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12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

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12. That at that time ye were without Christ. He now declares that the Ephesians had been excluded, not only from the outward badge, but from everything necessary to the salvation and happiness of men. As Christ is the foundation of hope and of all the promises, he mentions, first of all, that they were without Christ. But for him that is without Christ, there remains nothing but destruction. On Him the commonwealth of Israel was founded; and in whom, but in Himself, could the people of God be collected into one holy society?

A similar observation might be made as to the tables of the promise On one great promise made to Abraham all the others hang, and without it they lose all their value:

“In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
(Genesis 22:18.)

Hence our apostle says elsewhere,

“All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen.”
(2 Corinthians 1:20.)

Take away the covenant of salvation, and there remains no hope. I have translated τῶν διαθηκῶν by the tables, or, in ordinary legal phrase, the instruments. By solemn ritual did God sanction His covenant with Abraham and his posterity, that he would be their God for ever and ever. (Genesis 15:9.) Tables of this covenant were ratified by the hand of Moses, and intrusted, as a peculiar treasure, to the people of Israel, to whom, and not to the Gentiles, “pertain the covenants.” (Romans 9:4.)

And without God in the world. But at no period were the Ephesians, or any other Gentiles, destitute of all religion. Why, then, are they styled (ἄθεοι) Atheists? for (ἄθεος) an Atheist, strictly speaking, is one who does not believe, and who absolutely ridicules, the being of a God. That appellation, certainly, is not usually given to superstitious persons, but to those who have no feeling of religion, and who desire to see it utterly destroyed. I answer, Paul was right in giving them this name, for he treated all the notions entertained respecting false gods as nothing; and with the utmost propriety do godly persons regard all idols as “nothing in the world.” (1 Corinthians 8:4.) Those who do not worship the true God, whatever may be the variety of their worship, or the multitude of laborious ceremonies which they perform, are without God: they adore what they know not. (Acts 17:23.) Let it be carefully observed, that the Ephesians are not charged with (ἀθεϊσμὸς) Atheism, in the same degree as Diagoras, and others of the same stamp, who were subjected to that reproach. Persons who imagined themselves to be very religious are charged with that crime; for an idol is a forgery, an imposition, not a Divinity.

From what has been said, the conclusion will be easily drawn, that out of Christ there are none but idols. Those who were formerly declared to be without Christ, are now declared to be without God; 125125     “They either knew him not, or did not worship him as God; they had not avouched, or solemnly owned, or taken him for their God; and, in consequence, were not avouched, were not owned, and blessed, and accepted by him as his peculiar people. This was their condition as Gentiles born.” — Chandler. as John says,

“Whosoever hath not the Son, hath not the Father,”
(1 John 2:23;)

and again,

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.”
(2 John 1:9.)

Let us know, therefore, that all who do not keep this way wander from the true God. We shall next be asked, Did God never reveal himself to any of the Gentiles? I answer, no manifestation of God without Christ was ever made among the Gentiles, any more than among the Jews. It is not to one age only, or to one nation, that the saying of our Lord applies,

“I am the way;” for he adds, “no man cometh
unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6.)




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