Ephesians 4:1-16

Ephesians 4:1-16
Narrative Lectionary


I therefore, the prisonerI in the Lord,II begIII you to lead a lifeIV

Notes on verse 1a

I “prisoner” = desmios. 17x in NT. From desomon (a chain, bond, impediment; being in jail, a ligament); from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, compel; to declare something against the law or prohibited). This is a binding or one who is bound. So, it can be a prisoner or captive.
II “Lord” = Kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
III “beg” = parakaleo. From para (beside, by, in the presence of) + kaleo (to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud) {related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on)}. This is to call to, summon, invite, request, or beg. It can also be exhort or admonish. Also, this can be encourage, comfort, or console. This word has legal overtones and is used of one’s advocate in a courtroom. It is the root of the name of the Holy Spirit “paraclete” is our advocate and comforter.
IV “lead a life” = peripateo. From peri (about, concerning, around, encompassing) + pateo (to read, trample on; to trample literally or figuratively); {from patos (trodden) OR from paio (to strike, smite, sting; a hit like a single blow)}. This is to walk. Going from Hebrew figurative language, to walk referred to how you conducted your life, how you chose to live. This word is most literally walking around. Figuratively, it is living, behaving, following, how you occupy yourself. This is where “peripatetic” comes from.

worthyV of the callingVI to which you have been called,VII 

Notes on verse 1b

V “worthy” = axios. 6x in NT. From axios (related to weight or worth – deserving, suitable, corresponding, due reward); from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, drive, go). This is worthily or appropriately. It is when something is held to have the same worth as its real value.
VI “calling” = klesis. Related to “beg” in v1. 11x in NT. From kaleo (see note III above). This is a calling or invitation. In the Bible, this word always refers to a call from God.
VII “called” = kaleo. Related to “beg” and “calling” in v1. See note III above.

with all humilityVIII and gentleness,IX with patience,X bearing withXI one another in love,XII 

Notes on verse 2

VIII “humility” = tapeinophrosune. 8x in NT. From tapeinos (low in position, depressed, low in circumstance; fig humiliated, low in spirit) + the base of phren (literally the diaphragm; used figuratively for heart, thought, or understanding; personal outlook we use to decide our actions, general outlook); {may be from phrao (to rein in, curb)}. This is humility, modesty. It is lowly or a humble mind.
IX “gentleness” = prautes. 12x in NT. From praus (gentle, meek, which implies humility); related to praios (meek, gentle, kind); related to praotes (mildness kindness, meekness; being temperate – gentle, but strong; implies humility). This is gentleness, mildness, meekness, or humility. It is strength mixed with gentleness.
X “patience” = makrothumia. 14x in NT. From makros (long, long lasting) {from mekos (length); probably related to megas (great or large)} + thumos (passion, wrath; actions emerging from passion or impulse) {from thuo (to rush along, breathe violently, offer sacrifice)}. Properly, this is long-passion or long-suffering – one who waits the needed amount of time before expressing anger. This is also patience, perseverance, and fortitude.
XI “bearing with” = anecho. 15x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + echo (to have, hold, possess). This is to endure, bear with, tolerate, persist, put up with.
XII “love” = agape. From agapao (to love, take pleasure in, esteem; to prefer). This is love, goodwill, benevolence. It is God’s divine love or human love that mirrors God’s love.

making every effortXIII to maintainXIV the unityXV of the SpiritXVI in the bondXVII of peace.XVIII 

Notes on verse 3

XIII “making every effort” = spoudazo. 11x in NT. From spoude (haste, diligence, earnestness, effort; being swift to demonstrate one’s enthusiasm; doing what one is told right away and with full effort); from speudo (to hurry, urge on, await); probably from pous (foot in a figurative or literal sense). This is hurrying with eagerness or zeal. It is doing everything you can, diligently and quickly, fervently.
XIV “maintain” = tereo. From teros (a guard or a watch that guards keep); perhaps related to theoreo (gazing, beholding, experiencing, discerning; looking at something to analyze it and concentrate on what it means; the root of the word “theatre” in that people concentrate on the action of the play to understand its meaning); from theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance); from theoros (a spectator or envoy). This is to guard, observe, keep, maintain, or preserve. It can also be used figuratively for spiritual watchfulness. It is guarding something from being lost or harmed – keeping an eye on it. Contrast the Greek phulasso, which is to guard something so that it doesn’t escape. Also contrast koustodia, which generally denotes a fortress or military presence. This word can mean fulfilling commands, keeping in custody, or maintaining. It can also figuratively mean to remain unmarried.
XV “unity” = henotes. 2x in NT – both in this passage.. From heis (one, first, alone, unity). This is oneness, unity, harmony, or being unanimous.
XVI “Spirit” = Pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
XVII “bond” = sundesmos. Related to “prisoner” in v1. 4x in NT. From sundeo (to bind together; sine prisoners often shared chains, this could also refer to the prisoner to whom one is chained); {from sun (with, together with) + deo (see note I above)}. This is bond, bondage – anything that binds. It could be a close personal tie or identity, harmony between folds. It could also be a ligament or a unifying principle.
XVIII “peace” = eirene. Perhaps from eiro (to join, tie together to form a whole). This is one, peace, quietness, rest, peace of mind, harmony. Peace was a common farewell among Jews (i.e. shalom) and this well-wishing included a blessing of health and wholeness for the individual. This word also indicates wholeness and well-being – when everything that is essential is joined together properly. This is peace literally or figuratively. By implication, it is prosperity (but not in the sense of excessive wealth. Prosperity would have meant having enough from day to day.)

There is oneXIX bodyXX and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hopeXXI of your calling, 

Notes on verse 4

XIX “one” = heis. Related to “unity” in v3. See note XV above.
XX “body” = soma. Perhaps from sozo (to save, heal, rescue); from sos (safe, well, rescued). This is body or flesh. It can be body in a literal or figurative sense (as the body of Christ). This is where the word “somatic” comes from.
XXI “hope” = elpis. From elpo (to anticipate, welcome, expect; usually to anticipate positively). This is expectation, hope, trust, confidence faith. The expectation can be abstract or concrete.

one Lord, one faith,XXII one baptism,XXIII one GodXXIV and FatherXXV of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Notes on verses 5-6

XXII “faith” = pistis. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.
XXIII “baptism” = baptisma. From baptizo (to submerge, wash, or immerse; used specially for baptism); from bapto (to dip or dye; to entirely cover with liquid, to stain). This is dipping or sinking. Also, the rite of baptism.
XXIV “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
XXV “Father” = Pater. This is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.

But each of us was givenXXVI graceXXVII according to the measureXXVIII of Christ’sXXIX gift.XXX 

Notes on verse 7

XXVI “given” = didomi. To give, offer, place, bestow, deliver. This is give in a literal or figurative sense.
XXVII “grace” = charis. From chairo (to rejoice, be glad; used to say hello; properly, delighting in the grace of God or experiencing God’s favor); from char– (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is grace, kindness, favor, gratitude, thanks. It is the sense of being inclined to or favorable towards – leaning towards someone to share some good or benefit. This can be literal, figurative, or spiritual. It is grace as abstract concept, manner, or action.
XXVIII “measure” = metron. 14x in NT. This is a measure, whether of distance or volume. It can be a tool for measuring or the measure itself. Figuratively, it is that which determines what is sufficient. This is where the words “meter” and “metric” come from.
XXIX “Christ’s” = Christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.
XXX “gift” = dorea. Related to “given” in v7. 11x in NT.  From doron (gift, offering, sacrifice; emphasizes that the gift is given freely, voluntarily); from didomi (see note XXVI above). This is a free gift given voluntarily and not received by merit or entitlement. It emphasizes the benevolence of the giver.

8 Therefore it is said,

“When he ascendedXXXI on highXXXII he made captivityXXXIII itself a captive;XXXIV
    he gave giftsXXXV to his people.”XXXVI

Notes on verse 8

XXXI “ascended” = anabaino. From ana (up, back, among, again, anew) + the same as basis (step, hence foot; a pace); {from baino (to walk, to go)}. This is to come up in a literal or figurative sense – ascent, rise, climb, enter.
XXXII “high” = hupsos. 6x in NT. From hupsi (on high, aloft); from huper (over, above, beyond). This is height, high position, heaven, dignity, eminence; elevation, altitude; to be exalted.
XXXIII “captivity” = aichmalosia. Related to “made…captive” in v8. 3x in NT. From aichmalotos (see note XXXIV below). This is captivity or a large number of captives.
XXXIV “made…captive” = aichmaloteuo. 1x in NT. From aichmalotos (a prisoner or captive in war); {from aichme (a spear) + the same as halosis (capturing); {from haliskomai (taken or conquered) or haireomai (to take, choose, or prefer); {probably related to airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}}}. This is to take or lead captive.
XXXV “gifts” = doma. Related to “given” and “gift” in v7. 4x in NT. From didomi (see note XXVI above). This is a gift or present.
XXXVI “people” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face). This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.

(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it meanXXXVII but that he had also descendedXXXVIII into the lower partsXXXIX of the earth?XL 

Notes on verse 9

XXXVII “mean” = eimi. This is to be or exist.
XXXVIII “descended” = katabaino. Related to “ascended” in v8. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + baino (see note XXXI above). This is to come down whether from the sky to the ground or from higher ground to lower. It can be used in a literal or figurative sense.
XXXIX “parts” = meros. From meiromai (to get your allotment or portion). This is a part, a share, or a portion.
XL “earth” = ge. This is earth, land, soil, region, country, the inhabitants of an area.

10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens,XLI so that he might fillXLII all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that someXLIII would be apostles,XLIV

Notes on verses 10-11a

XLI “heavens” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.
XLII “fill” = pleroo. From pleres (to be full, complete, abounding in, occupied with). This is to fill, make full or complete. Properly, this is filling something up to the maximum extent that it can be filled – an appropriate amount for its individual capacity. So, this is used figuratively for furnish, influence, satisfy, finish, preach, perfect, and fulfill.
XLIII {untranslated} = men. This is truly, indeed, even, in fact. Often, it is not translated, but used to emphasize affirmation.
XLIV “apostles” = apostolos. From apostello (to send, send away, send forth as a messenger, to commission); {from apo (from, away from) + stello (to set, arrange, prepare, provide for)}. This is a messenger – someone sent out on a mission as an envoy or delegate. It can also refer to someone set at liberty. Generally, this is a messenger who is meant to be a representative of the one who sent them. They are thus, set apart on a mission literally or figuratively.

some prophets,XLV some evangelists,XLVI some pastorsXLVII and teachers,XLVIII 

Notes on verse 11b

XLV “prophets” = prophetes. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear)}. This is a prophet or poet – one who speaks with inspiration from God.
XLVI “evangelists” = euaggelistes. Related to “worthy” in v1. 3x in NT. From euaggelizo (evangelize – literally to preach the good news; those who hear the news, the news, or a way to say gospel); {from eu (well, good, rightly) + aggelos (angel, messenger; a messenger from God bringing news – whether a prophet or an angel) {from aggellos (to bring tidings); probably from ago (see note V above)}}. This is evangelist or missionary – it is one who preaches the good news.
XLVII “pastors” = poimen. 18x in NT. This is shepherd or pastor – one who protects. It is also used figuratively to mean ruler. 
XLVIII “teachers” = didaskalos. From didasko (to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge; in the New Testament, almost always used for teaching scripture); from dao (to learn). This is teacher or master.

12 to equipXLIX the saintsL for the workLI of ministry,LII for building upLIII the body of Christ, 

Notes on verse 12

XLIX “equip” = katartismos. Related to “made…captive” and “captivity” in v8. 1x in NT. From katartizo (prepare, complete, perfect for final use; restoring something to a good condition, whether for the first time or one more; to repair in a literal or figurative sense); {from kata (down, against, throughout, among) + artizo (get ready, prepare); {from artios (perfect, complete, ready, adequate, fitted); from arti (now, in the moment); from airo (see note XXXIV above)}}. This is to prepare or equip – to get something ready so that everything works together properly. It can also mean perfecting.
L “saints” = hagios. From hagnos (holy, sacred, pure ethically, ritually, or ceremonially; prepared for worship, chaste, unadulterated, pure to the core; undefiled by sin; figurative for innocent, modest, perfect). God is totally different from humanity and thus set apart. That which is consecrated to worship God (elements of worship) or to serve God (as the saints) are holy because they are now set apart for God’s purposes. Holy because important to God. This is sacred physically, pure. It can be morally blameless or ceremonially consecrated.
LI “work” = ergon. From ergo (to work, accomplish, do). This is work, task, deed, labor, effort.
LII “ministry” = diakonia. Perhaps from dia (through, across to the other side, thoroughly) + konis (dust) OR from dioko (to chase after, put to flight; by implication, to persecute or to purse like a hunter after its prey; this can be earnestly pursue or zealously persecute) {related to dio (put to flight)}. This is service, ministry, attending someone, service. It can mean serving someone at a table or otherwise as their servant/slave. It is also used for people who serve/minister in temples, as well as the work of Christian ministry. Figuratively, this word can mean money given for charity. This shares a root with “deacon” and is where the word “diaconate” comes from.
LIII “building up” = oikodome. 18x in NT. From oikos (house – the building, the household, the family, descendants; the temple) + doma (house, housetop; often used to refer to the roof) {from demo (to build a house)}. This is the act of building, structure, architecture, a building, upbuilding. It is a building that is used as a home. Figuratively, this refers to spiritual progress – becoming a person who is a better home in which God can reside.

13 until all of us comeLIV to the unity of the faith and of the knowledgeLV of the SonLVI of God, to maturity,LVII to the measure of the fullLVIII statureLIX of Christ. 

Notes on verse 13

LIV “come” = katantao. 13x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout, among); + antao (to meet with personally) OR from kata (see above) + anti (opposite, instead of, against). This is to come down, reach, arrive. It can be to descend from a higher elevation to a lower one or, more specifically, go to the coast or from out in the waters back to the coast. Figuratively, it is arriving at one’s destination or receiving inheritance.
LV “knowledge” = epignosis. From epiginosko (to perceive, discern, acknowledge, recognize, know exactly because of direct interaction) ; {from epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + ginosko (to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn; gaining knowledge through personal experience)}. This is knowledge, intuition, or discernment. It is firsthand knowledge of someone or something gained through contact or experience. This is full discernment or true knowledge.
LVI “Son” = Huios. This is son, descendant – a son whether natural born or adopted. It can be used figuratively for other forms of kinship.
LVII “maturity” = aner + teleios. Literally “a complete man.” Aner is related to “people” in v8. See note XXXVI above. Teleios is 19x in NT. From telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax). This is going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one. This is reaching an end and so being complete or “perfect.” It is also full grown or mature.
LVIII “full” = pleroma. Related to “fill” in v10. 18x in NT. From pleroo (see note XLII above). This is fullness, supply, completion, superabundance, or multitude.
LIX “stature” = helikia. 8x in NT. From the same as helikos (of what size, how much; properly, full grown, an adult); from helix (mature, adult, of the same age). This refers to maturity, stature, life span, or being of a suitable age. It could refer to maturity in terms of years or size.

14 We must no longer be children,LX tossed to and froLXI and blown aboutLXII by every windLXIII of doctrine,LXIV

Notes on verse 14a

LX “children” = nepios. 15x in NT– used in 1 Corinthians 13 (“when I was a child…”). This may be from ne (not) + epos (word; by extension, to speak) {from epo (to answer, bring word, command). This is an infant, child, minor, or immature person. It can also be used figuratively for someone who is childish or unlearned.
LXI “tossed to and fro” = kludonizomai. 1x in NT. From kludon (billow of water, wave, surge of the sea); from kluzo (to wash over). This is tossed by waves, to fluctuate.
LXII “blown about” = periphero. 3x in NT. From peri (about, concerning, around, encompassing) + phero (to bear, bring, lead, make known publicly; to carry in a literal or figurative sense). This is to carry around, transport, or be driven about.
LXIII “wind” = anemos. From aer (air that we breathe); from aemi (to breathe or blow). This is wind or a gust of air. It can also be used figuratively for empty doctrines.
LXIV “doctrine” = didaskalia. Related to “teachers” in v11. From didaskalos (see note XLVIII above). This is teaching or doctrine. It can be the act of teaching or that which is taught. It is also teaching as applied to life.

by people’s trickery,LXV by their craftinessLXVI in deceitfulLXVII scheming.LXVIII 

Notes on verse 14b

LXV “trickery” = kubeia. 1x in NT. From kubos (a cube or die). This is a dice game. So, it implies trickery or cheating.
LXVI “craftiness” = panourgia. Related to “work” in v12. 5x in NT. From panourgos (crafty, skillful; one who would done whatever is needed to get their own way); {from pas (all, every, every kind of) + ergon (see note LI above)}. This is craftiness, cunning, or trickery. It is doing anything and everything to make something evil or self-serving happen.
LXVII “deceitful” = plane. 10x in NT. From planos (wandering, misleading, a deceiver or imposter). This is wandering. Figuratively, it can refer to error, sin, delusion, fraudulence. It can also mean one who strays from piety.
LXVIII “scheming” = methodeia. 2x in NT. From methodeuo (to be crafty) OR from meta (with, among, behind, beyond) + hodeuo (to travel or journey); {from hodos (way, road, path, journey)}. This is deceit, craftiness, inquiry. It is well-organized evil scheming or trickery. It shares roots with the word “method.”

15 But speaking the truthLXIX in love, we must grow upLXX in every way into him who is the head,LXXI into Christ, 

Notes on verse 15

LXIX “speaking the truth” = aletheuo. 2x in NT. From alethes (true, unconcealed; true because it is in concert with fact and reality – attested; literally, what cannot be hidden; truth stands up to the test and scrutiny and is undeniable, authentic); {from a (not) + lanthano (concealed, hidden, unnoticed; to shut one’s eyes to, unwittingly, unawares)}. This is to speak truth. Figuratively, it is to live that truth in what you teach and profess.
LXX “grow up” = auxano. From auksano (to grow or enlarge, whether literal or figurative). This is growing whether in size or mature or greatness or some other metric.
LXXI “head” = kephale. This is head or chief. It can be a literal head or, figuratively, a ruler or lord. It can also refer to a corner stone. This is where the word “cephalic” comes from.

16 from whom the whole body, joinedLXXII and knit togetherLXXIII by every ligamentLXXIV with which it is equipped,LXXV

Notes on verse 16a

LXXII “joined” = sunarmologeo. Related to “made…captive” and “captivity” in v8 & “equip” in v12. 2x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + harmos (joint, joining); {from ararisko (to join together) or from the same as harma (a chariot or other vehicle); {probably from airo (see note XXXIV above)} + lego (to speak, tell, mention)} This is to join together, to fit. It is interconnected into a harmonious, compact whole.
LXXIII “knit together” = sumbibazo. Related to “ascended” in v8 & “descended” in v9. 7x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + the same as basis (foot, step, pace) {from baino (see note XXXI above)} OR sun (with, together with) + bibazo (to force ){from the same as basis (see above)}. This is joining together, considering, uniting, concluding, proving, or teaching. It is building reasoning – working through the steps to grasp truth by weaving ideas together to form a judgment or a conclusion. By extension, it is applying that understanding to showing or teaching.
LXXIV “ligament” = haphe. 2x in NT. From haptomai (a touch that has an impact on what is being touched – it has an influence on the recipient so that the recipient is changed); from hapto (to touch, handle, kindle, lay hold of). This is a join, fastening, or ligament.
LXXV “equipped” = epichoregia. Related to “worthy” in v1 & “evangelists” in v11. 2x in NT. From epichoregeo (lavishly provide or supply. It can also mean to help, nourish, or contribute); {from epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + choregeo (to be the leader of a performing group, to help pay the expenses of a chorus; thus, to supply, furnish); {from choros (a dance or chorus) + ago (see note V above)}}. This is a lavish supply, support resource, contribution.

as each part is workingLXXVI properly, promotesLXXVII the body’s growthLXXVIII in building itself up in love.

Notes on verse 16b

LXXVI “working” = energeia. Related to “work” in v12 & “craftiness” in v14. 8x in NT. From energes (active, effective, operative, energized, powerful); {from en (in, at, by, with, among) + ergon (see note LI above)}. This is activity, working, efficiency, strong, or divine energy. It is also where the work “energy” comes from.
LXXVII “promotes” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
LXXVIII “growth” = auxesis. Related to “grow up” in v15. 2x in NT. From auxano (see note LXX above). This is growth or increase.

Image credit: “Heart shaped Padlock of Love” by YunHo Lee, 2016.

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