The Seal of the Holy Spirit and the Eternal Security of the Believer

by Eldon Woodcock 

I. Introduction

            What does it mean to be sealed with the Holy Spirit? What are the implications of this doctrine for us as Christians? To answer these questions, I explored the usage of sphragizo (to seal), sphragis (seal) and another relevant term, arrabon, in ancient Greek literature, primarily in the New Testament and Septuagint.1 Drawing from these data, I then conducted an exegetical analysis of the four Pauline texts that connect them with the Holy Spirit's work. This led me to the conclusion that being sealed with the Holy Spirit has significance not just for the initial stage of salvation, but also for the eternal preservation of the believer.


II. The Usages of sphragizo and sphragis

1. Physical seals

            In its most obvious use, sphragis refers to physical seals such as signet rings that made the desired impressions and to the impressions made.2 On some occasions the sealed impression was equivalent to a signature.3 Physical seals were widely used in ancient times, as is documented by Herodotus= statement that every man possessed staff and seal.4 These meanings do not occur in the New Testament, but were the basis upon which biblical usage developed.


2. Inaccessibility

            Various objects were sealed in order to prevent access to their contents. These include vessels,5 a pagan temple (Bel 14, 16) and letters 6 (which were to be opened only by the intended recipient who would break the seal). Several such uses are found in the New Testament.

a. 'Jesus' tomb

            At their request, Pontius Pilate ordered the chief priests and Pharisees to secure Jesus' tomb in order to prevent the theft of His corpse followed by Christian resurrection propaganda (Matthew 27:62-65). The chief priests and Pharisees carefully followed Pilate's instructions, thereby fulfilling their desire. They secured the tomb by putting a seal on the stone and posting a guard (Matthew 27:66). The guard was a guard detail consisting of several soldiers.7 Their assignment was to enforce government policy. The function of the seal was to officially close the tomb by governmental edict to prevent access in or out. Such details as whose seal was used and how the tomb was sealed are not stated in the text. Later Mary Magdalene and the other Mary found the stone rolled back, an angel sitting on the stone, the guards paralyzed with fear, the tomb empty and Jesus gone (Matthew 28:1-7). Nothing was said about the seal which was now irrelevant. For God had overruled the governmental edict.

b. The Abyss

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.8

            The term, Abyss, a rough transliteration of the Greek abyssos, refers to the abode of the dead.9 This is where Satan is to be forcibly imprisoned for 1,000 years in order to prevent his deceiving the nations.

            The passage contains an emphatic piling up of similar terms indicating force to picture God's restricting Satan during the millennium. God's angel will seize Satan, i.e. arrest him, seize him forcibly enough to prevent his escape.10 He will bind him, i.e. imprison him where there will be no escape.11 He will accomplish this by throwing Satan into the Abyss.12 The object being thrown has no control over any aspect of the process. He will lock and seal (sphragizo) the entrance to the Abyss over him.13 These forceful terms emphasize the control by God's angel over the entire procedure.

            Acting on God's authority, the angel will use God's seal to secure the Abyss, keeping Satan locked there for the stipulated period. There will be absolutely no way for Satan to escape from his prison.

            The function of this seal will be to prevent access to the outside by Satan while locked in the Abyss. Its purpose will be to prevent the one enclosed from leading people astray. The seal will be unbreakable for the predetermined period of 1,000 years.14 Then God will release Satan and proceed with the next phase of His program. But this will happen only on the basis of God's authorization at His predetermined time. For only God has the authority and capability of breaking His seal.


c. Scroll of destiny

            A vision or revelation may be put into written form and then sealed to prevent access to it and to keep its content unknown (Isaiah 29:11. cf. Daniel 12:4, 9). The apostle John testified that he saw Ain the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals@ (Revelation 5:1). The purpose of the seals was to keep the scroll closed, making the information that it contained inaccessible and thus unknown (Revelation 5:3-4).

            Only the Lamb (who purchased His people with His blood) is worthy and able to break the seals and open the scroll (Revelation 5:2, 5, 9). When the Lamb broke the seals and opened the scroll, the information within it was revealed (Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12).

d. Heavenly thundering

            John received another revelation that he was not permitted to share. A voice from heaven stated, ASeal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down,@ (Revelation 10:4). This revelation was given only in oral form. The command to seal up that communication meant that it was not to be put into written form. The reference to the seal was figurative, applying it to speech as if it were written on a scroll.15 But the effect of the seal was the same as before. It made the revelation inaccessible. As a result, we know that the revelation was given, but we cannot know what it involved. Toward the end of the Apocalypse, John was told: "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book,..." (Revelation 22:10). Since the Book of Revelation was not to be sealed up, its content was not only revealed and written down, but continues to be accessible.


3. Authorization and certification

            The king's seal extended his royal authority to the one who possessed it.16 It thereby certified that that person was the king's official agent. The Pharaoh gave Joseph his royal seal, authorizing him to enact his policies.17 Jezebel placed King Ahab's seal on her letters concerning Naboth.18 The Persian king's signet ring was used by Haman to seal his decrees against the Jews, thus putting royal authority behind them.19 This is a frequent New Testament use.


a. Documents certified

            Documents were certified by means of a seal. Examples include a marriage contract20 and a deed of sale21 and authenticating the contents of a document (a covenant with God).


b. Contributions by Greek Christians to poor believers in Jerusalem.


            The apostle Paul wrote:

For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain (Romans 15:26-28, NASB).

             Commentators have struggled to determine the significance of sphragizo in Romans 15:28, which some have found puzzling.22 Yet most of them have concluded that it involves some form of certification.

            This contribution may have expressed Gentile Christian gratitude to the Jerusalem Church, or been the result of Jerusalem church ministry to Gentiles, or been seen as justification of Paul's ministry to the Gentiles.23 The seal may have indicated that the gathering and delivery of the contributions would be done in a trustworthy manner.24 Morris concluded plausibly that Ain some way it pointed to official assurance that all was well, even though the details of its significance are not clear.25

            The seal here may not have been physical. If not, the sealing terminology pointed to certification without a physical indicator. Whatever its form, the seal certified that Paul's collection and delivery of the needed contributions to the Jerusalem Christians would be properly done.26


c. Righteousness by faith

We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised (Romans 4:9b-11).

            When Paul mentioned "the sign of circumcision", he used a genitive of apposition.27 The idea is that it is circumcision which is the sign. As a sign, it points to the existence of what it signifies.28 Abraham was circumcised as an adult - not as a baby. For him, it thereby functioned as sign and seal of the righteousness he already had by faith. It is clear that Abraham's justification by faith and resulting acceptance by God preceded his circumcision.29

            Paul described "the sign of circumcision" as "a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised" (Romans 4:11a). This seal functioned to attest, certify, ratify and authenticate the righteousness that Abraham had received by faith while still uncircumcised.30

            Circumcision has no value for those who break the law - an action that indicates that such a person is as if he were uncircumcised (Romans 2:25). For that person, the righteousness to which his circumcision points does not exist. Physical circumcision is valid as a sign or seal of righteousness by faith only if one also has the reality to which it points: an inward circumcision of the heart.31


d. Certification that God is truthful

            Part of John's teaching included the following:

He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of that He bears witness; and no man receives His witness. He who has received His witness has set his seal on this, that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure, (John 3:31-34, NASB).

             God sent His Son to convey His perfect truth. As God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ communicated that truth perfectly. Those who accept Jesus' message as God's truth are, in effect, engraving their seal upon that message. This is clearly metaphorical imagery. Its significance is that they are authenticating His witness as true.32 This is the sense of the rendering of John 3:33 by the NIV: "The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful."


e. God's authentication of His Son

            In another example of figurative sealing imagery, the Lord Jesus Christ mentioned His Father's certification of Him and His work...

I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval (John 6:26-27).

            The most significant detail in this text is that God provided His seal of approval upon His Son as His official authentic representative. A man's seal emphatically confirms what has been sealed. God's confirmation of what He has sealed is absolute. Thus what He has certified by His seal is absolutely certain to be true.


f. God's solid foundation

            Paul presented a powerful reason for confidence in the salvation provided by God. Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: `The Lord knows those who are his,' and `Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness,' (2 Timothy 2:15-19).

            To what does the foundation in 2 Timothy 2:19 refer? Suggestions include (1) Christ,33 (2) the truth in contrast to the teaching by false teachers,34 and (3) Old Testament Scripture.35 These views are all plausible. In view of the immediate context, (2) seems somewhat more preferable.

            The sealing terminology is again figurative. For the foundation in view is spiritual. Neither the hard rock of a foundation stone nor any spiritual entity will absorb the impress of a signet ring.36 Although figurative, the inscription of the seal is described as two statements. That the Lord knows who are His, provides assurance that God knows infallibly with certainty those who belong to Him. That those who confess His name must turn away from wickedness describes the result of the first statement.

            God's seal authenticates His firm foundation. Here the idea of a guarantee is mingled with that of authentication.37 For God's solid foundation is indestructible.


4. Ownership and protection

            A Greek word that overlaps the meanings of sphragis is semeion (sign). A semeion is a sign, usually visually perceived, by which one recognizes a person or thing.38 Considerably broader in its range of meanings than sphragis, semeion refers to the rainbow,39 the observance of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:13, 17), and often to miracles40 as confirmatory signs.

            Of greater significance to this study, semeion may also refer to a distinguishing, confirmatory, authenticating mark by which someone or something is categorized correctly.41 In some texts, the writers used semeion rather than sphragis to picture Yahweh's owning and protecting certain people. This idea was a forerunner of this use of sphragis in the New Testament.

            Some of Yahweh's prophets appear to have worn a distinctive mark cut into their flesh on either the forehead or right hand.42 This mark apparently made them easily recognizable as His prophets.43 Isaiah may have mentioned this practice, the mark containing the words, Afor Yahweh, i.e. Yahweh's property.44

God had one of His servants place a mark upon the foreheads of those who protested the abominations done in their midst (Ezekiel 9:4). Its purpose was to protect them from God's wrath in His judgment since they were His property.45

            The Book of Revelation develops this idea in some of its uses of sphragizo.

Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God. Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:2-4; cf. 9:4).

            The text does not specify what the seal will be (Revelation 7:2). It will probably be similar to the mark made by a signet ring used by an ancient Oriental king to authenticate and protect official documents.46 For the angels will use it to impress an appropriate mark upon the foreheads of God's servants (Revelation 7:3; 9:4). That mark is described as containing the name of the Lamb and of the Father (Revelation 14:1). It will thus be an observable seal.47

            This seal, described as Athe seal of the living God (Revelation 7:2) and as Athe seal of God (Revelation 9:4), will have the authority of God Almighty behind it.48 Thus God's commands concerning those bearing His seal will be scrupulously followed.

            The purpose of this seal will be to label God's people as belonging to Him, as His possession.49 What He owns, He also protects.50 By means of His seal God will identify the people whom He will protect from the disasters predicted for the Tribulation. His protection will guarantee their survival. This will be the basis for His people's . experiencing comfort, assurance, and security, even under difficult circumstances51 This concept is similar to Paul's teaching on being sealed with the Holy Spirit.


5. Sealing in relation to the Holy Spirit

a. Three Pauline texts

            In three texts the apostle Paul referred directly to believers being sealed with the Holy Spirit:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13b-14). And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).



b. Relationship to baptism

            The question of the relationship between being sealed with the Holy Spirit and baptism has been discussed at length.52 Most commentators hold that this sealing either refers to the Christian's water baptism or occurs during that baptism.53 They point out that these texts have been understood in that way by many of the early Fathers.54

            Nevertheless, baptism is not the topic discussed in these texts which are primarily concerned with God's redemptive acts prior to baptism. Paul was emphasizing the reality of salvation, one benefit of which is the sealing with the Holy Spirit - not that which symbolizes it.55 Historically, no suggestion of a connection between sealing and baptism was made until the early Fathers who wrote decades after Paul.56 Many commentators hold that the sealing with the Holy Spirit occurred at the moment when the believer expressed his saving faith at his conversion, and is thus distinct from baptism.57

            Nevertheless, there is room to consider baptism as a seal in the sense of impressing upon the minds of those baptized the reality of their salvation. In this sense it has a function of affirmation and confirmation. This is not unlike the role of circumcision in attesting the righteousness that Abraham had received by faith. In both cases, of course, their functions as a seal are nullified if the realities which they attest do not exist.


c. The Holy Spirit as the means of sealing

            The Holy Spirit is the means by which Christians are sealed.58 They are sealed by God when the Holy Spirit begins to live within them.59 The Holy Spirit is Himself the seal - especially in the sense of His presence in Christian experience.60

            Several commentators have observed the Trinitarian features of Ephesians 1:13-14. For example, Hoehner noted, God is the One who seals, Christ is the sphere in which the seal is done, and the Holy Spirit is the instrument of the seal.61


d. God's certification,62 ownership63 and protection64 of His people

            Sealing with the Holy Spirit certifies God's ownership and protection of His people. It happens at conversion when the Holy Spirit begins His indwelling. As a result of this action initiated by God, grounded upon Christ's redemptive work, and accomplished by the Holy Spirit, the salvation of believers is secured. What God owns, He protects. Since believers are God's inviolable property,65 He will protect them until that eschatological time when He will take complete possession of them. As a result, believers have complete security in their relationship with Him.66 This conclusion is strongly supported by Paul's statements that connect the sealing with the Holy Spirit to the arrabon.


III. The Usages of arrabon.

1. Its derivation

            The word, arrabon, was derived from the Hebrew noun, >arabon, which means a pledge.67 The Phoenicians evidently developed it as a commercial term, especially as an earnest.68 The Greeks derived their usage from the Phoenicians with whom they had commercial contact.69 In the Septuagint arrabon was a rough transliteration of >arabon.7069


2. An earnest, down-payment

            Early in Greek use, arrabon designated an earnest, a down-payment.71 It signified the initial partial payment that functioned as a guarantee to pay the complete price of what was being purchased.72

            Human nature being what it is, some people did not always fulfill their contractual obligations. For they lacked integrity. Both before and after New Testament times, Greek law had no provision for enforcing contracts of sale. Both buyers and sellers wanted to protect themselves. The seller desired a contract that would have the buyer pay the amount owed as if it were a loan. The buyer wanted a guarantee that the seller would relinquish the object sold when full payment had been made.

            The arrabon was a small article or partial payment, perhaps substantial. If the buyer failed to pay in full, he forfeited the arrabon. If the seller did not turn over what he had sold, he had to repay double the amount of the arrabon. When these Greek practices spread to the eastern Mediterranean, the value of the arrabon was usually half of the price of the object purchased.73 Even with these safeguards, human integrity was essential to assure the fulfillment of the obligations.


 3. A pledge

            Like the earnest, the pledge functions as a guarantee of the completion of the business transaction.74 Unlike the earnest, the pledge consisted of an article or articles unrelated to what was being purchased and the payments for it.75 The pledge was to be returned when all payments had been made.

In the Septuagint, arrabon occurs only three times, all in one passage (Genesis 38:17, 18, 20). This passage describes Judah's financial arrangement with a woman whom he considered a prostitute (Genesis 38:15). In exchange for her sexual favors, he offered a young goat from his flock (Genesis 38:17). Since he did not have the goat immediately available, he gave her his seal, its cord and his staff as his pledge to fulfill his part of their transaction (Genesis 38:18). These items were her security that she would be paid. They were entirely different from what was to be paid. They were to be returned to him, when he delivered the goat (Genesis 38:20). Philo also used arrabon in the sense of pledge when discussing this passage although he developed an allegorical interpretation of it.76


4. A contract for services

            Kerr's perceptive observations provide insight into Paul's use of the arrabon.

As a possible source of the metaphor a contract for services has an important advantage over a contract of sale, a point which seems to have been overlooked by commentators who mention only contracts of sale. In a contract for services the person who gives the arrabon is the one for whom the work is to be done; the person who receives it is the one who will do the work. In a contract of sale the buyer gives the arrabon and the seller receives it. It is easy to envisage God giving an arrabon to those who believe in him and serve him; it is difficult to think of a hypothetical transaction in which Christians sell something to God and receive an arrabon from him as the buyer.77


5. Arrabon in relation to the Holy Spirit

a. Three Pauline texts

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 5:5).

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).


b. The Holy Spirit is the arrabon

            The two Corinthian texts have the same construction: ton arrabona tu pnumatos - literally, the deposit of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5). The syntactical structure of these texts can best be understood as a genitive of apposition.78 They could thus be better rendered, Athe deposit as the Spirit, or, conversely, Athe Spirit as the deposit.79 Paul's thought was that the indwelling Holy Spirit is what functions as the arrabon. He conveyed the same idea in the other text by means of a relative clause: Athe promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit, (Ephesians 1:13-14).


c. The significance of arrabon as the Holy Spirit

            Commentators have often concluded that Paul intended to apply the basic meanings of arrabon in these texts. Some describe it as a pledge, but without distinguishing it from an earnest as was done above.80 Others designate it as an earnest (i.e. a down-payment) which indicates God's commitment to fulfill completely what He had promised in His redemptive plan.81 They consider the Holy Spirit's living within believers as providing a preview or foretaste of their future salvation.82

            Some discussions of the function of an arrabon in commercial transactions examined what would happen if the commitments made in the transactions were not met.83 Procedures and penalties were sometimes stipulated. These precautions were necessary because of human lack of integrity and unpredictability.

            In describing the indwelling Holy Spirit as the believer's arrabon, Paul did not intend to convey all nuances of that term.84 For in this context the arrabon was not a partial payment as part of a contract obligating the debtor to pay all that he owed. Nor was it a pledge to be returned. Nor was it an inferior portion of the Christian's inheritance.

            Rather, the believer's arrabon is an unsolicited gift by the perfectly holy and completely faithful God who always fulfills His promises. Since His integrity and faithfulness are beyond question, His Word is sufficient to guarantee what He has promised. This arrabon was thus unnecessary as a device to discourage God from changing His mind or not taking His obligations seriously. God graciously led Paul to use figurative imagery to assure believers of the reality of His guarantee.85 God's use of an element from human culture to assure believers of His reliability in doing what He promised to do was not limited to the arrabon. He had previously used the structure of a blood covenant to assure Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob that He would fulfill His promises. Neither the covenant nor the arrabon made the fulfillment of God's promise any more certain than His Word.

            Without the details of such commercial arrangements as pledges and down-payments, this arrabon is God's assurance of His guarantee that He will certainly achieve His redemptive purpose.86 This will involve the Christian's future hope in Christ, i.e. their ultimate future salvation.87 Based upon God's sovereign power and faithfulness to His word, along with Christ's redemptive work, this arrabon of the indwelling Holy Spirit showed them that their future in God's redemptive program was guaranteed and thus absolutely, eternally secure.88


IV. The Key Pauline Texts

1. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

a. Context

            After his initial epistolary introduction, Paul praised God for His comfort, described Christ's sharing His sufferings and comfort with him, shared his discouragement prompting him to rely upon God, and other personal thoughts (2 Corinthians 1:1-18), Paul described his message of Christ as involving His Yes (2 Corinthians 1:19-20). For it is Christ who fulfills what God has promised, and is Athe irrefutable proof of God's faithfulness.89 The only appropriate response was the AAmen@ by which one affirms another's act of praise as one's own.90 Here it expresses one's assent to this truth.91


b. Text: 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.


            "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."


c. Exegesis

            The participle, bebaion,92 means to make firm, make sure, be solidly grounded, be attached to a firm foundation.93 Like arrabon, its cognate noun, bebaiosis was a legal and commercial term that designated properly guaranteed security, thereby indicating that a business contract was obligatory.94 Here it refers to God's continuous strengthening of believers in their relationship to Christ.95 Since Christ is the foundation on which the Christian stands and since God is making firm that relationship, the Christian's position in Christ is assured.96 As a result, that position is "indubitable and irreversible."97

            The participle, chrisas, means to anoint.98 In the Septuagint it refers almost entirely to a physical application of oil or ointment in a ritual with symbolic significance.99 Hebrew kings and priests were anointed as part of their inauguration into office, thereby giving them authority to perform their official responsibilities.

The most notable exception to this pattern of usage in the Septuagint is Isaiah's statement: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, (Isaiah 61:1a). This is a metaphorical reference to the prophet's Acharismatic endowment with authority.100 This is especially significant because the Lord Jesus Christ applied this text to Himself (Luke 4:18-21). In the New Testament it is used consistently in a figurative sense. It refers four times to the Holy Spirit's anointing of Jesus, endowing Him with supernatural power.101

            Its cognate noun, chrisma, refers three times to an anointing of Christians.102 This anointing results in their having sufficient knowledge of spiritual truth that they do not need to be completely dependent upon human teachers. It is Athe power which works in the believer through the divine authoritative word.103 Here the participle, chrisas, refers in a metaphorical sense to God's anointing of Christians.104 This anointing sets apart, commissions, and equips Christians to serve God as He leads.105

            The third participle, sphragisamenos, has already been thoroughly discussed. This sealing certifies God's ownership and guarantees His protection of His people. The extent of the group covered by sphragisamenos hemas is debated. Some commentators limit it and this anointing to Paul and his apostolic group or to ordained clergy.106 Such a limitation is unwarranted. For it contradicts the broader application of anointing in the Johannine texts.107 Furthermore, the New Testament nowhere recognizes the modern distinction between clergy and laity. It is better to hold that it applies to all Christians.108 In v. 21, Paul explicitly described all Christians as made to stand firm in Christ. Then he described "us" as anointed and as sealed. In view of the context, the anointed and the sealed evidently refer to the same group, i.e. all Christians.109

            The fourth participle, dus,110 describes God as putting His Spirit within believers. The Holy Spirit's living within Christians thus functions as the divine seal that labels them as belonging to Him. His presence assures them of their status as sons of God. The presence of the Holy Spirit as God's arrabon provides powerful assurance that their future in God's redemptive program is guaranteed and thus eternally secure.111

The first two participles, bebaion (making firm) and chrisas (anointed) picture some benefits of the initial reception of salvation. The third and fourth participles, sphragisamenos (sealed) and dus (put) picture events already accomplished, evidently at the time of the new birth. They are thus soteriological in significance.


2. 2 Corinthians 5:5

a. Context

            In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul contrasted his discouragements and afflictions with God's encouragements and providential preservation (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)112. He also pictured his experience of life in the midst of death and his confident hope of glory after suffering (2 Corinthians 4:10-12, 16-17).

            This contrast continues into chapter 5. Paul knew that he could anticipate God's eternal house in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1). He emphasized his intense longing to be clothed with that heavenly dwelling.113 He affirmed the immense superiority of that dwelling in contrast to our present experience (2 Corinthians 5:3-4).


b. Text: 2 Corinthians 5:5

            "Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."


c. Exegesis


            Paul emphasized that it is God who accomplished the action mentioned.114 He used katergasamenos115 to designate this action. This verb means to produce, to create, to accomplish, to prepare.116 Only here in the New Testament is it used with a personal object.117 Here it portrays God's involvement in the entire process of redemption, including believers= salvation, spiritual renovation, and ultimately being clothed appropriately for Heaven.118

            To assure believers of His intent to accomplish these things, God gave119 them the Holy Spirit as His arrabon, thereby indicating His guarantee that He will complete His redemptive program. Hughes well described the thought of this text.

This, the crowning experience of God's work of grace in the believer, is entirely of God. The good work begun in the Christian by God will be carried through to completion by God, until it reaches perfection in the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Not only is everything attributed to grace, but it is toward this glorious goal that God's redemptive activity is all along directed. What confidence and certainty the assurance should give us that this work is altogether of God, and not in any measure of man! As it is God's work, it will be done. There can be no place for failure or frustration.120

            This is the basis for Paul's strongly expressed confidence concerning his home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8).


3. Ephesians 1:13-14

a. Context

            In his Epistle to the Ephesians Paul began the main part of his message with what has been called a eulogy.121 The apostle praised God for His sovereign initiative and implementation of His redemptive program. This program includes God's election and predestination of believers, Christ's substitutionary sacrifice that brought redemption to believers, and God's working out His ultimate redemptive purpose in His timing in a way that will bring glory to Him (Ephesians 1:3-12).


b. Text: Ephesians 1:13-14

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory.


c. Exegesis

            Since by "you", Paul was specifically addressing the Ephesian Christians (whether of Jewish or Gentile background), his statements here were and are applicable to all Christians.122 The words, "were included" (NIV), were added to the precise wording of the Greek text. A literal rendering would be "in him you also" (as in NASB)123. Instead of being the subject of an implied verb ("were included"),124 you would be better understood as the subject of esphragisthete.125

            The Ephesian Christians had heard the word of truth. To hear involved listening to its being preached and understanding it.126 Hearing the word of truth was a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for a response of saving faith.127 For hearing that message may evoke a response of either acceptance or rejection. To hear the word and to reject it is to render the hearing futile.128 To hear it and to believe it necessarily involves implementing it.129 Paul made it clear that the Ephesian believers had both heard and believed the word of truth. Their hearing was evidently the beginning of their saving faith.

            What they heard and believed was the word, i.e. the message of truth. Here "the gospel of your salvation" is in apposition with "the word of truth", thereby explaining what it involves. Thus "the word of truth", explained by Paul as "the gospel of your salvation", designates the message of God's salvation provided through Jesus Christ - the only means of salvation from eternal damnation.130

            The response of those who became Christians when they heard the gospel was to believe it. The aorist participle, pisteusantes, is best rendered "having believed" or "when you believed." There is reason to conclude that at the specific moment of saving faith, the new believer was sealed with the Holy Spirit. Syntactically, an aorist participle and the main verb (also aorist) may indicate either identical or simultaneous action.131 If this is the case here, as seems probable, pisteusantes and esphragisthete to pnumati...to hagio occur simultaneously.

     Throughout his eulogy (Ephesians 1:3-14), Paul emphasized God's sovereign operations in His redemptive program that were mutually activated in the individual at his regeneration. Paul perceived present and future blessings as derived from this initial redemptive event.

            Paul described the seal as "the promised Holy Spirit" (NIV) or as "the Holy Spirit of promise" (NASB). The former rendering presents the Holy Sprit as prophesied in the Old Testament132 and by the Lord Jesus Christ.133 The latter translation pictures the Holy Spirit as bringing with Him to believers the promise of glory to come.134 This is more likely, fitting better the theme of the text.

            Although there is no preposition in the Greek text, the words, Holy Spirit (to pnumati . . . to hagio), are in the dative135 case. This is an instrumental dative, indicating that the Holy Spirit is the means of sealing. Thus, as Christ was both the high priest and the One sacrificed, the Holy Spirit is both the seal and the means of sealing.

            Paul made it clear that anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit living within him does not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9). Conversely, only those within whom the Holy Spirit dwells do belong to Christ. This places the reception of the Holy Spirit at the moment of saving faith.136

            Since the Holy Spirit is both the seal and the One who seals, His presence in the believer's life indicates when the sealing occurred, i.e. at the moment of saving faith.137 His sealing certifies God's ownership and protection of His people. This assures believers that their salvation is secured.

         As he did in 2 Corinthians 1:22, Paul identified the Holy Spirit as the arrabon which showed them that their future salvation was guaranteed and thus absolutely secure - Auntil the redemption of those who are God's possession.138

            God's completion of His redemptive program and taking possession of His people will inherently bring praise to His glory.139 This involves God's being honored, especially by His working out His redemptive program in its eschatological dimension.140 This marvellous future has been guaranteed by God. Should this not evoke a response of praise for God by those whom He has redeemed and whose redemption He will complete?141


4. Ephesians 4:30.

a. Context

            In Ephesians 4, Paul urged Christians to live lives worthy of their calling, to be patient, to make diligent efforts to keep the unity of the Spirit, to mature in moving toward spiritual unity and knowledge of Christ and to grow up into Christ who is the head of His body, the church (Ephesians 4:1-3, 13, 15-16).

He exhorted them to depart from Gentile lifestyles, to put off their sinful natures and ways, to be made new in their mental attitudes and to put on their new godly natures (Ephesians 4:17-19, 22-24). This involves behavior consistent with the Ten Commandments, especially the prohibitions of lying, murder (resulting from hostility), and stealing (Ephesians 4:25-28). It also includes speaking truth, valuing and doing honest work, and generosity to the needy (Ephesians 4:25-28).


b. Text: Ephesians 4:29-32

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


c. Exegesis

            Unwholesome talk is prohibited.142 The idea is to avoid conversation that is useless, worthless, malicious, obscene and slanderous, thus being harmful to others.143 For such conversation disrupts relationships, provoking hostility and dissension. In contrast, Christian talk is to build up, strengthen, and encourage those who are involved in it.144

            In the midst of these ethical exhortations Paul commanded Christians, ADo not grieve the Holy Spirit of God@ (Ephesians 4:30). The verb grieve (lupeite), means to cause pain, sorrow, grief, distress.145 Its present tense imperative indicates a continuous action that is characteristic of those doing it.146 Lincoln cogently observed:

It is not a question of some offense aimed directly at the Spirit but rather that believers by committing the sort of sins that have been mentioned in the earlier sentences, sins which disrupt communal life, are thereby disrupting and opposing the work of the Spirit in building up the Church (cf. 2:22 . . .). When believers act in a way that harms their brothers and sisters, God is hurt.147

            The connection between the exhortation not to grieve the Holy Spirit and the ethical commands in the immediate context is clear.148 Some commentators broaden the basis for grieving the Holy Spirit to include any conversation or activity that endangers Christian unity,149 or even any sinful behavior.150

            Similar terminology is used in Isaiah 63:10. After extolling God's redemptive blessings for Israel, the prophet noted: Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them. In that text grieved (which renders 'asab) refers to the mental pain suffered by the Holy Spirit.151 The Septuagint renders 'asab by paraxyneo which means to provoke to wrath, to irritate.152 This idea fits the context of Isaiah 63:10. But in Ephesians 4:30 the meaning of lupeo is closer to that of 'asab than to that of paroxyneo.153

            Paul's language in Ephesians 4:30 probably echoes that of Isaiah 63:10, but his context and point are different. Isaiah was writing in the context of the Mosaic Covenant which stipulated that God would punish Israel for her sins, even to the point of turning against her (e.g. Leviticus 26:14-39). Paul was writing in the context of the New Covenant under which God has saved, sealed, and guaranteed the inheritance of the redeemed.

            The effect of grieving the Holy Spirit has been debated. Some hold that, if persistently grieved, the Holy Spirit will leave the sinning believer who, as a result, will lose his salvation.154 Others conclude that there is no indication in this text that the Holy Spirit will depart from the sinning believer, even though He is grieved.155 Paul's argument in these texts, along with his terminology, supports the latter conclusion.

            The response of believers to the Holy Spirit should be their gratitude and appreciation for His presence within them - not their fear of His departure or some other punishment.156 In view of all that the Holy Spirit has done and is doing for them, believers should earnestly strive to avoid causing Him grief. His purpose in living within believers is to motivate and empower them to achieve and to live on a higher spiritual and moral level.157 For believers to thwart His purpose of living within them is to grieve Him.158 When grieved, the Holy Spirit will withhold the manifestations of His presence within believers, even though He remains within them.159

            Paul described believers, who are not to grieve the Holy Spirit, as sealed with that Spirit for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). As previously noted, this sealing labels the believer as God's inviolable property, as having the mark of God's ownership and protection, as being guaranteed of his final salvation. Peterson has well described the significance of being sealed with the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption.

            Paul here teaches preservation when he reminds his readers that they Awere sealed for the day of redemption. Paul does not threaten his readers with the forfeiture of eternal life if they grieve the Spirit. Rather, he reminds them that they Awere sealed for the day of redemption by the Spirit as Aan incentive to right living and right speaking. . . . Paul here uses the fact of preservation to strengthen his appeal to godliness. [italics his]160

            This conclusion is supported by the continuing ethical exhortations in Ephesians 4:31-32. Paul used five expressions for wrath to emphasize the need of believers to eliminate inappropriate hostilities from their attitudes (Ephesians 4:31). In place of such qualities, he advocated a kind, caring, forgiving spirit (Ephesians 4:32).


V. Conclusion

            Sealing with the Holy Spirit certifies God's ownership and protection of His people. It happens at the moment of saving faith when the Holy Spirit begins His indwelling. As a result of this action initiated by God, grounded upon Christ's redemptive work, and accomplished by the Holy Spirit, the salvation of believers is secured,

            Paul described the indwelling Holy Spirit as the believer's arrabon. In commercial settings it functioned as a down-payment to secure a business transaction. This function was unnecessary to God whose Word is sufficient to guarantee what He has promised. Thus Paul used commercial imagery to assure believers of the reality of God's guarantee that He will certainly achieve His redemptive purpose. This means that their future in God's redemptive program is guaranteed and thus absolutely, eternally secure.

            In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Paul described God's making firm and strengthening Christians, His anointing them by equipping them for His service, His placing His seal of ownership upon them, and His giving them the Holy Spirit as an arrabon to assure them that their final salvation is guaranteed and thus eternally secure.

            In 2 Corinthians 5:5, Paul mentioned God's involvement in the entire process of redemption. Again he referred to the Holy Spirit as an arrabon as God's assurance of His guarantee that He will complete His redemptive program.

            In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul described Christians as those who had heard and believed the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation. Again, he described them as sealed with the Holy Spirit, certifying God's ownership and protection of them. Again, he identified the Holy Spirit as an arrabon, providing assurance to believers that God has guaranteed and secured their future salvation.

            In Ephesians 4:30, in the midst of a series of ethical exhortations, Paul again described believers as sealed with the Holy Spirit. By this he again labeled them as the people whom God owned and would protect. He used the truth of their preservation by God until the day of redemption as the basis for motivating them to follow his ethical exhortations

            All four of these Pauline texts present soteriological themes that look to the eschatological future. They use the concepts of being sealed with the Holy Spirit and/or the Holy Spirit as an arrabon to assure believers that God has guaranteed their future salvation. The inevitable conclusion from these texts is that their preservation is certain and that their salvation is and will continue to be eternally secure.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21).

1 These data document word usage that could have or did influence Paul's use of these terms. Even later New Testament data reflect nuances that were probably in use during Paul's lifetime. Usage after the New Testament period probably had no effect upon the sense conveyed by Paul.

2 R. Schippers, "Seal", The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, translated with additions and revisions from Theologisches Begriffslexikon zum neuen Testament, general editor, Colin Brown, (3 vols. Zondervan, 1975-1978), 3:497, hereafter cited as DNTT.

3 Gottfried Fitzer "sphragis, sphragizo, katasphragizo," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,translated from Theologisches Wörterbuch zum neuen Testament, ed. by Gerhard Kittel, translated and edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley, (10 vols. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964-1976), 7:946, hereafter cited as TDNT

4 Herodotus (5th century B.C.), 1.195, cited by Schippers, DNTT, 3:497.

5 History of Alexander the Great, Recension α ANo one seals an empty vessel.

6 e.g. Philo, The Embassy to Gaius 330.1.

7 Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer's Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, Fourth Revised and Augmented Edition, 1952 (University of Chicago Press, 1957), 448, under kustodia. This work is hereafter cited as BAG, Lexicon. That the guard detail involved several soldiers is clear from the plural forms in Matthew 28:4, 11 referring to them.

8 Revelation 20:1-3. Biblical quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise specified.

9 BAG, Lexicon, 2.

10 Ibid., 449.

11 Ibid., 176-177.

12 Ibid., 130.

13 Ibid., 435, 803-804.

14 Fitzer, TNDT, 7:, 950.

15 Fitzer, TNDT, 7:950 recognized sphragizo here to have a weaker meaning, to conceal by not putting the information into written form.

16 Fitzer, TNDT, 7:942.

17 Genesis 41:42-44.

18 I Kings 21:8 (3 Kings 20:8, Septuagint, hereafter abbreviated LXX). Her purpose was to signify the king's authority as the basis for her instructions.

19 Esther 3:10. cf. Esther 8:8, 10.

20 Tobit 7:14, LXX Text BA.

21 Jeremiah 32:9-12, 44 (39:9-12, 44 LXX).

22 e.g. C.E.B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2 vols. (T&T Clark Ltd., 1975, 1979), 2:775-776; hereafter cited as Cranfield, Romans; James D.G. Dunn, Word Biblical Commentary: Romans 9-16 (Word, 1988), 876-877, hereafter cited as Dunn, Romans 9-16.

23 These possibilities are mentioned by Cranfield, Romans, 2:775.

24 Fitzer, TNDT,7:, 948.

25 Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans (Eerdmans, 1988), p. 522, hereafter cited as Morris, Romans.

26 The NIV expresses this idea by its rendering of sphragisamenos in Romans 15:28 (above, put my seal on) as make sure that.

27 Cranfield, Romans, 1:236; F. Godet, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, trans. A. Cusin, revised and edited by Talbot W. Chambers (Zondervan, 1956 reprint of 1883 edition), 173, hereafter cited as Godet, Romans.

28 John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 2 vols. (Eerdmans, 1959, 1965), 1:138, hereafter cited as Murray, Romans; Cranfield, Romans, 1:236.

29 Genesis 15:6; 17:10-11; Romans 4:10.

30 Murray, Romans, 1:138; Morris, Romans, 202-203; Cranfield, Romans, 1:236.

31 Romans 2:28-29. cf. Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4.

32 F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John (Eerdmans, 1983), 97, succinctly summarized the argument of the passage. cf. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Eerdmans, 1971), 245-246, hereafter cited as Morris, John.

33 1 Corinthians 3:10-11; Ephesians 2:20-22.

34 2 Timothy 2:16-18. Schippers, DNTT, 3:500 mentions views (1) and (2).

35 Paul L. Hammer, Canon and Theological Variety: a Study in the Pauline Tradition, Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 67, 1-2 (1976):88, prefers this view since the two inscriptions refer to two Old Testament texts. Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Eerdmans, 1957), 150-151, suggests that these texts express the thoughts of Numbers 16:5 and Isaiah 52:11.

36 Fitzer, TDNT, 7:948.

37 Schippers, DNTT, 3:500.

38 O. Hofius, DNTT, 2:626.

39 Genesis 9:8-17, especially vv. 12-13.

40 Exodus 4:1-9 (es vv. 8-9); Deuteronomy 34:10-12. This usage occurs especially often in the New Testament, e.g. John 2:11; Acts 8:6.

41 Hofius, DNTT, 2:626; Fitzer, TDNT, 7:205.

42 Zechariah 13:6. cf. G.W.H. Lampe, The Seal of the Spirit: A Study of the Doctrine of

Baptism and Confirmation in the New Testament and the Fathers (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1951), 13, hereafter cited as Lampe, Seal.

43 1 Kings 20:41 (3 Kings 21:41, LXX). This is an implicit reference based upon King Ahab's recognition of a prophet. Such markings were prohibited when related to pagan deities (e.g. Deuteronomy 14:1-2. cf. Lampe, Seal, 13), but were evidently acceptable when labelling as belonging to Yahweh.

44 Isaiah 44:5. cf. Schippers, DNTT, 3:498.

45 Ezekiel 9:6. cf. Lampe, Seal, p 14-15; Schippers, DNTT, 3:498.

46 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Eerdmans, 1977), 167.

47 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse (Marshall, Morgan & Scott, n.d.), 164, hereafter cited as Seiss, Apocalypse. Yet on p. 166, in his deeper glance into the sealing of the 144,000, he also described it as a special impartation of the Holy Spirit not unlike that at Pentecost. He considered this working of the Holy Spirit to be no less conspicuous than a physical mark on one's forehead. But see George E. Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John (Eerdmans, 1972), 112 for the contrary view that this sealing will be spiritual and thus not visible.

48 Seiss, Apocalypse, 165.

49 Fitzer, TDNT, 7:951.

50 Schippers, DNTT, 3:500; Lampe, Seal, 16.

51 Seiss, Apocalypse, 167.

52 e.g. Markus Barth, Ephesians, The Anchor Bible, 2 vols. (Doubleday & Co., 1974), 1:135-144, hereafter cited as Barth, Ephesians.

53 e.g. Richard C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians (Wartburg Press, 1937), 383, hereafter Lenski, Ephesians; Lampe, Seal, 4-5 et. al.

54 e.g. Andrew T. Lincoln, Word Biblical Commentary: Ephesians (Word, 1990), 39-40, hereafter cited as Lincoln, Ephesians. Lincoln, however, concluded that Paul distinguished between baptism and sealing; Fitzer, TDNT, 7:951-952.

55 Barnabas Ahern, AThe Indwelling Spirit, Pledge of our Inheritance (Ephesians 1:14), Catholic Biblical Quarterly 9 (1947); 183-184, hereafter cited as Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947), identified the sealing with the indwelling Holy Spirit, but also sees an implicit reference to the sacrament of baptism. Lincoln, Ephesians, 40, connected it with the reception of and baptism with the Holy Spirit.

56 Barth, Ephesians, 139; John Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Zondervan, reprint of 1883 edition), 66, hereafter cited as Eadie, Ephesians. Lincoln, Ephesians, 40, points out thatAthe explicit identification of circumcision in general with a seal and of baptism with a seal comes from the second century and has to be read back into the N.T.@ The temporal proximity of the early Fathers to the New Testament period might seem advantageous to a more accurate interpretation of the apostolic writings. This possibility, however, seems unlikely in the light of their often faulty hermeneutics, especially their tendencies toward allegorization and their growing reliance upon church tradition. cf. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, AThe Church Fathers and Holy Scripture,@ Scripture and Truth, ed. by D.A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge (Zondervan, 1983), 214-219, who discussed both positive and negative aspects of patristic interpretation. For other examples of patristic allegorization see Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Victor, 1991), 33-37, and William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Word, 1993), 31-35.

57 Colin Brown, Spirit, DNTT, 3:701, connects these texts to the vivid experience of the Spirit itself. Eadie, Ephesians, 357, considered any reference to baptism to be wholly foreign from the sense and purpose of Ephesians 4:30.

58 S.D.F. Salmond, The Epistle to the Ephesians, The Expositor's Greek Testament, 5 vols. (Hodder and Stoughton, 1903), 3:268, understood pnumati to be an instrumental dative.

59 Robert Gromacki, Ephesians 1:3-14: the Blessings of Salvation, New Testament Essays in Honor of Homer A. Kent Jr., ed. Gary T. Meadows (BMH Books, 1991), 235, hereafter cited as Gromacki, Ephesians 1:3-14.

60 Rudolf Schnackenburg, Ephesians: a Commentary, Helen Heron (T&T Clark, 1991), 65, hereafter cited as Schnackenburg, Ephesians.

61 Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 2 vols. (Victor, 1983), 2:619, hereafter cited as Hoehner, BKC.

62 James Denney, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, The Expositor's Bible (A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1903), 51, hereafter cited as Denney, 2 Corinthians; Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Robert Carter and Brothers, 1864), 25, hereafter cited as Hodge, 2 Corinthians.

63 C.K. Barrett, A Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Harper's New Testament Commentaries, Harper & Row, 1973), 79, hereafter cited as Barrett, 2 Corinthians; David K. Lowery, A2 Corinthians,@ The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 2 vols. (Victor, 1983), 2:557, hereafter cited as Lowery, BKC; Robert G. Bratcher and Eugene A. Nida, A Translator's Handbook on Paul's Letter to the Ephesians (United Bible Societies, 1982), 25, hereafter cited as Bratcher-Nida, Ephesians.

64 Robert A. Peterson, Though all hell should endeavor to shake: God's Preservation of His Saints, Presbyterion 17 (Spring 1991): 56, hereafter cited as Peterson, Presbyterion 17 (1991); Lowery, BKC, 2:557.

65 George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Banner of Truth, 1958 reprint of 1882 edition), 79, hereafter cited as Smeaton, Holy Spirit.

66 Ernest R. Campbell, Ephesians (Canyonview Press, 1986), 182-183, hereafter cited as Campbell, Ephesians; Philip E. Hughes, Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1962), 41, hereafter cited as Hughes, 2 Corinthians: Peterson, Presbyterion 17 (1991): 56; Lampe, Seal, 16.

67 Ronald B. Allen, Aarab,Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris et. al., 2 vols.( Moody Press, 1980), 2:693-694, hereafter cited as TWOT, also describes the meanings of the cognate verb, Aarab, as including (1) to barter, exchange, (2) to pledge, and especially (3) to become surety for (a practice vigorously condemned in the Old Testament, e.g. Proverbs 6:1-5; 11:15). cf. O. Becker, Aarrabon, DNTT, 2:39-40.

68 J.B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of Paul (Zondervan, 1957 reprint of 1895 edition), 323, hereafter cited as Lightfoot, Notes, considered this Phoenician usage probable even though he could find no such usage in then extant Phoenician remains. Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947):180, agreed that the noun does not occur in extant Phoenician literature, but noted that the primitive root, 'rb, does.

69 Lightfoot, Notes, 323, cited Ezekiel 27:13 as documenting this commercial contact. Cf. A.J. Kerr, "Notes and Studies: arrabon," Journal of Theological Studies 39, 2 (1988): 92, hereafter cited as Kerr, JTS 39, (1988); Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947): 182.

70 Lightfoot, Notes, 323, also noted that since earlier classical Greek authors used the term, arrabon, did not enter into Greek usage through the LXX.

71 Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947): 182-183.

72 Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947): 182-183; Kurt Erlemann, ADer Geist als arrabon (2 Kor 5.5) im Kontext der paulinischen Eschatologie,@ Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 83, 3-4 (1992): 204ff., hereafter cited as Erlemann, ZNW 83 (1992).

73 This entire section is based upon the discussion by Kerr, JTS 39 (1988): 92-94. cf. Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (T&T Clark, 1915), 41, hereafter cited as Plummer, 2 Corinthians.

74 Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947):182-183.

75 Ibid. William Lillie, AAn Approach to 2 Corinthians 5:1-10,@ Scottish Journal of Theology 30, 1 (1977): 64.

76 Philo, On Flight and Finding 149.5-151.6, understood Judah's sexual desire to picture piety and the three securities of his pledge to symbolize steadfastness and fidelity (his signet ring), connection of word with life (his cord), and discipline on which one should lean (his staff). These translations are from the work Philo, with an English translation by F.H. Colson and the Rev. G.H. Whitaker, The Lob Classical Library (Harvard University Press, 1934), 5:88-91. Developing such noble qualities from a sinful desire and transaction is remarkable misinterpretation! cf. Erlemann, ZNW 83 (1992):208.

77 Kerr, JTS 39 (1988):95.

78 F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, a Translation and Revision of the ninth-tenth German edition, incorporating supplementary notes of A. Debrunner, by Robert W. Funk (University of Chicago Press, 1961), 92; Plummer, 2 Corinthians, 41; Johannes Behm, Aarrabon, TDNT, 1:475.

79 The NIV used the second rendering.

80 e.g. Hodge, 2 Corinthians, 25; Denney, 2 Corinthians, 55-57. But J.A. Robinson, St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (Macmillan, 1909), 36, did note this distinction, preferring the sense of earnest. Lincoln, Ephesians, 40, described it as a down-payment. Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947),considered it as including both meanings, designating it as pledge in the title of his article ( 179) and subheading ( 184), but also as a partial payment in his exegetical discussion of Ephesians 1:14 (185).

81 T.K. Abbott, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, The International Critical Commentary (T&T Clark, 1897), 23, hereafter cited as Abbott, Ephesians-Colossians; Lincoln, Ephesians, 40.

82 Hughes, 2 Corinthians, 41-42; Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947): 185-186.

83 Kerr, JTS, 39 (1988): 92-94.

84 Murray J. Harris, 2 Corinthians, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, 10 vols. (Zondervan, 1976), 10:348, hereafter cited as Harris, Exp. Bib. Comm.

85 Heinrich A.W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistles to the Corinthians, trans. D. Bannerman, translation revised by E. Dickson (Funk & Wagnalls, 1884), 434-435.

86 In Romans 8:23 Paul used another term, aparche (first fruits) to describe this concept, i.e. the presence of the Holy Spirit to assure future salvation for believers. Several commentators observed this parallel, including Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 66-68; Ahern, CBQ 9 (1947): 184: Denney, 2 Corinthians, 55.

87 F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1984), 266, hereafter cited as Bruce, Colossians-Ephesians; A. Skevington Wood, Ephesians, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, 10 vols. (Zondervan, 1978), 11:27, hereafter cited as Wood, Ex Bib. Comm.

88 Hughes, 2 Corinthians, 43, 173-174; Hoehner, BKT, 2:619.

89 Victor Furnish, 2 Corinthians, The Anchor Bible (Doubleday & Co., 1984):147, hereafter cited as Furnish, 2 Corinthians.

90 Lowery, BKT, 2:557; Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 147.

91 Hodge, 2 Corinthians, 22.

92 Rendered stand firm in NIV.


93 H. Schönweiss, bebaios, DNTT 1:658; Heinrich Schlier, Abebaios, bebaioo, bebaiosis,@ TDNT, 1:600-602.

94 Schlier, TDNT, 1:602-603, noted a relationship between bebaiosis and arrabon, but did not specify what that relationship was. There is evidently some overlapping of meaning, especially in their legal and commercial usage, but also in indicating a guarantee. Schlier, TDNT, 1:602, cited Leviticus 25:23 (LXX) as an example of such usage. An Israelite's land could not be sold definitively (permanently), i.e. with a legal guarantee.

95 Harris, Ex Bib. Comm. 10:325.

96 Schönweiss, DNTT, 1:660.

97 Denney, 2 Corinthians, 49. Plummer, 2 Corinthians, 40, described the relationship between Christ and believers as unassailable, flawless, and legally indestructible.

98 This is an aorist participle of chrio.

99 D. Müller, chrio, DNTT, 1:121-123. My entire discussion of chrio is based upon this article.

100 Müller, DNTT, 1:122.

101 Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Hebrews 1:9.

102 1 John 2:20, 27, 27.

103 Müller, DNTT, 1:122.

104 This anointing is clearly a divine work. Whether the Anointer is the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit is not always clear, especially since all are involved. See the perceptive discussion by Stephen S. Smalley, Word Biblical Commentary: 1,2,3 John (Word, 1984), 107-108.

105 Ralph Martin, Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Corinthians, (Word,1986), 28.

106 Denney, 2 Corinthians, 40; Christian F. Kling, Commentary on the Holy Scriptures Critical Doctrinal and Homiletical: The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, ed. John Lange, Trans. Philip Schaff (Zondervan, reprint of 1868 edition), 22, hereafter Corinthians.

107 1 John 2:20, 27, 27. See discussion above.

108 Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 136-137; R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians (Wartburg Press, 1937), 853-854.

109 Furnish, 2 Corinthians, 137, understands sphragisamenos hemas as "fully inclusive," thus involving all Christians.

110 Aorist participle of didomi.

111 The NIV rendering at the end of 2 Corinthians 1:22, "guaranteeing what is to come," is technically not in the Greek text. Nevertheless, as noted above, the concepts of God's protection of His people is part of the meaning of sphragizo. His assurance of His guarantee is part of the meaning of arrabon. The perspective of these concepts is looking toward the future. Although not a literal translation of this text, the NIV has accurately represented the Apostle's thought.

112 Harris, Exp. Bib. Comm, 10, 346.

113 2 Corinthians 5:2. T. McComiskey, stenazo, DNTT, 2:423 describes Paul as using stenazo exclusively to describe a sighing (or groaning, NIV) to express a longing for something. H. Schönweill, epithymia, DNTT, 1:458, noted Paul's use of epipothuntes (from epithomeo) to express a strong desire for something good.

114 Martin, 2 Corinthians, 108, observed this emphasis from Paul's placing theos at the end of the sentence.

115 Aorist participle from katergazomai.

116 BAG, Lexicon, 422.

117 Kling, Corinthians, 83.

118 2 Corinthians 5:4. cf. Kling, Corinthians, 83.

119 The Greek construction in 2 Corinthians 5:5 is virtually the same as in 2 Corinthians 1:22. The NIV renderings of these texts are very similar. See my footnote 111 above.

120 Hughes, 2 Corinthians, 174.

121 Ephesians 1:3-14. Rudolf Schnackenburg, ADie grosse Eulogie Ephesians 1:3-14: Analyse unter textlinguischen spekten, Biblische Zeitschrift 21, 1 (1977): 67, called it a Eulogie.

122 Lincoln, Ephesians, 38; William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Ephesians (Baker, 1967), 89-90, footnote 31; hereafter cited as Hendriksen, Ephesians.

123 Lincoln, Ephesians, 37-38.

124 As in NIV.

125 Lincoln, Ephesians, 38.

126 W. Mundle, Hear, Obey, DNTT, 2:175-177.

127 cf. Romans 10:14-15.

128 Francis Foulkes, The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians (Eerdmans, 1963), 55, hereafter cited as Foulkes, Ephesians.

129 W. Mundle, Hear, Obey, DNTT, 2:176-177. The implementation of saving faith is a consequence of it, not a condition for it.

130 Gromacki, Ephesians 1:3-14, 234. cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12.

131 Peterson, Presbyterion 17 (1991): 54, footnote 68, and Bruce, Colossians-Ephesians, 265 identify pisteusantes as what James H. Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek (T&T Clark, 1908), 130ff. called an aorist participle of coincident or identical action. Ernest De Witt Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek (T&T Clark, 1955 reprint of 1898 edition), 55, 64ff., called this usage an aorist participle of identical action. Here the participle and main verb designate either identical or simultaneous action. cf. also Lincoln, Ephesians, 39.

132 e.g. Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; Joel 2:28-29; Ezekiel 36:26-27; 37:14; 39:29.

133 e.g. Luke 24:49; John 14:16; 15:7-11; 16:13-15; Acts 1:4-8; Galatians 3:14.

134 Bruce, Colossians-Ephesians, 265; Foulkes, Ephesians, 56.

135 Eadie, Ephesians, 65. Gromacki, Ephesians 1:3-14, 235 calls it a Adative of means.

136 Romans 8:9. cf. Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 3:2.

137 Peterson, Presbyterion 17 (1991): 54, footnote 68; Bruce, Colossians-Ephesians, 265; Lincoln, Ephesians, 39; James D.G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Westminster, 1970), 158-159. For the contrary view that the sealing with the Holy Spirit occurs after saving faith, see Eadie, Ephesians, 66, and James Fergusson, An Exposition of the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians (Sovereign Grace, n.d.), 132.

138 Ephesians 1:14. Literally until the redemption of the possession.

139 Lincoln, Ephesians, 42.

140 S. Aalen, Glory, Honor, TDNT, 2:46-48, mentioned power and honor as prominent ideas involved in applying doxa to God. In Ephesians 1:14 honor to God results from His use of His power in His completion of His redemptive program.

141 Lincoln, Ephesians, 42.

142 Ephesians 4:29. cf. BAG, Lexicon, 749.

143 Schnackenburg, Ephesians, 208; Herbert G. Miller, Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (Skeffington & Son, 1899), 242, hereafter cited as Miller, Ephesians; Wood, Ex Bib.Comm., 11:65; Charles Hodge, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Banner of Truth, 1964 reprint edition, first published in 1856), 274, hereafter cited as Ephesians.; Bruce Colossians-Ephesians, 363.

144 J. Goetzmann, oikodomeo, DNTT, 2:251-253; Wood, Ex Bib. Comm., 11:65.

145 H. Haarbeck, H. G. Link, lupeo, DNTT, 2:419-421; BAG, Lexicon, 482-483.

146 Campbell, Ephesians, 182.

147 Lincoln, Ephesians, 307.

148 Eadie, Ephesians, 354 observed that the initial kai in Ephesians 4:30 clearly links that text with the preceding exhortations. So also Wood, ExBib. Comm., 11:65; Campbell, Ephesians, 182.

149 Bruce, Colossians-Ephesians, 363.

150 Lewis S. Chafer. Systematic Theology, 8 vols. (Dallas Seminary Press, 1947-1948), 6:234-235, hereafter cited as Chafer, Theology.

151 Ronald B. Allen, A>asab,@ Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R.L. Harris, G.L. Archer Jr., B. Waltke, 2 vols. (Moody, 1980), 2:687-688, observes that in its overall usage >asab can refer to both physical and mental pain.

152 BAG, Lexicon, 634.

153 Lincoln, Ephesians, 306.

154 Irwin J. Habeck, Ephesians, Amazing Grace (Northwestern Publishing House, 1985), 95.

155 Hodge, Ephesians, 275; Chafer, Theology, 6:234.

156 Miller, Ephesians, 243.

157 Chafer, Theology, 6:234-235.

158 Eadie, Ephesians, 355.

159 Hodge, Ephesians, 275.

160 Peterson, Presbyterion, 17 (1991): 56. cf. Bruce, Colossians-Ephesians, 364.

Editorial: The Anatomy of Compromise


The Social Gospel vs Personal Salvation: A Late Nineteenth-Centuray Case Study- Walter Rauschenbusch and A.B. Simpson, Daniel J. Evearitt

The Seal of the Holy Spirit and the Eternal Security of the Believer, Eldon Woodcock

The Restoration of the Doctrine of Binding and Loosing, Paul L. King

Why Youth Groups Matter: A Social Science Research Perspective, Leonard Kageler

Reaching the World through the City, George Reitz

The Religious Celebrity Syndrome: A Contemporary Application of First Corinthians 3:1-9, Richard Brown

Christ and the Spirit: Fleshing Out the Vision of A.B. Simpson's Imitation of Christ, Craig J. Slane

Glossolalia and the Ruark Procedure: Distinguishing between True and False Utterances, K. Neill Foster

About the Authors

Elio Cuccaro, Ph. D., Editor

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©2006 by K. Neill Foster