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
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
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
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
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
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'"
"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on
a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience"
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"
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
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
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
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
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.
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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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