The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
August 26, 2012


1) Ephesians 4:30-32 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Ephesians 4:30-32
by Tom Edwards

We closed last time with the admonition to "do not grieve the Holy Spirit"; but consider, too, what else that verse says: "by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30).  

That Paul speaks of having been "sealed" by the Holy Spirit is repeating what he had said earlier in Ephesians 1:13,14: "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory."  We had noted that the term "pledge" ("earnest" in the KJV) comes from a Greek word that literally means, "money which in purchases is given as a pledge or down payment that the full amount will subsequently be paid" (Thayer).  So for all who truly have the Holy Spirit in their lives, that is evidence that if they continue to abide in God's word, they will one day be ushered into the glories of heaven to enjoy forevermore.  

This passage also indicates that being sealed with the Holy Spirit did not come about as an arbitrary choice of God before the world began.  Rather, the individual must first hear the gospel, believe it, and obey it, before that sealing can take place.  For Acts 5:32 declares that "God has given to those who obey Him" the Holy Spirit.  So having the Spirit in our lives is more than a mere feeling or that which has been brought about through some inexplicable "experience."  Rather, having the Spirit involves are submitting to what the Lord requires of us, as revealed in His word, which can easily be inferred from two parallel passages that pertain to the singing of spiritual songs -- Ephesians 5:18,19 and Colossians 3:1.  The former passage exhorts the brethren to "be filled with the Spirit" when singing these songs, while the latter renders it as, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you...."  So that explains how we can be filled with the Spirit and be assured in His dwelling within us through the word.  

Paul also speaks in Ephesians 4:30 about being sealed with the Holy Spirit "for the day of redemption."  Obviously, this "day of redemption" is not talking about the day a person is first redeemed from sin. Rather, it is pointing to the second  coming of Christ, when Christians shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the perishable will put on the imperishable (1 Cor. 15:51,52).  This is what Paul is also referring to in Romans 8:23: "And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body."

Paul then instructs the Ephesians of things they need to put off in Ephesians 4:31: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice."

Just as today with the English word, the Greek word in this passage for bitterness (pikria) is also used both literally as well as metaphorically: For instance, things could be bitter to the taste, such as bitter fruit; or one could speak and behave in a bitter manner.  We might think of bitterness as being the exact opposite of kindness.  David Lipscomb defines this word as being "that frame of mind which willfully retains angry feelings, ready to take offense and liable to break out in anger at any moment."  In Psalm 63:4, David speaks of those who have "sharpened their tongue like a sword" and "aimed bitter speech as their arrow."  It is also seen in Romans 3:14,18 as one of the characteristics of those who have no fear of God.  Their "mouth is full of cursing and bitterness."  There are also several other sinful characteristics shown  in the context, which are quotes from the Old Testament; but it then closes with the thought that "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (v. 18), which appears to be an explanation for why they have given themselves over to such corrupt practices.  Paul also specifically instructs the husbands in Colossians 3:19 to love their wives and "not be embittered against them."

Not only is bitterness to be put away, but also wrath (Eph. 4:31).  This type of wrath is the opposite of tender-heartedness.  And since this wrath is to be put away, it appears that it is referring to a sinful human passion, when referring to mankind, rather than a righteous indignation that God would have.  Bengel defines this type of wrath as "harshness."  It has also been rendered in various translations as "rage" (NIV, ALT) and "sharp...feeling" (BBE).  And in some other verses of the NASB, the Greek word is even translated as "angry tempers," "outbursts of anger," and some other ways.  So it would appear to be a wrath that is more than a man can handle and, therefore, one that is out of control.  But that is never the case with God.  So there are some instances when this same Greek word is used to refer to the Lord's wrath, such as in being  "fierce" (Rev. 16:19; 19:15) and God's righteous "indignation" (Rom. 2:8) that those who "are selfishly ambition and do not obey the truth" will receive (Rom. 2:8); and it is also simply rendered as the Lord's "wrath" (Rev. 14:10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1).  The Revelation letter also uses it to pertain to the immoral "passion" of "Babylon the great" (Rev. 14:8; 18:3).  So we find this particular Greek word being used in connection with the good and the bad -- good when pertaining to God's, and bad when pertaining to others.  

In addition, the Christian is to put off "anger."  Whether we are talking about "wrath" or "anger," both of these terms are used with relation to man, as well as to God.  But we have also seen, in this same chapter, how dangerous anger can be in the heart of man (Eph. 4:26,27).  And James warns in James 1:19,20 that everyone needs to be "quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."  So when anger and wrath are just human passions that can lead astray, they certainly need to be eliminated.  

Paul also speaks of the "clamor" (Eph. 4:31) that is to be put off, which pertains to an outcry.  And though the Greek word is not always used in a bad sense, here, in this context of bitterness, wrath, and anger, it is referring to the wrong kind of outcry.  As the Contemporary English Version translates it, "Don't yell at one another...."  So from the context, it is pertaining to yelling because of bitterness or unrighteous anger.  

Loud quarreling would also be in this category of things to put off.  The NIV renders it as "brawling," and to brawl is to "fight or quarrel angrily and noisily...[to] wrangle" (Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary and Thesaurus).  When tempers are flaring and voices are hitting the high decibel levels, that is not a very good way to make a point or to try to teach someone. For, to the contrary, Paul shows in 2 Timothy 2:25 that it is to be "with gentleness" that we are to correct "those who are in opposition."  And in 1 Peter 3:15, it is "with gentleness and reverence" that we are to express to others our reason for our hope in Jesus. 

Along with the clamor, slander is to also be put away.  Solomon shows in Proverbs 10:18 that "...he who spreads slander is a fool."

And, lastly, in Ephesians 4:31, Paul includes "malice" that is to be put off, which is defined as "a desire to inflict harm or suffering on another."  So it certainly is an evil desire.  

All of these terms in Ephesians 4:31 are closely related.  When one is given to bitterness, wrath, and anger, clamor can then easily follow.  And when that is the case, it also makes it easy for one to slander and have a heart of malice or ill will toward others.

Colossians 3:8 closely parallels with Ephesians 4:31.  It states: "But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth."  So rather than giving ourselves over to these things of Ephesians 4:31, Paul shows in the next verse of what should characterize us.  Here he exhorts, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (v. 32). The psalmist also shows good reason for being this way, when he declares of the Lord, "With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind..." (Psa. 18:25).  We also learn in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that being kind is one of the attributes of love itself, and is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).  

We should want to be kind because God is that way.  As we saw in Ephesians 1:5,9, the Lord's desire to save us through His predestined plan of salvation, and to make known to us the mystery of His will, is all because of God's "kind intention," as both those verses declare.  

Furthermore, it is the kindness of God that leads one to repentance, according to Romans 2:4; and that kindness we need to continue in, lest we be cut off and experience the severity of the Lord's wrath (Rom. 11:22).  

We also need to be kind simply because it is commanded of us.  Consider, for example, these following passages:

"The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged" (2 Tim. 2:24).  

This was also commanded of those during the Old Testament period, but they did not always listen: "Thus has the LORD of hosts said, 'Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.'  But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing.  They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.  'And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,' says the LORD of hosts; 'but I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known. Thus the land is desolated behind them so that no one went back and forth, for they made the pleasant land desolate'" (Zech. 7:9-14).  

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Col. 3:12).  

How can we put on kindness?  Solomon shows how in Proverbs 14:21,22: "He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor.  Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to those who devise good."  So by striving to do good unto others, we will also be filling our lives with kindness in the process.  

It is Job who declares that "For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; Lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty" (Job 6:14).

And note what Solomon wrote his son in Proverbs 3:1-4: "My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments;  For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you.  Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man."

As we think about the importance of kindness in our lives, look what Solomon also says about this in Proverbs 19:22: "What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor man than a liar."

Paul also shows in Ephesians 4:32 that we are to be "tender-hearted."  Thayer defines the Greek word, secondarily, as "compassionate"; and James Strong shows that it also means "sympathetic."  

When we looked a moment ago at Colossians 3:12 to see of the command to be kind, we also saw there that we are to "put on a heart of compassion," which would certainly express being tender-hearted.  

It is translated as "kindhearted" in 1 Peter 3:8,9, where Peter gives this following exhortation: "To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."

And isn't it something that Paul doesn't tell us to merely forgive each other in Ephesians 4:32; but, rather, to be "forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you"?

Paul also gives a similar instruction to the Colossians: "bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you" (Col. 3:13).  What better motivation can we who are Christians have toward forgiving others than to realize of all the many sins that God has forgiven us of? 

In addition, for a Christian not to forgive is contrary to how a child of God should be and that which will hinder one from obtaining forgiveness for his own sins, according to Mark 11:25,26: "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.  [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.]"   This is also illustrated in the Lord's "Parable of the Unmerciful Servant" (Matt. 18:21-35), which also shows that forgiving others is to stem from the heart.    

So we close chapter four of the Ephesian letter with the importance to forgive others -- even as Christ has forgiven us.  For that is part of what putting on the new self is about -- being more Christ-like.  And while here on earth, may we ever strive toward that perfection.


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember these following people in prayer:

Linda Lefort (Harris Lefort's sister-in-law) who has throat cancer, fluid buildup, and is receiving hospice care; Bill Barfield (Virginia Fontenot's brother) who was admitted to ICU last March and has been in a step-down unit ever since; Jean Calloway, who has been having a foot problem; Shirley Young, who experiences fibromyalgia every day; Pam MacDonald, who has been having back trouble; and Cheryl Crews, who is now undergoing therapy for some of her physical ailments.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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