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Ephesians 4:32

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And be ye kind one to another - Benignant, mild, courteous, “polite” - χρηστοὶ chrēstoi 1 Peter 3:8. Christianity produces true courteousness, or politeness. It does not make one rough, crabby, or sour; nor does it dispose its followers to violate the proper rules of social contact. The secret of true politeness is “benevolence,” or a desire to make others happy; and a Christian should be the most polite of people. There is no religion in a sour, misanthropic temper; none in rudeness, stiffness, and repulsiveness; none in violating the rules of good breeding. There is a hollow-hearted politeness, indeed, which the Christian is not to aim at or copy. His politeness is to be based on “kindness;” Colossians 3:12. His courtesy is to be the result of love, good-will, and a desire of the happiness of all others; and this will prompt to the kind of conduct that will render his conversation. with others agreeable and profitable.

Tender-hearted - Having a heart disposed to pity and compassion, and especially disposed to show kindness to the faults of erring brethren; for so the connection demands.

Forgiving one another - see the notes on Matthew 6:12.

As God for Christ‘s sake hath forgiven you - As God, on account of what Christ has suffered and done, has pardoned you. He has done it:

(1) “freely” - without merit on your part - when we were confessedly in the wrong.

(2) “fully;” he has forgiven “every” offence.

(3) “Liberally;” he has forgiven “many” offences, for our sins have been innumerable.

This is to be the rule which we are to observe in forgiving others. We are to do it “freely, fully, liberally.” The forgiveness is to be entire, cordial, constant. We are not to “rake up” old offences, and charge them again upon them; we are to treat them as though they had not offended, for so God treats us Learn:

(1) That the forgiveness of an offending brother is a duty which we are not at liberty to neglect.

(2) the peace and happiness of the church depend on it. All are liable to offend their brethren, as all are liable to offend God; all need forgiveness of one another, as we all need it of God.

(3) there is no danger of carrying it too far. Let the rule be observed, “As God has forgiven you, so do you forgive others.” Let a man recollect his own sins and follies; let him look over his life, and see how often he has offended God; let him remember that all has been forgiven; and then, fresh with this feeling, let him go and meet an offending brother, and say, “My brother, I forgive you. I do it frankly, fully, wholly. So Christ has forgiven me; so I forgive you. The offence shall be no more remembered. It shall not be referred to in our contact to harrow up your feelings; it shall not diminish my love for you; it shall not prevent my uniting with you in doing good. Christ treats me, a poor sinner, as a friend; and so I will treat you.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Filthy words proceed from corruption in the speaker, and they corrupt the minds and manners of those who hear them: Christians should beware of all such discourse. It is the duty of Christians to seek, by the blessing of God, to bring persons to think seriously, and to encourage and warn believers by their conversation. Be ye kind one to another. This sets forth the principle of love in the heart, and the outward expression of it, in a humble, courteous behaviour. Mark how God's forgiveness causes us to forgive. God forgives us, though we had no cause to sin against him. We must forgive, as he has forgiven us. All lying, and corrupt communications, that stir up evil desires and lusts, grieve the Spirit of God. Corrupt passions of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking, and malice, grieve the Holy Spirit. Provoke not the holy, blessed Spirit of God to withdraw his presence and his gracious influences. The body will be redeemed from the power of the grave at the resurrection day. Wherever that blessed Spirit dwells as a Sanctifier, he is the earnest of all the joys and glories of that redemption day; and we should be undone, should God take away his Holy Spirit from us.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Be ye kind one to another - Γινεσθε - χρηστοι· Be kind and obliging to each other; study good breeding and gentleness of manners. A Christian cannot be a savage, and he need not be a boor. Never put any person to needless pain.

Tender-hearted - Ευσπλαγχνοι· Compassionate; having the bowels easily moved (as the word implies) to commiserate the state of the wretched and distressed.

Forgiving one another - Should you receive any injury from a brother, or from any man, be as ready to forgive him, on his repentance and acknowledgment, as God was, for Christ's sake, to forgive you when you repented of your sins, and took refuge in his mercy.

  1. The exhortations given in this chapter, if properly attended to, have the most direct tendency to secure the peace of the individual, the comfort of every family, and the welfare and unity of every Christian society. That God never prohibits any thing that is useful to us, is an unshaken truth. And that he never commands what has not the most pointed relation to our present and eternal welfare, is not less so. How is it, then, that we do not glory in his commandments and rejoice in his prohibitions? If the gratification of our fleshly propensities could do us good, that gratification had never been forbidden. God plants thorns in the way that would lead us to death and perdition.
  • From the provision which God has made for the soul's salvation, we may see the nature, and in some sense the extent, of the salvation provided. Much on this subject has been said in the preceding chapter, and the same subject is continued here. God requires that the Church shall be holy, so that it may be a proper habitation for himself; and he requires that each believer should be holy, and that he should, under the influences of his grace, arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ! Ephesians 4:13. This is astonishing; but God is able to make all grace abound towards us.
  • It is the will of God that Christians should be well instructed; that they should become wise and intelligent; and have their understandings well cultivated and improved. Sound learning is of great worth, even in religion; the wisest and best instructed Christians are the most steady, and may be the most useful. If a man be a child in knowledge, he is likely to be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine; and often lies at the mercy of interested, designing men: the more knowledge he has, the more safe is his state. If our circumstances be such that we have few means of improvement, we should turn them to the best account. "Partial knowledge is better than total ignorance; he who cannot get all he may wish, must take heed to acquire all that he can." If total ignorance be a bad and dangerous thing, every degree of knowledge lessens both the evil and the danger. It must never be forgotten that the Holy Scriptures themselves are capable of making men wise unto salvation, if read and studied with faith in Christ.
  • Union among the followers of Christ is strongly recommended. How can spiritual brethren fall out by the way? Have they not all one Father, all one Head? Do they not form one body, and are they not all members of each other? Would it not be monstrous to see the nails pulling out the eyes, the hands tearing off the flesh from the body, the teeth biting out the tongue, etc., etc.? And is it less so to see the members of a Christian society bite and devour each other, till they are consumed one of another? Every member of the mystical body of Christ should labor for the comfort and edification of the whole, and the honor of the Head. He that would live a quiet life, and keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, must be as backward to take offense as to give it. Would all act on this plan (and surely it is as rational as it is Christian) we should soon have glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will among men.
  • A roughness of manners is to some unavoidable; it is partly owing to the peculiar texture of their mind, and partly to their education. But there are others who glory in, and endeavor to cultivate, this ungentle disposition; under this is often concealed a great degree of spiritual pride, and perhaps some malignity; for they think that this roughness gives them a right to say grating, harsh, and severe things. They should be taught another lesson; and if they will not demean themselves as they ought, they should be left to themselves, and no man should associate with them. They are not Christians, and they act beneath the character of men.
  • Ellen G. White
    My Life Today, 235

    Being a Good Neighbor

    Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 ML 235.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Gospel Workers 1915, 163-4

    Dear Brother,

    ... I have this message for you from the Lord: Be kind in speech, gentle in action. Guard yourself carefully, for you are inclined to be severe and dictatorial, and to say rash things. The Lord speaks to you, saying, Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. Harsh expressions grieve the Lord; unwise words do harm. I am charged to say to you, Be gentle in your speech; watch well your words; let no harshness come into your utterances or into your gestures. Bring into all you do and say the fragrance of Christlikeness. Let not natural traits of character mar and spoil your work. You are to help and strengthen the tempted. Let not self appear in rash words. Christ has given His life for the flock, and for all for whom you labor. Let no word of yours balance souls in the wrong direction. In the minister of Christ there must be revealed Christlikeness of character. GW 163.1

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    Ellen G. White
    The Adventist Home, 198

    Never act from impulse in governing children. Let authority and affection be blended. Cherish and cultivate all that is good and lovely, and lead them to desire the higher good by revealing Christ to them. While you deny them those things that would be an injury to them, let them see that you love them and want to make them happy. The more unlovely they are, the greater pains you should take to reveal your love for them. When the child has confidence that you want to make him happy, love will break every barrier down. This is the principle of the Saviour's dealing with man; it is the principle that must be brought into the church.11 AH 198.1

    Love Should Be Expressed—In many families there is a great lack in expressing affection one for another. While there is no need of sentimentalism, there is need of expressing love and tenderness in a chaste, pure, dignified way. Many absolutely cultivate hardness of heart and in word and action reveal the satanic side of the character. Tender affection should ever be cherished between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters. Every hasty word should be checked, and there should not be even the appearance of the lack of love one for another. It is the duty of everyone in the family to be pleasant, to speak kindly.12 AH 198.2

    Cultivate tenderness, affection, and love that have expression in little courtesies, in speech, in thoughtful attentions.13 AH 198.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Adventist Home, 16

    Importance of the Home Atmosphere—The atmosphere surrounding the souls of fathers and mothers fills the whole house, and is felt in every department of the home.5 AH 16.1

    To a large extent parents create the atmosphere of the home circle, and when there is disagreement between father and mother, the children partake of the same spirit. Make your home atmosphere fragrant with tender thoughtfulness. If you have become estranged and have failed to be Bible Christians, be converted; for the character you bear in probationary time will be the character you will have at the coming of Christ. If you would be a saint in heaven, you must first be a saint on earth. The traits of character you cherish in life will not be changed by death or by the resurrection. You will come up from the grave with the same disposition you manifested in your home and in society. Jesus does not change the character at His coming. The work of transformation must be done now. Our daily lives are determining our destiny.6 AH 16.2

    Creating a Pure Atmosphere—Every Christian home should have rules; and parents should, in their words and deportment toward each other, give to the children a precious, living example of what they desire them to be. Purity in speech and true Christian courtesy should be constantly practiced. Teach the children and youth to respect themselves, to be true to God, true to principle; teach them to respect and obey the law of God. These principles will control their lives and will be carried out in their associations with others. They will create a pure atmosphere—one that will have an influence that will encourage weak souls in the upward path that leads to holiness and heaven. Let every lesson be of an elevating and ennobling character, and the records made in the books of heaven will be such as you will not be ashamed to meet in the judgment. AH 16.3

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