Christ made a solemn promise to the disciples during his last night on earth that he was going back to the Father and prepare a place and that he’ll come back and take them with him that where he would be there his disciples would be there also. In addition there’s the assurance that this mortal body will be given an immortal one as read in Philippians 2:21 and 2 Cor. 5:1-5. There is in 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5 and Ephesians 1:14 the Greek word arrabon. Most standard versions render the Greek word as “earnest.” Others translate it as “down payment,” “first installment,” “guarantee,” or “pledge” depending on the target age bracket or audience a translator has in mind.
We have this quotation below with the interesting information that in the modern Greek language, the apostolic age meaning of “earnest,” “down payment” or “pledge” has graduated to a specific meaning which is “an engagement ring.” Whereas, in the NT times the primary meaning of arrabon was applied to the purchase of a property, where the purchaser gives a down payment or a pledge, this now applies to marital relationship. This word arrabon / arrabona should help us illustrate a Christian’s relationship with Christ. This relationship is basically derived from the relationship of a man who loves a young lady. There’s a time element involved, there is emotion involved, there is ownership, there’s the idea of a mark, and the completion of an anticipated more pleasurable relationship in the future. Here is the quote:
Arrabon, originally, earnest-money deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed, was probably a Phoenician word, introduced into Greece. In general usage it came to denote a pledge or earnest of any sort; in the N.T. 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, 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; in Eph. 1:14, particularly of their eternal inheritance. In the Sept., Gen. 38:17-20. In modern Greek arrabona is an engagement ring. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words, 11)
Below, the New Living Translation and the Complete Jewish Bible are quoted to give the modern vocabulary of the idea the Apostle Paul wrote about two thousand years ago:
2 Cor. 1:22, “and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.” (New Living Translation)
2 Cor.1:22, “put his seal on us, and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee for the future. (Complete Jewish Bible)
2Cor.5:4-5, “Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it is not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. But God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. (New Living Translation)
2Cor. 5:4-5, “Yes, while we are in this body, we groan with the sense of being oppressed; it is not so much that we want to take something off, but rather to put something on over it; so that what must die may be swallowed up by the Life. Moreover, it is God who has prepared us for this very thing, and as a pledge he has given us his Spirit.“ (Complete Jewish Bible)
Eph. 1:13-14, “And now you also have heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God (NLT).
Eph. 1:13-14, “Furthermore, you heard the message of the truth, the Good News offering you deliverance and put your trust in the Messiah were sealed by him with the promised Ruach HaKodesh, who guarantees our inheritance until we come into possession of it and thus bring him praise commensurate with his glory.“ (Complete Jewish Bible)
Below are some questions to help us analyze the picture that the Apostle Paul wrote about and how it applies today.
A. Earnest = Engagement Ring
(a) Can an engagement relationship be broken?
(b) Does God break covenants he enters into?
(c) Do humans sometimes break covenants they enter into?
(d) Is the engagement ring a mark that a lady belongs to a groom?
B. What Is the Engagement Ring?
(a) It is a pledge/guarantee that a man intends to marry a lady.
(b) It is a seal/sign that a woman belongs to the giver of the ring, the groom.
(c) It is a pledge by the one who wears the ring that she remains faithful to the giver of the ring.
(d) Can an engagement ring be removed from a lady’s finger?
(e) Does the engagement ring refer to the words of the giver of the OR an assurance that promises of a consummated marriage and marital happiness is forthcoming?
C. When Does God Give the Engagement Ring?
(a) Is it at the very first moment the Scriptures is heard or read by a person?
(b) Is at the moment a person is mentally convinced that Jesus is the Christ?
(c) Is it at the moment of repentance of sins?
(d) Is it at the moment of confession of faith?
(e) Is it the moment of baptism in water?
(f) Is it after a person comes out of the water baptism?
D. In What Form Is the Engagement Ring Given?
(a) Is it a personal residing of the Holy Spirit?
(b) Is it a personal influence of the Holy Spirit who resides in the heavens?
(c) Is it the influence of the Scriptures as processed by a reader/hearer’s mind?
(d) In a sense is it all of the above?
(e) In Ephesians 1:13 there’s the truth, the Good News. Is the Good News one and the same item as the Holy Spirit?
E. Who Is Given an Engagement Ring?
(a) Is it the individual disciple who is said to be engaged to the Groom?
(b) Is the local congregation the one engaged to the Groom?
(c) Is the Universal Church the one engaged to the Groom?
(d) In a sense, is it all the above?
By Eusebio Tanicala, December 2010