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Sealed UNTO the day of redemption, but a seal can be broken Eph. 4:30

 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed UNTO the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30)

Based on the Greek text the latter part of the above sentence can be translated ”by whom you were sealed FOR the day of redemption”. The preposition ”for” is a translation from the Greek word eis (Strong’s 1519) and apart from ”for” it can mean into, in, among and till. The text does not say ”sealed unconditionally all the way UNTIL the day of redemption no matter our conduct”.  Were sealed” is a translation from ἐσφραγίσθητε (esphragisthēte Strong’s 4972).

There is nothing that suggests that a seal can absolutely not be tampered with! When someone places a seal on something – like the one in the picture here to the left – he doesn’t do this with the idea that no one can remove the seal but to show a unique mark and/or ownership of something. The aim, and the sincere hope, might very well be to see the seal untouched until there is a proper time to remove it, but there is no guarantee that it will remain as it is until that day.

The Greek word sphragizó can mean seal, or set a seal upon, or mark with a seal. We are indeed uniquely ”marked” when we as christians have the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we are separate from those without this mark. When Jesus returns to earth he will save those who have this seal, so we would better keep ourselves sealed.

2 Cor. 122Who hath also SEALED us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

The word is from sphragís (a seal) – to seal (affix) with a signet ring or other instrument to stamp (a roller or seal). Signifies  the full security carried by the backing (full authority) of the owner. ”Sealing” in the ancient world served as a ”legal signature”, and it was sometimes done in antiquity by the use of religious tattoos – again signifying ”belonging to”.

The same word is used for the stone which was blocking the grave of Jesus – and which later was REMOVED.

Matt. 27: 66So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, SEALING the stone, and setting a watch.

Rev.  104And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

The book of Ephesians talks about a corporate election and about the promised future for the body of Christ. The CHURCH or the BODY OF CHRIST was predestined before the creation of the world to enter the Kingdom of God and inherit the promises. The question is if we as individuals choose to belong or not.

Eph. 1: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the CHURCH23Which is his BODY, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Eph. 4:4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;—  16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Eph. 1:13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

or:

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30).

Read the many warnings in the same chapter of Ephesians 4. The warnings are addressed to believers. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is conditional since we can ”grieve” and eventually ”insult” the Sprit of Grace which means total apostasy.

Hebr. 10 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Only believers can possess the Holy Spirit and no one can enter the Kingdom of God without the Spirit. He is therefore the guarantee of an inheritance for believers and not unbelievers. Through union with Christ we are ”predestined” to adoption and an inheritance as children of God, being ”joint heirs” with Christ (Eph. 1:5, 10-11, cf. Rom. 8:17; Gal. 3:29; 4:7). This is what is in view when Paul speaks of being sealed ”for the day of redemption”.  But we must not assume that this sealing is permanent or unbreakable which the text does not say it is.

What is a guarantee? Guarantee receipts normally have conditions which you can normally read in the ”fine print”. If you get a guarantee receipt for a certain product and you would like to make a claim, the store might request that you bring both the product and the receipt with you before they are willing to look at your claim. They might also request that you do this within a certain time frame and that you state what’s wrong with the product. Another example could be if someone buys you a bus ticket which guarantees you to get to a certain city PROVIDED that 1) you don’t throw away your ticket, 2) that you embark the right bus on the right time, and 3) that you STAY ON the bus until it arrives at the city. The BUS will arrive at the city as promised, but the question is if YOU will choose to be among the bus passengers.

 Samuel 16:14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

Psalm 5:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me

A circumcision was also a ”seal” for those under the old covenant.

Rom. 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a SEAL of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also

This seal WAS broken and guaranteed nothing when those who were circumcised broke the covenant and were cut off from the people of God.

Rom. 2:25For circumcision verily profiteth, IF thou keep the law:but IF thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

As you can see, this seal was conditioned on continued faith and obedience. The Holy Spirit marks us as God’s children of the new covenant but if we abandon the faith, and/or live in disobedience then the Spirit of God no longer remains in us and we are no longer sealed. Circumcised (sealed) jews were broken off through unbelief.

Acts. 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

John 14:15If ye love me, keep my commandments.16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever

Rom. 8:9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, IF so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10And IF Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

God speaks of the Israelites who ”grieved” His Holy Spirit in their rebellion. These Jews were cut off from the promise of entering God’s rest and they became God’s enemies.

Isaiah 6310But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: THEREFORE he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. — 14As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.

In the NT the ”rest” is the eternal rest that all believers will attain. The book of Hebrews continually speak of the promise of eternal rest, in combination with WARNINGS to believers not to miss out on this promised rest through hardening their hearts in unbelief, just as the Israelites did who rebelled against God during the Exodus.

Hebr. 3:6But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end7Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebr. 4:1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Hebr. 6: 11And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Jude 1:5I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not

If you’re trapped in Calvinism, do read about the contradictions within TULIP here.

Church Fathers

The Shepherd of Hermas 6(72):3 I say unto him, ”Sir, now then show me concerning those that have given up their rods, what manner of man each of them is, and their abode, that when they hear this, they that believed and have received the seal and have broken it and did not keep it sound may fully understand what they are doing, and repent, receiving from thee a seal, and may glorify the Lord, that He had compassion upon them and sent thee to renew their spirits.”

Clement 7:6 For as concerning them that have not kept the seal, He saith,`Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be for a spectacle unto all flesh’. 

Clement 8:6 So then He meaneth this, Keep the flesh pure and the seal unstained, to the end that we may receive life.