20. But ye have not so learned Christ;
20. Vos autem non ita didicistis Christum;
21. If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
21. Si quidem ipsum audistis, et in ipso estis edocti, quemadmodum est veritas in Iesu;
22. That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
22. Ut deponatis, secundum pristinam conversationem, Veterem hominem, qui corrumpitur secundum concupiscentias erroris;
23. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
23. Renovemini autem spiritu mentis vestrae,
24. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
24. Et induatis Novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est, in justitia et sanctitate veritatis.
20. But ye have not. He now draws a contrast of a Christian life, so as to make it evident how utterly inconsistent it is with the character of a godly man to defile himself regardlessly with the abominations of the Gentiles. Because the Gentiles walk in darkness, therefore they do not distinguish between right and wrong; but those on whom the truth of God shines ought to live in a different manner. That those to whom the vanity of the senses is a rule of life, should yield themselves up to base lusts, is not surprising; but the doctrine of Christ teaches us to renounce our natural dispositions. He whose life differs not from that of unbelievers, has learned nothing of Christ; for the knowledge of Christ cannot be separated from the mortification of the flesh.
21. If ye have heard him. To excite their attention and earnestness the more, he not only tells them that they had heard Christ, but employs a still stronger expression, ye have been taught in him, as if he had said, that this doctrine had not been slightly pointed out, but faithfully delivered and explained.
As the truth is in Jesus. This contains a reproof of that superficial knowledge of the gospel, by which many are elated, who are wholly unacquainted with newness of life. They think that they are exceedingly wise, but the apostle pronounces it to be a false and mistaken opinion. There is a twofold knowledge of Christ, -- one, which is true and genuine, -- and another, which is counterfeit and spurious. Not that, strictly speaking, there are two kinds; but most men falsely imagine that they know Christ, while they know nothing but what is carnal. In another Epistle he says,
|If any man be in Christ, let him be a new creature.| (2 Corinthians 5:17.)
So here he affirms that any knowledge of Christ, which is not accompanied by mortification of the flesh, is not true and sincere.
22. That ye put off. He demands from a Christian man repentance, or a new life, which he makes to consist of self-denial and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Beginning with the first, he enjoins us to lay aside, or put off the old man, employing the metaphor of garments, which we have already had occasion to explain. The old man, -- as we have repeatedly stated, in expounding the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and other passages where it occurs, -- means the natural disposition which we bring with us from our mother's womb. In two persons, Adam and Christ, he describes to us what may be called two natures. As we are first born of Adam, the depravity of nature which we derive from him is called the Old man; and as we are born again in Christ, the amendment of this sinful nature is called the New man. In a word, he who desires to put off the old man must renounce his nature. To suppose that the words Old and New contain an allusion to the Old and New Testaments, is exceedingly unphilosophical.
Concerning the former conversation. To make it more evident that this exhortation to the Ephesians was not unnecessary, he reminds them of their former life. |Before Christ revealed himself to your minds, the old man reigned in you; and therefore, if you desire to lay him aside, you must renounce your former life.| Which is corrupted. He describes the old man from the fruits, that is, from the wicked desires, which allure men to destruction; for the word, corrupt, alludes to old age, which is closely allied to corruption. Let us beware of considering the deceitful lusts, as the Papists do, to mean nothing more than the gross and visible lusts, which are generally acknowledged to be base. The word includes also those dispositions which, instead of being censured, are sometimes applauded, -- such as ambition, cunning, and everything that proceeds either from self-love or from want of confidence in God.
23. And be renewed. The second part of the rule for a devout and holy life is to live, not in our own spirit, but in the Spirit of Christ. But what is meant by -- the spirit of your mind? I understand it simply to mean, -- Be renewed, not only with respect to the inferior appetites or desires, which are manifestly sinful, but with respect also to that part of the soul which is reckoned most noble and excellent. And here again, he brings forward to view that Queen which philosophers are accustomed almost to adore. There is an implied contrast between the spirit of our mind and the Divine and heavenly Spirit, who produces in us another and a new mind. How much there is in us that is sound or uncorrupted may be easily gathered from this passage, which enjoins us to correct chiefly the reason or mind, in which we are apt to imagine that there is nothing but what is virtuous and deserves commendation.
24. And that ye put on the new man. All that is meant is, |Be renewed in the spirit, or, be renewed within or completely, -- beginning with the mind, which appears to be the part most free from all taint of sin.| What is added about the creation, may refer either to the first creation of man, or to the second creation, which is effected by the grace of Christ. Both expositions will be true. Adam was at first created after the image of God, and reflected, as in a mirror, the Divine righteousness; but that image, having been defaced by sin, must now be restored in Christ. The regeneration of the godly is indeed -- as we have formerly explained -- nothing else than the formation anew of the image of God in them. There is, no doubt, a far more rich and powerful manifestation of Divine grace in this second creation than in the first; but our highest perfection is uniformly represented in Scripture as consisting in our conformity and resemblance to God. Adam lost the image which he had originally received, and therefore it becomes necessary that it shall be restored to us by Christ. The design contemplated by regeneration is to recall us from our wanderings to that end for which we were created.
In righteousness. If righteousness be taken as a general term for uprightness, holiness will be something higher, or that purity which lies in being devoted to the service of God. I am rather inclined to consider holiness as referring to the first table, and righteousness to the second table, of the law, as in the song of Zacharias,
|That we may serve him in holiness and righteousness, all the days of our life.| (Luke 1:74,75.)
Plato lays down the distinction correctly, that holiness (hosiotes) lies in the worship of God, and that the other part, righteousness, (dikaiosune,) bears a reference to men. The genitive, of truth, (tos aletheias,) is put in the place of an adjective, and refers to both terms; so that, while it literally runs, in righteousness and holiness of truth, the meaning is, in true righteousness and holiness. He warns us that both ought to be sincere; because we have to do with God, whom it is impossible to deceive.