Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. (verses 13-14)
We’re lingering for a third day in this opening portion of Ephesians, because these verses about the Holy Spirit are simply too powerful to miss. There is so much here to grip our hearts, with three specific words standing out.
(1) The first is the title “promised.” Doesn’t the word itself stir up anticipation? It turns out the Spirit is the long-promised gift of the Father, who spoke long ago through the prophets of a coming day when his law would be written within us rather than ruling us from without, and we would receive soft hearts in place of our hardened ones, and he himself would put his Spirit within us, welling up an internal desire to live according to his will. This promise was so vast and good that someone has characterized the Old Testament saints as being breathless with excitement about the coming of the Spirit. We have now stepped into that reality. The Spirit is the gift we ourselves have received.
But the anticipation continues. For Paul’s phrase is literally, “the Holy Spirit of promise,” meaning not only that he was promised beforehand, but also, having now come, that he brings ongoing promise for our future. Since he is with us, the Father’s continuing work in our lives is guaranteed.
Which leads us to the other two words:
(2) “Marked with a seal” is a single Greek word describing the practice in the ancient world of placing a personal seal on property to indicate ownership. I remember Mom doing this when I was in kindergarten – sweater, jacket, coat, lunchbox, and thermos were all labelled with my name, so I wouldn’t lose anything! Those labels showed possession. That’s what Almighty God has done with us. Imagine! He has put his own seal of ownership on us for all eternity – the seal is the Spirit himself.
(3) “Deposit” was used in the ancient world for a token, like a signet ring, that would be given as a guarantee of full compensation coming later. It’s a “down payment.” Indeed the word is still used in modern Greek to indicate an engagement ring, a promise that the marriage covenant will soon be made. The Spirit is such a “deposit” in our lives, guaranteeing that the fullness of our salvation, redemption, and inheritance in God’s Kingdom is indeed coming.
All of this makes clear my own need to nurture a continuing awareness of the Spirit’s present activity in my life right now. He is my birthright in Christ, no question. He is given. He is here. He dwells within me as the Counselor – one like Jesus, who comes alongside to help. As I live in that reality, nurturing the relationship and yielding to his guidance, I allow the promise and seal and deposit to undergird my whole life with the abiding confidence that God is working his purpose out, that I am his, and that I am held in his hand for all eternity.
So, come Holy Spirit.
Open my eyes to your active presence. Bless me deeply with your present fellowship. Fill me with the certainty of hope for the fullness of the Father’s work in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflect: Which of the three words relating to the Spirit touches you most: promise, seal, deposit? What are the implications of the word? What difference does it make for you? Remind yourself during the day.