Ephesians 2:20
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

New Living Translation
Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.

English Standard Version
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

Berean Study Bible
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.

Berean Literal Bible
having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone,

New American Standard Bible
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,

King James Bible
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.

International Standard Version
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the Messiah Jesus himself being the cornerstone.

NET Bible
because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.

New Heart English Bible
being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone;

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And you are built up upon the foundation of the Apostles and of the Prophets, and he is The Head of The Corner of the building-Yeshua The Messiah.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone.

New American Standard 1977
having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,

Jubilee Bible 2000
and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone,

King James 2000 Bible
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone;

American King James Version
And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

American Standard Version
being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone;

Douay-Rheims Bible
Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone:

Darby Bible Translation
being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone,

English Revised Version
being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone;

Webster's Bible Translation
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone;

Weymouth New Testament
You are a building which has been reared on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, the cornerstone being Christ Jesus Himself,

World English Bible
being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone;

Young's Literal Translation
being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being chief corner -stone,
Study Bible
A Temple in the Lord
19Therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the saints and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. 21In Him the whole building is fitted together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord.…
Cross References
Psalm 118:22
The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.

Proverbs 9:1
Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars;

Isaiah 28:16
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

Zechariah 10:4
"From them will come the cornerstone, From them the tent peg, From them the bow of battle, From them every ruler, all of them together.

Matthew 16:18
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

Luke 20:17
But Jesus looked directly at them and said, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone' ?

1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

1 Corinthians 3:10
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise master builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds.

1 Corinthians 3:11
For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:28
And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, and those with gifts of healing, helping, administration, and various tongues.
Treasury of Scripture

And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

built.

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for …

1 Peter 2:4,5 To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but …

the foundation.

Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; …

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation …

Matthew 16:18 And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will …

1 Corinthians 3:9-11 For we are laborers together with God: you are God's husbandry, you …

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, …

Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived …

Revelation 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the …

Jesus.

Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation …

Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone …

Mark 12:10,11 And have you not read this scripture; The stone which the builders …

Luke 20:17,18 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, …

Acts 4:11,12 This is the stone which was set at nothing of you builders, which …

1 Peter 2:7,8 To you therefore which believe he is precious: but to them which …

(20-22) In these verses there is a sudden change from a political to a physical metaphor, possibly suggested by the word "household." The metaphor itself, of the Church as "a building of God"--frequently used in the New Testament--reaches its full perfection in this passage. (1) It starts, of course, from the words of our Lord (Matthew 16:18), "On this rock I will build my Church;" but in the use of it sometimes the prominent idea is of the growth by addition of individual stones, sometimes of the complex unity of the building as a whole. (2) The former idea naturally occurs first, connecting itself, indeed, with the still more personal application of the metaphor to the "edification" of the individual to be a temple of God (found, for example, in 1Thessalonians 5:11; 1Corinthians 8:1; 1Corinthians 10:23; 1Corinthians 14:4; 2Corinthians 5:1; 2Corinthians 10:8). Thus in 1Corinthians 3:9, from "ye are God's building," St. Paul passes at once to the building of individual character on the one foundation; in 1Corinthians 14:4-5; 1Corinthians 14:12; 1Corinthians 14:26, the edification of the Church has reference to the effect of prophecy on individual souls; in 1Peter 2:5, the emphasis is still on the building up of "living stones" upon "a living stone." (Comp. Acts 20:32.) (3) In this Epistle the other idea--the idea of unity--is always prominent, though not exclusive of the other (as here and in Ephesians 4:12-16). But that this conception of unity is less absolute than that conveyed by the metaphor of the body will be seen by noting that it differs from it in three respects; first, that it carries with it the notion of a more distinct individuality in each stone; next, that it conveys (as in the "graffing in" of Romans 11:17) the idea of continual growth by accretion of individual souls drawn to Christ; lastly, that it depicts the Church as having more completely a distinct, though not a separate, existence from Him who dwells in it. (On this last point compare the metaphor of the spouse of Christ in Ephesians 5:25-33.) Hence it is naturally worked out with greater completeness in an Epistle which has so especially for its object the evolution of the doctrine of "the one Holy Catholic Church."

(20) Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.--In spite of much ancient and valuable authority, it seems impossible to take "the prophets" of this verse to be the prophets of the Old Testament. The order of the two words and the comparison of Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11, appear to be decisive--to say nothing of the emphasis on the present, in contrast with the past, which runs through the whole chapter. But it is more difficult to determine in what sense "the foundation of the apostles and prophets" is used. Of the three possible senses, that (1) which makes it equivalent to "the foundation on which apostles and prophets are built," viz., Jesus Christ Himself, may be dismissed as taking away any special force from the passage, and as unsuitable to the next clause. The second (2), "the foundation laid by apostles and prophets--still, of course, Jesus Christ Himself--is rather forced, and equally fails to accord with the next clause, in which our Lord is not the foundation, but the corner-stone. The most natural interpretation (3), followed by most ancient authorities, which makes the apostles and prophets to be themselves "the foundation," has been put aside by modern commentators in the true feeling that ultimately there is but "one foundation" (1Corinthians 3:11), and in a consequent reluctance to apply that name to any but Him. But it is clear that in this passage St. Paul deliberately varies the metaphor in relation to our Lord, making Him not the foundation, or both foundation and corner-stone, but simply the corner-stone, "binding together," according to Chrysostom's instructive remark, "both the walls and the foundations." Hence the word "foundation" seems to be applied, in a true, although secondary sense, to the apostles and prophets; just as in the celebrated passage (Matthew 16:18) our Lord must be held at any rate to connect St. Peter with the foundation on which the Church is built; and as in Revelation 21:14, "the foundations" bear "the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." It is true that in this last passage we have the plural instead of the singular, and that the passage itself, is not, as this is, a dogmatic passage. But these considerations are insufficient to destroy the analogy. The genius therefore of this passage itself, supported by the other cognate passages, leads us to what may be granted to be an unexpected but a perfectly intelligible expression. The apostles and prophets are the foundation; yet, of course, only as setting forth in word and grace Him, who is the corner-stone.

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.--The metaphor is drawn, of course, from Psalm 118:22 (applied by our Lord to Himself in Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; and by St. Peter to Him in Acts 4:11), or from Isaiah 28:16 (quoted with the other passage in 1Peter 2:6-7); in which last it may be noted that both the metaphors are united, and "the tried corner-stone" is also "the sure foundation." In itself it does not convey so obvious an idea of uniqueness and importance as that suggested by the "key-stone" of an arch, or the "apex-stone" of a pyramid; but it appears to mean a massive corner-stone, in which the two lines of the wall at their foundation met, by which they were bonded together, and on the perfect squareness of which the true direction of the whole walls depended, since the slightest imperfection in the corner-stone would be indefinitely multiplied along the course of the walls. The doctrine which, if taken alone, it would convey, is simply the acceptance of our Lord's perfect teaching and life, as the one determining influence both of the teaching and institutions, which are the basis of the Church, and of the superstructure in the actual life of the members of the Church itself. By such acceptance both assume symmetry and "stand four-square to all the winds that blow." (See Revelation 21:16.) That this is not the whole truth seems to be implied by the variation from the metaphor in the next verse.

Verse 20. - Being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. A new figure, the third here introduced to denote the change - that of a temple, of which Christians are stones. There is no contrast in form in this figure, as in the other two; it just expresses directly the privilege attained. There is a real contrast, however, between the first three and the last three verses of the chapter - the lowest degradation expressed in the one, the highest elevation in the ether. Observe, the apostle passes, by association of ideas, from the household (ver. 19) to the house (ver. 20), from the domestics to the stones; but by a bold figure he gives life to the stones, otherwise we might be in the same region of lifelessness as in yore. 1-3. Two questions arise here.

1. About this foundation - In what sense is it "of the apostles and prophets"? Certainly not in the sense that they constituted the foundation; for, though this might be warranted grammatically, it would be untrue: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). The best meaning seems to be, the foundation which the apostles and prophets laid, which they used for themselves and announced for others. But what was this foundation? Substantially that of 1 Corinthians 3:11; but the mention of Christ as chief Corner-stone at the end of the verse might at first seem to indicate that something different was meant by the foundation. But it is impossible to propose any suitable interpretation which would not make Christ the Foundation too.

2. Who are the prophets? We might naturally suppose the Old Testament prophets, but in that case they would probably have been mentioned before the apostles. In other passages of this Epistle "apostles and prophets" denote New Testament officers (Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11), and it is most suitable to regard that as the meaning. It was the privilege of the Ephesians to use the foundation on which stood the two highest bodies of officers in the new dispensation - the apostles and prophets; nothing better could be found. Jesus Christ himself being the chief Cornerstone. Not as opposed to the foundation, but in addition thereto. Jesus is really both, but there is a reason for specifying him as the chief Cornerstone; comp. Psalm 118:21, "The stone which the builders rejected is become the headstone of the corner;" i.e. the stone which, being placed in the corner, determined the lines of the whole building. The idea of foundation is that of support; the idea of the chief cornerstone is that of regulation, pattern-hood, producing assimilation. Jesus is not only the Origin, Foundation, Support of the Church, but he gives it its shape and form, he determines the place and the office of each stone, he gives life and character to each member. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,.... The prophets of the Old Testament, and the apostles of the New, who agree in laying ministerially the one and only foundation, Jesus Christ; for not the persons of the apostles and prophets, nor their doctrines merely, are here meant; but Christ who is contained in them, and who is the foundation on which the church, and all true believers are built: he is the foundation of the covenant of grace, of all the blessings and promises of it, of faith and hope, of peace, joy, and comfort, of salvation and eternal happiness; on this foundation the saints are built by Father, Son, and Spirit, as the efficient causes, and by the ministers of the Gospel as instruments: these lie in the same common quarry with the rest of mankind, and are singled out from thence by efficacious grace; they are broken and hewn by the word and ministers of it, as means; and are ministerially laid on Christ the foundation, and are built up thereon in faith and holiness; yea, private Christians are useful this way to build up one another:

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; which cements and knits together angels and men, Jews and Gentiles, Old and New Testament saints, saints above, and saints below, saints on earth, in all ages and places, and of every denomination; and which is the beauty and glory, as well as the strength of the building, which keeps all together; and Christ is the chief, the headstone of the corner, and who is superior to angels and men. This phrase is used by the Jews to denote excellency in a person; so a wise scholar is called , "a cornerstone"; (i) see Psalm 118:22. It may be rendered, "the chief cornering-stone"; it being such an one that is a foundation stone, as well as a cornerstone; and reached unto, and lay at the bottom of, and supported the four corners of the building; for the foundation and corner stone in this spiritual building, is one and the same stone, Christ: it is said of the temple of Latona, at Buto, in Egypt, that it was made, "of one stone", as Herodotus (k) an eyewitness of it, attests.

(i) Abot R. Nathan, c. 28. (k) Euterpe, c. 155. 20. Translate as Greek, "Built up upon," etc. (participle; having been built up upon; omit, therefore, "and are"). Compare 1Co 3:11, 12. The same image in Eph 3:18, recurs in his address to the Ephesian elders (Ac 20:32), and in his Epistle to Timothy at Ephesus (1Ti 3:15; 2Ti 2:19), naturally suggested by the splendid architecture of Diana's temple; the glory of the Christian temple is eternal and real, not mere idolatrous gaud. The image of a building is appropriate also to the Jew-Christians; as the temple at Jerusalem was the stronghold of Judaism; as Diana's temple, of paganism.

foundation of the apostles, etc.—that is, upon their ministry and living example (compare Mt 16:18). Christ Himself, the only true Foundation, was the grand subject of their ministry, and spring of their life. As one with Him and His fellow workers, they, too, in a secondary sense, are called "foundations" (Re 21:14). The "prophets" are joined with them closely; for the expression is here not "foundations of the apostles and the prophets," but "foundations of the apostles and prophets." For the doctrine of both was essentially one (1Pe 1:10, 11; Re 19:10). The apostles take the precedency (Lu 10:24). Thus he appropriately shows regard to the claims of the Jews and Gentiles: "the prophets" representing the old Jewish dispensation, "the apostles" the new. The "prophets" of the new also are included. Bengel and Alford refer the meaning solely to these (Eph 3:5; 4:11). These passages imply, I think, that the New Testament prophets are not excluded; but the apostle's plain reference to Ps 118:22, "the head stone of the corner," proves that the Old Testament prophets are a prominent thought. David is called a "prophet" in Ac 2:30. Compare also Isa 28:16; another prophet present to the mind of Paul, which prophecy leans on the earlier one of Jacob (Ge 49:24). The sense of the context, too, suits this: Ye were once aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (in the time of her Old Testament prophets), but now ye are members of the true Israel, built upon the foundation of her New Testament apostles and Old Testament prophets. Paul continually identifies his teaching with that of Israel's old prophets (Ac 26:22; 28:23). The costly foundation-stones of the temple (1Ki 5:17) typified the same truth (compare Jer 51:26). The same stone is at once the corner-stone and the foundation-stone on which the whole building rests. Paul supposes a stone or rock so large and so fashioned as to be both at once; supporting the whole as the foundation, and in part rising up at the extremities, so as to admit of the side walls meeting in it, and being united in it as the corner-stone [Zanchius]. As the corner-stone, it is conspicuous, as was Christ (1Pe 2:6), and coming in men's way may be stumbled over, as the Jews did at Christ (Mt 21:42; 1Pe 2:7).2:19-22 The church is compared to a city, and every converted sinner is free of it. It is also compared to a house, and every converted sinner is one of the family; a servant, and a child in God's house. The church is also compared to a building, founded on the doctrine of Christ; delivered by the prophets of the Old Testament, and the apostles of the New. God dwells in all believers now; they become the temple of God through the working of the blessed Spirit. Let us then ask if our hopes are fixed on Christ, according to the doctrine of his word? Have we devoted ourselves as holy temples to God through him? Are we habitations of God by the Spirit, are we spiritually-minded, and do we bring forth the fruits of the Spirit? Let us take heed not to grieve the holy Comforter. Let us desire his gracious presence, and his influences upon our hearts. Let us seek to discharge the duties allotted to us, to the glory of God.
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