3:18. See "Interpretation" above.


oJ katabaV (katabainw) aor. part. "he who descended [is the very one]" - the one having descended [this one is also the one having ascended]. The participle serves as a substantive.

uJperanw + gen. "higher than" - far above [all the heavens]. Locative.

iJna + subj. "in order to" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose.

plhrwsh/ (plhrow) aor. subj. "fill [the whole universe]" - he might fill [all things]. Referring to Christ's rule over all things through the Spirit, cf. Jer.23:24.


d) The distribution of the gifts of the Spirit, v11-16. Still with the idea of Moses bearing the Word of God to the gathered people at Mount Sinai, Paul lists the gifts of ministries which make known the Word of God: apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers.

kai "so" - Sometimes the connective, kai takes an explanatory sense "that is", so a continuation of the explanation of the quote from the Psalms, so Merkle.

autoV edwken (didwmi) aor. "it was he who gave / Christ himself gave" - he gave. The autoV, "he / Christ", is emphatic by position. "Gave" in the sense of "gifted."

men .... de "-" - Here as a coordinate construction, rather than an adversative comparative construction; "on the one hand ........ and on the other ......."

touV "some to be [apostles] / the [apostles]" - apostles [and the prophets]. The article may be taken as definite, as NIV11, or a substantive, taken with the noun as a predicate, "he gave some to be apostles", as NIV.

kai "and" and [the evangelists] and [the pastors] and [teachers]. Coordinate, although some argue that with "teachers" it is epexegetic; "pastors, that is, teachers." Note that "teachers" is anarthrous, possibly indicating a dual function; "pastor-teachers,"


The purpose of the Word ministries, v12-13: Ministries of the Word prepare and train God's people for service within the church, and in so doing, strengthen the fellowship, such that the individual members are shaped into the image of Christ.

proV ........ eiV ...... eiV "to ....... for ........ so that ....." - toward ... to/into ..... to/into ...... Note that there are two ways of understanding how the three prepositions in this verse work grammatically:

*The first phrase expresses the reason Christ "gave" the gifts of ministry, the second is subordinate to the first and the third sums up the two. The change in the preposition is the main support for this argument;

*The three phrases are equally dependent on Christ's gift of ministries. The argument is that the two different prepositions used in the Greek have much the same meaning, either "to" or "for", and are not being used differently.

The second option seems best, ie., all three express purpose / goal. "Christ gives the gifts of ministry, for the equipping of believers, for mutual ministry, and for the building up of the fellowship of believers."

ton katartismon (oV) "[to] prepare / equip" - [toward] the perfecting, equipping, qualifying [of the saints] "For the equipment of the saints", twn aJgiwn, "of the saints" (objective genitive, Hoehner??), here probably in a more general sense, "to equip God's people", rather than "the saints", meaning Jewish believers. All ministries exercised in the church, contribute toward the wholeness of the group - the Christ-likeness of the group. When the church is working well, with members exercising their gifts, it is then that mutual ministry serves to release, encourage, build up, strengthen each individual member. Each intern adds to the fellowship and the upbuilding of the whole. In this way, the church becomes Christ to the individual member. The church, as the "body of Christ", becomes Christ ministering to us, constantly shaping us into his image.

diakoniaV (a) gen. "[works] of service" - [to the work] of ministry. The genitive is adjectival, limiting (by definition / epexegetic) works, works which are of the service kind.

tou swmatoV (a atoV) gen. "the body [of Christ may be built up]" - [to building up] of the body [of christ]. The body obviously belongs to Christ, a possessive genitive, while the building-up concerns / is toward the body, an objective genitive; "building and strengthening the congregation, fitting those chosen to serve, for their task of serving and grooming still others for the work of bringing maturity to the congregation", Junkins.


mecri + subj. "until" - This conjunction followed by a subjunctive forms an indefinite temporal clause, time up to, indicating the end purpose of the gift of ministries - the bestowal of ministries will continue until we attain to ....... .

katanthswmen (katantaw) aor. subj. "we [all] reach [unity]" - we [all] attain, reach the goal, arrive. Believers are to minister until "we all" reach / attain / arrive at the goal.

eiV "-" - to, into. The preposition here expresses goal / purpose, rather than direction, or arrival at, such that each of the three phrases it introduces in this verse explains the goal of the equipping, v12, namely unity of faith / full knowledge, maturity and fullness.

thn enothta (hV htoV) "unity" - the unity. First, the quipping to build up the body of Christ has as its purpose the preservation / creation of a unity of theological truth. Faith and knowledge are being used here as synonyms.

thV pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "in the faith" - of the faith. As is so often the case, the genitive is problematic. As noted above, "the faith" is used, not of the act of believing, or of faithfulness, but of what is believed. Hoehner thinks the genitive is objective, a unity about / concerning the faith, a "unity in the faith", Best; "God's people are moving toward the goal of appropriating all that is included in the one faith", O'Brien. Larkin thinks it is a genitive of reference. He discounts a genitive of source / origin, although a unity that comes out of a knowledge of the faith is not an unreasonable way of understanding Paul's intended sense.

thV epignwsewV (iV ewV) "in the knowledge" - [and] the knowledge. Genitive, standing in apposition to "faith".

tou uiJou (oV) gen. "of the Son" - of the son [of god]. The genitive "of God" is adjectival, possessive / relational, but the genitive "of the Son" is less clear, although most opt for an objective genitive such that the object of the knowledge is the Son of God. It is also possible to classify the genative as adjectival, epexegetic, limiting the knowledge by defining its central content.

teleion adj. "become mature" - [to, into] a complete / perfect / mature [man]. Second, the equipping to build up the body of Christ has its purpose mature manhood. "In understanding be a full-grown adult."

eiV + acc. "attaining to" - to, into. Again expressing goal; see above.

tou plhrwmatoV (a atoV) gen. " of the fullness" - [measure of maturity / coming of full age] of the fullness / completeness [of christ]. The genitive hJlikiaV, "of maturity", is adjectival, appositional; "to the measure, namely, the maturity of the fullness of Christ." This genitive is followed by tou plhrwmatoV, "of the fullness". Hoehner thinks it is epexegetic, "a maturity which consists of the fullness of Christ." The next genitive, tou Cristou, "of Christ", is possessive. "The goal to be reached is mature manhood, and this is defined by the fullness of Christ", O'Brien. So, third, the equipping to build up the body of Christ has as its purpose our crafting into the stature of Christ in all his completeness. "The glorified Christ provides the standard at which his people are to aim", Bruce. "Measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ", NEB.


The ministry of the Word of God, in all its diversity, produces maturity in the believer, v14-15. It helps us stand firm in our faith against the constant tide of popular thought. It shapes us into the image of Christ.

iJna + subj. "-" - that. Probably serving to introduce a purpose clause; "in order that we no longer be", ie., Paul is giving us a more immediate goal of the gifting, although a result clause is certainly possible, "then ....", as NIV.

wJmen (eimi) subj. "we will [no longer] be" - we should [no longer] be [infants]. If a purpose clause, then it serves to identify Christ's intention behind the building up of the fellowship of believers through mutual ministry. It was so that the "body" would not be overwhelmed by immaturity and insecurity, but rather ...... v15.

kludwnizomenoi (kludwnizomai) aor. part. "tossed back and forth" - being thrown into confusion, being tossed by waves. This participle, as with the one following, periferomenoi, "being carried about", is adjectival, attributive, limiting "infants."

anemw/ (oV) "by [every] wind" - [and carried around] in = by [every] wind. Instrumental dative expressing means. "We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teaching, which are like winds that toss around from place to place", CEV.

thV didaskaliaV (a) "of teaching" - of teaching. The genitive is adjectival, best taken as attributed; "every fluffy doctrine."

en .... en + dat. "by" - in [the cunning of men] in [craftiness]. Both prepositions are likely to be instrumental, expressing means, "by the cunning of people, by deceitfulness", although O'Brien thinks the second use is adverbial, intensifying the first prepositional phrase, "by the cunning of men with craftiness."

twn anqrwpwn (oV) "of men / people" - The genitive is probably adjectival, attributive, "human trickery", or verbal, subjective; "at the mercy of the slick cleverness of men", Barclay.

proV + acc. "in" - toward. Expressing direction / intent, so Hoehner; "craftily calculated to lead us astray", Barclay.

thV planhV (h) gen. "deceitful [scheming]" - [the scheming] of deception. The NIV is surely right in taking the genitive as adjectival, attributive, limiting "craftiness / scheming", "deceitful scheming", Barth. Hoehner also opts for an adjectival genitive, Best for an objective genitive, "toward the scheme that produces the error" and Larkin for a subjective genitive where the error produces the scheming.


de "instead" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here to a contrasting point, "but rather"; "No, this is what we must do, ...", Cassirer.

alhqeuonteV (alhqeuw) pres. part. "speaking the truth [in love]" - speaking truth / holding truth, being truthful. The participle is adverbial, probably instrumental expressing means; "by speaking the truth." Paul is probably making the point that God's people will grow through the preaching and teaching of gospel-truth, a word-ministry exercised with a God-like compassion. Yet, most commentators argue that the sense is of "living out the truth", Bruce, Mitton, ..., rather than "speaking the truth", O'Brien, or "being truthful", Hoehner.

en + dat. "in" - in [love]. Probably adverbial, expressing manner; "with love."

auxhswmen (auxanw) aor. subj."we will ... grow up" - we may grow. The verb may be taken in a transitive sense (cause to grow), with the subjunctive taken as hortatory. Intransitive is best, (we are to grow), the subjunctive being linked with iJna in v14, so forming a purpose clause, "in order that ..." - here the positive goal; "in order that we may grow into Christ."

ta panta "in all things / in every respect" - in every way, in all respects. Accusative of respect. We are to grow in Christ-likeness in every way, not just in knowledge.

eiV + acc. "into / to become [in every respect the mature body of him]" - into [him the all things]. Goal; the "growth of the body has Christ as its goal: he is the one into whom we are to grow", O'Brien.

hJ kefalh (h) "the head [that is, Christ]" - [who is] the head, [christ]. "Christ" obviously stands in apposition to "head". The NT encourages us to grow in faith, love, knowledge, ..., but here we are encouraged to grow into Christ, the head of the body. The image probably describes a growth in maturity, a maturity which images the person of Christ - Christ-likeness, as expressed in the NIV11 text. Of course, a more spiritual / mystical sense may be intended, ie., an incorporative union with Christ, and thus living out the truth with love serves as the means of realizing the oneness we possess in Christ through faith. Best is of the view that growing into Christ means more than just becoming like Christ.


Paul concludes by using his "body" image to restate how mutual ministry serves to make real our oneness in Christ. Each member, with their different gifts, is like the different parts of a body, each serving the whole. We minister to each other out of the compelling love of Christ, and thus, all are strengthened, trained, built up, as disciples of Christ.

ex ouJ "from him" - out of whom. The preposition ex expresses source / origin. Christ is the head of the body (rules and governs the church) as well as the goal of the body's growth, but he is also the source from which the body takes its sustenance.

sunarmologoumonon (sunarmologew) pres. pas. part. "joined" - [all the body] being fitly joined together, fitted together [and being united, held together]. This participle, as with "being united / held together", is adjectival, attributive, limiting "body". The ministry of individual believers serves the unity of the whole. "Formed into a harmonious whole", Barclay ; "As a harmonious structure knit together", Phillips.

dia + gen. "by [every supporting ligament]" - through, by means of [each joint / ligament / contact point of the support, supply]. Instrumental, expressing means, with the genitive thV epicorhgiaV, "of the support, supply", being adjectival, epexegetic, as NIV; "held together by every joint with which it is equipped", ESV. Some argue that the key supporting points are those members with a special ministry, but the role of each individual member is surely intended. "Every joint adding it's own strength", NJB.

eiV + acc. "[builds itself up in love]" - [makes the growth of the body] to [building up of itself in love]. Probably expressing purpose, "for / in order to." The shape of the building is en agaph/, "in love", "in the sphere of love", in line with the character of divine compassion. Possibly "it grows and becomes strong because of love", CEV.

kat (kata) "as [each part does its work]" - according to [working in the measure of each single part]. Expressing a standard, "in accordance with, corresponding to." The function of this prepositional phrase is unclear. Technically, no conclusion is obvious:

*The prepositional phrase may modify the main verb poieitai such that the body grows in accordance with the function of each member;

*It may modify the two participles and thus align with the prepositional phrase introduced by dia, thus the first gives the means of being jointed and united, while this phrase provides the manner of the jointing together;

*It may qualify the prepositional phrase introduced by dia so making the point that each individual member of the body plays a part in its upbuilding, not just gifted ministers.

The third option is probably the point Paul is making. The preposition en introduces a subordinate prepositional phrase modifying kat energeian, expressing the measure of the working of each individual part of the body, such that en here takes the sense "amounting to", Robertson; "in accordance with a power / working proportionate / commensurate to each individual part." As for the genitive modifier, enoV ekastou merouV, "of each single part", it is usually taken as verbal, subjective, modifying "according to working", not "in measure"; "the measured working of each individual part", Larkin


Ephesians Introduction



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