Front Page Titles (by Subject) A PARAPHRASE AND NOTES ON THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS. - The Works, vol. 7 (Essays and Notes on St. Paul's Epistles)
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A PARAPHRASE AND NOTES ON THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS. - John Locke, The Works, vol. 7 (Essays and Notes on St. Paul’s Epistles) 
The Works of John Locke in Nine Volumes, (London: Rivington, 1824 12th ed.). Vol. 7.
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A PARAPHRASE AND NOTES ON THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS.
THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS;
Our Saviour had, so openly and expressly, declared, to his disciples, the destruction of the temple, that they could, by no means, doubt of it; nor of this consequence of it, viz. that the ἔθη, customs or rites of the mosaical law, as they are called, Acts vi. 14, and xxi. 21, were to cease with it. And this St. Stephen, by what is laid to his charge, Acts vi. 13, 14, seems to have taught. And upon this ground it might very well be, that the apostles and church of Jerusalem required no more of the convert gentiles, than the observance of such things as were sufficient to satisfy the jews, that they were not still heathens and idolaters. But, as for the rest of the mosaical rites, they required not the convert gentiles (to whom the mosaical law was not given) to observe them. This being a very natural and obvious consequence, which they could not but see, that if by the destruction of the temple and worship of the jews, those rites were speedily to be taken away, they were not observances necessary to the people of God, and of perpetual obligation. Thus far, it is plain, the other apostles were instructed, and satisfied of the freedom of the gentile converts from complying with the ritual law. But, whether it was revealed to them, with the same clearness as it was to St. Paul, that the jews too, as well as the gentiles, who were converted to the christian faith, were discharged from their former obligation to the ritual law of Moses, and freed from those observances, may be doubted: because, as we see, they had not at all instructed their converts of the circumcision, of their being set at liberty from that yoke; which, it is very likely, they would not have forborn to have done, if they had been convinced of it themselves. For, in all that discourse concerning this question, Acts xv. 1—21, there is not one syllable said, of the jews being discharged, by faith in the Messiah, from the observance of any of the mosaical rites. Nor does it appear, that the apostles of the circumcision ever taught their disciples, or suggested to them, any such thing, which one can scarce imagine, they could have neglected, if it had been revealed to them, and so given them in charge. It is certain, their converts had never been taught any such thing. For St. James himself acquaints us, Acts xxi. 20, that the “many thousands, that believed, were all zealous of the law.” And what his own opinion of those rites, was, may be seen, ver. 24, where he calls keeping this part of the law, “walking orderly:” and he is concerned to have St. Paul thought a strict observer thereof. All which could not have been, if it had been revealed to him, as positively and expressly as it was to St. Paul, that all believers, in the Messiah, jews as well as gentiles, were absolved from the law of Moses, and were under no obligation to observe those ceremonies any longer, they being now no longer necessary to the people of God, in this his new kingdom, erected under the Messiah; nor indeed was it necessary, that this particular point should have been, from the beginning, revealed to the other apostles, who were sufficiently instructed for their mission, and the conversion of their brethren, the jews, by the Holy Ghost bringing to their minds (as was promised) all that our Saviour had said unto them, in his life-time here, amongst them, in the true sense of it. But the sending them to the jews with this message, that the law was abolished, was to cross the very design of sending them; it was to bespeak an aversion to their doctrine; and to stop the ears of the jews, and turn their hearts from them. But St. Paul, receiving his whole knowledge of the gospel, immediately from heaven, by revelation, seems to have this particular instruction added, to fit him for the mission he was chosen to, and make him an effectual messenger of the gospel, by furnishing him presently with this necessary truth, concerning the cessation of the law, the knowledge whereof could not but come in time to the other apostles, when it should be seasonable. Whether this be not so, I leave it to be considered.
This, at least, is certain, that St. Paul alone, more than all the rest of the apostles, was taken notice of to have preached, that the coming of Christ put an end to the law, and that, in the kingdom of God, erected under the Messiah, the observation of the law was neither required, nor availed aught; faith in Christ was the only condition of admittance, both for jew and gentile, all, who believed, being now equally the people of God, whether circumcised, or uncircumcised. This was that, which the jews, zealous of the law, which they took to be the irrevocable, unalterable charter of the people of God, and the standing rule of his kingdom, could by no means bear. And therefore, provoked by this report of St. Paul, the jews, both converts as well as others, looked upon him as a dangerous innovator, and an enemy to the true religion, and, as such, seized on him in the temple, Acts xxi. upon occasion whereof it was, that he was a prisoner at Rome, when he writ this epistle, where he seems to be concerned, lest now, he, that was the apostle of the gentiles, from whom alone the doctrine of their exemption from the law had its rise and support, was in bonds, upon that very account, it might give an opportunity to those judaizing professors of christianity, who contended that the gentiles, unless they were circumcised after the manner of Moses, could not be saved, to unsettle the minds, and shake the faith of those, whom he had converted. This being the controversy, from whence rose the great trouble and danger that, in the time of our apostle, disturbed the churches collected from among the gentiles. That, which chiefly disquieted the minds, and shook the faith of those, who from heathenism were converted to christianity, was this doctrine, that, except the converts from paganism were circumcised, and thereby subjected themselves to the law and the jewish rites, they could have no benefit by the gospel, as may be seen all through the Acts, and in almost all St. Paul’s epistles. Wherefore, when he heard that the ephesians stood firm in the faith, whereby he means their confidence of their title to the privileges and benefits of the gospel, without submission to the law (for the introducing the legal observances into the kingdom of the Messiah, he declared to be a subversion of the gospel, and contrary to the great and glorious design of that kingdom) he thanks God for them, and, setting forth the gracious and glorious design of God towards them, prays that they may be enlightened, so as to be able to see the mighty things done for them, and the immense advantages they receive by it. In all which he displays the glorious state of that kingdom, not in the ordinary way of argumentation and formal reasoning; which had no place in an epistle, writ as this is, all as it were in a rapture, and in a style far above the plain, didactical way; he pretends not to teach them any thing, but couches all, that he would drop into their minds, in thanksgivings and prayers, which affording a greater liberty and flight to his thoughts, he gives utterance to them, in noble and sublime expressions, suitable to the unsearchable wisdom and goodness of God, shown to the world in the work of redemption. This, though perhaps at first sight, it may render his meaning a little obscure, and his expressions the harder to be understood, yet, by the assistance of the two following epistles, which were both writ, whilst he was in the same circumstances, upon the same occasion, and to the same purpose, the sense and doctrine of the apostle here may be so clearly seen, and so perfectly comprehended, that there can hardly be a doubt left about it, to any one, who will examine them diligently and carefully compare them together. The epistle to the colossians seems to be writ the very same time, in the same run and warmth of thoughts, so that the very same expressions, yet fresh in his mind, are repeated in many places; the form, phrase, matter, and all the parts quite through, of these two epistles do so perfectly correspond, that one cannot be mistaken, in thinking one of them very fit to give light to the other. And that to the philippians, writ also by St. Paul, during his bonds at Rome, when attentively looked into, will be found to have the same aim with the other two; so that, in these three epistles taken together, one may see the great design of the gospel laid down, as far surpassing the law, both in glory, greatness, comprehension, grace, and bounty, and therefore they were opposers, not promoters of the true doctrine of the gospel, and the kingdom of God under the Messiah, who would confine it to the narrow and beggarly elements of this world, as St. Paul calls the positive ordinances of the mosaical institution. To confirm the gentile churches, whom he had converted, in this faith which he had instructed them in, and keep them from submitting to the mosaical rites, in the kingdom of Christ, by giving them a nobler and more glorious view of the gospel, is the design of this and the two following epistles. For the better understanding these epistles, it might be worth while to show their harmony all through, but this synopsis is not a place for it; the following paraphrase and notes will give an opportunity to point out several passages wherein their agreement will appear.
The latter end of this epistle, according to St. Paul’s usual method, contains practical directions and exhortations.
He that desires to inform himself in what is left upon record, in sacred scripture, concerning the church of the ephesians, which was the metropolis of Asia, strictly so called, may read the 19th and 20th of the Acts.
CHAP. I. 1, 2.
These two verses contain St. Paul’s inscription, or introduction of this epistle; what there is in it remarkable for its difference, from what is to be found in his other epistles, we shall take notice of in the notes.
1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the declared will and special appointment of God, to the professors of the gospel* , who are in Ephesus; converts, who2 stand firm in the faith† of Christ Jesus; Favour and peace be to you from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
CHAP. I. 3—14.
In this section St. Paul thanks God for his grace and bounty to the gentiles, wherein he so sets forth both God’s gracious purpose of bringing the gentiles into his kingdom under the Messiah, and his actual bestowing on them blessings of all kinds, in Jesus Christ, for a complete re-instating them in that his heavenly kingdom, that there could be nothing stronger suggested to make the ephesians, and other gentile converts, not to think any more of the law, and that much inferiour kingdom of his, established upon the mosaical institution, and adapted to a little canton of the earth, and a small tribe of men; as now necessary to be retained under this more spiritual institution, and celestial kingdom, erected under Jesus Christ, intended to comprehend men of all nations, and extend itself to the utmost bounds of the earth, for the greater honour of God, or, as St. Paul speaks, “to the praise of the glory of God.”
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ:
4According 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:
5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace;
8Wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence,
9Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself:
10That, 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:
11In 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:
12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13In 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.
14Which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
3Blessed and magnified be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has, in and by Jesus Christ* , furnished us† gentiles with all sorts of blessings, that may fit us to be partakers of his heavenly kingdom,4 without need of any assistance from the law, According as he chose us gentiles, upon Christ’s account alone* , before the law was, even before the foundation of the world, to be his people† under Jesus the Messiah, and to live unblameable lives‡ before him, in all love and affection§ , to all the saints, or believers, 5 of what nation soever; Having predetermined to take us gentiles, by* Jesus Christ, to be his sons† and people, according to the good pleasure of his6 will‡ . To the end that the gentiles too might praise him for his grace and mercy to them, and all mankind magnify his glory for his abundant goodness to them, by receiving them freely into the kingdom of the Messiah, to be his people again, in a state of peace with him§ , barely for the sake∥ of him, that is his 7 beloved: In whom we* have redemption by his blood, viz. the forgiveness of transgressions, according to the8 greatness of his grace and favour, Which he has overflowed in towards us, in bestowing on us so full a knowledge and comprehension of the extent and design of the gospel† , and prudence to comply with it,9 as it becomes you‡ ; In that he hath made known to you the good pleasure of his will and purpose, which was a § mystery, that he hath purposed 10 in himself* . Until the coming of the due time of that dispensation, wherein he hath predetermined to reduce all things again, both in heaven and11 earth, under one head† in Christ; In whom we became his possession* and the lot of his inheritance, being predetermined thereunto, according to the purpose of him, who never fails to bring to pass12 what he hath purposed within himself* : That we of the gentiles, who first through Christ entertained hope† , might bring praise and glory to God. 13 And ye, ephesians, are also, in Jesus Christ, become God’s people and inheritance* , having heard the word of truth, the good tidings of your salvation, and, having believed in him, have been sealed by the14 Holy Ghost; Which was promised, and is the pledge and evidence of being the people of God† , his inheritance given out‡ for the redemption§ of the purchased possession, that ye might also bring praise and glory to God* .
CHAP. I. 15.—II. 10.
Having in the foregoing section thanked God for the great favours and mercies which, from the beginning, he had purposed for the gentiles, under the Messiah, in such a description of that design of the Almighty, as was fit to raise their thoughts above the law, and, as St. Paul calls them, beggarly elements of the jewish constitution, which was nothing in comparison of the great and glorious design of the gospel, taking notice of their standing firm in the faith he had taught them, and thanking God for it: he here, in this, prays God, that he would enlighten the minds of the ephesian converts, to see fully the great things, that were actually done for them, and the glorious estate, they were in, under the gospel, of which, in this section, he gives such a draught, as in every part of it shows, that in the kingdom of Christ they are set far above the mosaical rites, and enjoy the spiritual and incomprehensible benefits of it, not by the tenure of a few outward ceremonies: but by their faith, alone, in Jesus Christ, to whom they are united, and of whom they are members, who is exalted to the top of all dignity, dominion, and power, and they with him, their head.
15Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knewledge of him:
18The 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,
19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power;
20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, in the heavenly places,
21Far 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.
22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.
23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
II. 1And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins,
2Wherein, in time past, ye walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5Even when ye were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)
6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.
7That, in the ages to come, he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus.
8For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9Not of works, lest any man should boast:
10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them.
15Wherefore, I also, here, in my confinement, having heard* of the continuance of your faith in Christ Jesus, 16 and your love to all the saints* , Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory† would endow your spirits, with wisdom‡ and revelation§ , whereby you may know18 him; And enlighten the eyes of your understandings, that you may see what hope his calling you to be christians carries with it, and what an abundant glory it is to the saints to become his people, and19 the lot of his inheritance; And what an exceeding great power he has employed upon us* who believe:20 A power corresponding to that mighty power, which he exerted in the raising Christ from the dead, and in setting him next to himself, over all things, relating21 to his heavenly kingdom† ; Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion* , and any other, either man or an angel, of greater dignity or excellency, that we may come to be acquainted with, or hear the names of, either in this22 world, or the world to come: And hath put all things in subjection to him; and him, invested with a power over all things, he hath constituted head of23 the church, Which is his body, which is completed by him alone† , from whom comes all, that gives any thing of excellency and perfection to any of the members of the church: where to be a jew, or a greek, circumcised, or uncircumcised, a barbarian, or a scythian, a slave, or a freeman, matters not; but to be united to him, to partake of his influence and spirit, is all in all.
II. 1And* you, being also dead in trespasses and sins, 2 In which you gentiles, before you were converted to the gospel, walked, according to the state and constitution of this world* , conforming yourselves to the will and pleasure of the prince of the power of the air* , the spirit that now yet possesses3 and works† in the children of disobedience‡ . Of which number even we all having formerly been§ , lived in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires∥4 thereof, and of our blinded perverted mind. But* God, who is rich in mercy† , through his great love,5 wherewith he loved us, Even us, gentiles, who were dead in trespasses‡ , hath he quickened§ , together6 with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) And hath raised∥ us up together with Christ, and made us partakers, in and with Jesus Christ, of the glory and power of his heavenly kingdom, which God has put into his 7 hands, and put under his rule: That, in the ages* to come, he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through Christ8 Jesus. For by God’s free grace it is, that ye† are, through faith in Christ, saved‡ and brought into the kingdom of God, and made his people, not by any thing you did yourselves to deserve it; it is the free gift of God, who might, if he had so pleased, with 9 justice have left you in that forlorn state. That no man might have any pretence of boasting of himself,10 or his own works, or merit. So that, in this new state in the kingdom of God, we are (and ought to look upon ourselves, as not deriving any thing from ourselves, but as) the mere workmanship of God, created* in Christ Jesus, to the end we should do good works, for which he had prepared and fitted us, to live in them† .
CHAP. II. 11—22.
From this doctrine of his, in the foregoing section, that God of his free grace, according to his purpose from the beginning, had quickened and raised the convert gentiles, together with Christ, and seated them with Christ, in his heavenly kingdom; St. Paul here, in this section, draws this inference, to keep them from judaizing, that, though they (as was the state of the heathen word) were heretofore, by being uncircumcised, shut out from the kingdom of God, strangers from the covenants of promise, without hope, and without God in the world; yet they were, by Christ, who had taken away the ceremonial law, that wall of partition, that kept them in that state of distance and opposition, now received, without any subjecting them to the law of Moses, to be the people of God, and had the same admittance into the kingdom of God, with the jews themselves, with whom they were now created into one new man, or body of men, so that they were no longer to look on themselves, any more, as aliens, or remoter from the kingdom of God, than the jews themselves.
11Wherefore, remember that ye being, in time past, gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision, by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh, made by hands;
12That, at that time, ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13But now in Christ Jesus, ye, who sometimes were far off, are made nigh, by the blood of Christ.
14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15Having abolished, in his flesh, the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances, for to make in himself, of twain, one new man, so making peace;
16And that he might reconcile both unto God, in one body, by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17And came and preached peace to you, which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18For, through him, we both have access, by one Spirit, unto the Father.
19Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and the household of God;
20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.
21In whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22In whom you, also, are builded together, for an habitation of God, through the Spirit.
11Wherefore remember, that ye, who were heretofore gentiles, distinguished and separated from the jews, who are circumcised by a circumcision made with hands, in their flesh, by your not being circumcised in your flesh* , 12 Were, at that time, without all knowledge of the Messiah, or any expectation of deliverance, or salvation, by him* ; aliens from the commonwealth of Israel† , and strangers to the covenants of promise‡ , not having any hope of any such thing, and living in the world without having the true God for your13 God§ , or your being his people. But now you, that were formerly remote and at a distance, are, by Jesus14 Christ, brought near by his death∥ . For it is he, that reconcileth us¶ to the jews, and hath brought us and them, who were before at an irreconcileable distance, into unity one with another, by removing the middle wall of partition** , that kept us at a distance,15 Having taken away the cause of enmity†† , or distance, between us, by abolishing* that part of the law, which consisted in positive commands and ordinances, that so he might make* , or frame the two, viz. jews and gentiles, into one new society, or body of God’s people, in a new constitution, under himself† , so making peace 16 between them; And might reconcile them both to God, being thus united into one body, in him, by the cross, whereby he destroyed that enmity, or incompatibility, that was between them, by nailing to his cross the law of ordinances, that kept them at a17 distance: And, being come, preached the good tidings of peace to you gentiles that were far off from the kingdom of heaven, and to the jews, that were18 near, and in the very precincts of it. For it is by him, that we, both jews and gentiles, have access19 to the Father, by one and the same Spirit. Therefore ye, ephesians, though heretofore gentiles, now believers in Christ, you are no more strangers and foreigners, but without any more a-do fellow-citizens of the saints, and domestics of God’s own family:20 Built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, whereof Jesus Christ is the corner-stone:21 In whom all the building, fitly framed together,22 groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In which even the gentiles* , also are built up, together with the believing jews, for an habitation of God, through the Spirit.
CHAP. III. 1—21.
This section gives a great light to those foregoing, and more clearly opens the design of this epistle: for here St. Paul, in plain words, tells them it is for preaching this doctrine, that was a mystery till now, being hid from former ages, viz. that the gentiles should be coheirs, with the believing jews, and, making one body, or people, with them, should be equally partakers of the promises, under the Messiah, of which mystery he, by particular favour and appointment, was ordained the preacher. Whereupon he exhorts them not to be dismayed, or flinch, in the least, from the belief, or profession of this truth, upon his being persecuted and in bonds upon that account. For his suffering for it, who was the preacher and propagator of it, was so far from being a just discouragement to them, for standing firmly in the belief of it, that it ought to be to them a glory, and a confirmation of this eminent truth of the gospel, which he peculiarly taught: and thereupon he tells them, he makes it his prayer to God, that they might be strengthened herein, and be able to comprehend the largeness of the love of God in Christ, not confined to the jewish nation and constitution, as the jews conceited; but far surpassing the thoughts of those who, presuming themselves knowing, would confine it to such only, who were members of the jewish church, and observers of their ceremonies.
1For this cause, I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you gentiles:
2If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to you-ward;
3How that, by revelation, he made known unto me the mystery, (as I wrote afore in few words.
4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets, by the Spirit;
6That the gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise, in Christ, by the gospel:
7Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, given unto me, by the effectual working of his power.
8Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach, among the gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9And to make all men see, what is the fellowship of the mystery, which, from the beginning of the world, hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
10To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers, in heavenly places, might be known by the church, the manifold wisdom of God,
11According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed, in Christ Jesus our Lord:
12In whom we have boldness and access with confidence, by the faith of him.
13Wherefore, I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
14For this cause, I bow my knees unto the father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might, by his spirit, in the inner man;
17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18May be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
1For my preaching of this* , I Paul am a prisoner, upon account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the sake and service of you gentiles† : Which you cannot doubt of, since‡ ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which was given to me,3 in reference to you gentiles: How that, by special revelation, he made known unto me, in particular§ , the mystery∥ , (as I hinted to you above, viz. 4 chap. i. 9. By the bare reading whereof ye may be assured of my knowledge in this formerly concealed5 and unknown part of the gospel of Christ* :) Which in former ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and6 prophets, by the Spirit, viz. That the gentiles should be fellow heirs, be united into one body, and partake of his promise† in Christ, jointly with the jews‡ , in7 the time§ of the gospel; Of which doctrine I, in particular, was made the minister* , according to the free and gracious gift of God, given unto me, by the effectual working of his power, in his so wonderful8 converting the gentiles by my preaching† ; Unto me, I say, who am less than the least of all saints, is this favour given, that I should preach among the9 gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ* : And make all men† perceive, how this mystery comes now to be communicated‡ to the world, which has been concealed from all past ages, lying hid in the secret purpose of God, who frames and manages this whole new creation, by Jesus Christ§ : 10 To the intent that now, under the gospel, the manifold wisdom of God, in the ordering and management of his heavenly kingdom, might be made known to principalities and powers by the church*11 According to that pre-disposition* of the ages, or several dispensations, which he made in Christ Jesus12 our Lord; By whom we have boldness and access to God the father, with confidence, by faith† in13 him. Wherefore my desire is, that ye be not dismayed by my present affliction, which I suffer for your sake, and is in truth a glory to you, that ought to raise your hearts, and strengthen your resolutions.14 Upon this account, I bend my knees, in15 prayer to the father of our Lord Jesus Christ‡ , From whom the whole family, or lineage, both in heaven and earth have their denomination, viz. Jesus Christ, that is already in heaven, and believers that are still on earth, have all God for their father, are all the16 sons of God. That he would grant you, according to the great glory he designed to you, gentiles, who should receive the gospel under the Messiah* , to be strengthened with might, by his spirit, in the inward17 man† ; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being settled and established in the sense of the love of God to you, in Jesus Christ,18 May be able, together with all christians, to comprehend the length, and breadth, and height, and depth, of this mystery, of God’s purpose of calling and taking in the gentiles, to be his people, in the19 kingdom of his Son‡ : And to understand the exceeding§ love of God, in bringing us to the knowledge of Christ: that you may be filled with that knowledge, and all other gifts, with God’s plenty, or to that degree of fulness, which is suitable to his purpose of munificence and bounty towards you* .20 Now to him that worketh in us, by a power† , whereby he is able to do, exceedingly beyond all21 that we can ask or think; Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
CHAP. IV. 1—16.
St. Paul having concluded the special part of his epistle, with the foregoing chapter, he comes in this, as his manner is, to practical exhortations. He begins with unity, love, and concord, which he presses upon them, upon a consideration that he makes use of, in more of his epistles than one, i. e. their being all members of one and the same body, whereof Christ is the head.
1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation, wherewith ye are called.
2With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love;
3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit, in the bond of peace.
4There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
6One God and father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7But unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9(Now that he ascended, what is it, but that he also descended first, into the lower parts of the earth?
10He that descended, is the same also, that ascended up, far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11And he gave some, apostles: and some, prophets: and some, evangelists: and some, pastors and teachers;
12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive:
15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him, in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16From whom the whole body, fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working, in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
1I therefore, who am in bonds, upon account of the gospel, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling2 wherewith ye are called, With lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing with one3 another in love; Taking care to preserve the unity4 of the spirit, in the bond of peace; Considering yourselves as being one body, enlivened and acted by one spirit, as also was your calling, in one5 hope: There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,6 One God and father of you all, who is above all, in the midst amongst you all, and in every one of you.7 And to every one of us is made a free donation, according to that proportion of gifts, which Christ8 has allotted to every one. Wherefore the Psalmist saith* , “When he ascended up on high, he led9 captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” (Now that he ascended, what is it, but that he descended10 first, into the lower parts of the earth? He, that descended, is the same also, that ascended above all heavens, that there, receiving the fulness of power,11 he might be able to fill all his members* .) And therefore, he alone, framing the constitution of his new government, by his own power, and according to such a model, and such rules as he thought best, making some apostles, others evangelists, and others12 pastors and teachers; Putting thus together, in a fit order and frame, the several members of his new collected people, that each, in its proper place and function, might contribute to the whole, and help to13 build up the body of Christ: Till all cementing together, in one faith, and knowledge of the Son of God, to the full state of a grown man, according to the measure of that stature, which is to make up the14 fulness of Christ: That we should be no longer children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by men versed in the sleights of cheating, and their cunning artifices, laid in train15 to deceive: But being steady in true and unfeigned love, should grow up into a firm union, in all things,16 with Christ, who is the head: From whom the whole body, fitly framed together, and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper force and function of each particular part, makes an increase of the whole body, building itself up in love, or a mutual concern of the parts* .
CHAP. IV. 17—24.
In this section, the apostle exhorts them wholly to forsake their former conversation, which they had passed their lives in, whilst they were gentiles, and to take up that, which became them, and was proper to them, now they were christians. Here we may see the heathen and christian state and conversation described, and set in opposition one to the other.
17This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk, not as other gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19Who being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20But ye have not so learned Christ;
21If so be, that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus;
22That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts:
23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24And that ye put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.
17This I say, therefore, and testify to you, from the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as the unconverted gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds* .18 Having their understandings darkened, being alienated† from that rule and course of life, which they own and observe, who are the professed subjects and servants of the true God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts;19 Who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to the committing of all uncleanness, even beyond the bounds of natural desires‡ .20 But you that have been instructed in the religion of 21 Christ, have learned other things; If you have been scholars of his school, and have been taught the22 truth, as it is in the gospel of Jesus Christ: That you change your former conversation, abandoning those deceitful lusts, wherewith you were entirely23 corrupted: And that, being renewed in the spirit of24 the mind, You become new men* , framed and fashioned according to the will of God, in righteousness and true holiness.
CHAP. IV. 25.—V. 2.
After the general exhortation, in the close of the foregoing section, to the ephesians, to renounce the old course of life they led, when they were heathens, and to become perfectly new men, conformed to the holy rules of the gospel, St. Paul descends to particulars, and here, in this section, presses several particulars of those great social virtues, justice and charity, &c.
25Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27Neither give place to the devil.
28Let him that stole, steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying; that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God; whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
32And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
V. 1Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2And walk in love; as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour.
25Wherefore, putting away lying, let every man speak truth to his neighbour; for we are members one of26 another. If you meet with provocations, that move you to anger, take care that you indulge it not so far, as to make it sinful: defer not its cure, till sleep calm the mind, but endeavour to recover yourself forthwith, and bring yourself into temper;27 Lest you give an opportunity to the devil, to produce28 some mischief, by your disorder. Let him that hath stole, steal no more, but rather let him labour in some honest calling that he may have even wherewithal29 to relieve others, that need it. Let not any filthy language, or a misbecoming word, come out of your mouths, but let your discourse be pertinent on the occasion, and tending to edification, and such as may have a becoming gracefulness in the ears of30 the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed* to the day of temptation. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from32 you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even asV. 1 God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you. Therefore, as becomes children, that are beloved and cherished by God, propose him as an example to yourselves,2 to be imitated; And let love conduct and influence your whole conversation, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and an acceptable sacrifice* to God.
CHAP. V. 3—20.
The next sort of sins he dehorts them from are those of intemperance, especially those of uncleanness, which were so familiar and so unrestrained among the heathens.
3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named amongst you, as becometh saints:
4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God.
6Let no man deceive you with vain words: for, because of these things, cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7Be not ye, therefore, partakers with them.
8For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.
9(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth)
10Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13But all things, that are reproved, are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest, is light.
14Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15See, then, that ye walk circumspectly; not as fools, but as wise;
16Redeeming the time; because the days are evil.
17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
19Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
20Giving thanks always for all things, unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3But fornication and all uncleanness, or exorbitant desires in venereal matters* , let it not be once named 4 amongst you, as becometh saints: Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor pleasantry of discourse of this kind, which are none of them convenient, but rather5 giving of thanks. For this you are thoroughly instructed in, and acquainted with, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor lewd, lascivious libertine, in such matters, who is in truth an idolater, shall have6 any part in the kingdom of Christ, and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain, empty talk* ; these things in themselves are highly offensive to God, and are that which he will bring the heathen world (who will not come in, and submit to the law of Christ)7 to judgment for* . Be ye not, therefore, partakers8 with them. For ye were heretofore, in your gentile state, perfectly in the dark† , but now, by believing in Christ, and receiving the gospel, light‡ and knowledge is given to you, walk as those who are9 in a state of light (For the fruit of the Spirit is in10 all goodness, righteousness, and truth§ ) Practising that which, upon examination, you find acceptable11 to the Lord. And do not partake in the fruitless works of darkness∥ ; do not go on in the practice of those shameful actions, as if they were indifferent,12 but rather reprove them. For the things, that the gentile idolaters¶ do in secret, are so filthy and abominable, that it is a shame so much as to name13 them. This you now see, which is an evidence of your being enlightened; for all things, that are discovered to be amiss, are made manifest by the light* .14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light; for whatsoever shows them to be such, is15 light. Since, then, you are in the light, make use of your eyes to walk exactly in the right way, not as fools, rambling at adventures, but as wise, in a16 steady, right-chosen course, Securing yourselves† by your prudent carriage, from the inconveniencies of those difficult times, which threaten them with17 danger. Wherefore, be ye not unwise, but understanding18 what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunken with wine, wherein there is excess* ; seek not diversion in the noisy and intemperate jollity of drinking; but, when you are disposed to a chearful entertainment of one another, let it be with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that you are filled with,19 Singing hymns, and psalms, and spiritual songs among yourselves; this makes real and solid mirth in the heart, and is melody well pleasing to God20 himself; Giving thanks always, for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father.
CHAP. V. 21.—VI. 9.
In this section he gives rules concerning the duties arising from the several relations men stand in one to another, in society; those which he particularly insists on, are these three, husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants.
21Submitting yourselves one to another, in the fear of God.
22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body.
24Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it:
26That he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water, by the word,
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.
28So ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies: he that loveth his wife, loveth himself.
29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33Nevertheless, let every one of you, in particular, so love his wife, even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
VI. 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2Honour thy father and mother, (which is the first commandment with promise)
3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4And ye, fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
5Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters, according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ:
6Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7With good-will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
9And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatning: knowing that your Master also is in heaven, neither is there respect of persons with him.
21Submit* yourselves one to another, in the fear of22 God. As for example, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, or, as being members of the23 church, you submit yourselves to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ himself is the head of the church, and it is he, the head, that preserves that his body† ; so stands it between24 man and wife. Therefore, as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their husbands, in every 25 thing. And, you husbands, do you, on your side, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the26 church, and gave himself to death for it; That he might sanctify and fit it to himself, purifying it by the washing of baptism, joined with the preaching27 and reception of the gospel* ; That so he himself† might present it to himself an honourable spouse, without the least spot of uncleanness, or misbecoming feature, or any thing amiss; but that it might be holy, and without all manner of blemish.28 So ought men to love their wives, as their own29 bodies; he that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord Christ doth the30 church: For we are members of his body, of his 31 flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh* .32 These words contain a very mystical sense in them† ,33 I mean in reference to Christ and the church. But laying that aside, their literal sense lays hold on you, and therefore do you husbands, every one of you in particular, so love his wife, as his own self, VI. 1 and let the wife reverence her husband. Children, obey your parents, performing it as required thereunto by our Lord Jesus Christ; for this is right2 and conformable to that command, Honour thy father and mother, (which is the first command with3 promise) That it may be well with thee, and thou4 mayest be long-lived upon the earth. And on the other side, ye fathers, do not, by the austerity of your carriage, despise and discontent your children, but bring them up, under such a method of discipline, and give them such instruction, as is suitable to the5 gospel. Ye that are bondmen, be obedient to those who are your masters, according to the constitution of human affairs, with great respect and subjection, and with that sincerity of heart which should be6 used to Christ himself: Not with service only in those outward actions, that come under their observation; aiming at no more but the pleasing of men; but, as the servants of Christ, doing what7 God requires of you, from your very hearts; In this with good-will paying your duty to the Lord, and8 not unto men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any one doth to another, he shall be considered and rewarded for it by God, whether he be bond or free. 9 And ye masters, have the like regard and readiness to do good to your bond-slaves, forbearing the roughness even of unnecessary menaces, knowing that even you yourselves have a Master in heaven above, who will call you, as well as them, to an impartial account for your carriage one to another, for he is no respecter of persons.
CHAP. VI. 10—20.
He concludes this epistle, with a general exhortation to them, to stand firm against the temptations of the devil, in the exercise of christian virtues and graces, which he proposes to them, as so many pieces of christian armour fit to arm them cap-a-pee, and preserve them in the conflict.
10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness;
15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God:
18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto, with all perseverance, and supplication, for all saints:
19And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel:
20For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
10Finally, my brethren, go on resolutely in the profession of the gospel, in reliance upon that power, and in the exercise of that strength, which is11 ready for your support, in Jesus Christ; Putting on the whole armour of God, that ye may be12 able to resist all the attacks of the devil: For our conflict is not barely with men, but with principalities, and with powers* , with the rulers of the darkness, that is in men, in the present constitution of the world, and the spiritual managers of the opposition13 to the kingdom of God. Wherefore, take unto yourselves the whole armour of God, that you may be able to make resistance in the evil day, when you shall be attacked, and, having acquitted yourselves in every thing as you ought, to stand14 and keep your ground: Stand fast, therefore, having your loins girt with truth; and having on the breastplate15 of righteousness; And your feet shod with a readiness to walk in the way of the gospel of peace,16 which you have well studied and considered. Above all taking the shield of faith, wherein you may receive, and so render ineffectual all the fiery darts of17 the wicked one, i. e. the devil. Take also the hopes of salvation for an helmet; and the sword of the18 spirit, which is the word of God† : Praying, at all seasons, with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, attending and watching hereunto, with all perseverance, and supplication, for all the saints;19 And for me, in particular, that I may, with freedom and plainness of speech, preach the word, to the manifesting and laying open that part of the gospel, that concerns the calling of the gentiles, which has hitherto, as a mystery, lain concealed, and not been20 at all understood. But I, as an ambassador, am sent to make known to the world, and am now in prison, upon that very account: but let your prayers be, that, in the discharge of this my commission, I may speak plainly and boldly, as an ambassador from God ought to speak.
CHAP. VI. 21—24.
21But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things.
22Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
23Peace be to the brethren, and love, with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
21Tychicus, a beloved brother, and faithful minister of the Lord, in the work of the gospel, shall acquaint you how matters stand with me, and how I do, and give you a particular account how all things stand22 here. I have sent him, on purpose, to you, that you might know the state of our affairs, and that he23 might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love, with faith, from God the Father,24 and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those that love our Lord Jesus Christ with sincerity* .
C. Baldwin, Printer, New Bridge-street, London.
[* ]1 Τοῖς ἁγίοις, though rightly translated “saints,” yet it does not mean any other than a national sanctification, such as the jews had, by being separated from the gentiles, and appropriated to God, as his peculiar people; not that every one, that was of the holy nation of the jews heretofore, or of the holy church of Christ, under the gospel, were saints, in that sense that the word is usually taken now among christians, viz. such persons as were every one of them actually in a state of salvation.
[† ]Πιϛοῖς, “faithful.” We have observed above, that this epistle, and that to the colossians, have all through a very great resemblance; their lineaments do so correspond, that I think they may be twin-epistles, conceived and brought forth together, so that the very expressions of the one occurred fresh in St. Paul’s memory, and were made use of in the other. Their being sent by the same messenger, Tychicus, is a farther probability, that they were writ as the same time. Πιϛοῖς therefore being found in the introduction of both epistles, and no one other of St. Paul’s, there is just reason to think, that it was a term suited to the present notion he had of those he was writing to, with reference to the business he was writing about. I take it, therefore, that, by “faithful in Christ Jesus,” he means here such as stood firm to Jesus Christ, which he did not count them to do, who made circumcision necessary to salvation, and an observance of jewish rites a requisite part of the christian religion. This is plain from his express words, Gal. v. 1, 2, “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty, wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not intangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold I Paul say unto you, that, if ye are circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing, &c.” And those, that contended for submission to the law, he calls “perverters of the gospel of Christ,” Gal. i. 7, and more to the same purpose may be seen in that epistle. We shall have an occasion to confirm this interpretation of the word πιϛὸς, “faithful,” here, when we come to consider the import of the word ϖίϛις, “faith,” ver. 15. They that would have ϰαὶ, “and,” not exegetical here, but used only to join, under the title of “faithful in Christ Jesus,” the converts in Asia, I shall desire, besides Col. i. 2, to read also 1 Cor. i. 2, and thereby judge in what sense they are to understand “and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” here.
[* ]3 Ἐν Χριϛῶ, “in Christ,” I take to be put here emphatically, and to signify the same with, “filleth all in all,” v. 23, which is more fully explained, Col. iii. 11, “where there is neither greek, nor jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, scythian, bond, nor free, but Christ is all, and in all.”
[† ]“Us” The right understanding of this section, and indeed of this whole epistle, depends very much on understanding aright, who are more especially comprehended under the terms, “us” and “we,” from ver. 3 to 12. For “us,” must signify either, 1. St. Paul himself personally; but that the visible tenour of the discourse at first sight plainly destroys: besides, it suits not St. Paul’s modesty to attribute so much in particular to himself, as is spoke of “us” and “we,” in this section; or if we could think he would give himself that liberty; yet ver. 12, overturns it all; for ἡμᾶς τοῦς ϖροηλπιϰότας, “we who first trusted in Christ,” can by no means be admitted to be spoken by St. Paul personally of himself. Add to this, that in this very chapter, no farther off than ver. 15, St. Paul, speaking of himself, says, “I,” in the singular number; and so he does, chap. iii. ver. 7, 8. Or,
[* ]4 Ἐν αὐτῷ, “in him,” i. e. Christ: in the former verse it is εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν ϖάση εὐλογείᾳ ἐν Χριϛῶ, Καθῶς ἰξελέξαο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ. All which together make up this sense: “as it was in consideration of Christ alone, that God heretofore, before the foundation of the world, designed us gentiles to be his people; so now the Messiah is come, all the blessings and benefits, we are to receive in his heavenly kingdom, are laid up in him, and to be had only by our faith and dependence on him, without any respect to the law, or any other consideration.”
[† ]Ἁγιοὶ, “saints,” in St. Paul’s epistles is known to signify christians, i. e. such as made profession of the gospel, for those were now the people of God.
[‡ ]See in Col. i. 22, this verse explained, where comparing it with the immediately preceding words, ver. 21, one may find a farther reason to take “us,” here, to signify the gentile converts, the same thing being applied there solely to the gentile converts of Colosse.
[§ ]“Affection to all the saints.” That this is the meaning, may be seen, ver. 15, where to their true faith in Christ, which he was rejoiced with, he joined τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς ϖἀνας τȣ̀;ς ἁγίȣς, “love unto all the saints.” The very same thing, which he takes notice of in the colossians, in the very same words, Col. i. 4. Why love is so often mentioned in this epistle, as chap. iii. 18, and iv. 2, 15, 16, and v. 2, and vi. 23, we may find a reason, chap. ii. 11—22, wherein there is an account given of the enmity between the jews and gentiles, which Christ had taken away the cause of; and therefore, the ceasing of it was one great mark of men’s being right in the faith, and of their having true and worthy notions of Christ, who had broke down the wall of partition, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all equally, who believed in him, without any the least distinction of nation, blood, profession, or religion, that they were of before, all that being now done away, and superseded by the prince of peace, Jesus Christ the righteous, to make way for a more enlarged and glorious kingdom, solely by faith in him, which now made the only distinction among men: so that all, who agreed in that, were thereby brought to the same level, to be all brethren and fellow-members in Christ, and the people, or sons of God, as he says in the next verse.
[* ]5 It was not by the observances of the law, but by faith alone in Jesus Christ, that God pre-determined to take the gentiles into the state of sonship, or adoption. This was another particular for which St. Paul blesses God, in the name of the gentiles: the consideration whereof was fit to raise the ephesiaus thoughts above the law, and keep them firm in adherence to the liberty of the gospel.
[† ]Ὑιοθεσία, “adoption,” or “sonship,” belonged only to the jews, before the coming of the Messiah, Rom. ix. 4. For after the nations of the earth had revolted from God, their Lord and Maker, and become servants and worshippers of the devil, God abandoned them to the vassalage they had chosen, and owned none of them for his, but the israelites, whom he had adopted to be his children and people. See Exod. iv. 22, Jer. xxxi. 9, Luke i. 54. Which adoption is expressed to Abraham in these words, Gen. xvii. 7, “I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee;” and to the israelites, Exod. vi. 7, “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be your God;” and so Lev. xxvi. 12, “I will walk amongst you, and be your God, and ye shall be my people:” and so we see that those whom, Exod. iv. he calls his sons, he calls, in several other places, his people, as standing both, when spoken nationally, for one and the same thing.
[‡ ]“According to the good pleasure of his will:” spoken here in the same sense with what is said Rom. ix. 18, 23, 24. God, under the law, took the nation of Israel to be his people, without any merit in them; and so it is of his mere good pleasure, that he even then purposed to enlarge his kingdom, under the gospel, by admitting all, that of all the nations whatsoever would come in and submit themselves, not to the law of Moses, but to the rule and dominion of his son Jesus Christ; and this, as he says in the next words, “for the praise of the glory of his grace.”
[§ ]6 See chap. ii. 12—14, Acts xv. 14, &c.
[∥ ]I do not think, that any thing of greater force can be imagined, to raise the minds of the ephesians, above the jewish rituals, and keep them steady in the freedom of the gospel, than what St. Paul says here, viz. that God, before the foundation of the world, freely determined within himself to admit the gentiles into his kingdom, to be his people, for the manifestation of his free grace, all the world over, that all nations might glorify him: and this for the sake of his son Jesus Christ, who was his beloved, and was so chiefly regarded in all this; and therefore it was to mistake, or pervert, the end of the gospel, and debase this glorious dispensation, to make it subservient to the jewish ritual, or to suppose that the law of Moses was to support, or to be supported, by the kingdom of the Messiah, which was to be of a larger extent, and settled upon another foundation, whereof the mosaical institution was but a narrow, faint, and typical representation.
[* ]7 “We” does as plainly here stand for the gentile converts, as it is manifest it does in the parallel place, Col. i. 13, 14.
[† ]8 That by ϖάση σοϕίᾳ St. Paul means a comprehension of the revealed will of God in the gospel, more particularly the mystery of God’s purpose of calling the gentiles, and taking out of them a people and inheritance to himself in his kingdom, under the Messiah, may be perceived by reading and comparing chap. i. 8, Col. i. 9, 10, 28, and ii. 2, 3, which verses, read with attention to the context, plainly show what St. Paul means here.
[‡ ]That this is the meaning of this verse, I refer my reader to Col. i. 9, 10.
[§ ]9 I cannot think that God’s purpose of calling the gentiles, so often termed a mystery, and so emphatically declared to be concealed from ages, and particularly revealed to himself; and as we find, in this epistle, where it is so called by St. Paul five times, and four times in that to the colossians; is by chance, or without some particular reason. The question was “whether the converted gentiles should hearken to the jews, who would persuade them it was necessary for them to submit to circumcision and the law, or to St. Paul, who had taught them otherwise.” Now there could be nothing of more force to destroy the authority of the jews, in the case, than the showing them, that the jews knew nothing of the matter, that it was a perfect mystery to them, concealed from their knowledge, and made manifest in God’s good time, at the coming of the Messiah, and most particularly discovered to St. Paul, by immediate revelation, to be communicated by him to the gentiles; who, therefore, had reason to stick firm to this great truth, and not to be led away from the gospel, which he had taught them.
[* ]See chap. iii. 9.
[† ]10 Ἁναϰεϕαλαιώσασθαι, properly signifies to recapitulate, or recollect, and put together the heads of a discourse. But, since this cannot possibly be the meaning of this word here, we must search for the meaning, which St. Paul gives it here, in the doctrine of the gospel, and not in the propriety of the greek.
[* ]11 So the greek word ἐϰληρώθημεν will signify, if taken, as I think it may, in the passive voice, i. e. we gentiles, who were formerly in the possession of the devil, are now, by Christ, brought into the kingdom, dominion, and possession of God again. This sense seems very well to agree with the design of the place, viz. that the gentile world had now, in Christ, a way opened for their returning into the possession of God, under their proper head, Jesus Christ. To which suit the words that follow, “that we, who first among the gentiles,” entertained terms of reconciliation by Christ, “might be to the praise of his glory,” i. e. so that we of the gentiles who first believed, did, as it were, open a new scene of praise and glory to God, by being restored to be his people, and become again a part of his possession; a thing not before understood, nor looked for. See Acts xi. 18, and xv. 3, 14—19. The apostle’s design here being to satisfy the ephesians, that the gentiles were, by faith in Christ, restored to all the privileges of the people of God, as far forth as the jews themselves. See chap. ii. 11—22, particularly ver. 19, as to ἐϰληρώθημεν, it may, I humbly conceive, do no violence to the place to suggest this sense, “we became the inheritance,” instead of “we have obtained an inheritance;” that being the way, wherein God speaks of his people, the israelites, of whom he says, Deut. xxxii. 9, “The Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” See also Deut. iv. 20, 1 Kings viii. 51, and other places. And the inheritance, which the gentiles were to obtain, was to be obtained, we see Col. i. 12, 13, by their being translated out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of Christ. So that take it either way, that “we have obtained an inheritance,” or “we are become his people and inheritance;” it in effect amounts to the same thing, and so I leave it to the reader.
[* ]i. e. God had proposed, even before the taking of the israelites to be his people, to take in the gentiles, by faith in Christ, to be his people again: and what he purposes he will do, without asking the counsel, or consent of any one; and therefore you may be sure of this your inheritance, whether the jews consent to it or no.
[† ]12 It was a part of the character of the gentiles to be without hope; see chap. ii. 12. But, when they received the gospel of Jesus Christ, they then ceased to be aliens from the common-wealth of Israel, and became the people of God, and had hope, as well as the jews; or as St. Paul expresses it, in the name of the converted romans, Rom. v. 2, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This is another evidence that ἡμᾶς, “we,” here, stands for the gentile converts. That the jews were not without hope, or without God in the world, appears from that very text, Eph. ii. 12, where the gentiles are set apart under a discriminating description properly belonging to them: the sacred scripture no where speaks of the hebrew nation, that people of God, as without God, or without hope; the contrary appears every-where. See Rom. ii. 17, and xi. 1, 2, Acts xxiv. 15, and xxvi. 6, 7, and xxviii. 20. And therefore the apostle might well say, that those of the gentiles, who first entertained hopes in Christ, were “to the praise of the glory of God.” All mankind having thereby, now, a new and greater subject of praising and glorifying God, for this great and unspeakable grace and goodness to them, of which before they had no knowledge, no thought, no expectation.
[* ]13 Ἐν ᾡ̂ ϰαὶ ὑμεῖς seems, in the tenour and scheme of the words, to refer to εν ᾡ̂ ϰαὶ ἐϰληρώθημεν, ver. 11. St. Paul making a parallel here, between those of the gentiles that first believed, and the ephesians, tells them, that as those, who heard and received the gospel before them, became the people of God, &c. to the praise and glory of his name; so they, the ephesians, by believing, became the people of God, &c. to the praise and glory of his name, only in this verse there is an ellipsis of ἐϰληρώθηε.
[† ]14 The Holy Ghost was neither promised, nor given to the heathen, who were apostates from God, and enemies; but only to the people of God; and therefore the convert ephesians, having received it, might be assured thereby, that they were now the people of God, and rest satisfied in this pledge of it.
[‡ ]The giving out of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of miracles, was the great means, whereby the gentiles were brought to receive the gospel, and become the people of God.
[§ ]“Redemption,” in sacred scripture, signifies not always strictly paying a ransom for a slave delivered from bondage, but deliverance from a slavish estate into liberty: so God declares to the children of Israel in Egypt, Exod. vi. 6, “I will redeem you with a stretched-out arm.” What is meant by it, is clear from the former part of the verse, in these words, “I will bring you out, from under the burthen of the egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage.” And, in the next verse, he adds, “and I will take you to me for my people, and I will be to you a God:” the very case here. As God, in the place cited, promised to deliver his people out of bondage, under the word “redeem;” so Deut. vii. 8, he telleth them, that he “had brought them out with a mighty hand, and redeemed them out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt:” which redemption was performed by God, who is called the Lord of hosts their Redeemer, without the payment of any ransom. But here there was ϖεριποίησις, a purchase, and what the thing purchased was we may see, Acts xx. 28, viz. “the church of God,” ἢν ϖεριεποιήσαο, which “he purchased with his own blood,” to be a people, that should be the Lord’s portion, and the lot of his inheritance, as Moses speaks of the children of Israel, Deut. xxxii. 9. And hence St. Peter calls the christians, 1 Pet. ii. 9, λαος εἰς περιποίησιν, which in the margin of our bible, is rightly translated “a purchased people:” but if any one takes ἐϰληρώθημεν, ver. 11, to signify “we have obtained an inheritance,” then ϰληρονομία, in this verse, will signify “that inheritance,” and εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς ϖεριποιήσεως, “until the redemption of that purchased inheritance,” i. e. until the redemption of our bodies, viz. resurrection unto eternal life. But, besides that this seems to have a more harsh and forced sense, the other interpretation is more consonant to the style and current of the sacred scripture, and (which weighs more with me) answers St. Paul’s design here, which is to establish the ephesians, in a settled persuasion, that they, and all the other gentiles that believed in Christ, were as much the people of God, his lot, and his inheritance, as the jews themselves, and equally partakers with them of all the privileges and advantages belonging thereunto, as is visible by the tenour of the second chapter. And this is the use St. Paul mentions of God’s setting his seal, 2 Tim. ii. 19, that it might mark who are his: and accordingly we find it applied, Rev. vii. 3, to the foreheads of his servants, that they might be known to be his, chap. iv. 1. For so did those who purchased servants, as it were, take possession of them, by setting their marks on their foreheads.
[* ]As he had declared, ver. 6 and 12, that the other gentiles, by believing and becoming the people of God, enhanced thereby the praise and glory of his grace and goodness; so here, ver. 14, he pronounces the same thing of the ephesians, in particular, to whom he is writing, to possess their minds with the sense of the happy estate they were now in, by being christians; for which he thanks God, ver. 3, and here again in the next words.
[* ]15 Ἀϰȣ́σας τὴν ϰαθ’ ὑμᾶς ϖίϛιν ἐν τῷ Κυρίω Ιησȣ͂, “Wherefore I also after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus.” St. Paul’s hearing of their faith, here mentioned, cannot signify his being informed, that they had received the gospel, and believed in Christ; this would have looked impertinent for him to have told them, since he himself had converted them, and had lived a long time amongst them, as has been already observed. We must, therefore, seek another reason of his mentioning his hearing of their faith, which must signify something else, than his being barely acquainted that they were christians; and this we may find in these words, chap. iii. 13, “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not, at my tribulations for you.” He, as apostle of the gentiles, had alone preached up freedom from the law, which the other apostles, who had not that province (see Gal. ii. 9) in their converting the jews, seem to have said nothing of, as is plain from Acts xxi. 20, 21. It was upon account of his preaching, that the christian converts were not under any subjection to the observances of the law, and that the law was abolished, by the death of Christ, that he was seized at Jerusalem, and sent as a criminal to Rome to be tried for his life; where he was now a prisoner. He being, therefore, afraid that the ephesians, and other convert gentiles, seeing him thus under persecution, in hold, and in danger of death, upon the score of his being the preacher, and zealous propagator and minister of this great article of the christian faith, which seemed to have its rise and defence, wholly from him, might give it up, and not stand firm in the faith which he had taught them, was rejoiced, when in his confinement he heard, that they persisted stedfast in that faith, and in their love to all the saints, i. e. as well the convert gentiles, that did not, as those jews, that did, conform to the jewish rites. This I take to be the meaning of his hearing of their faith, here mentioned; and conformably hereunto, ch. vi. 19, 20, he desires their prayers, “that he may with boldness preach the mystery of the gospel, of which he is the ambassador in bonds.” This mystery of the gospel, it is plain from ch. i. 9, &c. and ch. iii. 3—7, and other places, was God’s gracious purpose of taking the gentiles, as gentiles, to be his people, under the gospel. St. Paul, whilst he was a prisoner at Rome, writ to two other churches, that at Philippi, and that at Colosse: to the Colossians, chap. i. 4, he uses, almost verbatim, the same expression that he does here, “having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of your love, which ye have to all the saints;” he gives thanks to God, for their knowing and sticking to the grace of God in truth, which had been taught them by Epaphras, who had informed St. Paul of this, and their affection to him, whereupon he expresses his great concern, that they should continue in that faith, and not be drawn away to judaizing, which may be seen from ver. 14 of this chapter, to the end of the second. So that “the hearing of their faith,” which he says, both to the ephesians and colossians, is not his being told, that they were christians; but their continuing in the faith they were converted to and instructed in, viz. that they became the people of God, and were admitted into his kingdom, only by faith in Christ, without submitting to the mosaical institution, and legal observances, which was the thing he was afraid they should be drawn to, either through any despondency in themselves, or importunity of others, now that he was removed from them, and in bonds, and thereby give up that truth and freedom of the gospel, which he had preached to them.
[* ]15 “All the saints.” One finds in the very reading of these words, that the word [all] is emphatical here, and put in, for some particular reason. I can, I confess, see no other but this, viz. that they were not, by the judaizers, in the least drawn away from their esteem and love of those who were not circumcised, nor observed the jewish rites; which was a proof to him, that they stood firm in the faith and freedom of the gospel, which he had instructed them in.
[† ]17 “Father of glory:” an Hebrew expression, which cannot well be changed, since it signifies his being glorious himself, being the fountain from whence all glory is derived, and to whom all glory is to be given. In all which senses, it may be taken here, where there is nothing that appropriates it, in peculiar, to any of them.
[‡ ]“Wisdom,” is visibly used here for a right conception and understanding of the gospel. See note, ver. 8.
[§ ]“Revelation,” is used by St. Paul, not always for immediate inspiration, but as it is meant here, and in most other places, for such truths, which could not have been found out by human reason, but had their first discovery from revelation, though men afterwards come to the knowledge of those truths, by reading them in the sacred scripture, where they are set down, for their information.
[* ]19 “Us,” here, and “you,” chap. ii. 1, and “us,” chap. ii. 5, it is plain signify the same, who being dead, partook of the energy of that great power that raised Christ from the dead, i. e. the convert gentiles, and all those glorious things he, in ver. 18—23, intimates to them, by praying they may see them, he here in this 19th verse tells, is bestowed on them, as believers, and not as observers of the mosaical law.
[† ]20 Ἐν τοῖς ἐπȣρανίοις, “in heavenly places,” says our translation, and so ver. 3, but possibly the marginal reading, “things,” will be thought the better, if we compare ver. 22. He set him at his right hand, i. e. transferred on him his power; ἐν ἐπȣρανίοις, in his heavenly kingdom; that is to say, set him at the head of his heavenly kingdom, see ver. 22. This kingdom, in the gospel, is called indifferently, βασιλεία Θεȣ͂, “the kingdom of God;” and βασιλεία τῶν ȣ̓ρανῶν, “the kingdom of heaven.” God had before, a kingdom and people in this world, viz. that kingdom, which he erected to himself, of the jews, selected and brought back to himself, out of the apostatized mass of revolted and rebellious mankind: with this his people he dwelt, among them he had his habitation, and ruled as their king, in a peculiar kingdom; and, therefore, we see that our Saviour calls the jews, Matt. viii. 12, “the children of the kingdom.” But that kingdom, though God’s, was not the βασιλεία τῶν ȣ̓ρανῶν, “the kingdom of heaven,” that came with Christ: see Matt. iii. 2, and x. 7. That was but ἐπίγειος, “of the earth,” compared to this ἐπȣράνιος, “heavenly kingdom,” which was to be erected under Jesus Christ; and, with that sort of distinction, our Saviour seems to speak and use those words ἐπίγεια, “earthly,” and ἐπȣράνια, “heavenly,” John iii. 12. In his discourse there, with Nicodemus, he tells him, “unless a man were born again, he could not see the kingdom of God.” This being born again, stuck with Nicodemus, which Christ reproaches him with, since, being a teacher in Israel, he understood not that which belonged to the jewish constitution, wherein to be baptized, for admittance into that kingdom, was called and counted to be born again; and therefore says, if, having spoken unto you ἐπίγεια, things relating to your own earthly constitution, you comprehend me not, how shall you receive what I say, if I speak to you, τὰ ἐπȣράνια, heavenly things, i. e. of that kingdom, which is purely heavenly? And according to this, St. Paul’s words here, Eph. i. 10, τα τῆς ἐν τοῖς ȣ̓ρανοῖς ϰαὶ τὰ επὶ τῆς γῆς, (which occur again, chap. iii. 15, Col. i. 16, 20) may perhaps not unfitly be interpreted “of the spiritual, heavenly kingdom of God:” and that also of the more earthly one of the jews, whose rites and positive institutions, St. Paul calls “elements of the world,” Gal. iv. 3, Col. ii. 8, which were both, at the coming of the Messiah, consolidated into one, and together re-established under one head, Christ Jesus. The whole drift of this, and the two following chapters, being to declare the union of the jews and gentiles into one body, under Christ, the head of the heavenly kingdom. And he that sedately compares Eph. ii. 16, with Col. i. 20, (in both which places it is evident, the apostle speaks of the same thing, viz. God’s reconciling of both jews and gentiles, by the cross of Christ) will scarce be able to avoid thinking, that “things in heaven, and things on earth,” signify the people of the one and the other of these kingdoms.
[* ]21 These abstract names are frequently used in the New Testament, according to the style of the eastern languages, for those vested with power and dominion, &c. and that, not only here on earth, among men, but in heaven, among superior beings: and so often are taken to express ranks and degrees of angels: and, though they are generally agreed to do so here, yet there is no reason to exclude earthly potentates out of this text, when ϖάσης necessarily includes them; for that men in power are one sort of ἀρχαὶ and ἐξȣσίαι, in a scripture-sense, our Saviour’s own words show, Luke xii. 11, and xx. 2. Besides, the apostle’s chief aim here being to satisfy the ephesians, that they were not to be subjected to the law of Moses, and the government of those who ruled by it, but they were called to be of the kingdom of the Messiah: it is not to be supposed, that here, where he speaks of Christ’s exaltation to a power and dominion paramount to all other, he should not have an eye to that little and low government of the jews, which it was beneath the subjects of so glorious a kingdom, as that of Jesus Christ, to submit themselves to. And this the next words do farther enforce.
[† ]23 Πλήρωμα, “fulness,” here, is taken in a passive sense, for a thing to be filled, or completed, as appears by the following words, “of him that filleth all in all,” i. e. it is Christ the head, who perfected the church, by supplying and furnishing all things to all the members, to make them what they are, and ought to be, in that body. See chap. v. 13, Col. ii. 10, and iii. 10, 11.
[* ]1 Καὶ, “and,” gives us here the thread of St. Paul’s discourse, which is impossible to be understood without seeing the train of it: without that view, it would be like a rope of gold-dust, all the parts would be excellent, and of value, but would seem heaped together, without order, or connexion. This “and,” here, it is true, ties the parts together, and points out the connexion and coherence of St. Paul’s discourse; but yet it stands so far from ἐϰάθισεν, “set,” in ver. 20, of the foregoing chapter; and συνεζωοποίησε, “quickened,” ver. 5, of this chapter, which are the two verbs it copulates together; that by one, not acquainted with St. Paul’s style, it would scarce be observed or admitted, and therefore it may not be amiss, to lay it in its due light, so as to be visible to an ordinary reader. St. Paul, v. 18—20, prays that the ephesians may be so enlightened, as to see the great advantages they received by the gospel: those that he specifies are these: 1. What great hopes he gave them. 2. What an exceeding glory accompanied the inheritance of the saints. 3. The mighty power exerted by God on their behalf, which bore some proportion to that which he employed in the raising Christ from the dead, and placing him at his right hand: upon the mention of which, his mind being full of that glorious image, he lets his pen run into a description of the exaltation of Christ, which lasts to the end of that chapter, and then re-assumes the thread of his discourse: which in short stands thus: “I pray God, that the eyes of your understandings may be enlightened, that you may see the exceeding great power of God, which is employed upon us who believe: [ϰαὰ τὴν] corresponding to that energy, wherewith he raised Christ from the dead, and seated him at his right hand; for so also has he raised you, who were dead in trespasses and sins: us, I say, who were dead in trespasses and sins, has he quickened, and raised together with Christ, and seated together with him in his heavenly kingdom.” This is, in short, the train and connexion of his discourse, from chap. i. 18, to ii. 5, though it be interrupted by many incident thoughts; which, as his manner is, he enlarges upon by the way, and then returns to the thread of his discourse. For here again, in this first verse of the second chapter, we must observe, that, having mentioned their being dead in trespasses and sins, he enlarges upon that forlorn estate of the gentiles before their conversion; and then comes to what he designed, that God out of his great goodness, quickened, raised, and placed them together with Christ, in his heavenly kingdom. In all which it is plain he had more regard to the things he declared to them, than to a nice, grammatical construction of his words: for it is manifest ϰαὶ, “and,” ver. 1, and ϰαὶ, “and, ver. 5, copulate συνεζωοποίησε, “quickened,” with ἐϰάθισεν, “set,” ver. 20, of the foregoing chapter, which the two following words, ver. 6, make evident, ϰαὶ συνήγειρε ϰαὶ συνεϰάθισεν εν ἐπȣρανίοις, “and hath raised up together, and hath made “sit together in heavenly places.” St. Paul, to display the great power and energy of God, showed towards the gentiles, in bringing them into his heavenly kingdom, declares it to be ϰαὰ τῆν ἐνεργείαν, proportionable to that power, wherewith he raised Jesus from the dead, and seated him at his right hand. To express the parallel, he keeps to the parallel terms concerning Christ; he says, chap. i, 20, ἐγείρας ἀυὸν ἐϰ τῷν νεϰρῶν, ϰαὶ ἐϰάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτȣ͂ ἐν τοῖς ἐπȣρανίοις, “raised him from the dead, and set him at his right hand, in heavenly places.” Concerning the gentile converts his words are, chap. ii. ver. 5, 6, ϰαὶ ὄνας ἡμᾶς νεϰρȣ͂ς τοῖς ϖαραπώμασι, συνεζωοποίησε τῷ Χριϛῷ, ϰαὶ συνήγειρε ϰαὶ συνεϰάθισεν ἐν ἐπȣρανίοις, “and us, being dead in trespasses, he hath quickened together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places.” It is also visible that ὑμᾶς, “you,” v. 1, and ἡμᾶς, “us,” v. 5, “are both governed by the verb συνεζωοποίησε, “quickened together,” ver. 5, though the grammatical construction be somewhat broken, but is repaired in the sense, which lies thus: “God, by his mighty power, raised Christ from the dead; by the like power you, gentiles of Ephesus, being dead in trespasses and sins; what do I say, you of Ephesus; nay, us all, converts of the gentiles, being dead in trespasses, has he quickened and raised from the dead. You ephesians were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that yet worketh in the children of disobedience, and so were we, all the rest of us, who are converted from gentilism; we, all of us, of the same stamp and strain, involved in the same conversation, living, heretofore, according to the lusts of our flesh, to which we were perfectly obedient, doing what our carnal wills and blinded minds directed us, being then no less children of wrath, no less liable to wrath and punishment, than those that remained still children of disobedience, i. e. unconverted; but God, rich in mercy, for his great love, wherewith he loved us, hath quickened us all, being dead in trespasses, (for it is by grace ye are saved) and raised us, &c.” This is St. Paul’s sense, drawn out more at length, which, in his compendious way of writing, wherein he crowds many ideas together, as they abounded in his mind, could not easily be ranged under rules of grammar. The promiscuous use St. Paul here makes of “we” and “you,” and his so easy changing one into the other, plainly shows, as we have already observed, that they both stand for the same sort of persons, i. e. christians, that were formerly pagans, whose state and life, whilst they were such, he here expressly describes.
[* ]2 Αἰών may be observed, in the New Testament, to signify the lasting state and constitution of things, in the great tribes, or collections of men, considered in reference to the kingdom of God; whereof there were two most eminent, and principally intended, if I mistake not, by the word αἰῶνης when that is used alone: and that is ὁ νῦν αἰὼν, “this present world,” which is taken for that state of the world, wherein the children of Israel were his people, and made up his kingdom upon earth, the gentiles, i. e. all the other nations of the world, being in a state of apostacy and revolt from him, the professed vassals and subjects of the devil, to whom they paid homage, obedience, and worship; and αἰὼν μέλλον, “the world to come,” i. e. the time of the gospel, wherein God, by Christ, broke down the partition-wall between jew and gentile, and opened a way for reconciling the rest of mankind, and taking the gentiles again into his kingdom under Jesus Christ, under whose rule he had put it.
[* ]In these words St. Paul points out the devil, the prince of the revolted part of the creation, and head of that kingdom, which stood in opposition to, and was at war with, the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
[† ]Ἐνεργȣ͂νος is the proper term, whereby, in the greek, is signified the possession and acting of any person by an evil spirit.
[‡ ]“Children of disobedience,” are those of the gentiles, who continued still in their apostacy, under the dominion of Satan, who ruled and acted them, and returned not from their revolt, described Rom. i. 18, &c. into the kingdom of God, now that Jesus Christ had opened an entrance into it, to all those who disobeyed not his call; and thus they are called, chap. v. 6.
[§ ]3 Ἐν οἷς cannot signify “amongst whom we also all had our conversation:” for if ἡμεῖς, “we,” stands for either the converted jews, or converts in general, it is not true. If “we,” stands (as is evident it doth) for the converted gentiles, of what force or tendency is it for the apostle to say we, the converted gentiles, heretofore lived among the unconverted gentiles? But it is of great force, and to his purpose, in magnifying the free grace of God to them, to say “we of the gentiles, who are now admitted to the kingdom of God, were formerly of that very sort of men, in whom the prince of the power of the air ruled, leading lives in the lusts of the flesh, obeying the will and inclinations thereof, and so as much exposed to the wrath of God as those who still remain in their apostacy under the dominion of the devil.”
[∥ ]This was the state that the gentile world were given up to. See Rom. i. 21, 24. Parallel to this 3d verse of this 2d chapter, we have a passage in chap. iv. 17—20, of this same epistle, where ϰαθῶς ϰαὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἔθνη, “even as the other gentiles” plainly answers ὡς ϰαὶ οἱ λοιποὶ, “even as the others,” here; and ἐν μααιότηι τοȣ͂ νοὸς ἀυῶν, ἐσϰοισμένοι τῃ̑ διανοία, “in the vanity of their minds, having their understandings darkened,” answers ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρϰὸς ἠμῶν, ϖοιȣ͂ντες τὰ ϑελήματα της σαρϰὸς ϰαὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, “in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” He that compares these places, and considers that, what is said in the fourth chapter, contains the character of the gentile world, of whom it is spoken; I say, he that reads and considers these two places well together, and the correspondency between them, cannot doubt of the sense I understand this verse in; and that St. Paul here, under the terms “we” and “our” speaks of the gentile converts.
[* ]4 Ὁ δὲ, “But,” connects this verse admirably well with the immediately preceding, which makes the parts of that incident discourse cohere, which ending in this verse, St. Paul, in the beginning of ver. 5, takes up the thread of his discourse again, as if nothing had come between, though ὁ δὲ, “but,” in the beginning of this 4th verse, rather breaks, than continues the sense of the whole. See note, ver. 1.
[† ]“Rich in mercy.” The design of the apostle being, in this epistle, to set forth the exceeding great mercy and bounty of God to the gentiles, under the gospel, as is manifest at large, ch. iii. it is plain that ἡμᾶς, “us,” here in this verse must mean the gentile converts.
[‡ ]5 “Dead in trespasses,” does not mean here, under the condemnation of death, or obnoxious to death for our transgressions; but so under the power and dominion of sin, so helpless in that state into which, for our apostacy, we were delivered up, by the just judgment of God, that we had no more thought, nor hope, nor ability, to get out of it, than men, dead and buried, have to get out of the grave. This state of death he declares to be the state of gentilism, Col. ii. 13, in these words: “and you, being dead in trespasses, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath God quickened together with him,” i. e. Christ.
[§ ]“Quickened.” This quickening was by the Spirit of God, given to those who, by faith in Christ, were united to him, became the members of Christ, and sons of God, partaking of the adoption, by which spirit they were put into a state of life; see Rom. viii. 9—15, and made capable, if they would, to live to God, and not to obey sin, in the lusts thereof, nor to yield their members instruments of sin unto iniquity; but to give up themselves to God, as men alive from the dead, and their members to God as instruments of righteousness; as our apostle exhorts the converted Romans to do, Rom. vi. 11—13.
[∥ ]6 Wherein this raising consists, may be seen, Rom. vi. 1—10.
[* ]7 The great favour and goodness of God manifests itself, in the salvation of sinners, in all ages; but that, which most eminently sets forth the glory of his grace, was those, who were first of all converted from heathenism to christianity, and brought out of the kingdom of darkness, in which they were as dead men, without life, hope, or so much as a thought of salvation, or a better state, into the kingdom of God. Hence it is that he says, chap. i. 12, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first believed.” To which he seems to have an eye in this verse; the first conversion of the gentiles being a surprising and wonderful effect and instance of God’s exceeding goodness to them, which, to the glory of his grace, should be admired and acknowledged by all future ages; and so Paul and Barnabas speak of it, Acts xiv. 27, “They rehearsed all that God had done with him, and how he had opened the door of faith to the gentiles.” And so James and the elders at Jerusalem, when they beard what things God had wrought by St. Paul’s ministry, among the Gentiles, they “glorified the Lord,” Acts xxi. 19, 20.
[† ]8 “Ye.” The change of “we,” in the foregoing verse, to “ye,” here, and the like change observable ver. 1 and 5, plainly shows, that the persons spoken of, under these two denominations, are of the same kind, i. e. gentile converts; only St. Paul, every now and then, the more effectually to move those he is writing to, changes “we” into “ye,” and vice versâ: and so makes, as it were, a little sort of distinction, that he may the more emphatically apply himself to them.
[‡ ]“Saved.” He that reads St. Paul with attention, cannot but observe, that speaking of the gentiles, he calls their being brought back again, from their apostacy, into the kingdom of God, their being saved. Before they were thus brought to the people of God again, under the Messiah, they were, as they are here described, aliens, enemies, without hope, without God, dead in trespasses and sins: and therefore when, by faith in Christ, they came to be reconciled, and to be in covenant again with God, as his subjects and liege people, they were in the way of salvation; and if they persevered, could not miss of attaining it, though they were not yet in actual possession. The apostle, whose aim it is, in this epistle, to give them an high sense of God’s extraordinary grace and favour to them, and to raise their thoughts above the mean observances of the law, shows them that there was nothing in them; no deeds, or works of their’s, nothing that they could do, to prepare, or recommend themselves, contributed aught to the bringing them into the kingdom of God, under the gospel: that it was all purely the work of grace, for they were all dead in trespasses and sins, and could do nothing, not make one step, or the least motion towards it. Faith, which alone gained them admittance, and alone opened the kingdom of heaven to believers, was the sole gift of God; men, by their natural faculties, could not attain to it. It is faith, which is the source and beginning of this new life; and the gentile world, who were without sense, without hope of any such thing, could no more help themselves, or do any thing to procure it themselves, than a dead man can do any thing, to procure himself life. It is God here does all; by revelation of what they could never discover by their own natural faculties, he bestows on them the knowledge of the Messiah, and the faith of the gospel; which, as soon as they have received, they are in the kingdom of God, in a new state of life; and being thus quickened by the spirit, may, as men alive, work if they will. Hence St. Paul says, Rom. x. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” having in the foregoing verses declared, there is no believing without hearing, and no hearing without a preacher, and no preacher unless he be sent; i. e. the good tidings of salvation by the Messiah, and the doctrine of faith, was not, nor could be, known to any, but to those, to whom God communicated it, by the preaching of prophets and apostles, to whom he revealed it, and whom he sent on this errand with this discovery. And thus God, now, gave faith to the ephesians, and the other gentiles, to whom he sent St. Paul, and others his fellow-labourers, to bestow on them the knowledge of salvation, reconciliation, and restoration into his kingdom of the Messiah. All which though revealed by the spirit of God, in the writings of the Old Testament, yet the gentile world were kept wholly strangers from the knowledge of by the ceremonial law of Moses, which was the wall of partition, that kept the gentiles at a distance, aliens and enemies; which wall God, according to his gracious purpose before the erecting of it, having now broke down, communicated to them the doctrine of faith, and admitted them, upon their acceptance of it, to all the advantages and privileges of his kingdom; all which was done of his free grace, without any merit, or procurement of their’s: “he was found of them, who sought him not, and was made manifest to them that asked not after him.” I desire him, that would clearly understand this chap. ii. of the ephesians, to read carefully with it Rom. x. and 1 Cor. ii. 9—16, where he will see, that faith is wholly owing to the revelation of the spirit of God, and the communication of that revelation, by men sent by God, who attained this knowledge, not by the assistance of their own natural parts, but from the revelation of the spirit of God. Thus faith, we see, is the gift of God, and with it, when men by baptism are admitted into the kingdom of God, comes the spirit of God, which brings life with it: for the attaining this gift of faith, men do, or can do, nothing; grace hitherto does all, and works are wholly excluded; God himself creates them to do good works, but when, by him, they are made living creatures, in this new creation, it is then expected, that being quickened, they should act; and, from henceforwards, works are required, not as the meritorious cause of salvation; but as a necessary, indispensable qualification of the subjects of God’s kingdom, under his son Jesus Christ; it being impossible, that any one should, at the same time, be a rebel and a subject too: and, though none can be subjects of the kingdom of God, but those who, continuing in the faith, that has been once bestowed on them, sincerely endeavour to conform themselves to the laws of their Lord and Master Jesus Christ; and God gives eternal life to all those, and those only that do so; yet eternal life is the gift of God, the gift of free grace, since their works of sincere obedience afford no manner of title to it: their righteousness is imperfect, i. e. they are all unrighteous, and so deserve doth; but God gives them life, upon the account of his righteousness, vid. Rom. i. 17. The righteousness of faith, which is by Jesus Christ, and so they are still saved by grace.
[* ]10 “Workmanship of God created.” It is not by virtue of any works of the law, nor in consideration of our submitting to the mosaical institution, or having any alliance with the jewish nation, that we, gentiles, are brought into the kingdom of Christ; we are, in this, entirely the workmanship of God; and are, as it were, created therein, framed and fitted by him, to the performance of those good works, which we were from thence to live in; and so owe nothing of this our new being, in this new state, to any preparation, or fitting, we received from the jewish church, or any relation we stood in thereunto. That this is the meaning of the new creation, under the gospel, is evident from St. Paul’s own explaining of it, himself, 2 Cor. v. 16—18, viz. that being in Christ was all one, as if he were in a new creation; and, therefore, from henceforth, he knew no-body after the flesh, i. e. he pretended to no privilege, for being of a jewish race, or an observer of their rites; all these old things were done away; all things under the gospel are new and of God alone.
[† ]This is conformable to what he says, ver. 5, 6, that God quickened and raised the gentiles, that were dead in trespasses and sins, with Christ, being by faith united to him, and partaking of the same spirit of life, which raised him from the dead; whereby, as men brought to life, they were enabled (if they would not resist, nor quench that spirit) to live unto God, in righteousness and holiness, as before they were under the absolute dominion of Satan and their own lusts.
[* ]11 This separation was so great, that, to a jew, the uncircumcised gentiles were counted so polluted and unclean, that they were not shut out, barely from their holy places and service; but from their tables and ordinary conversation.
[* ]12 That this is the meaning of being “without Christ,” here, is evident from this, that what St. Paul says here, is to shew the different state of the gentiles, from that of the jews, before the coming of our Saviour.
[† ]Who were alone, then, the people of God.
[‡ ]“Covenants.” God, more thanonce, renewed his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the children of Israel, that upon the conditions proposed, he would be their God, and they should be his people.
[§ ]It is in this sense, that the gentiles are called ἄθεοι; for there were few of them atheists, in our sense of the word, i. e. denying superiour powers; and many of them acknowledged one supreme, eternal God; but as St. Paul says, Rom. i. 21, “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God;” they owned not him alone, but turned away from him, the invisible God, to the worship of images, and the false gods of their countries.
[∥ ]13 How this was done, the following words explain, and Col. ii. 14.
[¶ ]14 Ἡμῶν “our,” in this verse, must signify persons in the same condition with those he speaks to, under the pronoun ὐμεῖς, “ye,” in the foregoing verse, or else the apostle’s argument, here, would be wide, and not conclusive; but “ye,” in the foregoing verse, incontestibly signifies the convert gentiles, and so therefore must ἡμῶν in this verse.
[** ]See Col. i. 20.
[†† ]15 It was the ritual law of the jews, that kept them, and the gentiles, at an irreconcileable distance; so that they could come to no terms of a fair correspondence, the force whereof was so great, that even after Christ was come, and had put an end to the obligation of that law; yet it was almost impossible to bring them together; and this was that which, in the beginning, most obstructed the progress of the gospel and disturbed the gentile converts.
[* ]“By abolishing.” I do not remember that the law of Moses, or any part of it, is, by an actual repeal, any where abrogated; and yet we are told here, and in other places of the New Testament, that it is abolished. The want of a right understanding of what this abolishing was, and how it was brought about, has, I suspect, given occasion to the misunderstanding of several texts of sacred scripture; I beg leave, therefore, to offer what the sacred scripture seems to me to suggest concerning this matter, till a more thorough inquiry, by some abler hand, shall be made into it. After the general revolt and apostacy of mankind, from the acknowledgment and worship of the one, only, true, invisible God, their maker, the children of Israel, by a voluntary submission to him, and acknowledgment of him to be their God and supreme Lord, came to be his people, and he, by a peculiar covenant, to be their King; and thus erected to himself a kingdom in this world, out of that people, to whom he gave a law by Moses, which was to be the law of the israelites, his people, with a purpose at the same time, that he would, in due season, transfer this his kingdom, in this world, into the hands of the Messiah, whom he intended to send into the world, to be the prince and ruler of his people, as he had foretold and promised to the jews. Into which kingdom of his, under his Son, he purposed also, and foretold, that he would admit and incorporate the other nations of the earth, as well as those of the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were to come into this his enlarged kingdom, upon new terms, that he should then propose: and that those, and those only, should from henceforth be his people. And thus it came to pass, that, though the law, which was given by Moses, to the israelites, was never repealed, and so ceased not to be the law of that nation; yet it ceased to be the law of the people and kingdom of God, in this world; because the jews, not receiving him to be their King, whom God had sent, to be the King, and sole ruler of his kingdom for the future, ceased to be the people of God, and the subjects of God’s kingdom. And thus Jesus Christ, by his death, entering into his kingdom, having then fulfilled all, that was required of him, for the obtaining of it, put an end to the law of Moses, opening another way to all people, both jews and gentiles, into the kingdom of God, quite different from the law of ordinances, given by Moses, viz. faith in Jesus Christ, by which, and which alone, every one, that would, had now admittance into the kingdom of God, by the one plain, easy, and simple ceremony of baptism. This was that which, though it was also foretold, the Jews understood not, having a very great opinion of themselves, because they were the chosen people of God; and of their law, because God was the author of it; and so concluded, that both they were to remain the people of God for ever, and also, that they were to remain so, under that same law, which was never to be altered; and so never understood what was foretold them, of the kingdom of the Messiah, in respect of the ceasing of their law of ordinances, and the admittance of the gentiles, upon the same terms with them, into the kingdom of the Messiah; which, therefore, St. Paul calls over and over again, a mystery, and a mystery hidden from ages.
[* ]15 “Make;” the greek word is ϰίση, which does not always signify creation, in a strict sense.
[† ]This, as I take it, being the meaning, it may not be amiss, perhaps, to look into the reason, why St. Paul expresses it in this more figurative manner, viz. “to make in himself, of twain, one new man,” which, I humbly conceive, was more suitable to the ideas he had, and so were in fewer words, more lively and express to his purpose; he always has Jesus Christ in his mind, as the head of the church, which was his body, from and by whom alone, by being united to him, the whole body, and every member of it, received life, vigour, and strength, and all the benefits of that state; which admirably well shows, that whoever were united to this head, must needs be united to one another; and also, that all the privileges and advantages they enjoyed were wholly owing to their union with, and adhering to, him their head; which were the two things, that he was here inculcating to the convert gentiles of Ephesus, to show them, that now under the gospel men became the people of God, merely by faith in Jesus Christ, and having him for their head, and not at all by keeping the ritual law of Moses, which Christ had abolished, and so had made way for the jews and gentiles to become one in Christ, since now faith in him alone united them into one body, under that head, with the observance of the law; which is the meaning of “so making peace.” I hope this single note, here, may lead ordinary readers into an understanding of St. Paul’s style, and, by making them observe the reason, give them an easier entrance into the meaning of St. Paul’s figurative expression.
[* ]22 The sense of which allegory I take to be this: it is plain, from the attestation of the apostles, and prophets, that the gentiles, who believe in Christ, are thereby made members of his kingdom, united together, under him, their head, into such a well-framed body, wherein each person has his proper place, rank, and function to which he is fitted, that God will accept and delight in them as his people, and live amongst them, as in a well-framed building, dedicated and set apart to him, whereof the gentiles make a part, and without any difference put between you, are framed in equality, and promiscuously with the believing jews, by the Spirit of God, to be one people, amongst whom he will dwell, and be their God, and they shall be his people.
[* ]1 See Col. iv. 3, 2 Tim. ii. 9, 10.
[† ]See Phil. i. 7, Col. i. 24.
[‡ ]2 Εἴγε, is sometimes an affirmative particle, and signifies in greek the same that siquidem does in Latin, and so the sense requires it to be understood here; for it could not be supposed but the ephesians, amongst whom St. Paul had lived so long, must have heard, that he was, by express commission from God, made apostle of the gentiles, and, by immediate revelation, instructed in the doctrine he was to teach them; whereof this, of their admittance into the kingdom of God purely by faith in Christ, without circumcision, and other legal observances, was one great and necessary point, whereof St. Paul was so little shy, that we see the world rung of it, Acts xxi. 28. And if his preaching and writing were of a piece, as we need not doubt, this mystery of God’s purpose to the gentiles, which was communicated to him by revelation, and we hear of so often in his epistles, was not concealed from them he preached to.
[§ ]3 Though St. Peter was, by a vision from God, sent to Cornelius, a gentile, Acts x. yet we do not find, that this purpose, of God’s calling the gentiles to be his people, equally with the jews, without any regard to circumcision or the mosaical rites, was revealed to him, or to any other of the apostles, as a doctrine, which they were to preach and publish to the world: neither, indeed, was it needful, that should be any part of their commission, who were apostles only of the circumcision, to mix that, in their message to the jews, which should make them stop their ears and refuse to hearken to the other parts of the gospel, which they were more concerned to know and be instructed in.
[∥ ]See Col. i. 26.
[* ]4 One may be ready to ask, “to what purpose is this, which this parenthesis contains here, concerning himself?” And, indeed, without having an eye on the design of this epistle, it is pretty hard to give an account of it; but, that being carried in view, there is nothing plainer, nor more pertinent and persuasive than this here; for what can be of more force to make them stand firm to the doctrine which he had taught them, of their being exempt from circumcision, and the observances of the law? “If you have heard, and I assure you in my epistle, that this mystery of the gospel was revealed in a particular manner, to me from heaven: the very reading of this is enough to satisfy you, that I am well instructed in that truth, and that you may safely depend upon what I have taught you, concerning this point, notwithstanding I am in prison for it, which is a thing you ought to glory in, since I suffer for a truth, wherein you are so nearly concerned;” see chap. vi. 19.
[† ]6 The promise here intended, is the promise of the Spirit; see Gal. iii. 14, which was not given to any, but to the people and children of God; and, therefore the gentiles received not the Spirit, till they became the people of God, by faith in Christ, in the times of the gospel.
[‡ ]Though the jews are not expressly named here; yet it is plain, from the foregoing chapter, ver. 11, &c. that it is of the union of the gentiles with the jews, and making with them one body of God’s people, equally sharing in all the privileges and benefits of the gospel, that he is here speaking, the same which he teaches, Gal. iii. 26—29.
[§ ]Διὰ τȣ͂ εὐαγελίȣ signifies, here, “in the time of the gospel,” as δἰ ἀϰροϐυϛίας signifies, in the “time of uncircumcision,” Rom. iv. 11, see note on Rom. vii. 5. The same thing being intended here, which, chap. i. 10, is thus expressed: “that in the dispensation of the fulness of time, i. e. in the time of the gospel, all things might be gathered together, or united, in Christ, or by Christ.”
[* ]7 Though he does not, in express words, deny others to be made ministers of it, for it neither suited his modesty, nor the respect he had for the other apostles, so to do; yet his expression here will be found strongly to imply it, especially if we read and consider well the two following verses; for this was a necessary instruction to one, who was sent to convert the gentiles, though those, who were sent to their brethren the jews, were not appointed to promulgate it. This one apostle of the gentiles, by the success of his preaching to the gentiles, the attestation of miracles, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, joined to what Peter had done, by special direction, in the case of Cornelius, would be enough, in its due season, to convince the other apostles of this truth, as we may see it did, Acts xv. and Gal. ii. 6—9. And of what consequence, and how much St. Paul thought the preaching of this doctrine his peculiar business, we may see, by what he says, chap. vi. 19, 20, where any one may see, by the different treatment he received from the rest of the apostles, being in bonds upon that account, that his preaching herein differed from their’s, and he was thereupon, as he tells us himself, treated “as an evil-doer,” 2 Tim. ii. 9. The history whereof we have, Acts xxi. 17, &c. as we have elsewhere observed. And it is upon the account of his preaching this doctrine, and displaying to the world this concealed truth, which he calls every-where a hidden mystery, that he gives, to what he had preached, the distinguishing title of, “my gospel,” Rom. xvi. 25, which he is concerned, that God should establish them in, that being the chief design of his epistle to the romans, as here to the ephesians. The insisting so much on this, that it was the special favour and commission of God to him, in particular, to preach this doctrine, of God’s purpose of calling the gentiles to the word, was not out of vanity, or boasting, but was here of great use to his present purpose, as carrying a strong reason with it, why the ephesians should rather believe him, to whom, as their apostle, it was made manifest, and committed to be preached, than the jews, from whom it had been concealed, and was kept as a mystery, and was in itself ἀνεξιχνίαϛον, inscrutable by men, though of the best natural parts and endowments.
[† ]This seems to be the energy of the power of God, which he here speaks of, as appears by what he says of St. Peter, and of himself, Gal. ii. 8, Ὁ ενεργήσας Πέτρῳ εἰς ἀποϛολην τῆς ϖεριομῆς, ἐνήργησε ϰαὶ ἐμοὶ εἰς τἁ ἔθνη, “He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty, or wrought effectually in me,” as ἐνεργεια is here translated, of which his very great modesty could not hinder him from speaking thus, 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10, “I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God: but, by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me:” a passage very suitable to what he says, in this and the next verse.
[* ]8 i. e. That abundant treasure of mercy, grace and favour, laid up in Jesus Christ, not only to the jews, but to the whole heathen world, which was beyond the reach of human sagacity to discover, and could be known, only by revelation.
[† ]9 “All men,” i. e. men of all sorts and nations, gentiles as well as jews.
[‡ ]Τίς ἡ ϰοινωνία, “what is the communication,” i. e. that they may have a light from me, to see and look into the reason and ground of the discovery, or communication of this mystery to them now by Jesus Christ, who is now exhibited to the world, into whose hands God has put the management of this whole dispensation.
[§ ]To open our way to a right sense of these words, τῶ τὰ ϖάνα ϰίσανι διὰ Ἰησȣ͂, it will be necessary, in the first place, to consider the terms of it, and how they are used by St. Paul.
[* ]10 There be two things, in this verse, that to me make it hard to determine the precise sense of it; the first is, what is meant by ᾀρχαῖς and ἐξȣσίαις, terms, that sometimes, in sacred scripture, signify temporal magistrates, and so our Saviour uses them, Luke xii. 11, and St. Paul, Tit. iii. 1. Sometimes for those, who are vested with any power, whether men or angels, so 1 Cor. xv. 24. Sometimes for evil angels; so they are understood, chap. vi. 12. Sometimes they are understood of good angels, so Col. i. 16. Now, to which of these to determine the sense here, I confess myself not sufficiently enlightened. Indeed ἐν τοῖς ἐπȣρανίοις, in the things of his heavenly kingdom, would do something towards it, were it undoubtedly certain, whether those words were, in construction, to be joined to ἀρχαῖς and ἐξȣσίαις, or to σοφία; i. e. whether we are to understand it of principalities and powers, in the kingdom of heaven, or of the wisdom of God, in the ordering of that kingdom; if the first of these, then it is evident, they would signify the heavenly host, of good angels, employed in the guard and promotion of the kingdom of Christ. But, the knowledge, spoken of here, as communicated to these principalities and powers, being only in consequence of St. Paul’s preaching, it is not easy to conceive, that the revelation and commission given to St. Paul, for the declaring the mystery, of God’s purpose to take the gentiles into the church, was to the intent the angels, either good or bad, should be instructed in this great and important truth, wherein the wisdom of God so much showed itself, and that they should have no knowledge of it, before, nor otherwise. This is so great a difficulty, that it seems strongly to persuade, that the principalities and powers here mentioned, are of this world; but, against this, there lies this obvious objection, that the magistrates of the heathen world did not much concern themselves in what St. Paul preached, nor, upon his declaring that the gentiles, under the Messiah, were to be taken in, to be the people of God, did in effect gather from the church, thus constituted, any arguments of the wisdom of God. If, therefore, I may venture my conjecture, for I dare not be positive, in a place that I confess myself not fully to understand, I should take this to be the meaning of it. The high priests, scribes, and pharisees, who are the rulers of the jewish nation, and alone pretend to any authority in these matters, deny the converted heathens to be the people of God, because they neglect the law and circumcision, and those other rites, whereby God has appointed those, who are his people, to be separated from the rest of the world, and made holy to himself. And so far most of the converted jews agree with them, that they will not allow the converted gentiles to be members and subjects of the kingdom of the Messiah, without being circumcised, and submitting to the laws and ceremonies of the jews, as the only religion and way of worship, wherein they can be allowed to be God’s people, or be accepted by him. Now, says St. Paul, God, of his special grace, has commissioned me to preach to the world, that his hidden purpose, of taking the gentiles into the kingdom of his Son, that so, by the church, consisting of members, who are God’s people, without being circumcised, or observing the other mosaical rites, might, which the jews could by no means conceive, now be made known and declared, to the leaders and chief of that nation, the manifold wisdom of God, which is not, as the jews imagine, tied up to their own way, but can bring about his purposes, by sundry manners, and in ways, that they thought not of. This seems suitable to the apostle’s meaning here; for though the jews were not hereby converted, yet, when urged by the converted gentiles, it served to stop their mouths, and thereby to confirm the gentiles, in the liberty of the gospel. And thus by the church, to whom St. Paul says, Col. i. 24, and ii. 2, God would now have made it manifest, by his preaching, is this mystery made known to principalities and powers, i. e. the rulers and teachers of the jewish nation, the saints, who were apprised of it, by St. Paul’s preaching, urging, and manifesting it to them. And to this sense of this passage, these two words, νῦν, “now,” and ϖολυποίϰιλος, “manifold,” seem wholly accommodated, i. e. now, that the uncircumcised gentiles believe in Christ, and are, by baptism, admitted into the church, the wisdom of God is made known to the jews, not to be tied up to one invariable way and form, as they persuade themselves; but displays itself in sundry manners, as he thinks fit.
[* ]11 Whether by ἀιῶνες, “ages,” here, the several dispensations, mankind was under, from first to last, or whether the two great dispensations of the law and the gospel (for that ἀιῶνες are used, in the sacred scripture, to denote these, I think an attentive reader cannot doubt) be here meant, this seems visibly the sense of the place, that all these dispensations, in the several ages of the church, were all, by the pre-ordination of God’s purpose, regulated and constituted in Christ Jesus our Lord; that is, with regard to Christ, who was designed and appointed Lord and head over all; which seems to me to answer τὰ ϖάνα ϰίσανι διὰ Ιησȣ͂ Χριϛȣ͂, “who created all things by Jesus Christ,” ver. 9.
[† ]12 Πίϛις αὐτȣ͂, “Faith of him,” the genitive case of the object, as well as of the agent, is so frequent, in sacred scripture, that there needs nothing to be said of it.
[‡ ]14 “The father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” set down, as it is in the beginning of this verse, joined to the design of the apostle, in this place, makes me think, that the sense of it is, so plainly, that which I have given of it, that I do not see any difficulty can be made about it. In the foregoing chapter, ver. 19, he tells the convert gentiles of Ephesus, that now they believe in Christ, they are “no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” here he goes on, and tells them, they are of the family and lineage of God, being jointly with Jesus Christ, who is already in heaven, the sons of God: what could be of greater force to continue them stedfast in the doctrine he had preached to them, and which he makes it his whole business, here, to confirm them in, viz. that they need not be circumcised and submit to the law of Moses, they being already, by faith in Christ, the sons of God, and of the same lineage and family with Christ himself, who was already, by that title, possessed of his inheritance and glory?
[* ]16 See this sense of this passage as given, Col. i. 27, and not much different, chap. i. 17, &c.
[† ]What “the inward man” signifies, see Rom. vii. 22, 2 Cor. iv. 16.
[‡ ]18 This mystery, being the subject St. Paul is here upon, and which he endeavours to magnify to them, and establish in their minds, the height and breadth, &c. which he mentions in these words, being not applied to any thing else, cannot, in good sense, be understood of any thing else.
[§ ]19 ὑπερϐάλλȣσαν, “exceeding,” seems to be here a comparative term, joined to the love of God, in communicating the knowledge of Christ, and declaring it superior to some other thing; if you desire to know what he himself tells you, on the same occasion, Phil. iii. 8, viz. to circumcision, and the other ritual institutions of the law, which the jews looked on, as the marks of the highest degree of God’s love to them, whereby they were sanctified and separated to him, from the rest of the world, and secured of his favour. To which, if any one will add what St. Paul says, on the same subject, Col. ii. 2, &c. (for his business is the very same in these three epistles) he will not want light to guide him, in the sense of this place here.
[* ]Εἰς ϖᾶν τὸ ϖλήρωμα τȣ͂ Θεȣ͂, “to all the fulness of God;” the fulness of God is such fulness, as God is wont to bestow, i. e. wherein there is nothing wanting to any one, but every one is filled to the utmost of his capacity. This I take to be the meaning of εἰς τὸ ϖλήρωμα τȣ͂ Θεȣ͂, and then ϖᾶν ϖλήρωμα may be understood to show, that it is not a fulness of one thing, and an emptiness of another; but it is a fulness of all those gifts, which any one shall need, and may be useful to him, or the church.
[† ]20 What power that is, see chap. i. 19, 20.
[* ]3 Psal. lxviii. 18.
[* ]9, 10 St. Paul’s argumentation, in these two verses, is skilfully adapted to the main design of his epistle. The convert gentiles were attacked by the unconverted jews, who were declared enemies to the thoughts of a Messiah that died: St. Paul, to enervate that objection of theirs, proves by the passage out of the Psalms, ver. 8, that he must die and be buried. Besides the unbelieving jews, several of them, that were converted to the gospel, or at least professed to be so, attacked the gentile converts, on another side, persuading them, that they could not be admitted to be the people of God into the kingdom of the Messiah, nor receive any advantage by him, unless they were circumcised, and put themselves wholly under the jewish constitution. He had said a great deal, in the three first chapters, to free them from this perplexity, but yet takes occasion here to offer them a new argument, by telling them, that Christ, the same Jesus that died, and was laid in his grave, was exalted to the right hand of God, above all the heavens, in the highest state of dignity and power, that he himself, being filled with the fulness of God, believers, who were all his members, might receive immediately from him, their head, a fulness of gifts and graces, upon no other terms, but barely as they were his members.
[* ]16 The sum of all that St. Paul says, in this figurative discourse, is, that christians, all as members of one body, whereof Christ is the head, should, each in his proper place, according to the gifts bestowed upon him, labour with concern and good-will, for the good and increase of the whole, till it be grown up to that fulness, which is to complete it, in Christ Jesus. This is, in short, the sense of the exhortation, contained in this section, which carries a strong insinuation with it, especially if we take in the rest of the admonitions, to the end of the epistle, that the mosaical observances, were no part of the business, or character, of a christian; but were wholly to be neglected and declined, by the subjects of Christ’s kingdom.
[* ]17 This “vanity of mind,” if we look into Rom. i. 21, &c. we shall find to be the apostatising of the gentiles from the true God to idolatry; and, in consequence of that, to all that profligate way of living, which followed thereupon, and is there described by St. Paul.
[† ]18 This “alienation,” was from owning subjection to the true God, and the observance of those laws, which he had given, to those of mankind, that continued and professed to be his people; see chap. ii. 12.
[‡ ]19 Πλεονεξία, “covetousness,” in the common acceptation of the word, is the letting loose our desires to that which, by the law of justice, we have no right to. But St. Paul, in some of his epistles, uses it for intemperate and exorbitant desires of carnal pleasures, not confined within the bounds of nature. He that will compare with this verse here chap. v. 3, Col. iii. 5; 1 Thess. iv. 6, 1 Cor. v. 10, 11, and will consider the context, will find reason to take it here, in the sense I have given of it, or else it will be very hard to understand these texts of scripture. In the same sense the learned Dr. Hammond understands ϖλεονεξία, Rom. i. 29, which, though perhaps the greek idiom will scarce justify, yet the apostle’s style will, who often uses greek terms in the full latitude of the hebrew words, which they are usually put for in translating, though, in the greek use of them, they have nothing at all of that signification, particularly the hebrew word עצב, which signifies covetousness, the septuagint translate μιασμὸς, Ezek. xxxiii. 31, in which sense the apostle uses ϖλεονεξία here. In these, and the two preceding verses, we have a description of the state of the gentiles without, and their wretched and sinful state, whilst unconverted to the christian faith, and strangers from the kingdom of God; to which may be added, what is said of these sinners of the gentiles, chap. ii. 11—13, Col. i. 21, 1 Thess. iv. 5, Col. iii. 5—7, Rom. i. 30, 31.
[* ]24 What the ϖαλαίος ἄνθρωπος, “the old man,” that is to be put off, is, and the ϰαινὸς ἄνθρωπος, “the new man,” that is to be put on, is, may be seen, in the opposite characters of good and bad men, in the following part of this, and in several other of St. Paul’s epistles.
[* ]30 “Sealed,” i. e. have God’s mark set upon you, that you are his servants, a security to you, that you should be admitted into his kingdom, as such at the day of redemption, i. e. at the resurrection, when you shall be put in the actual possession of a place in his kingdom, among those who are his, whereof the Spirit is now an earnest: see note, chap. i. 14.
[* ]2 “Of a sweet-smelling savour,” was, in scripture phrase, such a sacrifice as God accepted, and was pleased with; see Gen. viii. 21.
[* ]3 The word in the greek is ϖλεονεξία, which properly signifies covetousness, or an intemperate, ungoverned love of riches; but the chaste style of the scripture makes use of it to express the letting loose of the desires to irregular, venereal pleasures, beyond what was fit and right. This one can hardly avoid being convinced of, if one considers how it stands joined with these sorts of sins, in those many places, which Dr. Hammond mentions, in his note, on Rom. i. 29, and chap. iv. 19, of this epistle, and ver. 5, of this chap. 5, compared with this here, they are enough to satisfy one, what ϖλεονεξία, “covetousness,” means here; but if that should fail, these words, “let it not be once named amongst you, as becometh saints,” which are subjoined to covetousness, put it past doubt; for what indecency, or misbecomingness is it, among christians, to name covetousness? ϖλεονεξία therefore must signify the title of sins, that are not fit to be named amongst christians, so that ϖᾶσα ἀϰαθαρσία [Editor: illegible character] ϖλεονεξία seem not here to be used definitively, for several sorts of sins, but as two names of the same thing, explaining one another; and so this verse will give us a true notion of the word ϖορνεία, in the New Testament, the want whereof, and taking it to mean fornication, in our english acceptation of that word, as standing for one distinct species of uncleanness, in the natural mixture of an unmarried couple, seems to me to have perplexed the meaning of several texts of scripture; whereas, taken in that large sense, in which ἀϰαθαρσία and ϖλεονεξία seem here to expound it, the obscurity, which follows, from the usual notion of fornication applied to it, will be removed. Some men have been forward to conclude from the apostle’s letter to the convert gentiles of Antioch, Acts xv. 28, wherein they find fornication joined with two or three other actions, that simple fornication, as they call it, was not much distant, if at all, from an indifferent action, whereby, I think, they very much confounded the meaning of the text. The jews that were converted to the gospel, could by no means admit, that those of the gentiles, who retained any of their ancient idolatry, though they professed faith in Christ, could by any means be received by them, into the communion of the gospel, as the people of God, under the Messiah; and so far they were in the right, to make sure of it, that they had fully renounced idolatry; the generality insisted on it, that they should be circumcised, and so, by submitting to the observances of the law, give the same proof, that proselytes were wont to do, that they were perfectly clear from all remains of idolatry. This the apostles thought more than was necessary; but eating of things sacrificed to idols, and blood, whether let out of the animal, or contained in it, being strangled; and fornication, in the large sense of the word, as it is put for all sorts of uncleanness; being the presumed marks of idolatry to the jews, they forbid the convert gentiles, thereby to avoid the offence of the jews, and prevent a separation between the professors of the gospel, upon this account. This, therefore, was not given to the convert gentiles, by the apostles of circumcision, as a standing rule of morality, required by the gospel; if that had been the design, it must have contained a great many other particulars; what laws of morality they were under, as subjects of Jesus Christ, they doubted not but St. Paul, their apostle, taught and inculcated to them: all that they instructed them in here, was necessary for them to do, so as to be admitted into one fellowship and communion with the converts of the jewish nation, who would certainly avoid them, if they found that they made no scruple of those things, but practised any of them. That fornication, or all sorts of uncleanness, were the consequence and concomitants of idolatry, we see, Rom. i. 29, and, it is known, were favoured by the heathen worship: and therefore the practice of those sins is every-where set down, as the characteristical, heathen, mark of the idolatrous gentiles, from which abominations the jews, both by their law, profession, and generalpractice, were strangers; and this was one of those things, wherein chiefly God severed his people from the idolatrous nations, as may be seen, Lev. xviii. 20, &c. And hence I think that ϖλεονεξία, used for licentious intemperance in unlawful and unnatural lusts, is in the New Testament called idolatry, and ϖλεονέϰες, an idolater; see 1 Cor. v. 11, Col. iii. 5, Eph. v. 5, as being a sure and undoubted mark of an heathen idolater.
[* ]6 One would guess by this, that as there were jews who would persuade them, that it was necessary for all christians to be circumcised, and observe the law of Moses; so there were others, who retained so much of their ancient heathenism, as to endeavour to make them believe, that those venereal abominations and uncleannesses, were no other, than what the gentiles esteemed them, barely indifferent actions, not offensive to God, or inconsistent with his worship, but only a part of the peculiar and positive ceremonial law of the jews, whereby they distinguished themselves from other people, and thought themselves holier than the rest of the world, as they did, by their distinction of food, into clean and unclean, these actions being, in themselves, as indifferent as those meats, which the apostle confutes in the following words.
[* ]“Children of disobedience,” here, and chap. ii. 2, and Col. iii. 6, are plainly the gentiles, who refused to come in, and submit themselves to the gospel, as will appear to any one, who will read these places and the context with attention.
[† ]8 St. Paul, to express the great darkness the gentiles were in, calls them darkness itself.
[‡ ]Which is thus expressed, Col. i. 12, 13, “Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” The kingdom of Satan, ever the gentile world, was a kingdom of darkness: see Eph. vi. 12. And so we see Jesus is pronounced by Simeon, “a light to lighten the gentiles,” see Luke ii. 32.
[§ ]9 This parenthesis serves to give us the literal sense of all, that is here required by the apostle, in this allegorical discourse of light.
[∥ ]11 These deeds of the unconverted heathen, who remained in the kingdom of darkness; are thus expressed by St. Paul, Rom. vi. 21, “What fruit had you then, in those things, whereof you are now ashamed, for the end of those things is death?”
[¶ ]12 That by “them,” here, are meant the unconverted gentiles, is so visible, that there needs nothing to be said to justify the interpretation of the word.
[* ]13 See John iii. 20. The apostle’s argument here, to keep the ephesian converts from being misled by those, that would persuade them, that the gentile impurities were indifferent actions, was to show them, that they were now better enlightened; to which purpose, ver. 5, he tells them that they know, that no such person hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, or of God. This he tells them, ver. 8, &c. was light, which they had received from the gospel, which, before their conversion, they knew nothing of, but were in perfect darkness and ignorance of it, but now they were better instructed, and saw the difference, which was a sign of light; and, therefore, they should follow that light, which they had received from Christ, who had raised them from among the gentiles, (who were so far dead, as to be wholly insensible of the evil course and state they were in) and had given them light, and a prospect into a future state, and the way to attain everlasting happiness.
[† ]16 St. Paul here intimates, ver. 6, that the unconverted heathens, they lived among, would be forward to tempt them to their former, lewd, dissolute lives; but to keep them from any approaches that way, that they have light now, by the gospel, to know that such actions are provoking to God, and will find the effects of his wrath in the judgments of the world to come. All those pollutions, so familiar among the gentiles, he exhorts them carefully to avoid; but yet to take care, by their prudent carriage to the gentiles they lived amongst, to give them no offence, that so they might escape the danger and trouble, that might otherwise arise to them, from the intemperance and violence of those heathen idolaters, whose shameful lives the christian practice could not but reprove. This seems to be the meaning of “redeeming the time” here, which Col. iv. 5, the other place where it occurs, seems so manifestly to confirm and give light to. If this be not the sense of “redeeming the time” here, I must own myself ignorant of the precise meaning of the phrase, in this place.
[* ]18 St. Paul dehorts them from wine, in a too free use of it, because therein is excess; the greek word is ἀσωτία, which may signify luxury or dissoluteness: i. e. that drinking is no friend to continency and chastity, but gives up the reins to lust and uncleanness, the vice he had been warning them against: or ἀσωτία, may signify the intemperance and disorder, opposite to time sober and prudent demeanour, advised in redeeming the time.
[* ]21 This, though in grammatical construction it be joined to the foregoing discourse, yet I think it ought to be looked on as introductory to what follows in this section, and to be a general rule given to the ephesians, to submit to those duties, which the several relations they stood in, to one another, required of them.
[† ]23 It is from the head that the body receives its healthy and vigorous constitution of health and life; this St. Paul pronounces here of Christ, as head of the church, that by that parallel which he makes use of, to represent the relation between husband and wife, he may both show the wife the reasonableness of her subjection to her husband, and the duty incumbent on the husband to cherish and preserve his wife, as we see he pursues it in the following verses.
[* ]26 Ἑν ῥήματι, “by the word.” The purifying of men is ascribed so much, throughout the whole New Testament, to the word, i. e. the preaching of the gospel, and baptism, that there needs little to be said to prove it; see John xv. 3, and xviii. 17, 1 Pet. i. 22, Tit. iii. 5, Heb. x. 22, Col. ii. 12, 13, and as it is at large explained in the former part of the sixth chapter to the romans.
[† ]27 “He himself,” so the alexandrine copy reads it αὐπὸς, and not αὐτὴν, more suitable to the apostle’s meaning here, who, to recommend to husbands love and tenderness to their wives, in imitation of Christ’s affection to the church, shows, that whereas other brides take care to spruce themselves, and set off their persons, with all manner of neatness and cleanness, to recommend themselves to their bridegrooms; Christ himself, at the expence of his own pain and blood, purified and prepared himself his spouse, the church, that he might present it to himself, without spot, or wrinkle.
[* ]30 and 31 These two verses may seem to stand here disorderly, so as to disturb the connexion, and make the inference disjointed, and very loose, and inconsistent to any one, who more minds the order and grammatical construction of St. Paul’s words, written down, than the thoughts that possessed his mind, when he was writing. It is plain the apostle had here two things in view; the one was, to press men to love their wives, by the example of Christ’s love to his church; and the force of that argument lay in this, that a man and his wife were one flesh, as Christ and his church were one: but this latter, being a truth of the greater consequence of the two, he was as intent on settling that upon their minds, though it were but an incident, as the other, which was the argument he was upon; and therefore, having said, ver. 29, that “every one nourisheth and cherisheth his own flesh, as Christ doth the church,” it was natural to subjoin the reason there, viz. because “we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones:” a proposition he took as much care to have believed, as that it was the duty of husbands to love their wives: which doctrine, of Christ and the church being one, when he had so strongly asserted, in the words of Adam concerning Eve, Gen. ii. 23, which he, in his concise way of expressing himself, understands both of the wife and of the church, he goes on with the words in Gen. ii. 24, which makes their being one flesh the reason why a man was more strictly to be united to his wife, than to his parents, or any other relation.
[† ]32 It is plain, by ver. 33, here, and the application therein of these words, Gen. ii. 23, to Christ and the church, that the apostles understood several passages in the Old Testament, in reference to Christ and the gospel, which evangelical, or spiritual, sense was not understood, until, by the assistance of the Spirit of God, the apostles so explained and revealed it. This is that, which St. Paul, as we see he does here, calls mystery. He that has a mind to have a true notion of this matter, let him carefully read 1 Cor. ii. where St. Paul very particularly explains this matter.
[* ]12 “Principalities and powers” are put here, it is visible, for those revolted angels, which stood in opposition to the kingdom of God.
[† ]17 In this foregoing allegory, St. Paul providing armour for his christian soldier, to arm him at all points, there is no need curiously to explain, wherein the peculiar correspondence between those virtues and those pieces of armour consisted, it being plain enough, what the apostle means, and wherewith he would have believers be armed for their warfare.
[* ]24 Ἐν ἀϕθαρσία, “in sincerity,” so our translation; the greek word signifies, “in incorruption.” St. Paul closes all his epistles, with this benediction, “grace be with you;” but this here is so peculiar a way of expressing himself, that it may give us some reason to inquire what thoughts suggested it. It has been remarked, more than once, that the main business of this epistle is that, which fills his mind, and guides his pen, in his whole discourse. In this to the ephesians he sets forth the gospel, as a dispensation so much, in every thing, superiour to the law; that it was to debase, corrupt, and destroy the gospel, to join circumcision and the observance of the law, as necessary to it. Having writ this epistle to this end, he here in the close, having the same thought still upon his mind, pronounces favour on all those that love the Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption, i. e. without the mixing, or joining any with him, in the work of our salvation, that may render the gospel useless and ineffectual. For thus he says, Gal. v. 2, “If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” This I submit to the consideration of the judicious reader.