Ephesians 1
Vincent's Word Studies
The Epistle to the Ephesians

For Ephesus, see on Revelation 2:1.

The church in Ephesus was founded during Paul's long residence there (Acts 19:10; Acts 20:31). He left the city immediately after the great riot (Acts 19), and never returned. His last personal contact with the church was when he met its elders at Miletus (Acts 20:18, Acts 20:35).

There has been much dissension as to the destination of the epistle. The principal views are three: 1. That it was addressed to the church at Ephesus. 2. To the church at Laodicaea. 3. That it was an encyclical or circular epistle, intended for the church at Ephesus along with a body of neighboring churches. Some also have regarded it as designed for the churches of Ephesus and Laodicaea, and others for the Laodicaean church along with a circle of churches.

I regard the epistle as addressed to the Church at Ephesus. Such was the general opinion of the early church. The words "in Ephesus" (Ephesians 1:1), though omitted in two important manuscripts, are found in the majority of manuscripts and in all the old versions. The Laodicaean theory was started by Marcion, who was severely taken to task by Tertullian for altering the title to "the Epistle to the Laodicaeans." Marcion himself inserted the epistle in his canon as "the Epistle to the Ephesians;" and it is significant that no manuscript which omits "in Ephesus" substitutes "in Laodicaea." The encyclical theory rests mainly on internal grounds, such as the general tenor of the epistle, and the absence of personal reminiscences, appeals and greetings, and of local references. But when addressing a circle of churches, Paul is wont to specify the fact, as in First and Second Corinthians and Galatians. If the words "in Ephesus" be rejected, the epistle is entirely without local designation, and is catholic rather than encyclical. Moreover, whenever Paul, in the address of an epistle, uses τοῖς οὖσιν which are, he follows these with the name of a place, as at Rome," "at Philippi," "at Corinth."

The Ephesian church, so far as is indicated by the letter, furnished no special reason for its composition. It contains no references to the dangers which Paul predicted at Miletus, no allusions to his personal relations with the church, and no salutations to individuals. Its theme is the Church of Christ, founded in the will of the Father, developed by the work of the Son, and united in him through the indwelling and energy of the Holy Spirit.

The body of believers is chosen of God: their privilege is adoption: the motive of adoption is grace, its medium Jesus Christ, its element love, its end holiness and the glorification of divine grace (Ephesians 1:3-6).

The work of the Son in this scheme is redemption, remission of sins, and the gift of wisdom and discernment. His central position in the divine plan will appear in the consummation, which will consist in the summing up of all things in Him (Ephesians 1:7-12).

The agent and earnest of this inheritance of believers is the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Hence the prayer that the operation of the Spirit may appear in the bestowment of wisdom and revelation (compare Ephesians 1:8), and of quickened spiritual discernment; so that believers may recognize the divine call, and experience the hope which it engenders, the riches of the inheritance which it assures (compare Ephesians 1:11), and the efficiency of the divine power which is exhibited and pledged to them in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ (Ephesians 1:15-22).

The election, the call, the redemptive work, the adoption, the personal holiness, the knowledge and discernment - all find their embodiment in the Church the body of Christ, in which the divine fullness dwells (Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 1:23).

The scope of this plan is universal, including both Jews and Gentiles. Its operation is illustrated in the turning of the Gentiles from their sins, and in the destruction of the national and religious barriers between them and the Jews, making of the two one Church in Christ, the dwelling-place of the Spirit, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ as the corner-stone (2:1-22).

The inclusion of the Gentiles in the divine covenant is a mystery of which Paul has been made the minister. The intent of this mystery is to manifest through the Church to the heavenly powers the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:2-10).

Thus far the theme, the Church, is struck at Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:19-22; Ephesians 3:10.

The prayer (Ephesians 3:14-21) includes the points already touched - the universal fatherhood of God; the sonship of Christ; the work of the Spirit in believers; the indwelling of Christ by faith; love as the element of christian life; knowledge of the deep things of God - and returns to the main theme, the Church.

The key-note of the practical portion of the epistle is given in Ephesians 4:1 : "Walk worthy of your calling." The practical exhortations contemplate individuals in their relation to the Church. The fundamental duty is unity through the one informing Spirit (Ephesians 4:3, Ephesians 4:4). The great factors of church fellowship are specified: "One Lord" (Christ); one principle of "faith," uniting to Christ; one formal sign, "baptism," marking admission to the body of Christ; one universal "Father," ruling, pervading, and dwelling in all (Ephesians 4:5, Ephesians 4:6).

This unity of the Church includes and is furthered by various manifestations of the Spirit in the form of different gifts; and the authority of Christ to confer and distribute these gifts is indicated by His descent to earth and Hades, and His ascent to the glory of the Father (Ephesians 4:7-16). In the thought that the purpose of these gifts is the edifying of the body of Christ, the theme - the Church - is again sounded.

Practical exhortations follow, to spiritual renewal, truthfulness, peace, honesty, purity of speech and life, love, godly caution, temperance, holy meditation and christian interchange, gratitude, and the reciprocal duties of husband and wife, in which last the church-theme is once more enunciated in typifying by the marriage-rite Christ's love for the Church (4:7-5:33).

The Church includes the household. The exhortations to fidelity in household relations are continued (Ephesians 6:1-9) The ideal of the Church and of individual character is realized only through conflict with the evil world and the powers of darkness, in which the power of God alone can insure victory. Hence the Christian is urged to clothe himself with the divine panoply (Ephesians 6:10-18).

The authenticity of the epistle has been challenged on the ground of dissimilarity to the other writings of Paul, unusual words and phrases, and a general un-Pauline character in doctrine and diction. As regards doctrine, the charge is beneath notice. As to diction, the argument from unusual expressions would bear equally against the genuineness of some of the best attested epistles. While there are forty-two unique words in this letter, there are thirty-eight in Colossians, above a hundred in Romans, and two hundred and thirty in First Corinthians; while the well-known peculiarities of Paul's style are as evident in this as in the other epistles.

The epistle has also been assailed as "a mere verbose expansion" of the Colossian letter. There are, indeed, marked resemblances between the two both in matter and form, and sometimes literal correspondences, as might be expected in two epistles written about the same time; but both the subject and the treatment of the two epistles present too many differences to bear out this charge of amplification. On the contrary, the same subject is sometimes treated more concisely in Ephesians than in Colossians (Ephesians 1:15-17; Colossians 1:3-6; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12-14). Ephesians, moreover, contains matter not found in Colossians (Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:8-15; Ephesians 5:7-14, Ephesians 5:23-31; Ephesians 6:10-17).

The polemic element in Colossians is wanting in Ephesians. The Christology of Colossians is more metaphysical than that of Ephesians, while the predestinarianism of Ephesians does not appear in Colossians.

This epistle presents peculiar difficulties to the student. Dean Alford says: "The difficulties lie altogether beneath the surface; are not discernible by the cursory reader, who finds all very straightforward and simple. But when we begin to inquire why thought succeeds to thought, and one cumbrous parenthesis to another - depths under depths disclose themselves, wonderful systems of parallel allusion, frequent and complicated underplots - every word, the more we search, approves itself as set in its exact logical place; we see every phrase contributing by its own similar organization and articulation to the carrying out of the organic whole. But this result is not won without much labor of thought, without repeated and minute laying together of portions and expressions, without bestowing on single words and phrases, and their succession and arrangement, as much study as would suffice for whole sections of more exoteric epistles."

While the diction is marked by a peculiar sonorousness and depth of tone, it does not surpass in variety and picturesqueness that of some other epistles, Second Corinthians, for instance. The shorter epistle to the Colossians contains thirty-eight unique words to forty-two in Ephesians. But no writing of Paul equals this in the liturgical majesty of its movement. The Epistle to the Romans is the ever-deepening flow of a stately river; Second Corinthians is the rush of a rapid; Ephesians is the solemn swell of a calm sea. Not a familiar and personal letter like Philippians and Philemon, it is, equally with these, devoid of official stateliness. Its dignity is that of the seer rather than of the bishop and teacher. It rises at times to the height of apocalypse. The impression of a teacher expounding his theme is largely merged in the impression of a great mind and an adoring soul mastered and swept onward by the theme.

The figure of a cathedral, into which Professor Longfellow has so finely cast his general conception of the "Divina Commedia," equally well, perhaps, even better, suits the Ephesian letter. If the expression may be allowed, that epistle is the veritable high-Gothic of sacred literature; every line and detail carrying the eye upward, and the whole combining in one great upreach, irradiated with the rich hues Of a the many-tinted wisdom of God." Even as St. Ouen mirrors its lines in the font at the portal, the whole magnificent ideal of the Church of Christ condenses itself into the inscription round the baptismal layer - "one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism." Every window is blazoned with its story, but in each the central figure is the same - now the Victim of the cross, now the Conqueror with his train of captives, now the King ascended and throned in light. No partition with its rigid lines sunders the band of worshippers. Jew and Gentile kneel side by side, every face turned toward the cross. On the very threshold the ear is greeted with a burst of choral thunder. The vast aisles throb with praise, crossed with the minor chords of penitent rehearsal, and the deep sighs of tempted souls struggling with the powers of darkness; while from the side-chapels float the words of admonition to the newly-wedded, and of homely precept for the children and servants; and over all the sweet, sad, triumphant tumult is heard the voice of the great apostle, rising with the incense-cloud from before the altar in that wondrous prayer, never surpassed save by the intercessions of Jesus Himself - "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled unto all the fullness of God.

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:
By the will of God

As frequently in the introductions of the epistles, to emphasize his divine appointment. In Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1, called is added.

To the saints

See on Romans 1:7; see on Colossians 1:2; see on Philippians 1:1.

At Ephesus

There is much discussion as to the genuineness of these words. They are bracketed by both Westcott and Hort, and Tischendorf. On their omission or retention turns the question whether the epistle was addressed to the church at Ephesus, or was a circular epistle, addressed to Ephesus along with several other churches. For Ephesus, see on Revelation 2:1.

The faithful

Not faithful in the sense of fidelity and perseverance, but believing, as John 20:27; Acts 10:45. It is to be included with the saints under the one article.

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the leading words of the epistle. It is used thirteen times.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Blessed (εὐλογητὸς)

Placed first in the clause for emphasis, as always in the corresponding Hebrew in the Old Testament. The verb is commonly omitted - blessed the God. In the New Testament used of God only. The perfect participle of the verb, εὐλογημένος blessed, is used of men. See on 1 Peter 1:3. The word differs from that used in the Beatitudes, μακάριος. which denotes character, while this word denotes repute. Lit., well-spoken of.

God and Father of our Lord, etc.

Some object to this rendering on the ground that the phrase God of Christ is unusual, occurring nowhere in Paul, except Ephesians 1:17 of this chapter. Such render, God who is also the Father, etc. But Christ of God is found Matthew 27:46; and my God, John 20:17; Revelation 3:12. Compare, also, 1 Corinthians 3:23; and the phrase is undoubted in Ephesians 1:17.

Hath blessed (εὐλογήσας)

Kindred with εὐλογητὸς blessed.

Spiritual (πνευματικῇ)

Another leading word. Spirit and spiritual occur thirteen times. Paul emphasizes in this epistle the work of the divine Spirit upon the human spirit. Not spiritual as distinguished from bodily, but proceeding from the Holy Spirit. Note the collocation of the words, blessed, blessed, blessing.

In the heavenly places (ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις)

Another keyword; one of the dominant thoughts of the epistle being the work of the ascended Christ. Places is supplied, the Greek meaning in the heavenlies. Some prefer to supply things, as more definitely characterizing spiritual blessing. But in the four other passages where the phrase occurs, Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12, the sense is local, and ἐπουράνιος heavenly, is local throughout Paul's epistles. The meaning is that the spiritual blessings of God are found in heaven and are brought thence to us. Compare Philippians 3:20.

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:
Even as (καθὼς)

Explaining blessed us, in Ephesians 1:3. His blessing is in conformity with the fact that He chose.

Chose (ἐξελέξατο)

Middle voice, for himself.

In Him

As the head and representative of our spiritual humanity. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:22. Divine election is in Christ the Redeemer. The crown of divine sovereignty is redemption. God rules the world to save it.

Holy and without blame (ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους)

The positive and negative aspects of christian life. See on Colossians 1:22. Rev., without blemish. The reference is to moral rather than to forensic righteousness. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:7.

In love

Join with foreordained, Ephesians 1:5. Having in love foreordained.

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Having predestinated (προορίσας)

Rev. foreordained. From πρό before, ὁρίζω to define, the latter word being from ὅπος a boundary. Hence to define or determine beforehand.

Adoption (υἱοθεσίαν)

See on Romans 8:15. Never used of Christ.

Good pleasure (εὐδοκίαν)

Not strictly in the sense of kindly or friendly feeling, as Luke 2:14; Philippians 1:15, but because it pleased Him, see Luke 10:21; Matthew 11:26. The other sense, however, is included and implied, and is expressed by in love.

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
To the praise of the glory of His grace

The ultimate aim of foreordained. Glory is an attribute of grace: that in which grace grandly and resplendently displays itself. Praise is called forth from the children of God by this divine glory which thus appears in grace. The grace is not merely favor, gift, but it reveals also the divine character. In praising God for what He does, we learn to praise Him for what He is. Glory is another of the ruling words of the epistle, falling into the same category with riches and fullness. The apostle is thrilled with a sense of the plenitude and splendor of the mystery of redemption.

Wherein He hath made us accepted (ἐν ᾗ ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς)

The correct reading is ἧς which, referring to grace. The meaning is not endued us with grace, nor made us worthy of love, but, as Rev., grace - which he freely bestowed. Grace is an act of God, not a state into which He brings us.

The beloved

Christ. Beloved par excellence. Compare the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13; also Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
We have

Or are having. The freely bestowed (Ephesians 1:6) is thus illustrated by experience. The divine purpose is being accomplished in the lives of believers.

Redemption (τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν)

See on Romans 3:24. Note the article: our redemption.

Through His blood

Further defining and explaining in whom.

Forgiveness (ἄφεσιν)

See on Luke 3:3; see on James 5:15; see on Romans 3:25. Forgiveness specifies the peculiar quality of redemption.

Sins (παραπτωμάτων)

Rev., better, trespasses. See on Matthew 6:14.


See on glory, Ephesians 1:6, and Romans 2:4.

Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Wherein He hath abounded (ἧς ἐπερίσσευσεν)

Rev., correctly, which He made to abound. The verb is used both transitively and intransitively in the New Testament. The transitive use belongs mainly to later Greek. Compare, for the transitive sense, Matthew 13:12; 2 Corinthians 4:15.

In all wisdom and prudence (ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ φρονήσει)

For wisdom, see on Romans 11:33. For prudence, on Luke 1:17. The latter is an attribute or result of wisdom, concerned with its practical applications. Both words refer here to men, not to God: the wisdom and prudence with which He abundantly endows His followers. Compare Colossians 1:9. All wisdom is, properly, every kind of wisdom.

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Having made known

The participle is explanatory of which He made to abound, etc.: in that He made known.

The mystery of His will

For mystery, see on Romans 11:25; see on Colossians 1:26. Another key-word of this epistle. God's grace as manifested in redemption is a mystery in virtue of its riches and depth - as the expression of God's very nature. The mystery of the redemption in Christ, belonging to the eternal plan of God, could be known to men only through revelation - making known. Of his will; pertaining to his will. Compare Ephesians 3:9.

Purposed (προέθετο)

Only here, Romans 1:13; Romans 3:25 (note).

In Himself (ἐν αὑτῷ)

The best texts read αὐτῷ in Him; but the reference is clearly to God, not to Christ, who is expressly mentioned in the next verse.

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:
That in the dispensation, etc. (εἰς οἰκονομίαν)

The A.V. is faulty and clumsy. Εἱς does not mean in, but unto, with a view to. Dispensation has no article. The clause is directly connected with the preceding: the mystery which He purposed in Himself unto a dispensation. For οἰκονομία dispensation see on Colossians 1:25. Here and Ephesians 3:2, of the divine regulation, disposition, economy of things.

Of the fullness of times (τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν)

For fullness, see on Romans 11:12; see on John 1:16; see on Colossians 1:19. For times, compare Galatians 4:4, "fullness of the time (τοῦ χρόνου), where the time before Christ is conceived as a unit. Here the conception is of a series of epochs. The fullness of the times is the moment when the successive ages of the gospel dispensation are completed. The meaning of the whole phrase, then, is: a dispensation characterized: by the fullness of the times: set forth when the times are full.

To sum up all things in Christ (ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι)

Explanatory of the preceding phrase; showing in what the dispensation consists. For the word, see on Romans 13:9. It means to bring back to and gather round the main point (κεφαλαίον), not the head (κεφαλή); so that, in itself, it does not indicate Christ (the Read) as the central point of regathering, though He is so in fact. That is expressed by the following in Christ. The compounded preposition ἀνά signifies again, pointing back to a previous condition where no separation existed. All things. All created beings and things; not limited to intelligent beings. Compare Romans 8:21; 1 Corinthians 15:28.

The connection of the whole is as follows: God made known the mystery of His will, the plan of redemption, according to His own good pleasure, in order to bring to pass an economy peculiar to that point of time when the ages of the christian dispensation should be fulfilled - an economy which should be characterized by the regathering of all things round one point, Christ.

God contemplates a regathering, a restoration to that former condition when all things were in perfect unity, and normally combined to serve God's ends. This unity was broken by the introduction of sin. Man's fall involved the unintelligent creation (Romans 8:20). The mystery of God's will includes the restoration of this unity in and through Christ; one kingdom on earth and in heaven - a new heaven and a new earth in which shall dwell righteousness, and "the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God."

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:
In Him

Resuming emphatically: in Christ.

We have obtained an inheritance (ἐκληρώθημεν)

Only here in the New Testament. From κλῆρος a lot. Hence the verb means literally to determine, choose, or assign by lot. From the custom of assigning portions of land by lot, κλῆρος acquires the meaning of that which is thus assigned; the possession or portion of land. So often in the Old Testament. See Sept., Numbers 34:14; Deuteronomy 3:18; Deuteronomy 15:4, etc. An heir (κληρονόμος) is originally one who obtains by lot. The A.V. here makes the verb active where it should be passive. The literal sense is we were designated as a heritage. So Rev., correctly, were made a heritage. Compare Deuteronomy 4:20, a people of inheritance (λαὸν ἔγκληρον). Also Deuteronomy 32:8, Deuteronomy 32:9.

That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
That we should be

Connect with we were made a heritage.

Who first trusted (τοὺς προηλπικότας)

In apposition with we (should be). So Rev., we who had, etc., trusted, more properly hoped; and first trusted is ambiguous. We refers to Jewish Christians, and the verb describes their messianic hope before (πρό) the advent of Christ. Hence Rev., correctly, we who had (have) before hoped. In Christ should be "in the Christ," as the subject of messianic expectation and not as Jesus, for whom Christ had passed into a proper name. It is equivalent to in the Messiah. See on Matthew 1:1.

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,
Ye also trusted

Gentile Christians. Trusted, which is not in the Greek, is unnecessary. The pronoun ye is nominative to were sealed.

In whom

Resuming the in whom at the beginning of the verse, and repeated on account of the length of the clause.

Ye were sealed (ἐσφραγίσθητε)

See on John 3:33; see on Revelation 22:10. Sealed with the assurance of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Timothy 2:19.

Spirit of promise

Strictly, the promise. Denoting the promise as characteristic of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit which was announced by promise. See Acts 2:16 sqq.; Joel 2:28; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3; John 7:39; Acts 1:4-8; Galatians 3:14.

Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

See on 2 Corinthians 1:22.

Unto the redemption, etc.

Construe with ye were sealed.

Of the purchased possession (τῆς περιποιήσεως)

See on peculiar, 1 Peter 2:9. The word originally means a making to remain over and above; hence preservation; preservation for one's self; acquisition; the thing acquired, or a possession. Used here collectively for the people possessed, as the circumcision for those circumcised, Philippians 3:3; the election for those chosen, Romans 11:7. Rev., God's own possession, God's own being inserted for the sake of clearness. Compare Isaiah 43:21; Acts 20:28; Titus 2:14.

Unto the praise of His glory

Construe with ye were sealed: Ye were sealed unto the redemption, etc.; setting forth God's purpose as it contemplates man. Ye were sealed unto the praise of His glory; God's purpose as it respects Himself.

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Your faith (τὴν καθ' ὑμᾶς πίστιν)

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



Unto all the saints (τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους)

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

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Making mention, etc.

As I make mention. The same expression occurs Romans 1:9; Philippians 1:4; Plm 1:4.

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:
God of our Lord Jesus Christ

Compare John 20:17; Matthew 27:46, and see on Ephesians 1:3.

Father of glory (ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης)

The Father to whom the glory belongs. Note the article, the glory, preeminently. Compare Acts 7:2; 1 Corinthians 2:8. See Psalm 18:3, "who is worthy to be praised;" where the Hebrew is is praised. The exact phrase has no parallel in Scripture.

The Spirit of wisdom and revelation

Spirit has not the article, but the reference is to the Holy Spirit. Compare Matthew 12:28; Luke 1:15, Luke 1:35, Luke 1:41; Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 1:2. Wisdom and revelation are special forms of the Spirit's operation. He imparts general illumination (wisdom) and special revelations of divine mysteries. The combination of two words with an advance in thought from the general to the special is characteristic of Paul. Compare grace and apostleship, Romans 1:5; gifts and calling, Romans 11:29; wisdom and prudence, Ephesians 1:8, wisdom and knowledge, Colossians 2:3.

In the knowledge of Him (ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ)

The sphere in which they will receive God's gift of wisdom and revelation. To know God is to be wise. The condition is not merely acknowledgment, but knowledge. Ἑπίγνωσις knowledge is never ascribed to God in the New Testament. Of Him refers to 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,
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened (πεφωτισμένους τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῆς καρδίας ὑμῶν)

Rev., eyes of your heart. Lit., being enlightened as to the eyes of your heart; enlightened being joined with you (Ephesians 1:17) by a somewhat irregular construction: may give unto you being enlightened. For a similar construction see Acts 15:22. The phrase eyes of the heart occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Plato has eye of the soul (ψυχῆς, "Sophist," 254). Ovid, speaking of Pythagoras, says: "With his mind he approached the gods, though far removed in heaven, and what nature denied to human sight, he drew forth with the eyes of his heart" ("Metamorphoses," xv., 62-64). Heart is not merely the seat of emotion, as in popular usage, but of thought and will. See on Romans 1:21. The particular aspect in which its activity is viewed, perception or cognition, is determined by what follows, "that ye may know," etc.

Hope of His calling

Hope, not, as sometimes, the thing hoped for, but the sentiment or principle of hope which God's calling inspires.

The riches of the glory of His inheritance

Ellicott remarks that this is a noble accumulation of genitives, "setting forth the inheritance on the side of its glory, and the glory on the side of its riches." Glory is the essential characteristic of salvation, and this glory is richly abounding. His inheritance: which is His, and His gift.

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Exceeding (ὑπερβάλλον)

Compounds with ὑπέρ over, beyond, are characteristic of Paul's intensity of style, and mark the struggle of language with the immensity of the divine mysteries, and the opulence of the divine grace. See Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 4:17, etc.

According to the working of His mighty power (κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ)

The A.V. frequently impairs the force of a passage by combining into a single conception two words which represent distinct ideas; translating two nouns by an adjective and a noun. Thus Philippians 3:21, vile body, glorious body, for body of humiliation, body of glory: Romans 8:21, glorious liberty, for liberty of the glory: 2 Corinthians 4:4, glorious gospel, for gospel of the glory: Colossians 1:11, glorious power, for power of the glory: 1 Peter 1:14, obedient children, for children of obedience: 2 Peter 2:14, cursed children, for children of cursing. So here, mighty power, for strength of might. The idea is thus diluted, and the peculiar force and distinction of the separate words is measurably lost. Rev., correctly, working of the strength of His might. For working, see on Colossians 1:29. For strength and might, see on 2 Peter 2:11; see on John 1:12. Strength (κράτους) is used only of God, and denotes relative and manifested power. Might (ἰσχύος) is indwelling strength. Working (ἐνέργειαν) is the active, efficient manifestation of these. Hence we have here God's indwelling power, which inheres in the divine nature (strength); the relative quality or measure of this power (might); and the efficient exertion of the divine quality (working). The phrase, according to the working of the strength, etc., is to be connected with the exceeding greatness of His power. The magnitude of God's power toward believers is known in the operation 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,
Which (ἣν)

Refer to working (Ephesians 1:19).

He wrought (ἐνήργησεν)

The best texts read ἐνήργηκεν, perfect tense, He hath wrought. The verb is kindred with working (Ephesians 1:19).

In Christ

In the case of Christ. Christ's dead body was the point on which this working of divine power was exhibited. See Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 4:14.

When He raised (ἐγείρας)

Or, in that He raised.

And set (καὶ ἐκάθισεν)

Rev., made Him to sit. The best texts read καθίσας having seated, or in that He caused him to sit.

Right hand

See Acts 7:56.

In the heavenly places

See on Ephesians 1:2. Local. Not merely of a spiritual state, which does not suit the local expressions made to sit and right hand.

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:
Far above (ὑπεράνω)

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

Principality, power, etc.

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

And every name that is named

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

Not only in this world, etc.

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

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Put all things in subjection

Compare Colossians 1:15-18; Psalm 8:5-8.

Gave Him

Him is emphatic: and Him He gave. Not merely set Him over the Church, but gave Him as a gift. See 2 Corinthians 9:15.

The Church (τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ)

See on Matthew 16:18.

Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Which is His body (ἥτις)

The double relative is explanatory, seeing it is: by which I mean. Body, a living organism of which He is the head. See on Colossians 1:18.

The fullness

See on John 1:16; see on Romans 11:12; see on Colossians 1:19. That which is filled. The Church, viewed as a receptacle. Compare Ephesians 3:10.

That filleth all in all (τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν πληρουμένου)

Better, that filleth all things with all things. The expression is somewhat obscure. All things are composed of elements. Whatever things exist, God from His fullness fills with all those elements which belong to their being or welfare. The whole universe is thus filled by Him.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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