Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians and Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

Commentary on the Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe                                            Date: 1/9/17




         Lesson 4: The Spirit Sealed Believers in their Personal Past (1:13-14)



Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)


13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 

14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.



The “gift” of the Spirit is to be distinguished from the “gifts” of the Spirit.  The latter are special endowments given to men by the Spirit; but the former is the Spirit himself, given by the Father through Christ (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:4).  The word “gift” does not occur in this passage, but Paul clearly had in mind the conferral of the Spirit upon believers—the final blessing in the enumeration begun at verse seven.

The main thought of verses 13-14 centers around the Holy Spirit and the significance of His presence in the life of believers.  The manner in which He is referred to (“the promised Holy Spirit”) is worthy of note.  The Spirit is in Himself holy, and it is His mission and work to make us holy.  He is called “the promised Holy Spirit” because His coming was the fulfillment of a promise, his manifestation at Pentecost and his ministry with believers having been predicted by the prophets (Joel 2:28) and reaffirmed by Christ.


When we look at the work of the Holy Spirit, we see that (1) He regenerates us, (2) He is a refuge for us, and (3) He gives reality to our lives.



13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” The Ephesians heard the Gospel, “the message of truth,” and discovered it was for them—“your salvation.” To them the Christian preachers brought the Christian message. That word has two things. First, it was the word (“the message of truth”); it brought them the truth about God and about the world in which they lived and about themselves. Second, it was good news. It was the message of the love and the grace of God.

We said in the introduction that the work of the Holy Spirit includes our “regeneration.” Well, there will be somebody say, “He doesn’t mention regeneration here.” Actually he does, and in a marvelous way, because now were passing from God’s work for us to the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

In this work of regeneration and renewing, the Holy Spirit causes a sinner to hear and believe in his heart, and that makes him a child of God.  The Lord Jesus said, “. . .  You must be born again” (John 3:7).  How are we to be born again?  John explains, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).  We need simply to believe on His name.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth,” Hearing means to hear not just the sound of words but to hear with understanding.  Paul wrote, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).  Who are the called?  Are they the ones that just heard the sound of words?  No, it means those who heard with understanding.  God called them.  It was not just a call of hearing words, but a call where the Holy Spirit made those words real.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, according to Romans 10:17.  Those who are called hear the Word of God and they respond to it.  Then what happens?  Peter puts it this way: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).  The word of God goes out as it is going out even through this printed page.  We are saying that the Son of God died for you and if you trust Him, you will be saved.  “Well,” someone may say, “I read these words, but they mean nothing to me.” Someone else, however, will read or hear this message, and the Spirit of God will apply it to his heart so that he believes—he trusts—and the moment he trusts in Christ, he is regenerated (saved). 

“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”To “seal” meant to put a proprietary mark on something. So, by the gift of the “Holy Spirit” at baptism, God identifies the believer “in Christ” as his own property.   In Luke 24:49, Christ told His disciples, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Whenever a convert becomes conscious of “the life of God in the soul of man (which is what the “Holy Spirit” means), that promise is fulfilled again, as it had been spectacularly fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

In the ancient world—it was a custom (still followed in some places)—when a sack, or a crate, or a package was sent off, it was sealed with a “seal,” in order to indicate where it had come from and to whom it belonged. The possession of the “Holy Spirit” is the “seal” which shows that a man belongs to God. The “Holy Spirit” both shows us God’s will and enables us to do it.

Without the Holy Spirit, absolutely no one could be saved. I am so thankful that God loved us, I am so thankful that Jesus died for us—but I am also thankful that He, the Holy Ghost came into the world, to convict people of their “sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned” (John 16:9-11).

I understand verse 13 to mean that the Holy Spirit is the seal.  God the Father gave the Son to die on the cross, but the Son offered up Himself willingly.  So both the Father and the Son gave.  God the Father and God the Son both sent the Holy Spirit to perform a different work, but it is the Spirit who does the work.  He regenerates the sinner and He seals the sinner at the same time, and I think that the Spirit Himself is that seal.  You receive the Spirit immediately on trusting Christ.  This is not an experience subsequent to conversion.  (Read Acts 10:34-48.)

There is a twofold purpose in the sealing work of the Holy Spirit.  He implants the image of God upon the heart to give reality to the believer.  You know that a seal is put down on a document and that seal has an image on in.  I think that is exactly what the Spirit of God does to the believer.  “He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true” (John 3:33).  Apparently, this is the thought here—God has put his implant upon the believer.

Jesus told the disciples that it was imperative that He go away, and that if He did not return to heaven the Spirit would not come; but if He departed He would send the Comforter; and when the Comforter (which is the Holy Ghost) was come, He would reprove the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. The Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the trinity, convicts us of sin; and certainly there could be no conversion without the Holy Spirit conviction.

14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Let me point out the part the Holy Spirit has in our redemption:

1)     The Holy Spirit is called the “guarantee of our heavenly inheritance.” The Greek word rendered “guarantee” was originally a commercial term meaning a “down payment” or “first installment,” given in pledge that the entire sum would be paid later. In the same way our experience of the Holy Spirit in our hearts is God’s guarantee of His will and intention to pay in full when he consummates our salvation in the bliss of heaven. Then we shall enjoy “all those blessed things that God has prepared for them that love Him.”

2)     God the Father planned our salvation in the eternity behind us. God the Son provided and purchased our salvation in the fullness of time. The Spirit of God applied our salvation. The Holy Ghost persuaded us to accept salvation. “The natural man receiveth not the things of God.” No person could ever receive or believe the Word of God apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.

3)     Jesus said concerning the Spirit, “When He does come, He shall not speak of Himself. He shall take of mine and show it unto you!” (John 16:13-15). The Holy Ghost is in this world during this Dispensation of Grace to point men to the Lamb of God. He is not in the world to magnify Himself; He is in the world to make known the gift of God; salvation through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

4)     In John 6:44 we find, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Sinners are drawn to God through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-9). When the sinner hears the Word of God, the Holy Spirit through and by the Word of God opens the eyes of understanding. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The Spirit opens the eyes of the mind, the understanding of the heart, and makes known to us the glorious fact that Jesus finished everything having to do with our salvation, and that it is only through faith that we can become the possessor of the gift of God. This is the initial work of the Holy Ghost in our salvation.

5)     In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). The Holy Spirit “borns” us into the family of God.

6)     We are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit—For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

The Holy Spirit is the seal, and that guarantees that God is going to deliver us.  We are sealed until the day of redemption.  A day will come when the Holy Spirit will deliver us to Christ.  This sealing implies ownership: God has put His seal on us because: (1) He has purchased us to be His own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); (2) it signifies the completion of a transaction; (3) it means security and protection—the Roman seal on the tomb of Jesus carried this meaning; it marks authenticity—just as a signature on a letter attests to the genuineness of the document, so the presence of the Spirit proves the believer is genuine.  “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). It’s nice to be sealed like that—we are just like a letter that is insured.

And consider that there are other important features of the Holy Spirit’s service:

  • The Holy Spirit takes up His abode in our Hearts (Romans 8:9).
  • The Holy Spirit leads us (Romans 8:14).
  • The Holy Spirit assures us (Romans 8:16).

The phrase “until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” expresses the purpose of the sealing. “God’s possession” must be understood as referring to God’s people (1 Peter 2:9), and the “redemption” in view is the full completion of redemption.  There is, of course, a sense in which believers already are redeemed; but there is another sense in which redemption is yet future, for at present our redemption is incomplete.  It will not be complete until we each have a resurrected and glorified body and stand before Christ without blemish.  The presence of the spirit in our lives guarantees that what God has begun He will in due time accomplish fully. We must bear in mind that nothing more needs to be done to insure our salvation—Jesus did it all at Calvary. There is still prophesy, however, that must be fulfilled according to God’s timetable—the Tribulation, the Rapture, the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Great White Throne Judgment, the thousand year reign of Christ, Armageddon (not in that order.)

It is to the praise of the Glory of God that the Holy Spirit regenerates us, becomes our refuge and seal, and gives us reality.




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