Unity in the Body. 1* I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,a 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,b 3striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:c 4* one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;d 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.f
Diversity of Gifts. 7But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.g 8Therefore, it says:
“He ascended* on high and took prisoners captive;
he gave gifts to men.”h
9What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower [regions] of the earth? 10The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.
11* And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,i 12to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,* for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,* to the extent of the full stature of Christ,j 14so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.k 15Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head,l Christ,* 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love.m
Renewal in Christ.* 17So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;n 18darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart,o 19they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess.p 20That is not how you learned Christ, 21assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, 22that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires,q 23and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,r 24and put on* the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.s
IV. Daily Conduct, an Expression of Unity*
Rules for the New Life. 25Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another.t 26Be angry but do not sin;u do not let the sun set on your anger,* 27and do not leave room for the devil.v 28The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work* with his [own] hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need.w 29No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.x 30And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.* 31All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.y 32[And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.z
* [4:1–16] A general plea for unity in the church. Christians have been fashioned through the Spirit into a single harmonious religious community (one body, Eph 4:4, 12; cf. Eph 4:16), belonging to a single Lord (in contrast to the many gods of the pagan world), and by one way of salvation through faith, brought out especially by the significance of baptism (Eph 4:1–6; cf. Rom 6:1–11). But Christian unity is more than adherence to a common belief. It is manifested in the exalted Christ’s gifts to individuals to serve so as to make the community more Christlike (Eph 4:11–16). This teaching on Christ as the source of the gifts is introduced in Eph 4:8 by a citation of Ps 68:18, which depicts Yahweh triumphantly leading Israel to salvation in Jerusalem. It is here understood of Christ, ascending above all the heavens, the head of the church; through his redemptive death, resurrection, and ascension he has become the source of the church’s spiritual gifts. The “descent” of Christ (Eph 4:9–10) refers more probably to the incarnation (cf. Phil 2:6–8) than to Christ’s presence after his death in the world of the dead (cf. 1 Pt 3:19).
* [4:11] Concerning this list of ministers, cf. 1 Cor 12:28 and Rom 12:6–8. Evangelists: missionary preachers (cf. Acts 21:8; 2 Tm 4:5), not those who wrote gospels. Pastors and teachers: a single group in the Greek, shepherding congregations.
* [4:13] Mature manhood: literally, “a perfect man” (cf. Col 1:28), possibly the “one new person” of Eph 2:15, though there anthrōpos suggests humanity, while here anēr is the term for male. This personage becomes visible in the church’s growing to its fullness in the unity of those who believe in Christ.
* [4:15–16] The head, Christ: cf. Col 1:18 and contrast 1 Cor 12:12–27 and Rom 12:4–5 where Christ is identified with the whole body, including the head. The imagery may derive from ancient views in medicine, the head coordinating and caring for the body, each ligament (perhaps the ministers of Eph 4:11) supporting the whole. But as at Eph 2:19–22, where the temple is depicted as a growing organism, there may also be the idea here of growing toward the capstone, Christ.
* [4:17–24] Paul begins to indicate how the new life in Christ contrasts with the Gentiles’ old way of existence. Literally, the old self (Eph 4:22) and the new self (Eph 4:24) are “the old man” and “the new man” (anthrōpos, person), as at Eph 2:15; cf. note on Eph 4:13.