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:…
1. Ministers must inculcate to themselves, and to those with whom they have to deal, that their calling is from God. Even as civil magistrates give out their writs in the king's name, with mention of the office they bear under him, to ensure due respect from the subjects, so this great Church officer mentions the position held by him under Christ, the King of the Church, that the things delivered by him may be accordingly received.
(1) This is good for both minister and people. How can he speak the words of God as the mouth of God with reverence and all authority, if he consider not that God has commanded him to do this work?
(2) The ministry is a work so weighty, that no man of himself is sufficient for it. Now, what can more assure me that I shall be made able, than to look at God, who has called me to this office? Princes call not their subjects to any service but that they see them furnished with all necessaries.
(3) Whereas the difficulties and enmities which faithful ministers encounter are many, how could they expect to be shielded but by fixing their eyes on Him who has called them?
2. The quality of him who brings this Epistle to us is that he is an ambassador of Christ.
(1) The apostles were immediately — no person coming between — designed by Christ.
(2) They were infallibly assisted, so that in their office of teaching, whether by word of mouth or writing, they could not err.
(3) Their mission was universal.
(4) They could give, by imposition of hands, the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
(5) Eyewitnesses of Christ. From these considerations we see the firmness of all things delivered in this Epistle; for it was not so much the apostle as God in him who wrote: as, when a lesson is sounded forth upon an instrument, it is not so much the instrument as his who plays on it.
3. We must account it our greatest dignity that we belong to Christ.
4. It is the will of God that assigns to us our several callings.
(1) The providence.
(2) The free grace of God.
5. All the members of the visible Church are to be saints.
(1) They were all saints by outward profession. How dreadful the state of those who, like as they tell of Halifax nuts, which are all shells, no kernels, profess themselves saints, but by their lives deny it.
(2) There were many true saints, and the better part, not the larger, gives the designation. Wine and water is called wine; gold and silver ore united is called gold and silver, though there is much dross mixed with it.
6. In the most wicked places God gathers and maintains His people. Where God has His Church, we say, the devil has his chapel; so, on the other hand, where the devil has his cathedral, God has His people. As in nature we see a pleasant rose grow from amidst the thorns, and a most beautiful lily spring out of slimy, brackish places, and as God in the darkness of the night makes beautiful lights arise, so here, in the darkest place, He will have some men who shall shine as lights in the midst of a perverse generation.
(1) Let us not be discouraged; however uncongenial our surroundings may be, God can and will watch over His own, wherever they be.
(2) Let us be thankful if we are placed amid Christian surroundings.
7. It is faith in Christ alone which makes men saints. Faith produces(1) purity of heart;
(2) the outward profession of holiness;
(3) holy conversation; which three things together go to make up saintliness or sanctification. Though we still have sins, yet the better part gives the name. Corn fields, we see, have many weeds, yet we call them corn fields, not fields of weeds; so grace, though it seems little in comparison with sin, yet will in time overcome the evil within us; for the Spirit that is in us from Christ is stronger than the spirit of the world.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: