The word translated guarantee ("earnest," KJV) in reference to the Holy Spirit means "a pledge," "a security that more will follow." In this sense, "firstfruits" and "guarantee/earnest" are virtually interchangeable (cf. Romans 8:23). What is more, they define matters more clearly: The receipt of the earnest of the Spirit creates what God calls "the firstfruits." Since Pentecost in AD 31 when God performed those marvelous works (Acts 2), the firstfruits are God's peculiar or special possession who have been purchased and are being transformed to glorify Him to the utmost. The firstfruits are the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), the church of God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Our Uniqueness and Time
God's promised Spirit seals us after we believe. Clearly, receiving the Holy Spirit is something that happened in our past. We received it upon faith, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands. Verse 14 clarifies that this occurred in the past, saying that what we received was merely an earnest, an installment guaranteeing that more will be given. The sense here is similar to Romans 8:32, where Paul writes that God's giving of His Son is our guarantee that He will withhold nothing that we truly need.
The word "until" in Ephesians 1:14 further clarifies the time-element by stating that this will not happen "until the redemption of the purchased possession" occurs. Have we assumed that we were redeemed when we believed, accepted Jesus Christ, and were justified by His blood? But, notice, Paul writes that this, too, is yet future!
There is a future reception of more of God's Holy Spirit and a future redemption! The Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). The apostle is teaching us that redemption, like salvation, is a process that has begun but has not yet reached its conclusion. Both of these processes began when we believed and accepted Jesus Christ, but they will not end until we receive God's Spirit in full measure and are glorified in His Kingdom.
Thus, just as we know that we do not now have God's Spirit in full measure, we have to realize that we are not yet fully redeemed. As used in the Bible, redeem means "to deliver one by means of paying a price." The price has been paid in full, and we are even now the recipients of merely the beginning of its blessings. In addition, it also places us under obligation to glorify God and show forth His praises, as we are able.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Our Uniqueness and Time
Though Jesus says God gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask, the Bible further qualifies this with conditions. God will give His Spirit only to those who have demonstrated in attitude and behavior that they have repented. Then they must be baptized and obey His commandments. No one who continues to live a lifestyle apart from God's law has received the Spirit of God or has the power of God working in him.
Martin G. Collins
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit delivers us from death and leads us to the gift of eternal life. We inherit mortal life through Adam, but God gives His Spirit to endow eternal life on His faithful and obedient children. Since the Spirit is God's gift, neither are we born with it, nor can we earn it.
Martin G. Collins
The Holy Spirit
Jesus and His Father give us a guarantee of His promise to marry us. On the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2), fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, God sent a "deposit," the "earnest" of the Holy Spirit—the guarantee of the full payment to come later, when we are changed from flesh to spirit. There may be more here than some realize.
The Greek word for "earnest" is arrabon. When taken in the context of our understanding of a glorious wedding coming, it is a word packed with meaning. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words comments:
Originally, "earnest-money" deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed, [arrabon] was probably a Phoenician word, introduced into Greece. In general usage it came to denote "a pledge" or "earnest" of any sort; in the NT it is used only of that which is assured by God to believers; it is said of the Holy Spirit as the divine "pledge" of all their future blessedness, . . . particularly of their eternal inheritance.
Then comes this final sentence: "In modern Greek arrabona is an 'engagement ring.'" Of course! It makes so much sense. When Jesus asks us to drink of His cup—and we do—He follows by giving us a sign of His pledge: a kind of engagement ring, an earnest of His Holy Spirit! All this happened on the likely anniversary of God's proposal to Israel, the Day of Pentecost, about the time Boaz and Ruth pledged their troth.
Will You Marry Me? (Part Two)
At the time of the complete fulfillment of this redemption, "the earnest of our inheritance" will blossom into its entire fullness. What will we be heirs of? What will we inherit?
» The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are [present tense] children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)
» And if you are Christ's, then you are [present tense] Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)
» That having been justified [past tense] by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:7)
» Are [angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)
The English words "will inherit," as translated here in Hebrews 1:14 from the Greek verb méllontas, make it sound as if it is in the future tense. Grammatically, however, it is actually "active present" tense in the Greek, and therefore it might be better rendered as "those who are inheriting salvation." Nevertheless, even with human inheritances, the entirety of the inheritance does not come immediately upon an individual becoming an heir, as the actual receipt of its benefits comes later (Hebrews 9:16).
Being heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, the total inheritance has not yet been totally given to us. So far, we have received just an earnest—a down payment—of the fullness of His Holy Spirit and the fullness of the associated blessings that we will receive in the future. Further, we have God's unbreakable promise that we will receive our full inheritance when the time comes: "Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath" (Hebrews 6:17).
Again, what exactly is the inheritance? What is promised to us? The apostle James makes it clear: "Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:5). As well as being an indescribable inheritance, God's Kingdom is also a firm promise to us from God. He does not break His promises!
Thy Kingdom Come! (Part One)
This chapter extols the uniqueness of the church, which Paul refers to as "the purchased possession." Israel became God's personal possession through the destruction of Egypt, and more importantly, with the killing of Egypt's firstborn as the price for Israel's liberty. God "purchased" Israel and its liberties by this means.
What we see taking form is a separate and unique people. Even though all mankind owes its existence to God as their Creator, Israel and the church are both separate and unique because they belong to God in a way other people and nations do not. Amos 3:2 declares, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." God purchased these people at awesome cost and thus came into possession of them.
When Israel became His property, it gave them certain liberties. So it is with us, but we receive more besides. Among other things regarding the uniqueness of the church, Paul explains that its members have been set apart (redeemed and freed from the rest of mankind and its ways) and sealed through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The term sealed is important because it embraces, not only the sense of ownership, but also security and guarantee. Individual seals were unique, used on documents to identify the sender and to render the content secure from prying eyes and theft, and so they were a guarantee that the contents would reach the intended destination.
God's children may look no different on the outside, but they have been given something inside, something spiritual, that makes them different from others and special to God. They are different only because of something God has done, which also makes them His personal, treasured possession.
John 1:12-13 declares, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." That "something" is the right or power (KJV) to believe the Word of God, which opens our minds and imparts to us the knowledge of God and His purpose, faith, the fear of God, the love of God, and so much more.
Billions of people have access to the Bible. They read it and may even attend church and call themselves Christian, but they then ignore and disobey huge amounts of it, thus not living by every Word of God. This is actual evidence that those who are part of God's special treasure do indeed possess something that sets them apart and motivates them to obey more completely.
Deuteronomy 7:6 begins a section that reveals one of the major reasons why God has done this. "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth." Segullah appears again as "special treasure," but along with segullah is another, more familiar term that identifies being a special treasure as an aspect of a larger subject: the blessings and responsibilities of holiness.
Holy literally means "set apart." Being a special treasure has set us apart from other people. Others, without this advantage, are not set apart. When this principle from the Old Testament is combined with Ephesians 1:13-14, we can understand that the blessing of having the Spirit of God makes us special, different, and holy (Romans 8:9).
This occurs because, in God's self-revelation, His Spirit imparts faith and the love of God beyond what the natural mind is capable. It is becoming clear that being blessed as a special, holy people imposes responsibilities on us that we are required—indeed commanded—to meet. The standards within this relationship are high, requiring gifts and growth to meet them.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Ephesians 1:14: