Ephesians iv. 4-7.-"There is one body, and one Spirit, even
as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith,
one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all,
and in all. But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the
measure of the gift of Christ."
The love Paul requires of us is no common love, but that which cements
us together, and makes us cleave inseparably to one another, and effects
as great and as perfect a union as though it were between limb and limb.
For this is that love which produces great and glorious fruits. Hence he
saith, there is "one body"; one, both by sympathy, and by not opposing
the good of others, and by sharing their joy, having expressed all at once
by this figure. He then beautifully adds, "and one Spirit," showing that
from the one body there will be one Spirit: or, that it is possible that
there may be indeed one body, and yet not one Spirit; as, for instance,
if any member of it should be a friend of heretics: or else he is, by this
expression, shaming them into unanimity, saying, as it were, "Ye who have
received one Spirit, and have been made to drink at one fountain, ought
not to be divided in mind"; or else by spirit here he means their zeal.
Then he adds, "Even as ye were called in one hope of your calling," that
is, God hath called you all on the same terms. He hath bestowed nothing
upon one more than upon another. To all He hath freely given immortality,
to all eternal life, to all immortal glory, to all brotherhood, to all
inheritance. He is the common Head of all; "He hath raised all" up, "and
made them sit with Him." (Eph. ii. 6.) Ye then who in the spiritual world
have so great equality of privileges, whence is it that ye are high-minded?
Is it that one is wealthy and another strong? How ridiculous must this
be? For tell me, if the emperor some day were to take ten persons, and
to array them all in purple, and seat them on the royal throne, and to
bestow upon all the same honor, would any one of these, think ye, venture
to reproach another, as being more wealthy or more illustrious than he?
Surely never. And I have not yet said all; for the difference is not so
great in heaven as here below we differ. There is "one Lord, one faith,
one baptism." Behold "the hope of your calling. One God and Father of all,
who is over all, and through all, and in all." For can it be, that thou
art called by the name of a greater God, another, of a lesser God? That
thou art saved by faith, and another by works? That thou hast received
remission in baptism, whilst another has not? "There is one God and Father
of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." "Who is over all,"
that is, the Lord and above all; and "through all," that is, providing
for, ordering all; and "in you all," that is, who dwelleth in you all.
Now this they own to be an attribute of the Son; so that were it an argument
of inferiority, it never would have been said of the Father.
"But unto each one of us was the grace given."
What then? he saith, whence are those diverse spiritual gifts? For this
subject was continually carrying away both the Ephesians themselves, and
the Corinthians, and many others, some into vain arrogance, and others
into despondency or envy. Hence he everywhere takes along with him this
illustration of the body. Hence it is that now also he has proposed it,
inasmuch as he was about to make mention of diverse gifts. He enters indeed
into the subject more fully in the Epistle to the Corinthians, because
it was among them that this malady most especially reigned: here however
he has only alluded to it. And mark what he says: he does not say, "according
to the faith of each," lest he should throw those who have no large attainments
into despondency. But what saith he? "According to the measure of the gift
of Christ." The chief and principal points of all, he saith,-Baptism, the
being saved by faith, the having God for our Father, our all partaking
of the same Spirit,-these are common to all. If then this or that man possesses
any superiority in any spiritual gift, grieve not at it; since his labor
also is greater. He that had received the five talents, had five required
of him; whilst he that had received the two, brought only two, and yet
received no less a reward than the other. And therefore the Apostle here
also encourages the hearer on the same ground, showing that gifts are bestowed
not for the honor of one above another, but for the work of the church,
even as he says further on:
"For the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering unto
the building up of the body of Christ."
Hence it is that even he himself saith, "Woe is unto me, if I preach
not the Gospel." (1 Cor. ix. 16.) For example: he received the grace of
Apostleship, but for this very reason, "woe unto him," because he received
it: whereas thou art free from the danger.
"According to the measure."
What is meant by, "according to the measure"? It means, "not according
to our merit," for then would no one have received what he has received:
but of the free gift we have all received. And why then one more, and another
less? There is nothing to cause this, he would say, but the matter itself
is indifferent; for every one contributes towards "the building." And by
this too he shows, that it is not of his own intrinsic merit that one has
received more and another less, but that it is for the sake of others,
as God Himself hath measured it; since he saith also elsewhere, "But now
hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased
Him." (1 Cor. xii. 18.) And he mentions not the reason, lest he should
deject or dispirit the hearers.