Ephesians 1:15
Why I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) After I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints.—These words have an almost exact parallel in Colossians 1:4, addressed there to a church which St. Paul had not seen, and have been quoted in support of the belief that this Epistle cannot have been addressed, properly and solely, to the well-known Ephesian Church. They are not, however, decisive, for we have a similar expression to Philemon (Philemon 1:5), St. Paul’s own convert.

We may note a distinction between “faith in the Lord Jesus” and “faith towards the Lord Jesus” (like “the love towards the saints”). Comp. 2Timothy 1:13 (“faith and love in Christ Jesus”). “Faith in Christ” is a faith which, centred in Christ, nevertheless rests through Him on the Father; recognising a “life hid with him in God” (Colossians 3:3) and a sonship of God in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). The connection of the two clauses here shows that such a faith abounds (i.e. overflows) unto love, first necessarily to God, so being made perfect (Galatians 5:6), but next towards all His children. For “this commandment we have from Him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also” (1John 4:21).

Ephesians 1:15-17. Wherefore, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus — That is, of your perseverance and increase therein. For the apostle’s manner of speaking does not imply that he received by report an account of their first believing in the Lord Jesus, and therefore that he wrote this epistle to them before he had been at Ephesus in person, or was personally acquainted with them. He wrote in the same terms to the Thessalonians, who were his converts, (1 Thessalonians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:6,) and to his convert Philemon, Ephesians 1:4-5. Therefore, as his saying that he heard of the faith and love of the Thessalonians and of Philemon, does not mean that he was ignorant of these things till they were reported to him, but only that he had heard of their persevering in the true faith of the gospel, and in their love to the saints; so the faith of the Ephesians, which he says he had heard of, was not their first faith, or their conversion to Christianity, but their continued and increasing faith, evidencing itself by the fruit here spoken of. Love unto all the saints — Namely, whether circumcised or uncircumcised. For, by praising the Ephesians for their love to all the saints, the apostle seems to intimate that they were free from that narrow, bigoted spirit, which prevailed in some other churches, where difference in opinion about the necessity of circumcision had interrupted love. I cease not — In all my solemn addresses to God; to give thanks for you — On account of your perseverance in the true faith of the gospel, and in your love to all Christ’s disciples; making mention of you in my prayers — So he did of all the churches, Colossians 1:9. That the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory — Of which he is eternally and immutably possessed; from whom all glory proceeds, and to whom it returns; and whose glory shines in the face of Christ his beloved Son; or, as the expression might have been rendered, the glorious Father; may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation — This Spirit, termed the Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13,) they had already received, in a great measure, for he had sealed them, as is there signified, and was an earnest of their inheritance in their hearts; but the apostle here prays that the same Spirit might be still more largely communicated to them, revealing more fully the deep things of God, and rendering them still more wise in all matters that concerned their own salvation, and the salvation of others. In the knowledge of him — Of Christ, of his person and offices, of his wonderful process in accomplishing the work of man’s redemption; of his humiliation and exaltation, his grace and glory, which he termed, (Php 3:8,) the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, for whom he had willingly suffered the loss of all things, and accounted them despicable, in comparison of this knowledge of him. Some commentators understand the clause as signifying the acknowledgment of him, namely, by professing faith in him and his gospel, whatever persecution such a profession might expose them to.1:15-23 God has laid up spiritual blessings for us in his Son the Lord Jesus; but requires us to draw them out and fetch them in by prayer. Even the best Christians need to be prayed for: and while we hear of the welfare of Christian friends, we should pray for them. Even true believers greatly want heavenly wisdom. Are not the best of us unwilling to come under God's yoke, though there is no other way to find rest for the soul? Do we not for a little pleasure often part with our peace? And if we dispute less, and prayed more with and for each other, we should daily see more and more what is the hope of our calling, and the riches of the Divine glory in this inheritance. It is desirable to feel the mighty power of Divine grace, beginning and carrying on the work of faith in our souls. But it is difficult to bring a soul to believe fully in Christ, and to venture its all, and the hope of eternal life, upon his righteousness. Nothing less than Almighty power will work this in us. Here is signified that it is Christ the Saviour, who supplies all the necessities of those who trust in him, and gives them all blessings in the richest abundance. And by being partakers of Christ himself, we come to be filled with the fulness of grace and glory in him. How then do those forget themselves who seek for righteousness out of him! This teaches us to come to Christ. And did we know what we are called to, and what we might find in him, surely we should come and be suitors to him. When feeling our weakness and the power of our enemies, we most perceive the greatness of that mighty power which effects the conversion of the believer, and is engaged to perfect his salvation. Surely this will constrain us by love to live to our Redeemer's glory.Wherefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus - This is one of the passages usually relied on by those who suppose that this Epistle was not written to the Ephesians. The argument is, that he writes to them as if they were strangers to him, and that it is not language such as would be used in addressing a people among whom he had spent three years; see the introduction, section 5. But this inference is not conclusive. Paul had been some years absent from Ephesus when this Epistle was written. In the difficult communication in those times between distant places, it is not to be supposed that he would hear often from them. Perhaps he had heard nothing after the time when he bade farewell to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus Acts 20, until the time here referred to. It would be, therefore, a matter of great interest with him to hear from them; and when in some way intelligence was brought to him at Rome of a very gratifying character about their growth in piety, he says that his anxiety was relieved, and that he did not cease to give thanks for what he had heard, and to commend them to God in prayer. 15. Wherefore—because ye are in Christ and sealed by His Spirit (Eph 1:13, 14).

I also—on my part, in return for God's so great benefits to you.

after I heard—ever since I have heard. Not implying that he had only heard of their conversion: an erroneous argument used by some against the address of this Epistle to the Ephesians (see on [2361]Eph 1:1); but referring to the report he had heard since he was with them, as to their Christian graces. So in the case of Philemon, his "beloved fellow laborer" (Phm 1), he uses the same words (Phm 4, 5).

your faith—rather, as Greek, "the faith among you," that is, which many (not all) of you have.

love unto all the saints—of whatever name, simply because they are saints. A distinguishing characteristic of true Christianity (Eph 6:24). "Faith and love he often joins together. A wondrous pair" [Chrysostom]. Hope is added, Eph 1:18.

After I heard; he was an eye-witness of their first believing, but here he speaks of their increase and constancy in the faith since, of which he had heard by others.

Of your faith in the Lord Jesus; i.e. not barely a belief of Christ’s excellencies, but a belief of his being their Saviour, their receiving and relying on him as such, and so a believing in him as the immediate object of their faith, and him by whom they believed in God, 1 Peter 1:21.

And love unto all the saints; this is added to show the truth of their faith, which works by love.

Love to the saints is mentioned, as an evidence of their love to God; and to all the saints to show the sincerity of that love, in its not being partial, but respecting all saints, and therefore saints as saints. Wherefore I also,.... As well as others:

after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus; who is the immediate object of faith, and a very proper and suitable one; having every thing in him that is agreeable to the case and circumstances of those that trust in him. And the grace of faith, which terminates on him, is a seeing him, a beholding the glory of his person, and the fulness of his grace; a going to him, and venturing on him; a laying hold upon him, and embracing of him; a committing all unto him, and a leaning and depending on him, and a living upon him, and a walking on in him.

And love unto all the saints: whether Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, greater or lesser believers, of meaner gifts, or larger abilities; and which love was unfeigned, fervent, active, and laborious; and which is the evidence of regeneration, and without which a profession is in vain. These two graces, faith and love, are inseparable; they always go together, and are to be found in the same persons; and where they are, they cannot be hid, as they were not in these Ephesians; their faith was professed by them, and was made public, and their love showed itself in deeds, as well as in words, to the saints: hence the apostle came to hear of them both, upon the certain relation of others; for these things were come abroad, and were talked of; See Gill on Colossians 1:3. See Gill on Colossians 1:4. See Gill on Plm 1:4. See Gill on Plm 1:5.

{17} Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

(17) He returns to the former account of the good received from God, concluding two things together about those things that went before: the first is that all good things come to us from God the Father in Christ, and by Christ, so that for them he may be praised by us. The second is, that all those things (which he brings to two heads, that is, faith and charity) are increased in us by certain degrees, so that we must desire an increase of his grace, from whom we have the beginning, and from whom we hope for the end.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 1:15.[109] Only now, after the general ascription of praise to God for the Christian economy of salvation, which had since Ephesians 1:3 flowed forth from him in an enraptured stream, does Paul reach that, with which he is wont on other occasions at once to begin—the thanksgiving to God for the Christian position of the readers, and intercession for them.

διὰ τοῦτο] has reference to Ephesians 1:13-14 : because this is the case, that ye too are in Christ and have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, etc. See already Theophylact. There is no reason for going farther back and referring it to the whole preceding development from Ephesians 1:3 onward (Harless, Winzer, Schenkel, and others, following Oecumenius), since thanksgiving and intercession have reference to the readers, and it is only Ephesians 1:13 that has led over to the latter.

κἀγώ] I also; for Paul knows that by his exercise of prayer, Ephesians 1:16, he is co-operating with the readers. Comp. on Colossians 1:9.

ἀκούσας] does not serve to prove that the Epistle could not have been written to the Ephesians, or not to them alone (see Introd. § 1); Grotius in fact has already aptly remarked: “Loquitur autem apostolus de profectu evangelii apud Ephesios, ex quo ipse ab illis discesserat.” Comp. Winzer, p. 5; Wiggers in the Stud. u. Krit. 1841, p. 430 f.; Wieseler, p. 445; and already Theodoret in loc. No doubt Olshausen (comp. Bleek) maintains that Paul so expresses himself as to make it apparent that with a great proportion of his readers he was not personally acquainted, appealing to Colossians 1:4. But may he not here, as at Philemon 1:5, have heard respecting those who were known to him, what at Colossians 1:4 he has heard respecting those who were previously unknown to him?

τὴν καθʼ ὑμᾶς πίστιν] fidem, quae ad vos pertinet, i.e. vestram fidem. Comp. Acts 17:28; Acts 18:15; Acts 26:3. Thuc. vi. 16. 5 (τῷ κατʼ αὐτοὺς βίῳ); Ael. V. H. ii. 12 (ἡ κατʼ αὐτὸν ἀρετή). The difference between ἡ καθʼ ὑμᾶς πίστις and ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν lies only in the form of conception, not in the thing itself. Yet the mode of expression, not occurring elsewhere in the letters of the apostle, belongs to the peculiar phenomena of our Epistle. The assertion of Harless, that it denotes the faith of the readers objectively, as in itself a thing to be found among them, while ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν denotes it subjectively, according to its individual character in each one (comp. Matthies and Schenkel), is the less capable of proof, in proportion to the prevalent use among the later Greeks of the periphrasis of the genitival relation by κατά. See Valckenaer, ad Luc. p. 4 f.; Schaefer, ad Long. p. 330; Wesseling, ad Diod. Sic. xiv. 12.

ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ] belonging to πίστιν (fidem vestram in Christo repositam), and blended without any connecting article into unity of idea with it. See on Galatians 3:26. Winzer connects it with ὑμᾶς: “fidem, quae vobis, Domino Jesu veluti insitis, … inest;” but this is forbidden by the order of the words.

καὶ τὴν ἀγάπ. τὴν εἰς πάντας κ.τ.λ.] Here, too, Paul might have left out the second article, so that the sense would be: καὶ τὸ ἀγάπην ὑμᾶς ἔχειν εἰς πάντας (comp. Colossians 1:4), as at 2 Corinthians 7:7 : τὸν ὑμῶν ζῆλον ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ. But he has first thought of the notion of love in itself, and then added thereto, as a special important element, the thought, τὴν εἰς πάντας τ. ἀγ.

πάντας “character Christianismi,” Bengel. Comp. Ephesians 6:18; Philemon 1:5. We may add Chrysostom’s apt remark: πανταχοῦ συνάπτει καὶ συγκολλᾷ τὴν πίστιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην θαυμαστήν τινα ξυνωρίδα. Comp. Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 13.

[109] On vv. 15–19, see Winzer, Commentat., Lips. 1836.Ephesians 1:15-23. SECOND SECTION OF THE EPISTLE: in which the writer expresses his own feelings and desires towards the Ephesians, and in doing so leads them to the highest conception both of Christ’s own supremacy and of the grandeur of that Church of His of which they had been made members. The wonders of the grace thus shown them give him occasion, he tells them, for increasing thanksgiving. But his thanksgiving also prompts him to prayer on their behalf. Seeing to what they had already attained in the Christian life into which that marvellous grace had brought them, especially in faith and in brotherly love, his prayer is that they may increase in these yet more and more, and in particular that they may have an enlarging insight into the hope that springs from their calling, the inheritance which is reserved for them, and the present power of Christ which is the guarantee for all that they have and look for.15–23. Prayer, that the Saints may fully realize their Divine privileges and prospects in Christ

15. Wherefore, &c.]. The Apostle now passes from the adoring view of Divine Redemption to prayer that its treasures of grace may be realized in the whole experience and life of the saints. And this he does, as elsewhere (Colossians 1; 2 Thessalonians 1) in close connexion with thanksgiving for what they had already found[31].—“Wherefore:—because such is the greatness of Redemption, in fact and prospect.

[31] In Dean Howson’s admirable Lectures on the Character of St Paul (Lect. IV.) it is pointed out that St Paul always, in opening an Epistle, joins prayer to thanksgiving, except in Epistles (1 Cor.; Gal.) marked by a certain severity.

I also] as well as others who have you in their hearts; a touch of gracious modesty.

heard] in his Roman lodging, doubtless through Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) among others.

your faith] More lit., the faith among you, la foi chez vous.

in the Lord Jesus] Reposed on and in Him, as an anchor in the ground. It is questioned whether “faith,” “believe,” &c. with the preposition “in,” do not rather mean “faith, &c., maintained in and by connexion with Christ.” But there are passages which fully prove the possibility of the simple meaning given above (e.g. Mark 1:15, where lit., “believe in the Gospel;” and cp. in LXX. Psalms 77 (78) 26; Jeremiah 12:6); and in most passages where the construction occurs a remote and elaborate meaning would in the nature of the case be unlikely.

and love unto all the saints] Cp. Colossians 1:4 for an exact parallel. Here, however, the reading is disputed. Some very important MSS. omit “love,” and R. V. reads accordingly “the faith … which ye shew toward all the saints.” But the external evidence for the received reading is very strong. All the ancient Versions give it, as well as some of the oldest MSS., and the vast majority of others. And it is internally very much more likely than a phrase which is without any real parallel, and which couples together, under closely kindred terms, “faith in” Christ and “faith towards” Christians. And the parallel in Colossians 1:4 is strongly in favour of the received reading; for though it is likely enough that St Paul may have omitted in one Epistle a whole phrase which he used in the other (as in Ephesians 1:7 above, where the Colossian parallel omits “through His blood”), it is far from likely that he should have varied the easy and obvious phrase in the one for a curiously difficult one in the other. The true probability is that we have here an early mistake of transcription, due to certain phenomena in the Gr. words.

The Apostle has heard with joy of their personal trust in the Divine Redeemer, and their consequent love to all who are His; “faith working by love,” coming out, developing itself, in a life of holy love.

It is obvious that this “love to the saints” does not negative “love towards all men.” But it is love of another order, love of endearment, not only of good will; a necessary sequel of the family connexion of the saints; “brotherly love.” The N. T. is full of this supernatural family affection.—See 2 Peter 1:7 for “love” (to all men) “added to,” or rather “supplied in, love to the brethren.”Ephesians 1:15. Ἀκούσας, having heard) At a distance. This may be referred not only to those who were unknown to him by face, Colossians 1:4, but also to his most intimate acquaintances, Philem. Ephesians 1:5, in accordance with their present state.—πίστιν) Faith towards God in the Lord Jesus.—καὶ, and) Whosoever has faith and love, is a partaker of the whole blessing, Ephesians 1:3, etc. Hope is added, Ephesians 1:18.—πάντας, all) The distinguishing characteristic of Christianity.[15] Paul often includes all; ch. Ephesians 3:8-9; Ephesians 3:18; Ephesians 4:6; Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 6:18; Ephesians 6:24.

[15] Is implied, in its embracing all in love.—ED.Verses 15-23. - PRAYER FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL GROWTH. Verse 15. - Wherefore I also, having heard of the faith among you in the Lord Jesus, and your love which extends to all the saints. The "wherefore" has reference to their present standing in grace, described in the verses preceding: since ye have heard, believed, been sealed, and thereby shown to be in the right line, I apply myself towards promoting your progress, towards advancing you to the higher stages of the Christian life. Special mention is made of their faith and love, as cardinal Christian graces, to which elsewhere the apostle adds hope (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3). The literal expression, "faith among you" (καθ ὑμᾶς), indicates that it was a marked social feature, but perhaps not universal; while their love was not mere general amiability, but a love that embraced the saints as such, having a special complacency in them, and being directed to them all. If it be asked - Could this knowledge of the condition of his correspondents have been derived from hearsay ("having heard") if the letter was addressed to the Ephesians, among whom Paul had lived so long, and whose condition he must have known by personal intercourse (Acts 19:10; Acts 20:31)? we reply that, though he derived his first acquaintance from personal intercourse, it was some years since he had been at Ephesus, and the ἀκούσας refers to what he had heard in the interval (see Introduction). Your faith (τὴν καθ' ὑμᾶς πίστιν)

The Greek phrase is nowhere else used by Paul. Lit., as Rev., the faith which is among you. Expositors endeavor to make a distinction between this and Paul's common phrase ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν your faith, but they differ widely, and the distinction is at best doubtful.

Love

Omit.

Unto all the saints (τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους)

Lit., that which is toward all, etc. Love being omitted, this refers to faith: faith which displays its work and fruits toward fellow Christians. See on Plm 1:5, Plm 1:6. Compare work of faith, 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Though love is not mentioned, yet faith works by love. Galatians 5:6.

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