Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ORIGIN OF THE
CHURCH IN THE
COUNSEL, AND THE
IT BY THE
CHRIST TOWARDS THE
1. by--rather, "through the will of God": called to the apostleship
through that same "will" which originated the Church
(Eph 1:5, 9, 11;
which are at Ephesus--(See
to the saints . . . and to the faithful--The same persons are referred
to by both designations, as the Greek proves: "to those who are saints,
and faithful in Christ Jesus." The sanctification by God is here put
before man's faith. The twofold aspect of salvation is thus presented,
God's grace in the first instance sanctifying us, (that is, setting
us apart in His eternal purposes as holy unto Himself); and our faith,
by God's gift, laying hold of salvation
3. The doxologies in almost all the Epistles imply the real sense of
grace experienced by the writers and their readers
sets forth summarily the Gospel of the grace of God: the FATHER'S work of love,
(choosing us to holiness,
knowledge of the mystery of His will,
the HOLY SPIRIT'S,
giving an earnest of the inheritance,
the God and Father of . . . Christ--and so the God and Father of us who
are in Him
God is "the God" of the man Jesus, and "the Father" of the
Divine Word. The Greek is, "Blessed us," not "hath
blessed us"; referring to the past original counsel of God. As in
so in redemption
Mt 5:3-11; 25:34)
God "blesses" His children; and that not in mere words, but in
blessings--Greek, "blessing." "All," that is, "every possible blessing for time and eternity, which the Spirit has to bestow" (so
"spiritual" means; not "spiritual," as the term is now used, as opposed
in heavenly places--a phrase five times found in this Epistle, and
Eph 2:6; 3:10; 6:12);
Greek, "in the heavenly places." Christ's ascension is
the means of introducing us into the heavenly places, which by our sin
were barred against us. Compare the change made by Christ
While Christ in the flesh was in the form of a servant, God's
people could not realize fully their heavenly privileges as sons. Now
"our citizenship (Greek) is in heaven"
where our High Priest is ever "blessing" us. Our "treasures" are there
(Mt 6:20, 21);
our aims and affections
(Col 3:1, 2);
The gift of the Spirit itself, the source of the "spiritual blessing,"
is by virtue of Jesus having ascended thither
in Christ--the center and source of all blessing to us.
4. hath chosen us--Greek, "chose us out for
Himself" (namely, out of the world,
referring to His original choice, spoken of as past.
in him--The repetition of the idea, "in Christ"
implies the paramount importance of the truth that it is in Him,
and by virtue of union to Him, the Second Adam, the Restorer ordained
for us from everlasting, the Head of redeemed humanity, believers have
all their blessings
before the foundation of the world--This assumes the eternity of the
Son of God
(Joh 17:5, 24),
as of the election of believers in Him
that we should be holy--positively
before him--It is to Him the believer looks, walking as in His
presence, before whom he looks to be accepted in the judgment
in love--joined by BENGEL and others with
"in love having predestinated us," &c. But English Version is
better. The words qualify the whole clause, "that we should be holy
. . . before Him." Love, lost to man by the fall, but
restored by redemption, is the root and fruit and sum of all holiness
1Th 3:12, 13).
5. predestinated--more special in respect to the end and precise
means, than "chosen" or elected. We are "chosen"
out of the rest of the world; "predestinated"
to all things that secure the inheritance for us
by Jesus--Greek, "through Jesus."
to himself--the Father
ALFORD explains, "adoption . . .
into Himself," that is, so that we should be partakers of the
LACHMANN reads, "unto Him." The context
favors the explanation of CALVIN: God has regard
to Himself and the glory of His grace
(Eph 1:6, 12, 14)
as His ultimate end. He had one only-begotten Son, and He was pleased
for His own glory, to choose out of a lost world many to become
His adopted sons. Translate, "unto Himself."
the good pleasure of his will--So the Greek
We cannot go beyond "the good pleasure of His will" in searching into
the causes of our salvation, or of any of His works
Why needest thou philosophize about an imaginary world of optimism? Thy
concern is to take heed that thou be not bad. There was nothing in us
which deserved His love
(Eph 1:1, 9, 11)
(Eph 1:7, 17, 18).
The end aimed at
that is, that the glory of His grace may be praised by all His
creatures, men and angels.
wherein--Some of the oldest manuscripts read, "which." Then
translate, "which He graciously bestowed on us." But English Version is supported by good manuscripts and the oldest versions.
us accepted--a kindred Greek word to "grace":
charitos, echaritosen: translate, "graciously accepted"; "made us
subjects of His grace"; "embraced us in the arms of His grace"
(Ro 3:24; 5:15).
in the beloved--pre-eminently so called
(Mt 3:17; 17:5;
Greek, "Son of His love." It is only "IN
HIS BELOVED" that He loves us
1Jo 4:9, 10).
7. In whom--"the Beloved"
we have--as a present possession.
redemption--Greek, "our (literally, 'the')
redemption"; THE redemption which is the grand
subject of all revelation, and especially of the New Testament
namely, from the power, guilt, and penal consequences of sin
If a man were unable to redeem himself from being a bond-servant, his
kinsman might redeem him
Hence, antitypically the Son of God became the Son of man, that as our
kinsman He might redeem us
Another "redemption" follows, namely, that "of the purchased possession"
through his blood--
as the instrument; the propitiation, that is, the consideration
(devised by His own love) for which He, who was justly angry
becomes propitious to us; the expiation, the price paid to divine
justice for our sin
1Pe 1:18, 19).
the forgiveness of sins--Greek, "the remission of our
transgressions": not merely "pretermission," as the
ought to be translated. This "remission," being the explanation of
"redemption," includes not only deliverance from sin's penalty, but
from its pollution and enslaving power, negatively; and the
reconciliation of an offended God, and a satisfaction unto a just God,
riches of his grace--
"the exceeding riches of His grace." Compare
"according to the riches of His glory": so that "grace" is His
8. Rather, "which He made to abound towards us."
all wisdom and prudence--"wisdom" in devising the plan of redeeming
mankind; "prudence" in executing it by the means, and in making all the
necessary arrangements of Providence for that purpose. Paul attributes
to the Gospel of God's grace "all" possible "wisdom and prudence," in
opposition to the boasts of wisdom and prudence which the unbelieving
Jews and heathen philosophers and false apostles arrogated for their
teachings. Christ crucified, though esteemed "foolishness" by the world,
is "the wisdom of God"
"the manifold wisdom of God."
9. "He hath abounded," or "made (grace) to abound toward us"
in that He made known to us, namely, experimentally, in our
the mystery--God's purpose of redemption hidden heretofore in His
counsels, but now revealed
Col 1:26, 27).
This "mystery" is not like the heathen mysteries, which were imparted
only to the initiated few. All Christians are the initiated. Only
unbelievers are the uninitiated.
according to his good pleasure--showing the cause why "He hath made
known to us the mystery," namely, His own loving "good pleasure" toward
us; also the time and manner of His doing so, are according to
His good pleasure.
in himself--God the Father.
BENGEL takes it, "in Him," that is,
Christ, as in
Eph 1:3, 4.
But the proper name, "in Christ,"
immediately after, is inconsistent with His being here meant by the
10. Translate, "Unto the dispensation of the fulness of
the times," that is, "which He purposed in Himself"
with a view to the economy of (the gracious administration
belonging to) the fulness of the times (Greek, "fit times,"
"seasons"). More comprehensive than "the fulness of the time"
The whole of the Gospel times (plural) is meant, with the
benefits to the Church dispensed in them severally and
successively. Compare "the ages to come"
"The ends of the ages" (Greek,
"the times (same Greek as here, 'the seasons,' or 'fitly
appointed times') of the Gentiles"
"the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power"
"the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the
prophets since the world began"
(Ac 3:20, 21).
The coming of Jesus at the first advent, "in the fulness of time," was
one of these "times." The descent of the Holy Ghost, "when
Pentecost was fully come"
was another. The testimony given by the apostles to Him "in due time"
("in its own seasons," Greek)
was another. The conversion of the Jews "when the times of the
Gentiles are fulfilled," the second coming of Christ, the "restitution
of all things," the millennial kingdom, the new heaven and earth, shall
be severally instances of "the dispensation of the fulness of the
times," that is, "the dispensation of" the Gospel events and benefits
belonging to their respective "times," when severally filled up or
completed. God the Father, according to His own good pleasure and
purpose, is the Dispenser both of the Gospel benefits and of their
several fitting times
gather together in one--Greek, "sum up under one head";
"recapitulate." The "good pleasure which He purposed," was "to sum up
all things (Greek, 'THE whole range of
things') in Christ (Greek, 'the Christ,' that is, His
Christ)" [ALFORD]. God's purpose is to sum up the
whole creation in Christ, the Head of angels, with whom He is linked by
His invisible nature, and of men with whom He is linked by His
humanity; of Jews and Gentiles; of the living and the dead
of animate and inanimate creation. Sin has disarranged the creature's
relation of subordination to God. God means to gather up all together
in Christ; or as
says, "By Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, whether things in
earth or things in heaven." ALFORD well says, "The
Church of which the apostle here mainly treats, is subordinated to Him
in the highest degree of conscious and joyful union; those who are not
His spiritually, in mere subjugation, yet consciously; the inferior
tribes of creation unconsciously; but objectively, all are summed up in
11. In whom--by virtue of union to whom.
obtained an inheritance--literally, "We were made to have an
"His inheritance in the saints": as His inheritance is
there said to be in them, so theirs is here said to be
"That we should BE TO . . . His glory"
(not "that we should have"), favors the translation of BENGEL, ELLICOTT, and others, "We
were made an inheritance." So the literal Israel
(De 4:20; 9:29; 32:9).
"Also" does not mean "we also," nor as English Version, "in whom
also"; but, besides His having "made known to us His will," we were
also "made His inheritance," or "we have also obtained an inheritance."
The foreordination of Israel, as the elect nation, answers to that of
the spiritual Israelites, believers, to an eternal inheritance, which
is the thing meant here. The "we" here and in
means Jewish believers (whence the reference to the election of
Israel nationally arises), as contrasted with "you"
purpose--repeated from "purposed"
The Church existed in the mind of God eternally, before it existed in
counsel of his . . . will--
"the good pleasure of His will." Not arbitrary caprice, but infinite
wisdom ("counsel") joined with sovereign will. Compare his address to
the same Ephesians in
"All the counsel of God"
Alike in the natural and spiritual creations, God is not an agent
constrained by necessity. "Wheresoever counsel is, there is election,
or else it is vain; where a will, there must be freedom, or else it is
(Eph 1:6, 14).
who first trusted in Christ--rather (we Jewish Christians), "who have
before hoped in the Christ": who before the Christ came, looked forward
to His coming, waiting for the consolation of Israel. Compare
Ac 26:6, 7,
"I am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our
fathers: unto which our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day
and night, hope to come."
"the hope of Israel" [ALFORD]. Compare
Eph 1:18; 2:12; 4:4.
13. In whom ye also--Ye Gentiles. Supply as English Version, "trusted," from
or "are." The priority of us Jews does not exclude you Gentiles from
sharing in Christ (compare
the word of truth--the instrument of sanctification, and of the new
where also, as here, it is connected with "hope." Also
sealed--as God's confirmed children, by the Holy Spirit as the seal
Ro 8:16, 23;
A seal impressed on a document gives undoubted validity to the contract
(Joh 3:33; 6:27;
So the sense of "the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy
and the sense of adoption given through the Spirit at regeneration
(Ro 8:15, 16),
assure believers of God's good will to them. The Spirit, like a seal,
impresses on the soul at regeneration the image of our Father. The
"sealing" by the Holy Spirit is spoken of as past once for all.
The witnessing to our hearts that we are the children of God, and heirs
is the Spirit's present testimony, the "earnest of the (coming)
that Holy Spirit of promise--rather, as the Greek, "The Spirit
of promise, even the Holy Spirit": The Spirit promised both in the
Old and New Testaments
Joh 7:38, 39).
"The word" promised the Holy Spirit. Those who "believed the
word of truth" were sealed by the Spirit accordingly.
14. earnest--the first instalment paid as a pledge that the rest will
until--rather, "Unto the redemption," &c.; joined thus, "ye
unto," that is, for the purpose of and against, the
accomplishment of "the redemption," namely, not the redemption
in its first stage, made by the blood of Christ, which secures our
title, but, in its final completion, when the actual
possession shall be ours, the full "redemption of the body"
as well as of the soul, from every infirmity
The deliverance of the creature (the body, and the whole visible
creation) from the bondage of corruption, and from the usurping prince
of this world, into the glorious liberty of the children of God
of the purchased possession--God's people purchased
("acquired," Greek) as His peculiar (Greek)
possession by the blood of Christ
We value highly that which we pay a high price for; so God, His Church
(Eph 5:25, 26;
1Pe 1:18; 2:9;
"my special treasure,"
15. Wherefore--because ye are in Christ and sealed by His Spirit
(Eph 1:13, 14).
I also--on my part, in return for God's so great benefits to you.
after I heard--ever since I have heard. Not implying that he had
only heard of their conversion: an erroneous argument used by
some against the address of this Epistle to the Ephesians (see on
but referring to the report he had heard since he was with them,
as to their Christian graces. So in the case of Philemon, his
"beloved fellow laborer"
he uses the same words
(Phm 4, 5).
your faith--rather, as Greek, "the faith among you," that is, which
many (not all) of you have.
love unto all the saints--of whatever name, simply because they are
saints. A distinguishing characteristic of true Christianity
"Faith and love he often joins together. A wondrous pair"
[CHRYSOSTOM]. Hope is added,
of you--omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Then the translation may
be as English Version still, or as ALFORD, "making mention of
them" (your "faith and love").
17. A fit prayer for all Christians.
the God of our Lord Jesus--appropriate title here; as in
he treats of God's raising Jesus to be Head over all
things to the Church. Jesus Himself called the Father "My God"
the Father of glory--(Compare
The Father of that infinite glory which shines in the face of Christ,
who is "the glory" (the true Shekinah); through whom also "the glory of
shall be ours
the spirit of wisdom--whose attribute is infinite wisdom and who
works wisdom in believers
and revelation--whose function it is to reveal to believers
(Joh 16:14, 15;
in the knowledge--rather, as Greek (see on
"in the full knowledge of Him," namely, God.
18. understanding--The oldest manuscripts, versions, and
Fathers, read "heart." Compare the contrary state of unbelieving, the
heart being in fault
Translate, "Having the eyes of your heart enlightened"
The first effect of the Spirit moving in the new creation, as in the
original physical creation
So THEOPHILUS to AUTOLYCUS
(1.3), "the ears of the heart." Where spiritual light is, there
The heart is "the core of life" [HARLESS], and the
fountain of the thoughts; whence "the heart" in Scripture includes the
mind, as well as the inclination. Its "eye," or inward vision,
both receives and contemplates the light
(Mt 6:22, 23).
The eye is the symbol of intelligence
the hope of his calling--the hope appertaining to His having called
you; or, to the calling wherewith He has called you.
and--omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions.
riches of the glory--
his inheritance in the saints--The inheritance which he has in
store in the case of the saints. I prefer explaining, "The inheritance
which He has in his saints." (See on
power to us-ward who believe--The whole of the working of His grace,
which He is carrying on, and will carry on, in us who believe. By the
believers are regarded as absolutely perfected, and so as being
God's inheritance; in this verse, as in the course of fighting
the good fight of faith.
according to--in accordance wit,h, what might be expected from.
working--Greek, "the energizing"; translate, "the effectual
The same superhuman power was needed and exerted to make us believe, as
was needed and exerted to raise Christ from the dead
"the power of His resurrection"
of his mighty power--Greek, "of the strength of His might."
20. in Christ--as our "first-fruits" of the resurrection, and Head,
in virtue of God's mighty working in whom His power to us-ward is made
possible and actual [ALFORD].
when he raised him--"in that He raised Him." The raising of Christ
is not only an earnest of our bodies being hereafter raised, but has a
spiritual power in it involving (by virtue of our living union with Him,
as members with the Head) the resurrection, spiritually of the
believer's soul now, and, consequently, of his body hereafter
(Ro 6:8-11; 8:11).
The Son, too, as God (though not as man), had a share in raising His
own human body
(Joh 2:19; 10:17, 18).
Also the Holy Spirit
set him--Greek, "made Him sit." The glorious
spirits stand about the throne of God, but they do not sit at
God's right hand
at his own right hand--
Where He remains till all His enemies have been put under His feet
Being appointed to "rule in the midst of His enemies" during their
He shall resign His commission after their subjection [PEARSON]
Heb 1:3; 10:12).
in the heavenly places--
As Christ has a literal body, heaven is not merely a state, but a
place; and where He is, there His people shall be
21. Greek, "Far (or high) above all
principality (or rule,
and authority, and power
and dominion (or lordship)." Compare
Evil spirits (who are similarly divided into various ranks,
as well as angels of light, and earthly potentates, are included
Jesus is "King of kings, and Lord of lords"
The higher is His honor, the greater is that of His people, who are His
members joined to Him, the Head. Some philosophizing teachers of the
school of Simon Magus, in Western Asia Minor, had, according to IRENÆUS and EPIPHANIUS, taught
their hearers these names of various ranks of angels. Paul shows that
the truest wisdom is to know Christ as reigning above them all.
every name--every being whatever. "Any other creature"
in this world--Greek, "age," that is, the present
order of things. "Things present . . . things to come"
that . . . to come--"Names which now we know not, but shall know
hereafter in heaven. We know that the emperor goes before all, though we
cannot enumerate all the satraps and ministers of his court; so we know
that Christ is set above all, although we cannot name them all"
22. put . . . under--Greek, "put in subjection under"
gave . . . to the church--for her special advantage.
The Greek order is emphatic: "HIM He gave
as Head over all things to the Church." Had it been anyone save HIM, her Head, it would not have been the boon it is to
the Church. But as He is Head over all things who is also her
Head (and she the body), all things are hers
He is OVER ("far above") all things; in contrast
to the words, "TO the Church," namely,
for her advantage. The former are subject; the latter is joined
with Him in His dominion over them. "Head" implies not only His
dominion, but our union; therefore, while we look upon Him at the right
hand of God, we see ourselves in heaven
For the Head and body are not severed by anything intervening, else the
body would cease to be the body, and the Head cease to be the Head
[PEARSON from CHRYSOSTOM].
23. his body--His mystical and spiritual, not literal, body. Not,
however, merely figurative, or metaphorical. He is really, though
spiritually, the Church's Head. His life is her life. She shares His
crucifixion and His consequent glory. He possesses everything, His
fellowship with the Father, His fulness of the Spirit, and His glorified
manhood, not merely for Himself, but for her, who has a membership
of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones
fulness--"the filled-up receptacle" [EADIE]. The Church is
dwelt in and filled by Christ. She is the receptacle, not of His
inherent, but of His communicated, plenitude of gifts and graces. As
His is the "fulness"
Col 1:19; 2:9)
inherently, so she is His "fulness" by His impartation of it to her, in
virtue of her union to Him
"The full manifestation of His being, because penetrated by His
life" [CONYBEARE and HOWSON].
She is the continued revelation of His divine life in human form;
the fullest representative of His plenitude. Not the angelic
hierarchy, as false teachers taught
(Col 2:9, 10, 18),
but Christ Himself is the "fulness of the Godhead," and she represents
Him. KOPPE translates less probably, "the whole
filleth all in all--Christ as the Creator, Preserver, and Governor
of the world, constituted by God
fills all the universe of things with all things. "Fills
all creation with whatever it possesses" [ALFORD].
The Greek is, "filleth for Himself."