Ephesians 1:15
Having spoken of the inspiration of the adopted children, the apostle proceeds next to his first prayer on their behalf. He has a still more remarkable prayer in Ephesians 3., but the present one is most instructive too. It begins, as usual, with thanksgiving for the faith towards the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints which the Ephesians cherish. This need not detain us, but we may at once proceed to the substance of his petition for them. In a word, it is that they may know spiritually the Divine purpose regarding them, and thus be able the better to co-operate with God in the fulfillment of it. This Divine purpose is determined by the Divine power, and the progress of the Christian is simply an experience of "the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power." The point of the passage and of the prayer consists in the measure of the mighty power. This is found in the experience of Christ. His experience, in fact, becomes the measure of the Christian's hope. When the Father can do such wonders in the person of Christ and in the interests of Christ's people, how much may we expect him to do for ourselves!

I. THE FATHER SHOWED HIS MIGHTY POWER IN RAISING CHRIST FROM THE DEAD. (Ver. 20.) The mighty power of God is illustrated in the work of creation; but, as A. Monod pointedly puts it, "Creation is an emanation; resurrection is a victory." Christ was dead; apparently he had been vanquished; the king of terrors seemed supreme. But the first day of the week dawned upon a "risen Savior," and the Father's mighty power received ample illustration. Now, it must have been a marvelous experience for our Savior to Dass from death into newness of life. For the life after he rose was different from the life before he suffered. It was immortal. He could henceforth die no more. Hence he said in apocalyptic vision, "I am he that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore." It was thus a transformation from mortality to immortality, from death to everlasting life. The previous resurrections, as far as we know, were only to mortal life. The children raised by Elijah, Elisha, and Christ, and the adults as well, rose to die once more. So that previous resurrections were only foreshadowings of the resurrection of Jesus out of death into life eternal.

II. THE FATHER SHOWED HIS MIGHTY POWER IN CAUSING CHRIST TO ASCEND TO HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES. (Vers. 20, 21.) Had Christ been left in this world with his immortal nature, he would have had a wide sphere for influence and authority. The opposing terrestrial powers would have gone down before him in due season, and an emancipated world been the result. But when we consider how limited in size this earth is compared with the rest of the system, we can understand how the Father would resolve to put his best beloved Son in a wider sphere of influence than this world affords. What principalities, powers, mights, and dominions lie beyond this "little sand-grain of an earth" we cannot yet tell; but we are assured here of one fact, that the Father has set the Son above them all, at his own right hand in the heavenly places. Now, the "right hand of God" means the seat of power. It is the very focus and center of that mighty energy which we are now considering. Consequently the Father has lifted the Son in his immortal human nature into the very center of power, and given him the universe as his empire. This, again, must have been a marvelous experience for Christ. What a joyful enlargement! To pass out of the narrowness and provincialism of this tiny world into the magnificence of a universal empire; to have all created things and beings as his subjects; to be supreme Administrator under the infinite Father; - this must have been a mighty and a joyful experience for the risen Christ.

III. THE FATHER SHOWED HIS MIGHTY POWER IN PUTTING ALL THINGS UNDER CHRIST'S FEET. (Ver. 22.) The administration is thus guaranteed to be triumphant. Some portions of the vast empire may be rebellious. They may refuse the reign of the Man Christ Jesus. Their rash words may be, "We will not have this Man to reign over us." But they are only putting themselves under the feet of the reigning Christ. Their defeat is certain; the Father's mighty power is pledged to Christ's supremacy. And though, in the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews, "we see not yet all things put under him, we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor," and this is the Father's pledge of ultimate triumph.

IV. THE FATHER SHOWED HIS MIGHTY POWER IN GIVING CHRIST THE HEADSHIP OF THE CHURCH. (Vers. 22, 23.) Now, the administration of a state and the headship of a Church are very distinct things. If the Church is the body and Christ the Head, then it stands in closer relations to Christ than subjects do to any sovereign. Christ thinks for the Church; the Church acts for Christ. Just as the body is the instrument of the head, carrying out in the details of practical life the commandments of the head, the seat of the mind and will, so the Chinch is designed to be the instrument in the hand of Christ for the carrying out of his purposes. What a mighty power is needed to bring about a relation so close as this! What gracious power is needed to subdue the individual self-will, and enforce submission to the will and the word of the living Head! This intimate and glorious union between believers and their Lord is what the mighty power of the Father has brought and is bringing about, and this again must be a glorious experience on the part of Christ. Here, then, we have resurrection, ascension, enthronement, and headship all secured to the once dead Christ by the mighty power of the Father. In such a system what possibilities are opened up for each of us! If this is the measure of the Father's mighty power, which Paul invoked on behalf of his Ephesian converts, truly they may lift up their heads in hope of redemption, complete and glorious, drawing nigh. The more we meditate upon the mighty power of the gracious Father, the more we are assured that mighty grace shall be manifested to us as we need it. When our Lord has had such experience granted him, his members may expect similar experiences in their season. We shall see a parallelism in the experience when we advance to the succeeding section. - R.M.E.







Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and love unto all the saints.
I. IT IS THE FIRST CONDITION OF SPIRITUAL LIFE.

1. Uniting the sinner with the Lord of life.

2. Restoring the spiritual outcast to filial relations with God the Father.

3. Interesting and exercising the renewed nature in things unseen and eternal.

II. IT EXHIBITS ITSELF IN THE SPIRIT AND CONDUCT OF BELIEVERS.

1. The life of the believer is in the greatest contrast to the life of unbelief.

(1)His own previous conduct.

(2)The general behaviour of the world.

2. It impels to the promotion of the well-being of others.

III. IT OUGHT THEREFORE TO BE ANXIOUSLY LOOKED FOR AND THANKFULLY RECOGNIZED BY OTHER CHRISTIANS. But all Christians are not so deeply interested in the progress of Christ's kingdom as Paul was! It requires an unworldly and generous spirit to be possessed by such an enthusiasm.

1. Awaking thanksgiving in him. As if it had been a personal advantage to himself. God is thanked as the Author of the spiritual life thus evinced.

2. Impelling to prayer. Because the fruits and spiritual outgrowth of faith were still to come. He who awakened faith in Himself alone can sustain and perfect it.

(A. F. Muir, M. A.)

I. FAITH is the first gift of God which He mentions in their praise, and truly in many respects it deserves the first place in our letters, in our hearts, and in our lives. What is faith? It is a holy resting upon the word and promise of God as true and faithful, so that the natural consequence is peace of conscience and spiritual joy; it is a taking of God at His word.

II. Now comes the next great gift for which the apostle praises them, LOVE, brotherly love, love to all the saints. It has its fountain in the love of God as the Father of the whole redeemed family. His love to us produces corresponding love to Him, and in loving the common Father, we necessarily love one another. The bonds, indeed, which bind the saints together are very many and very strong. They are members of the same family, redeemed with the same precious blood, and filled with the same quickening Spirit. They have the same friends and the same enemies, the same hopes and fears, the same promises of good things to come, and the same living Head in heaven. How full, and deep, and strong should be their love to one another! The words of our text are instructive — "Love to all the saints!"

(W. Graham, D. D.)

Paul's thankfulness for what he heard about the faith and religious life of the Ephesian Christians is one of the many proofs that his nature was singularly ardent, generous, and sanguine. He knew that there were some, perhaps many, of them who were emerging only very slowly from the vices of their old heathen days, else he would not have thought it necessary to write what he has written in the later pages of this Epistle about the most elementary moral duties. But it was his habit to think of all that was fairest in the lives of Christian people. There were grave faults, there were gross sins, in the Church at Ephesus; but he had heard enough of the Church to be sure that it had not forgotten what he had taught it eight or nine years before. The faith of the Church in Christ was still steadfast, and the reality of that faith was still shown in their spirit and conduct to all saints. They themselves were loyal to Christ, and they regarded all Christians as comrades and brethren; and therefore he ceased not to "give thanks" for them. That is an admirable temper. We are too much disposed to impeach the sincerity and worth of a man's faith if we see in him a single serious fault. That was not Paul's way. He had a keen eye for goodness; whatever might be his sorrow on account of the sins of Christian men, and however sternly he rebuked them for their sins, he rejoiced ardently in every manifestation, however faint, of a genuine desire to do the will of God. He watched the beginnings of a nobler life in his converts, as we watch the conflict between the dawn and the heavy darkness of the night. In some of them the rising glory was almost concealed by the dense clouds of heathen ignorance, superstition, and vice; but he could see gleams of light trembling through the gloom. Here and there between the broken clouds there was the clear blue of a diviner heaven. He rejoiced and gave thanks that the light of God had risen upon the darkness; not in a moment, but gradually and certainly, the dim, cloudy, troubled dawn would be followed by a bright and glorious day.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

1. Ministers must labour to know how grace goes forward in those with whom they have to deal. It behoves shepherds to know their flock.

2. The Ephesians' faith is occupied about the Lord Jesus Christ.(1) Faith in Christ is not only to know but to rely on Him: an affair not merely of the understanding, but also of the will.(2) Faith in Christ justifies and saves, inasmuch as it receives at His hand God's pardon and grace.

3. Faith and love are never disjoined, but go hand in hand with each other. Faith without love is but a dead carcase; love without; faith is but a blind devotion. Neither is pleasing to God without the other. Let us try the truth of our faith by the presence or absence of love. We may more easily carry coals in our bosom without burning, than by faith apprehend truly this love of God, without finding our hearts burn in answering love to Him.

4. The love of true believers is set on the saints, yea, on all the saints. Every creature likes to be with those who are united with it in communication of the same nature: so sanctified Christians cannot but love and like to be most with those who have received the like divine nature in which they are themselves partakers.

(Paul Bayne.)

No one who knows what faith and love are, according to the New Testament, will ever doubt that they are the most human of all our capacities. They are distinct, yet essentially one. They are significant signs of our vast future. Give yourself to history, to geology, astronomy, physiology, chemistry, and you will correspondingly inform and expand your mind. But by faith, your spirit is at one with the wisdom and goodness, the power and glory, the infinity and eternity of God. Faith involves, therefore, the utmost enlargement of soul, and yet begets nothing like self-exaltation. We say nothing of nominal believers; but minds which are in actual sympathy with the Son of God, are in the condition to become the master minds of the universe. Nor can anyone doubt this, who understands the scope of God's purpose in Christ Jesus. It is not possible that "the power of God, and the wisdom of God," should establish their empire in certain men, without constituting them "kings and priests unto God." The elements of essential precedency and power are rooted and grounded in them. By selfish thoughts of the gospel, as of a plan by which we are to be saved from misery and hell, we spoil it of its Divine glory. The gospel of God comprehends higher and broader reaches of thought, than any subject ever opened to the minds of angels or men. The noble-mindedness of faith is always associated with a corresponding noble-heartedness. Faith and love are inseparable bosom companions. I constantly thank God, writes Paul, for your faith and love. "Your faith" is a Divine expansiveness given to your understanding, and "your love unto all the saints" is a like vastness given to your affections. They are the double suns of your soul, sun within sun. Whole galaxies of wisdom are comprehended in faith, as in a mental firmament. And as to the new spirit of love, which is faith's associative soul, "He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." "Wherefore, I cease not to give thanks for you," that the goodness and the greatness which are everlasting are made sure to you. Your faith and love are of unknown value. They constitute your initiation into an endless progress. Infinite truth is the scope of your mind; and infinite love, the scope of your heart.

(John Pulsford.)

I remember an old experimental Christian speaking about the great pillars of our faith; he was a sailor; we were then on board ship and there were sundry huge posts on the shore, to which the ships were usually moored by throwing a cable over them. After I had told him a great many promises, he said, "I know they are good strong promises, but I cannot get near enough to shore to throw my cable round them; that is the difficulty." Now it often happens that God's past mercies and loving kindnesses would be good sure posts to hold on to, but we have not got faith enough to throw our cable round them, and so we go drifting, down the stream of unbelief because we cannot stay ourselves by our former mercies. I will, however, give you something that I think you can throw your cable over. If God has never been kind to you, one thing you surely know, and that is, He has been kind to others.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Some naturalists desired to obtain the wild flowers which grew on the side of a dangerous gorge in the Scottish Highlands. They offered a boy a liberal sum to descend by a rope, and get them. He looked at the money, thought of the danger, and replied, "I will go if my father will hold the rope." With unshrinking nerves he suffered his father to put the rope round him, lower him over the precipice, and to suspend him there, while he filled his basket with the coveted flowers.

Where charity is, there doth God reside. Possess charity, and you will see Him in your own heart, seated as on His throne.

( Augustine.)

John Howard, the philanthropist, having settled his accounts at the close of a particular year, found a balance in his favour, and proposed to his wife to make use of it in a journey to London. "What a comfortable cottage for a poor family it would build!" was her answer. This hint met with cordial approbation; and the money was laid out upon that purpose accordingly.

As the spokes of a carriage wheel approach their centre, they approach each other; so also, when men are brought to Jesus Christ, the centre of life and hope, they are drawn towards each other in brotherly love and relationship, and stand side by side, supporting each other, as they journey on together to their heavenly home.

(J. F. Serjeant.)

Cultivate ever a spirit of love to all. Love is the diamond amongst the jewels of the believer's breastplate. The other graces shine like the precious stones of nature, with their own peculiar lustre and varied hues; but the diamond is white; now in white all the colours are united (as a prism will show), so love is centred every other grace and virtue; for we are told that "Love is the fulfilling of the law."

(Rowland Hill.)

Faith looked at in reference to God is a spirit of quietude and repose. Nothing so full of conscious helplessness and simple trust. No little bird beneath its parent's wing, no child upon its mother's lap, so gentle and confiding. A lion in conflict with the powers of hell, faith lies down like a lamb at the feet of the Lord of heaven. It returns and rests "in quietness and in confidence." Indeed, in this way it obtains salvation and strength. The calm resting upon God makes it victorious over all beside. In truth, it is He who fights for the believer, with the believer, in the believer. Faith does nothing alone, nothing of itself, but everything under God, by God, through God. It is only in a qualified sense that faith makes war and gets victory. "The excellency of power is of God, and not of us." Its humble dependence, its meek, child-like spirit, after all constitute its proper self. These are the essence and life of faith.

(J. Stoughton.)

When a rosebud is formed, if the soil is soft and the sky is genial, it is not long before it bursts; for the life within is so abundant that it can no longer contain it all, but in blossomed brightness and swimming fragrance it must needs let forth its joy, and gladden all the air. And if, when thus ripe, it refused to expand, it would quickly rot at heart, and die. And Christian love is just piety with its petals fully spread, developing itself, and making it a happier world. The religion which fancies that it loves God, when it never evinces love to its brother, is not piety, but a poor mildewed theology, a dogma with a worm in the heart.

(Dr. J. Hamilton.)

1. The graces of God in others must move Christians, especially ministers, to thankfulness. If a schoolmaster brings a rude untoward boy to behaviour and forwardness in learning, we much commend him, that he has wrought so far on so ill-disposed a subject; how much more is He to be magnified who works such alterations in sinners, dead in their sins and trespasses?

2. Christians are to help each other with prayer, especially ministers their converted people.

3. We must perseveringly follow God in those things we pray for. Some things God gives us before we ask for them; others, immediately upon our prayer; for others, again, He will have us follow Him with continuance before bestowing them. Thus He sees fit to exercise our sanctity, faith, and patience; to test whether our requests proceed from the heart; and to prepare us to receive the things we ask in greater measure, for the wider the soul is enlarged in desire, the more abundantly God means to fill it in His time.

(Paul Bayne.)

Prayer, generally speaking, is the life of a Christian Church, and when it takes the forms of thanksgiving and intercession it is peculiarly blessed and attractive.

(W. Graham, D. D.)

Prayer and thanks are like the double motion of the lungs: the air that is sucked in by prayer, is breathed forth again by thanks.

(Goodwin.)

The great secret of the success of Harlan Page was, that he always aimed at the conversion of someone; wrestling in prayer with God, and in affectionate entreaty with the sinner, till he saw his wishes realized. By following this plan, though he was in a humble sphere of life, in active work, and often in deep poverty, he lived to see more than a hundred brought to God, as the fruit of his zeal and intercessions.

(Howes.)

The question, "What is meant by intercession?" being asked in a Sunday school, one of the children made a very apt reply, in the words, "Speaking a word to God for us, sir."

When a pump is frequently used, the water pours out at the first stroke, because it is high; but, if the pump has not been used for a long time, the water gets low, and when you want it you must pump a long while; and the water comes only after great efforts. It is so with prayer. If we are instant in prayer, every little circumstance awakens the disposition to pray, and desire and words are always ready: but, if we neglect prayer, it is difficult for us to pray; for the water in the well gets low.

(Felix Neff.)

A young lady heard voice as of one engaged in conversation, and distinguished the words, "O Lord, have mercy upon the dear youth of this place!" She was struck with the thought, "Is this the way Christians go about the town, and mingle with the world? Do they pray thus for our souls? I have hardly ever prayed for my own." From that day, she began to pray, and became the first-fruits of a glorious revival.

When Dr. Bacchus (the President of Hamilton College), was upon his death bed, the doctor called to see him, and, after examining the symptoms, left the room without speaking, but, as he opened the door to go out, was observed to whisper something to the servant. "What did the physician say to you?" asked Dr. Bacchus. "He said, sir, that you cannot live to exceed half an hour." "Is it so?" said the good man. "Then take me out of my bed, and place me upon my knees; let me spend that time in calling upon God for the salvation of the world." His request was complied with; and his last moments were spent in breathing forth his prayers for the salvation of his fellow sinners. He died upon his knees. So also did Drs. Krapt and Livingstone.

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