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EPHESIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 2

Continuation of Notes for Verse 1. Note 2 Verse at end of this note.

(2.) The principal objection to the opinion that it was written to the church at Ephesus, is found in certain internal marks, and particularly in the want of any allusion to the fact that Paul had ever been there, or to anything that particularly related to the church there. This difficulty comprises several particulars:

(a.) Paul spent nearly three years in Ephesus, and was engaged there in deeply interest transactions and occurrences. He had founded the church, ordained its elders, taught them the doctrines which they held, and had at last been persecuted there and driven away. If the epistle was written to them, it is remarkable that there is in the epistle no allusion to any one of these facts or circumstances. This is the more remarkable, as it was his usual custom to allude to the events which had occurred in the churches which he had founded, (see the epistles to the Corinthians and Philippians,) and as on two other occasions at least he makes direct allusion to these transactions at Ephesus. See Ac 20:18-35; 1 Co 15:32.

(b.) In the other epistles which Paul wrote, it was his custom to salute a large number of persons by name; but in this epistle there is no salutation of any kind. There is a general invocation of "peace to the brethren," (Eph 6:23,) but no mention of an individual by name. There is not even an allusion to the "elders" whom, with so much affection, he had addressed at Miletus, (Ac 20,) and to whom he had given so solemn a charge. This is the more remarkable, as in this place he had spent three years in preaching the gospel, and must have been acquainted with all the leading members in the church. To the church at Rome, which he had never visited when he wrote his epistle to the Romans, he sends a large number of salutations, (Ro 16;) to the church at Ephesus, where he had spent a longer time than in any other place, he sends none.

(c.) The name of Timothy does not occur in the epistle. This is remarkable, because Paul had left him there with a special charge, (1 Ti 1:3,) and if he was still there, it is singular that no allusion is made to him, and no salutation sent to him. If he had left Ephesus, and had gone to Rome to meet Paul as he requested, (2 Ti 4:9,) it is remarkable that Paul did not join his name with his own in sending the epistle to the church, or at least allude to the fact that he had arrived. This is the more remarkable, because in the epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the name of Timothy is joined with that of Paul at, the commencement of the epistle.

(d.) Paul speaks of the persons to whom this epistle was sent, as if he had not been with them, or at least in a manner which is hardly conceivable on the supposition that he had been the founder of the church. Thus, in Eph 1:15,16, he says, "Wherefore also after I heard of your faith in Christ Jesus," etc. But this circumstance is not conclusive. Paul may have been told of the continuance of their faith, and of their growing love and zeal, and he may have alluded to that in this passage.

(e.) Another circumstance on which some reliance has been placed, is the statement in Eph 3:1,2, "For this cause, I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given to youward," etc. It is argued (see Michaelis) that this is not language which would have been employed by one who had founded the church, and with whom they were all acquainted. He would not have spoken in a manner implying any doubt whether they had ever heard of him and his labours in the ministry on account of the Gentiles. Such are the considerations relied on to show that the epistle could not have been written to the Ephesians.

On the other hand, there is proof of a very strong character that it was written to them. That proof is the following:—

1. The common reading in Eph 1:1, "To the saints which are in Ephesus." It is true, as we have seen, that this reading has been called in question. Mill says that it is omitted by Basil, (Lib. 2. Adversus Eunomium,) as he says, "on the testimony of the fathers and of ancient copies." Griesbach marks it with the sign om., denoting that it was omitted by some, but that in his judgment it is to be retained. It is found in the Vulgate, the Syriac, the Arabic, and the Ethiopic in Walton's Polyglott. Rosenmuller remarks that "most of the ancient codices, and all the ancient versions, retain the word." To my mind this fact is conclusive. The testimony of Marcion is admitted to be of almost no authority; and as to the testimony of Basil, it is only one against the testimony of all the ancients, and is at best negative in its character. See the passage from Basil, quoted in Hug's Introduction.

2. A slight circumstance may be adverted to as throwing light incidentally on this question. This epistle was sent by Tychicus, Eph 6:21. The epistle to the Colossians was also sent from Rome by the same messenger, Col 4:7. Now there is a strong improbability in the opinion held by Michaelis, Koppe, and others, that this was a circular letter, sent to the churches at large, or that different copies were prepared, and the name Ephesus inserted in one, and Laodicea in another, etc. The improbability is this, that the apostle would at the same time send such a circular letter to several of the churches, and a special letter to the church at Colosse. What claim had that church to special notice? What pre-eminence had it over the church at Ephesus? And why should he send them a letter bearing so strong a resemblance to that addressed to the other churches, when the same letter would have suited the church at Colosse as well as the one which was actually sent to them; for there is a nearer resemblance between these two epistles than any other two portions of the Bible. Besides, in 2 Ti 4:12, Paul says that he had sent "Tychicus to Ephesus;" and what is more natural than that, at that time, he sent this epistle by him?

3. There is the utter want of evidence from Mss. or versions, that this epistle was sent to Laodicea, or to any other church, except Ephesus. Not a Ms. has been found having the name Laodicea in Eph 1:1; and not one which omits the words "in Ephesus." If it had been sent to another church, or if it had been a circular letter addressed to no particular church, it is scarcely credible that this could have occurred.

These considerations make it plain to me that this epistle was addressed, as it purports to have been, to the church in Ephesus. I confess myself wholly unable, however, to explain the remarkable circumstances that Paul does not refer to his former residence there; that he alludes to none of his troubles or his triumphs; that he makes no mention of the "elders," and salutes no one by name; and that throughout he addresses them as if they were to him personally unknown. In this respect it is unlike all the other epistles which he ever wrote, and all which we should have expected from a man in such circumstances. May it not be accounted for from this very fact, that an attempt to specify individuals where so many were known, would protract the epistle to an unreasonable length? There is, indeed, one supposition suggested by Dr. Macknight, which may possibly explain to some extent the remarkable circumstances above referred to. It is that a direction may have been given by Paul to Tychicus, by whom he sent the letter, to send a copy of it to the Laodiceans, with an order to them to communicate it to the Colossians. In such a case every thing local would be designedly omitted, and the epistle would be of as general a character as possible. This is, however, mere conjecture, and does not remove the whole of the difficulty.

The rest of the material for this note is continued in note for Eph 1:2 due to space limitations for note.


VERY various opinions have been formed in regard to the design for which this epistle was written. Macknight supposes that it was with reference to the Eleusinian mysteries, and to various religious rites in the temple of Diana, and that Paul intended particularly to state the "mysteries" of the gospel in contradistinction from them. But there is no clear evidence that the apostle had any such object, and it is not necessary to go into an explanation of those mysteries in order to an understanding of the epistle. The epistle is such as might be addressed to any Christians, though there are allusions to customs which then prevailed, and to opinions then held, which it is desirable to understand in order to a just view of it. That there were Jews and Judaizing Christians in Ephesus, may be learned from the epistle itself. That there were those there who supposed that the Jews were to have a more elevated rank than the Gentiles, may also be learned from the epistle; and one object was to show that all true Christians, whether of Jewish or Heathen origin, were on a level, and were entitled to the same privileges. That there was the prevalence of a false and dangerous philosophy there, may also be learned from the epistle; and that there were those who attempted to cause divisions, and who had violated the unity of the faith, may also be learned from it.

The epistle is divided into two parts—

I. The doctrinal part, ch. i.—iii.; and,

II. The practical part, or the application, ch. iv.—vi.

I. The doctrinal part comprises the following topics.

(1.) Praise to God for the revelation of his eternal counsels of recovering mercy, Eph 1:3-14.

(2.) A prayer of the apostle, expressing his earnest desire that the Ephesians might avail themselves fully of all the advantages of this eternal purpose of mercy, Eph 1:15-23.

(3.) The doctrine of the native character of man, as being dead in sins, illustrated by the past lives of the Ephesians, Eph 2:1-3.

(4.) The doctrine of regeneration by the grace of God, and the advantages of it, Eph 2:4-7.

(5.) The doctrine of salvation by grace alone, without respect to our own works, Eph 2:8,9.

(6.) The privilege of being thus admitted to the fellow ship of the saints, Eph 2:11-22.

(7.) A full statement of the doctrine that God meant to admit the Gentiles to the privileges of his people, and to break down the barriers between the Gentiles and the Jews, Eph 3:1-12.

(8.) The apostle prays earnestly that they might avail themselves fully of this doctrine, and be able to appreciate fully the advantages which it was intended to confer; and with this prayer he closes the doctrinal part of the epistle, Eph 3:13-21.

II. The practical part of the epistle embraces the following topics,

(1.) Exhortation to unity, drawn from the consideration that there was one God, one faith, etc, Eph 4:1-16.

(2.) An exhortation to a holy life in general, from the fact that they differed from other Gentiles, Eph 4:17-24.

(3.) Exhortation to exhibit particular virtues—specifying what was required by their religion, and what they should avoid—particularly to avoid the vices of anger, lying, licentiousness, and intemperance, Eph 4:25-32; 5:1-21.

(4.) The duties of husbands and wives, Eph 5:22-33.

(5.) The duties of parents and children, Eph 6:1-4.

(6.) The duties of masters and servants, Eph 6:5-9.

(7.) An exhortation to fidelity in the Christian warfare, Eph 6:10-20.

(8.) Conclusion, Eph 6:21-24.

The style of this epistle is exceedingly animated. The apostle is cheered by the intelligence which he had received of their deportment in the gospel, and is warmed by the grandeur of his principal theme—the eternal purposes of Divine mercy. Into the discussion of that subject he throws his whole soul; and there is probably no part of Paul's writings where there is more ardour, elevation, and soul evinced, than in this epistle. The great doctrine of predestination he approaches as a most important and vital doctrine; states it freely and fully, and urges it as the basis of the Christian's hope, and the foundation of eternal gratitude and praise. Perhaps nowhere is there a better illustration of the power of that doctrine to elevate the soul and fill it with grand conceptions of the character of God, and to excite grateful emotions, than in this epistle; and the Christian, therefore, may study it as a portion of the sacred writings eminently fitted to excite his gratitude and to fill him with adoring views of God.




(1.) The salutation, verse 1, 2.

(2.) The doctrine of predestination, and its bearing and design, verses 3-14.

(a.) It is the foundation of praise to God, and is a source of gratitude, verse 3.

(b.) Christians have been chosen before the foundation of the world, verse 4.

(c.) The object was that they should be holy and blameless, verse 4.

(d.) They were predestinated to be the children of God, verse 5.

(e.) The cause of this was the good pleasure of God, or he did it according to the purpose of his will, verse 6.

(f.) The object of this was his own glory, verse 6.

(3.) The benefits of the plan of predestination to those who are thus chosen, verses 7-14.

(a.) They have redemption and the forgiveness of sins, verses 7, 8.

(b.) They are made acquainted with the mystery of the Divine will, verses 9, 10.

(c.) They have obtained an inheritance in Christ, verse 11.

(d.) The object of this was the praise of the glory of God, verse 12.

(e.) As the result of this, or in the execution of this purpose, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, verses 13, 14.

(4.) An earnest prayer that they might have a full understanding of the great and glorious plan of redemption, verses 15-23.

(a.) Paul says that he had been informed of their faith, verse 15.

(b.) He always remembered them in his prayers, verse 16.

(c.) His especial desire was that they might see the glory of the Lord Jesus, whom God had exalted to his own right hand in heaven, verses 17-23.

Verse 1. Paul, an apostle. See Barnes "Ro 1:1".


By the will of God. See Barnes "1 Co 1:1".


To the saints. A name often given to Christians because they are holy. See Barnes "1 Co 1:2".


In Ephesus. See the Introduction, § 1, 5.

And to the faithful in Christ Jesus. This evidently refers to others than to those who were in Ephesus, and it is clear that Paul expected that this epistle would be read by others. He gives it a general character, as if he supposed that it might be transcribed, and become the property of the church at large. It was not uncommon for him thus to give a general character to the epistles which he addressed to particular churches, and so to write that others than those to whom they were particularly directed, might feel that they were addressed to them. Thus the first epistle to the Corinthians was addressed to "the church of God in Corinth—with all that in every place call upon the name of Christ Jesus our Lord." The second epistle to the Corinthians, in like manner, was addressed to "the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia." Perhaps, in the epistle before us, the apostle referred particularly to the churches of Asia Minor, which he had not visited, but there is no reason for confining the address to them. All who are "faithful in Christ Jesus," may regard the epistle as addressed by the Holy Spirit to them, and may feel that they are as much interested in the doctrines, promises, and duties set forth in this epistle, as were the ancient Christians of Ephesus. The word "faithful" here is not used in the sense of trust-worthy, or in the sense of fidelity, as it is often employed, but in the sense of believing, or having faith in the Lord Jesus. The apostle addresses those who were firm in the faith—another name for true Christians. The epistle contains great doctrines about the Divine purposes and decrees in which they, as Christians, were particularly concerned; important "mysteries," (Eph 1:9,) of importance for them to understand, and which the apostle proceeds to communicate to them as such. The fact that the letter was designed to be published, shows that he was not unwilling that those high doctrines should be made known to the world at large; still they pertained particularly to the church, and they are doctrines which should be particularly addressed to the church. They are rather fitted to comfort the hearts of Christians, than to bring sinners to repentance. These doctrines may be addressed to the church with more prospect of securing a happy effect than to the world. In the church they will excite gratitude, and produce the hope which results from assured promises and eternal purposes; in the minds of sinners they may arouse envy, and hatred, and opposition to God.

{a} "saints" Ro 1:7 {b} "at Ephesus" Ac 19; Ac 20 {c} "faithful in Christ Jesus" Col 1:2

Verse 2. Grace be to you. See Barnes "Ro 1:7".


{d} "be to you" Gal 1:3

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