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Ephesians 4:14

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

That we henceforth be no more children - In some respects Christians “are” to be like children. They are to be docile, gentle, mild, and free from ambition, pride, and haughtiness; see the notes on Matthew 18:2-3. But children have other characteristics besides simplicity and docility. They are often changeable Matthew 11:17; they are credulous, and are influenced easily by others, and led astray, In these respects, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to be no longer children but urges them to put on the characteristics Of manhood; and especially to put on the firmness in religious opinion which became maturity of life.

Tossed to and fro - κλυδωνιζόμενοι kludōnizomenoiThis word is taken from waves or billows that are constantly tossed about - in all ages art image of instability of character and purpose.

And carried about with every wind of doctrine - With no firmness; no settled course; no helm. The idea is that of a vessel on the restless ocean, that is tossed about with every varying wind, and that has no settled line of sailing. So many persons are in regard to religious doctrines. They have no fixed views and principles. They hold no doctrines that are settled in their minds by careful and patient examination, and the consequence is, that they yield to every new opinion, and submit to the guidance of every new teacher. The “doctrine” taught here is, that we should have settled religious opinions. We should carefully examine what is truth, and having found it, should adhere to it, and not yield on the coming of every new teacher. We should not, indeed, close our minds against conviction. We should be open to argument, and be willing to follow “the truth” wherever it will lead us. But this state of mind is not inconsistent with having settled opinions, and with being firm in holding them until we are convinced that we are wrong. No man can be useful who has not settled principles. No one who has not such principles can inspire confidence or be happy, and the first aim of every young convert should be to acquire settled views of the truth, and to become firmly grounded in the doctrines of the gospel.

By the sleight of men - The cunning skill “trickery” of people. The word used here - κυβεία kubeia- is from a word ( κύβος kubos) meaning a cube or die, and properly means a game at dice. Hence, it means game, gambling; and then anything that turns out by mere chance or hap-hazard - as a game at dice does. It “may” possibly also denote the trick or fraud that is sometimes used in such games; but it seems rather to denote a man‘s forming his religious opinions by “the throw of a die;” or, in other words, it describes a man whose opinions seem to be the result of mere chance. Anything like casting a die, or like opening the Bible at random to determine a point of duty or doctrine, may come under the description of the apostle here, and would all be opposed to the true mode, that by calm examination of the Bible, and by prayer A man who forms his religious principles by chance, can un” form” them in the same way; and he who has determined his faith by one cast of the die, will be likely to throw them into another form by another. The phrase “the sleight of men” therefore I would render “by the mere chance of people, or as you may happen to find people, one holding this opinion, and the next that, and allowing yourself to be influenced by them without any settled principles.”

Cunning craftiness - Deceit, trick, art; see 2 Corinthians 12:16; Luke 20:23; 1 Corinthians 3:19; notes, 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 11:3, note.

Whereby they lie in wait to deceive - Literally, “Unto the method of deceit;” that is, in the usual way of deceit. Doddridge, “In every method of deceit.” This is the true idea. The meaning is, that people would use plausible pretences, and would, if possible, deceive the professed friends of Christ. Against such we should be on our guard; and not by their arts should our opinion be formed, but by the word of God.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Unto every believer is given some gift of grace, for their mutual help. All is given as seems best to Christ to bestow upon every one. He received for them, that he might give to them, a large measure of gifts and graces; particularly the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not a mere head knowledge, or bare acknowledging Christ to be the Son of God, but such as brings trust and obedience. There is a fulness in Christ, and a measure of that fulness given in the counsel of God to every believer; but we never come to the perfect measure till we come to heaven. God's children are growing, as long as they are in this world; and the Christian's growth tends to the glory of Christ. The more a man finds himself drawn out to improve in his station, and according to his measure, all that he has received, to the spiritual good of others, he may the more certainly believe that he has the grace of sincere love and charity rooted in his heart.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Be no more children - Children, here, are opposed to the perfect man in the preceding verse; and the state of both is well explained by the apostle's allusions. The man is grown up strong and healthy, and has attained such a measure or height as qualifies him for the most respectable place in the ranks of his country.

The child is ignorant, weak, and unsteady, tossed about in the nurse's arms, or whirled round in the giddy sports or mazes of youth; this seems to be the apostle's allusion. Being tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, refers to some kind of ancient play, but what I cannot absolutely determine; probably to something similar to a top, or to our paper kite.

By the sleight of men - The words εν τη κυβειᾳ refer to the arts used by gamesters, who employ false dice that will always throw up one kind of number, which is that by which those who play with them cannot win.

Cunning craftiness - It is difficult to give a literal translation of the original words: εν πανουργιᾳ προς την μεθοδειαν της πλανης· "By cunning, for the purpose of using the various means of deception." Πανουργια signifies craft and subtlety in general, cheating and imposition: μεθοδεια, from which we have our term method, signifies a wile, a particular sleight, mode of tricking and deceiving; it is applied to the arts which the devil uses to deceive and destroy souls; see Ephesians 6:11, called there the Wiles of the devil. From this it seems that various arts were used, both by the Greek sophists and the Judaizing teachers, to render the Gospel of none effect, or to adulterate and corrupt it.

Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 273

Times that will try men's souls are just before us, and those who are weak in the faith will not stand the test of those days of peril. The great truths of revelation are to be carefully studied, for we shall all want an intelligent knowledge of the word of God. By Bible study and daily communion with Jesus we shall gain clear, well-defined views of individual responsibility and strength to stand in the day of trial and temptation. He whose life is united to Christ by hidden links will be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. 5T 273.1

More thought should be given to the things of God, and less to temporal matters. The world-loving professor, if he will exercise his mind in that direction, may become as familiar with the word of God as he now is with worldly business. “Search the Scriptures,” said Christ; “for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me.” The Christian is required to be diligent in searching the Scriptures, to read over and over again the truths of God's word. Willful ignorance on this subject endangers the Christian life and character. It blinds the understanding and corrupts the noblest powers. It is this that brings confusion into our lives. Our people need to understand the oracles of God; they need to have a systematic knowledge of the principles of revealed truth, which will fit them for what is coming upon the earth and prevent them from being carried about by every wind of doctrine. 5T 273.2

Great changes are soon to take place in the world, and everyone will need an experimental knowledge of the things of God. It is the work of Satan to dishearten the people of God and to unsettle their faith. He tries in every way to insinuate doubts and questionings in regard to the position, the faith, the plans, of the men upon whom God has laid the burden of a special work and who are zealously doing that work. Although he may be baffled again and again, yet he renews his attacks, working through those who profess to be humble and God-fearing, and who are apparently interested in, or believers of, present truth. The advocates of truth expect fierce and cruel opposition from their open enemies, but this is far less dangerous than the secret doubts expressed by those who feel at liberty to question and find fault with what God's servants are doing. These may appear to be humble men; but they are self-deceived, and they deceive others. In their hearts are envy and evil surmisings. They unsettle the faith of the people in those in whom they should have confidence, those whom God has chosen to do His work; and when they are reproved for their course they take it as personal abuse. While professing to be doing God's work they are in reality aiding the enemy. 5T 273.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 75

God calls for men and women of stability, of firm purpose, who can be relied upon in seasons of danger and trial, who are as firmly rooted and grounded in the truth as the eternal hills, who cannot be swayed to the right or to the left, but who move straight onward and are always found on the right side. There are some, who, in time of religious peril, may almost always be looked for in the ranks of the enemy; if they have any influence, it is on the wrong side. They do not feel under moral obligation to give all their strength to the truth they profess. Such will be rewarded according to their works. 4T 75.1

Those who do little for the Saviour in the salvation of souls and in keeping themselves right before God, will gain but little spiritual muscle. We need continually to use the strength we have that it may develop and increase. As disease is the result of the violation of natural laws, so is spiritual declension the result of a continued transgression of the law of God. And yet the very transgressors may profess to keep all of God's commandments. 4T 75.2

We must come nearer to God, place ourselves in closer connection with heaven, and carry out the principles of the law in the minutest actions of our everyday lives in order to be spiritually whole. God has given His servants ability, talents to be used for His glory, not to lie idle or be wasted. He has given them light and a knowledge of His will to be communicated to others, and in imparting to others we become living channels of light. If we do not exercise our spiritual strength we become feeble, as the limbs of the body become powerless when the invalid is compelled to remain long inactive. It is use that gives power. 4T 75.3

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 109

Many who contemplate giving themselves to the service of God, do not feel the need of any special training. But those who feel thus are the very ones who stand in greatest need of a thorough drill. It is when they have little knowledge of themselves and of the work that they feel best qualified. When they know more, then they feel their ignorance and inefficiency. When they subject their hearts to close examination, they will see so much in them unlike the character of Christ, that they will cry out, “Who is sufficient for these things?” and in deep humility they will strive daily to put themselves in close connection with Christ. By crucifying self they are placing their feet in the path in which He can lead them. FE 109.1

There is danger that the inexperienced worker, while seeking to qualify himself for the work, will feel competent to place himself in any kind of a position, where various winds of doctrines are blowing about him. This he cannot do without peril to his own soul. If trials and temptations come upon him, the Lord will give strength to overcome them; but when one places himself in the way of temptation, it often happens that Satan through his agents advances his sentiments in such a manner as to confuse and unsettle the mind. By communion with God and close searching of the Scriptures, the worker should become thoroughly established himself before he enters regularly upon the work of teaching others. John, the beloved disciple, was exiled to lonely Patmos, that he might be separated from all strife, and even from the work he loved, and that the Lord might commune with him and open before him the closing scenes in this earth's history. It was in the wilderness that John the Baptist learned the message that he was to bear, to prepare the way for the coming One. FE 109.2

But above everything else it should be impressed upon the individuals who have decided to become God's servants, that they must be converted men. The heart must be pure. Godliness is essential for this life and the life which is to come. The man without a solid, virtuous character will surely be no honor to the cause of truth. The youth who contemplates laboring together with God, should be pure in heart. In his lips, in his mouth, should be no guile. The thoughts should be pure. Holiness of life and character is a rare thing, but this the worker must have or he cannot yoke up with Christ. Christ says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” If those who purpose to work for others’ good and for the salvation of their fellow men rely on their own wisdom, they will fail. If they are entertaining humble views of themselves, then they are simple enough to believe in God and expect His help. “Lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Then we have the privilege of being directed by a wise counselor, and increased understanding is given to the true, sincere seeker for truth and for knowledge. FE 109.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 80

The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. Those who have rendered supreme homage to “science falsely so called” will not be the leaders then. Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent will not then stand at the head of rank and file. They did not keep pace with the light. Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He cannot use them. The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view. There are precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They have not had the light which has been shining in a concentrated blaze upon you. But it may be under a rough and uninviting exterior the pure brightness of a genuine Christian character will be revealed. In the day time we look toward heaven but do not see the stars. They are there, fixed in the firmament, but the eye cannot distinguish them. In the night we behold their genuine luster. 5T 80.1

The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness. 5T 81.1

When trees without fruit are cut down as cumberers of the ground, when multitudes of false brethren are distinguished from the true, then the hidden ones will be revealed to view, and with hosannas range under the banner of Christ. Those who have been timid and self-distrustful will declare themselves openly for Christ and His truth. The most weak and hesitating in the church will be as David—willing to do and dare. The deeper the night for God's people, the more brilliant the stars. Satan will sorely harass the faithful; but, in the name of Jesus, they will come off more than conquerors. Then will the church of Christ appear “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” 5T 81.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 418

This class do not know what they really believe, or the reasons for their belief. They are ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. One man arises with wild, erroneous views, and claims that God has sent him with new and glorious light, and all must believe what he brings. Some who have no established faith, who are not subject to the body, but are drifting about without an anchor to hold them, receive that wind of doctrine. His light shines in such a manner as to cause the world to turn from him in disgust and to hate him. Then he blasphemously places himself by the side of Christ and claims that the world hate him for the same reason that they hated Christ. Another rises, claiming to be led of God, and advocates the heresy of the nonresurrection of the wicked, which is one of Satan's great masterpieces of error. Another cherishes erroneous views in regard to the future age. Another zealously urges the American costume. They all want full religious liberty, and each acts independent of the others, and yet they claim that God is especially at work among them. 1T 418.1

Some rejoice and exult that they have the gifts, which others have not. May God deliver His people from such gifts. What do these gifts do for them? Are they through the exercise of these gifts, brought into the unity of the faith? And do they convince the unbeliever that God is with them of a truth? When these discordant ones, holding their different views, come together and there is considerable excitement and the unknown tongue, they let their light so shine that unbelievers would say: These people are not sane; they are carried away with a false excitement, and we know that they do not have the truth. Such stand directly in the way of sinners; their influence is effectual to keep others from accepting the Sabbath. Such will be rewarded according to their works. Would to God they would be reformed or give up the Sabbath! They would not then stand in the way of unbelievers. 1T 418.2

God has led out men who have toiled for years, who have been willing to make any sacrifice, who have suffered privation, and endured trials to bring the truth before the world, and by their consistent course remove the reproach that fanatics have brought upon the cause of God. They have met opposition in every form. They have toiled night and day in searching the evidences of our faith that they might bring out the truth in its clearness, in a connected form, that it might withstand all opposition. Incessant labor and mental trials in connection with this great work have worn down more than one constitution and prematurely sprinkled heads with gray hairs. They have not worn out in vain. God has marked their earnest, tearful, agonizing prayers that they might have light and truth, and that the truth might shine in its clearness to others. He has marked their self-sacrificing efforts, and He will reward them as their works have been. 1T 419.1

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