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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Ephesians 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1-2

Ephesians 1:1-2. Address and Salutation.—In the form of his Epistles, especially in the opening address and in the conclusion, Paul follows the methods of letter writing which were customary in the ancient world, in particular in Greece and Rome, in his own time. We now possess a considerable collection of ancient letters, especially communications of a business kind and letters of familiar intercourse. Not a few of these belong to the periods immediately preceding and following the birth of Christ. They help us to a better understanding of some things in Paul’s Epistles. They also let us see how he infused the new spirit of Christianity into the old accustomed heathen forms of epistolary correspondence.

This Epistle opens in Paul’s usual way, with a greeting in which both the writer and the readers are specifically designated. At the same time the address has certain features of its own, which have their explanation in the circumstances.— παῦλος. In the Epistles which he addresses to Churches, Paul usually associates some one else, or more than one, with himself in the superscription—Sosthenes in 1 Corinthians; Timothy in 2 Corinthians, Philippians and Colossians; Silvanus and Timothy in 1 and 2 Thessalonians; “all the brethren” in Galatians. The only exception is the Epistle to the Romans. In Philemon, too, a letter of a personal and private character, though meant also for the Church in the house of the recipient (Ephesians 1:2), he names Timothy with himself. But in the present Epistle no one is conjoined with him in the greeting. It is difficult to suppose that he was absolutely alone at the time when he wrote this letter. The explanation lies probably in the fact that the Epistle was written as a communication of a general character, intended to go round a considerable circle of Churches.— ἀπόστολος. Usually this term has the definite, official sense of a delegate, a messenger with a commission. Occasionally it has a wider and less specific meaning, as in Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5-6; Galatians 2:9, and probably Romans 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:5; 1 Corinthians 15:7; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:6. In the Gospels, while it occurs oftener in Luke, it is found only once in each of the other three. In the LXX it occurs once, as the representative of שָׁלוּחַ (1 Kings 14:6). In later Judaism it denotes one who is sent out on foreign service, e.g., to collect the Temple-tribute. See Light., Galatians, pp. 92–101. χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ. This order is to be preferred, with the RV and TTrWH, to the ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ of the TR and the AV. The genitive may be the ordinary possessive genitive, “an apostle belonging to Christ Jesus”; or it may be the genitive of derivation or source, “an apostle sent by Christ Jesus,” the term ἀπόστολος retaining something of its original sense of one sent by another. The former is the more probable view, looking to the analogy of such phrases as οὗ εἰμι (Acts 27:23). The name χριστός, which in the Gospels preserves its technical sense of “the Christ” in all but a few instances (e.g., Matthew 1:1; Matthew 1:18; Mark 1:1; John 17:3), has become a personal name in the Pauline Epistles. The combination “Jesus Christ,” or “Christ Jesus,” which is rare in the Gospels, occurs frequently in the Book of Acts and most frequently in the Epistles.

There is a variety in the way in which Paul designates himself in his Epistles that is of interest and has its meaning. In some he gives only his name, and makes no reference to his being either an apostle or a servant of Jesus Christ. So in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. In one (Philemon) he describes himself as a “prisoner of Jesus Christ”. In one (Philippians) he is “servant” only; in two (Romans and Titus) he is both “servant” and “apostle”. In seven (1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians , 1 and 2 Timothy, and here in Ephesians) it is only the apostleship that is instanced, but in each case with a further statement of how it came to him.— διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ. So also in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Colossians and 2 Timothy. In Galatians we have οὐκ ἀκʼ ἀνθρώπων, οὐδὲ διʼ ἀνθρώπου, ἀλλὰ διὰ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, καὶ θεοῦ πατρός, κ. τ. λ.; and in 1 Timothy: κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν θεοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν καὶ χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ (RV); cf. κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ, with reference to the commission to preach (Titus 1:3). The phrase used here in Ephesians defines the apostleship as an office which came to Paul neither by his own will nor by the act of any man, but by direct Divine call and appointment. His Epistles certainly reflect his consciousness of this fact. His work, his discourses, his letters all alike reveal the conviction that he was in actuality what he had been declared to be in the message to Ananias—“a vessel of election” (Acts 9:15). This is the main idea in the defining sentence and its equivalents. They vindicate Paul’s authority, indeed, when that is challenged, but they express primarily the fact that it was by grace he was what he was (1 Corinthians 15:10).— τοῖς ἁγίοις. Those addressed are designated first by a term which expresses the great Old Testament idea of their separation. It does not immediately or distinctively denote their personal piety or sanctity in our sense of the word, though that is dealt with as going with the other. It expresses the larger fact that they are set apart to God and taken into a special relation to Him. In three of the Epistles of the Captivity (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians) it takes the place which the Church has in the superscriptions of the earlier Epistles (Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians). The reason for the variation is not easy to see. It has been supposed to be due to the desire to give “a more personal colouring to the Epistle as if addressed to the members of the Church as individuals rather than as a body” (Abbott). The distinction, indeed, is not carried through the two groups of Epistles; for in Philemon it is again “the Church,” not “the saints”.— τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ἐφέσῳ. The local definition ἐν ἐφέσῳ (on which see more in the Introduction) is inserted by the vast majority of manuscripts, both uncial and cursive, and Fathers, and, as far as we know, by all the Versions. It is supported also to some extent by the fact that in the oldest manuscripts the title of the Epistle is προς εφεσιους; by the apparently unanimous tradition of the Early Church that this Epistle was addressed to the Ephesians; by the absence of all evidence indicating that the Epistle was claimed in ancient times for any other Church definitely named; and by certain parallels in Ignatius. On the other hand, it is omitted by the two oldest and most important uncials, (13) and (14) (in which it has been inserted by later hands); it is expurged from the cursive 67 by a corrector who seems to have had an older document before him; it did not belong to the text of the manuscripts followed by Origen early in the third century, nor to that of those mentioned by Basil about a century and a half later. The omission is supported also to some extent by a statement made by Tertullian regarding Marcion; and more decidedly by the general character of the Epistle (its lack of personal references, salutations to individuals, etc.), as well as by the difficulty of understanding why the phrase should have been dropped if it did belong to the original text. Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort and others, therefore, bracket it in their texts; Tregelles brackets it in his margin and the Revisers give it as an alternative reading in their margin.

If ἐν ἐφέσῳ is retained, all is plain. If the hypothesis is accepted (on which see Introduction) that a blank space was left after the τοῖς οὖσιν to be filled in with the names, each in its turn, of the particular Churches in the Province of Asia to which the letter came in its rounds among the congregations, all still remains plain. But if the clause is omitted and if the hypothesis mentioned is not accepted, a difficulty arises in dealing with the combination τοῖς οὖσιν καὶ πιστοῖς. There are far-fetched expedients which need only to be named in order to be dismissed—such as Origen’s notion that the τοῖς οὖσιν has a transcendental sense, meaning that the saints ARE, as God is called I AM, and expressing the idea, as it may be, that they are those who have been called out of non-existence into real existence or an existence worthy of the name; and the somewhat similar idea that the τοῖς οὖσιν denotes the reality of their sainthood: “the saints who are really such”; or the reality of their sainthood and faith: “the saints and believers who are truly such”. The choice lies between two explanations, viz., (1) “to the saints who are also believers in Christ Jesus,” and (2) “to the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus”. The former gives to πιστοῖς the special New Testament sense which it has in such Pauline passages as 2 Corinthians 6:15; Galatians 3:9; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:6. It takes the term to be added in order to complete the description of the readers as Christians—not merely set apart, as might be the case with Jews (the τοῖς ἁγίοις by itself not going necessarily beyond the OT idea and the Israelite relation), but specifically believers in Christ. The latter gives the adjective the sense of trustworthy, steadfast, which is its classical sense, but which it also has in a later passage of this Epistle (Ephesians 6:21), in other Pauline Epistles (Colossians 4:9; 1 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 2:2), and occasionally elsewhere in the NT (e.g., 1 Peter 5:12; Hebrews 2:17). The term thus defines the readers, who are understood to be Christians, as faithful, constant in their Christian profession. This is favoured by the designation of the brethren in Colossians 1:2, which is the closest parallel and in which the πιστοῖς seems to have the sense of faithful. It is objected that, if this were the meaning, the πιστοῖς should have been followed by the simple dative χριστῷ ἰησοῦ, as in Hebrews 3:2. In like mannet it is objected to the former explanation that in connecting the πιστοῖς immediately with the ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ, “believing in Christ Jesus,” it has usage against it, πιστὸς ἐν not being found in that sense in the NT although we find πίστις ἐν occasionally in Pauline passages (Ephesians 1:15; Galatians 3:26) and πιστεύειν ἐν at least once elsewhere (Mark 1:15). But in point of fact the ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ is best taken here in the definite Pauline sense which it has as an independent phrase expressing a distinct and profound idea—that of fellowship or union with Christ, or standing in Him. It is doubtful whether it is meant to qualify both the ἁγίοις and the πιστοῖς (so Abbott, etc.). More probably it qualifies the nearer adjective, and expresses the fact that it is in virtue of their union with Christ that the readers are πιστοί. Their constancy has its meaning and its life in their fellowship with Him. Of the two explanations the second is to be preferred on the whole (with Lightfoot, etc.), although the first has the support of Meyer, Ellicott, etc.


Verse 2

Ephesians 1:2. χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη: Grace to you and peace. Supply εἴη, on the analogy of other optatives, e.g., in 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; Judges 1:2. This is the Christian rendering of the greeting with which letters began. It combines the Greek form with the Hebrew, but translates the χαίρειν of the former into the evangelical χάρις. What Paul desires for his readers is the enjoyment of the free, loving favour of God and the peace which results from it. This is the usual form which the opening salutation takes in the Epistles of the NT. So it is in Romans , 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians , 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Philemon 1:1 and 2 Peter; as also in Revelation 1:4. It is not, however, the only form. In James, but only in him, we have the old formula χαίρειν (Ephesians 1:1). In 1 and 2 Timothy and 2 John (but not in Titus according to the best reading) it is χάρις, ἔλεος, εἰρήνη; and in Jude we find ἔλεος ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη καὶ ἀγάπη πληθυνθείη.— ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ: from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace and peace desired for the readers by the writer are blessings which come only from God the Father and from Christ. The “Lord Jesus Christ” is named along with “God our Father” as the giver of the grace and peace—a collocation impossible except on the supposition that the writer held Christ to be of the same rank with God or in a unique relation to Him. There is a distinction indicated here between God and Jesus Christ. But it is not in what they are able to give; for the gifts of grace and peace come from both. Nor is any distinction suggested here in respect of nature. But there is a distinction in respect of relation to believers. To the receivers of grace and peace God is in the relation of Father; to the same subjects Christ is in the relation of Lord. God is Father, having made them His children by adoption. Christ is Lord, being constituted Head of the Church and having won the right to their loving obedience and honour; cf. MacP., in loco,


Verse 3

Ephesians 1:3. εὐλογητός: Blessed. The LXX equivalent for the Hebrew בָּרוּךְ, Vulg. Benedictus. In the NT the idea of being blessed is expressed both by εὐλογητός (Luke 1:68; Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Peter 1:3), and by εὐλογημένος (Matthew 21:9; Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35; Luke 19:38; John 12:13, etc.). On the analogy of similar verbs εὐλογητός means “to be praised,” “worthy of praise,” and it is sometimes said to differ from εὐλογημένος in that the latter denotes one on whom blessing is pronounced. But that distinction is a fine one and uncertain. Philo puts the difference thus: εὐλογητός, οὐ μόνον εὐλογημένοςτὸ μὲν γὰρ τῷ πεφυκέναι, τὸ δὲ τῷ νομίζεσθαι λέγεται μόνοντῷ πεφυκέναι εὐλογίας ἄξιονὅπερ εὐλογητὸν ἐν τοῖς χρησμοῖς ᾄδεται (De Mígr. Abr., § 19, i., 453, Mang.; cf. Thayer-Grimm, sub voc.). The distinction is shortly expressed thus by Light., “while εὐλογημένος points to an isolated act or acts, εὐλογητός describes the intrinsic character” (Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul, p. 310). In the NT εὐλογητός is used only of God; in one case, indeed, absolutely, “The Blessed” (Mark 14:61). In the LXX it is used both of God (Genesis 9:26; Genesis 14:20; 1 Samuel 25:32; Psalms 72:17-19, etc.), and (less frequently) of man (Genesis 12:2; Genesis 24:31; Genesis 26:29; Deuteronomy 7:14; Judges 17:2; 1 Samuel 15:13; 1 Samuel 25:33; Ruth 2:20). In the LXX εὐλογημένος is occasionally used of God. In the NT it is used only of man (Matthew 25:34; Luke 1:28; Luke 1:42), of the Messiah (Matthew 21:9; Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35; Luke 19:38; John 12:13), or of the Messianic Kingdom (Mark 11:10). In doxologies we are usually left to supply the verb, which may be ἔστιν (Abbott); ἔστω on the analogy of ἔστωηὐλογημένος in 2 Chronicles 9:8; or εἴη on the analogy of Job 1:21, Psalms 113:2, in which passages, however, the form is εὐλογημένος. Here, as generally where εὐλογητός is the word used and not εὐλογημένος, the sentence is best taken as an affirmation, ἐστίν being supplied; cf. Psalms 119:12 in contrast with Psalms 112:2; Job 1:21; 2 Chronicles 9:8. In most cases the εὐλογητός stands first in its sentence. There are exceptions, where the verb or participle has a position within the sentence or at its close. These are explained by some (W. Schmidt, etc.) as due to the fact that the emphasis is meant to be on the Subject of the doxology, not on the idea of the praise itself; by others (Haupt, etc.) more simply as regards most occurrences, if not all, as due to the fact that the copula ( εἶναι, γιγνέσθαι) is expressed. The cases most in point are 1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Job 1:21; Psalms 68:19; Psalms 113:2. In all these instances except the last the form is εὐλογημένος and the γένοιτο or εἴη is expressed. In Psalms 68:19 alone we have κύριος θεὸς εὐλογητός, and that followed immediately by εὐλογητὸς κύριος ἡμέραν καθʼ ἡμέραν.— θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ: the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The same designation of God occurs also in Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2:31; 1 Peter 1:3. In Colossians 1:3, the καὶ κυρίου ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ of the TR is too slenderly supported to be retained. Many good commentators (Mey., Ell., Haupt, Schmied., etc.) take the θεός and the πατήρ apart here, placing the genitive in relation only to the latter and making the sense “Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” or “Blessed be God who is also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Others (including Theod., Jer., Theophyl., Stier, Blk., V. Hofm., V. Soden, Oltr., Klöp., Beck., Alf., Light., W. Schmidt, Abbott) understand God to be praised here as the God of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as His Father. Grammar leaves the question open; for the inclusion of θεός and πατήρ under one initial article does not establish the second view, nor does the use of καί instead of τε καί disprove it (cf. Ephesians 4:6; 1 Peter 2:25). The first rendering is advocated on account of the extreme rarity of the designation “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ell.); on the ground that θεὸς καὶ πατήρ being a “stated Christian designation of God,” only the πατήρ requires any further definition by a genitive (Mey.); or for the reason that the passages in which the phrase θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ἡμῶν occurs show it to have been Paul’s habit to use θεός absolutely, the appositional πατὴρ κ. τ. λ. serving to define more particularly the Christian idea of God (Haupt). The second rendering is to be preferred, however, as the more natural, and is supported by the analogous Pauline construction θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ἡμῶν (Galatians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). Nor is there anything strange or unPauline in God being called “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ”. As true Man Christ had God for His God as we have Him for our God. He Himself spoke of God as “My God” in the cry of desolation from the Cross and again in His word to Mary after His Resurrection (John 20:17). In this same Epistle, too, we have the express designation θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ (Ephesians 1:17).

This form of doxology (as well as the prayer in the greeting for grace and peace) occurs again in 2 Corinthians 1:3 (as also in 1 Peter 1:3), but with a different reference—there with regard to Paul’s own experiences, here with regard to the Christian enlargement of others.— εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς: who blessed us. To suppose that the ἡμᾶς refers to Paul himself is inconsistent with the whole tenor of the paragraph and with the κἀγώ in Ephesians 1:15. If Paul speaks of God as εὐλογητός it is because of the great and generous things He had actually done for himself and for these Ephesians. These things he proceeds to set forth in respect both of their nature and their measure. He says first that “God blessed us” (not “hath blessed us”). The question is how far he is looking back here. Is it to the time when God first made him and those addressed His own by grace? Or is it to the eternal counsel of that grace? There is much to be said in favour of the second of these two references. It appears to be more naturally suggested by the text than the other. We may, perhaps, plead on its behalf the analogy of the aorists in Romans 8:29-30. It gives unity to the whole statement, and makes the interpretation of the following clauses, each introduced by ἐν, easier. Yet on the whole the first is to be preferred, especially in view of the further definition introduced by the καθώς of Ephesians 1:4. The idea, therefore, is that in calling us to Christian faith God blessed us, and that the great deed of blessing which thus took effect in time had its foundation in an eternal election. All that Christians are is thus referred back to God’s free, decisive act of εὐλογεῖν; “blessing” in His case meaning not words of good but deeds of grace. So, too, the εὐλογητός which comes from our lips answers to, and is the return for, the εὐλογήσας of God. In word and thought we bless God because in deed and positive effect He blessed us; cf. Isaiah 65:16.— ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ: with every spiritual blessing. This defines the nature of the “blessing” with which God so signally blessed us. The ἐν might be understood in the local sense, as denoting the sphere within which the εὐλογεῖν proceeded. But in view of the following ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, it is simplest to take it as the instrumental ἐν, “by means of”; cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:18; James 3:9; and the analogous ἐν μέτρῳ μετρεῖν, ἐν ἅλατι ἁλίζειν (Matthew 7:2; Matthew 5:13; Mark 4:24; Mark 9:49), etc. See Winer-Moult., Grammar, p. 485; Buttmann-Thayer, Grammar, p. 329. The πνευματικῇ is taken by some to mean inward as opposed to outward blessing, or blessing relating to the spirit of man, not to the body (Erasmus, etc.)—a sense too restricted to fit the usage of the term in the NT. Others understand it to mean “of the Holy Spirit,” i.e., blessing proceeding from the Holy Spirit. So Mey., Alf. (who makes it “blessing of the Spirit”), etc.; so, too, Ell., who would refer the term directly to the Holy Spirit, on the basis of Joel 3:1 ff.; Acts 2:16. But this would be more naturally expressed by ἀπὸ or ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος, and it is the kind of blessing rather than its source that is in view here. It is best, therefore, to take πνευματικῇ to define the blessings in question as spiritual in the sense that they are the blessings of grace, blessings of a Divine order, belonging to the sphere of immediate relations between God and man (cf. Romans 1:11; Romans 14:1; Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:11). It is true that these come from God through the Spirit. But the point in view is what they are, not how they reach us. There is little to suggest either that a contrast is drawn between the blessings of the Gospel and the more temporal blessings of the OT economy, as Chrys., Grotius, etc., suppose. There is still less to suggest that the statement is to be limited to the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, healing, tongues, etc., dealt with in 1 Corinthians 12, etc. This latter supposition is refuted by the inclusive πάσῃ. The expression is a large one, covering all the good that comes to us by grace—whether the assurance of immortality, the promise of the resurrection, the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, the privilege of adoption, etc., as Theodoret puts it; or all that belongs to the fruit of the Spirit, the graces of love, joy, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23), as Abbott explains it; or the peculiar blessings of peace of conscience, assurance of God’s love, joy in God, the hope of glory, etc., as it is understood by others. The blessing with which God blessed us is the highest order of blessing, not of material kind or changeful nature, but of heavenly quality and enduring satisfaction, and such blessing He bestowed upon us in its every form and manifestation.— ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις: in the heavenly places. Further definition of the blessing in respect of its sphere—“in the heavenlies”. In the NT the adjective ἐπουράνιος occurs both in the literal sense and in the metaphorical, and in a variety of applications—existing in heaven ( πατήρ μου ἐπ., Matthew 18:35; Matthew 5:1. οὐράνιος); of heavenly order or descent (the Second Adam, ἐπουράνιος, 1 Corinthians 15:48); originating in heaven, belonging to heaven, heavenly in contrast with earthly ( κλῆσις ἐπ., Hebrews 3:1; δωρέα ἐπ., Hebrews 6:4; πατρίς ἐπ., Hebrews 11:16; ἱερουσαλὴμ ἐπ., Hebrews 12:22; βασιλεία ἐπ., 2 Timothy 4:18). It is not easy to determine the precise shade of meaning in each case. The plural τὰ ἐπουράνια is used of the eternal decrees or purposes of grace as contrasted with the operations of grace accomplished and experienced on earth (John 3:12); of the celestial bodies, sun, moon and stars (1 Corinthians 15:40); of things or beings in heaven as contrasted with those on earth or under earth (Philippians 2:10); of the heavenly types and realities of religious services of which earthly ordinances and ministries are the shadow (Hebrews 8:5). The particular phrase ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, however, has this peculiarity, that it occurs five times in this Epistle and nowhere else in the NT. It is a singular fact that even in the writings bearing Paul’s name it is confined to this one letter, and is not found even in the companion Epistle to the Colossians which belongs to the same time, has so much in common, and in point of fact presents more than one opportunity, as Meyer observes, for the introduction of such a phrase (Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:16; Ephesians 1:20). In three out of the five occurrences the term has the local sense (Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 2:6, Ephesians 3:10), and in a fourth (Ephesians 6:12) that sense is also possible, though not certain. The expression in all probability has the same application in the present instance. To take it, with Chrys., Thdt., Beng., and more recently Beck, as a further description of the blessing in respect of its nature as spiritual or heavenly has not only usage against it, but also the consideration that the second of the two descriptive clauses would then add little or nothing to what is expressed by the first. Deciding for the local sense, however, we have still to ask how the phrase is to be connected and what is its particular point. Some connect it (e.g., Beza) immediately with θεός, making the sense “God who is in heaven blessed us”. But this puts the qualifying clause at an awkward distance from its subject. The clause may be connected with the εὐλογήσας as describing the deed of blessing in respect of its sphere; which would be most suitable to the case if the εὐλογήσας were understood of the Divine decree of grace. Some, adopting the same connection, make it refer ideally or proleptically to the blessings laid up for our future enjoyment in the heavenly life (e.g., Th. Aquin.); but the context has in view blessings which are ours in reality now. Others take it to refer to the Church as the Kingdom of God on earth, the present depository of the Divine blessings (Stier); but the Church is not identified in this way with the Kingdom of God in the Pauline writings. It is best, therefore, to connect ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις immediately with the previous ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ, and to understand it as describing the region in which this “spiritual blessing” is found. Not a few interpreters, indeed, pointing to the analogy of Ephesians 2:6, Philippians 3:20 (where, however, it is our citizenship that is said to be in heaven, not we ourselves), etc., introduce a mystical sense here, and take “the heavenlies” to be, not “literal locality but … the heavenly region in which our citizenship is” (Abbott), the heaven that is created within us here and now by grace. “The heaven of which the Apostle here speaks,” says Lightfoot, “is not some remote locality, some future abode; it is the heaven which lies within and about the true Christian.” So substantially also Alf., Ell. (the latter connecting it, however, with εὐλογήσας), Cand., etc. But what the writer has specially in view here is the eternal counsel of God and the effect given to it on earth, and there is nothing to suggest that at this point he is thinking of believers as being themselves in a certain sense in heaven even now. It is best, therefore, to retain the simple local meaning (as the Syriac and Ethiopic Versions render it, “in heaven,” “in the heavens”), and take it to describe the blessings which are stated to be in their nature spiritual further as being found in heaven. To that they belong, and from thence it is that they come to us to be our present possession on earth. (So Subst., Mey., Haupt, etc.) The choice of the unusual form here may be due to the largeness of the idea. It is not merely that the blessings with which God blessed us are blessings having their origin in heaven (which might have been expressed by ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ or some similar phrase), but that they are blessings which have their seat where God Himself is and where Christ reigns.— ἐν χριστῷ: in Christ. Not merely “through Christ”. The phrase expresses the supreme idea that pervades the Epistle. Here it qualifies the whole statement of the blessing, in its bestowal, its nature, and its seat. The Divine εὐλογεῖν has its ground and reason in Christ, so that apart from Him it could have no relation to us. It is ours by reason of our being in Him as our Representative and Head; “by virtue of our incorporation in, our union with, Christ” (Light.). “In Him lay the cause that God blessed us with every spiritual blessing, since His act of redemption is the causa meritoria of this Divine bestowal of blessing” (Mey.).


Verses 3-8

Ephesians 1:3-8. DOXOLOGY, OR ASCRIPTION OF PRAISE TO GOD FOR THE BLESSINGS OF HIS LOVE AND GRACE. This extends over six verses, in one magnificent sentence intricately yet skilfully constructed, throbbing in each clause with the adoring sense of the majesty of that Divine Counsel and the riches of that Divine Grace which had made it possible to write in such terms to Gentiles in a distant province of the heathen Roman Empire. It is Paul’s way to begin with a doxology or a burst of thanksgiving. The latter, expressed by εὐχαριστῶ, εὐχαριστοῦμεν, etc., is the more usual, and is found in one form or another in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, Colossians , 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy (Ephesians 1:12), 2 Timothy. The former is seen in 2 Corinthians and (in a different form) in Galatians as well as here. The only Epistle that lacks both is that to Titus.


Verse 4

Ephesians 1:4. καθώς: even as. Not “because,” but “according as,” “in conformity with the fact that”. Cf. καθότι, which is used in the NT only by Luke and means both “according as” and “because”; and the Attic καθά, καθό, for which, indeed, καθώς is occasionally used in classical Greek, at least from Aristotle’s time. Here καθώς designates the ground of the “blessing” and so is also the note of its grandeur. The “blessing” proceeded on a Divine election, and took effect in accordance with that. It has its foundation, therefore, in eternity, and is neither an incidental thing nor an afterthought of God. So in 1 Peter 1:2, the ἐκλογή has its ground and norm in the πρόγνωσις, the foreknowledge of God the Father, and that “foreknowledge” is not a theoretical but an efficient knowledge.— ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς: He chose us (not “hath chosen us”), or elected us. The verb, which occurs in the NT only in the Middle (except, perhaps, in Luke 9:35), is the LXX equivalent for בָּחַר, and expresses the idea of selecting for oneself out of a number. It is sometimes alleged that we are not entitled to give it so definite a meaning in doctrinal paragraphs like the present, because there are passages in which it appears to express nothing more than the general idea of a, choice, without reference either to any special relation to the person choosing or to the leaving of others unchosen. (So, e.g., Abbott.) But the passages adduced in support of this are few in number and by no means bear out the contention. In Luke 9:35, e.g., where ἐκλελεγμένος is said of the Son, the idea of a choice from among others is certainly not an alien idea (cf. Thayer-Grim., Lex., sub voc.); and in Acts 4:5; Acts 15:22; Acts 15:25, the point is a choice for oneself in the form of an appointment to a particular service or office. That the verb denotes the choice of one or more out of others is implied in its compound form, and is made abundantly clear by actual usage, e.g., in the case of the selection of the Twelve (John 6:70; John 13:18; John 15:16), the appointment of a successor to Judas (Acts 1:24, etc.). In not a few passages it is made more certain still by the addition of explanatory terms, e.g., ἀπό τινων (Luke 6:13), ἐκ κόσμου (John 15:19), ἔκ τινων (Acts 1:24), ἐν ἡμῖν (Acts 15:7). That it means to choose out for oneself appears from such passages as Luke 10:42; Luke 14:7. The verb ἐκλέγεσθαι is specially used of God’s election of some out of mankind generally to be His own in a peculiar sense, the objects of His grace, destined for special privilege, special relations, special service; cf. Acts 13:17 (of Israel); Mark 13:20; John 15:19; Romans 9:11; Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7; Romans 11:28; 1 Corinthians 1:27 ff.; James 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9 ff. The foundation of the statement is the great OT idea of Israel as a nation chosen by the Lord to be “a peculiar people unto Himself, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2; cf. Psalms 33:11-12; Psalms 135:4; Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 42:1). What is meant, therefore, is that the blessing which God bestowed on these Ephesians was not a thing of the time merely, but the issue of an election prior to their call or conversion, a blessing that came to them in accordance with a definite choice of them out of the mass of others by God for Himself.— ἐν αὐτῷ: in Him; that is, in Christ, not “through Him” simply. But in what sense? It is true that Christ is the first “Elect” of God, and that our election is contained in His. But His election is not the matter in hand here, and the point, therefore, is not that in electing Christ God also elected us (Calv., Beng., etc.). Nor, again, is it that we are included in Him (Hofm.), for neither is this the point in view here. The immediate subject is not what we are or are made, but what God does—His election and how it proceeds. And the idea is that that election has its ground in Christ, in the sense that apart from Christ and without respect to His special relation to us, and His foreseen work, there would be no election of us. An extraordinary sense is attached to the ἐν αὐτῷ by Beys., who takes the point to be that the “divinely conceived prototypes of perfected believers are from eternity posited by God in the One Prototype of humanity acceptable unto Him” (Christ. d. N. T., p. 141). This is a philosophical notion wholly alien to Paul, on which see Meyer, in loc. The ἐν αὐτῷ might mean that God’s election of us was in Christ in so far as Christ was contemplated as having the relation of “head and representative of spiritual, as Adam was the representative of natural, humanity” (Ols., Ell.). But it is best taken as expressing again the broad idea that “in Christ lay for God the causa meritoria of our election” (Mey.).— πρὸ καταβολῆς τοῦ κόσμου: before the foundation of the world. This is the only occurrence of this particular expression in the Pauline writings, but it occurs also once in John (John 17:24) and once in Peter (1 Peter 1:20). It is akin to the form ἀπὸ καταβολῆς (Matthew 13:35, omitting κόσμου with LTTrWHR marg.), ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Revelation 13:8); as also to these phrases: ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς (1 Thessalonians 2:13), πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων (1 Corinthians 2:7), πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων (2 Timothy 1:9). It expresses most definitely the fact that the election in question is not the setting apart of certain persons at a definite period, an act in time, a historical selection, as some (e.g., Beys.) strive to prove, but an eternal choice, a determination of the Divine Mind before all time. The idea of the Divine election in the NT is not a philosophical idea expressing the ultimate explanation of the system of things or giving the rationale of the story of the human race as such, but a religious idea, a note of grace, expressing the fact that salvation is originally and wholly of God. In Pauline teaching the subjects of this Divine election are neither the Church as such (Ritschl), nor mankind as such (Beck), but Christian men and women, designated as ἡμεῖς, ὑμεῖς. It is, as is here clearly intimated, an eternal determination of the Divine Will, and it has its ground in the freedom of God, not in anything foreseen in its subjects. Of a prevision of faith as the basis or motive of the election there is no indication here. On the contrary, the character or distinguishing inward quality of the subjects of the election is presented in the next clause as the object of the election, the end it had in view. (See especially Haupt, in loc.)— εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους: that we should be holy and without blemish. The election, therefore, had a definite purpose before it—the making of its subjects ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους. The simple infinitive is freely used to express the idea of purpose or design not only in the NT but in classical Greek (Soph., Oed. Col., 12; Thuc., i., 50, iv., 8; Herod., vii., 208, etc.; cf. Winer-Moult. Gram., p. 399). On the ἁγίους see under Ephesians 1:1. There is a question, however, as to the precise sense of ἀμώμους. The adjective means both “without blame” (inculpatus) and “without blemish” (immaculatus). In the LXX it is a sacrificial term, applied in the latter sense to victims (Exodus 29:1; Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 3:6; Leviticus 3:9-10; Leviticus 22:19, etc.). It has this sense of “without blemish” also in Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19; cf. the use of the noun in 2 Peter 2:13. In the Pauline writings it is found, in addition to the present passage, in Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 2:15 (according to the best reading); Colossians 1:22. In the first and third of these occurrences it is rendered by the RV “without blemish,” in the second, “blameless”. On the ground of usage, especially in the LXX, many commentators conclude for the second sense. Light., e.g., takes the point of the two adjectives to be that the former denotes the consecration of the victim and the latter its fitness for the consecration (Notes on Epistles of Paul, p. 313). The Vulg. gives immaculati, and Wycl. “without wene”. On the other hand, there is nothing in the verse to suggest the idea of sacrifice or a victim. The parallel passage, also, in Colossians 1:22, where we have not only ἁγίους and ἀμώμους but a third adjective ἀνεγκλήτους, is on the whole on the side of “blameless”. That, too, is the meaning of the word in classical Greek (e.g., Herod, ii., 177), and in inscriptions (C. I., 1974). Little indeed depends on the decision between the two senses; for both terms, “without blemish” and “without blame,” may have ethical applications. There is the further question, however, whether in this statement Paul has in view the standing of believers or their character—whether he thinks of them as justified or as designed to be sanctified. The arguments in support of the objective relation to God being a view here (Mey., Haupt, etc.) are weighty. It is held, e.g., that γίγνεσθαι would be more appropriate than εἶναι if the personal sanctification of believers was in the writer’s mind; that in that case the ἐν ἀγάπῃ would more naturally have come in before the κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ; above all, that the tenor of the section as a whole is on the side of the first view, the idea all through the paragraph (Ephesians 1:3-14) being what God does for us, not what we are now or are meant to be inwardly to Him, and the objective facts of the forgiveness of sin, adoption, etc., being clearly introduced in Ephesians 1:7 ff. On the other hand the ethical sense is strongly advocated by many (Chrys., Theophy., Alf., Ell., Candl., Abb., etc.) on the broad ground that it is so much Paul’s way to point us to newness and holiness of life as the great end of the Divine purpose and the Divine call (Philippians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 2:14). This is supported further by the presence of the qualifying ἐν ἀγάπῃ, if it is attached to Ephesians 1:4; and by the weighty consideration that the ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους καὶ ἀνεγκλήτους in the parallel passage in Colossians 1:22 is followed immediately by a reference to continuing “in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel”. Something depends, however, on the position of the following ἐν ἀγάπῃ, on which see below.— κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ: before Him; that is, before God. Read αὐτοῦ, not (as Harl., etc.) αὑτοῦ; see Winer-Moul., Gram., pp. 188, 189. So, too, in the parallel passage Colossians 1:22. The present approbation of God is in view, not His future judgment. Light, thinks that God Himself is thus regarded as the great μωμοσκόπος, who inspects the victims and takes cognizance of blemishes. But this is to import a priestly notion which is not expressed in the context. This phrase might be specially appropriate to the idea of the standing or relation of believers as supposed to be conveyed by ἀμώμους. But it also suits the idea of characterἀμώμους “in God’s sight,” “under the eye of God as Witness and Judge, and so in truth and reality”. The terms ἐνώπιον, κατενώπιον, κατέναντι are also used in this sense in the NT, and do not appear to occur in profane Greek. They are peculiar to the LXX, the Apocrypha, and the NT. All three are used by Paul, κατενώπιον and κατέναντι sparingly (the former only here and in Colossians 1:22, the latter in Romans 4:17; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 12:19); most frequently ἐνώπιον (Romans 3:20; Romans 12:17; Romans 14:22; 1 Corinthians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 4:2, etc.), which is also much employed in Luke and Revelation, never in Matthew or Mark.— ἐν ἀγάπῃ: in love. What does this qualify? The divine election, say some (Œc.; etc.). But the remoteness of the ἐν ἀγάπῃ from the ἐξελέξατο makes this, if not an impracticable, at least a less likely connection. It is possible, indeed, also to retain the connection of the ἐν ἀγάπῃ with Ephesians 1:4 and yet give it the sense of the Divine love, if we take it to qualify not the ἐξελέξατο alone, but the whole clause which it concludes. In that case the idea would be that the electing act and the object it had in view, namely holiness and blamelessness on our part, were both due to God’s love and had their explanation in it. The choice, however, appears to be between attaching the clause to the preceding ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους and attaching it to the following προορίσας. Commentators and Versions are widely divided on the question. The former is the connection in LP, the Goth. and Copt. Vv., the Vulg., the texts of Stephens, WH, and the Revisers, and it is preferred by Eras., Luth., Beza, Calv., Grot., Wetst., Alf., Light. The latter is the connection in the Syr.-P, and is followed by LTTr marg., RV marg., Orig., Chrys., Thdrt., Theophy., August., Beng., Harl., de Wette, Olsh., Hof., Bleek., Mey., Ell., V. Sod., Haupt, Abbott, etc. The propriety of understanding the ἐν ἀγάπῃ as meant to qualify the προορίσας is urged on such grounds as these—that the Pauline Epistles furnish no other instance of ἄγιος or ἄμωμος having attached to it any grace or virtue defined by ἐν as the form in which the holiness or blamelessness shows itself (Haupt); that it is befitting that the love which is its principle and ground should get emphatic expression when the Divine προορισμός is first introduced (Ell., etc.); that this connection is most in harmony with the ascription of praise (Mey.), and with the genius of the paragraph as a whole, which is concerned with what God is to us rather than what we are required to be to Him. On the other hand in support of attaching the ἐν ἀγάπῃ to the preceding, it is pointed out that in view of the subsequent κατʼ εὐδοκίαν there is less reason for introducing ἐν ἀγάπῃ in so emphatic a position before the προορίσας; that, if not in the Pauline Epistles themselves, yet elsewhere both within and without the NT we have instances analogous to the connection of ἐν ἀγάπῃ with ἀμώμους here—e.g., 2 Peter 3:14, ἀμώμητοιἐν εἰρήνῃ; Judges 1:24, ἀμώμους ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει; Clem. Rom., 50, ἵνα ἐν ἀγάπῃ εὑρεθῶμεν δίχα προσκλίσεως ἀνθρωπίνης ἄμωμοι (cited by Light., Notes; ut sup., 313), and above all that it is Paul’s usual, if not constant, habit to place ἐν ἀγάπῃ after the clause it qualifies (Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:15-16; Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; cf. also, though in association with other terms, 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 1:13). On the whole this connection is to be preferred, and the ἐν ἀγάπῃ will then define the holiness and blamelessness, which are the end and object of God’s election of us, as having their truth and perfection in the supreme Christian grace of love.


Verse 5

Ephesians 1:5. προορίσας ἡμᾶς: having foreordained us. Better, in that He foreordained us. Wycl. gives “hath bifore ordeyned us”; Tynd. and Cranmer, “ordeyned us”; and so the RV, “foreordained”. But the Genevan, the Rhemish and the AV, following the praedestinavit of the Vulg., give “did predestinate us,” “hath predestinated us,” “having predestinated us”. While in Romans and Ephesians the AV adopts “predestinated,” in 1 Corinthians 2:7 it has “foreordained”. It is best to adopt foreordain all through, as προορίζειν means to determine before. The verb seems not to occur either in the LXX or in any Greek writer before Paul. It is found in Heliodorus, Ignatius, etc. In the NT it is always used of God as determining from eternity, sometimes with the further definition πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων (1 Corinthians 2:7)—decreeing to do something (Acts 4:28); foreordaining things or persons (1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 8:29 ff.); or, as here, appointing one beforehand to something. The πρὸ in the compound verb expresses the fact that the decree is prior to the realisation of its object. The aor. part, may be taken as temporal (so the Syr.-Phil.), in which case the foreordination would be something prior (not in time, indeed, but in logical order) to the election, and the election would be defined as proceeding on the foreordination (Ell., Alf., etc.). But it may also be taken as modal, not prior to the election but coincident with it, and expressing the mode of its action or the form which it took—“in that He foreordained us” (Mey., etc.). On this use of the aor. part, see Winer-Moul., Gram., p. 430. This is the more probable view, because no real distinction appears to be made between the ἐκλογή and the προορισμός beyond what may be suggested by the ἐκ in the one and the πρό in the other; the idea in the ἐκλογή being understood to be that of the mass from which the selection is made, and that of the προορισμός the priority of the decree (Ell.). It is also to be noticed (cf. Mey.) that both in Romans (Romans 8:29) and in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:2) it is the πρόγνωσις, not the προορισμός, that is represented as antecedent to the election or as forming its ground. This Divine προορισμός, like the Divine ἐκλογή, has in the Pauline writings, in which it receives its loftiest, most complete, and most unqualified statement, not a speculative but an intensely practical interest, especially with regard to two things of most immediate personal concern—the believer’s incentive to live in newness and holiness of life (cf. Ephesians 2:10), and his encouragement to rest in the Divine salvation as for him an assured salvation.— εἰς υἱοθεσίαν: unto adoption. Or, as the RV gives it, following the adoptio filiorum of the Vulg., “unto adoption as sons”. It is a Pauline term, and conveys an idea distinct from that of sonship and explanatory of it. The sonship of believers, the fact that they are children of God, with the privileges and responsibilities belonging to such, finds frequent expression in the NT writings. But it is only in the Pauline Epistles that the specific idea of υἱοθεσία occurs, and there in five instances (Romans 8:15; Romans 8:23; Romans 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). In one case it is applied to the special relation of Israel to God (Romans 9:4); thrice (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5) it is used of the present position of believers in Christ; once (Romans 8:23) it refers to their future consummation, the resurrection of life that will be the full manifestation of their sonship. It is a term of relation, expressing our sonship in respect of standing. It appears to be taken from the Roman custom, with which Paul could not fail to be acquainted. Among the Jews there were cases of informal adoption, as in the instance of Mordecai and Esther (Esther 2:7). But adoption in the sense of the legal transference of a child to a family to which it did not belong by birth had no place in the Jewish law. In Roman law, on the other hand, provision was made for the transaction known as adoptio, the taking of a child who was not one’s child by birth to be his son, and arrogatio, the transference of a son who was independent, as by the death of his proper father, to another father by solemn public act of the people. Thus among the Romans a citizen might receive a child who was not his own by birth into his family and give him his name, but he could do so only by a formal act, attested by witnesses, and the son thus adopted had in all its entirety the position of a child by birth, with all the rights and all the obligations pertaining to that. By “adoption,” therefore, Paul does not mean the bestowal of the full privileges of the family on those who are sons by nature, but the acceptance into the family of those who do not by nature belong to it, and the placing of those who are not sons originally and by right in the relation proper to those who are sons by birth. Hence υἱοθεσία is never affirmed of Christ; for he alone is Son of God by nature. So Paul regards our sonship, not as lying in the natural relation in which men stand to God as His children, but as implying a new relation of grace, founded on a covenant relation of God and on the work of Christ (Galatians 4:5 ff.).— διὰ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ: through Jesus Christ; in this case not in Christ but through Him. That is, it is through the mediation of Christ that our adoption as sons is realised; cf. Galatians 3:26 to Galatians 4:7. Elsewhere the ethical side of the sonship is expressed. For God not only brings us into the relation of sons, but makes us sons in inward reality and character, giving us the filial mind, leading us by His Spirit, translating us into the liberty of the glory of His children (Romans 8:12; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:21; Galatians 4:6).— εἰς αὐτόν: unto Himself, that is, not unto Christ, as De Wette, V. Soden, etc., still think, but unto God. Here, as in Ephesians 1:4, we read αὐτοῦ, not αὐτοῦ (as Stephens, Mill, Griesbach, etc., put it), the writer giving it as from his own standpoint. How is this to be understood? It may mean simply that God Himself is the Father to whom we are brought into filial relation by adoption. In that case the point would be the glory of the adoption, inasmuch as it is God Himself and none less than He who becomes our Father by it and to whom the foreordination into the position of sons looks. Or it may be the deeper idea that God Himself is the end of the foreordination, as Christ is its medium or channel. The εἰς is not to be confused with ἐν, nor would the idea thus be reduced to that of simple possession. Here the εἰς may rather have its most definite force, expressing the goal of all. The final object of God’s foreordination of us to the standing of sons is to bring us to Himself, into perfect fellowship with Him, into adoring, loving relation to Himself as the true End and Object of our being.— κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ: according to the good Pleasure of His will. Wycl. gives “by the purpose of His will”; Rhem., “according to the purpose of His will”; Tynd., “according to the pleasure of His will”; Cran., Gen., AV, “according to the good pleasure of His will”. The noun εὐδοκία (Vulg.-Clem., beneplacitum) is a biblical term. It is not current in profane Greek, but represents the רָצוֹו of the OT (especially in the Psalms), and occurs a good many times in Sir. In the NT it is found thrice in the Gospels (Matthew 11:26; Luke 2:14; Luke 10:21), and six times in the Pauline Epistles (Romans 10:1; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Philippians 1:15; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11), but nowhere else. It has the sense (a) of will (Matthew 11:26; Luke 10:21), passing into that of desire (Romans 10:1); and (b) of good will (Luke 2:14; Ephesians 1:9; Philippians 1:15; Philippians 2:13), passing into that of delight or satisfaction (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Here it is taken by most (Mey., De Wette, Stier., Alf., Ell., Abbott, etc.) in the sense of beneplacitum, purpose, sovereign counsel, as equivalent to κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ in Ephesians 1:11. Light., e.g., is of opinion that, while its central idea is “satisfaction,” it will “only then mean ‘benevolence’ when the context points to some person towards whom the satisfaction is felt”. He refers to ἐν εὐδόκησα in Matthew 3:17, and contends that without such indication of a personal object “the satisfaction is felt in the action itself, so that the word is used absolutely, and signifies ‘good pleasure,’ in the sense of ‘desire,’ ‘purpose,’ ‘design’ ” (Notes, ut sup., 314). But in the Pauline Epistles, when it is used of God, it is a term of grace, expressing “good pleasure” as kind intent, gracious will, and even when used of man it conveys the same idea of goodness (Romans 10:1; Philippians 1:15). Nor does the connotation appear to be different in the occurrences in the Gospels (Matthew 11:26; Luke 2:14; Luke 10:21). In the present passage it is only in relation to the grace of His dealings with sinful men that reference is made to the will of God. The clause in question presents that grace in the particular aspect of its sovereign, unmerited action. It adds the last note to the statement of the wonders of the Divine election by expressing the fact that that election and God’s foreordination of us unto adoption are not due to any desert in us or anything outside God Himself, but are acts of His own pure goodness, originating only and wholly in the freedom of His own thoughts and loving counsel.


Verse 6

Ephesians 1:6. εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ: to the praise of the glory of his grace. Twice again in the same context we have the phrase “to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 1:14). Here it is the glory specifically of God’s grace, and the praise of that is now stated to be the ultimate end of God’s foreordination of us unto adoption, as our adoption itself has been declared to be the object of the foreordination. God’s final purpose in His eternal determinations, and the supreme end to which all that He wills regarding us looks, are the manifestation and adoring recognition of His grace in its gloriousness. So Chrys. puts it briefly ἵνα τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ δόξα δειχθῇ. The phrase means more than “the praise of his glorious grace”. It expresses the setting forth on God’s part, and the joyful confession on man’s part, of what the Divine grace in these eternal counsels is in the quality of its splendour, its magnificence. That this is the idea is shown by the subsequent mention of the “riches” of the same grace (Ephesians 1:7).— ἐν ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς: with which he freely gifted us; literally, with which he graced us. The AV follows Beza’s in qua nos acceptos sibi effecit in rendering it “wherein he made us accepted”. The RV, which gives “wherewith he endued us” in the margin, deals better with it in the text, “which he freely bestowed on us”. The reading ἐν of the TR, supported by such MSS. as (15) (16) (17) (18), the mass of the cursives, the Vulg., etc., must give place to ἧς, which is given by (19) (20) (21), Eth., Syr., etc., and is adopted by LT (eighth ed.) TrWHRV. The ἧς is by attraction for ἣν (cf. similar genitives by attraction in Ephesians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 1:4), the explanation being found in the influence of such usages as μάχην μάχεσθαι, ὕβριν ὑβρίζειν, κλῆσιν καλεῖν, χάριν χαριτοῦν. See Win.-Moult., Gram., p. 203; Buttm., Gram., p. 289. The verb χαριτόω, following the analogy of other verbs in - οω, means gratia aliquem afficere. But this may have two senses (cf. Harl., Ell.), either to make one agreeable, possessed of grace (Sirach 18:17; Ps. 17:26 (Symmachus), Clem. Alex., Paed., iii., 11), or to bestow grace on one, to compass one with favour (Test. xii Patr., Jos. i.). The verb is of rare occurrence, whether within or without the NT. It is commonest in ecclesiastical and Byzantine Greek. In the NT it is found only twice, here and in Luke 1:28. In both instances some would give it the former sense. In the present passage, e.g., Chrys. makes it ἐπεραστοὺς ἐποίησε, and so substantially Cornel, a Lapide, Bisping, and various RC interpreters. The latter sense, however, is rightly preferred by Beng., Ell., Alf., Light., Mey., Haupt, etc., as more in harmony with the general sense of χάρις in the Pauline Epistles, and with the fact that the main idea in the context is what God in His gratuitous goodness does for us.— ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ: in the Beloved. The doubtful explanatory term υἱῷ αὐτοῦ is added by some ancient authorities ((22) (23) (24) (25), Vulg., Goth., Jer., etc.). Again it is not “through him,” but “in him”. The grace is bestowed in and with Christ Himself. It is in the gift of the Son that the gift of grace becomes ours and that the splendour of the grace is seen. The designation ἠγαπημένος as applied to Christ is peculiar to this one passage so far as the NT is concerned. In the NT its nearest equivalent is the title τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ in the somewhat similar passage in Colossians 1:13. Cf. also υἱός μου ἀγαπητός (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7; Luke 3:22; Luke 9:35), ἀγαπητός μου (Matthew 12:18); and in the OT Psalms 27:6 (LXX); Isaiah 5:1. Outside the NT the term ἠγαπημένος αὐτοῦ is used of Christ in the Ep. of Barn. (3, 4). Light. points also to similar designations in Ignatius, Clem. Rom., and the Ascensio Isaiae (Notes, ut sup., 316).


Verse 7

Ephesians 1:7. ἐν ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν: in whom we have the redemption. Here and in the parallel passage in Colossians 1:14 the readings vary between ἔχομεν and ἔσχομεν. In the present sentence, though ἔσχομεν has the support of some good authorities ((26) (27), Copt., Eth., etc.), the weight of documentary evidence is largely on the side of ἔχομεν ((28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) (38), Vulg., Syr., Goth., etc.). What is in view, therefore, is something possessed now, and the writer describes that as τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν—“the redemption,” i.e., the redemption familiar to every Christian, long expected and now accomplished. This ἀπολύτρωσις is viewed sometimes as a thing of the future (Luke 21:28; Romans 8:23; Ephesians 4:30; and probably also Ephesians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 1:30); sometimes as a present possession (as here; Romans 3:24; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:15). That the ἀπολύτρωσις here is a redemption not from the power or pollution of sin, but from its guilt, its condemnation, its penalty, is made plain by the defining clause which follows, identifying it with the forgiveness of sins. This is not the only aspect in which it is presented in the Pauline Epistles. The verb λυτροῦσθαι is applied there to a redemption from “all iniquity,” Titus 2:14, as in 1 Peter 1:18 it is used of a redemption from a “vain manner of life”. But it is the primary aspect of the word and its cognates, and the one that is at the foundation of the other. The noun ἀπολύτρωσις is of rare occurrence, found only in a few passages in profane Greek (Plut., Pomp., xxiv., 2; Joseph., Antiq., xii., ii., 3; Diod., Frag., lib. xxxvii., 5, 3 (Dindorf.); Philo, Quod omn. prob. lib. sit., § 17); and in the NT itself only ten times in all. The verb ἀπολυτροῦσθαι is not found in the NT at all; the simple λυτροῦν, λυτροῦσθαι thrice (1 Peter 1:18; Luke 24:21; Titus 2:14) and the noun λύτρωσις thrice (Luke 1:68; Luke 2:38; Hebrews 9:12). The proper idea is that of a release, deliverance, or redemption effected by payment of a price or ransom ( λύτρον). It is argued indeed that this idea cannot be said to be the essential or primary idea of ἀπολύτρωσις, because it is used in connections in which the notion of a payment is not in view (so Abbott); and that, therefore, we are not entitled to say that it means more than deliverance. It is true that, as is the case with most words, the definite, specific sense passes at times into the more general sense of “deliverance” (Hebrews 11:35; cf. Exodus 6:6). But in profane Greek and in the LXX the primary sense of the verb. the noun, and their cognates is that of a redemption effected by payment of a price, or a release granted on receiving a price (Plut., Pomp., 24; Plato, Leges, 11, p. 919(a); Polyb., xxii., 21, 8; Exodus 21:8; Zephaniah 3:1); and in the Pauline Epistles it denotes the deliverance accomplished at the cost of Christ’s death from the Divine wrath and the penalty of sin. So it is understood, e.g., by Origen, in loc., Mey., Alf., Ell., etc.; and as the ἄφεσιν κ. τ. λ. shows that the “redemption” here in view is one in relation to the guilt or penalty of sin, so the διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ shows that it is a redemption by payment of a price. This is consistent with Paul’s doctrine of the Divine wrath, redemption, propitiation, expiation, and the curse of the law (Romans 1:18; Romans 3:23; Romans 5:5 ff.; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Galatians 4:4). It has its foundation also in Christ’s own declaration of the purpose of His coming, viz., to give His life a λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).— διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ: through His blood. Christ’s “blood,” therefore, is that by which the redemption is effected—the price ( τιμή, 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23) of the deliverance, the “ransom” that had to be paid for it (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). The same idea appears in the teaching both of Peter and of John (1 Peter 1:18; Revelation 5:9). The term occurs repeatedly in the NT, and in various forms— τὸ αἷμα τοῦ χριστοῦ (1 Corinthians 10:16), τοῦ κυρίου (1 Corinthians 11:27), τοῦ ἀρνίου (Revelation 7:14; Revelation 12:11), τοῦ σταυροῦ (Colossians 1:20). What is its import? It means more than the death of Christ. It means that death in a particular aspect—as a sacrifice, a death having a definite efficacy. It is a sacrificial term, based on the use of the blood of victims, offered under the OT Law, for purposes of purification and expiation (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:18-22; Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 10:4; Hebrews 11:28; Hebrews 13:11). It looks back also to Christ’s own words in the institution of the Supper (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:29), and denotes the ratification of a new relation between God and men by a new covenant sacrifice. It is used with reference to the purchase of the Church (Acts 20:28; Revelation 5:9), the grace of access to God (Hebrews 10:19), the admission of the Gentiles on equal terms with the Jews (Ephesians 2:13), the reconciliation of all things to God (Colossians 1:20); but also and most definitely to the changed condition of sinful men, and that most frequently on the objective side, as a new relation. As in the Levitical system there was a purificatory use of blood in the case of certain matters of uncleanness (Leviticus 14:5; Leviticus 14:50), so in the NT the “blood” of Christ is used with reference to the ethical power of Christ’s death in purifying or in overcoming (1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 12:11). But its special use is with reference to justification (Revelation 5:9), the position of non-condemnation (Hebrews 12:24), the cleansing of the conscience (Hebrews 9:14), the making of peace between God and the world (Colossians 1:20), the manifestation of the righteousness of God in the passing over of sins (Romans 3:25), the remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Its primary idea, as is shown by usage and by OT analogy, is not that of renewing power or moral effect, but that of expiation, the removal of guilt, the restoration of broken relations with God. The important passage indeed in Leviticus 17:11, which speaks of the “blood” as reserved by Jehovah for the altar, for the purpose of “covering” sin or making “atonement” for it, and declares that the atonement is made by the blood by reason of “the life of the flesh” that is in it, has been held by not a few (including Bähr and other distinguished scholars) to express only the idea of self-surrender. On this ground the piacular efficacy of the OT sacrifices, and, therefore, of the sacrifice of Christ, has been denied. But the “covering” of sin or making “atonement” for it by sacrifice, is in many passages of the OT definitely connected with the forgiveness of sin (Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 5:18, etc.); the passage in Leviticus 17:11 embodies the idea that “life” is the offering by which the transgressor “covers” his sin or finds forgiveness for it; and in passages like the present it is this kind of efficacy that is definitely ascribed to the “blood” of Christ.

The attempt has been made to prove that this great phrase, “the blood of Christ,” covers two ideas which ought to be distinguished, namely, that of the blood as shed and that of the blood as offered, or death and life as two different conceptions. Thus the phrase in question is interpreted as setting forth Christ’s life in two distinct aspects, namely, as laid down in the act of dying and as liberated by the same act and made available for us, so that we are saved by having it communicated to us. So West., Epistle to the Hebrews, pp. 293 ff.; Epistles of St. John, pp. 34 ff. But neither in the present paragraph nor in any other Pauline passage is there anything to bear this out. Paul, indeed, speaks largely of the Christ who having died is now alive, and of what is effected for us by His life (Romans 5:8-11; Philippians 3:10, etc.). But what the Living Christ does for us in the forgiveness of sin, or in the subjugation of sin, is done as the power of what He did in dying for us.— τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν παραπτωμάτων: the forgiveness of our trespasses. The term ἄφεσις, while used occasionally in the general sense of release (Luke 4:18; cf. Isaiah 61:1), expresses statedly the idea of the letting go of sin ( ἀφιέναι τὴν ὀφειλήν, Matthew 18:32; ἀφιέναι τὰ ὀφειλήματα, τὰ παραπτώματα, Matthew 6:12; Matthew 6:14, etc.), its dismissal or pardon, in the sense of the remission of its penalty (Matthew 26:28; Mark 1:4; Luke 1:77; Luke 3:3; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38, etc.), and as distinguished from πάρεσις, the praetermission or passing by of sin in simple forbearance (Romans 3:25). The term παράπτωμα describes sin as lapse, misdeed, trespass (nearly equivalent to παράβασις, transgression, and ἁμάρτημα, evil deed, these differing not so much in their use as rather in the metaphors underlying them), as distinguished from ἀνομία, lawlessness or iniquity, ἀδικία, unrighteousness or wrong, and ἁμαρτία, which is applied not only to acts of sin, but to sin as a power, a habit, a condition (cf. Trench, Syn., § lxvi.; Fritzsche, Rom., i. 289; Light., Notes, ut sup., on Romans 5:20).— κατὰ τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ: according to the riches of His grace. The readings vary between τὸν πλοῦτον (TR, following (39)3(40)3(41) (42), etc.) and τὸ πλοῦτος (LTTrWHRV, following (43) (44)1(45) (46)1, etc.). The masculine is the usual form, but the neuter is found in the best MSS. in several passages in the Pauline Epistles (2 Corinthians 8:2; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 2:2). Elsewhere in the NT the masculine prevails. Winer explains the exchange between the two forms as due to the popular language, as and τὸ πλοῦτος are used indifferently in modern Greek (Winer-Moult., Gram., p. 76). The great word χάρις, “grace,” which has been used twice already in these opening verses, touches the pulse of all Paul’s teaching on the redemption of sinful man. It has a large place in all his Epistles, and not least in this one. For here it meets us at every turning-point in the great statement of the Divine counsel, the securities of the forgiveness of sin, the way of salvation. While it has the occasional and subordinate senses of loveliness (Colossians 4:6), favour or good will, whether of God or of man (Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52; Acts 2:47; Acts 4:33; Acts 7:10, etc.), in the Pauline writings it has the particular sense of free gift, undeserved bounty, and is used specially of the goodness of God which bestows favour on those who have no claim or merit in themselves (Romans 3:24; Romans 5:17; Romans 5:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 1:15, etc., etc.), or of that free favour of God as a power which renews men and sustains them in the Christian life, aiding their efforts, keeping them from falling, securing their progress in holiness (2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:12, etc.). The freeness of this Divine favour in the form of grace, the unmerited nature of the Divine goodness, is what Paul most frequently magnifies with praise and wonder. Here it is the mighty measure of the largesse, the grace in its quality of riches, that is introduced. This magnificent conception of the wealth of the grace that is bestowed on us by God and that which is in Christ for us, is a peculiarly Pauline idea. It meets us, indeed, elsewhere (cf. the plenteous redemption of the Psalmist, Psalms 130:7; the multitude of the Divine mercies, Psalms 69:13; Psalms 69:16, and loving kindnesses, Psalms 63:7; the fulness of Christ, John 1:16; Colossians 1:19, etc.); but nowhere so frequently or with such insistence as with Paul. Cf. the riches of God’s goodness (Romans 2:4), His glory (Romans 9:23), His wisdom (Romans 11:33), His mercy (Ephesians 2:4), the glory of His inheritance (Ephesians 1:18), the glory of the mystery (Colossians 1:27); also the exceeding riches of His grace (Ephesians 2:7), his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19), the riches of the pre-incarnate Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9), the riches of Christ the Lord (Romans 10:12), the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8). That our redemption cost so great a price, the blood of Christ, is the supreme evidence of the riches of the Divine grace. And the measure of what God does for us is nothing less than the limitless wealth of His loving favour.


Verse 8

Ephesians 1:8. ἦς ἐπερίσσευσεν εἰς ἡμᾶς: which he made to abound towards us. Both in profane and Biblical Greek περισσεύειν is usually intrans. It is so used in the vast majority of cases in the Pauline Epistles (Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 14:12; 2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Philippians 1:26, etc.). In later Greek, however, it has also, though not frequently, the trans, sense, and there are some instances of this also in the NT (Luke 15:17, according to the better reading; 2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:12). Here, therefore, two interpretations are possible, viz., “wherewith he abounded” (as in Syr., Vulg., Arm., AV, RV marg., etc.), or “which he made to abound” (as in Goth., Eth., RV, etc.). The latter sense, that of furnishing richly so that there is not only enough but much more, is on the whole in better harmony with the context. It is also supported by grammar, inasmuch as it is uncertain whether the NT presents any instance of attraction where the genitive of the relative represents the dative. Such attraction is possible in classical Greek (cf. G. Krüger, Untersuch., p. 274; Jelf, Gram., 822; Winer-Moult., Gram., p. 204); but the instances referred to in the NT (Romans 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:6) may admit of another explanation. It is also possible, indeed, to take the ἧς, not as a case of attraction, but as under the immediate regimen of ἐπερίσσευσεν. For there are at least some instances of περισσεύειν τινος in the sense of abounding in something; cf. ἵναπαντὸς χαρίσματος περισσεύῃς in Ignat., Pol., 2, and περισσεύουσιν ἄρτων in Luke 15:17 (the reading of the TR with (47) (48)Q(49), etc.; περισσεύονται, however, being accepted by TrWHRV with (50) (51) (52), etc.). The transitive sense, however, is further favoured by the force of the following γνωρίσας, as Winer points out. The εἰς ἡμᾶς, expressing the objects to whom the “abounding” is directed, is like the εἰς τοὺς πολλούς of Romans 5:15, the εἰς ἡμᾶς of 2 Corinthians 1:5, the εἰς ὑμᾶς of 2 Corinthians 9:8. In the last-named passage, indeed, περισσεύειν occurs both in the sense of making to abound and in that of abounding, and in both cases, though with different shades of meaning, it is followed by εἰς.— ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ φρονήσει: in all wisdom and prudence. The clause expresses the particular forms in which God made His grace to abound towards us, or the gifts in which His abounding grace was to be seen, namely, those of insight and practical intelligence or discernment with regard to the deep things of His saving counsel. There is considerable difference of opinion, however, with respect to the connection of the clause, its application, and the precise import of its terms. By some (Theod., Griesb., etc.) the words are attached to the following γνωρίσας and taken to define the way in which God made known the “mystery of His will”. But the reason already given, drawn from Paul’s usage, for attaching the ἐν ἀγάπῃ (Ephesians 1:4) to the statement preceding it, holds good also here. Not a few (Rückert, De Wette, Alf., etc.) understand the clause to refer to God, and to express the thought that the supremacy of His wisdom was seen in the bestowal of His grace so abundantly on us, that it was “in His manifold wisdom and prudence, manifested in all ways possible for us, that He poured out His grace upon us” (Alf.). But it is difficult to adjust the terms to such a use. For it is doubtful whether φρόνησις in the sense which it bears here can be predicated of God. The instances which are cited (Proverbs 3:19; Jeremiah 10:12) are extremely few. They are also of doubtful relevancy, inasmuch as the φρόνησις in these passages represents a Hebrew word with a somewhat different idea, rendered by the RV “understanding”. Neither is the πολυποίκιλος σοφία τοῦ θεοῦ (Ephesians 3:10) a valid analogy, the thought expressed there being that of the many and various ways in which the Divine wisdom is manifested and realised. The same must be said of the phrase φρόνησις θεοῦ in the narrative of Solomon’s decision (1 Kings 3:28); for it expresses a prudence or intelligence given to Solomon by God or divine in quality. Even were it more certain than it is that there is biblical warrant for affirming φρόνησις of God, the πάσῃ puts that reference out of the question here; πᾶς being an extensive, not an intensive, definition, expressing not the highest wisdom and prudence, but all possible wisdom and prudence, every kind of such attributes (cf. Winer-Moult., p. 137). It is true that there are cases in classical Greek which might entitle us to take πᾶσα σοφία as equivalent to πᾶσα σοφία, “the whole of wisdom,” “the sum of wisdom” (cf. Kühner, Gram., ii., § 465; Anm., 8). But there does not appear to be any certain example of that in NT Greek. Further, it is the grace of God that is magnified in the paragraph, and that not in respect of other qualities in God Himself, but in respect of what it does for us. Hence most (Harl., Mey., Ell., Abb., Haupt, etc.) understand the clause to refer not to God the Giver, but to us the receivers. This is borne out also by the ἵνα πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει of Colossians 1:9; by the place assigned to Christian wisdom in the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians; and also to some extent by such partial parallels as these: ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ (Colossians 3:16); ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐ- , ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει (1 Corinthians 1:5), etc.

There remains, however, the question as to the precise sense of the two nouns. σοφία is of frequent occurrence in the NT generally and in the Pauline writings in particular; φρόνησις occurs only twice in the whole NT, viz., in Luke 1:17 (where the RV renders it “wisdom”) and here. As in the present passage the two nouns are also conjoined in 1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 4:29; Proverbs 1:2; Proverbs 8:1; Daniel 1:17; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 2:23. So, too, in Joseph., Antiq., ii., 5, 7, viii., 7, 5. There is a distinction between them which is variously put in Greek and Roman literature, Aristotle, e.g., defines σοφία as ἐπιστήμη καὶ νοῦς τῶν τιμιωτάτων τῇ φύσει, and φρόνησις as περὶ τὰ ἀνθρώπινα καὶ περὧν ἔστι βουλεύσασθαι (Eth. Nic., vi., 7). Plato deals with φρόνησις as the wisdom of action, prudential wisdom or sagacity (Laws, i., 631 (53); 632 (54), etc.) and as the faculty by which we judge τί πρακτέον καὶ τί οὐ πρακτέον ([Plato] Def., 411). Philo takes σοφία to relate πρὸς θεραπείαν θεοῦ and φρόνησις to relate πρὸς ἀνθρωπίνου βίου διοίκησι (De Prom. et Poen., 14). Cicero again describes the former as rerum divinarum et humanarum scientia and the latter as rerum expetendarum fugiendarumque scientia (Off., i., 43); while others explain σοφία as ἐπιστήμη θείων τε καἀνθρωπίνων and φρόνησις as ἐπιστήμη ἀγαθῶν καὶ κακῶν (Sext. Emp., p. 720; Plut., Mor., 1066 D). In all these definitions σοφία is the larger idea, wisdom in the most general sense, and φρόνησις is the secondary idea, expressing a particular result or application of σοφία. So it seems to be also substantially with the Biblical use of the terms. σοφία is the collective moral intelligence, “insight into the true nature of things” (Light.), and in the Pauline Epistles it is this intelligence in especial as knowledge of the Divine plan of salvation long hidden and now revealed; while φρόνησις is the practical use of wisdom, the product of wisdom (cf. Proverbs 10:23, δὲ σοφία ἀνδρὶ τίκτει φρόνησιν), “the right use and application of the φρήν” (Trench), the faculty of discerning the proper disposition or action. The riches, the abounding riches, of the grace expended on us stood revealed in the bestowal of these gifts of spiritual comprehension and practical discernment with reference to the deep things of the Divine Counsel and the Divine Revelation.


Verse 9

Ephesians 1:9. γνωρίσας ἡμῖν: having made known unto us. Better, “in that He made known unto us”. As in Ephesians 1:5 the aor. part, is modal, not temporal, expressing an act not conceived as prior to that intimated by the definite tense, but coincident with it and stating the way in which it took effect. The ἡμῖν means to us Christians generally, not to us Apostles particularly, and the knowledge in question is spiritual understanding or insight. It was in giving us to know a certain secret of His counsel that God made His grace to abound toward us in all wisdom and discernment. The revelation of this secret to our minds meant the bestowal on us of all that is implied in wisdom and intelligence.— τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ: the mystery (or secret) of His will. The gen. is the ordinary gen. objecti, the mystery touching or concerning His will; not the gen. subjecti, the mystery originating in His will, nor the appositive gen., as if it were simply another form for “His hidden will”. The word μυστήριον, which in classical Greek meant something secret, especially the secrets of religion communicated only to the initiated and by them to be kept untold, is used in the Apocryphal books of things hidden, e.g., the counsels of God (Wisdom of Solomon 2:22; Judith 2:2), and in the NT occasionally of things not clear to the understanding (1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Corinthians 14:2), or of the mystic meaning of things—sayings, names, appearances (Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 1:20; Revelation 17:5). But its distinctive sense in the NT is that of something once hidden and now revealed, a secret now open. In this sense it is applied to the Divine plan of redemption as a whole (Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:26; 1 Timothy 3:9; 1 Timothy 3:16, etc.), or to particular things belonging to that Divine plan—the inclusion of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25; Ephesians 3:3; Ephesians 3:9), the transformation of Christians alive on earth at Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:52), the union of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32). It does not convey the idea of something that we cannot take in or understand even when it is declared to us. It is peculiarly frequent in the kindred Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, ten out of the twenty-six or twenty-seven occurrences being found in them. Nor is it confined absolutely to the things of grace. Paul speaks also of the “mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The redemption accomplished through Christ—this is the secret hidden for ages in the Divine Counsel and now revealed. This also is the truth, the disclosure of which to our understandings meant so large a gift of grace in the way of insight and spiritual discernment.— κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ: according to His good pleasure. This is to be attached neither to the μυστήριου τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, which needs no further definition, nor to the following προέθετο, κ. τ. λ., but to the γνωρίσας, precisely as the previous προορίσας was declared to be κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ (Ephesians 1:5). The opening of this secret to us after the silence of ages had its ground and reason in nothing else than the gracious counsel or free purpose of God.— ἣν προέθετο: which He purposed. This verb προτίθεμαι occurs only thrice in the NT, and all three instances are in the Pauline Epistles: once of human purpose (Romans 1:13), once of the Divine action (Romans 3:25), and once (here) of the Divine purpose. The eternal purpose of God is in view, as the context shows. The προ in the compound verb, however, does not express the idea of the pre-temporal. It appears to have the local sense—setting before oneself and so determining.— ἐν αὐτῷ: in Himself. Some make it “in him,” that is, in Christ (Chrys., Luth., Bengel, Hofm., Light., Wycl., Vulg., etc.), and this would be quite in accordance with the subsequent statement of the eternal purpose as one which God “purposed in Christ Jesus the Lord” (Ephesians 3:11). But God and His will are the subjects in view here, and the mention of Christ seems too remote for the αὐτῷ to refer naturally to Him. The purpose is God’s own free determination, originating in His own gracious mind. The reading ἐν αὑτῷ is adopted by Mey., Ell., etc., while ἐν αὐτῷ is given by Lachm., Tisch., WH, Harl., etc. The question whether the NT knows any other form than ἑαυτοῦ as the reflexive of the third person is still debated. It is urged (e.g., by Bleek, Buttm., etc.) that the NT does not use αὑτοῦ, but only ἑαυτοῦ in most cases or at least the vast majority, on such grounds as these, viz., that the MSS. have ἀπό, ἐπί, ὑπό, etc., and not ἀφʼ, ἐφʼ, ὑφʼ, before αὐτοῦ; that in the second person we find only σεαυτοῦ, not σαυτοῦ; and that the first and second personal pronouns are often used in the NT instead of the reflexive, though not when the pronoun is immediately dependent on the verb. Lightfoot concludes that “ αὐτοῦ, etc., may be used for ἑαυτοῦ, etc., in almost every connection, except where it is the direct object of the verb” (see his note on Colossians 1:20). On the other hand, Ell. is of opinion that the reflexive form is in place “where the attention is principally directed to the subject,” and the non-reflexive where it is “diverted by the importance of the details”. Winer, while admitting that in most passages αὐτοῦ, etc., would suffice, would write αὑτοῦ, etc., certainly in a few cases such as John 9:21 ( αὐτὸς περὶ αὑτοῦ λαλήσει) and Romans 3:25 ( ὃν προέθετο θεὸςεἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὑτοῦ), and would prefer it also in such passages as Mark 7:35; Luke 12:34; Luke 19:15; Romans 14:14; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:2; as also here in Ephesians 1:9. See Buttm., p. 111; Win.-Moult., p. 188; Bleek, Heb., ii., p. 69.


Verse 10

Ephesians 1:10. εἰς οἰκονομίαν: unto a dispensation. This expresses the end which God had in view in that which He purposed. Some (Erasm., Calv., etc.) give εἰς the temporal sense of usque ad. But the idea is rather the more definite one of design. God had His reason for the long delay in the revelation of the “mystery”. That reason lay in the fact that the world was not ripe for the dispensation of grace which formed the contents of the mystery. In classical Greek the word οἰκονομία had the two meanings of (a) administration, the management of a house or of property, and (b) the office of administrator or steward. It was used of such things as the arrangement of the parts of a building (Vitruv., i., 2), the disposition of the parts of a speech (Quint., Inst., iii., 3), and more particularly of the financial administration of a city (Arist., Pol., Ephesians 3:14; cf. Light., Notes, sub voc.). It has the same twofold sense in the NT—an arrangement or administration of things (in the passages in the present Epistle and in 1 Timothy 1:4), and the office of administrator—in particular the stewardship with which Paul was entrusted by God (1 Corinthians 9:17; Colossians 1:25). The idea at the basis of the statement here, therefore, as also in the somewhat analogous passage in Galatians 4:1-11, is that of a great household of which God is the Master and which has a certain system of management wisely ordered by Him. Cf. the figure of the Church as the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:2-6; 1 Peter 4:17), and the parables which run in terms of God as οἰκοδεσπότης (Matthew 13:27; Matthew 20:1; Matthew 20:11; Matthew 21:33; Luke 13:25; Luke 14:21).— τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν: of the fulness of the times. That is, a dispensation belonging to the fulness of the times. The gen. cannot be the gen. objecti (Storr, etc.), nor the epexegetic gen. (Harl.), but must be that of characteristic quality, “a dispensation proper to the fulness of the times” (Mey.), or it may express the relation of time, as in ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς (Romans 2:5), κρίσις μεγάλης ἡμέρας (Judges 1:6). In Galatians 4:4 the phrase takes the more general form τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου; here it has the more specific form τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν καιρῶν, the fulness of the seasons, or series of appointed, determinate times. The idea of the fitness of the times, it is probable, is also expressed by the καιρῶν as distinguished from χρόνων, the former being a qualitative term, the latter a quantitative (see Light., Notes, p. 70). Cf. Hebrews 1:1, and especially the πεπλήρωται καιρός of Mark 1:15. In classical Greek πλήρωμα appears to have both the passive sense, “that which is filled,” and the active, “that which fills”. The former is rare, the latter is sufficiently common. See Lidd. and Scott, Lex., and Rost u. Palm., Worth., sub voce. In the NT likewise it seems to have both senses (though this is questioned); the passive being found in the great doctrinal passages in the Pauline Epistles (Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:13, etc.), the active occurring more frequently and in a variety of applications (Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21; Mark 6:43; Mark 8:20; Romans 11:12; 1 Corinthians 10:26). With reference to time it means “complement”—the particular time that completes a long prior period or a previous series of seasons. The purport of the statement, therefore, appears to be this: God has His household, the kingdom of heaven, with its special disposition of affairs, its οἰκονόμος or steward (who is Christ), its own proper method of administration, and its gifts and privileges intended for its members. But these gifts and privileges could not be dispensed in their fulness while those for whom they were meant were under age (Galatians 4:1-3) and unprepared for them. A period of waiting had to elapse, and when the process of training was finished and the time of maturity was reached the gifts could be bestowed in their completeness. God, the Master of the House, had this fit time in view as the hidden purpose of His grace. When that time came He disclosed His secret in the incarnation of Christ and introduced the new disposition of things which explained His former dealings with men and the long delay in the revelation of the complete purpose of His grace. So the Fathers came to speak of the incarnation as the οἰκονομία (Just., Dial., 45, 120; Iren., i., 10; Orig., C. Cels., ii., 9, etc.). This “œconomy of the fulness of the seasons,” therefore, is that stewardship of the Divine grace which was to be the trust of Christ, in other words, the dispensation of the Gospel, and that dispensation as fulfilling itself in the whole period from the first advent of Christ to the second. In this last respect the present passage differs from that in Galatians 4:4. In the latter “the fulness of the time” appears to refer definitely to the mission of Christ into the world and His work there. Here the context (especially the idea expressed by the next clause) extends the reference to the final completion of the work—and the close of the dispensation at the Second Coming.— ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι: to sum up. Or, having regard to the Middle Voice, “to sum up for Himself”. The sentence thus introduced is one of the select class of passages which refer to the cosmical relations of Christ’s Person or Work. It is one of great doctrinal importance. Its exact import, however, is very differently understood by different interpreters. Every word in it requires attention. There is first the question of its precise relation to the paragraph of which it forms part. The inf. is taken by most (Mey., Ell., etc.) to be the epexegetic inf., conveying something complementary to, or explanatory of, the preceding statement, and so = “namely (or to wit), to sum up”. It is that inf., however, in the particular aspect of consequence or contemplated result = “so as to sum up” (so Light.; cf. Win.-Moult., pp. 399, 400). But with what part of the paragraph is this complementary sentence immediately connected? The doctrinal significance of the sentence depends to a considerable extent on the answer to the question, and the answer takes different forms. Some understand the thing which is explained or complemented to be the whole idea contained in the statement from γνωρίσας onwards, “at once the content of the μυστήριον, the object of the εὐδοκία, and the object reserved for the οἰκ.” (Abb.). Others limit it to the μυστήριον (Bez., Harl., Kl(55)), or to the προέθετο (Flatt, Hofm.). Others understand it to refer to the εὐδοκίαν in particular, the ἣνκαιρῶν clause being regarded as a parenthesis (Alf., Haupt); and others regard it as unfolding the meaning of the immediately preceding clause—the οἰκονομίαν τ. π. τ. κ. (Mey., etc.). The last seems to be the simplest view, the others involving more or less remoteness of the explanatory sentence from the sentence to be explained. So the point would be that the œconomy, the new order of things which God in the purpose of His grace had in view for the fulness of the seasons, was one which had for its end or object a certain summing up of all things. But in what sense is this summing up to be understood? The precise meaning of this rare word ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι has to be looked at. In the classics it is used of repeating summarily the points of a speech, gathering its argument together in a summary form. So Quintilian explains the noun ἀνακεφαλαίωσις as rerum repetitio et congregatio (vi., 1), and Aristotle speaks of the ἔργον ῥητορικῆς as being ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι πρὸς ἀνάμνησιν (Frag., 123). In late Greek the verb means also to present in compendious form or to reproduce (Protev. fac., 13). The simple verb κεφαλαιοῦν in the classics denotes in like manner to state summarily, or bring under heads (Thuc. iii., 67, vi., 91, etc.), and the noun κεφάλαιον is used in the sense of the chief point (Plato, Laws, 643 D), the sum of the matter (Pind., P., 4, 206), a head or topic in argument (Dionys. Hal., De Rhet., x., 5), a recapitulation of an argument (Plato, Tim., 26, etc.). In the NT the verb ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι occurs only twice, namely here and in Romans 13:9; in which latter passage it is used of the summing up of the various commandments in the one requirement of love to one’s neighbour. The simple verb κεφαλαιοῦν occurs only once, viz., in Mark 12:4, where it has the sense of wounding in the head; but the text is uncertain there, TTrWH reading ἐκεφαλίωσαν with (56) (57) (58), etc. The noun κεφάλαιον is found twice, viz., in Acts 22:28, where it has the sense of a sum of money (as in Leviticus 6:5; Numbers 5:7; Numbers 31:26), and in Hebrews 8:1, where it means the chief point in the things that the writer has been saying. The prevailing idea conveyed by these terms, therefore, appears to be that of a logical, rhetorical, or arithmetical summing up. The subsequent specification of the objects of the ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, however, makes it plain that what is in view here is not a logical or rhetorical, but a real or objective summing up. Further, as the verb comes not from κεφαλή but from κεφάλαιον, it does not refer to the summing up of things under a head, and the point of view, therefore, is not that of the Headship of Christ—which comes to distinct expression at the close of the chapter. On the other hand it does not seem necessary to limit the sense of the word (with Haupt) to the idea of a résumé or compendious presentation of things in a single person. The question remains as to the force of the prep. in the compound verb. The ἀνα is taken by many to add the idea of again, and to make the result or end in view the bringing things back to a unity which had once existed but had been lost. So it is understood by the Pesh., the Vulg., Tertull. (e.g., in his Adv. Marc., v., 17, “affirmat omnia ad initium recolligi in Christo”; in the De Monog., 5, “adeo in Christo omnia revocantur ad initium,” etc.), Mey., Alf., Abb., etc. On the other hand, Chrys. makes the compound verb equivalent to συνάψαι; and the idea of a return to a former condition is negatived by many, the ἀνα being taken to have simply the sense which it has in ἀναγινώσκειν, ἀνακρίνειν, ἀνακυκᾶν, ἀναλογίζεσθαι, ἀναμάνθανειν, etc., and to express the idea of “going over the separate elements for the purpose of uniting them” (Light., Notes, p. 322). Usage on the whole is on the side of the latter view, and accordingly the conclusion is drawn by some that this “summing up” is not the recovery of a broken pristine unity, but the gathering together of objects now apart and unrelated into a final, perfect unity. Nevertheless it may be said that the verb, if it does not itself definitely express the idea of the restoration of a lost unity, gets that idea from the context. For the whole statement, of which the ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι clause forms part, runs in terms of a redemption, and the cognate passage in Colossians 1:20 speaks of a final reconciliation of all things.— τὰ πάντα: all things. An all-inclusive phrase, equivalent to the totality of creation; not things only, nor yet men or intelligent beings only (although the phrase might bear that sense, cf. Galatians 3:22), but, as the context shows, all created objects, men and things. Cf. the universal expression in Colossians 1:20.— ἐν τῷ χριστῷ: in Christ, or rather “in the Christ,” the introduction of the article indicating that the term has its official sense here. The same is clearly the case in Ephesians 1:12, and, as Alford notices, the article does not seem to be attached to the term χριστός after a prep. unless some special point is in view. The point of union in this gathering together of all things is the Christ of God. In Him they are to be unified.— τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς: the things in the heavens. and the things upon the earth. Or, according to the better reading and as in RV marg., the things upon the heavens, and the things upon the earth. The reading of the TR, though supported by (59) (60) (61), most cursives, Chrys., etc., must give place to τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, which is adopted by LTTrWH on the basis of (62) (63) (64) (65), etc. It is an unusual form for the compound phrase, the term ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς being ordinarily coupled with ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (cf. Ephesians 3:15; also the parallel in Colossians 1:20, where the ἐπί is poorly attested). The ἐπί in ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, however, may have the force of at, which it has in such phrases as ἐπὶ πύλῃσιν (Il., iii., 149), ἐπὶ πύργῳ (Il., vi., 431), ἐπὶ τῇ προβατικῇ (Acts 3:10-11), the heavens being regarded, as Meyer thinks, as “the stations at which the things concerned are to be found”. The phrase in its two contrasted parts defines the preceding τὰ πάντα, making the all-inclusive nature of its universality clear by naming its great divisions. It is not to be understood as referring in its first section to any particular class, spirits in heaven, departed saints of Old Testament times, angels (as even Chrys. and Calv. thought), Jews, and in its second section specifically to men or to Gentiles. It explains the universality expressed by τὰ πάντα as the widest possible and most comprehensive universality, including the sum total of created objects, wherever found, whether men or things.— ἐν αὐτῷ: in him. Emphatic resumption of the ἐν τῷ χριστῷ and transition to the following statement, solemnly re-affirming also, as Ell. suggests, where the true point of unity designed by God, or the sphere of its manifestation, is to be found.

The passage has been supposed (Orig., Crell., etc.) to teach the doctrine of a Universal Restoration. But interpreted as above it has nothing to do with any such doctrine, whether in the sense of a final salvation of all unrighteous and unbelieving men or in that of a final recovery of all evil beings, devils and men alike. Nor, again, does it refer particularly to the case of the individual. It speaks, as Meyer notices, of the “aggregate of heavenly and earthly things,” and of that as destined to make a true unity at last. Another view of the general import of the statement, which has been elaborated with much ability by Haupt, requires some notice. Pressing to its utmost the sense of a résumé or summary, which he regards as the idea essentially contained in the terms in question, he contends that the meaning of the statement is that in Christ, who belongs at once to humanity and to the heavenly world, should be seen the compendious presentation of all beings and things—that in His person should be summarised the totality of created objects, both earthly and heavenly, so that outside Him nothing should exist. He looks for the proper parallel to this not in Colossians 1:20, but in Colossians 1:16-17, where it is said of Christ that “in Him were all things created” and that “in Him all things consist”. And he appeals in support of his view to the use of the kindred verb συγκεφαλαιοῦσθαι in Xen. (Cyr., viii., 1, 15, viii., 6, 14), where it expresses the organisation of a multitude of slaves under one representative, in whom they and their acts were so embodied that Cyrus could transact with all when dealing with the one. But the idea of Christ’s agency in the first creation and the continuous maintenance of things is not expressed in the passage in Ephesians, and while it is the pre-existent Christ that is in view in Colossians 1:16, here it is the risen Christ. It remains, therefore, that the present passage belongs to the same class as Romans 8:20-22; Colossians 1:20, etc., and expresses the truth that Christ is to be the point of union and reconciliation for all things, so that the whole creation shall be finally restored by Him to its normal condition of harmony and unity.


Verse 11

Ephesians 1:11. ἐν καὶ: in whom also we. The ͅ καί does not qualify the subjects (for there is no emphatic ἡμεῖς, nor is there any such contrast between ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς here as appears in Ephesians 1:12-13), but refers to what is expressed by the verb and presents that as something additional to what has been expressed by the preceding verb. The “we,” therefore, designates Christians inclusively, and the καί gives the sentence this force—“not only was it the purpose of God to make known the secret of His grace to us Christians, but this purpose was also fulfilled in us in point of fact and we were made His own—not only chosen for His portion but actually made that”. The AV “in whom also we” seems to follow the erroneous rendering of the Vulg., in quo etiam nos. Equally at fault are those (including even Wetstein and Harless) who limit the “we” to Jewish Christians here.— ἐκληρώθημεν: were made a heritage. The reading ἐκλήθημεν, found in a few uncials and favoured by Griesb., Lachm., Rück., may be a gloss from Romans 8:13, or possibly a simple case of mistaken transcription due to the faulty eyes of some scribe. The verb ἐκληρώθημεν is of disputed meaning here. This is its only occurrence in the NT. The compound form προσκληροῦν also occurs in the NT, but only once (Acts 17:4). In classical Greek κληροῦν means to cast the lot, to choose by lot, and to allot. Both in the classics and in the NT κλῆρος denotes a lot, and then a portion allotted. The cognate κληρονομεῖν means to get by lot, to obtain an allotted portion, and so to inherit; and κληρονομία, in the LXX often representing נַחֲלָה, signifies a property inherited, or a possession. In the OT it is used technically of the portion assigned by lot to each tribe in the promised land, and of the Holy Land itself as Israel’s possession given by God (Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 15:4). In the NT it gets the higher sense of the blessedness of the Messianic kingdom, the Christian’s destined possession in the consummation of the Kingdom of God. The affinities of κληροῦν show that it may have the definite sense of heritage. It is alleged indeed by some (e.g., Abb.) that the only idea expressed in κληροῦν is that of assigning a lot or portion, and that the notion of an inheritance does not belong to it. But the portions of land assigned by lot to the tribes of Israel on their entrance into Canaan were secured inalienably, and the lots belonging to each family were so secured to the family from father to son that it was impious to let them go into the hands of strangers (cf. the case of Naboth, 1 Kings 21:3). Thus the idea of lot or portion passed over into that of inheritance. Thus, too, in the OT the blessings of the people of God, recognised to be possessed by God’s free gift and not by the people’s merit, came to be described in terms of a heritage, and God Himself, the Giver of all, was looked to as the supreme portion of His people, the possession that made their inheritance (Psalms 16:5-11). But in the OT there was also the counter idea that Israel was the portion or inheritance of the Lord, chosen by Himself to be His peculiar possession. At times these two ideas meet in one statement (Jeremiah 10:16). The question, therefore, is—which of these two conceptions is embodied in the ἐκληρώθημεν here? Or may it be that the word has a sense somewhat different from either? Some take this latter view, understanding the word to mean appointed by lot, or elected by lot, sorte vocati sumus as the Vulg. makes it. So Syr., Goth., Chrys., Erasm., Estius, etc. So also the Genevan Version gives “we are chosen,” and the Rhemish “we are called by lot”. The point thus would be again the sovereignty of the Divine choice, the Christians in view being described as appointed to their Christian position as if by lot. But when our appointment or election is spoken of it is nowhere else said to be by lot, but by the purpose or counsel of God. Retaining, therefore, the general conception of an inheritance, some take the passive ἐκληρώθημεν for the middle, and render it simply “we have obtained an inheritance” (AV., Conyb.). The passive, however, must be accepted as a real passive, and the choice comes to be between these two interpretations: (a) we were made partakers of the inheritance, in hereditatem adsciti, enfeoffed in it (Eadie), and (b) we were made a heritage (RV), God’s λαὸς ἔγ κληρος, taken by Him as His own peculiar portion. The former is the view of Harl., Mey., Haupt, etc., and so far also of Tyndale and Cranmer, who translate “we are made heirs”. It deals with the pass. κληροῦσθαι on the analogy of such passives as πιστεύομαι, φθονοῦμαι, διακονοῦμαι; it has the advantage of being in accordance with the idea regularly conveyed by the cognate terms κληρονομία, κληρονομεῖν; and it points to a third gift of God of the same order with the previous two—forgiveness, wisdom, inheritance. The other interpretation, however—“made a heritage,” “taken for God’s inheritance”—is to be preferred (with Grot., Olsh., De Wette, Stier., Alf., etc.) as being on the whole more consistent with usage; more in harmony with the import of the other passives in the paragraph; sustained, perhaps, by the use of προσκληρουν in Acts 17:4, where the idea is rather that of being allotted to Paul as disciples than that of joining their lot (AV and RV = “consorted with”) with Paul; and, in particular, as suggested by the εἰς τὸ εἶναι that follows— εἰς τὸ ἔχειν rather than εἰς τὸ εἶναι being what would naturally follow the statement of an inheritance which we received.— προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν: having been foreordained according to the purpose. The fact that we were made the heritage of God is thus declared to have been no incidental thing, not an event belonging only to time or one having its explanation in ourselves, but a change in our life founded on and resulting from the eternal foreordaining purpose of God Himself. The purpose of God is expressed here by the term πρόθεσις, the radical idea in which is that of the setting of a thing before one. It occurs six times in the Pauline Epistles, and is not confined to one class of these, but appears alike in the Primary Epistles, the Epistles of the Captivity, and the Pastoral Epistles (Romans 8:28; Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:10). Outside these Epistles it occurs only twice in the NT, both times in Acts (Acts 11:23, Acts 27:13) and of human purpose.— τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος: of Him who worketh all things. The πάντα has the absolute sense, and is not to be restricted to the “all things” that belong to the Divine grace and redemption. The foreordination of men to a special relation to God is connected with the foreordination of things universally. The God of the chosen is the God of the universe; the purpose which is the ground of our being made God’s heritage is the purpose that embraces the whole plan of the world; and our position as the κλῆρος and possession of God has behind it both the sovereignty and the efficiency of the Will that energises or is operative in all things.— κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ: after the counsel of his will. The distinction between βουλή and θέλημα. is still much debated, scholars continuing to take precisely opposite views of it. On the one hand, there are those who hold that θέλειν and its cognates express the will as proceeding from inclination, and that βούλεσθαι and its cognates express the will as proceeding from deliberation (Grimm, Wilke, Light., etc.). On the other hand, there are those who contend that θέλειν is the form that conveys the idea of deliberation and βούλεσθαι that which carries with it the idea of inclination. In many passages it is difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate any real distinction, the terms being often used indiscriminately. But in connections like the present it is natural to look for a distinction, and in such cases the idea of intelligence and deliberation seems to attach to the βουλή. This appears to be supported by the usage which prevails in point of fact in the majority of NT passages, and in particular by such occurrences as Matthew 1:19. Here, therefore, the will of God which acts in His foreordaining purpose or decree, in being declared to have its βουλή or “counsel,” is set forth as acting not arbitrarily, but intelligently and by deliberation, not without reason, but for reasons, hidden it may be from us, yet proper to the Highest Mind and Most Perfect Moral Nature. “They err,” says Hooker, with reference to this passage, “who think that of God’s will there is no reason except His will” (Ecc. Pol., i., 2). It is also implied in this statement that the Divine foreordination, whether of things universally or of men’s lots in particular, is neither a thing of necessity on the one hand nor of caprice on the other, but a thing of freedom and of thought; and further, that the reasons for that foreordination do not lie in the objects themselves, but are intrinsic to the Divine Mind and the free determination of the Divine Will.


Verse 12

Ephesians 1:12. εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ: to the end that we should be unto the praise of His glory. The art. τῆς is inserted by the TR before δόξης, but on slender authority. It is omitted by most of the primary uncials and other important documents. On the other hand, the αὐτοῦ after δόξης is omitted by a few ancient authorities, especially (66)1(67). This clause states the ultimate end which God had in view in foreordaining us to be made His κλῆρος. It was not for our own privilege (as the Jews with their limited and exclusive ideas had misinterpreted the object of God in His election of them), but that through us His glory might be set forth. Cf. the prophetic declaration, “the people which I formed for myself, that they might set forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:21); and such passages as Psalms 144:12; Sirach 39:10; Philippians 1:11; 1 Peter 1:7. The sentence is best connected with the principal verb, not with the προορισθέντες which defines the ἐκληρώθημεν, but with the ἐκληρώθημεν itself. It is also to be taken as a whole, containing one idea, precisely as is the case with the other εἰς ἔπαινον sentences in Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:14. To break up the clause so as to take the εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς to express the end or object, further defined by the τοὺς προηλπικότας, and to make εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ an incidental or parenthetical clause, is in the highest degree artificial and out of harmony with the other sentences. The question remains as to the persons included in the ἡμᾶς—whether Christians generally, or Jews or Jewish Christians specially. In order to answer that question the force of the following clause must be determined.— τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ χριστῷ: we who had (RV marg., “have”) before trusted in Christ. Better, we, to wit, who have aforetime hoped in the Christ. The article defining the προηλπικότας is most naturally taken as placing the προηλπικότας in apposition to the ἡμᾶς and as explaining the ἡμᾶς now in view to be a particular class, and not the subjects of God’s grace generally. The attempt is made, indeed, in more than one way (e.g., by Hofm., Harl., Abb., Haupt, etc.) to construe τοὺς προηλπικότας as the predicate, so that the sense should be, “to the end that we should be those who have before hoped (or believed) in Christ”. But this is not a construction naturally suggested by the simple form of the sentence. It has also the disadvantage of not being in harmony with what is the prevalent, though not invariable, use of the article as distinguishing subject from predicate, and it turns the εἰς ἔπαινον κ. τ. λ. awkwardly into a parenthetical sentence—“to the end that we, to the praise of His glory, should be those who have before hoped in Christ”. It is to be further noticed that the προ in προηλπικότας must have its proper force, expressing a hope cherished before the event. Some understand this differently, taking the προ to express the fact that Jewish Christians preceded Gentile Christians in hoping in Christ (Beza, Grot., Beng., etc.). Others (De Wette, etc.) would make the event in view as the object of hope the second Advent of Christ, the Parousia of the Epistles. But the point appears to be that there were those, namely, pious Jews of OT times, who cherished a hope in the Christ of promise and prophecy before the appearance of Christ in history. The words are entirely appropriate as a description of those who looked for Christ before He came. The prep. ἐν is most naturally understood as is the ἐν after the simple ἐλπίζειν, e.g., in 1 Corinthians 15:19, and the ἐλπίζειν itself must have the natural sense of hoping, not believing or trusting. Yet, again, the object of the hope is here not χριστὸς, but χριστός, “the Christ,” “the Messiah”. The sense consequently is, “we, to wit, who have reposed our hope in the Christ before He appeared”. These things help us to answer the question—Who are the persons referred to? They are, say some, Christians generally, as those who hope in the Christ who is to return, and of whom it may be said, speaking of them from the standpoint of the final fulfilment at Christ’s second Advent, that they are those who have reposed their hope in the Christ who is to come. This is urged specially on the ground that, as all through the preceding paragraph Paul has spoken of things pertaining to Christians generally and has used the terms “we,” “us” of Christians without distinction, it is unreasonable to suppose that at this point he changes all and puts a restricted meaning on the ἡμᾶς. On this view the following ὑμεῖς must also be taken not as referring to a distinct class of Christians, but simply as applying to the Ephesian readers in particular what is said of all Christians as such. It must be allowed that much may be said in favour of this view. But on the other hand it is just at this point that Paul introduces a ὑμεῖς as well as a ἡμᾶς—a fact that naturally suggests a distinction between two classes; as in chap. Ephesians 2:11-22 he draws out the distinction definitely and with a purpose between two classes who became believers in the Christ in different ways and at different times. Hence it appears simplest (with Mey., etc.) to regard Paul as speaking in this clause specially of those who like himself had once been Jews, who had the Messianic prophecies and looked for the Messiah, and by God’s grace had been led to see that in Christ they had found the Messiah. In the following ὑμεῖς, therefore, he refers to those who had once been Gentiles and had come to be believers in Christ. This is supported by the explanatory nature of the clause introduced by τούς, by the proper sense of the προηλπικότας, and by the introduction of τῷ χριστῷ in place of χριστῷ.


Verse 13

Ephesians 1:13. ἐν καὶ ὑμεῖς: in whom ye also. The reading ἡμεῖς appears in certain manuscripts of importance ((68) (69) (70) (71)3, e, f, g, etc.); but the weight of documenttary authority is greatly on the side of ὑμεῖς. Taking, therefore, the καὶ ὑμεῖς, as contrasted with the previous ἡμᾶς, to refer to the readers of the Epistle as Gentiles in distinction from the writer and those whom he couples with himself as having formerly been Jews, we have in this verse and the following a paragraph which gives first a description of the evangelical standing and experience of Gentile Christians such as these Ephesians were, and then a statement of the fact that, in their case as in that of the others, God’s ultimate end in His gracious dealing with them was the praise of His glory. The opening clause, however, presents some difficulty. The sentence is left with something unexpressed, or its form is disturbed. How is it to be construed? It is natural to think first of explaining it by supplying some verb for the ὑμεῖς, and as the substantive verb is often left to be understood, some introduce ἐστέ here = “in whom ye also are,” “in whom ye also have a part” (Mey., Alf.). But the great Pauline formula ἐν χριστῷ εἶναι can scarcely be dealt with thus, the εἶναι in it has too profound a sense to allow of its being dropped and left to be understood as is possible with the ordinary substantive verb. Others, therefore, look to the immediately preceding προηλπικότας for the word that is to be supplied (Erasm. Calv., Beza, Est., etc.; and so AV “in whom ye also trusted”). But to make this applicable to Gentile believers requires us (unless the Second Advent is supposed to be the object of the hope) to supply only ἠλπίκατε not προηλπίκατε, and to give the verb the modified sense of trusting or believing. Much more may be said in favour of supplying the definite verb ἐκληρώθημεν which rules the larger sentence (Erasm. in his Paraphrase, Cornel, a Lap., Harl., Olsh., etc.) = “in whom ye also were made God’s κλῆρος, or possession”. The comparative distance of the ἐν καὶ ὑμεῖς from ἐκληρώθητε is no serious objection, especially in view of the fact that it is the definite verb, and not a qualifying participle, that is in view. There remains, however, yet another method of explanation, viz., to regard the sentence as an interrupted construction, in which the expression of the main thought, that of the ἐσφραγίσθητε, is delayed by other preliminary ideas, the second ἐν being a resumption and continuation of the first (Theod. Mops., Jer., Beng., De Wette, Rück., Bleek, Bisp., Ell., Humphrey, Abb., Von Sod., Haupt). This solution of the difficulty appears on the whole to be the best, and it has been preferred by the majority of interpreters. It seems to be favoured by the Syr., Copt. and Eth. Versions, and is adopted by the RV—“in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation—in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed”. The interruption of the regular construction in the statement of the fact of their having been “sealed” appears to be caused by the introduction of the idea of the primary Christian requirement of faith after the mention of the hearing. It is objected that the distance between the one ἐν and the other is much less than is usual in such cases, and that in a resumption we should expect not ἐν καί, but ἐν καὶ ὑμεῖς. But anacoloutha are quite in Paul’s way, and they are not all of one type or one extension (cf. Win.-Moul., p. 704), and the καί (minus the ὑμεῖς) is appropriate as giving an ascensive force to the πιστεύσαντες. This view of the construction has the advantage also of enabling us to retain substantially the same sense for the ἐν in these three occurrences (Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 1:13), and it makes the defining participles ἀκούσαντες (with its clause) and πιστεύσαντες important preparations for the statement of privilege in the ἐσφραγίσθητε, each contributing something proper in its own place to the order of ideas. Hence both the first ἐν and the second are to be connected with the ἐσφραγίσηθητε = “in whom, on hearing and believing, ye were sealed”; it being in Christ, in virtue of our union with Him, that we receive the gift of the Spirit.— ἀκούσαντες: having heard (or, on hearing). This comes in its proper order, the first in the series of things, preparing the way for the sealing of the Spirit. In the narratives of cases of reception into the Christian Church in the Book of Acts we discover this order of grace: hearing, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37-38), or hearing, faith, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:6; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:17). Yet this is not an invariable order. Sometimes only hearing, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:5-6) are mentioned; and in such instances as those of Paul (Acts 9:17) and the men of Cæsarea (Acts 10:44-47), the gift of the Holy Ghost appears to have preceded the administration of baptism. On the importance of hearing, that is, access to the preached word, cf. Romans 10:13-17, where the πιστεύειν is declared to come by the ἀκούειν.— τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας: the word of the truth. The λόγος here is evidently the word of preaching, and it is said to be “of the truth,” not with any particular reference, as Meyer justly observes, to the OT word as one that dealt with types and shadows rather than realities (Chrys.), or to the word of heathenism as the word of error (Corn. a Lap., etc.), but in the sense in which our Lord Himself spoke of the truth and the word (John 17:17; cf. Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 2:17). The gen. is not that of apposition (Harl.), but the gen. objecti, “the word concerning the truth;” or, as Ell. suggests, the gen. of ethical substance or ethical content, “the word of which the truth is the very essence, or content”.— τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν: the gospel of your salvation. Further definition of “the word of the truth”. The preached word which has the truth for its essential content is that which brought you the good tidings of salvation. Here, again, the gen. is not that of appos. or identity (Harl., etc.), but most probably that of content or subject matter (Mey., Ell., etc.). Elsewhere we have the εὐαγγέλιον defined as that of the Kingdom (Matthew 9:35), of God (Romans 1:1), of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14), of Christ, Jesus Christ, His Son, etc. (Romans 1:1; Romans 1:9; Romans 1:16; Mark 1:1), of peace (Ephesians 6:15), of the grace of God (Acts 20:24), of the glory of the blessed God (1 Timothy 1:11), of the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Nowhere in the NT is the word εὐαγγέλιον used so frequently and in such a variety of applications as in the Pauline Epistles. It is never used in Luke’s Gospel, in John’s Gospel or Epistles, in Hebrews, or in James; in Matthew’s Gospel it occurs four times, in Mark eight times, in Acts twice, in Peter once, and in the Apocalypse once. The noun σωτηρία, which has so large a place in the rest of the Pauline writings, is of rare occurrence in these Epistles of the Captivity. It is found thrice in the Epistle to the Philippians, but only once in this profound Epistle to the Ephesians (in Ephesians 6:17 we have the other form τὸ σωτήριον), and not even once in the sister Epistle to the Colossians.— ἐν :—in whom, I say. With the former ἐν the writer turned from the case of those like himself who, having been Jews, had been made God’s κλῆρος in Christ, to that of Gentiles like these Ephesians who also had been made partakers of God’s grace in Christ, though in a different way, not as having had the hope of the Jews in a promised Messiah, but simply as having heard the word of Christian preaching. The particular gift of grace which it was in his mind to state as bestowed on these Gentile Christians was the sealing of the Spirit. With this second ἐν , “—in whom, I say,” he takes up the statement which had been interrupted by the mention of the way in which they had come to receive the grace, and brings it (with a further reference to the antecedents to the sealing) to its intended conclusion. This ἐν , therefore, is not to be dealt with differently from the former and made to relate to the εὐαγγέλιον, as if = “in which Gospel having also believed, ye were sealed” (Mey.). It simply continues the idea of the previous ἐν , expressing the fact that the grace which came to the Gentile who heard the word of preaching, like the grace which came to the Jew who had the Messianic hope, was bestowed “in Christ,” and had its ground in Him.— καὶ πιστεύσαντες: having also believed. The καί belongs not to an implied ὑμεῖς but to the πιστεύσαντες. It is the ascensive καί, adding to the first condition of hearing the second and higher of believing. The object of the πιστεύσαντες is the previous λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, “having also believed that word of preaching;” not the , “believing also in whom” (Calv., Bez., Mey.). In Biblical Greek the phrase πιστεύειν ἔν τινι is of very rare occurrence, especially in the sense of believing or confiding in a person (Psalms 78:22; Jeremiah 12:6). In Mark 1:1 it has τὸ εὐαγγέλιον as the object. In John 3:15 both the reading and the connection are uncertain; in John 16:30 the idea is “by this”. The πιστεύσαντες here expresses something prior to the fact conveyed by the definite verb, not contemporaneous with it (Harl.). The sealing was in Christ ( ἐν ), and it followed on their πίστις.— ἐσφραγίσθητε: ye were sealed. The verb σφραγίζειν (= חָתַס) in the NT expresses several distinct ideas, e.g., confirming or authenticating (John 3:32; John 6:27; cf. σφραγίς in Romans 4:11; 1 Corinthians 9:2); securing (Matthew 27:66; Revelation 20:3); keeping secret (Revelation 10:4; Revelation 22:10; cf. σφραγίς in Revelation 5:1-2; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 6:1; Revelation 8:1, etc.); marking as one’s possession or as destined for something (Revelation 8:3-8; cf. σφραγίς in 2 Timothy 3:4; Revelation 9:4). Here and in Ephesians 4:30 the idea seems to be either that of authenticating or certifying them to be of God’s heritage, or that of marking them as such. The two ideas are near akin. The latter will be more applicable, if (with Theophyl., Chrys., Cornel. a Lap., Alf., etc.) we take the attestation to be the objective attestation to others, the evidence to our fellows that we are the chosen of God; the former, if (with Mey., Ell., etc.) we take it to be the attestation to our own consciousness. This hope or assurance which is given to ourselves seems rather in view here (cf. Romans 8:16). There is no reason to suppose that there is any allusion here to any peculiar use of the seal whether in Jewish custom or in heathen religious service. Nor is the rite of Baptism specially referred to. In ecclesiastical Greek, indeed, baptism came to be denoted by the term σφραγίς; but there is no instance of that in the NT. The terms σφραγίς, σφραγίζειν, are used in the Pauline Epistles of circumcision (Romans 4:11), of the contribution from Macedonia and Achaia (Romans 15:28), of the Corinthians as the witnesses to Paul’s apostleship (1 Corinthians 9:2), of the inward certification of believers (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30), and of the destination or ownership of the Church or congregation of believers (2 Timothy 2:19).— τῶ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ: with the Holy Spirit of promise. The Spirit is that by which (instrumental dative) the sealing is effected; and that Spirit is called the Spirit of promise, not in the active sense of bringing or confirming the promise (Calv., Bez., etc.), but in the passive sense of having been announced by the promise, or being the object or content of the promise in the OT. The τῷ ἁγίῳ, thrown emphatically to the end of the clause, designates the Spirit solemnly in respect of the essential personal quality of holiness. Taken together with the general tenor of the paragraph and with the fact that in the ὑμεῖς Gentile Christians as a whole are addressed, and not any select number or class, it is clear that what is in view here is not the extraordinary or miraculous gifts of the Spirit, but that bestowal of the Spirit in which all believers shared, which was the subject of the great OT prophecies (Joel 3:1-5; Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:26; Ezekiel 39:29; Zechariah 12:10), and of which a new heart, a new spirit, was to be the result.


Verse 14

Ephesians 1:14. ὅς ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν: which is an earnest of our inheritance. So with the RV, rather than “who is the earnest,” etc., of the AV. The reading is preferred by Lachm., Alf., WH, etc., as supported by (72) (73) (74) (75), Athan., Cyr., Chrys., etc. The TR is the reading of (76) (77) (78), Thdrt., Damasc., Theophyl., etc.; the masc. form being due to attraction to the following ἀρραβών, as, e.g., in τῷ σπέρματί σου ὅς ἐστι χριστός, Galatians 3:16. The word ἀρραβών (or ἀραβών, the form preferred by Tisch. and regarded by WH as only Western, cf. Westcott and Hort’s New Testament in Greek, II., App., p. 148) is the LXX reproduction of the Heb. צֲרָבוֹן which occurs in Genesis 38:17-18; Genesis 38:20 and is rendered “pledge”. It is found in classical Greek of earlier date than the LXX (e.g., Isaeus, De Cir. her., 23; Aristotle, Pol., i., 11; Menander, Frag. Com. (Meineke), iv., pp. 268, 283; etc., cf. Light., Notes, ut sup., p. 323), and is supposed, therefore, to have come from the Phœnicians into Greek use. At an early date it was introduced also into Latin, but by what channel we know not. In Latin it occurs in the three forms-arrabo, rabo (e.g., in Plautus, Truc., iii., 20), and arra (e.g., Aul. Gell., xvii., 2). It survives in the forms arra, arrhes in the languages most directly derived from the Latin; as also in our arles, the obsolete English earlespenny, etc. Etymologically, it appears to have expressed the idea of exchange, and so its primary sense may have been that of a “pledge” simply. But it came to mean more than ἐνέχυρον, or pledge, in the sense of something exchanged between two parties to a contract or agreement. Its proper sense is that of earnest—part of the price to be received or part of the thing that is to be possessed, given in assurance that the full payment or the complete possession will follow. Wycl. gives “ernes”; the Rhemish, “pledge”; Tynd., Cran., and the Genevan, “earnest”. The idea is similar to that elsewhere expressed by ἀπαρχή, “first-fruits” (Romans 8:23). The “earnest of the Spirit” is mentioned by itself in 2 Corinthians 5:5; in 1 Corinthians 1:22, as here, it is introduced along with the sealing of the Spirit. To the truth expressed by the latter it adds the higher idea that the believer possesses already in reality, though but in part, the life of the future; the inheritance of the present and the inheritance of the future differing not in kind but only in degree, so that even now we have the life and blessedness of the future in the way of foretaste. It is doubtful whether the term is also meant to suggest the idea of obligation on the believer’s side, as Light. thinks, who takes it to intimate that “the Spirit has, as it were, a lien upon us”.— εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν: unto the redemption. The “unto” of the RV is to be preferred to the “until” of the AV. The clause is to be connected not with the ὅς ἐστιν ἀρραβών, κ. τ. λ., but with the main statement, viz., the ἐσφραγίσθητε, and the εἰς expresses not the idea of time but that of purpose. It is the first of two purposes which God is here declared to have had in sealing them. In that operation of His grace God had it in view to make them certain of the complete redemption which was to come at the consummation of the Kingdom of God. The ἀπολύτρωσις here, as the tenor of the passage plainly indicates, is the final, perfected redemption, as in Ephesians 4:30, Romans 8:23, and probably 1 Corinthians 1:30.— τῆς περιποιήσεως: of the possession. The “purchased possession” of the AV is less apt, as the verb περιποιεῖσθαι expresses the general idea of preserving, acquiring, gaining for oneself, without specific reference to a price. But what is the import of the phrase here? The form of the noun περιποίησις and its use point to the active sense, preserving, acquiring. In 2 Chronicles 14:13 it is said of the Ethiopians that they fell ὥστε μὴ εἶναι ἐν αὐτοῖς περιποίησιν, so “that they could not recover themselves” (RV text), or, “so that none remained alive” (RV marg.). The word occurs in the NT five times in all (Ephesians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 10:39; 1 Peter 2:9). In three of these instances it certainly has the active sense (1 Thessalonians 5:9, περιπ. σωτηρίας; 2 Thessalonians 2:14, περιπ. δόξης; Hebrews 10:39, περιπ. ψυχῆς), and it would be most natural to take it in that sense here. But it is difficult to adjust that to the genitive case dependent on the ἀπολύτρωσιν. The most plausible rendering on that view is that proposed by Abbott, viz., “a complete redemption which will give possession”. The noun may be taken, however, in the passive sense, and a more natural meaning results. Some then understand it of the inheritance we are to possess. So Aug. and Calv. make it = haereditas acquisita; Matthies, “the promised glorious possession”; Bleek, “the redemption which is to become our possession”. So, too, Macpherson takes the “possession” to be the “inheritance of the saints” here, as he takes the previous ἐκληρώθημεν to mean “made possessors of our lot”. But all becomes plainer if we understand the idea to be rather that of God’s possession in us, the περιποίησις being taken as the equivalent of the OT סְגֻלָּה מִבָּל־הָצַמִּיס, סגֻלָה, by which Israel is designated as the possession acquired by the Lord for Himself (Exodus 19:5; cf. Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18; Psalms 135:4). It is true that the LXX rendering of סְגֻלָּה is usually περιούσιος. But that is not the only form that is adopted. In Psalms 135:4 the phrase is εἰς περιουσιασμὸν ἑαυτῷ; and in Malachi 3:17, where Aquila has περιούσιος, the LXX has εἰς περιποίησιν. Further, in Isaiah 43:21 the same idea is expressed by the corresponding verb— λαόν μου ὃν περιεποιησάμην (cf. Acts 20:28, τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ ἣν περιεποιήσατο). So, too, Peter, with this passage in view, describes the spiritual Israel of the NT as λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν (1 Peter 2:9); while in Titus 2:14, again, we have λαὸν περιούσιον. This interpretation is that of the Syriac, Erasm., Calvin, etc., and it is preferred by most recent commentators, including Harless, Meyer, Ell., Alf., etc. It is adopted also by the RV, which renders it “God’s own possession”. Wycliffe, however, gives “purchasynge”; the Genevan, “that we might be fully restored to liberty”; the Rhemish, “the redemption of acquisition”; the AV, Tyndall and Cranmer give “the purchased possession”.— εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ: unto the praise of his glory. The second end of the sealing, or rather the second aspect of the ultimate purpose of God in the sealing. The final end on our side of that great act of grace is the consummation of the redemption of those who have been made God’s own people. On God’s side the final end of the same grace is “the praise of His glory”—the adoring confession of the glories of the Divine Nature and Mind so revealed to men. The αὐτοῦ refers to the main subject here, not Christ in whom we obtain the grace, but God by whom it is willed—the Eternal Origin of all.


Verse 15

Ephesians 1:15. διὰ τοῦτο κἀγώ: For this cause I too. διὰ τοῦτο might cover the contents of the entire preceding paragraph, pointing back to Ephesians 1:3 and indicating that in his thanksgiving to God, in behalf of these Ephesians, the Apostle had in his mind the whole counsel and eternal choice of God of which he first made mention, and the whole operation of grace in the lives of the Ephesians in the several particulars afterwards instanced. In view, however, of the transition from the more general “us” to the more definite “ye also” in Ephesians 1:13 it is probably more accordant with the tenor of thought to take the διὰ τοῦτο to refer to the signal manifestation of God’s grace in the sealing of these believers, who had been taken from the dark pagan world, with the Spirit which was both assurance and foretaste of an inheritance undreamt of in their heathenism. The κἀγώ is best explained by the same καὶ ὑμεῖς. It means simply “I on my side,” and does not imply as some, including, even Meyer, suppose, that the writer was thinking of a co-operation between those addressed and himself in thanksgiving and prayer.— ἀκούσας τὴν καθʼ ὑμᾶς πίστιν ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ ἰησοῦ: having heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus. It has been wrongly inferred from the ἀκούσας that the writer had no personal acquaintance with those addressed and knew of their conversion only by the report of others. Philemon was well known to Paul, who spake of him indeed as his ἀγαπητός, his συνεργός, and his son in the faith (Ephesians 1:19). Yet Paul uses with reference to him almost the same terms as those used here— εὐχαριστῶμνείαν σου ποιούμενοςἀκούων σου τὴν ἀγάπην καὶ τὴν πίστιν κ. τ. λ. (Ephesians 1:4-5). Besides, what the writer speaks of here is not their conversion but their faith and love, and it is only in harmony with all that we know of Paul that he should have used every opportunity of keeping himself in communication with them and watching their progress. Through Tychicus, or some other visitor or messenger, tidings of their Christian walk may have come to him now (cf. Introduction). In any case he finds his first and foremost reason for thanksgiving in the report of the way in which the fundamental Christian requirement was made good among them—that of faith, their faith in the Lord Jesus Himself. The phrase here is not the usual τὴν ὑμετέραν πίστιν, or τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν, but τὴν καθʼ ὑμᾶς πίστιν. The sense, however, is substantially the same. Some good grammarians indeed seek to establish a distinction between the two phrases, and claim a special partitive or distributive sense for the one with κατά. Ellicott, e.g., points to the fact that the form καθʼ ὑμᾶς πίστις is adopted only once by Paul, while πίστις ὑμῶν occurs some seventeen times in his Epistles, and concludes on the whole that the former may denote “the faith of the community viewed objectively,” “the faith which is among you,” whereas the latter expresses “the subjective faith of individuals”. Alford, also, gives the former the sense of the “faith which prevails among you” (on the analogy of τῷ κατʼ αὐτοὺς βίῳ in Thuc., vi., 16), and takes it to imply that some in the Ephesian Church may not have had the faith. So the RV gives in its text “the faith … which is among you”; marg., “in you”. But the analogies referred to (e.g., τῷ νόμῳ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ, John 8:17, as contrasted with νόμου τοῦ καθʼ ὑμᾶς in Acts 18:15; cf. Ell.) scarcely bear this out, and there is much to show that the latter form had become, or was on the way to become, simply a periphrasis for the former. Such phrases as ὡς καί τινες τῶν καθʼ ὑμᾶς ποιητῶν; the above νόμου τοῦ καθʼ ὑμᾶς; and τῶν κατὰ ἰουδαίους ἐθῶν (Acts 17:28; Acts 18:15; Acts 26:3) may be thus explained; and in later Greek κατά with an acc. is frequently used where the older classical Greek would have had the gen. case, e.g., κατὰ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀπόθεσις = the resignation of government, Diod., S., i., 65. So, while in the NT κατά may usually retain its distributive force, in cases where it is followed by the acc. of a personal pronoun it may mean nothing more than the poss. adj. or the gen. of the personal pronoun. As Buttmann points out, strictly speaking it is not so much that “the case was periphrased but that the prepositional phrase displaced the simple case”; as it was easy for the Greek language to make prepositional phrases dependent immediately upon substantives, and natural, therefore, for it in its later developments to carry this further and employ “prepositional expressions even where the earlier language still preferred the simple case” (Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 156; cf. Bernhardy’s Syntax, p. 241; Win.-Moult., pp. 199, 241, 499; Blass, Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 133).— καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους: and your love toward all the saints. The reading is uncertain. The Received Text inserts τὴν ἀγάπην, which has the support of such authorities as (79) (80) (81) (82) (83), Syr., Boh., Lat., Copt., Goth., Thdrt., etc., and is adopted by Tisch, and Tregelles (the latter bracketing it in margin). It is regarded by WH as a Western and Syrian insertion from Colossians 1:4. The τὴν ἀγάπην is omitted by (84) (85) (86) (87), 17, Orig., Cyr., Jer., etc., and is deleted by Lach., WH and RV. The documentary evidence is on the side of the omission. But the difficulty is to find in that case a suitable sense. Hort thinks that Philemon 1:5 furnishes a parallel, as it might be rendered (with RV marg.) “hearing of thy love and faith which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints”. But the love is expressed there. Dale would render it “having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ which is among you and shown toward all the saints,” as if the point of the latter clause was the reality or manifestation of the faith. But in the Greek there is nothing corresponding to the “shown”. The πίστις, in short, if it belongs to both clauses, must be introduced in two different aspects, as belief in the first clause and as faithfulness in the second. But in the absence of any intimation of a double presentation of πίστις this is awkward exceedingly. The Revisers nevertheless render it—“the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and which ye shew toward all the saints”. The insertion in any case is of early date, and the omission may have been due to the eye of some ancient scribe being deceived by the two occurrences of τὴν. The grace in question, whether their love or their faithfulness, was of catholic quality, taking all the saints for its objects.


Verses 15-23

Ephesians 1:15-23. SECOND SECTION OF THE EPISTLE: in which the writer expresses his own feelings and desires towards the Ephesians, and in doing so leads them to the highest conception both of Christ’s own supremacy and of the grandeur of that Church of His of which they had been made members. The wonders of the grace thus shown them give him occasion, he tells them, for increasing thanksgiving. But his thanksgiving also prompts him to prayer on their behalf. Seeing to what they had already attained in the Christian life into which that marvellous grace had brought them, especially in faith and in brotherly love, his prayer is that they may increase in these yet more and more, and in particular that they may have an enlarging insight into the hope that springs from their calling, the inheritance which is reserved for them, and the present power of Christ which is the guarantee for all that they have and look for.


Verse 16

Ephesians 1:16. οὐ παύομαι εὐχαριστῶν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν: cease not to give thanks for you. The παύομαι is most naturally connected with the nearer participle. There is no reason why the remoter participle should be made the leading term, as some construe it, rendering it so—“I cease not, while giving thanks for you, to make mention,” etc. (Abbott). The verb εὐχαριστεῖν, which is used in later Greek both in the sense of feeling thankful and in that of giving thanks, occurs in none of the NT Epistles except in that bearing Paul’s name. In these it is found some twenty-six times. It also appears once in Revelation, twice in Acts, and more frequently in the Gospels.— μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιούμενος: making mention of you. Documentary evidence is against the insertion of ὑμῶν. Though it is supported by considerable authorities ((88) (89) (90) (91), Vulg., Syr., Boh., Orig., etc.), it has no place in (92) (93) (94) (95)1, etc., and is omitted by LTTrWH and the Revisers. The subject of the μνεία, therefore, must be understood. It may be ὑμῶν, or it may rather be the preceding πίστιν and ἀγάπην. In the phrase μνείαν ποιεῖσθαι the noun seems to have the sense of mention. In other connections it has the sense of mindfulness ( μνείαν ἔχειν τινός, 1 Thessalonians 3:6) or that of remembrance (Philippians 1:3).— ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου: in my prayers, On ἐπί as here = in see Blass, Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 137; Win.-Moult., p. 470; Bernh., Synt., p. 246. The local reference proper to ἐπί (as the preposition answering the question Where?), however, is not wholly sunk in the temporal sense. See Ell. on 1 Thessalonians 1:2. Winer takes it to express the idea of something attaching itself to something else. The word for prayer used here is one of frequent occurrence in the NT, sometimes joined with δέησις (e.g., Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6, etc.), and sometimes with ἔντευξις as well (1 Timothy 2:1). The most general term is προσευχή = precatio, and that term is not used but of prayer to God. δέησις, which can be used also of addresses to men, has the more definite sense of petitio, rogatio; while ἔντευξις, which means a falling in with, conference, conversation, and goes beyond the idea of intercession (as our AV renders it), expresses prayer as the converse of the soul with God, with the notion of urgency and filial confidence. See Huther and Ell. on 1 Timothy 2:1; Win.-Moult., sub δέησις; Light. on Philippians 4:6; Trench, Syn., sub voce.


Verse 17

Ephesians 1:17. ἵνα θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the parallel passage in Colossians 1:9 the ἵνα is preceded immediately by αἰτούμενοι, and has the reduced or sub-telic force which it has after verbs of asking, expressing the content of the prayer, but that in the light of purport. Here the ἵνα relates to the general idea of the sentence, instead of being immediately dependent on any verb for asking. It has more of the idea of purpose, therefore, in it. It is to be admitted, however, that in NT Greek the proper telic sense of ἵνα is seen in the process of weakening and passing over into the force of ἵνα as the sign of the inf. in modern Greek. Yet, even when expressing simple result or event, it has behind it the Hebrew idea of events as the results of Divine purpose cf. Blass, Gram. of N.T. Greek, pp. 224, 225; Buttm., Gram. of N.T. Greek, pp. 236–241; Ell. on Philippians 1:9. It is most usual for Paul to speak of God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ or as His God and Father. Here he speaks simply of “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The designation, though misunderstood and misapplied by the Arians and their successors in modern times, is entirely consistent with Christ’s own words (Matthew 27:46; John 20:17) and with the highest view of His Person. In the Eternal Godhead the Son has His life from the Father, the One Fount of Deity, and is subordinate in the sense in which son is subordinate to father, while He has the same Divine being. In the ministry of redemption our Lord, while the Son of the Eternal Father, is the Christ of God, God being revealed in Him, sending Him (Galatians 4:4), exalting Him (Philippians 2:9), receiving back the kingdom from Him (1 Corinthians 15:24). In respect of His mission, His mediation, His official work and relations, He has God as His God, whose commission He bears and whose redeeming purpose He is to fulfil.— πατὴρ τῆς δόξης: the Father of glory. This is not to be taken in the reduced sense of “the glorious Father”. On the other hand it is not to be dealt with as if the δόξα referred to Christ’s divinity, as in the exigencies of the controversy with Arian views some were driven to interpret it, arguing that the one phrase, “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,” applied to His human nature and the other, “the Father of the glory,” to His divine nature (Athan., Greg. Naz.). Nor yet, again, is δόξα to be regarded as referring to Christ’s glorified humanity (Stier). Taking the δόξης in its proper sense and with the full force of the gen. case, some give the πατήρ the sense of author or maker, understanding God to be designated as the Source of glory (Erasm., Grot., Olsh., etc.). For this some appeal to such instances as Job 38:28; James 1:17. But that is at the best a rare sense of πατήρ and one otherwise unknown to Paul. More is to be said in favour of the idea that the gen. designates God as the Father who gives glory, the glory bestowed on Christ Himself (cf. Acts 3:13) no less than that reserved for Christians. It is best, however, to take it as the gen. of characteristic quality—the Father to whom glory belongs (Mey., Ell., etc.); cf. the same designation in Psalms 29:3; Acts 7:2; also “the King of glory,” Psalms 24:7; “the Lord of glory,” 1 Corinthians 2:8; “the cherubims of glory,” Hebrews 9:5, etc. The appropriateness of the title here lies in the preceding definition of the final end of God’s counsel and grace— εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ.— δῴη ὑμῖν: may give unto you. Lachm., Fritzsche (Rom., iii. 230) and Haupt (who refers to the confirmation furnished recently by two inscriptions of the second century given in Dittenb., Syll., 46217, 4669) give the Ionic conj. δώῃ; WH give δώῃ vel δῷ in the margin, but δῴη in the text. The latter form is to be preferred, although opinion is still divided to some extent on the conj. and opt. forms. Blass, e.g., takes the δώῃ in the present passage to be really a conj. and to be best represented by the δῷ of Cod. B. He is inclined to regard the forms δοῖ, δώῃ as both conj. and opt. (Gram. of N.T. Greek, pp. 49, 211). As in the NT ἵνα in the vast majority of cases is followed by the conj. or the fut. indic. even after past tenses, it would be most natural to accept the conj. form here. But this Ionic form of the conj. appears to be strange to the NT and to be “without analogies in later Greek” (Butt., Gram. of N.T. Greek, p. 46). On the other hand, the form δῴη seems to be recognised as a later Greek equivalent to δοίη, and Winer accepts it as an opt. pres. in NT Greek, pointing to such passages as Romans 15:5; 2 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:18 (Ephesians 2:7); John 15:16, as well as Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 3:16, and the comp. ἀποδῴη of 2 Timothy 4:14 (Win.-Moult, Gram., p. 94.— πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως: the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The question here is whether the πνεῦμα is to be understood in the subjective sense of our spirit, or in the objective sense of the Holy Spirit. The former view is adopted by Chrys., Thdrt., Rückert, De Wette, Bleek, and more recently by Abbott and the Revisers, the RV rendering being “a spirit of wisdom and revelation”. This is urged on the analogy of such occurrences as Romans 8:15; Romans 11:8; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 1:7. But there is much against this. As Meyer points out, it is doubtful whether in the NT there is any case in which, when the πνεῦμα is spoken of as given, it is not the objective πνεῦμα. But apart from this, the matter in view is what the Ephesians were themselves to be, not what they were to do for others, and although it is easy enough to suit the subjective view of the πνεῦμα σοφίας (“a wise spirit”) to this, the difficulty is to adjust to this the subjective view of the πνεῦμα ἀποκάλυψεως. The fatal objection, indeed, to the interpretation in question lies in the sense of the ἀποκάλυψις, which has the stated meaning not of understanding mysteries but of disclosing them; and the tenor of the paragraph makes it impossible to suppose that in the one case, that of the σοφία, Paul had in view a gift that was to make themselves wise, and in the other, the ἀποκάλυψις, a gift that was to render them capable of disclosing mysteries to others. How difficult it is to give ἀποκάλυψις its proper sense on the subjective view appears from the renderings proposed, e.g., De Wette’s, Rückert’s, or Abbott’s. The first makes it = “the quality of mind which consists in wisdom (mediate knowledge) and revelation (susceptibility for the immediate knowledge of divine truth)”; the second takes it as = “a wise heart and open for His revelation”; the third gives “a spirit of wisdom,” but leaves the rest unattempted. But ἀποκάλυψις is not a susceptibility for knowledge, nor a mind open to revelation, nor anything like that. It is necessary, therefore, to take πνεῦμα as = the Holy Spirit, with Mey., Ell., Haupt. and most. The fact that the phrase is πνεῦμα and not τὸ πνεῦμα is no objection to that. The attempts made by Middleton, Harless, and others to make out an established distinction between the two forms, the one referring regularly to the personal Spirit of God and the other to the indwelling influence of the Spirit or the spirit of the believers as ruled by the Holy Spirit, cannot be regarded as successful; the terms πνεῦμα, πνεῦμα ἅγιον, πνεῦμα θεοῦ being free to drop the article as proper names or terms of understood meaning. But what is the particular idea then in each of the two words σοφία and ἀποκάλυψις? It cannot be that the latter refers specifically to the χάρισμα of prophecy (so Olsh., etc.). For that is presented as a gift bestowed only on some, whereas the prayer here contemplates gifts for all those addressed, and there is nothing to indicate that a gift for the time being only is in view. Nor can it well be that the second noun expresses the means by which the gift intimated by the first noun was to take effect,—the gift of revelation bringing about the gift of wisdom (Harl.); for we should expect the order in that case to be reversed. The distinction between the terms is rather that of the gift of spiritual understanding generally and the gift of special revelations in particular, cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10; and so far the second is the higher idea. What Paul prays for on behalf of these Ephesian converts is that God might continue to bestow upon them the gift of His Holy Spirit already imparted to them, and that to the effect both of making them wise to understand the things of His grace and of disclosing to them more of the mysteries of His kingdom.— ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ: in the knowledge of him. The αὐτοῦ refers to God, as the context shows, not to Christ. The term ἐπίγνωσις occurs with special frequency in the Epistles of the Captivity and in 2 Peter with reference to the knowledge of God or of Christ, as in the Pastoral Epistles and Hebrews it is used of the knowledge of the truth. It means a knowledge that is true, accurate, thorough, and so might be rendered “full knowledge,” notwithstanding the fact that the simple γνῶσις may be used at times in much the same sense (as possibly in 1 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8). The use of γινώσκω and ἐπιγινώσκω in 1 Corinthians 13:12 points to the intensive sense of the compound form. The ἐν is not to be dealt with as = εἰς (Grot.) or διά (Beza), but must have either the instrumental sense or the local. It was by the knowledge of God Himself, or, as it may be better put, within the sphere of that knowledge that the gift of enlightenment and the reception of further disclosures of the Divine Counsel were to make themselves good. The only gifts desired for these converts were gifts of a spiritual order, meaning a better acquaintance with God Himself. The clause ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ is connected by some (Chrys., Lachm., Olsh., etc.) with the sentence which follows, and by others only with the ἀποκαλύψεως. But the course of thought and the balance of the terms point to it as qualifying the two gifts specified in the preceding sentence.


Verse 18

Ephesians 1:18. πεφωτισμένους τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν: the eyes of your understanding (heart) being enlightened. For the διανοίας of the TR, which is very poorly attested, καρδίας is to be read (with LTTrWHRV) on the authority of the best MSS., representing the different families ((96) (97) (98) (99) (100) (101) (102), etc.). The ὑμῶν is to be retained, though it is omitted by (103) 17, etc., and is bracketed by WH. The syntax of the sentence is difficult, but is best taken (with AV, Bez., Beng., Bleek, Mey., etc.) as an acc. absol. The existence, indeed, of the acc. absol. in the NT is still doubted by some good grammarians (Winer, Blass, etc.), and alleged cases are disposed of as anacoloutha. But such a construction, though of much rarer occurrence than the gen. absol., was not unknown to classical Greek (cf. Jelf, Gr. Gram., ii., p. 406), even where there was no repetition of the subject (cf. Mey., in loc.), and there appear to be at least a few instances of it in the NT, e.g., certainly in Acts 26:3 (admitted by Buttm., Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 347). and probably in Romans 8:3, etc. The syntax is otherwise explained here (e.g., by Harl., Stier, etc.) as a case of apposition, the ὀφθαλμούς continuing the πνεῦμα, as if = “that He may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation—enlightened eyes,” an explanation in the highest degree awkward and next to impossible in view of the τούς. The presence of the article before ὀφθαλμούς and its absence before πεφωτισμένους point to a case of tertiary predicate (Buttm.), so that the sense would rather be “give unto you the Spirit—to wit, eyes enlightened”. Others (Ell., etc.) account for it as an instance of lax construction and abnormal case (by no means rare in the NT), the πεφωτισμένους standing for πεφωτισμένοις and the τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς being the defining acc. = “that he may give unto you—being enlightened as to the eyes of your heart” (Ell., etc.). Only in biblical and ecclesiastical Greek is φωτίζω used of the inward enlightenment which means a spiritual, saving knowledge of the things of God; cf. φωτισθέντες as applied to those who had become Christians (Hebrews 6:4; Hebrews 10:32), and the subsequent use of the same term to describe the “baptised” in early Christian literature. The unusual figure of speech, “the eyes of your heart,” is peculiarly appropriate here. The gift in question is the special gift of knowledge or insight, hence the figure of the eyes. The knowledge is a spiritual knowledge; hence “the eyes of the heart,” καρδία being the “inner man,” the seat and centre of the mental and spiritual life, with special reference at times to the faculty of intelligence (Matthew 13:15; John 12:40; Acts 28:27; Romans 1:21; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 4:12, etc.).— εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι ὑμᾶς: that ye may know. The object of the enlightenment, viz., knowledge, a fuller knowledge of certain things now specified.— τίς ἐστιν ἐλπίς τῆς κλήσεως αὐτοῦ: what is the hope of his calling. The τίς is to be taken in its proper sense, not “how great” nor “of what kind,” but “what”—what the hope really and essentially is. The κλῆσις αὐτοῦ is the call of which God is the author, and that is an effectual call. In the Gospels the κλητό are contrasted with the ἐκλεκτοί, the “chosen” being the select few of the “called” (Matthew 22:14). In the Epistles the “called of God” are always those to whom the call has come with effect, who have listened to it and been made believers. The κλήσεως is best taken as the gen. of efficient cause (Mey., Ell., etc.)—the hope effected, wrought by the call. Hence the ἐλπίς is not the object hoped for (a sense which it has occasionally in the NT, e.g., Titus 2:13; Colossians 1:5; probably also Galatians 5:5; Hebrews 6:18), but the attitude of mind, the subjective hope, the assured Christian expectation.— καὶ τίς πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης τῆς κληρονομίας αὐτοῦ: [and] what the riches of the glory of his inheritance. The best critics (LTTrWHRV) omit the καί of the RV, the diplomatic evidence ((104) (105) (106) (107) (108), etc.) being decidedly against it, although it has the support of (109) (110) (111) (112) as well as certain Versions and Fathers. It does not follow from this omission, however, that we have not three distinct things mentioned in the three clauses, or that the second and third, which refer to the inheritance and the power, are only co-ordinate with the first, specifying two things relating to the ἐλπίς (so Haupt). The κληρονομία is not the inheritance which God has in us (a sense which the word seems never to have in the NT), but the inheritance which God gives to us and which is the object of our hope. The αὐτοῦ is the gen. of origin. The magnificence of this inheritance, the perfected blessedness of the Consummation, is expressed by a series of terms setting it forth in respect of the glory belonging to it and the riches pertaining to that glory, and these as qualities for the better knowledge of which a new illumination of the Spirit is desired. The δόξης and the κληρονομίας are genitives of possession or of characteristic quality.— ἐν τοῖς ἀγίοις: in the saints. How is this to be connected? Many (Harl., Rück., Olsh., Alf., etc.) attach it immediately to κληρονομίας = “the inheritance given by God among the saints,” or, as Alf. paraphrases it, “His inheritance in, whose example and fulness and embodying is in, the saints”. This would have been a more reasonable interpretation if the κληρονομίας had been followed by τῆς; in the absence of the article it would suit better if the κληρονομία could be taken as meaning God’s inheritance in us. It is best on the whole to regard the ἐν τοῖς ἀγίοις as related to the idea of the clause as a whole and as expressing the sphere within which ( ἐν = among) these riches of the glory of the inheritance are known and realised. The κληρονομία is the future inheritance, which is ours at present only in foretaste. The “saints” are the whole community of those set apart to God in Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18), and that community contemplated specially in its future completeness. This is the seat of the inheritance, or the circle within which alone it is to be found in its riches and glory.


Verse 19

Ephesians 1:19. καὶ τί τὸ ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ: and what the exceeding greatness of his power. The αὐτοῦ refers again to God, and the power of God is introduced in respect of that surpassing greatness which belongs to it alone and which is the guarantee of the fulfilment of the Christian hope. The context and the subsequent mention of the resurrection and exaltation of Christ show that it is the future of believers that is still distinctively in view. So in these three clauses Paul leads the readers on from the hope itself which becomes theirs in virtue of their being called of God, to the splendour of the inheritance to which the hope points, and from this again to that in God Himself which makes the fulfilment of the hope and the possession of the inheritance certain, namely the limitless efficiency which is His prerogative.— εἰς ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστεύοντας: to us-ward who believe. No better rendering of εἰς ἡμᾶς here could be devised than the “to us-ward” of the AV which is wisely retained by the RV. The clause is best attached to the whole thought of the preceding sentence, and not to the δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ alone. The εἰς expresses the idea of “ethical direction” (Ell.), indicating the objects toward whom this Divine power will go forth—those, namely, who are believers. The ἡμᾶς connects these Ephesian believers, in whom the Divine power has worked mightily even now (cf. the conjunction of faith and the power of God in 1 Corinthians 2:5), with that whole community of the saints which was mentioned in the former sentence as the circle within which at last the complete possession of the inheritance will be made good.— κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ: according to the working of the strength of his might. Another impressive accumulation of terms, further describing that boundless efficiency of God in which we have our security for the realisation of the hope however new, and the possession of the inheritance however rich in its glory. ἐνέργεια, which in the NT is never used but of superhuman power whether Divine (Ephesians 3:7; Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:12) or Satanic (2 Thessalonians 2:9), denotes power as efficiency, operative, energising power. κράτος is power as force, mastery, power as shown in action: ἰσχύς is power as inherent, power as possessed, but passive. The phrase, therefore, means “the efficiency of the active power which expresses inherent might”. This again is best understood as defining the whole preceding statement, not as belonging simply to the πιστεύοντας. For, while the idea that our faith is the result of God’s power, is clearly expressed elsewhere (e.g., Colossians 2:12), that is not what is in view here. The κατά is best taken here in its proper sense of measure, standard or proportion. What the clause sets before us, therefore, is that the measure of that surpassing power of God which is the guarantee of our hope, is the operation of the exertion of the might that dwells in God as seen in the historical case instanced in the following sentence, viz., the resurrection and exaltation of Christ.


Verse 20

Ephesians 1:20. ἥν ἐνήργησεν ἐν τῷ χριστῷ ἐγείρας αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν: which He wrought in the Christ when He raised Him from the dead. The ἣν refers to the preceding ἐνέργειαν. The documentary authorities vary between the ἐνήργησεν of the TR (after (113) (114) (115) (116) (117), etc.) and ἐνήργηκεν which is the reading of (118) (119), etc., and is preferred by LTTr (marg.) WH (with the other in margin). The aorist is more in keeping with the definite historical event referred to; the succeeding aorists on the other hand favour the perfect, making it the more difficult reading to account for. Here again the article with the χριστῷ may give it the official sense “the Christ”. This is the more probable in view of the use of the ἐν as well as the relation of the statement to the hope and the inheritance. The surpassing power of God was not only manifested in the case of our Lord, but was wrought in Him, and in Him not as an individual member of the race, but as “the Christ,” the Anointed of God, in whom we are represented and have our Head. The result of that working of God’s energy in Him was His resurrection from the dead—an event which, as Paul uniformly teaches, had a power not for Himself only but for us. The ἐγείρας may have the force (coincidence in time) given it by the AV and the RV, etc., “when he raised Him”; or it may be better taken as the defining, explanatory aor. (as in γνωρίσας, Ephesians 1:9), “in that He raised Him”.— καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ: and seated Him on His right hand. The ἐκάθισεν of the TR, supported by such MSS. as (120) (121) (122) (123), the Copt. and Goth. Versions, etc., must give place to καθίσας, the reading of (124) (125) (126) 17, etc., adopted by LTTrWHRV. A few authorities ((127) (128) 17, etc.) insert αὐτόν before ἐν δεξιᾷ. The exaltation to the place of honour and authority following the resurrection is a further witness to what the ἐνέργεια of God can effect.— ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις: in the heavenlies. That the phrase has the local sense here (cf. on Ephesians 1:3 above) is made abundantly clear by the terms ἐγείρας, καθίσας, ἐν δεξιᾷ—all terms with a local reference. The phrase οὐρανοῖς indeed is found instead of ἐπουρανίοις in a few ancient authorities (B, Hil., Vict.).


Verse 21

Ephesians 1:21. ὑπεράνω πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας καὶ δυνάμεως καὶ κυριότητος: over above all rule, and authority, and power, and lordship. The intensive force “far above” is given to the ὑπεράνω by Chrys., Theoph., Stier, the AV, the RV, etc. But it can scarcely be sustained in face of the actual use of the word in Hebrews 9:5 (cf. Ezekiel 43:15); the tendency of late Greek to substitute compound for simple forms without substantial change of sense; the non-intensive use of the cognate form ὑποκάτω (Mark 6:11; Luke 8:16; John 1:51); and the testimony of the Syriac and other ancient Versions, which render it simply “above” (e.g., Vulg., supra). “Over above,” therefore, is to be preferred to “far above”. The πάσης is “all” in the sense of “every,” every particular kind of ἀρχή that can be named. The terms are given in the abstract form, not as if only principles and forces were in view, and not personal powers, but because “classes or categories of personal beings are expressed, just as, e.g., ἐξουσία is said of human authorities, which consist of persons” (Mey.). The use of the abstract ἀρχαί, etc., instead of the concrete ἄγγελοι, etc., enhances the conception of the absolute, all-embracing dominion of Christ. But what manner of powers or authorities do these terms designate? The fact that the immediate subject here is the heavenlies and Christ’s position in them at once excludes such interpretations as identify these ἀρχαί, etc. with earthly powers (Morus); with every kind of dignity wheresoever found (Erasm., Olsh., etc.); with the Jewish hierarchy (Schoett.); or with the various orders of Gentile powers (van Til). The leading idea of the section and the apparent purport of similar statements (Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Romans 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22) point to the angelic world as meant. The fact that nothing is said here of Christ’s triumph over Satanic powers suggests further that only angels of good,—heavenly intelligences, are in view. Can any definite distinction then be made out between the terms? And can it be said that the enumeration means that the world of good angels has its distinct orders and grades of angelic dignity and power? The passage must be read in connection with the analogous enumerations in Ephesians 3:10; Romans 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22, and especially Colossians 1:16. Differences in the enumerations then at once appear. In Ephesians 3:10 we have only the ἀρχαί and ἐξουσίαι; in Romans 8:38, ἄγγελοι, ἀρχαί, δυνάμεις; in 1 Peter 3:22, ἄγγελοι, ἐξουσίαι, δυνάμεις. And in the most direct parallel (Colossians 1:16) we find θρόνοι, κυριότητες, ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι. The Pauline passages themselves, therefore, show no such identity either in the number or in the succession of authorities as would be consistent with a determinate doctrine of graduated orders. Nor can it be inferred from the words in Matthew 18:10 (as Meyer thinks) that such gradations are recognised by our Lord Himself. It is true that in the non-canonical writings of the Jews (e.g., Test. XII. Patr., etc.) the idea of variety of ranks among the angels appears, and that in the later Rabbinical literature it took strange and elaborate forms. But between these and the simple statements of the NT there is no real likeness, and there is nothing here to point certainly either to an ascending scale or to a descending. It is held by some indeed (e.g., Meyer) that the angelic authorities are named here according to the latter scale, beginning with the highest and proceeding to the lower and the lowest. For this two reasons are offered, viz., first that it would be natural for the writer, who has led the reader up to the right hand of God as the position possessed by Christ, to give his enumeration of the powers subject to Christ in the succession of first, second and third in rank; and second, that in the various references made to them, the ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι, δυνάμεις are given in the same order. But the former is a very precarious reason; and the latter is not valid, inasmuch as in none of the passages appealed to do we get all these three terms together (Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22). Nor is it possible to establish any clear distinction of sense and application between the four terms introduced here, such as that attempted, e.g., by Alford who, including in the list earthly as well as heavenly powers and evil as well as good spirits, regards ἀρχή as the supreme expression of dignity, ἐξπισία as official power in all its forms, primary or delegated, δύναμις as might or the “raw material” of power, and κυριότης, as the pre-eminence of lordship. We must take the terms, therefore, not as dogmatic terms either teaching or implying any doctrine of graduated ranks, differentiated functions, or organised order in the world of angels, but as rhetorical terms brought together in order to express the unique supremacy and absolute sovereignty proper to Christ, and meaning simply that whatever powers or dignities existed and by whatever names they might be designated, Christ’s dominion was above them all. This is suggested also by the further generalisation that follows.— καὶ παντὸς ὀνόματος ὀνομαζομένου: and every name that is named. The ὄνομα here is not to be taken as a title of dignity, but (as the ὀνομαζομένου shows) has the simple sense of name. There is an advance in the statement of Christ’s supreme rank, but it is simply from the idea of a supremacy over all heavenly intelligences to that of a supremacy over all created objects by whatsoever name called.— οὐμόνον ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι: not only in this world (or age), but also in that which is to come. The statement of Christ’s absolute and unmatched supremacy is brought to its height by this last generalisation, which embraces within its sweep the totality of created objects not only as they now are, but as they may hereafter be in any possible future. The word αἰών here as elsewhere, has the idea of duration at its foundation. It means “age,” “aeon,” and as used of the world presents it, in distinction from κόσμος, in its temporal aspect, “this present state of things”. The Jews spoke of the period before Messiah’s Advent as הָצוֹלָם הַוֶּה, “this age,” and of the period introduced by that event as הָצוֹלָם הַבָּא, “the coming age”. So the NT writers designate the period preceding the final Return or Parousia of Christ αἰὼν οὗτος (also νῦν αἰών, 1 Timothy 6:17; ἐνεστὼς αἰών, Galatians 1:4; or simply αἰών, Matthew 14:22), and the period beginning with the Parousia αἰὼν μέλλων (also αἰὼν ἐκεῖνος, Luke 20:35; αἰὼν ἐρχόμενος, Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; cf. οἱ αἰῶνες οἱ ἐπερχόμενοι, Ephesians 2:7).

This paragraph gives simply a positive statement of the exaltation of Christ, His sovereign and unshared supremacy over all. It makes no reference to Jewish or Gnostic speculations inconsistent with this. It is different with the great section in the sister Epistle to the Colossians. There we see that such speculations were rife in at least one of the Churches of the Lycus valley. The statements in that Epistle have an unmistakable reference to theosophic notions akin to the Gnostic ideas of emanations—notions of angelic intermediaries between God and the world; against which the Apostle has to assert the exclusive relation of Christ to the whole system of things, seen and unseen, earthly and celestial, as the Creator of all, the Upholder of all, the One Being in whom resided all the forces pertaining to the maintenance and administration of things. The literature of Judaism makes it also clear that by Paul’s time the Jews had constructed a somewhat elaborate system of Angelology, with theories of graduated positions and distinctive functions. The Book of Enoch (lxi. 10) speaks of “angels of power and angels of principality”. The Book of the Secrets of Enoch (xx. 1, 3) describes the heavenly host as consisting of ten troops—lordships, principalities, powers, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, etc. In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Levi 3) six orders are named, of which the highest are the θρόνοι, ἐξουσίαι, occupying the seventh heaven, while the δυνάμεις are the fifth in order and are assigned to the third heaven. The same general doctrine appears also in Ephraem Syrus (i., p. 270), who gives three great divisions of the celestial world, viz. (1) θεοί, θρόνοι, κυριότητες; (2) ἀρχάλλελοι, ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι; (3) ἄγγελοι, δυνάμεις, χερουβίμ, σεραφίμ. In the De Princip. of Origen (i., 5, 3, etc.) five orders are named, rising from the τάξις ἀγγελική, to ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι, θρόνοι, and finally κυριότητες. But the conception of a great, graduated angelic hierarchy was elaborated most fully by the author of the remarkable book, De Coelesti Hierarchia, the so-called Dionysius the Areopagite. There we find a scheme of orders in three sets of three, descending from the highest to the lowest: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; Dominations, Virtues, Powers (or Authorities); Principalities, Archangels, Angels. Hence the sublime description in Dante (Paradiso, canto xxxviii.) and Milton’s “Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers” (Paradise Lost, v., 601).


Verse 22

Ephesians 1:22. καὶ πάντα ὑπέταξεν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ: and He put all things under His feet. The ὑπέταξεν is coordinate with the previous ἐνήργησε. These two things God did: He wrought His mighty power in raising and exalting Christ and He subjected all things to Him. The idea expressed by the ὑπέταξεν here is not the limited idea of a subjection of opposing objects, which we have in 1 Corinthians 15:27, but the wider idea of placing all created things under the sovereignty of Christ. The words recall those of Psalms 8:7, but do not give these in the form of a quotation. That Psalm speaks of Man as he was meant by God to be, with dominion over all the creatures. Here that ideal is presented as made real in Christ, the exalted, sovereign Christ. The act referred to, therefore, by the aor. ὑπέταξεν may be the definite gift of absolute dominion consequent on the exaltation. The raising of Christ to God’s right hand was followed by the placing of all things under His feet and making Him, de facto, sovereign over all.— καὶ αὐτὸν ἔδωκεν κεφαλὴν ὑπὲρ πάντα τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ: and gave Him as head over all things to the Church. The RV agrees with the AV and the Bishops’ Bible in rendering it “and gave Him to be head”. Tynd. and Cran. have “hath made Him above all things the head”; the Rhemish, “hath made Him head over all the Church”. The two ideas of Christ’s Headship over all things and His Headship over the Church appear to be in the statement. The question is how they are related, and what is the precise idea attaching to each of the significant terms. The ἔδωκεν is not to be taken in the technical sense of appointed, installed (as expressed by נָתַן, τιθέναι), but, as is indicated by the simple dat. ἐκκλησίᾳ, in its ordinary sense of gave. Christ in the capacity or position here ascribed to Him is presented as a gift of God to the Church. Having exalted Him to the highest and invested Him with supreme dominion, God gives Him to the Church. The πάντα in ὑπὲρ πάντα must have the sense it has in πάντα ὑπέταξεν, not “all authorities,” but “all things”. The κεφαλή, therefore, must express an absolute headship over all the created world, visible and invisible, not a particular, higher headship over other subordinate headships, Apostles, Bishops, etc., in the Church. Further, as the subsequent statement about the σῶμα shows, it must have the full sense of head, organic head, and neither that of sum nor that of highest dignity only. The term ἐκκλησία, again, obviously has here its widest Christian sense. Used by the Greeks to designate an assembly of the people called for deliberation (cf. Acts 19:39), and by the LXX as the equivalent of the Hebrew קָהָל, the congregation of Israel, especially when called in religious convention (Deuteronomy 31:30, etc.), it expresses in the NT the idea of the fellowship or assembly of believers meeting for worship or for administration. And it expresses this in various degrees of extension, ranging from the small company gathering for worship in one’s house (the ἐκκλησία κατʼ οἶκον, Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19, etc.), or the single congregation of village or city (Acts 5:11; Acts 8:3; 1 Corinthians 4:17, etc.), to the larger Christian communities of provinces and countries ( τῆς ἀσίας, γαλατίας, ἰουδαίας, 1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Corinthians 8:1; Galatians 1:2; Galatians 1:22), and finally to the Church universal, the Church collectively, the whole fellowship of believers throughout the world (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Philippians 3:6; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24, etc.). Here and in the other occurrences in this Epistle the word has this largest extension of meaning, with the further mystical idea of a unity vitally related to Christ, incorporated in Him, and having His life in it. If the terms then are to be so understood, how is their connection in the sentence to be construed? The τῇ ἐκκλησία is immediately dependent on ἔδωκεν, and cannot well be taken as a dat. commodi=“for the good of the Church” (De Wette), as if it were attached immediately to the ὑπὲρ πάντα. The κεφαλὴν ὑπὲρ πάντα may then be taken either as in apposition to αὐτόν—“gave Him, head over all things, to the Church,” i.e., gave Him, this head over all things, to the Church (Chrys., Stier, etc.); or as having a predicative force—“gave Him as head overall things” (Ell., etc.). The latter is to be preferred both as the easier construction and as more congruous with the anarthrous κεφαλήν. Thus the purport of the clause is that God, in giving Christ to the Church, gave Him in the capacity of Head over all things. There is no distinction or comparison, therefore, between two headships, as if one were over the world or over the state, and the other over the Church. Christ’s Headship over the Church, so far as this clause is concerned, is rather implied than expressed. The idea of the Headship over the Church is more distinctly conveyed by the sentence which follows, with the further description of the Church as the σῶμα χριστου. Here the great idea is still that of the Headship of Christ over all things. Having that supremacy He is given by God to the Church, and as given in the capacity of universal Head He is given to the Church as her Head also.


Verse 23

Ephesians 1:23. ἥτις ἐστὶν τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ: which is His body. The ἥτις (not ) introduces a profound statement, the interpretation of which is much contested. It is supplementary to the preceding, and further defines the relation between Christ and the Church in respect of His Headship. The ἥτις, therefore, has something of its qualitative force, pointing to what belongs to the nature of the Church (Meyer), and in that way giving the ground of God’s gift of Christ to the ἐκκλησία. Or (with Ell., etc.) it may be taken in the subdued, explanatory sense—“which indeed”. The word σῶμα, which passes readily from its literal meaning into the figurative sense of a society, a number of men constituting a social or ethical union (cf. Ephesians 4:4), is frequently applied in the NT Epistles to the Church, with or without τοῦ χριστοῦ, as the mystical body of Christ, the fellowship of believers regarded as an organic, spiritual unity in a living relation to Christ, subject to Him, animated by Him, and having His power operating in it. The relation between Christ and the Church, therefore, is not an external relation, or one simply of Superior and inferior, Sovereign and subject, but one of life and incorporation. The Church is not merely an institution ruled by Him as President, a Kingdom in which He is the Supreme Authority, or a vast company of men in moral sympathy with Him, but a Society which is in vital connection with Him, having the source of its life in Him, sustained and directed by His power, the instrument also by which He works.— τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν πληρουμένου: the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. The preceding sentence carries the idea of the Church far beyond the limited conception of a concrete institution or outward, visible organisation, and lifts us to the grander conception of a great spiritual fellowship, which is one under all varieties of external form and constitution in virtue of the presence of Christ’s Spirit in it, and catholic as embracing all believers and existing wherever any such are found. It is the conception of the Church which pervades this Epistle (cf. Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 3:21; Ephesians 5:23-25; Ephesians 5:27; Ephesians 5:29; Ephesians 5:32). It appears again in similar terms in the sister Epistle (Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24), and elsewhere in the varied phraseology of the “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) and the “Church of the Firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). It is this supreme idea of the Church as a spiritual order the essence of which is a living relation to Christ, that receives further expression in the profound sentence with which the paragraph closes. The great difficulty here is with the term πλήρωμα itself. The other terms are easier. For the πάντα of the TR, which has the most meagre attestation, τὰ πάντα (supported by the great uncials, etc.) must be substituted (with Beng., Griesb., LTTr WRV). The “all” therefore must be taken here in the sense which it has in Ephesians 1:10—“the all,” the whole system of things, made by Christ and having in Him the ground of its being, its continuance, its order (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 8:6). The ἐν πᾶσιν will have a corresponding extension of meaning, “with all things” not merely with all blessings, gifts or spiritual requirements. The universe itself and all the things that make its fulness (cf. “the earth … and the fulness thereof,” Psalms 24:1) are alike made and maintained by Christ. The prep, is taken by some in its primary force of in. But it is difficult then to find a natural sense for the clause; the interpretations proposed, e.g., “in all points” (Harless), “in all modes of manifestation” (Bleek), etc., going beyond the actual terms. It is best to understand it as the instrumental ἐν, of which we have an instance in ch. Ephesians 5:18 (Mey., Ell., Alf., and most) “with all things”. Some strangely take ἐν πᾶσιν as masc. here, supposing the point to be that Christ supplies in all His believing members all the things with which they need to be provided (Haupt, Moule). The πληρουμένου may be a pure passive, and so it is taken by some (Vulg., Chrys., etc.). In that case Christ would be described as Himself “filled as to all things”. It occurs, however, also as a middle with an active sense (Xen., Hell., v., 4, 56; vi., 2, 14, etc.). So it is rendered here by some of the Versions (Syr., Copt., Goth., Arm.), and the sense of “filling” best suits the context. The middle, however, probably retains something of its proper reciprocal or reflexive force, conveying the idea of filling the totality of things for Himself.

What is to be said now of the term πλήρωμα itself? There are some interpretations which may at once be set aside, e.g., the means of fulfilling (Rück.), the Church being described as the medium or instrument by which Christ accomplishes His destined work of bringing all things back to God; coetus numerosus, with reference to the multitude of those who are subject to Christ (Storr, Rosenm., etc.); perfection, in the objective sense of the term, the Church being Christ’s perfect work (Oltr.)—a meaning which goes beyond the term itself; the totality of the aeons, in the Gnostic sense, Christ and the Church being viewed here in union and the two ideas, “that which makes full” and “that which is made full,” being supposed to pass over the one into the other (Baur). The choice is between the active sense of “that which fills or completes” and the passive sense of “that which is filled”. The former is favoured by Chrys., Œcum., Aquin., Schwegler, Abb., etc., and it must be admitted to be linguistically possible. Verbals in - μα, it is true, have usually the pass, sense, and this one formed from πληοῦν (which means both to fill and to fulfil) would most naturally be taken as = “that which is filled,” or “that which is fulfilled or completed”. It is argued indeed by Light, in a weighty dissertation on “The meaning of πλήρωμα” (Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, pp. 257–273) that nouns of this formation are always passive, expressing either the product of the action denoted by the active verb, or that action itself regarded as a completed thing; and further that in the case of πλήρωμα, if we follow out the idea of fulfilling rather than that of filling, we shall not require to give it now an active sense and again a passive, but shall be able to take it in all its occurrences as a real passive, denoting result in one aspect or another. But, while it is possible enough to understand it in this way in all the passages in the Epistles, it is difficult to carry the passive sense through the various occurrences in the Gospels (e.g., Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:27; Mark 8:20). Nor does it seem easy to adjust the properly passive sense to all the passages either in the LXX (cf. Ezekiel 5:2; Daniel 10:3), or in profane Greek (e.g., Soph., Trach., 1203; Eurip., Troad., 824; Philo, de Abr., ii., p. 39), without putting somewhat strained interpretations on some of the cases. The idea, however, that results from allowing πλήρωμα to have the active sense here is not germane to the general scope of the paragraph. That idea is that the Church is that which makes Christ Himself complete. A head, however perfect in itself, if it is without members, is something incomplete. So Christ, who is the Head of the Church, requires the Church to make His completeness, just as the Church which is His body requires Him as the Head to make it a complete and living thing. But the main thought of the whole paragraph is what Christ is and does in relation to the universe and the Church, not what the Church is to Him or does for Him, and the πληρουμένου cannot have the sense of “Him who is being filled” without putting a forced meaning on the τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν. Hence πλήρωμα is to be taken in the passive sense here, as is done by most commentators, and the idea is that the Church is not only Christ’s body but that which is filled by Him. In Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9 the whole πλήρωμα, or every plenitude of the Godhead, the very fulness of the Godhead, the totality of the Divine powers and qualities, is said to be in Christ, so that He alone is to be recognised as Framer and Governor of the world, and there is neither need nor place for any intermediate beings as agents in those works of creating, upholding and administering. Here the conception is that this plenitude of the Divine powers and qualities which is in Christ is imparted by Him to His Church, so that the latter is pervaded by His presence, animated by His life, filled with His gifts and energies and graces. He is the sole Head of the universe, which is supplied by Him with all that is needed for its being and order. He is also the sole Head of the Church, which receives from Him what He Himself possesses and is endowed by Him with all that it requires for the realisation of its vocation.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 1:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/ephesians-1.html. 1897-1910.


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Friday, June 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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