Ephesians, Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. Therefore I, the prisoner united with the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
Therefore. Because of everything God has done in Chapters 1-3 Sha'ul calls on believers to do everything in Chapters 4-6, all of which is summed up in the phrase, "lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called." Compare Ro 8: 1&N, 12:1&N.
2. Always be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love,
3. and making every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom.
4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as when you were called you were called to one hope.
5. And there is one Lord, one trust, one immersion,
6. and one God, the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all and is in all.
First on the list of specific commands is to be a united body of believers. Yeshua's sole prayer specifically for those who would trust in him throughout the ages was thai they should be one (Yn 17:21-23&N). Verses 2-3 indicate how we are to behave toward one another in order to realize this unity, while vv. 4-6 review the objective ground for that unity (see 2:15b-22&N), and vv. 7-13 explain how the Messiah himself forwards it by giving appropriate gifts.
Verses 4-6 may be a fragment of a creedal hymn (like the Jewish Yigdal, based on Maimonides' creed). Scholars find evidence of other early hymns in the New Testament; see5:14&N; Yn l:l-18&N;Ro 11:33-36&N; Pp 2:6-1 I&N; 1 Ti 1:17.2:5-6,3:16, 6:15-16; 2 Ti 2:11-13&N; Yd 24-25; and many examples in the book of Revelation (see references in Rv 4:11N).
7. Each one of us, however, has been given grace to be measured by the Messiah’s bounty.
Compare Ro 12:3-8, 1С 12:4-30.
8. This is why it says, "After he went up into the heights, he led captivity captive and he gave gifts to mankind (Psalm 68:19(18))".
He gave gifts to mankind. English translations of this line in Psalm 68:19(18) say that God "received gifts from men"; the Hebrew text, "lakachta malanot ba'adam," means, literally. "You took gifts in the man." Non-Messianic Jews sometimes complain that the New Testament misquotes the Tanakh, but Sha'ul is not alone in changing "took" to "gave." The Aramaic of the Targum on Psalms applies the "you" to Moshe and has: "You. prophet Moshe, ascended to the Firmament, you took captives captive, you taught the words of the Law and gave them as gifts to the children of men." Likewise, the Peshilta (the Aramaic version of the Bible dating from the lst-4th centuries C.E.) has, "You ascended on high, led captivity captive and gave gifts to the sons of men."
9. Now this phrase, "he went up", what can it mean if not that he first went down into the lower parts, that is, the earth?
The lower parts, that is, the earth. The Messiah was a pre-existent being, the Word, co-equal with God, who, for the sake of mankind, came to earth as a man (Yn 1:1, 14; Pp 2:5-8). It would be less to the point if Sha'ul were saying here that Yeshua descended into Sh'ol after his death (Ac 2:27,31; Ro 10:7; 1 Ke 3:18-20); but if this is indeed what he means, the phrase should be rendered "the lower parts of the earth" (as opposed to its upper parts).
10. The one who went down is himself the one who also went up, far above all of heaven, in order to fill all things.
In any case, the Messiah died. Saying he went up implies thai he was resurrected. Then he went up, far above all of heaven, that is, to the very presence of God (compare Pp 2:9-1 l.Co 1:16-20). All this assures that we believers too will be resurrected in the future and that the Spirit is at work in our lives now (Yn 14:26, 15:26; 1С 15:1-58).
11. Furthermore, he gave some people as emissaries, some as prophets, some as proclaimers of the Good News, and some as shepherds and teachers.
Sha'ul's phrase, "freely given" (v. 7), is supported by a verse from Psalms quoted in v. 8, giving a basis in Scripture for the midrash on "freely given" in vv. 9-11.
These are Yeshua's gifts to the Messianic Community. Because the Greek is ambiguous, some take the two terms "shepherds" (pastors) and "teachers" to be speaking of one office — "shepherd-teachers." Pastoring and teaching are overlapping yet distinguishable skills. Emissaries (apostles) found congregations. Prophets speak God's word. Proclaimers of the Good News (evangelists) communicate the Good News so that people turn from sin and accept God's forgiveness through the Messiah. Pastors carry on from there, discipling and counseling new and old believers in living the Messianic life. Teachers communicate and apply biblical truth. None is to boast about his position but to "equip God's people," as explained in vv. 12-13.
12. Their task is to equip God’s people for the work of service that builds the body of the Messiah,
13. until we all arrive at the unity implied by trusting and knowing the Son of God, at full manhood, at the standard of maturity set by the Messiah’s perfection.
14. We will then no longer be infants tossed about by the waves and blown along by every wind of teaching, at the mercy of people clever in devising ways to deceive.
15. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in every respect grow up into him who is the head, the Messiah.
16. Under his control, the whole body is being fitted and held together by the support of every joint, with each part working to fulfill its function; this is how the body grows and builds itself up in love.
The New Covenant states that "they will not teach leach other], saying, 'Know Adonai,' because they will all know me" (Jeremiah 31:33(34)). This has not happened yet, and although the process has begun, we still need teachers (v. 12). How long? Until we all arrive at the unity (see w. 2-6&N) implied by trusting and knowing the Son of God, and the other points of vv. 14-16 are fulfilled.
17. Therefore I say this — indeed, in union with the Lord I insist on it: do not live any longer as the pagans live, with their sterile ways of thinking.
18. Their intelligence has been shrouded in darkness, and they are estranged from the life of God, because of the ignorance in them, which in turn comes from resisting God’s will.
The conventional wisdom of our century is at odds with the Bible because it fails to see that resisting God's will suppresses intelligence and fosters ignorance.
19. They have lost all feeling, so they have abandoned themselves to sensuality, practicing any kind of impurity and always greedy for more.
20. But this is not the lesson you learned from the Messiah!
21. If you really listened to him and were instructed about him, then you learned that since what is in Yeshua is truth,
22. then, so far as your former way of life is concerned, you must strip off your old nature, because your old nature is thoroughly rotted by its deceptive desires;
23. and you must let your spirits and minds keep being renewed,
24. and clothe yourselves with the new nature created to be godly, which expresses itself in the righteousness and holiness that flow from the truth.
An analysis of what leads to immorality and amorality (e.g., deceptive desires, v. 22), and instruction in how to achieve right morality.
25. Therefore, stripping off falsehood, let everyone speak truth with his neighbor (Zechariah 8:16) because we are intimately related to each other as parts of a body.
26. Be angry, but don’t sin (Psalm 4:5(4)) — don’t let the sun go down before you have dealt with the cause of your anger;
27. otherwise you leave room for the Adversary.
The adversary. See Mt 4:1N.
28. The thief must stop stealing; instead, he should make an honest living by his own efforts. This way he will be able to share with those in need.
29. Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only good words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that will benefit those who hear them.
30. Don’t cause grief to God’s Ruach HaKodesh, for he has stamped you as his property until the day of final redemption.
God's Ruach HaKodesh, rendered in most translations "the Holy Spirit of God." This phrase, which appears only here in the New Testament, explicitly equates the Holy Spirit with the Spirit of God. Also see MJ 3:2-4N
31. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, violent assertiveness and slander, along with all spitefulness.
32. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted; and forgive each other, just as in the Messiah God has also forgiven you.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6