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Ephesians 2:4-7

4. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

4. Deus autem, qui dives est in misericordia, propter multam suam dilectionem, qua nos dilexit,

5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; (by grace ye are saved;)

5. Etiam quum essemus mortui peccatis, convivificavit cum Christo; (Gratia estis salvati;)

6. And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;

6. Et simul excitavit, et sedere fecit in coelestibus in Christo Iesu,

7. That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

7. Ut demonstraret in saeculis supervenientibus exsuperantes divitias gratiae suae, in benignitate erga nos in Christo Iesu.

 

4. But God, who is rich in mercy. 122122     “That is, exceedingly bountiful and liberal in the exercise of mercy. And in this metaphorical sense, the words ‘rich’ and ‘riches’ are used by the best writers. Lucian speaks of πλοῦτος φιλοσοφίας, ‘the riches of philosophy.’ The Roman orator frequently speaks of the ‘riches of the mind,’ by which he means those excellencies of understanding and virtue which are the peculiar ornaments and riches of it. De Orat. I. So the apostle means here the infinite benignity of the Divine Nature, and his unchangeable disposition to be merciful.” — Chandler. Now follows the second member of the sentence, the substance of which is, that God had delivered the Ephesians from the destruction to which they were formerly liable; but the words which he employs are different. God, who is rich in mercy, hath quickened you together with Christ. The meaning is, that, there is no other life than that which is breathed into us by Christ: so that we begin to live only when we are ingrafted into him, and enjoy the same life with himself. This enables us to see what the apostle formerly meant by death, for that death and this resurrection are brought into contrast. To be made partakers of the life of the Son of God, — to be quickened by one Spirit, is an inestimable privilege.

On this ground he praises the mercy of God, meaning by its riches, that it had been poured out in a singularly large and abundant manner. The whole of our salvation is here ascribed to the mercy of God. But he presently adds, for his great love wherewith he loved us. 123123     “‘Loving with love,’ increaseth the emphasis and force of the expression. Cicero hath an expression exactly parallel: ‘Cura ut me ames amore illo tuo singulari.’ — Ep. Fam. ‘Be sure you love me with your singular and peculiar love.’ An allowed beauty in a profane author should not be censured as a tautology in a sacred one.” — Chandler. This is a still more express declaration, that all was owing to undeserved goodness; for he declares that God was moved by this single consideration. “Herein,” says John, “is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. — We love him because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:10,19.)

5. Even when we were dead in sin. These words have the same emphasis as similar expressions in another Epistle.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died, for the ungodly. — But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:6,8.)

Whether the words, by grace ye are saved, have been inserted by another hand, I know not; but, as they are perfectly agreeable to the context, I am quite willing to receive them as written by Paul. They show us that he always feels as if he had not sufficiently proclaimed the riches of Divine grace, and accordingly expresses, by a variety of terms, the same truth, that everything connected with our salvation ought to be ascribed to God as its author. And certainly he who duly weighs the ingratitude of men will not complain that this parenthesis is superfluous.

6. And hath raised us up together. The resurrection and sitting in heaven, which are here mentioned, are not yet seen by mortal eyes. Yet, as if those blessings were presently in our possession, he states that we have received them; and illustrates the change which has taken place in our condition, when we were led from Adam to Christ. It is as if we had been brought from the deepest hell to heaven itself. And certainly, although, as respects ourselves, our salvation is still the object of hope, yet in Christ we already possess a blessed immortality and glory; and therefore, he adds, in Christ Jesus. Hitherto it does not appear in the members, but only in the head; yet, in consequence of the secret union, it belongs truly to the members. Some render it, through Christ; but, for the reason which has been mentioned, it is better to retain the usual rendering, in Christ. We are thus furnished with the richest consolation. Of everything which we now want, we have a sure pledge and foretaste in the person of Christ.

7. That in the ages to come. The final and true cause — the glory of God — is again mentioned, that the Ephesians, by making it the subject of earnest study, might be more fully assured of their salvation. He likewise adds, that it was the design of God to hallow, in all ages, the remembrance of so great goodness. This exhibits still more strongly the hateful character of those by whom the free calling of the Gentiles was attacked; for they were endeavoring instantly to crush that scheme which was destined to be remembered through all ages. But we, too, are instructed by it, that the mercy of God, who was pleased to admit our fathers into the number of his own people, deserves to be held in everlasting remembrance. The calling of the Gentiles is an astonishing work of divine goodness, which ought to be handed down by parents to children, and to their children’s children, that it may never be forgotten or unacknowledged by the sons of men.

The riches of his grace in his kindness. The love of God to us in Christ is here proved, or again declared, to have had its origin in mercy. That he might shew, says he, the exceeding riches of his grace. How? In his kindness towards us, as the tree is known by its fruit. Not only, therefore, does he declare, that the love of God was free, but likewise that God displayed in it the riches, — the extraordinary pre-eminent riches of his grace. It deserves notice, also, that the name of Christ is repeated; for no grace, no love, must be expected by us from God, except through his mediation.


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