December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
- with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,
- striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:
- 2 one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
- one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
- one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
- But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
- Therefore, it says: "He ascended 3 on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men."
- What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended into the lower (regions) of the earth?
- The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.
- 4 And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
- to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, 5 for building up the body of Christ,
- until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, 6 to the extent of the full stature of Christ,
- so 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.
- Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, 7
- from 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.
- 8 So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
- darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart,
- they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess.
- That is not how you learned Christ,
- assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus,
- that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires,
- and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
- and put on 9 the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth.
- 10 Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
- Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, 11
- and do not leave room for the devil.
- The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work 12 with his (own) hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need.
- No 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.
- And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. 13
- All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.
- (And) be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
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1 [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 Romans 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 Psalm 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 Philippians 2:6-8) than to Christ's presence after his death in the world of the dead (cf 1 Peter 3:19).
2 [4-6] The "seven unities" (church, Spirit, hope; Lord, faith in Christ [Eph 1:13], baptism; one God) reflect the triune structure of later creeds in reverse.
3 [8-10] While the emphasis is on an ascension and gift-giving by Christ, there is also a reference in taking prisoners captive to the aeons and powers mentioned at Eph 1:21; 2:2; 3:10; 6:12.
4  Concerning this list of ministers, cf 1 Cor 12:28 and Romans 12:6-8. Evangelists: missionary preachers (cf Acts 21:8; 2 Tim 4:5), not those who wrote gospels. Pastors and teachers: a single group in the Greek, shepherding congregations.
5  The ministerial leaders in Eph 4:11 are to equip the whole people of God for their work of ministry.
6  Mature manhood: literally, "a perfect man" (cf Col 1:28), possibly the "one new person" of Eph 2:15, though there anthropos suggests humanity, while here aner 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.
7 [15-16] The head, Christ: cf Col 1:18 and contrast 1 Cor 12:12-27 and Romans 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.
8 [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" (anthropos, person), as at Eph 2:15; cf the note on Eph 4:13.
9  Put on: in baptism. See the note on Gal 3:27.
10 [4:25-6:20] For similar exhortations to a morally good life in response to God's gift of faith, see the notes on Romans 12:1-13:14 and Gal 5:13-26.
11  If angry, seek reconciliation that day, not giving the devil (Eph 6:11) opportunity to lead into sin.
12  Honest work: literally, "the good." His [own] hands: some manuscripts have the full phrase as in 1 Cor 4:12.
13  See the note on Eph 1:13.
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