Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE EPHESIANS Commentary by A. R. Faussett
The headings (Eph 1:1, and Eph 3:1, show that this Epistle claims to be that of Paul. This claim is confirmed by the testimonies of Irenæus, [Against Heresies, 5.2,3; 1.8,5]; Clement of Alexandria, [Miscellanies, 4, P. 65, and The Instructor, 1.8]; Origen, [Against Celsus, 4,211]. It is quoted by Valentinus, A.D. 120, namely, Eph 3:14-18, as we know from Hippolytus [The Refutation of All Heresies, p. 193]. Polycarp [Epistle to the Philippians, 12], testifies to its canonicity. So Tertullian [Against Marcion, 5,17]. Ignatius [Epistle to the Ephesians, 12], which alludes to the frequent and affectionate mention made by Paul of the Christian state, privileges, and persons of the Ephesians in his Epistle.
Two theories, besides the ordinary one, have been held on the question, to whom the Epistle is addressed. Grotius, after the heretic Marcion, maintains that it was addressed to the Church at Laodicea, and that it is the Epistle to which Paul refers in Col 4:16. But the Epistle to the Colossians was probably written before that to the Ephesians, as appears from the parallel passages in Ephesians bearing marks of being expanded from those in Colossians; and Marcion seems to have drawn his notion, as to our Epistle, from Paul's allusion (Col 4:16) to an Epistle addressed by him to the Laodiceans. Origen and Clement of Alexandria, and even Tertullian, who refers to Marcion, give no sanction to his notion. No single manuscript contains the heading, "to the saints that are at Laodicea." The very resemblance of the Epistle to the Ephesians, to that to the Colossians, is against the theory; for if the former were really the one addressed to Laodicea (Col 4:16), Paul would not have deemed it necessary that the churches of Colosse and Laodicea should interchange Epistles. The greetings, moreover (Col 4:15), which he sends through the Colossians to the Laodiceans, are quite incompatible with the idea that Paul wrote an Epistle to the Laodiceans at the same time, and by the same bearer, Tychicus (the bearer of our Epistle to the Ephesians, as well as of that to Colosse, Eph 6:21; Col 4:7); for who, under such circumstances, would not send the greetings directly in the letter to the party saluted? The letter to Laodicea was evidently written some time before that to Colosse, Archbishop Usher has advanced the second theory: That it was an encyclical letter headed, as in Manuscript B., "to the saints that are … and to the faithful," the name of each Church being inserted in the copy sent to it; and that its being sent to Ephesus first, occasioned its being entitled, as now, the Epistle to the Ephesians. Alford makes the following objections to this theory: (1) It is at variance with the spirit of the Epistle, which is clearly addressed to one set of persons throughout, co-existing in one place, and as one body, and under the same circumstances. (2) The improbability that the apostle, who in two of his Epistles (Second Corinthians and Galatians) has so plainly specified their encyclical character, should have here omitted such specification. (3) The still greater improbability that he should have, as on this hypothesis must be assumed, written a circular Epistle to a district, of which Ephesus was the commercial capital, addressed to various churches within that district, yet from its very contents (as by the opponents' hypothesis) not admitting of application to the Church of that metropolis, in which he had spent so long a time, and to which he was so affectionately bound. (4) The inconsistency of this hypothesis with the address of the Epistle, and the universal testimony of the ancient Church. The absence of personal greetings is not an argument for either of the two theories; for similarly there are none in Galatians, Philippians, First and Second Thessalonians, First Timothy. The better he knows the parties addressed, and the more general and solemn the subject, the less he seems to give of these individual notices. Writing, as he does in this Epistle, on the constitution and prospects of Christ's universal Church, he refers the Ephesians, as to personal matters, to the bearer of the Epistle, Tychicus (Eph 6:21, 22). As to the omission of "which are at Ephesus" (Eph 1:1), in Manuscript B., so "in Rome" (Ro 1:7) is omitted in some old manuscripts: it was probably done by churches among whom it was read, in order to generalize the reference of its contents, and especially where the subject of the Epistle is catholic. The words are found in the margin of Manuscript B, from a first hand; and are found in all the oldest manuscripts and versions.
Paul's first visit to Ephesus (on the seacoast of Lydia, near the river Cayster) is related in Ac 18:19-21. The work, begun by his disputations with the Jews in his short visit, was carried on by Apollos (Ac 18:24-26), and Aquila and Priscilla (Ac 18:26). At his second visit, after his journey to Jerusalem, and thence to the east regions of Asia Minor, he remained at Ephesus "three years" (Ac 19:10, the "two years" in which verse are only part of the time, and Ac 20:31); so that the founding and rearing of this Church occupied an unusually large portion of the apostle's time and care; whence his language in this Epistle shows a warmth of feeling, and a free outpouring of thought, and a union in spiritual privileges and hope between him and them (Eph 1:3, &c.), such as are natural from one so long and so intimately associated with those whom he addresses. On his last journey to Jerusalem, he sailed by Ephesus and summoned the elders of the Ephesian Church to meet him at Miletus, where he delivered his remarkable farewell charge (Ac 20:18-35).
This Epistle was addressed to the Ephesians during the early part of his imprisonment at Rome, immediately after that to the Colossians, to which it bears a close resemblance in many passages, the apostle having in his mind generally the same great truths in writing both. It is an undesigned proof of genuineness that the two Epistles, written about the same date, and under the same circumstances, bear a closer mutual resemblance than those written at distant dates and on different occasions. Compare Eph 1:7 with Col 1:14; Eph 1:10 with Col 1:20; Eph 3:2 with Col 1:25; Eph 5:19 with Col 3:16; Eph 6:22 with Col 4:8; Eph 1:19; 2:5 with Col 2:12, 13; Eph 4:2-4 with Col 3:12-15; Eph 4:16 with Col 2:19; Eph 4:32 with Col 3:13; Eph 4:22-24 with Col 3:9, 10; Eph 5:6-8 with Col 3:6-8; Eph 5:15, 16 with Col 4:5; Eph 6:19, 20 with Col 4:3, 4; Eph 5:22-33; 6:1-9 with Col 3:18; Eph 4:24, 25 with Col 3:9; Eph 5:20-22 with Col 3:17, 18. Tychicus and Onesimus were being sent to Colosse, the former bearing the two Epistles to the two churches respectively, the latter furnished with a letter of recommendation to Philemon, his former master, residing at Colosse. The date was probably about four years after his parting with the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Ac 20:6-38), about A.D. 62, before his imprisonment had become of the more severe kind, which appears in his Epistle to the Philippians. From Eph 6:19, 20 it is plain he had at the time, though a prisoner, some degree of freedom in preaching, which accords with Ac 28:23, 30, 31, where he is represented as receiving at his lodgings all inquirers. His imprisonment began in February A.D. 61 and lasted "two whole years" (Ac 28:30) at least, and perhaps longer.
The Church of Ephesus was made up of converts partly from the Jews and partly from the Gentiles (Ac 19:8-10). Accordingly, the Epistle so addresses a Church constituted (Eph 2:14-22). Ephesus was famed for its idol temple of Artemis or Diana, which, after its having been burnt down by Herostratus on the night that Alexander the Great was born (355 B.C.), was rebuilt at enormous cost and was one of the wonders of the world. Hence, perhaps, have arisen his images in this Epistle drawn from a beautiful temple: the Church being in true inner beauty that which the temple of the idol tried to realize in outward show (Eph 2:19-22). The Epistle (Eph 4:17; 5:1-13) implies the profligacy for which the Ephesian heathen were notorious. Many of the same expressions occur in the Epistle as in Paul's address to the Ephesian elders. Compare Eph 1:6, 7; 2:7, as to "grace," with Ac 20:24, 32: this may well be called "the Epistle of the grace of God" [Alford]. Also, as to his "bonds," Eph 3:1, and 4:1 with Ac 20:22, 23. Also Eph 1:11, as to "the counsel of God," with Ac 20:27. Also Eph 1:14, as to "the redemption of the purchased possession," with Ac 20:28. Also Eph 1:14, 18; 2:20; 5:5, as to "building up" the "inheritance," with Ac 20:32.
The object of the Epistle is "to set forth the ground, the course, and the aim and end of THE Church of the Faithful in Christ. He speaks to the Ephesians as a type or sample of the Church universal" [Alford]. Hence, "the Church" throughout the Epistle is spoken of in the singular, not in the plural, "churches." The Church's foundation, its course, and its end, are his theme alike in the larger and smaller divisions of the whole Epistle. "Everywhere the foundation of the Church is in the will of the Father; the course of the Church is by the satisfaction of the Son; the end of the Church is the life in the Holy Spirit" [Alford]. Compare respectively Eph 1:11; 2:5; 3:16. This having been laid down as a matter of doctrine (this part closing with a sublime doxology, Eph 3:14-21), is then made the ground of practical exhortations. In these latter also (from Eph 4:1, onward), the same threefold division prevails, for the Church is represented as founded on the counsel of "God the Father, who is above all, through all, and in all," reared by the "one Lord," Jesus Christ, through the "one Spirit" (Eph 4:4-6, &c.), who give their respective graces to the several members. These last are therefore to exercise all these graces in the several relations of life, as husbands, wives, servants, children, &c. The conclusion is that we must put on "the whole armor of God" (Eph 6:13).
The sublimity of the STYLE and LANGUAGE corresponds to the sublimity of the subjects and exceeds almost that of any part of his Epistles. It is appropriate that those to whom he so wrote were Christians long grounded in the faith. The very sublimity is the cause of the difficulty of the style, and of the presence of peculiar expressions occurring, not found elsewhere.
Eph 1:1-23. Inscription: Origin of the Church in the Father's Eternal Counsel, and the Son's Bloodshedding: The Sealing of It by the Spirit. Thanksgiving and Prayer that They May Fully Know God's Gracious Power in Christ towards the Saints.
1. by—rather, "through the will of God": called to the apostleship through that same "will" which originated the Church (Eph 1:5, 9, 11; compare Ga 1:4).
which are at Ephesus—(See Introduction.)
to the saints … and to the faithful—The same persons are referred to by both designations, as the Greek proves: "to those who are saints, and faithful in Christ Jesus." The sanctification by God is here put before man's faith. The twofold aspect of salvation is thus presented, God's grace in the first instance sanctifying us, (that is, setting us apart in His eternal purposes as holy unto Himself); and our faith, by God's gift, laying hold of salvation (2Th 2:13; 1Pe 1:2).
Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. (Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:3; 2Co 1:2; Ga 1:3).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
3. The doxologies in almost all the Epistles imply the real sense of grace experienced by the writers and their readers (1Pe 1:3). Eph 1:3-14 sets forth summarily the Gospel of the grace of God: the Father's work of love, Eph 1:3 (choosing us to holiness, Eph 1:4; to sonship, Eph 1:5; to acceptance, Eph 1:6): the Son's, Eph 1:7 (redemption, Eph 1:7; knowledge of the mystery of His will, Eph 1:9; an inheritance, Eph 1:11); the Holy Spirit's, Eph 1:13 (sealing, Eph 1:13; giving an earnest of the inheritance, Eph 1:14).
the God and Father of … Christ—and so the God and Father of us who are in Him (Joh 20:17). God is "the God" of the man Jesus, and "the Father" of the Divine Word. The Greek is, "Blessed us," not "hath blessed us"; referring to the past original counsel of God. As in creation (Ge 1:22) so in redemption (Ge 12:3; Mt 5:3-11; 25:34) God "blesses" His children; and that not in mere words, but in acts.
blessings—Greek, "blessing." "All," that is, "every possible blessing for time and eternity, which the Spirit has to bestow" (so "spiritual" means; not "spiritual," as the term is now used, as opposed to bodily).
in heavenly places—a phrase five times found in this Epistle, and not elsewhere (Eph 1:20; Eph 2:6; 3:10; 6:12); Greek, "in the heavenly places." Christ's ascension is the means of introducing us into the heavenly places, which by our sin were barred against us. Compare the change made by Christ (Col 1:20; Eph 1:20). While Christ in the flesh was in the form of a servant, God's people could not realize fully their heavenly privileges as sons. Now "our citizenship (Greek) is in heaven" (Php 3:20), where our High Priest is ever "blessing" us. Our "treasures" are there (Mt 6:20, 21); our aims and affections (Col 3:1, 2); our hope (Col 1:5; Tit 2:13); our inheritance (1Pe 1:4). The gift of the Spirit itself, the source of the "spiritual blessing," is by virtue of Jesus having ascended thither (Eph 4:8).
in Christ—the center and source of all blessing to us.
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
4. hath chosen us—Greek, "chose us out for Himself" (namely, out of the world, Ga 1:4): referring to His original choice, spoken of as past.
in him—The repetition of the idea, "in Christ" (Eph 1:3), implies the paramount importance of the truth that it is in Him, and by virtue of union to Him, the Second Adam, the Restorer ordained for us from everlasting, the Head of redeemed humanity, believers have all their blessings (Eph 3:11).
before the foundation of the world—This assumes the eternity of the Son of God (Joh 17:5, 24), as of the election of believers in Him (2Ti 1:9; 2Th 2:13).
that we should be holy—positively (De 14:2).
without blame—negatively (Eph 5:27; 1Th 3:13).
before him—It is to Him the believer looks, walking as in His presence, before whom he looks to be accepted in the judgment (Col 1:22; compare Re 7:15).
in love—joined by Bengel and others with Eph 1:5, "in love having predestinated us," &c. But English Version is better. The words qualify the whole clause, "that we should be holy … before Him." Love, lost to man by the fall, but restored by redemption, is the root and fruit and sum of all holiness (Eph 5:2; 1Th 3:12, 13).
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
5. predestinated—more special in respect to the end and precise means, than "chosen" or elected. We are "chosen" out of the rest of the world; "predestinated" to all things that secure the inheritance for us (Eph 1:11; Ro 8:29). "Foreordained."
by Jesus—Greek, "through Jesus."
to himself—the Father (Col 1:20). Alford explains, "adoption … into Himself," that is, so that we should be partakers of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4). Lachmann reads, "unto Him." The context favors the explanation of Calvin: God has regard to Himself and the glory of His grace (Eph 1:6, 12, 14) as His ultimate end. He had one only-begotten Son, and He was pleased for His own glory, to choose out of a lost world many to become His adopted sons. Translate, "unto Himself."
the good pleasure of his will—So the Greek (Mt 11:26; Lu 10:21). We cannot go beyond "the good pleasure of His will" in searching into the causes of our salvation, or of any of His works (Eph 1:9). (Job 33:13.) Why needest thou philosophize about an imaginary world of optimism? Thy concern is to take heed that thou be not bad. There was nothing in us which deserved His love (Eph 1:1, 9, 11) [Bengel].
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
6. (Eph 1:7, 17, 18). The end aimed at (Ps 50:23), that is, that the glory of His grace may be praised by all His creatures, men and angels.
wherein—Some of the oldest manuscripts read, "which." Then translate, "which He graciously bestowed on us." But English Version is supported by good manuscripts and the oldest versions.
us accepted—a kindred Greek word to "grace": charitos, echaritosen: translate, "graciously accepted"; "made us subjects of His grace"; "embraced us in the arms of His grace" (Ro 3:24; 5:15).
in the beloved—pre-eminently so called (Mt 3:17; 17:5; Joh 3:35; Col 1:13). Greek, "Son of His love." It is only "IN His Beloved" that He loves us (Eph 1:3; 1Jo 4:9, 10).
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
7. In whom—"the Beloved" (Eph 1:6; Ro 3:24).
we have—as a present possession.
redemption—Greek, "our (literally, 'the') redemption"; THE redemption which is the grand subject of all revelation, and especially of the New Testament (Ro 3:24), namely, from the power, guilt, and penal consequences of sin (Mt 1:21). If a man were unable to redeem himself from being a bond-servant, his kinsman might redeem him (Le 25:48). Hence, antitypically the Son of God became the Son of man, that as our kinsman He might redeem us (Mt 20:28). Another "redemption" follows, namely, that "of the purchased possession" hereafter (Eph 1:14).
through his blood—(Eph 2:13); as the instrument; the propitiation, that is, the consideration (devised by His own love) for which He, who was justly angry (Isa 12:1), becomes propitious to us; the expiation, the price paid to divine justice for our sin (Ac 20:28; Ro 3:25; 1Co 6:20; Col 1:20; 1Pe 1:18, 19).
the forgiveness of sins—Greek, "the remission of our transgressions": not merely "pretermission," as the Greek (Ro 3:25) ought to be translated. This "remission," being the explanation of "redemption," includes not only deliverance from sin's penalty, but from its pollution and enslaving power, negatively; and the reconciliation of an offended God, and a satisfaction unto a just God, positively.
riches of his grace—(Eph 2:7); "the exceeding riches of His grace." Compare Eph 1:18; Eph 3:16, "according to the riches of His glory": so that "grace" is His "glory."
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
8. Rather, "which He made to abound towards us."
all wisdom and prudence—"wisdom" in devising the plan of redeeming mankind; "prudence" in executing it by the means, and in making all the necessary arrangements of Providence for that purpose. Paul attributes to the Gospel of God's grace "all" possible "wisdom and prudence," in opposition to the boasts of wisdom and prudence which the unbelieving Jews and heathen philosophers and false apostles arrogated for their teachings. Christ crucified, though esteemed "foolishness" by the world, is "the wisdom of God" (1Co 1:18-30). Compare Eph 3:10, "the manifold wisdom of God."
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
9. "He hath abounded," or "made (grace) to abound toward us" (Eph 1:8), in that He made known to us, namely, experimentally, in our hearts.
the mystery—God's purpose of redemption hidden heretofore in His counsels, but now revealed (Eph 6:19; Ro 16:25; Col 1:26, 27). This "mystery" is not like the heathen mysteries, which were imparted only to the initiated few. All Christians are the initiated. Only unbelievers are the uninitiated.
according to his good pleasure—showing the cause why "He hath made known to us the mystery," namely, His own loving "good pleasure" toward us; also the time and manner of His doing so, are according to His good pleasure.
in himself—God the Father. Bengel takes it, "in Him," that is, Christ, as in Eph 1:3, 4. But the proper name, "in Christ," Eph 1:10, immediately after, is inconsistent with His being here meant by the pronoun.
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
10. Translate, "Unto the dispensation of the fulness of the times," that is, "which He purposed in Himself" (Eph 1:9) with a view to the economy of (the gracious administration belonging to) the fulness of the times (Greek, "fit times," "seasons"). More comprehensive than "the fulness of the time" (Ga 4:4). The whole of the Gospel times (plural) is meant, with the benefits to the Church dispensed in them severally and successively. Compare "the ages to come" (Eph 2:7). "The ends of the ages" (Greek, 1Co 10:11); "the times (same Greek as here, 'the seasons,' or 'fitly appointed times') of the Gentiles" (Lu 21:24); "the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power" (Ac 1:7); "the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the prophets since the world began" (Ac 3:20, 21). The coming of Jesus at the first advent, "in the fulness of time," was one of these "times." The descent of the Holy Ghost, "when Pentecost was fully come" (Ac 2:1), was another. The testimony given by the apostles to Him "in due time" ("in its own seasons," Greek) (1Ti 2:6) was another. The conversion of the Jews "when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled," the second coming of Christ, the "restitution of all things," the millennial kingdom, the new heaven and earth, shall be severally instances of "the dispensation of the fulness of the times," that is, "the dispensation of" the Gospel events and benefits belonging to their respective "times," when severally filled up or completed. God the Father, according to His own good pleasure and purpose, is the Dispenser both of the Gospel benefits and of their several fitting times (Ac 1:7).
gather together in one—Greek, "sum up under one head"; "recapitulate." The "good pleasure which He purposed," was "to sum up all things (Greek, 'THE whole range of things') in Christ (Greek, 'the Christ,' that is, His Christ)" [Alford]. God's purpose is to sum up the whole creation in Christ, the Head of angels, with whom He is linked by His invisible nature, and of men with whom He is linked by His humanity; of Jews and Gentiles; of the living and the dead (Eph 3:15); of animate and inanimate creation. Sin has disarranged the creature's relation of subordination to God. God means to gather up all together in Christ; or as Col 1:20 says, "By Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, whether things in earth or things in heaven." Alford well says, "The Church of which the apostle here mainly treats, is subordinated to Him in the highest degree of conscious and joyful union; those who are not His spiritually, in mere subjugation, yet consciously; the inferior tribes of creation unconsciously; but objectively, all are summed up in Him."
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
11. In whom—by virtue of union to whom.
obtained an inheritance—literally, "We were made to have an inheritance" [Wahl]. Compare Eph 1:18, "His inheritance in the saints": as His inheritance is there said to be in them, so theirs is here said to be in Him (Ac 26:18). However, Eph 1:12, "That we should BE TO … His glory" (not "that we should have"), favors the translation of Bengel, Ellicott, and others, "We were made an inheritance." So the literal Israel (De 4:20; 9:29; 32:9). "Also" does not mean "we also," nor as English Version, "in whom also"; but, besides His having "made known to us His will," we were also "made His inheritance," or "we have also obtained an inheritance."
predestinated—(Eph 1:5). The foreordination of Israel, as the elect nation, answers to that of the spiritual Israelites, believers, to an eternal inheritance, which is the thing meant here. The "we" here and in Eph 1:12, means Jewish believers (whence the reference to the election of Israel nationally arises), as contrasted with "you" (Eph 1:13) Gentile believers.
purpose—repeated from "purposed" (Eph 1:9; Eph 3:11). The Church existed in the mind of God eternally, before it existed in creation.
counsel of his … will—(Eph 1:5), "the good pleasure of His will." Not arbitrary caprice, but infinite wisdom ("counsel") joined with sovereign will. Compare his address to the same Ephesians in Ac 20:27, "All the counsel of God" (Isa 28:29). Alike in the natural and spiritual creations, God is not an agent constrained by necessity. "Wheresoever counsel is, there is election, or else it is vain; where a will, there must be freedom, or else it is weak" [Pearson].
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
12. (Eph 1:6, 14).
who first trusted in Christ—rather (we Jewish Christians), "who have before hoped in the Christ": who before the Christ came, looked forward to His coming, waiting for the consolation of Israel. Compare Ac 26:6, 7, "I am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come." Ac 28:20, "the hope of Israel" [Alford]. Compare Eph 1:18; 2:12; 4:4.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
13. In whom ye also—Ye Gentiles. Supply as English Version, "trusted," from Eph 1:12; or "are." The priority of us Jews does not exclude you Gentiles from sharing in Christ (compare Ac 13:46).
the word of truth—the instrument of sanctification, and of the new birth (Joh 17:17; 2Ti 2:15; Jas 1:18). Compare Col 1:5, where also, as here, it is connected with "hope." Also Eph 4:21.
sealed—as God's confirmed children, by the Holy Spirit as the seal (Ac 19:1-6; Ro 8:16, 23; 1Jo 3:24; see on 2Co 1:22). A seal impressed on a document gives undoubted validity to the contract in it (Joh 3:33; 6:27; compare 2Co 3:3). So the sense of "the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost" (Ro 5:5), and the sense of adoption given through the Spirit at regeneration (Ro 8:15, 16), assure believers of God's good will to them. The Spirit, like a seal, impresses on the soul at regeneration the image of our Father. The "sealing" by the Holy Spirit is spoken of as past once for all. The witnessing to our hearts that we are the children of God, and heirs (Eph 1:11), is the Spirit's present testimony, the "earnest of the (coming) inheritance" (Ro 8:16-18).
that Holy Spirit of promise—rather, as the Greek, "The Spirit of promise, even the Holy Spirit": The Spirit promised both in the Old and New Testaments (Joe 2:28; Zec 12:10; Joh 7:38, 39). "The word" promised the Holy Spirit. Those who "believed the word of truth" were sealed by the Spirit accordingly.
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
14. earnest—the first instalment paid as a pledge that the rest will follow (Ro 8:23; 2Co 1:22).
until—rather, "Unto the redemption," &c.; joined thus, "ye were sealed (Eph 1:13) unto," that is, for the purpose of and against, the accomplishment of "the redemption," namely, not the redemption in its first stage, made by the blood of Christ, which secures our title, but, in its final completion, when the actual possession shall be ours, the full "redemption of the body" (Ro 8:23), as well as of the soul, from every infirmity (Eph 4:30). The deliverance of the creature (the body, and the whole visible creation) from the bondage of corruption, and from the usurping prince of this world, into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Ro 8:21-23; 2Pe 3:13).
of the purchased possession—God's people purchased ("acquired," Greek) as His peculiar (Greek) possession by the blood of Christ (Ac 20:28). We value highly that which we pay a high price for; so God, His Church (Eph 5:25, 26; 1Pe 1:18; 2:9; "my special treasure," Mal 3:17, Margin).
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
15. Wherefore—because ye are in Christ and sealed by His Spirit (Eph 1:13, 14).
I also—on my part, in return for God's so great benefits to you.
after I heard—ever since I have heard. Not implying that he had only heard of their conversion: an erroneous argument used by some against the address of this Epistle to the Ephesians (see on Eph 1:1); but referring to the report he had heard since he was with them, as to their Christian graces. So in the case of Philemon, his "beloved fellow laborer" (Phm 1), he uses the same words (Phm 4, 5).
your faith—rather, as Greek, "the faith among you," that is, which many (not all) of you have.
love unto all the saints—of whatever name, simply because they are saints. A distinguishing characteristic of true Christianity (Eph 6:24). "Faith and love he often joins together. A wondrous pair" [Chrysostom]. Hope is added, Eph 1:18.
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
16. (Col 1:9).
of you—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Then the translation may be as English Version still, or as Alford, "making mention of them" (your "faith and love").
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
17. A fit prayer for all Christians.
the God of our Lord Jesus—appropriate title here; as in Eph 1:20-22 he treats of God's raising Jesus to be Head over all things to the Church. Jesus Himself called the Father "My God" (Mt 27:46).
the Father of glory—(Compare Ac 7:2). The Father of that infinite glory which shines in the face of Christ, who is "the glory" (the true Shekinah); through whom also "the glory of the inheritance" (Eph 1:18) shall be ours (Joh 17:24; 2Co 3:7-4:6).
the spirit of wisdom—whose attribute is infinite wisdom and who works wisdom in believers (Isa 11:2).
and revelation—whose function it is to reveal to believers spiritual mysteries (Joh 16:14, 15; 1Co 2:10).
in the knowledge—rather, as Greek (see on 1Co 13:12), "in the full knowledge of Him," namely, God.
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
18. understanding—The oldest manuscripts, versions, and Fathers, read "heart." Compare the contrary state of unbelieving, the heart being in fault (Eph 4:18; Mt 13:15). Translate, "Having the eyes of your heart enlightened" (Eph 5:14; Mt 4:16). The first effect of the Spirit moving in the new creation, as in the original physical creation (Ge 1:3; 2Co 4:6). So Theophilus to Autolycus (1.3), "the ears of the heart." Where spiritual light is, there is life (Joh 1:4). The heart is "the core of life" [Harless], and the fountain of the thoughts; whence "the heart" in Scripture includes the mind, as well as the inclination. Its "eye," or inward vision, both receives and contemplates the light (Mt 6:22, 23). The eye is the symbol of intelligence (Eze 1:18).
the hope of his calling—the hope appertaining to His having called you; or, to the calling wherewith He has called you.
and—omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions.
riches of the glory—(Col 1:27).
his inheritance in the saints—The inheritance which he has in store in the case of the saints. I prefer explaining, "The inheritance which He has in his saints." (See on Eph 1:11; De 32:9).
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
power to us-ward who believe—The whole of the working of His grace, which He is carrying on, and will carry on, in us who believe. By the term "saints" (Eph 1:18), believers are regarded as absolutely perfected, and so as being God's inheritance; in this verse, as in the course of fighting the good fight of faith.
according to—in accordance wit,h, what might be expected from.
working—Greek, "the energizing"; translate, "the effectual working" (Eph 3:7). The same superhuman power was needed and exerted to make us believe, as was needed and exerted to raise Christ from the dead (Eph 1:20). Compare Php 3:10, "the power of His resurrection" (Col 2:12; 1Pe 1:3-5).
of his mighty power—Greek, "of the strength of His might."
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
20. in Christ—as our "first-fruits" of the resurrection, and Head, in virtue of God's mighty working in whom His power to us-ward is made possible and actual [Alford].
when he raised him—"in that He raised Him." The raising of Christ is not only an earnest of our bodies being hereafter raised, but has a spiritual power in it involving (by virtue of our living union with Him, as members with the Head) the resurrection, spiritually of the believer's soul now, and, consequently, of his body hereafter (Ro 6:8-11; 8:11). The Son, too, as God (though not as man), had a share in raising His own human body (Joh 2:19; 10:17, 18). Also the Holy Spirit (Ro 1:4; 1Pe 3:18).
set him—Greek, "made Him sit." The glorious spirits stand about the throne of God, but they do not sit at God's right hand (Heb 1:13).
at his own right hand—(Ps 110:1). Where He remains till all His enemies have been put under His feet (1Co 15:24). Being appointed to "rule in the midst of His enemies" during their rebellion (Ps 110:2), He shall resign His commission after their subjection [Pearson] (Mr 16:19; Heb 1:3; 10:12).
in the heavenly places—(Eph 1:3). As Christ has a literal body, heaven is not merely a state, but a place; and where He is, there His people shall be (Joh 14:3).
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:
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].
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
22. put … under—Greek, "put in subjection under" (Ps 8:6; 1Co 15:27).
gave … to the church—for her special advantage. The Greek order is emphatic: "HIM He gave as Head over all things to the Church." Had it been anyone save Him, her Head, it would not have been the boon it is to the Church. But as He is Head over all things who is also her Head (and she the body), all things are hers (1Co 3:21-23). He is OVER ("far above") all things; in contrast to the words, "TO the Church," namely, for her advantage. The former are subject; the latter is joined with Him in His dominion over them. "Head" implies not only His dominion, but our union; therefore, while we look upon Him at the right hand of God, we see ourselves in heaven (Re 3:21). For the Head and body are not severed by anything intervening, else the body would cease to be the body, and the Head cease to be the Head [Pearson from Chrysostom].
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
23. his body—His mystical and spiritual, not literal, body. Not, however, merely figurative, or metaphorical. He is really, though spiritually, the Church's Head. His life is her life. She shares His crucifixion and His consequent glory. He possesses everything, His fellowship with the Father, His fulness of the Spirit, and His glorified manhood, not merely for Himself, but for her, who has a membership of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Eph 5:30).
fulness—"the filled-up receptacle" [Eadie]. The Church is dwelt in and filled by Christ. She is the receptacle, not of His inherent, but of His communicated, plenitude of gifts and graces. As His is the "fulness" (Joh 1:16; Col 1:19; 2:9) inherently, so she is His "fulness" by His impartation of it to her, in virtue of her union to Him (Eph 5:18; Col 2:10). "The full manifestation of His being, because penetrated by His life" [Conybeare and Howson]. She is the continued revelation of His divine life in human form; the fullest representative of His plenitude. Not the angelic hierarchy, as false teachers taught (Col 2:9, 10, 18), but Christ Himself is the "fulness of the Godhead," and she represents Him. Koppe translates less probably, "the whole universal multitude."
filleth all in all—Christ as the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of the world, constituted by God (Col 1:16-19), fills all the universe of things with all things. "Fills all creation with whatever it possesses" [Alford]. The Greek is, "filleth for Himself."