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EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 20

Verse 20. And are built upon the foundation. The comparison of the church with a building is common in the Scriptures. See Barnes "1 Co 3:9,10".

The comparison was probably taken from the temple, and as that was an edifice of great beauty, expense, and sacredness, it was natural to compare the church with it. Besides, the temple was the sacred place where God dwelt on file earth; and as the church was the place where he delighted now to abide, it became natural to speak of his church as the temple, or the residence of God. See Barnes "Isa 54:11,12".

That building, says Paul, was permanently founded, and was rising with great beauty of proportion, and with great majesty and splendour.

Of the apostles. The doctrines which they taught are the basis on which the church rests. It is possible that Paul referred here to a splendid edifice, particularly because the Ephesians were distinguished for their skill in architecture, and because the celebrated temple of Diana was among them. An allusion to a building, however, as an illustration of the church, occurs several times in his other epistles, and was an allusion which would be everywhere understood.

And prophets. The prophets of the Old Testament—using the word, probably, to denote the Old Testament in general. That is, the doctrines of Divine revelation, whether communicated by prophets or apostles, were laid at the foundation of the Christian church. It was not founded on philosophy, or tradition, or on human laws, or on a venerable antiquity, but on the great truths which God had revealed. Paul does not say that it was founded on Peter, as the Papists do, but on the prophets and apostles in general. If Peter had been the "viceregent of Christ," and the head of the church, it is incredible that his brother Paul should not have given him some honourable notice in this place. Why did he not allude to so important a fact? Would one who believed it have omitted it? Would a Papist now omit it? Learn here,

(1.) that no reliance is to be placed on philosophy as a basis of religious doctrine.

(2.) That the traditions of men have no authority in the church, and constitute no part of the foundation.

(3.) That nothing is to be regarded as a fundamental part of the Christian system, or as binding on the conscience, which cannot be found in the "prophets and apostles;" that is, as it means here, in the Holy Scriptures. No decrees of councils; no ordinances of synods; no "standard" of doctrines; no creed or confession is to be urged as authority in forming the opinions of men. They may be valuable for some purposes, but not for this; they may be referred to as interesting parts of history, but not to form the faith of Christians; they may be used in the church to express its belief, but not to form it. What is based on the authority of apostles and prophets is true, and always true, and only true; what may be found elsewhere may be valuable and true or not, but, at any rate, is not to be used to control the faith of men.

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. See Barnes "Isa 28:16"; See Barnes "Ro 9:33".

The corner-stone is the most important in the building.

(1.) Because the edifice rests mainly on the corner-stones. If they are small, and unstable, and settle down, the whole building is insecure; and hence care is taken to place a large stone firmly at each corner of an edifice.

(2.) Because it occupies a conspicuous and honourable place. If documents or valuable articles are deposited at the foundation of a building it is within the corner-stone. The Lord Jesus is called the "corner-stone," because the whole edifice rests on him, or he occupies a place relatively as important as the corner-stone of an edifice. Were it not for him the edifice could not be sustained for a moment. Neither prophets nor apostles alone could sustain it. See Barnes "1 Co 3:11".

Comp. 1 Pe 2:6

{e} "upon" 1 Co 3:9,10 {f} "foundation" Mt 16:18; Re 21:14 {g} "corner stone" Isa 28:16

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