Ephesians 1:21
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
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(21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion.—The words here used are intended to include all possible forms of power, corresponding to the exhaustive enumeration in Philippians 2:10, “of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” The words rendered “principality and power” (more properly signifying “government and the authority committed to it”) are used in Luke 12:11; Luke 20:20; Titus 3:1, distinctively for earthly-powers; in 1Corinthians 15:24, generally for all created powers whatever. But St. Paul mostly employs this whole group of words, especially in the Epistles of the Captivity, with a manifest reference to angelic powers of good or evil. Thus in Romans 8:38 we read, of “angels, and principalities, and powers” (as in 1Peter 3:22, “angels, and authorities, and powers”); in Ephesians 3:10 of this Epistle, of “principalities and powers in the heavenly places;” and in Ephesians 6:12, of “wrestling not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers,” &c.; and in Colossians 1:16, of “things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.” It is likely that he was induced so to do by the half-Gnostic speculation on the nature and worship of angels, prevalent in the later Judaism, of which we have a specimen at Colossæ (Colossians 2:18)—in the same spirit which leads the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews to dwell so emphatically (in Ephesians 1, 2) on the infinite superiority of the Son of God to all angels. We observe that his references to these orders or aspects of the angelic hierarchy vary both in fulness and in order. (Comp., for instance, this passage with Colossians 1:16.) Hence we gain no encouragement for the elaborate speculation in which men have indulged as to the right succession and relation of the hosts of heaven. In this passage the names rather point to different aspects, than to different orders, of superhuman power. The first two words signify appointed government and the authority which is committed to it; the last two the actual force and the moral force of dignity or lordship in which it is clothed. In the Colossian passage the words here placed first come last, though in the same mutual connection, and the words “dignities or lordships” is connected with the word “thrones,” not here found. His purpose is, indeed, better served by this comparative vagueness: for that purpose is to exalt the majesty of our Lord over all other, whatever it may be, and whatever name it may wear.

Not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.—The word “world” is here age, and the antithesis is exactly that of our Lord’s words in Matthew 12:32 (see Note there). Manifestly, however, it here signifies “this life” (or dispensation) and “the future life,” that is, the life on this side, and on the other side, of the Second Coming of Christ.

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.Far above all principality - The general sense in this verse is, that the Lord Jesus was exalted to the highest conceivable dignity and honor; compare Philippians 2:9; Colossians 2:10. In this beautiful and most important passage, the apostle labors for words to convey the greatness of his conceptions, and uses those which denote the highest conceivable dignity and glory. The "main" idea is, that God had manifested great "power" in thus exalting the Lord Jesus, and that similar power was exhibited in raising up the sinner from the death of sin to the life and honor of believing. The work of religion throughout was a work of power; a work of exalting and honoring "the dead," whether dead in sin or in the grave; and Christians ought to know the extent and glory of the power thus put forth in their salvation. The word rendered "far above" - ὑπεράνω huperanō - is a compound word, meaning "high above," or greatly exalted. He was not merely "above" the ranks of the heavenly beings, as the head; he was not one of their own rank, placed by office a little above them, but he was infinitely exalted over them, as of different rank and dignity. How could this be if he were a mere man; or if he were an angel? The word rendered "principality" - ἀρχή archē - means properly, "the beginning;" and then the first, the first place, power, dominion, pre-eminence, rulers. magistrates, etc. It may refer here to any rank and power, whether among people or angels, and the sense is, that Christ is exalted above all.

And power - It is not easy to distinguish between the exact meaning of the words which the apostle here uses. The general idea is, that Christ is elevated above all ranks of creatures, however exalted. and by whatever name they may be known. As in this he refers to the "world that is to come," as well as this world, it is clear that there is a reference here to the ranks of the angels, and probably he means to allude to the prevailing opinion among the Jews, that the angels are of different orders. Some of the Jewish rabbies reckon four, others ten orders of angels, and they presume to give them names according to their different ranks and power. But all this is evidently the result of mere fancy. The Scriptures hint in several places at a difference of rank among the angels, but the sacred writers do not go into detail. It may be added that there is no improbability in such a subordination, but it is rather to be presumed to be true. The creatures of God are not made alike; and difference of degree and rank, as far as our observation extends everywhere prevails. On this verse compare the notes at Romans 8:38.

Dominion - Greek "Lordship."

And every name that is named - Every creature of every rank.

Not only in this world - Not only above all kings, and princes, and rulers of every grade and rank on earth.

But also in that which is to come - This refers undoubtedly to heaven. The meaning is, that he is Supreme over all.

21. Greek, "Far (or high) above all (Eph 4:10) principality (or rule, 1Co 15:24), and authority, and power (Mt 28:18), and dominion (or lordship)." Compare Php 2:9; Col 1:16; Heb 7:26; 1Pe 3:22. Evil spirits (who are similarly divided into various ranks, Eph 6:12), as well as angels of light, and earthly potentates, are included (compare Ro 8:38). Jesus is "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (Re 19:16). The higher is His honor, the greater is that of His people, who are His members joined to Him, the Head. Some philosophizing teachers of the school of Simon Magus, in Western Asia Minor, had, according to Irenæus and Epiphanius, taught their hearers these names of various ranks of angels. Paul shows that the truest wisdom is to know Christ as reigning above them all.

every name—every being whatever. "Any other creature" (Ro 8:39).

in this world—Greek, "age," that is, the present order of things. "Things present … things to come" (Ro 8:38).

that … to come—"Names which now we know not, but shall know hereafter in heaven. We know that the emperor goes before all, though we cannot enumerate all the satraps and ministers of his court; so we know that Christ is set above all, although we cannot name them all" [Bengel].

Principality, and power, and might, and dominion: these terms are sometimes applied to magistrates and men in authority here in the world, Titus 3:1 Judges 1:8 sometimes to angels; to good ones, Colossians 1:16; to evil ones, Ephesians 6:12 Colossians 2:15; though with allusion to powers in the world, or because by them God puts forth and exerciseth his power and dominion. By these, then, the apostle understands good angels, as Ephesians 3:10; or, comprehensively, all sorts of powers, both visible and invisible, as Colossians 1:16 1 Peter 3:22.

And every name that is named; lest any might think he had not named all above whom Christ is exalted, he adds this, to take all in.

Every name, that is, every person, and every thing which hath a name; whatever hath any dignity or excellency.

Not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; because, though it hath a being at present, yet it is future to us who are not yet possessed of it. Either this clause relates to Christ’s sitting at his Father’s right hand, and then it notes the perpetuity of his reign, that his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, Luke 1:33; or rather, to the words immediately going before: q.d. If there be any name, any dignity, or excellency, not known in this life, and which shall be known in the other; yet, be they what they may, Christ is above them all.

Far above all principality and power,.... Good angels and bad angels, and civil magistrates, who also may be intended by the following words:

and might and dominion; good angels may be so called, because of their employment under God in the affairs of Providence, and the government of this world; and Christ is not only above them, as he is God, being their Creator, who has made them, and on whom they depend, and is the Lord whom they serve, and is the object of their worship and adoration, and as he is Mediator, to whom they minister, and so is above them in nature, name, and office; but also as he is man, in union with the Son of God; and chiefly he here is said to be above them on account of place, being at the right hand of God, where they are not, Hebrews 1:13. And evil angels may be so called, because of the government which subsists among themselves, and the power and influence they have over mankind; Christ was above them when here on earth, as appears by his resisting the temptations of Satan, and defeating him in them; by his dispossessing devils from the bodies of men; by his spoiling and destroying them and their works at his death; and by his leading them captive, and triumphing over them at his ascension; and by delivering souls out of his hands at conversion, through his power attending the ministration of his Gospel; and his being above them will still be more manifest, in the binding of Satan a thousand years, and in the final condemnation of him, and of all his angels under him: civil magistrates are sometimes called by these names, and Christ is above them; they receive their governments from him, they rule by him, and are accountable to him, and are set up and put down at his pleasure; all these senses may be taken in; but the first seems chiefly designed: it is added,

and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; persons of authority and dignity, of fame and renown, whether in earth or heaven; as emperors, kings, princes, nobles, generals of armies &c. in this world, and cherubim, seraphim, &c. in the other world: this phrase denotes both the extensiveness of Christ's kingdom, and the eternity of it; as reaching to both worlds, and being over everything in them, and as lasting to the end of this, and unto that which is to come.

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every {a} name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

(a) Everything, whatever it may be, or above all things, even if they are of ever so much power or excellency.

Ephesians 1:21 is no parenthesis, since neither the construction nor the logical progress of the thought is interrupted.

ὑπεράνω expresses not the infinite exaltedness (the Greek Fathers, Beza, Estius), nor yet the dominion over (Bengel), although the latter is implied in the nature of the case, but simply: up above (Hebrews 9:5; Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 8:2; Deuteronomy 28:1; Cant. tr. puer. 37; Tob 1:3; Ael. V. H. ix. 7; Polyb. xii. 24. 1). The opposite is ὑποκάτω, Mark 6:11; Hebrews 2:8.

πάσης ἀρχῆςκυριότητος is neither to be understood, with Schoettgen, of the Jewish hierarchs, nor, with van Til (in Wolf), of the various grades of Gentile rulers, nor, with Morus, of human powers in general, nor, with Erasmus, Vorstius, Wolf, Zachariae, Eosenmüller, Flatt, Olshausen, and others, of quodcumque gloriae et dignitatis genus (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:24); but, as is shown by the immediate context (ἐκάθισενἐν τοῖς ἐπουραν.) and the analogous passages, Ephesians 3:10, Colossians 1:16, Romans 8:38 (comp. also 1 Peter 3:22), of the angels, who are designated according to their classes of rank (abstracta pro concretis), and, in fact, of the good angels, since the apostle is not here speaking (as in 1 Corinthians 15:24) of the victory of Christ over opposing powers, but of His exaltation above the existing powers in heaven. See, moreover, on Romans 8:38. In opposition to Hofmann, who (Schriftbew. I. p. 347) would find in the different designations not any order of rank, but only various relations to God and the world, see Hahn, Theol. d. N.T. I. p. 291 ff. Comp. also Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 558 f. Christ Himself already, Matthew 18:10, assumes a diversity of rank among the angels; it is thus the more arbitrary, that expressions evidently in stated use, which in the case of two apostles and then in the Test. XII. Patr. correspond to this idea (even apart from the Jewish doctrine of classes of angels) should not be referred to it. More precise information, however, as to the relations and functions of the different grades of angels[116] is not to be given, since Paul does not himself enter into particulars on the point, and the Rabbinical theory of classes of angels, elaborated under the influence of Platonism, yet dissimilar (see Eisenmenger, Entdeckt. Judenth. II. p. 374; Bartolocci, Bibl. Rabb. I. p. 267 ff.; Gfrörer, Jahrh. d. Heils, I. p. 357 ff.), is not in keeping with the designations of the apostle (see Harless in loc.; Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 226), and has evidently been elaborated at a later date. It is nevertheless probable that the order of succession is here arranged according to a descending climax; for (1) the apostle, in looking at the matter, proceeds most naturally from above downward, from the right hand of God to the heavenly beings which hold the next place beneath Him, and so on; (2) the ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι, and δυνάμεις are always mentioned in the same order (Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22); the ἐξουσίαι, however, with the θρόνοι (Colossians 1:16) are, Test. XII. Patr. p. 548, placed in the seventh heaven, and the δυνάμεις only in the third (p. 547), as, indeed, in Jamblichus, v. 21, p. 136, the δυνάμεις are placed far below the ἀρχαί. According to this, the θρόνοι and κυριότητες, Colossians 1:16, would be placed in juxtaposition as the two extremes of the angelic series. Another view is taken by Hahn, Theol. d. N.T. I. p. 297 f.

That Paul, moreover, sets forth Christ as exalted above the angel-world, with a polemic purpose in opposition to the θρησκεία ἀγγέλων of the Gnosis of Asia Minor (comp. Colossians 2:18) (Bucer, Estius, Hug, and others), is not to be assumed, since the form of the representation maintains purely a positive character, and the thing itself was so natural to the Christian consciousness generally (comp. Hebrews 1:4), and to the connection in the case of our passage in particular, as to need no polemic occasion in order to its being expressed, and expressed with such solemnity. Even a purpose of guarding against possible infection on the part of such a Gnosis (Schneckenburger, Olshausen) is at least not expressed or more specially-indicated; it may, however, have still been partially present to the mind of the apostle from the sphere of thought of the previously composed Epistle to the Colossians. Comp. Introd. § 4.

καὶ παντὸς ὀνόματος κ.τ.λ.] and, i.e. and generally (see Fritzsche, ad Matth. pp. 786, 870), above every name, which is named. Let any name be uttered, whatever it is, Christ is above it, is more exalted than that which the name so uttered affirms. Comp. Php 2:9. That ὄνομα is here dignitatis potentiaeve nomen (Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius, and others), as Hom. Od. xxiv. 93; Strabo, vi. p. 245 (ἐν ὀνόματι εἶναι), and the like (see Wolf, ad Dem. Lept. p. 346; Jacobs, ad Anthol. IX. p. 226), is not to be supposed on account of ὀνομαζομένου, since this makes the simple literal meaning name the only possible one (comp. Plato, Soph. p. 262 B); and, if Morus and Harless (comp. also Michaelis and Rückert) have supplied the notion underlying the preceding abstract nouns: “above every name, namely, of such character,” they have done so arbitrarily, as παντός stands without restrictive addition. πᾶν ὄνομα is quite general: any name whatever; from the heavenly powers, above which Christ is placed, the glance of the apostle stretches to every (created) thing generally, which may anyhow be named. Comp. πάντα, Ephesians 1:22.

οὐ μόνον κ.τ.λ.] cannot belong to ἐκάθισεν κ.τ.λ. (Morus, Koppe; comp. already Beza and Zanchius), since ἐκάθισεν is an act, which has taken place in the αἰὼν αὗτος, but it belongs to ὀνομαζομ.: which is named in the present world-period, before the Parousia, and in the future one, after the Parousia. As to αἰὼν οὗτος and αἰὼν μέλλων, see on Matthew 12:32. “Natural and supernatural order of the world” (Schenkel), and similar conceptions, are not to be substituted for the historical idea.

[116] Ignatius, Trall. 5, calls them τὰς τοποθεσίας τὰς ἀγγελικάς. Comp. also Hermas, Past. i. 3, 4. But if the ἀρχαὶ κ.τ.λ. are angels, they are also conceived of as personal, not as “principles and potencies, powers, forces, ordinances, and laws” (Beyschlag, Christol. d. N.T. p. 244), consequently in an abstract sense. The abstract designation has its basis in the fact that classes or categories of personal beings are expressed, just as, e.g., ἐξουσία is said of human authorities, which consist of persons.

Ephesians 1:21. ὑπεράνω πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας καὶ δυνάμεως καὶ κυριότητος: over above all rule, and authority, and power, and lordship. The intensive force “far above” is given to the ὑπεράνω by Chrys., Theoph., Stier, the AV, the RV, etc. But it can scarcely be sustained in face of the actual use of the word in Hebrews 9:5 (cf. Ezekiel 43:15); the tendency of late Greek to substitute compound for simple forms without substantial change of sense; the non-intensive use of the cognate form ὑποκάτω (Mark 6:11; Luke 8:16; John 1:51); and the testimony of the Syriac and other ancient Versions, which render it simply “above” (e.g., Vulg., supra). “Over above,” therefore, is to be preferred to “far above”. The πάσης is “all” in the sense of “every,” every particular kind of ἀρχή that can be named. The terms are given in the abstract form, not as if only principles and forces were in view, and not personal powers, but because “classes or categories of personal beings are expressed, just as, e.g., ἐξουσία is said of human authorities, which consist of persons” (Mey.). The use of the abstract ἀρχαί, etc., instead of the concrete ἄγγελοι, etc., enhances the conception of the absolute, all-embracing dominion of Christ. But what manner of powers or authorities do these terms designate? The fact that the immediate subject here is the heavenlies and Christ’s position in them at once excludes such interpretations as identify these ἀρχαί, etc. with earthly powers (Morus); with every kind of dignity wheresoever found (Erasm., Olsh., etc.); with the Jewish hierarchy (Schoett.); or with the various orders of Gentile powers (van Til). The leading idea of the section and the apparent purport of similar statements (Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Romans 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22) point to the angelic world as meant. The fact that nothing is said here of Christ’s triumph over Satanic powers suggests further that only angels of good,—heavenly intelligences, are in view. Can any definite distinction then be made out between the terms? And can it be said that the enumeration means that the world of good angels has its distinct orders and grades of angelic dignity and power? The passage must be read in connection with the analogous enumerations in Ephesians 3:10; Romans 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22, and especially Colossians 1:16. Differences in the enumerations then at once appear. In Ephesians 3:10 we have only the ἀρχαί and ἐξουσίαι; in Romans 8:38, ἄγγελοι, ἀρχαί, δυνάμεις; in 1 Peter 3:22, ἄγγελοι, ἐξουσίαι, δυνάμεις. And in the most direct parallel (Colossians 1:16) we find θρόνοι, κυριότητες, ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι. The Pauline passages themselves, therefore, show no such identity either in the number or in the succession of authorities as would be consistent with a determinate doctrine of graduated orders. Nor can it be inferred from the words in Matthew 18:10 (as Meyer thinks) that such gradations are recognised by our Lord Himself. It is true that in the non-canonical writings of the Jews (e.g., Test. XII. Patr., etc.) the idea of variety of ranks among the angels appears, and that in the later Rabbinical literature it took strange and elaborate forms. But between these and the simple statements of the NT there is no real likeness, and there is nothing here to point certainly either to an ascending scale or to a descending. It is held by some indeed (e.g., Meyer) that the angelic authorities are named here according to the latter scale, beginning with the highest and proceeding to the lower and the lowest. For this two reasons are offered, viz., first that it would be natural for the writer, who has led the reader up to the right hand of God as the position possessed by Christ, to give his enumeration of the powers subject to Christ in the succession of first, second and third in rank; and second, that in the various references made to them, the ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι, δυνάμεις are given in the same order. But the former is a very precarious reason; and the latter is not valid, inasmuch as in none of the passages appealed to do we get all these three terms together (Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22). Nor is it possible to establish any clear distinction of sense and application between the four terms introduced here, such as that attempted, e.g., by Alford who, including in the list earthly as well as heavenly powers and evil as well as good spirits, regards ἀρχή as the supreme expression of dignity, ἐξπισία as official power in all its forms, primary or delegated, δύναμις as might or the “raw material” of power, and κυριότης, as the pre-eminence of lordship. We must take the terms, therefore, not as dogmatic terms either teaching or implying any doctrine of graduated ranks, differentiated functions, or organised order in the world of angels, but as rhetorical terms brought together in order to express the unique supremacy and absolute sovereignty proper to Christ, and meaning simply that whatever powers or dignities existed and by whatever names they might be designated, Christ’s dominion was above them all. This is suggested also by the further generalisation that follows.—καὶ παντὸς ὀνόματος ὀνομαζομένου: and every name that is named. The ὄνομα here is not to be taken as a title of dignity, but (as the ὀνομαζομένου shows) has the simple sense of name. There is an advance in the statement of Christ’s supreme rank, but it is simply from the idea of a supremacy over all heavenly intelligences to that of a supremacy over all created objects by whatsoever name called.—οὐμόνον ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι: not only in this world (or age), but also in that which is to come. The statement of Christ’s absolute and unmatched supremacy is brought to its height by this last generalisation, which embraces within its sweep the totality of created objects not only as they now are, but as they may hereafter be in any possible future. The word αἰών here as elsewhere, has the idea of duration at its foundation. It means “age,” “aeon,” and as used of the world presents it, in distinction from κόσμος, in its temporal aspect, “this present state of things”. The Jews spoke of the period before Messiah’s Advent as הָצוֹלָם הַוֶּה, “this age,” and of the period introduced by that event as הָצוֹלָם הַבָּא, “the coming age”. So the NT writers designate the period preceding the final Return or Parousia of Christ ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος (also ὁ νῦν αἰών, 1 Timothy 6:17; ὁ ἐνεστὼς αἰών, Galatians 1:4; or simply ὁ αἰών, Matthew 14:22), and the period beginning with the Parousia ὁ αἰὼν ὁ μέλλων (also ὁ αἰὼν ἐκεῖνος, Luke 20:35; ὁ αἰὼν ὁ ἐρχόμενος, Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; cf. οἱ αἰῶνες οἱ ἐπερχόμενοι, Ephesians 2:7).

This paragraph gives simply a positive statement of the exaltation of Christ, His sovereign and unshared supremacy over all. It makes no reference to Jewish or Gnostic speculations inconsistent with this. It is different with the great section in the sister Epistle to the Colossians. There we see that such speculations were rife in at least one of the Churches of the Lycus valley. The statements in that Epistle have an unmistakable reference to theosophic notions akin to the Gnostic ideas of emanations—notions of angelic intermediaries between God and the world; against which the Apostle has to assert the exclusive relation of Christ to the whole system of things, seen and unseen, earthly and celestial, as the Creator of all, the Upholder of all, the One Being in whom resided all the forces pertaining to the maintenance and administration of things. The literature of Judaism makes it also clear that by Paul’s time the Jews had constructed a somewhat elaborate system of Angelology, with theories of graduated positions and distinctive functions. The Book of Enoch (lxi. 10) speaks of “angels of power and angels of principality”. The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (xx. 1, 3) describes the heavenly host as consisting of ten troops—lordships, principalities, powers, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, etc. In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Levi 3) six orders are named, of which the highest are the θρόνοι, ἐξουσίαι, occupying the seventh heaven, while the δυνάμεις are the fifth in order and are assigned to the third heaven. The same general doctrine appears also in Ephraem Syrus (i., p. 270), who gives three great divisions of the celestial world, viz. (1) θεοί, θρόνοι, κυριότητες; (2) ἀρχάλλελοι, ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι; (3) ἄγγελοι, δυνάμεις, χερουβίμ, σεραφίμ. In the De Princip. of Origen (i., 5, 3, etc.) five orders are named, rising from the τάξις ἀγγελική, to ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι, θρόνοι, and finally κυριότητες. But the conception of a great, graduated angelic hierarchy was elaborated most fully by the author of the remarkable book, De Coelesti Hierarchia, the so-called Dionysius the Areopagite. There we find a scheme of orders in three sets of three, descending from the highest to the lowest: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; Dominations, Virtues, Powers (or Authorities); Principalities, Archangels, Angels. Hence the sublime description in Dante (Paradiso, canto xxxviii.) and Milton’s “Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers” (Paradise Lost, v., 601).

Ephesians 1:21. Ὑπεράνω) A compound word. Christ not only takes the precedency, but is ruler above all.—ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας καὶ δυνάμεως) 1 Corinthians 15:24, note.—καὶ κυριότητος) Colossians 1:16.—καὶ παντὸς ὀνόματος, and every name) We know that the Emperor goes before all, although we cannot enumerate all the ministers of his court; so we know that Christ is placed above all, although we cannot name them all.—ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι) Αἰὼν, age, or the world [order of things], denotes here not time, but a system of things and operations revealed at its own proper time, and permanent. It is called future, not that it does not yet exist, but because it is not yet seen. Authorities, powers, etc., are in the future [αἰὼν]; but yet they are named also in this world [αἰὼν]; but even those things also, which are not even named at the present time, but both in the name and in reality will be at length laid open to us in the future, are subject to Christ.

Verse 21. - Far above all rule, and power, and might, and dominion. Separate shades of meaning may doubtless be found for these expressions, but the main effect of the accumulation is to expand and deepen the idea of Christ's universal lordship. Hardly anything is revealed to us on the various orders of the spiritual powers, unfallen and fallen; and the speculations on them in which the Fathers used to indulge are of no value; but whatever may be true of them, Christ is exalted far above them all - far above every creature in earth, heaven, or hell (comp. Psalm 2; Psalm 72; Psalm 110; Daniel 7:13, 14, etc.). And every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. The pro-eminence of his Name is to be eternal. It shall never be eclipsed by any other name, nor shall there ever be a name worthy to be coupled with his Name. In human history we find no name that can be fitly coupled with Christ's. In the world to come, it shall ever shine forth with an unapproached effulgence. All this is said to exalt our sense of the Divine power that so raised up and exalted the God-Man, Christ Jesus - the same power that still works in believers. Ephesians 1:21Far above (ὑπεράνω)

Lit., over above. See on Ephesians 1:19. Connect with made Him to sit.

Principality, power, etc.

These words usually refer to angelic powers; either good, as Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; or bad, as Ephesians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Colossians 2:15; or both, as Romans 8:38. See on Colossians 1:16; see on Colossians 2:15. Here probably good, since the passage relates to Christ's exaltation to glory rather than to His victory over evil powers.

And every name that is named

And has a collective and summary force - and in a word. Every name, etc. Whatever a name can be given to. "Let any name be uttered, whatever it is, Christ is above it; is more exalted than that which the name so uttered affirms" (Meyer). Compare Philippians 2:9. "We know that the emperor precedes all, though we cannot enumerate all the ministers of his court: so we know that Christ is placed above all, although we cannot name all" (Bengel).

Not only in this world, etc.

Connect with which is named. For world (αἰῶνι), see on John 1:9.

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