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14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.


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14. For this cause. His prayers for them are mentioned, not only to testify his regard for them, but likewise to excite them to pray in the same manner; for the seed of the word is scattered in vain, unless the Lord render it fruitful by his blessing. Let pastors learn from Paul’s example, not only to admonish and exhort their people, but to entreat the Lord to bless their labors, that they may not be unfruitful. Nothing will be gained by their industry and toil, — all their study and application will be to no purpose, except so far as the Lord bestows his blessing. This ought not to be regarded by them as an encouragement to sloth. It is their duty, on the contrary, to labor earnestly in sowing and watering, provided they, at the same time, ask and expect the increase from the Lord.

We are thus enabled to refute the slanders of the Pelagians and Papists, who argue, that, if the grace of the Holy Spirit performs the whole work of enlightening our minds, and forming our hearts to obedience, all instruction will be superfluous. The only effect of the enlightening and renewing influences of the Holy Spirit is, to give to instruction its proper weight and efficacy, that we may not be blind to the light of heaven, or deaf to the strains of truth. While the Lord alone acts upon us, he acts by his own instruments. It is therefore the duty of pastors diligently to teach, — of the people, earnestly to receive instruction, — and of both, not to weary themselves in unprofitable exertions, but to look up for Divine aid.

I bow my knees. The bodily attitude is here put for the religious exercise itself. Not that prayer, in all cases, requires the bending of the knees, but because this expression of reverence is commonly employed, especially where it is not an incidental petition, but a continued prayer.

15. Of whom the whole family. 135135     “This seems to me plainly to allude, and to be urged in opposition to Diana of Ephesus, who was the common goddess of the Asiatic cities, in whose worship they were united, and by whose common contributions her temple was built, which was the common temple of those incorporated cities, so that all Asia (as we have it, Acts 19:27) ‘worshipped her;’ which was therefore strictly and properly her family, over which she presided as the common mother and patroness; and there are models and ancient inscriptions remaining to this day, that abundantly prove it. Now the apostle tells these Ephesians, that, as Christians, they belonged to a nobler family, which took its denomination from, and was immediately subject to, God as a common Father; of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” — Chandler. The relative, ἐξ οὗ, of whom, may apply equally to the Father and to the Son. Erasmus restricts it entirely to the Father. I do not approve of this; for readers ought to have been allowed a liberty of choice; nay, the other interpretation appears to be far more probable. The apostle alludes to that relationship which the Jews had with each other, through their father Abraham, to whom they trace their lineage. He proposes, on the contrary, to remove the distinction between Jews and Gentiles; and tells them, not only that all men have been brought into one family and one race through Christ, but that they are enabled to claim kindred even with angels.

To apply it to God the Father would not be equally defensible, being liable to this obvious exception, that God formerly passed by the Gentiles, and adopted the Jews as his peculiar people. But when we apply it to Christ, the whole of Paul’s statement agrees with the facts; for all come and blend together, as one family, and, related to one God the Father, are mutually brethren. Let us therefore understand that, through the mediation of Christ, a relationship has been constituted between Jews and Gentiles, because, by reconciling us to the Father, he has made us all one. Jews have no longer any reason to boast that they are the posterity of Abraham, or that they belong to this or that tribe, — to despise others as profane, and claim the exclusive honor of being a holy people. There is but one relationship which ought to be reckoned, both in heaven and on earth, both among angels and among men — a union to the body of Christ. Out of him all will be found scattered. He alone is the bond by which we are united.




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