Paul explains God’s vision for Jews and Gentiles together in the Body of Messiah
A literal translation from the Greek by Jeffrey J. Harrison. You can also print out this translation as a booklet
4 1 Therefore I exhort you#—I the prisoner—that you# walk [or live] in the Lord in a manner worthy of the calling to which you# were called,
2 with all humility and meekness,
enduring one another in love,
3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;
4 one body and
one Spirit, just as you# also were called in
one hope of your# shared calling;
5 one Lord,
6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But grace was given to each of us individually, according to the measure of Messiah’s gift [to each of us]. 8 Therefore it [Scripture] says,
When he ascended on high, he made captivity captive and gave gifts to men [Psalm 68:18 LXX]. 9 But what is the meaning of
he ascended, if not that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? [Proverbs 30:4] 10 The one descending is himself also the one ascending above all the heavens, in order that he may fill all [the members of the body].
11 He himself also gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, 12 toward the equipping of the holy ones for the work of service [in ministry], for building up the body of Messiah,
13 until we all attain
to the unity of faith and knowledge found in the Son of God,
to the goal of becoming a complete [or perfect] man, and
to the measure [or level] of maturity found in the fullness of the Messiah,
14 in order that we may no longer be immature—tossed here and there in the waves and carried here and there in every wind of doctrine
by the trickery of men,
by a cleverness with regard to the scheming of error—
15 but being truthful in love, we may cause all [the members of the body] to grow until they become like him who is the head, Messiah, 16 from whom the whole body,
being joined and held together by every supporting ligament
is, as a result of the divine action corresponding to the measure of the gift given to each individual part, making the growth of the body result in its being built up in love.
17 This, therefore, I say and testify in the Lord: You# are no longer to walk [or live] as the Gentiles also walk [or live] with their minds full of foolish thoughts, 18 being
darkened in their understanding,
separated from the life of God
because of the ignorance that is in them,
because of the stubbornness of their hearts,
19 those who, being insensitive, have given themselves over to sensuality in the pursuit of every kind of uncleanness, with a desire for even more of it. 20 But you# did not become disciples of Messiah in this way, 21 if you# really have listened to him and really were taught in him—as you# were, as truth is in Jesus!—
22 to take off the old man that, after the manner of your# former way of life, is being corrupted by deception’s desires, 23 and
to be continually renewed in the spirit of your# mind 24 and
to put on the new man that, after the manner of God, was created in the righteousness and holiness of the truth.
25 Therefore take off falsehood:
speak truth each one of you# with his neighbor [Zechariah 8:16], for we are members of one another.
Be angry and do not sin [Psalm 4:4]: don’t let the sun go down on your# anger, 27 nor give any place to the devil.
28 Let the one who steals steal no longer, but rather let him work hard doing good with his hands, that he may have something to share with the one who has a need.
29 Don’t let any harmful word come out of your# mouth, but instead whatever is good for the building up of any area of need, that it may give grace to those who hear.
30 And don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you# were sealed for a day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness and anger and wrath and clamor and blasphemy [or slander] be removed from among you# with every evil thing.
32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, dealing graciously with yourselves just as God in Messiah also has dealt graciously with you#.
4:6 Over all and through all and in all: God rules over all who are in the body of Messiah, he acts through all who are in the body, and he indwells all who are in the body. ⏎
4:7 Grace...according to the measure of Messiah’s gift: Grace (unmerited favor) has been given to each of us individually according to the measure required by the individual gift each of us has received. ⏎
4:8 On high: Literally,
into a height, that is, into heaven. Paul interprets this verse in Psalm 68 as a reference to the ascension of Jesus and the distribution of the gifts of the Spirit. Here he follows the Septuagint (Old Greek) translation of this Psalm:
When you ascended on high, you made captivity captive and received gifts for men, even though they were disobedient, that you might dwell among them (Psa. 68:18 LXX [67:18/19]). ⏎
4:9 What is the meaning of
he ascended: Paul argues that an ascent implies a prior descent by alluding to Proverbs 30:4 (
Who has ascended into the heavens and descended?). This was a proof text of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God (
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?.... What is his name or his son’s name?). ⏎
4:9 Descended into the lower parts of the earth: This has been interpreted either as (a) Jesus’ descent to earth in the incarnation, (b) his death and burial, or (c) his descent into Hades. But Paul’s Biblical allusions align more closely with option (a): that Jesus’ later ascent into heaven is the simple reverse of his prior descent from heaven. See Gen. Rab. 19:7 in which the
lower parts (or
lower worlds) also refer to the surface of the earth in the context of a heavenly ascent and descent. ⏎
4:10 That he may fill all: As Eph. 1:23 and 3:19 above and Eph. 5:18 below. Here, by the structure of Paul’s argument (compare Eph. 4:8), the
filling of believers by Messiah is associated with his giving of spiritual gifts. ⏎
4:13 The measure of maturity found in the fullness of the Messiah: That is, the same level of maturity found in Messiah himself. ⏎
4:16 Every supporting ligament: Or,
ligament of provision. This refers to the ministry gifts mentioned above (Eph. 4:11-12), as shown by their position in the chiastic structure of this section:
A: Individual gifts (4:7-10)
B: Ministry gifts (4:11-12)
C: The whole Body (4:13)
D: Avoid false doctrine (4:14)
C': The whole Body (4:15-16a)
B': Ministry gifts (4:16b)
A': Individual gifts (4:16c). ⏎
4:19 Uncleanness: That is, moral impurity or evil. ⏎
4:19 With a desire for even more of it: Literally,
in greediness. They can’t get enough of their evil ways, but desire more and more of it. ⏎
4:21 Listened to him: That is, heard and obeyed his teachings. ⏎
4:21 And really were taught in him...as truth is in Jesus!: That is,
as you were taught, and both you and I know you were! Paul himself was one of their primary instructors while pastor of the church in Ephesus. ⏎
4:22 Take off: As in removing clothing. An allusion to the removal of clothing for baptism. ⏎
4:24 Put on: As in putting on clothing. An allusion to the re-dressing after baptism. ⏎
4:25 Take off: As in removing clothing. An allusion to baptism. ⏎
4:25 We are members of one another: We are joined with one another, like the parts of a body, as a result of our participation in the body of Messiah. ⏎
4:26 Don’t let the sun go down on your anger: Don’t carry your anger over to the next day. ⏎
4:29 Whatever is good for the building up of any area of need: Encouraging, uplifting words help resolve difficulties. Harmful words create them. ⏎