The End-Time Seal and Ephesians (Interlude 3)

When Seventh-day Adventists talk about the sealing in Revelation 7 they often refer to Ephesians 4:30, which speaks about grieving the Holy Spirit who had sealed us for the day of redemption. The sealing of Ephesians 4:30 is in the past, but it has implications for the day of redemption. Does that have a connection to Revelation 7’s seal of protection?

The context of Ephesians 4:30 is a list of moral behaviors that grieve the Spirit (Eph. 4:25 – 5:2). But there is an apocalyptic element to this list of behaviors that becomes evident upon a second or third reading. Believers are to give “no opportunity to the devil” (4:27, RSV, ESV). Instead, they are to be imitators of God (5:1). This dual reference has to do with character: the characters of God and Satan and also the characters of those who are being offered the presence of the Spirit. The references to God and Satan point to a much larger perspective than simply individual life here on this earth.

So grieving the Spirit in Ephesians is in the context of the cosmic conflict between God and Satan. The believer is invited to imitate the character of God (truth, honesty, graceful and encouraging speech, kindness, tender-heartedness, forgiveness, love, self-sacrifice) rather than the character of Satan (lying, anger, stealing, abusive speech, bitterness, hard-heartedness, slander, hatred). As is the case in the Book of Revelation, the little battles of daily character work are tied to the much bigger conflict in the universe.

Ellen White speaks of the end-time sealing as “a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so that they cannot be moved.” Last-day Events, page 219. This statement ties the exegesis of Ephesians 4 together with that of Revelation 7. For her the end-time protection for the people of God is more spiritual than physical. The sealing represents a solidification of one’s commitment to God to the point where they would rather die than choose to sin (Rev. 12:11). This is the faith of the martyrs. This is the faith that will secure one’s standing with God in the final crisis. Those who are sealed will be safe to save, safe to receive eternal life in a cleansed and secure universe. They will also be protected against Satan’s spiritual assaults at the end of time.

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