Online Bible Commentary
The Seal of the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (NKJV)
The book of Ephesians is part of what is known as the Prison Epistles. The writings, themselves, affirm that the epistles were written by the Apostle Paul from prison.
There are differing opinions as to during which of Paul’s prison confinements the epistles were written. There are many sources that discuss this subject fully. For our purposes, we will go along with the thought of most scholars that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62.
The book of Ephesians can be divided into two halves. The first half, the first three chapters, is concerned with the positional; doctrine outlining our position in Christ. The second half, the last three chapters, is concerned with the practical; how we work out our position in the practical living of our Christian life. This is similar to the breakdown of the book of Romans.
The epistle was written about AD 61 to the house churches in Ephesus, Asia. The idea was that this authoritative letter would be passed along to other churches in Asia Minor.
Previously, in this chapter, Paul wrote “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” (v. 3). He then went on to write of three spiritual blessings that come with being in Christ, being Christians.
The first of these blessings is that Christians are chosen by God to be His adopted children (v. 4). This blessing is referred to as election, or predestination.
The second spiritual blessing is God’s redemption (v. 7). Redemption is an action. In Christianity, it is the action of clearing a debt, specifically our sin debt. Our sins have been forgiven by God and He has given us eternal life in Heaven.
The third spiritual blessing Paul mentions is the seal of the Holy Spirit, which is the subject of this commentary. The Holy Spirit is the seal of our redemption, guaranteeing our eternal life in Heaven.
Paul begins this passage by writing “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance” (v. 11a). In Christ, as Christians, His adopted children, we have obtained an inheritance, the inheritance of eternal life in Heaven.
Notice how Paul is writing in the past tense. This inheritance, our salvation, is assured. It is a sure thing. We just have not yet experienced it.
Paul continues by writing “being predestined” (v. 11b). As Christians, we have been chosen, “predestined”, to receive salvation.
God chose us “according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (v. 11c). Christians were chosen according to God’s purpose and His will for us.
Paul writes “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” (v. 12). Paul cites that God’s purpose in choosing these first century Christians who first trusted in Christ was that they would glorify Him. These words apply to all Christians.
Next, he writes “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (v. 13a). We were chosen to be in Him, to be Christians, by God. God’s foreknowledge came first (Ro. 8:29).
We trusted in Him when we “heard the gospel of our salvation”. This is a reference to the salvation experience of responding to the preaching of the Gospel, accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, and being baptized.
Paul writes “in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (v. 13b). When we become followers of Christ, we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit”. We are sealed in our salvation, the “promise” of eternal life in Heaven.
Paul concludes this passage when he writes “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (v. 14). The presence of the Holy Spirit in each Christian is a “guarantee” that we Christians, who have been purchased by the blood of Christ, are guaranteed to receive our inheritance of eternal life in Heaven until the redemption of our bodies when we turn in these old bodies for our new body in Heaven (2 Cor. 5:1-5). All of this is “to the praise of His glory”.
God is perfect. He keeps his promises. The fact that we are sealed means that we cannot lose our salvation. This is referred to as the doctrine of the perseverance of the Saints.
Christians, those who have truly accepted Christ, will persevere in their faith until such time as God takes them to Heaven. Their perseverance is guaranteed by God.