Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:'ΠΡΟΣ ΕΦΕΣΙΟΥΣ
Chap. 1:1, 2.] Address and greeting.
1.] χρ. Ἰησ., as in the case of δοῦλος Ἰησ. χρ., seems rather to denote possession, than to belong to ἀπόστολος and designate the person from whom sent.
διὰ θελ. θεοῦ] See on 1Corinthians 1:1. As these words there have a special reference, and the corresponding ones in Galatians 1:1 also, so it is natural to suppose that here he has in his mind, hardly perhaps the especial subject of vv. 3-11, the will of the Father as the ground of the election of the church, but, which is more likely in a general introduction to the whole Epistle, the great subject of which he is about to treat, and himself as the authorized expositor of it.
τ. οὖσιν ἐν Ἐφ.] On this, and on Ephesus, see Prolegomena. On ἁγίοις, see Ellicott’s note. It is used here in its widest sense, as designating the members of Christ’s visible Church, presumed to fulfil the conditions of that membership: cf. especially ch. 5:3.
καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν χ. Ἰ.] These words follow rather unusually, separated from τ. ἁγ. by the designation of abode: a circumstance which might seem to strengthen the suspicion against ἐν Ἐφέσῳ, were not such transpositions by no means unexampled in St. Paul. See the regular order in Colossians 1:2. The omission of the article before πιστ. shews that the same persons are designated by both adjectives. Its insertion would not, however, prove the contrary.
ἐν χρ. Ἰησ. belongs only to πιστοῖς: see Colossians 1:2: faithful, i.e. believers, in (but ἐν does not belong to πιστός, as it often does to πιστεύω: see also Colossians 1:4) Christ Jesus. This, in its highest sense, ‘qui fidem præstant,’ not mere truth, or faithfulness, is imported: see reff. The ἁγίοις and πιστοῖς denote their spiritual life from its two sides—that of God who calls and sanctifies,—that of themselves who believe. So Bengel, ‘Dei est, sanctificare nos et sibi asserere; nostrum, ex Dei munere, credere.’ Stier remarks that by πιστ. ἐν χ. Ἰ.,—ἁγίοις gets its only full and N. T. meaning. He also notices in these expressions already a trace of the two great divisions of the Epistle—God’s grace towards us, and our faith towards Him.
The Socinian perversion of the words, ‘from God, who is the Father of us and of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ is decisively refuted by Titus 1:4, not to mention that nothing but the grossest ignorance of St. Paul’s spirit could ever allow such a meaning to be thought of. We must not fall into the error of refining too much, as Stier, on χάρις and εἰρήνη, as referring respectively to ἁγίοις and πιστοῖς: see above, where these last epithets do not occur.
3-3:21.] FIRST PORTION OF THE EPISTLE: THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. And herein, 1:3-23.] Ground and origin of the church, in the Father’s counsel, and His act in Christ, by the Spirit. And herein again, (A) the preliminary idea of the Church, set forth in the form of an ascription of praise vv 3-14:—thus arranged:—vv. 3-6] The Father, in his eternal Love, has chosen us to holiness (ver. 4),—ordained us to sonship (ver. 5),—bestowed grace on us in the Beloved (ver. 6):—vv. 7-12] In the Son, we have,—redemption according to the riches of His grace (ver. 7), knowledge of the mystery of His will (vv. 8, 9),—inheritance under Him the one Head (vv. 10-12):—vv. 13, 14] through the Spirit we are sealed,—by hearing the word of salvation (ver. 13),—by receiving the earnest of our inheritance (ver. 14),—to the redemption of the purchased possession (ib.).
3.] Blessed (see note on Romans 9:5. Understand εἴη (Job 1:21; Psalm 112:2; or ἔστω, 2Chronicles 9:8. Ellicott)—‘Be He praised.’ See a similar doxology, 2Corinthians 1:3. Almost all St. Paul’s Epistles begin with some ascription of praise. That to Titus is the only exception (not Gal.: cf. Galatians 1:5). See also 1Peter 1:3) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 15:6; 2Corinthians 1:3; 2Corinthians 11:31; Colossians 1:3—also 1Corinthians 15:24. Such is the simplest and most forcible sense of the words—as Thl., ἰδοὺ κ. θεὸς κ. πατὴρ τοῦ αὐτοῦ κ. ἑνὸς χριστοῦ· θεὸς μέν, ὡς σαρκωθέντος· πατὴρ δέ, ὡς θεοῦ λόγου. See John 20:17, from which saying of our Lord it is not improbable that the expression took its rise. Meyer maintains, ‘God who is also the Father of …:’ on the ground that only πατήρ, not θεός, requires a genitive supplied. But we may fairly reply that, if we come to strictness of construction, his meaning would require ὁ θεός, ὁ καὶ πατήρ. Harless’s objection, that on our rendering it must be ὁ θεός τε καὶ π., is well answered by Meyer from 1Peter 2:25, τὸν ποιμένα κ. ἐπίσκοπον τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν. Ellicott prefers Meyer’s view, but pronounces the other both grammatically and doctrinally tenable), who blessed (aor.: not ‘hath blessed:’ the historical fact in the counsels of the Father being thought of throughout the sentence. εὐλογητός—εὐλογήσας—εὐλογία—such was the ground-tone of the new covenant. As in creation God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply,’—so in redemption,—at the introduction of the covenant, “all families of the earth shall be blessed,”—at its completion,—“Come ye blessed of my Father.”
But God’s blessing is in facts—ours in words only) us (whom? not the Apostle only: nor Paul and his fellow-Apostles:—but, all Christians—all the members of Christ. The καὶ ὑμεῖς of ver. 13 perfectly agrees with this: see there: but the κἀγώ of ver. 15 does not agree with the other views) in (instrumental or medial: the element in which, and means by which, the blessing is imparted) all (i.e. all possible—all, exhaustive, in all richness and fulness of blessing: cf. ver. 23 note) blessing of the Spirit (not merely, ‘spiritual (inward) blessing:’ πνευματικός in the N. T. always implies the working of the Holy Spirit, never bearing merely our modern inaccurate sense of spiritual as opposed to bodily. See 1Corinthians 9:11, which has been thus misunderstood) in the heavenly places (so the expression, which occurs five times in this Epistle (see reff.), and no where else, can only mean: cf. ver. 20. It is not probable that St. Paul should have chosen an unusual expression for the purposes of this Epistle, and then used it in several different senses. Besides, as Harless remarks, the preposition ἐπί in composition with adjectives gives usually a local sense: e.g. in ἐπίγειος, ἐπιχθόνιος, ἐπουράνιος, as compared with γήϊνος, χθόνιος, οὐράνιος. Chrys., al., would understand it ‘heavenly blessings,’ in which case the Apostle would hardly have failed to add χαρίσμασιν, or ἀγαθοῖς, or the like.
But, with the above rendering, what is the sense? Our country, πολίτευμα, is in heaven, Philippians 3:20: there our High Priest stands, blessing us. There are our treasures, Matthew 6:20, Matthew 6:21, and our affections to be, Colossians 3:1 ff.: there our hope is laid up, Colossians 1:5: our inheritance is reserved for us, 1Peter 1:4. And there, in that place, and belonging to that state, is the εὐλογία, the gift of the Spirit, Hebrews 6:4, poured out on those who τὰ ἄνω φρονοῦσιν. Materially, we are yet in the body: but in the Spirit, we are in heaven—only waiting for the redemption of the body to be entirely and literally there.
I may once for all premise, that it will be impossible, in the limits of these notes, to give even a synopsis of the various opinions on the rich fulness of doctrinal expressions in this Epistle. I must state in each case that which appears to me best to suit the context, and those variations which must necessarily be mentioned, referring to such copious commentaries as Harless or Stier for further statement) in Christ (“the threefold ἐν after εὐλογήσας, has a meaning ever deeper and more precise: and should therefore be kept in translating. The blessing with which God has blessed us, consists and expands itself in all blessing of the Spirit—then brings in Heaven, the heavenly state in us, and us in it—then finally, Christ, personally, He Himself, who is set and exalted into Heaven, comes by the Spirit down into us, so that He is in us and we in Him of a truth, and thereby, and in so far, we are with Him in heaven.” Stier).
4.] According as (καθώς explains and expands the foregoing—shewing wherein the εὐλογία consists as regards us, and God’s working towards us. Notice, that whereas ver. 3 has summarily included in the work of blessing the Three Persons, the Father bestowing the Spirit in Christ,—now the threefold cord, so to speak, is unwrapped, and the part of each divine Person separately described: cf. argument above) He selected us (reff. I render selected, in preference to elected, as better giving the middle sense,—‘chose for himself,’—and the ἐξ, that it is a choosing out of the world. The word (ref. Deut.) is an O. T. word, and refers to the spiritual Israel, as it did to God’s elect Israel of old. But there is no contrast between their election and ours: it has been but one election throughout—an election in Christ, and to holiness on God’s side—and involving accession to God’s people (cf. πιστεύσαντες, ver. 13, and εἴγε ἐπιμένετε τῇ πίστει, Colossians 1:23) on ours. See Ellicott’s note on the word, and some excellent remarks in Stier, p. 62, on the divine and human sides of the doctrine of election as put forward in this Epistle) in Him (i.e. in Christ, as the second Adam (1Corinthians 15:22), the righteous Head of our race. In Him, in one wide sense, were all mankind elected, inasmuch as He took their flesh and blood, and redeemed them, and represents them before the Father: but in the proper and final sense, this can be said only of His faithful ones, His Church, who are incorporated in Him by the Spirit. But in any sense, all God’s election is in Him only) before the foundation of the world (πρὸ κατ. κ. only here in St. Paul: we have ἀπὸ κατ. κ. in Hebrews 4:3; his expressions elsewhere are πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, 1Corinthians 2:7,—ἀπὸ τ. αἰ., Ephesians 3:9. Colossians 1:26,—πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, 2Timothy 1:9,—χρόνοις αἰωνίοις, Romans 16:25,—ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, 2Thessalonians 2:13.
Stier remarks on the necessary connexion of the true doctrines of creation and redemption: how utterly irreconcilable pantheism is with this, God’s election before laying the foundation of the world, of His people in His Son), that we should be (infinitive of the purpose, see Winer, edn. 3, p. 267, § 45. 3. (In edn. 6, the treatment of the inf. of the purpose without the art. τοῦ, seems to have been inadvertently omitted.) The Apostle seems to have Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2, before his mind; in both which places the same construction occurs) holy and blameless (the positive and negative sides of the Christian character—ἅγιοι, of the general positive category,—ἄμωμοι, of the non-existence of any exception to it. So Plut. Pericl., p. 173 (Mey.), βίος καθαρὸς κ. ἀμίαντος. This holiness and unblamableness must not be understood of that justification by faith by which the sinner stands accepted before God: it is distinctly put forth here (see also ch. 5:27) as an ultimate result as regards us, and refers to that sanctification which follows on justification by faith, and which is the will of God respecting us, 1Thessalonians 4:7. See Stier’s remarks against Harless, p. 71) before Him (i.e. in the deepest verity of our being—throughly penetrated by the Spirit of holiness, bearing His searching eye, ch. 5:27: but at the same time implying an especial nearness to His presence and dearness to Him—and bearing a foretaste of the time when the elect shall be ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ, Revelation 7:15. Cf. Colossians 1:22, note) in love. There is considerable dispute as to the position and reference of these words. Three different ways are taken. (1) Œcum., &c., join them with ἐξελέξατο. I do not see, with most Commentators, the extreme improbability of the qualifying clause following the verb after so long an interval, when we take into account the studied solemnity of the passage, and remember that ἐν χριστῷ in the last verse was separated nearly as far from its verb εὐλογήσας. My objection to this view is of a deeper kind: see below. (2) The Syr., Chrys., Thdrt., Thl., Bengel, Lachm., Harless, Olsh., Mey., De W., Stier, Ellic., all., join them with προορίσας in the following verse. To this, in spite of all that has been so well said in its behalf, there is an objection which seems to me insuperable. It is, that in the whole construction of this long sentence, the verbs and participles, as natural in a solemn emphatic enumeration of God’s dealings with His people, precede their qualifying clauses: e.g. εὐλογήσας ver. 3, ἐξελέξατο ver. 4, ἐχαρίτωσεν ver. 6, ἐπερίσσευσεν ver. 8, γνωρίσας ver. 9, προέθετο ib., ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι ver. 10. In no one case, except the necessary one of a relative qualification (ἧς ver. 6, and again ver. 8), does the verb follow its qualifying clause: and for this reason, that the verbs themselves are emphatic, and not the conditions under which they subsist. “Blessed be God who did all this, &c.” He may have fore-ordained, and did fore-ordain, in love: and this is implied in what follows, from κατὰ τ. εὐδ. to ἠγαπημένῳ: but the point brought out, as that for which we are to bless Him, is not that in love He fore-ordained us, but the fact of that fore-ordination itself: not His attribute, but His act. It is evidently no answer to this, to bring forward sentences elsewhere in which ἐν ἀγάπῃ stands first, such as ch. 3:18, where the spirit of the passage is different. (3) The vulg., Ambrst., Erasm., Luth., Castal., Beza, Calvin, Grot., all., join them, as in the text, with εἶναι … ἀμώμους κατ. αὐτοῦ. This has been strongly impugned by the last-mentioned set of Commentators: mainly on the ground that the addition of ἐν ἀγάπῃ to ἁγ. κ. ἀμώμ. κατ. αὐτοῦ, is ungrammatical,—is flat and superfluous,—and that in neither ch. 5:27, nor Colossians 1:22, have these adjectives any such qualification. But in answer, I would submit, that in the first place, as against the construction of ἐν ἁγ. with ἀμώμ., the objection is quite futile, for our arrangement does not thus construct it, but adds it as a qualifying clause to the whole εἶναι … αὐτοῦ. Next, I hold the qualification to be in the highest degree solemn and appropriate. ἀγάπη, that which man lost at the Fall, but which God is, and to which God restores man by redemption, is the great element in which, as in their abode and breathing-place, all Christian graces subsist, and in which, emphatically, all perfection before God must be found. And so, when the Apostle, ch. 4:16, is describing the glorious building up of the body, the Church, he speaks of its increasing εἰς οἰκοδομὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ. And it is his practice, in this and the parallel Epistle, to add ἐν ἀγάπῃ as the completion of the idea of Christian holiness—cf. ch. 3:18; Colossians 2:2, also ch. 4:2; 5:2. With regard to the last objection,—in both the places cited, the adjectives are connected with the verb παραστῆσαι, expressed therefore in the abstract as the ultimate result of sanctification in the sight of the Father, not, as here, referring to the state of sanctification, as consisting and subsisting in love.
5.] Having predestined us (subordinate to the ἐξελέξατο: see Romans 8:29, Romans 8:30, where the steps are thus laid down in succession;—οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισεν—οὓς προώρισεν, τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν. Now the ἐκλογή must answer in this rank to the προέγνω, and precede the προώρισεν. Stier remarks well, “In God, indeed, all is one; but for our anthropomorphic way of speaking and treating, which is necessary to us, there follows on His first decree to adopt and to sanctify, the nearer decision, how and by what this shall be brought about, because it could only be thus brought about.” προ,—as Pelagius (in Harless),—“ad eos refertur qui antea non fuerunt, et priusquam fierent, de his cogitatum est et postea substiterunt”) unto adoption (so that we should become His sons, in the blessed sense of being reconciled to Him and having a place in His spiritual family,—should have the remission of our sins, the pledge of the Spirit, the assurance of the inheritance) through Jesus Christ (the Son of God, in and by whom, elementally and instrumentally, our adoption consists, cf. Romans 8:29, προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τ. υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς) to Him (the Father: see Colossians 1:20, διʼ αὐτοῦ (Christ) ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν (the Father). So Thdrt., all., Harl., Olsh., Meyer, Stier: and rightly, for the Son could not be in this sentence the terminus ultimus (the whole reference being to the work and purpose of the Father); and had this been intended, as Harl. remarks, we must have had καὶ εἰς αὐτόν. De W., who, after Anselm, Tho.-Aq., Castal., all., refers it to the Son, fails to answer this objection of Harl.’s. But now arise two questions: (1) the meaning. Does it merely represent ἑαυτῷ, a dativus commodi? So Grot., al., but it cannot be, after the insertion of the special διὰ Ἰ. χ., that the sentence should again return to the general purpose. It seems much better, to join it with διὰ Ἰ. χ. as in Colossians 1:20, above: and so Harl., but too indefinitely, taking it only as a phrase common with the Apostle and not giving its full import. As in Colossians 1:20, the εἰς αὐτόν, though thus intimately connected with διʼ αὐτοῦ, depends on ἀποκαταλλάξαι, so here it must depend on υἱοθεσίαν, and its import must be ‘to (into) Himself,’—i.e. so that we should be partakers of the divine nature: cf. 2Peter 1:4. (2) Should we read αὐτόν or αὑτόν? It will depend on whether we refer this clause, from διὰ to κατά, to the Father as its subject, or consider it as a continuation of the Apostle’s thanksgiving. And the latter is much the most likely; for had the former been the case, we should probably have had, instead of διὰ Ἰησ. χριστοῦ, διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰ. χρ., so that reference to the Father might still be kept up. I decide therefore for αὐτόν, as Thdrt. certainly read, or his remark, τὸ δὲ εἰς αὐτόν, τὸν πατέρα λέγει, would have been needless. And so Erasm., Wetst., Lachm., Harl., Olsh., Meyer. Then αὐτοῦ in ver. 6 naturally takes it up again) according to (in pursuance of) the good pleasure (it is disputed whether εὐδοκία has here merely this general meaning of beneplacitum, or that of benevolentia. Harl. (see also Ellicott) examines thoroughly the use of the word by the LXX, and decides in favour of the latter, alleging especially, that a mere assertion of doctrine would be out of place in an ascription of thanksgiving. But surely this is a most unfortunate position. The facts on which doctrines rest are here the very subjects of the Apostle’s thanksgiving: and the strict parallels of Matthew 11:26, Luke 10:21, should have kept him from adducing it. Granting, as we must, both senses to εὐδοκεῖν and εὐδοκία, the context must in each case determine which is meant. And its testimony here is clear. It is, as De W. remarks, not in προωρισμένοι, but in προορίσας, that the object, to which εὐδοκία refers, is to be sought: and the subsequent recurrences to the same idea in ver. 9 and ver. 11 point out that it is not the Father’s benevolentia, but His beneplacitum, which is in the Apostle’s mind. And so Meyer, De W., Stier, and Ellic. This beneplacitum was benevolentia, ver. 6; but that does not affect the question. See, besides Harl., a long note in Fritz. on Rom_2. p. 369) of His will,
6.] to (with a view to, as the purpose of the predestination) the praise (by men and angels—all that can praise) of the glory of His grace (beware of the miserable hendiadys, ‘His glorious grace,’ by which all the richness and depth of meaning are lost. The end, God’s end, in our predestination to adoption, is, that the glory,—glorious nature, brightness and majesty, and kindliness and beauty,—of His grace might be an object of men and angels’ praise: both as it is in Him, ineffable and infinite,—and exemplified in us, its objects; see below, ver. 12. “Owing to the defining genitive, the article (before δόξης) is not indispensable: see Winer, edn. 6, § 19. 2, b: compare Madvig, Synt. § 10. 2.” Ellic.) which (there is some difficulty in deciding between the readings, ἐν ᾗ, and ἧς. The former would be the most naturally substituted for an attraction found difficult: and the existence of ᾗ, as a reading, seems to point this way. The latter, on the other hand, might perhaps be written by a transcriber carelessly, χάριτος having just preceded. But I own this does not seem to me very probable. A relative following a substantive, is as often in a different case, as in the same: and there could be no temptation to a transcriber to write ἧς here, which could hardly occur at all unless by attraction, a construction to which transcribers certainly were not prone. I therefore, with Lachm., Mey., Rück., al., adopt ἧς. Considerations of the exigencies of the sense, alleged by Harl., al., do not come into play unless where external authorities are balanced (which is the case here), and probabilities of alteration also (which is not) He bestowed upon us (the meaning of χαριτόω is disputed. The double meaning of χάρις,—favour, grace bestowed, and that which ensures favour, viz. grace inherent, beauty,—has been supposed to give a double meaning to the verb also,—to confer grace, and to render gracious, or beautiful, or acceptable. And this latter sense is adopted, here and in Luke 1:28 (where see note), by many,—e.g. by Chrys., τουτέστιν, οὐ μόνον ἁμαρτημάτων ἀπήλλαξεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπεράστους ἐποίησε,—Erasm., Luth., all. But the meaning of χάρις, on which this is founded, does not seem to occur in the N. T., certainly not in St. Paul. And χαριτόω, both here and in I. c., according to the analogy of such verbs, will be ‘to bestow grace.’ Another reason for this sense is the indefinite aorist, referring to an act of God once past in Christ, not to an abiding state which He has brought about in us. This, as usual, has been almost universally overlooked, and the perfect sense given. Another still is, the requirement of the context. Harl. well remarks, that, according to the sense ‘bestowed grace,’ ver. 7 is the natural answer to the question, ‘How hath He bestowed grace?’ whereas, on the other rendering, it has only a mediate connexion with this verse. Stier would unite both meanings; but surely this is impossible. The becoming χαρίεντες may be a consequence of being κεχαριτωμένοι, but must be quite independent of its verbal meaning. Conyb. remarks that it may be literally rendered ‘His favour, wherewith He favoured us:’ but ‘favour’ would not reach deep enough for the sense) in (see above on ἐν χριστῷ, ver. 3. Christ is our Head and including Representative) the Beloved (i.e. Christ: = υἱὸς τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ, Colossians 1:13. He is God’s ἠγαπημένος κατʼ ἐξοχήν,—cf. Matthew 3:17; John 3:16; 1John 4:9-11).
7.] Now the Apostle passes, with ἐν ᾧ, to the consideration of the ground of the church in the Son (7-12): see the synopsis above. But the Father still continues the great subject of the whole;—only the reference is now to the Son. In whom (see on ἐν χρ. ver. 3—cf. Romans 3:24) We have (objective—‘there is for us.’ But not without a subjective implied import, as spoken of those who truly have it—have laid hold of it: “are ever needing and ever having it,” Eadie) the Redemption (from God’s wrath—or rather from that which brought us under God’s wrath, the guilt and power of sin, Matthew 1:21. The article expresses notoriety—‘of which we all know,’—‘of which the law testified, and the prophets spoke’) through (as the instrument:—a further fixing of the ἐν ᾧ) His blood (which was the price paid for that redemption, Acts 20:28; 1Corinthians 6:20; both the ultimate climax of His obedience for us, Philippians 2:8, and, which is most in view here,—the propitiation, in our nature, for the sin of the world, Romans 3:25; Colossians 1:20. It is a noteworthy observation of Harless here, that the choice of the word, the Blood of Christ, is of itself a testimony to the idea of expiation having been in the writer’s mind. Not the death of the victim, but its blood, was the typical instrument of expiation. And I may notice that in Philippians 2:8, where Christ’s obedience, not His atonement, is spoken of, there is no mention of His shedding His Blood, only of the act of His Death), the remission (not “overlooking” (πάρεσιν); see note on Romans 3:25) of (our) transgressions (explanation of τ. ἀπολύτρωσιν: not to be limited, but extending to all riddance from the practice and consequences of our transgressions: at least equipollent with ἀπολύτρωσιν:—so Thdrt., διʼ ἐκείνου γὰρ τὰς τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων ἀποθέμενοι κηλῖδας, κ. τῆς τοῦ τυράννου δουλείας ἀπαλλαγέντες, τοὺς τῆς εἰκόνος τῆς θείας ἀπελάβομεν χαρακτῆρας. This against Harless), according to the riches (Ellic. compares Plato, Euthyphr. 12 a, τρυφᾷς ὑπὸ πλούτου τῆς σοφίας) of His grace (this alone would prevent ἄφεσις applying to merely the forgiveness of sins. As Passavant (in Stier), “We have in this grace not only redemption from misery and wrath, not only forgiveness,—but we find in it the liberty, the glory, the inheritance of the children of God,—the crown of eternal life: cf. 2Corinthians 8:9”),
8.] which he shed abundantly (‘caused to abound:’ ἀφθόνως ἐξέχεε, Thl.: Thdrt. has the same idea, ἀναβλύζει γὰρ τὰς τοῦ ἐλέους πηγάς, κ. τούτοις ἡμᾶς περικλύζει τοῖς ῥεύμασιν. The E. V. is wrong, ‘wherein He hath abounded:’ no such construction of attraction of a dative being found in the N. T. Calvin and Beza would take ἧς not as an attraction, but as the genitive after ἐπερίσ. as in Luke 15:17, ‘of which He was full, &c.’ But this does not agree well with the γνωρίσας, &c. below. As little can the ‘quæ superabundavit’ of the Vulg. (and Syr.) stand: the attraction of the nominative being scarcely possible, and this being still more inconsistent with γνωρίσας) forth to us in all (possible) wisdom and prudence (with E. V., De Wette, &c., I would refer these words to God. On the other hand, Harless (with whom are Olsh., Stier, Ellic., al.) maintains, that neither πάσῃ nor φρονήσει will allow this. “πᾶς,” he says, “never = summus,—never betokens the intension, but only the extension, never the power, but the frequency,—and answers to our ‘every,’ i.e. all possible;—so that, when joined to abstracts, it presents them to us as concrete: πᾶσα δύναμις, ‘every power that we know of,’ ‘that exists;’—πᾶσα ὑπομονή, every kind of endurance that we know of;—πᾶσα εὐσέβεια, &c. Now it is allowable enough, to put together all excellences of one species, and allege them as the motive of a human act, because we can conceive of men as wanting in any or all of them: but not so with God, of whom the Apostle, and all of us, conceive as the Essence of all perfection. We may say of God, ‘in Him is all wisdom,’ but not, ‘He did this or that in all wisdom.’ ” “Again,” he continues, “φρόνησις cannot be ascribed to God.” And this he maintains,—not by adopting the view of Wolf, al., that it is practical knowledge, which suits neither the context nor usage,—nor that of Anselm, Bengel, al., that σοφ. is ‘de præsentibus,’ φρον. ‘de futuris,’—but by understanding σοφία of the normal collective state of the spirit, with reference especially to the intelligence, which last is expressed according to its various sides, by the words so often found conjoined with σοφία—σύνεσις, φρόνησις, γνῶσις. So that φρόνησις, as a one-sided result of σοφία, cannot be predicated of God, but only of men. According to this then, ἐν πάσ. σ. κ. φρ. must refer to that in the bestowal of which on us He hath made His grace to abound, so that we should thereby become σοφοὶ κ. φρόνιμοι:—as Olsh., ἵνα ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ κ. φρονήσει περιπατῶμεν. Chrys. joins the words with γνωρίσας, understanding them, however, of us, not of God: ἐν π. σοφ. κ. φρ., φησί, γνωρίσας ἡμ. τὸ μ. τ. θ. αὐτ.· τουτέστι, σοφοὺς κ. φρονίμους ποιήσας τὴν ὄντως σοφίας, τὴν ὄντως φρόνησιν. But see, on such arrangement, the note on ἐν ἀγάπῃ ver. 4.
Stier quotes from Passavant: “In the living knowledge of the thoughts and ways of God we first get a sure and clear light upon ourselves and our ways, a light cast from above upon the import and aim of this our earthly life in the sight of God and His eternity. Here is the true wisdom of the heart, the true prudence of life.” But against this view, De W. alleges, (1) that φρόνησις can be as well predicated of God as γνῶσις, Romans 11:33, and is actually thus predicated, Proverbs 3:19; Jeremiah 10:12 LXX, of His creative wisdom, which is analogous to His redemptive wisdom. (2) that God’s absolute wisdom is not here treated of, but His relative wisdom, as apparent in the use of means subservient to its end: so that ἐν πάσῃ would mean ‘in all wisdom thereto belonging,’ as Jer.: ‘Deus in omni sapientia sua atque prudentia, juxta quod consequi poterant, myst rium revelavit.’ And he compares ἡ πολυποίκιλος σοφία τ. θ. ch. 3:10.
These last arguments are weighty, as shewing the legitimacy of the application to God: but even beyond them is that which construction and usage furnish.
It would be hardly possible, did no other consideration intervene, to refer this ἑν π. σ. κ. φρ. to other than the subject of the sentence,—cf. ἧς ἐχαρ. ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπ. above. I therefore decide (still; after reconsideration of Ellicott’s note) for the application to God, not to us. It was in His manifold wisdom and prudence, manifested in all ways possible for us, that He poured out His grace upon us: and this wisdom and prudence was especially exemplified in that which follows, the notification to us of His hidden will, &c. In Colossians 1:9, the reference is clearly different: see note there), having made known (γνωρίσας is explicative of ἐπερίσσευσεν, just as προορίσας is of ἐξελέξατο above:—‘in that He made known.’ This ‘making known,’ is not merely the information of the understanding, but the revelation, in its fullness, to the heart) to us (not, the Apostles, but Christians in general, as throughout the passage) the mystery (reff. and Romans 16:25. St. Paul ever represents the redemptive counsel of God as a mystery, i.e. a design hidden in His counsels, until revealed to mankind in and by Christ. So that his use of μυστήρ. has nothing in common, except the facts of concealment and revelation, with the mysteries of the heathen world, nor with any secret tradition over and above the gospel as revealed in the Scriptures. All who vitally know that, i.e. all the Christian church are the initiated: and all who have the word, read or preached, may vitally know it. Only the world without, the unbelieving, are the uninitiated) of (objective genitive, ‘the material of which mystery was, &c.’) His will (that which He purposed), according to His good pleasure (belongs to γνωρίσας, and specifies it: not to θελήμ. (τοῦ κατὰ τ. ε. αὐ.): i.e. So that the revelation took place in a time and manner consonant to God’s eternal pleasure—viz. εἰς οἰκον., &c. On εὐδοκ., see above ver. 5) which He purposed (reff.) in Himself (ἐν αὐτῷ is read, and referred (1) to Christ, by Chrys. and the ff., Anselm, Bengel, Luther, all. But this is impossible, because ἐν τῷ χριστῷ is introduced with the proper name below, which certainly would not occur on the second mention after ἐν αὐτῷ, in the same reference: (2) to the Father, by Harless. But this is equally impossible. For αὐτῷ to refer to the subject of the sentence, we must have the mind of the reader removed one step from that subject by an intermediate idea supervening, as in κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ. Had this been κατὰ τ. πρόθεσιν αὐτοῦ, the reference would have been legitimate. But when, as here, no such idea intervenes,—ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὐτῷ—the subject is directly before the mind, and αὐτός, not being reflective but demonstrative, must point to some other person: who in this case can only be Christ. Our only resource then is to read αὑτῷ) in order to (belongs to προέθετο, not to γνωρίσας. Very many ancient Commentators and the Vulg. and E. V., take εἰς wrongly as = ἐν, by which the whole sense is confused. Hardly less confusing is the rendering of Erasm., Calv., Est., al., usque ad tempus dispensations, thereby introducing into προέθετο the complex idea of decreed and laid up, instead of the simple one which the context requires) the œconomy of the fulfilment of the seasons (after long and careful search, I am unable to find a word which will express the full meaning of οἰκονομια. The difficulty of doing so will be better seen below, after τὸ πλήρ. τῶν καιρ. has been dealt with. This expression is by ro means = τὸ πλ. τοῦ χρόνου in Galatians 4:4, nor to be equalized with it, as Harl. attempts to do, by saying that many καιροί.’ make up a χρόνος. The mistake which has misled almost all the Commentators here, and which as far as I know Stier has been the only one to expose, has been that of taking τὸ πλ. τῶν καιρῶν as a fixed terminus a quo, = the coming of Christ, as Galatians 4:4,—whereas usage, and the sense, determine it to mean, the whole duration of the Gospel times; cf. especially ch. 2:7, ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις: 1Corinthians 10:11, τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων, and Luke 21:24, καιροὶ ἐθνῶν, Acts 1:7; Acts 3:19, Acts 3:21; 1Timothy 2:6. Thus τὸ πλ. τ. καιρῶν will mean, the filling up, completing, fulfilment, of the appointed seasons, carrying on during the Gospel dispensation. Now, belonging to, carried on during, this fulfilling of the periods or seasons, is the οἰκονομία here spoken of. And, having regard to the derivation and usage of the word, it will mean, the giving forth of the Gospel under God’s providential arrangements. First and greatest of all, He is the οἰκονόμος: then, above all others, His divine Son: and as proceeding from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit—and then in subordinate degrees, every one who οἰκονομίαν πεπίστευται, i.e. all Christians, even to the lowest, as οἰκονόμοι ποικίλης χἀριτος θεοῦ, 1Peter 4:10. So that our best rendering will be, œconomy, leaving the word to be explained in teaching. The genitive καιρῶν is one of belonging or appurtenance as in κρίσις μεγάλης ἡμέρας, Jude 1:6), to sum up (the infinitive belongs to and specifies εὐδοκίαν;—ἣν … καιρῶν having been logically parenthetical,—and explains what that εὐδοκία was. The verb, here as in the only other place in the N. T. where it occurs (ref.), signifies to comprehend, gather together, sum up. As there the whole law is comprehended in one saying, so here all creation is comprehended, summed up, in Christ. But it can hardly be supposed that the ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι has express reference here to Him as the κεφαλή: for 1) this is not predicated of Him till below, ver. 22;—2) the verb is from κεφάλαιον, not from κεφαλή; so that such reference would be only a play on the word:—3) the compound verb, as here, is used in Rom. l. c. in the simple ordinary sense. The ἀνα-applies to the gathering of all individuals, not to any restoration (Syr., vulg., Olsh. (Ellic. in part), al.), in which τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς would have no share. See more below: and cf. the ║, Colossians 1:19, Colossians 1:20, and note there) all things (neuter, and to be literally so taken: not as a masculine, which, when a neuter is so understood, must be implied in the context, as in Galatians 3:22:—the whole creation, see Colossians 1:20) in the Christ (q. d., His Christ. The article is not expressed with χριστός after a preposition, unless with some such special meaning: see below ver. 12), the things in (lit. on; see below) the heavens (universal—not to be limited to the angels (Chrys., &c.), nor spirits of the just (Beza, al.), still less to be understood of the Jews, τὰ ἐπὶ τ. γῆς being the Gentiles (Locke, &c.). Chrys.’s words are so far true, μίαν κεφαλὴν ἅπασιν ἐπέθηκε τὸ κατὰ σάρκα χριστόν, κ. ἀγγέλοις κ. ἀνθρώποις· … τοῖς μὲν τὸ κατὰ σάρκα, τοῖς δὲ τὸν θεὸν λόγον—but the Apostle’s meaning extends much further. The rec. ἐν τ. οὐρ. seems to have been adopted from Colossians 1:20. There also ἐπί is read, but by L and a few mss. only, and evidently from our passage. The construction is a common one: cf. ἐπὶ χθονί Il. γ. 195, ἐπὶ πύλῃσι, ib. 149. It is strange to find in Ellicott a defence of the rec. ἐν, grounded on the fact that “ἐπί is never joined in the N. T. with οὐρανός or οὐρανοί, and that ἐν οὐρανῷ and ἐπὶ γῆς are invariably found in antithesis.” Such an argument would sweep away all ἅπαξ λεγόμενα of construction, and break down the significance of all exceptional usage) and the things on the earth (general, as before τὰ πάντα. All creation is summed up in Christ: it was all the result of the Love of the Father for the Son (see my Doctrine of Divine Love, Serm, i.), and in the Son it is all regarded by the Father. The vastly different relation to Christ of the different parts of creation, is no objection to this union in Him: it affects, as Beng. on Romans 8:19, “pro suo quodque genus captu.” The Church, of which the Apostle here mainly treats, is subordinated to Him in the highest degree of conscious and joyful union: those who are not His spiritually, in mere subjugation, yet consciously; the inferior tribes of creation, unconsciously: but objectively, all are summed up in Him