Inscription: Origin of the Church in the Father's Eternal Counsel, and
the Son's Bloodshedding: The Sealing of
It by the Spirit. Thanksgiving and
Prayer that They May Fully Know God's Gracious Power in Christ towards
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; compare Ga 1:4).
which are at Ephesus—(See Introduction.)
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 (2Th 2:13;
2. (Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:3; 2Co 1:2; Ga
3. The doxologies in almost all the Epistles
imply the real sense of grace experienced by the writers and their
1:3). Eph 1:3-14 sets forth summarily the Gospel of
the grace of God: the Father's work of
1:3 (choosing us to
holiness, Eph 1:4; to
sonship, Eph 1:5; to
acceptance, Eph 1:6): the
Son's, Eph 1:7 (redemption, Eph 1:7; knowledge of the mystery of His
will, Eph 1:9; an
inheritance, Eph 1:11);
the Holy Spirit's, Eph 1:13 (sealing, Eph 1:13; giving an earnest of the
inheritance, Eph 1:14).
the God and Father of …
Christ—and so the God and Father of us who are in Him (Joh 20:17). 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 creation (Ge 1:22) so in redemption (Ge 12:3;
Mt 5:3-11; 25:34) God
"blesses" His children; and that not in mere words, but in
"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 to bodily).
in heavenly places—a phrase
five times found in this Epistle, and not elsewhere (Eph
1:20; 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 (Col 1:20; Eph
1:20). 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" (Php 3:20), where our High Priest is ever
"blessing" us. Our "treasures" are there (Mt 6:20, 21); our aims and affections (Col 3:1, 2); our hope (Col 1:5; Tit
2:13); our inheritance (1Pe 1:4). The gift of the Spirit itself,
the source of the "spiritual blessing," is by virtue of Jesus having
ascended thither (Eph 4:8).
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,
Ga 1:4): referring to His original
choice, spoken of as past.
in him—The repetition of the idea, "in
1:3), 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 (Eph 3:11).
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 (2Ti 1:9; 2Th 2:13).
that we should be holy—positively
without blame—negatively (Eph 5:27; 1Th
before him—It is to Him the believer
looks, walking as in His presence, before whom he looks to be accepted
in the judgment (Col 1:22;
in love—joined by Bengel and others with Eph 1:5, "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 (Eph 5:2; 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
(Eph 1:11; Ro 8:29). "Foreordained."
by Jesus—Greek, "through
to himself—the Father (Col 1:20). Alford
explains, "adoption … into Himself," that is, so that we
should be partakers of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4). 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 (Mt 11:26; Lu 10:21). We cannot go beyond "the good pleasure
of His will" in searching into the causes of our salvation, or of any
of His works (Eph 1:9).
33:13.) 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) [Bengel].
6. (Eph 1:7, 17, 18). The end aimed at (Ps 50:23), 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; Joh 3:35; Col 1:13). Greek, "Son of His love." It is
only "IN His Beloved" that He loves us
(Eph 1:3; 1Jo 4:9, 10).
7. In whom—"the Beloved" (Eph 1:6; Ro
we have—as a present
(literally, 'the') redemption"; THE redemption which is the grand subject of all
revelation, and especially of the New Testament (Ro 3:24), namely, from the power, guilt, and
penal consequences of sin (Mt 1:21). If
a man were unable to redeem himself from being a bond-servant, his
kinsman might redeem him (Le 25:48).
Hence, antitypically the Son of God became the Son of man, that as our
kinsman He might redeem us (Mt 20:28).
Another "redemption" follows, namely, that "of the purchased
possession" hereafter (Eph 1:14).
through his blood—(Eph 2:13); as the instrument; the propitiation,
that is, the consideration (devised by His own love) for which He, who
was justly angry (Isa 12:1),
becomes propitious to us; the expiation, the price paid to divine
justice for our sin (Ac 20:28; Ro
3:25; 1Co 6:20; Col 1:20; 1Pe 1:18, 19).
the forgiveness of sins—Greek,
"the remission of our transgressions": not merely
"pretermission," as the Greek (Ro 3:25) 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, positively.
riches of his grace—(Eph 2:7); "the exceeding riches of His grace."
Compare Eph 1:18; Eph 3:16, "according to the riches of His glory":
so that "grace" is His "glory."
8. Rather, "which He made to abound towards
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" (1Co
1:18-30). Compare Eph 3:10, "the manifold wisdom of
9. "He hath abounded," or "made (grace) to
abound toward us" (Eph 1:8),
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 (Eph 6:19; Ro 16:25; 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," Eph 1:10, immediately after, is inconsistent with
His being here meant by the pronoun.
10. Translate, "Unto the dispensation
of the fulness of the times," that is, "which He purposed in Himself"
1:9) 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" (Ga 4:4). 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" (Eph 2:7). "The ends of the ages"
(Greek, 1Co 10:11);
"the times (same Greek as here, 'the seasons,' or 'fitly
appointed times') of the Gentiles" (Lu 21:24); "the seasons which the Father hath put
in His own power" (Ac 1:7); "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"
(Ac 2:1), was another. The testimony given
by the apostles to Him "in due time" ("in its own seasons,"
Greek) (1Ti 2:6) 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 (Ac 1:7).
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 (Eph 3:15); 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 Col 1:20 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
obtained an inheritance—literally, "We
were made to have an inheritance" [Wahl]. Compare Eph 1:18, "His inheritance in the saints":
as His inheritance is there said to be in them, so
theirs is here said to be in Him (Ac 26:18). However, Eph 1:12, "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."
predestinated—(Eph 1:5). 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 Eph
1:12, means Jewish
believers (whence the reference to the election of Israel nationally
arises), as contrasted with "you" (Eph 1:13) Gentile believers.
purpose—repeated from "purposed"
(Eph 1:9; Eph 3:11). The Church existed in the mind of God
eternally, before it existed in creation.
counsel of his … will—(Eph 1:5), "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 Ac 20:27, "All the counsel of God" (Isa 28:29). 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 weak" [Pearson].
12. (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." Ac 28:20, "the hope of Israel" [Alford]. Compare Eph 1:18;
13. In whom ye also—Ye Gentiles. Supply
as English Version, "trusted," from Eph 1:12; or "are." The priority of us Jews does
not exclude you Gentiles from sharing in Christ (compare Ac 13:46).
the word of truth—the instrument of
sanctification, and of the new birth (Joh 17:17; 2Ti 2:15;
Jas 1:18). Compare Col 1:5, where also, as here, it is
connected with "hope." Also Eph 4:21.
sealed—as God's confirmed children, by
the Holy Spirit as the seal (Ac 19:1-6; Ro 8:16, 23; 1Jo
3:24; see on 2Co 1:22). A seal impressed on a document gives
undoubted validity to the contract in it (Joh 3:33;
6:27; compare 2Co 3:3). So the sense of "the love of God shed
abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost" (Ro 5:5), 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 (Eph 1:11), is the Spirit's present
testimony, the "earnest of the (coming) inheritance" (Ro 8:16-18).
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 (Joe 2:28; Zec 12:10; Joh 7:38, 39). "The word" promised the Holy
Spirit. Those who "believed the word of truth" were sealed by the
14. earnest—the first instalment paid as
a pledge that the rest will follow (Ro 8:23; 2Co 1:22).
until—rather, "Unto the
redemption," &c.; joined thus, "ye were sealed (Eph 1:13) 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
8:23), as well as of the
soul, from every infirmity (Eph 4:30).
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 (Ro
8:21-23; 2Pe 3:13).
of the purchased possession—God's
people purchased ("acquired," Greek) as His
peculiar (Greek) possession by the blood of Christ (Ac 20:28). 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," Mal 3:17,
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 Eph 1:1); 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" (Phm 1), 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 (Eph 6:24).
"Faith and love he often joins together. A wondrous pair"
[Chrysostom]. Hope is added,
16. (Col 1:9).
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 Eph 1:20-22 he treats of God's raising
Jesus to be Head over all things to the Church. Jesus Himself
called the Father "My God" (Mt 27:46).
the Father of glory—(Compare Ac 7:2). 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 the inheritance" (Eph 1:18) shall be ours (Joh 17:24;
the spirit of wisdom—whose attribute
is infinite wisdom and who works wisdom in believers (Isa 11:2).
and revelation—whose function it is to
reveal to believers spiritual mysteries (Joh 16:14,
15; 1Co 2:10).
in the knowledge—rather, as
Greek (see on 1Co 13:12), "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 (Eph 4:18; Mt
13:15). Translate, "Having
the eyes of your heart enlightened" (Eph 5:14; Mt 4:16). The first effect of the Spirit moving
in the new creation, as in the original physical creation (Ge 1:3; 2Co
4:6). So Theophilus to Autolycus (1.3), "the ears of the heart." Where
spiritual light is, there is life (Joh 1:4). 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
riches of the glory—(Col 1:27).
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 Eph 1:11; De 32:9).
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 term "saints" (Eph 1:18), 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 with, what
might be expected from.
energizing"; translate, "the effectual working" (Eph 3:7). The same superhuman power was needed
and exerted to make us believe, as was needed and exerted to raise
Christ from the dead (Eph 1:20).
3:10, "the power of His
resurrection" (Col 2:12; 1Pe 1:3-5).
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 (Ro 1:4; 1Pe 3:18).
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 (Heb 1:13).
at his own right hand—(Ps 110:1). Where He remains till all His enemies
have been put under His feet (1Co 15:24). Being appointed to "rule in the midst
of His enemies" during their rebellion (Ps 110:2), He shall resign His commission after
their subjection [Pearson] (Mr 16:19;
Heb 1:3; 10:12).
in the heavenly places—(Eph 1:3). As Christ has a literal body, heaven
is not merely a state, but a place; and where He is, there His
people shall be (Joh 14:3).
21. Greek, "Far (or high) above all
4:10) principality (or rule,
15:24), and authority, and
28:18), and dominion (or
lordship)." Compare Php 2:9; Col 1:16; Heb 7:26; 1Pe
3:22. Evil spirits (who are
similarly divided into various ranks, Eph 6:12), as well as angels of light, and
earthly potentates, are included (compare Ro 8:38). Jesus is "King of kings, and Lord of
19:16). 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" (Ro 8:39).
in this world—Greek, "age,"
that is, the present order of things. "Things present …
things to come" (Ro 8:38).
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" [Bengel].
22. put … under—Greek, "put
in subjection under" (Ps 8:6; 1Co 15:27).
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 (1Co 3:21-23). 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 (Re 3:21). 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
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 (Eph 5:30).
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" (Joh 1:16; 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 (Eph
5:18; Col 2:10). "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
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
1:16-19), fills all
the universe of things with all things. "Fills all creation with
whatever it possesses" [Alford]. The
Greek is, "filleth for Himself."