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EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 11

Verse 11. According to the eternal purpose. See Barnes "Eph 1:4.

Literally, "the purpose of ages," or of eternity. Locke, Chandler, and Whitby render this, "according to that disposition or arrangement of the ages which he made in Jesus Christ, or through him." The object of such an interpretation seems to be to avoid the doctrine that God had a purpose or plan in the salvation of men, and hence such expositors suppose it refers to the arrangement of the ages of the world by which the plan of redemption was introduced. On the word here rendered purposeproyesivSee Barnes "Ro 8:28".

Comp. Eph 1:11. It is rendered shewbread— "the bread of setting before," Mt 12:4; Mr 2:26; Lu 6:4; Heb 9:2; purpose, Ac 11:23; Ac 27:13; Ro 8:28; 9:11; Eph 1:11; 3:11; 2 Ti 1:9; 2 Ti 3:10. It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. In most of these cases it refers to the purpose or intention of God; in not a single case does it mean arrangement or disposition in any sense like that of making an arrangement of ages or periods of the world; and the interpretation proposed by Whitby, Locke, Clarke, and others, is wholly at variance with the settled use of the word. The word rendered eternalaiwnwn—may mean ages; but it also most usually means eternity. See Eph 3:9. Here it may mean "the purpose of ages;" i.e., the purpose formed in past ages; but the word is most commonly used in the New Testament in the sense of ever, and for ever. Comp. the following places, where it is so rendered in our common version, and beyond a doubt correctly: Mt 6:13; 21:19; Mr 3:29; 11:14; Lu 1:33,55; Joh 4:14; 6:51,58; 8:35; 14:16; Rom 1:25; 9:5; 11:36; 16:27; 2 Co 9:9; 2 Co 11:31; Ga 1:5. The fair meaning of the passage here is, that God had formed a plan which was eternal in reference to the salvation of men; that that plan had reference to the Lord Jesus; and that it was now executed by the gospel. It is impossible to get away from the idea that God has a plan. It is too often affirmed in the Scriptures, and is too consonant with our reason to be disputed. It is as undesirable as it is impossible to escape from that idea. Who could respect or honour an intelligent Being that had no plan, no purpose, no intention, and that did all things by caprice and hap-hazard? If God has any plan, it must be eternal. He has no new schemes; he has no intentions which he did not always have.

Which he purposed. Literally, "which he made."

In Christ Jesus. With reference to him; or which were to be executed through him. The eternal plan had respect to him, and was to be executed by his coming and work.

{c} "eternal purpose" Eph 1:9

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