Ephesians 2:20
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
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(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.



Ephesians 2:20The Roman Empire had in Paul’s time gathered into a great unity the Asiatics of Ephesus, the Greeks of Corinth, the Jews of Palestine, and men of many another race, but grand and imposing as that great unity was, it was to Paul a poor thing compared with the oneness of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Asiatics of Ephesus, Greeks of Corinth, Jews of Palestine and members of many another race could say, ‘Our citizenship is in heaven.’ The Roman Eagle swept over wide regions in her flight, but the Dove of Peace, sent forth from Christ’s hand, travelled further than she. As Paul says in the context, the Ephesians had been strangers, ‘aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,’ wandering like the remnants of some ‘broken clans,’ but now they are gathered in. That narrow community of the Jewish nation has expanded its bounds and become the mother-country of believing souls, the true ‘island of saints.’ It was not Rome which really made all peoples one, but it was the weakest and most despised of her subject races. ‘Of Zion it shall be said,’ ‘Lo! this and that man was born in her.’

To emphasise the thought of the great unity of the Church, the Apostle uses here his often-repeated metaphor of a temple, of which the Ephesian Christians are the stones, apostles and prophets the builders, and Christ Himself the chief corner-stone. Of course the representation of the foundation, as being laid by apostles and prophets, refers to them as proclaiming the Gospel. The real laying of the foundation is the work of the divine power and love which gave us Christ, and it is the Divine Voice which proclaims, ‘Behold I lay in Zion a foundation!’ But that divine work has to be made known among men, and it is by the making of it known that the building rises course by course. There is no contradiction between the two statements, ‘I have laid the foundation’ and Paul’s ‘As a wise master-builder I have laid the foundation.’

A question may here rise as to the meaning of ‘prophets.’ Unquestionably the expression in other places of the Epistle does mean New Testament prophets, but seeing that here Jesus is designated as the foundation stone which, standing beneath two walls, has a face into each, and binds them strongly together, it is more natural to see in the prophets the representatives of the great teachers of the old dispensation as the apostles were of the new. The remarkable order in which these two classes are named, the apostles being first, and the prophets who were first in time being last in order of mention, confirms this explanation, for the two co-operating classes are named in the order in which they lie in the foundation. Digging down you come to the more recent first, to the earlier second, and deep and massive, beneath all, to the corner-stone on whom all rests, in whom all are united together. Following the Apostle’s order we may note the process of building; beneath that, the foundation on which the building rests; and beneath it, the corner-stone which underlies and unites the whole.

I. The process of building.

In the previous clauses the Apostle has represented the condition of the Ephesian Christians before their Christianity as being that of strangers and foreigners, lacking the rights of citizenship anywhere, a mob rather than in any sense a society. They had been like a confused heap of stones flung fortuitously together; they had become fellow-citizens with the saints. The stones had been piled up into an orderly building. He is not ignoring the facts of national, political, or civic relationships which existed independent of the new unity realised in a common faith. These relationships could not be ignored by one who had had Paul’s experience of their formidable character as antagonists of him and of his message, but they seemed to him, in contrast with the still deeper and far more perfect union, which was being brought about in Christ, of men of all nationalities and belonging to mutually hostile races, to be little better than the fortuitous union of a pile of stones huddled together on the roadside. Measured against the architecture of the Church, as Paul saw it in his lofty idealism, the aggregations of men in the world do not deserve the name of buildings. His point of view is the exact opposite of that which is common around us, and which, alas! finds but too much support in the present aspects of the so-called churches of this day.

It is to be observed that in our text these stones are, in accordance with the propriety of the metaphor, regarded as being built, that is, as in some sense the subjects of a force brought to bear upon them, which results in their being laid together in orderly fashion and according to a plan, but it is not to be forgotten that, according to the teaching, not of this epistle alone, but of all Paul’s letters, the living stones are active in the work of building, as well as beings subject to an influence. In another place of the New Testament we read the exhortation to ‘build up yourselves on your most holy faith,’ and the means of discharging that duty are set forth in the words which follow it; as being ‘Praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping yourselves in the love of God, and looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Throughout the Pauline letters we have frequent references to edifying, a phrase which has been so vulgarised by much handling that its great meaning has been all but lost, but which still, rightly understood, presents the Christian life as one continuous effort after developing Christian character. Taking into view the whole of the apostolic references to this continuous process of building, we cannot but recognise that it all begins with the act of faith which brings men into immediate contact and vital union with Jesus Christ, and which is, if anything that a man does is, the act of his very inmost self passing out of its own isolation and resting itself on Jesus. It is by the vital and individual act of faith that any soul escapes from the dreary isolation of being a stranger and a foreigner, wandering, homeless and solitary, and finds through Jesus fellowship, an elder Brother, a Father, and a home populous with many brethren. But whilst faith is the condition of beginning the Christian life, which is the only real life, that life has to be continued and developed towards perfection by continuous effort. ‘Tis a life-long toil till the lump be leavened.’

One of the passages already referred to varies the metaphor of building, in so far as it seems to represent ‘your most holy faith’ as the foundation, and may be an instance of the doubtful New Testament usage of ‘faith,’ as meaning the believed Gospel, rather than the personal act of believing. But however that may be, context of the words clearly suggests the practical duties by which the Christian life is preserved and strengthened. They who build up themselves do so, mainly, by keeping themselves in the love of God with watchful oversight and continual preparedness for struggle against all foes who would drag them from that safe fortress, and subsidiarily, by like continuity in prayer, and in fixing their meek hope on the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. If Christian character is ever to be made more Christian, it must be by a firmer grasp and a more vivid realisation of Christ and His truth. The more we feel ourselves to be lapped in the love of God, the more shall we be builded up on our most holy faith. There is no mystery about the means of Christian progress. That which, at the beginning, made a man a Christian shapes his whole future course; the measure of our faith is the measure of our advance.

But the Apostle, in the immediately following words, goes on to pass beyond the bounds of his metaphor, and with complete indifference to the charge of mixing figures, speaks of the building as growing. That thought leads us into a higher region than that of effort. The process by which a great forest tree thickens its boles, expands the sweep of its branches and lifts them nearer the heavens, is very different from that by which a building rises slowly and toilsomely and with manifest incompleteness all the time, until the flag flies on the roof-tree. And if we had not this nobler thought of a possible advance by the increasing circulation within us of a mysterious life, there would be little gospel in a word which only enjoined effort as the condition of moral progress, and there would be little to choose between Paul and Plato. He goes on immediately to bring out more fully what he means by the growth of the building, when he says that if Christians are in Christ, they are ‘built up for an habitation of God in the Spirit.’ Union with Christ, and a consequent life in the Spirit, are sure to result in the growth of the individual soul and of the collective community. That divine Spirit dwells in and works through every believing soul, and while it is possible to grieve and to quench It, to resist and even to neutralise Its workings, these are the true sources of all our growth in grace and knowledge. The process of building may be and will be slow. Sometimes lurking enemies will pull down in a night what we have laboured at for many days. Often our hands will be slack and our hearts will droop. We shall often be tempted to think that our progress is so slow that it is doubtful if we have ever been on the foundation at all or have been building at all. But ‘the Spirit helpeth our infirmities,’ and the task is not ours alone but His in us. We have to recognise that effort is inseparable from building, but we have also to remember that growth depends on the free circulation of life, and that if we are, and abide in, Jesus, we cannot but be built ‘for an habitation of God in the Spirit.’ We may be sure that whatever may be the gaps and shortcomings in the structures that we rear here, none will be able to say of us at the last, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

II. The foundation on which the building rests.

In the Greek, as in our version, there is no definite article before ‘prophets,’ and its absence indicates that both sets of persons here mentioned come under the common vinculum of the one definite article preceding the first named. So that apostles and prophets belong to one class. It may be a question whether the foundation is theirs in the sense that they constitute it, an explanation in favour of which can be quoted the vision in the Apocalypse of the new Jerusalem, in the twelve foundations of which were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, or whether, as is more probable, the foundation is conceived of as laid by them. In like manner the Apostle speaks to the Corinthians of having ‘as a wise master-builder laid the foundation,’ and to the Romans of making it his aim to preach especially where Christ was not already named, that he might ‘not build upon another man’s foundation.’ Following these indications, it seems best to understand the preaching of the Gospel as being the laying of the foundation.

Further, the question may be raised whether the prophets here mentioned belong to the Old Testament or to the New. The latter alternative has been preferred on the ground that the apostles are named first, but, as we have already noticed, the order here begins at the top and goes downwards, what was last in order of time being first in order of mention. We need only recall Peter’s bold words that ‘all the prophets, as many as have spoken, have told of the days’ of Christ, or Paul’s sermon in the synagogue of Antioch in which he passionately insisted on the Jewish crime of condemning Christ as being the fulfilment of the voices of the prophets, and of the Resurrection of Jesus as being God’s fulfilment of the promise made unto the fathers to understand how here, as it were, beneath the foundation laid by the present preaching of the apostles, Paul rejoices to discern the ancient stones firmly laid by long dead hands.

The Apostle’s strongest conviction was that he himself had become more and not less of a Jew by becoming a Christian, and that the Gospel which he preached was nothing more than the perfecting of that Gospel before the Gospel, which had come from the lips of the prophets. We know a great deal more than he did as to the ways in which the progressive divine revelation was presented to Israel through the ages, and some of us are tempted to think that we know more than we do, but the true bearing of modern criticism, as applied to the Old Testament, is to confirm, even whilst it may to some extent modify, the conviction common to all the New Testament writers, and formulated by the last of the New Testament prophets, that ‘the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ Whatever new light may shine on the questions of the origin and composition of the books of the Old Testament, it will never obscure the radiance of the majestic figure of the Messiah which shines from the prophetic page. The inner relation between the foundation of the apostles and that of the prophets is best set forth in the solemn colloquy on the Mount of Transfiguration between Moses and Elias and Jesus. They ‘were with Him’ as witnessing to Him to whom law and ritual and prophecy had pointed, and they ‘spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem’ as being the vital centre of all His work which the lambs slain according to ritual had foreshadowed, and the prophetic figure of the Servant of the Lord ‘wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities’ had more distinctly foretold.

III. The corner-stone which underlies and unites the whole.

Of course the corner-stone here is the foundation-stone and not ‘the head-stone of the corner.’ Jesus Christ is both. He is the first and the last; the Alpha and Omega. In accordance with the whole context, in which the prevailing idea is that which always fired Paul’s imagination, viz. that of reconciling Jew and Gentile in one new man, it is best to suppose a reference here to the union of Jew and Gentile. The stone laid beneath the two walls which diverge at right angles from each other binds both together and gives strength and cohesion to the whole. In the previous context the same idea is set forth that Christ ‘preached peace to them that were afar off {Gentiles} and to them that were nigh {Jews}.’ By His death He broke down another wall, the middle wall of partition between them, and did so by abolishing ‘the law of commandments contained in ordinances.’ The old distinction between Jew and Gentile, which was accentuated by the Jew’s rigid observance of ordinances and which often led to bitter hatred on both sides, was swept away in that strange new thing, a community of believers drawn together in Jesus Christ. The former antagonistic ‘twain’ had become one in a third order of man, the Christian man. The Jew Christian and the Gentile Christian became brethren because they had received one new life, and they who had common feelings of faith and love to the same Saviour, a common character drawn from Him, and a common destiny open to them by their common relation to Jesus, could never cherish the old emotions of racial hate.

When we, in this day, try to picture to ourselves that strange new thing, the love which bound the early Christians together and buried as beneath a rushing flood the formidable walls of separation between them, we may well penitently ask ourselves how it comes that Jesus seems to have so much less power to triumph over the divisive forces that part us from those who should be our hearts’ brothers. In our modern life there are no such gulfs of separation from one another as were filled up unconsciously in the experience of the first believers, but the narrower chinks seem to remain in their ugliness between those who profess a common faith in one Lord, and who are all ready to assert that they are built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, and that Jesus Christ is from them the chief corner-stone.

If in reality He is so to us, and He is so if we have been builded upon Him through our faith, the metaphor of corner-stone and building will fail to express the reality of our relation to Him, for our corner-stone has in it an infinite vitality which rises up through all the courses of the living stones, and moulds each ‘into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection.’ So it shall be for each individual, though here the appropriation of the perfect gift is imperfect. So it shall be in reference to the history of the world. Christ is its centre and foundation-stone, and as His coming makes the date from which the nations reckon, and all before it was in the deepest sense preparatory to His incarnation, all which is after it is in the deepest sense the appropriating of Him and the developing of His work. The multitudes which went before and that followed cried, saying, ‘Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.’

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.And are built upon the foundation - The comparison of the church with a building, is common in the Scriptures: compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 3:9-10. The comparison was probably taken from the temple, and as that was an edifice of great beauty, expense, and sacredness, it was natural to compare the church with it. Besides, the temple was the sacred place where God dwelt on the earth; and as the church was the place where he delighted now to abide, it became natural to speak of his church as the temple, or the residence of God; see the notes at Isaiah 54:11-12. That building, says Paul, was permanently founded, and was rising with great beauty of proportion, and with great majesty and splendor.

Of the apostles - The doctrines which they taught are the basis on which the church rests. It is "possible" that Paul referred here to a splendid edifice, particularly because the Ephesians were distinguished for their skill in architecture, and because the celebrated temple of Diana was among them. An allusion to a building, however, as an illustration of the church occurs several times in his other epistles, and was an allusion which would be everywhere understood.

And prophets - The prophets of the Old Testament, using the word, probably, to denote the Old Testament in general. That is, the doctrines of divine revelation, whether communicated by prophets or apostles, were laid at the foundation of the Christian church. It was not rounded on philosophy, or tradition, or on human laws, or on a venerable antiquity, but on the great truths which God had revealed. Paul does not say that it was founded on "Peter," as the papists do, but on the prophets and apostles in general. If Peter had been the "vicegerent of Christ," and the head of the church, it is incredible that his brother Paul should not have given him some honorable notice in this place. Why did he not allude to so important a fact? Would one who believed it have omitted it? Would a papist now omit it? Learn here:

(1) That no reliance is to be placed on philosophy as a basis of religious doctrine.

(2) that the traditions of people have no authority in the church, and constitute no part of the foundation.

(3) that nothing is to be regarded as a fundamental part of the Christian system, or as binding on the conscience, which cannot be found in the "prophets and apostles;" that is, as it means here, in the Holy Scriptures. No decrees of councils; no ordinances of synods; no "standard" of doctrines; no creed or confession, is to be urged as authority in forming the opinions of people. They may be valuable for some purposes, but not for this; they may be referred to as interesting parts of history, but not to form the faith of Christians; they may be used in the church to express its belief, but not to form it. What is based on the authority of apostles and prophets is true, and always true, and only true; what may be found elsewhere, may be valuable and true, or not, but, at any rate, is not to be used to control the faith of people.

Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone - see the note at Isaiah 28:16; Romans 9:33, note. The cornerstone is the most important in the building.

(1) because the edifice rests mainly on the cornerstones. If they are small, and unstable, and settle down, the whole building is insecure; and hence care is taken to place a large stone firmly at each corner of an edifice.

(2) because it occupies a conspicuous and honorable place. If documents or valuable articles are deposited at the foundation of a building it is within the cornerstone. The Lord Jesus is called the "cornerstone," because the whole edifice rests on him, or he occupies a place relatively as important as the cornerstone of an edifice. Were it not for him, the edifice could not be sustained for a moment. Neither prophets nor apostles alone could sustain it; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 3:11; compare 1 Peter 2:6.

20. Translate as Greek, "Built up upon," &c. (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, &c.—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).

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets; the foundation which the apostles and prophets laid by their preaching, viz. Christ, whom they held forth as the only Mediator between God and man, the only Saviour and head of the church: see 1 Corinthians 3:11.

Foundation, in the singular number, to imply the unity of their doctrine centring in Christ:

apostles and prophets, whose office was to preach, not kings and patriarchs.

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; as both supporting the building by his strength, and uniting the several parts of it, Jew and Gentile: see Matthew 21:42 Psalm 118:22. They that are of chief authority are called the corners of a people, as sustaining the greatest burden, 1 Samuel 14:38 Isaiah 19:13.

Objection. If Christ be the corner-stone, how is he the foundation?

Answer. The same thing may have different denominations in different respects; Christ is called a foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11, a corner-stone, 1 Peter 2:6, a temple, John 2:19, a door, John 10:7, a builder, Matthew 16:18; so here again a corner-stone, and yet laid for a foundation, Isaiah 28:16.

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.

{15} And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the {r} chief corner stone;

(15) The Lord committed the doctrine of salvation, first to the prophets, and then to the apostles, the end of which, and matter as it were and substance, is Christ. Therefore that is indeed the true and universal Church which is built upon Christ by the prophets and apostles, as a spiritual temple consecrated to God.

(r) That is the corner stone of the building, for the foundations are as it were corner stone of the building.

Ephesians 2:20. The conception οἶκος Θεοῦ leads the apostle, in keeping with the many-sided versatility of his association of ideas, to make the transition from the figure of a household-fellowship, to the figure of a house-structure, and accordingly to give to οἰκεῖοι τοῦ Θεοῦ a further illustration, which now is no longer appropriate to the former figurative conception, but only to the latter, which, however, was not yet expressed in οἰκεῖοι τοῦ Θεοῦ. Comp. Colossians 2:6-7.

ἐποικοδομηθέντες] namely, when ye became Christians. The compound does not stand for the simple term (Koppe), but denotes the building up. Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 3:14; Colossians 2:7; Xen. Hist. vi. 5. 12; Dem. 1278. 27. ἐπί, with the dative, however (comp. Xen. Anab. iii. 4. 11), is not here occasioned by the aorist participle (Harless), which would not have hindered the use either of the genitive (Horn. Il. xxii. 225; Plato, Legg. v. p. 736 E) or of the accusative (1 Corinthians 3:12; Romans 15:20); but the accusative is not employed, because Paul has not in his mind the relation of direction, and it is purely accidental that not the genitive of rest, but the dative of rest is employed.

τῶν ἀποστ. κ. προφ.] is taken by Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Estius, Morus, and others, including Meier, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, as genitive of apposition; but wrongly, since the apostles and prophets are not the foundation, but have laid it (1 Corinthians 3:10). The foundation laid by the apostles and prophets (as most expositors, including Koppe, Flatt, Rückert, Matthies, Harless, Bleek, correctly take it) is the gospel of Christ, which they have proclaimed, and by which they have established the churches; see on 1 Corinthians 3:10. “Testimonium apost. et proph. substructum est fidei credentium omnium,” Bengel.

προφητῶν] has been understood by Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Jerome, Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Calovius, Estius, Baumgarten, Michaelis, and others, including Rückert, of the Old Testament prophets. That not these, however, but the New Testament prophets (see on 1 Corinthians 12:10), are intended (Pelagius, Piscator, Grotius, Bengel, Zachariae, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Harless, Meier, Matthies, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Bleek), is clear, not indeed from the non-repetition of the article, since the apostles and prophets might be conceived as one class (Xen. Anab. ii. 2. Ephesians 5 : οἱ στρατηγοὶ καὶ λοχαγοί; comp. Saupp. ad Xen. Venat. v. 24; Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 373), but (1) from the very order of the words,[158] which, especially from the pen of an apostle, would most naturally have been τῶν προφητῶν κ. ἀποστόλων; (2) from the analogy of Ephesians 3:5, Ephesians 4:11; and (3) from the fact that the foundation-laying in question can, from the nature of the case, only be the preaching of the Christ who has come, because upon this foundation the establishment of the church took place, and in that preaching the old prophetic predictions were used only as means (Romans 16:26). Comp. also Ephesians 2:21. Harless supposes that the apostles are here called at the same time prophets.[159] In this way, no doubt, the objection of Rückert is obviated, that, in fact, the prophets themselves would have come to Christianity only by means of the apostles, and would themselves have stood only on the θεμέλιος τῶν ἀποστόλων; but (a) from the non-repetition of the article there by no means follows the unity of the persons (see above), but only the unity of the category, under which the two are thought of. (b) There may be urged against it the analogy of Ephesians 4:11, as well as that in the whole N.T., where the ecclesiastical functions are already distinguished[160] and prophets are mentioned, apostles are not at the same time intended. It is true that the apostles had of necessity to possess the gift of prophecy, but this was understood of itself, and they are always called merely apostles, while simply those having received the gift of prophecy, who were not at the same time apostles, are termed prophets; comp. 1 Corinthians 12:28 f. (c) There would be no reason whatever bearing on the matter in hand why the apostles should here be designated specially as prophets; nay, the contrast of Moses and the prophets, arbitrarily assumed by Hofmann, would only tell against the identity (Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44; Acts 24:14; John 1:46). That objection of Rückert, however, disappears entirely when we contemplate the prophets as the immediate and principal fellow-labourers in connection with the laying of the foundation done primarily by the apostles, in which character they, although themselves resting upon the θεμέλιον of the apostles, yet in turn were associated with them as founders. And the more highly Paul esteems prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1), and puts the prophets elsewhere also in the place next to the apostles (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28 f.), with so much the more justice might he designate the apostles and prophets as laying the foundation of the churches; and the less are we warranted, with de Wette, in finding here traces of a disciple of the apostles, who has had before him the results of the apostolic labours as well as the period of the original prophecy as concluded, or with Schwegler (in Zeller’s Jahrb. 1844, p. 379) and Baur (p. 438), in recognising traces of Montanism with its new prophets as the continuers of the apostolate.

ὄντος ἀκρογ. αὐτοῦ Ἰ. Χ.] wherein Jesus Christ Himself is corner-stone. On this most essential point, without which the building up in question upon the apostolic and prophetic foundation would lack its uniquely distinctive character, hinges the whole completion of the sublime picture, Ephesians 2:21-22. The gospel preached by the apostles and prophets is the foundation, the basis, upon which the Ephesians were built up, i.e. this apostolic and prophetic gospel was preached also at Ephesus, and the readers were thereby converted and formed into a Christian community; but the corner-stone of this building is Christ Himself, inasmuch, namely, as Christ, the historic, living Christ, to whom all Christian belief and life have reference, as necessarily conditions through Himself the existence and endurance of each Christian commonwealth, as the existence and steadiness of a building are dependent on the indispensable corner-stone, which upholds the whole structure (on ἀκρογωνιαῖος, sc. λίθος, which does not occur in Greek writers, comp. LXX. Isaiah 28:16; Symm. Ps. cxvii. 22; 1 Peter 2:6; on the subject-matter, Matthew 21:42). Only as to the figure, not as to the thing signified, is there a difference when Christ is here designated as the corner-stone, and at 1 Corinthians 3:11 as the foundation. The identity of the matter lies in τὸν κείμενον, 1 Cor. l.c. See on that passage. In the figure of the corner-stone (which “duos parietes ex diverso venientes conjungit et continet,” Estius) many have found the union of the Jews and Gentiles set forth (Theodoret, Menochius, Estius, Michaelis, Holzhausen, Bretschneider, and others). But this is at variance with πᾶσα οἰκοδ., Ephesians 2:21, according to which for every Christian community, and so also for those consisting exclusively of Jewish-Christians or exclusively of Gentile-Christians, Christ is the corner-stone.

αὐτοῦ] does not apply to τῷ θεμελίῳ (Bengel, Cramer, Koppe, Holzhausen, Hofmann, II. 2, p. 122), for Christ is conceived of as the corner-stone, not of the foundation, but of the building (Ephesians 2:21). It belongs to Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, which with this αὐτοῦ is placed emphatically at the end, in order then to join on by ἐν ᾧ κ.τ.λ. that which is to be further said of Christ, in so far as He is Himself the corner-stone. The article αὐτοῦ τοῦ Ἰ. Χ. might be used; Christ would then be conceived of as already present in the consciousness of the readers (He Himself, Christ; see Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 117): it was not necessary, however, to use it (in opposition to Bengel); but the conception is: Christ Himself is corner-stone (Il. vi 450; Xen. Anab, ii. 1. 5, Apol. 11, al.; see Bornemann, ad Anab. i. 7. 11; Krüger on Thuc. i. 27. 3), so that Christ Himself, as respects His own unique destination in this edifice, is contradistinguished from His labourers, the apostles and prophets.

Whether, it may be asked, is τῷ θεμελίῳ masculine (see on 1 Corinthians 3:10) or neuter? It tells in favour of the former that, with Paul, it is at 1 Corinthians 3:11 (also 2 Timothy 2:19) decidedly masculine, but in no passage decidedly neuter (Romans 15:20; 1 Timothy 6:19). Harless erroneously thinks that the neuter is employed by the apostle only metaphorically.

[158] This has been very arbitrarily explained by the assertion that the apostles preached the gospel immediately, that they possessed the greater endowment of grace, that the foundation had been no recens positum, and such like. See specially Calovius and Estius.

[159] So also Rückert on Ephesians 3:5, and Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 122. The latter adduces as a reason, that προφ. is no peculiar N.T. designation like ἀπόστ. This, however, it surely is, namely, in the N.T. sense, for which the O. T. word was the most suitable vehicle. Philippi also, Glaubenslehre, I. p. 288, ed. 2, declares himself in favour of Harless.

[160] This is not yet the case at Matthew 23:34, where rather the whole category of Christian teachers is still designated by Old Testament names. In the parallel Luke 11:49, on the other hand, the apostles are already adduced as such by name.

Ephesians 2:20. ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ: being built upon the foundation. From the idea of the house or household of God contained in the οἰκεῖοι Paul passes by an easy transition to that of the building of the spiritual οἶκος. The ἐπι- in the comp. verb probably expresses the notion of building up; the second ἐπί with the dative θεμελίῳ, that of resting on the foundation—which also might have been expressed by the gen. The forms ὁ θεμέλιος and τὸ θεμέλιον both occur, the former much more frequently than the latter in Greek literature generally. The latter, however, is found frequently in the LXX, and at least once quite unmistakably in the NT (Acts 16:26).—τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν: of the Apostles and Prophets. The omission of τῶν before προφητῶν does not necessarily identify the Apostles and Prophets as one and the same persons (Harl.); cf. Win.-Moult., p. 162. It indicates, however, that they both belong to the same class. The gen. is variously understood as (1) the gen. of apposition = the foundation which is or consists in the Apostles; (2) the gen. of originating cause = the foundation laid by them; (3) the possess. gen. = “the Apostles’ foundation”—in the sense of that on which they built (Anselm, Beza, etc.), or as = that on which they also were built (Alf.). The choice seems to be between (1) and (2). The former has been the view of many from Chrys. down to Von Soden and Abbott, and is favoured so far by Revelation 21:14. But the second has the suffrages of the majority of modern exegetes (Rück., Harl., Bleek, Mey., Ell., etc.). It is more in accordance with 1 Corinthians 3:10 (although it is the worth of teachers that is immediately in view there), and more especially with Romans 15:20, where the Gospel as preached by Paul appears to be the “foundation”. Here, therefore, it seems best on the whole to understand the Gospel of Christ as preached by the Apostles to be the “foundation” on which their converts were built up into the spiritual house. But who are these προφῆται? The OT prophets, say many (Chrys., Theod., Jer., Calv., Rück., etc.)—a view certainly favoured by the use made of the writings of these prophets in the NT, and by the view given of them as “evangelists before the time” (Moule); cf. Luke 24:25; Acts 3:18; Acts 3:21; Acts 3:24; Acts 10:43; Romans 16:26. But the natural order in that case would have been “Prophets and Apostles,” and the previous statements referred clearly to Christian times—to the preaching after Christ’s death. Hence the προφῆται are to be understood as the Christian prophets, of whom large mention is made in the Book of Acts and the Epistles—the NT prophets who in this same Epistle (Ephesians 3:5) are designated as Christ’s prophets and are named (Ephesians 4:11) among the gifts of the ascended Lord to His Church. The frequency with which they are referred to (Acts 11:28; Acts 15:32; 1 Corinthians 14, etc.) and the place assigned to them next to the Apostles (Ephesians 4:11) show the prominent position they had in the primitive Church. The statements made regarding them in the early non-canonical literature (The Teaching of the Twelve, Clem. Alex., Strom., the Shepherd of Hermas, etc.) show how they continued to exist and work beyond the Apostolic Age, and help us to distinguish their ministry as that essentially of teachers and exhorters, whether itinerant or resident, from the essentially missionary ministry of the Apostles. Further the association of these prophets with the Apostles suggests that the latter term is not to be restricted here to the Twelve, but is to be taken as including all those to whom the name “Apostle” is given in the NT.—ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. A few documents, including [179], omit Ἰησοῦ. The Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ of the TR is supported by such authorities as [180] [181] [182] [183] [184]. The best reading, however, is Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, “Christ Jesus,” which is found in [185] [186] [187]-corr., 17, Vulg., Copt., Goth., etc., and is adopted by LTTrWHRV. The word ἀκρογωνιαῖος (cf. the אֶבֶן בִּנָּה of Isaiah 28:16) is peculiar to biblical and ecclesiastical Greek, and is applied to Christ also in 1 Peter 2:6. It denotes the stone placed at the extreme corner, so as to bind the other stones in the building together—the most important stone in the structure, the one on which its stability depended. The αὐτοῦ refers to Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, not to the ἀκρογωνιαίου, nor to the θεμελίῳ (Beng.), the point being that to Christ Himself and none other the building owes its existence, its strength and its increase. He Himself, and neither Apostle nor Prophet, is at once the ultimate foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the Head-stone of the Corner. Some have supposed that, the ἀκρογωνιαῖος being the stone inserted between two others to give strength and cohesion to the whole, there is a reference in the phrase to the union of Jew and Gentile. But this is to push the figure too far.

[179] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[180] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

[181] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[182] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[183] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[184] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[185] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[186] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[187] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

20. and are built] Better, Having been built; once built (aorist), by your Redeemer. The metaphor here boldly changes, from the inmates of city and house, to the structure. Possibly the element “house” in “household” suggested this. For similar imagery, cp. 1 Corinthians 3:9-10; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Judges 20; and see Matthew 7:24-25. And for curious developments of the imagery here, in very early Christian literature, see St Ignatius Ep. to the Eph., ch. ix, and the Shepherd of Hermas, ‘Vision’ iii. And for an application of the imagery in ancient hymnology, the hymn (cent. 8 or 9) Urbs beata Hirusalem (Trench, Sacr. Lat. Poetry, p. 311).

the foundation of the apostles and prophets] The foundation which consists of them; in the sense that their doctrine is the basis of the faith, and so of the unity, of the saints. Cp. Revelation 21:14; and the words spoken (Matthew 16:18) to Peter, “upon this rock I will build My Church.” Not to enter into the details there, it is plain that the personal address to Peter is deeply connected with the revelation to and confession by Peter of the Truth of Christ. The Collect for the day of SS. Simon and Jude, constructed from this passage, is a true comment on it.

The apostles and prophets:”—Who are the Prophets here? Those of the O. T. or those of the Gospel, (for whom cp. e.g. Ephesians 3:5, Ephesians 4:11; Acts 15:32; and often)? For the first alternative, it is a strong plea that the O. T. prophets are always regarded in the N. T. as Evangelists before the time; cp. e. g. Luke 24:25; Acts 3:18; Acts 3:21; Acts 3:24; Acts 10:43; Romans 16:26. The last passage regards the “prophetic scriptures” as the great instrument of apostolic preaching. But on the other hand we should thus have expected “prophets and apostles” to be the order of mention. And Ephesians 3:5, giving the same phrase with distinct reference to the “prophets” of the Gospel, is a parallel nearly conclusive in itself in favour of that reference here. In Ephesians 4:11, again, we have the “prophet” named next to the “Apostle” among the gifts of the glorified Saviour to this Church; a suggestion of the great prominence and importance of the function. We take the word here, then, to mean such “prophets” as Judas and Silas (Acts 15:32); men, we gather, who, though not of one office with the Apostles, shared some of their functions; were directly inspired, on occasion, with knowledge of the future (Acts 11:28), and with truth of spiritual doctrine (Ephesians 3:5, and 1 Corinthians 14); and were specially commissioned to preach and teach such things revealed. May we not probably class the non-apostolic writers of the N. T. among these “prophets”? See further, Appendix F.

The mention of them here is in special point, because public faith and doctrine is in question. The work of the “prophets” had, doubtless, greatly contributed to the wide spread and settlement of the truth of the free acceptance in Christ of all believers, Gentiles with Jews. Observe that in Acts 15:32 it is two “prophets” who “exhort and confirm” (the Gr. word suggests precisely settlement on a foundation) the Gentile believers at Antioch, in the very crisis of the conflict between Pharisaic limits and the universality of the Gospel.

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone] It is possible to render “the chief corner stone of it (the foundation) being Christ Jesus;” but far less probable. The “Himself” is almost demanded by the separation and contrast of the supreme position of the Lord. So R. V.—There is a slight emphasis, by position, on “being.”

“The chief corner stone:”—one word in the Gr.; found also 1 Peter 2:6; where Isaiah 28:16 (LXX.) is quoted nearly verbatim. Precisely, the LXX. there runs, “I lay among the foundations of Sion a stone costly, chosen, chief of the corner, precious;” words which indicate that the idea, to the Greek translators, was that of a stone essential to the foundation, not in the higher structure; and this is confirmed by St Peter’s use of the quotation. Thus on the whole we take the image to be that of a vast stone at an angle of the substructure, into which the converging sides are imbedded, “in which” they “consist;” and the spiritual reality to be, that Jesus Christ Himself is that which gives coherence and fixity to the foundation doctrines of His Church; with the implied idea that He is the essential to the foundation, being the ultimate Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). Apostles and Prophets reveal and enforce a basis of truths for the rest and settlement of the saints’ faith; those truths, at every point of juncture and prominence, are seen to be wholly dependent on Jesus Christ for significance, harmony and permanence.

In the Heb. of Isaiah 28:16 (and so, or nearly, Job 38:6; Psalm 118:22 (Messianic); Jeremiah 51:26) the phrase is “stone,” or “head,” of “corner,” or of “prominence.” See too Zechariah 10:4, where the solitary word “corner” appears to convey the same image.

F. APOSTLES AND PROPHETS. (Ch. Ephesians 2:20.)

On this collocation of Apostles with (Christian) Prophets some interesting light is thrown by early non-canonical Christian literature. The “Prophet” appears as a conspicuous and most important element in the life and work of some Christian communities in the closing years of cent. 1. The recently discovered Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, often referred to with high respect by the Christian Fathers (St Clement of Alexandria even seems to quote it as Scripture, Strom, 1. c. xx), belongs most probably to cent. 1, and to the Churches of Syria. Of its sixteen chapters, five (10, 11, 13, 14, 15.) explicitly speak of the Prophets of the Church. We gather that they were usually itinerant visitors to the Churches, but sometimes resident, and then supported by firstfruits. They presided at Divine worship, particularly at the weekly “Thanksgiving” (Eucharist), and had the right (as apparently the ordained “Bishops” and “Deacons,” ch. 15, had not) of using their own words in conducting the sacramental service (cp. perhaps Justin Martyr, Apol. 1. c. 67). They are called “high priests” (ch. 13). They were to be tested (cp. 1 John 4:1) by known standards of truth, and by their personal consistency of life, but then, so long as their teaching did not contravene those tests, they were to be heard with the submission due to inspired oracles (ch. 11). To sit in judgment on them was to incur the doom of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The local “Bishops” and “Deacons” were in some respects inferior to them. The language of ch. 15 indicates, perhaps, that this inspired superior ministry was gradually passing away, and the regularly ordained ministry taking more and more its place.

The same document (ch. 11) mentions other Visitors called “Apostles;” so entirely itinerant that a stay of three days in one place would betray the man as a “false prophet.” The notice of these “Apostles” is very brief. They were evidently a rarer phenomenon, and of less practical influence, than the Prophets. No reference to the Great Apostles is to be sought in the passage. It may be illustrated by Romans 16:7 (where however see note in this Series); and seems to indicate the existence of a class of constantly moving, and inspired, superintendents and instructors of the Churches, who, as such, would bear a likeness to the Great Apostles. No function of superintendence seems to be assigned to the Prophets.

In the Shepherd of Hermas (first half of cent. 2), ‘Commandment’ xi, is a passage referring to the Christian Prophet and his credentials. These credentials were especially a deep personal humility, a renunciation of gain, and the refusal to “prophesy” in answer to consultations and questions. The Prophet was regarded as “filled by the angel of the prophetic spirit,” when it pleased God, and he then spoke not to individuals but to the congregation.

In the “First” Epistle[44] of St Clement of Rome to the Church of Corinth (probably about a.d. 95) there is ample allusion to the ordained ministry, but none to the Prophets. The same is the case in the Epistles of St Ignatius and the Epistle of St Polycarp (early cent. 2). In the Epistle of Barnabas, written probably somewhat later than the Teaching, and possibly based upon it in some measure, no allusion to the “Prophets” occurs.

[44] The “Second Epistle” is probably by another and later writer. It contains nothing to the point here.

Ephesians 2:20. Ἐποικοδομηθέντες, built upon) A phrase frequent with Paul, writing to the Ephesians, Ephesians 3:18, (comp. Acts 20:32); and to Timothy, bishop of Ephesus, a metaphor taken from architecture; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:19.—ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ, on the foundation) As the foundation supports the whole building, so the testimony of the apostles and prophets is the substruction or support of the faith of all believers; by them the foundation was laid; Christ Jesus is here said to be the head of the corner. The same Person is spoken of as the very foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11.—καὶ προφητῶν, and prophets) Prophets of the New Testament, who are next to the apostles; Ephesians 4:11, Ephesians 3:5.—ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ, being chief corner stone of it) Paul briefly indicates the passage in Isaiah 28:16, as very well known; comp. 1 Peter 2:6, note. Christ Jesus is the chief corner stone of the foundation. The participle ὄντος, at the beginning of this clause, is strongly demonstrative in the present tense. The pronoun αὐτοῦ is to be referred to θεμελίῳ;[35] for if it were construed with Χριστοῦ, it would be in this form: ΑὐΤΟῦ ΤΟΥ[36] Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, as we read αὐτὸς ὁ Ἰωάννης, κ.τ.λ., with the article,[37] Matthew 3:4; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:23; Luke 24:15; Luke 24:36; John 2:24; John 4:44; 2 Corinthians 11:14.

[35] But Engl. Vers. takes it, Jesus Christ Himself. Beng. renders it, “Jesus Christ being the chief corner-stone of it,” viz. of the foundation.—ED

[36] Whether the reading Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ or Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ should be preferred is left doubtful on the marg. of both Ed. The Germ. Vers. separates Ἰησοῦ by a parenthesis.—E. B.

[37] AB Vulg. Memph. Orig. read the order Χριοτοῦ Ἰησοῦ. But D(Δ)Gg and Rec. Text have Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Acc. to Lachm., C supports the former order. Acc. to Tischend., C supports the latter.)—ED.

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. Ephesians 2:20Of the apostles and prophets

The foundation laid by them. Prophets are New-Testament prophets. See Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11. See on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

Chief corner-stone (ἀκρογωνίαου)

Only here and 1 Peter 2:6.

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