A pledge of the performance of a promise; or part of a debt, paid in assurance of the payment of the whole; or part of the price, paid down to confirm a bargain; or part of a servant's wages, paid at the time of hiring, to ratify the engagement. In the New Testament it describes the gifts of God to his people here, as the assurance and commencement of the far superior blessings of the life to come, 2Co 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:13-14.
The Spirit is the earnest of the believer's destined inheritance (2Co 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14). The word thus rendered is the same as that rendered "pledge" in Ge 38:17-20; "indeed, the Hebrew word has simply passed into the Greek and Latin languages, probably through commercial dealings with the Phoenicians, the great trading people of ancient days. Originally it meant no more than a pledge; but in common usage it came to denote that particular kind of pledge which is a part of the full price of an article paid in advance; and as it is joined with the figure of a seal when applied to the Spirit, it seems to be used by Paul in this specific sense." The Spirit's gracious presence and working in believers is a foretaste to them of the blessedness of heaven. God is graciously pleased to give not only pledges but foretastes of future blessedness.
2Co 1:20,22; 5:5; Eph 1:13-14. Money given by a purchaser as a pledge for the full payment of the sum promised. The Holy Spirit is to the believer the first installment to assure him that his full inheritance as a son of God shall follow hereafter; the token of the fulfillment of "all the promises." Hence, the Spirit is called "the Holy Spirit of promise," "the first fruits of the Spirit" (Ro 8:23), i.e., we have the Spirit Himself as the first fruits of our full redemption. Hebrew arabon, brought by the Phoenicians to Greece and Rome, Latin arrhabo.
The payment of an earnest or deposit bound both seller and purchaser to carry out the contract (i.e. a guarantee, a down payment). This partial payment implies the identity in kind of the deposit with the future full payment; but a "pledge" may be of a quite different kind (Ge 38:17-18). "Earnest" implies, besides the security of the believer's future inheritance, its identity in kind, though not in degree, with his present possessed enjoyment of the spirit. Heaven perfected will continue heaven already begun in part (Re 22:11 ff).
In 2Co 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14 St. Paul describes the Holy Spirit as the believer's 'earnest.' The word means 'part-payment,' the deposit being the same in kind as what is to follow. Cf. Tindale's (1533) use of 'earnest-penny': 'that assured saving health and earnest-penny of everlasting life.' Rabbi Greenstone (Jewish Encyclopedia v. 26) quotes Kid. 3a to the effect that the payment of a perutah, the smallest coin of Palestinian currency, on account of the purchase, was sufficient to bind the bargain. The Gr. word was probably introduced by the Ph
See HOLY SPIRIT.
The Hebrew word was used generally for pledge,
and in its cognate forms for surety,
The Greek derivative, however, acquired a more technical sense as signifying the deposit paid by the purchaser on entering into an agreement for the purchase of anything. In the New Testament the word is used to signify the pledge or earnest of the superior blessings of the future life.