OUT OF TOMES
The writings of theologians and pastors who have come before us can serve as an invitation to prolonged thinking, with specificity, on God and His glorious works and ways. In this ongoing series, I cull quotations on passages of Scripture from Christian Classics Ethereal Library to help spur your consideration, discernment, mediation, and worship. You can link to the full sources below or start your own search on a biblical text here.
This Spirit is ὁ ἀῤῥαβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, the earnest of our inheritance. It is at once the foretaste and the pledge of all that is laid up for the believer in heaven. The word ἀῤῥαβὼν is a Hebrew term which passed first into the Greek and then into the Latin vocabulary, retaining its original sense. It means first, a part of the price of any thing purchased, paid, as a security for the full payment, and then more generally a pledge. It occurs three times in reference to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, 2 Cor. 1, 22. 5, 5; and in the passage before us. In the same sense the Scriptures speak of "the first fruits of the Spirit," Rom. 8, 23. Those influences of the Spirit which believers now enjoy are at once a prelibation or antepast of future blessedness, the same in kind though immeasurably less in degree; and a pledge of the certain enjoyment of that blessedness. Just as the first fruits were a part of the harvest, and an earnest of its ingathering. It is because the Spirit is an earnest of our inheritance, that his indwelling is a seal. It assures those in whom he dwells of their salvation, and renders that salvation certain. Hence it is a most precious gift to be most religiously cherished.
— Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians
“Unto the praise of His glory.” This he adds in immediate connection. And why? Because it would serve to give those who heard it full assurance. Were it for our sake only, he means to say, that God did this, there might be some room for misgiving. But if it be for His own sake, and in order to display His goodness, he assigns, as a sort of witness, a reason why these things never possibly could be otherwise. We find the same language everywhere applied to the case of the Israelites. “Do Thou this for us for Thy Name’s sake;” (Ps. cix. 21.) and again, God Himself said, “I do it for Mine own sake;” (Isa. xlviii. 11.) and so Moses, “Do it, if for nothing else, yet for the glory of Thy Name.” This gives those who hear it full assurance; it relieves them to be told, that whatever He promises, for His own goodness’ sake He will most surely perform.
— John Chrysostom, "Homily II" on Ephesians
The frequent mention of the glory of God ought not to be regarded as superfluous, for what is infinite cannot be too strongly expressed. This is particularly true in commendations of the Divine mercy, for which every godly person will always feel himself unable to find adequate language. He will be more ready to utter, than other men will be to hear, the expression of praise; for the eloquence both of men and angels, after being strained to the utmost, falls immeasurably below the vastness of this subject. We may likewise observe, that there is not a more effectual method of shutting the mouths of wicked men, than by shewing that our views tend to illustrate, and theirs to obscure, the glory of God.
— John Calvin
The earnest is part of payment, and it secures the full sum: so is the gift of the Holy Ghost; all his influences and operations, both as a sanctifier and a comforter, are heaven begun, glory in the seed and bud. The Spirit's illumination is an earnest of everlasting light; sanctification is an earnest of perfect holiness; and his comforts are earnests of everlasting joys.
— Matthew Henry
Let me, before I close, say—and say with the fullest emphasis possible—that we believe as firmly as any man living, as firmly as we believe any truth taught in the Bible, that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. xii. 14). We know no other evidence of being in Christ, or of being a Christian, than that which is furnished by a life and behaviour becoming the Gospel. And though holiness is not the cause of God’s first or continued love to His people, it is the effect and fruit of that love, and a main part of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus—that salvation to which they are chosen (Eph. i. 4); and he who is satisfying himself with the notion that he is safe for eternity, while he is living in any known sin, is turning the grace of our God into licentiousness, and is a deadly enemy of the Cross of Christ. The blessed doctrine which the Bible teaches, and in which we glory, is—the doctrine of the saints’ final perseverance, and that doctrine was never designed to comfort any man who is not living a life of faith in the Son of God, intensely anxious to please God in all things, and to be the holy and happy subject of that mind which was in Jesus.
— Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 07
"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"
— "How Firm a Foundation"