The Expositor's Greek Testament
Ephesians 2:1. καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκρούς: and you, being dead. The construction is broken, the writer turning off into two relative sentences (Ephesians 2:2-3) before he introduces his leading verb. His original statement is taken up again, as some think, at the καὶ ὄντας νεκρούς of Ephesians 2:5 (Griesb., Rück., etc.). But the resumption begins rather with the ὁ δὲ θεὸς of Ephesians 2:4 (Mey., Ell., etc.). So the ὑμᾶς ὄντας here is under the regimen of the συνεζωοποίησε (Ephesians 2:5), and the καί has the force of “and you too,” “you, also, as well as Christ”. The ὄντας expresses the condition they were in when God’s power wrought in them. The νεκρούς means neither dying nor mortal, nor yet, again, condemned to death, but dead. Meyer, indeed, contends for the sense of “made liable to eternal death,” as he also takes the following συνεζώοποιησεν, συνήγειρεν, συνεκάθισεν as proleptic terms. But the whole series of terms is best understood to express things done then and states belonging to the actual present. The νεκρούς, therefore, means ethically or spiritually dead, and what had been said of the power of God in Christ’s case is now applied to the case of the readers themselves. The power that raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him is also the power that took them out of the state of spiritual death and gave them a new life and a new dignity with Christ.— τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις: through your trespasses and sins. On the authority of such uncials as (129) (130) (131) (132), such Versions as the Syr. and the Vulg., and such Fathers as Theod., ὑμῶν is to be inserted after ἁμαρτίαις. The dat. is the instrumental dat., “by trespasses,” not in them, nor even in respect of them (Moule). Etymologically, παράπτωμα points to sin as a fall, and ἁμαρτία to sin as failure. It is impossible to establish any clear distinction between the two nouns in the plural forms, as if the one expressed acts and the other states of sin, or as if the former meant single trespasses and the latter all kinds of sins. Here sin is that which makes dead—the cause of the death-state. In the kindred passage in Colossians 2:13 we have the same idea expressed by τοῖς παραπτώμασι καὶ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν, if, with the best MSS. and critics, we omit ἐν. The TR inserts ἐν before παραπτώμασι, in which case sin would be presented there as itself the state of death.
Ephesians 2:1-10. A new paragraph begins at this point. This is denied indeed by some, who would connect the καὶ ὑμᾶς of Ephesians 2:1 immediately with the ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστεύοντας of Ephesians 1:19 (Knatchbull), the ἐνήργησεν of Ephesians 1:20 (Bengel), or the καὶ αὐτὸν ἔδωκεν, etc., of Ephesians 1:22 (Lachm., Harl.). But none of these connections yields a sufficiently clear and harmonious sense. The last, indeed, which proposes to separate Ephesians 2:1 from Ephesians 1:23 merely by a comma and which would make the καὶ … συνεζωοποίησεν a statement parallel to the αὐτὸν ἔδωκεν, etc., as well as continuous on it, would require ἡμᾶς rather than ὑμᾶς. All three, too, take seriously from the point and power of the closing verses of chapter 1, which are given in a strain of lofty and majestic affirmation suitable to the winding up of a great argument. We have, therefore, a new section here, in which a particular application is made of what has been affirmed in the preceding paragraph. These first ten verses speak of a further manifestation of that power of God which was seen in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ, namely, in the raising of the Ephesians themselves from the death of sin into a new life unto God, and that not of works but of grace.
Ephesians 2:2. ἐν αἶς ποτὲ περιεπατήσατε: wherein in time past (RV, “aforetime”) ye walked. The αἷς takes the gender of the nearer noun, but refers to both the παραπτώμασι and the ἁμαρτίαις. Trespasses and sins were the domain in which they had their habitual course of life in their former heathen days.— κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου: according to the course (or age) of this world. As the ἐν of the former clause gave the stated sphere within which their pre-Christian life moved, so the κατά of this clause and the next gives the standard to which it conformed and the spirit by which it was ruled. The phrase κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦτον might have sufficed; the fuller form which introduces both αἰὼν and κόσμος is more expressive. The κόσμος is the world as the objective system of things, and that as evil. The αἰών is the world as a world-period—the world as transitory. In such a connection as the present αἰών comes near what we understand by “the spirit of the age,” but is perhaps most happily rendered course, as that word conveys the three ideas of tenor, development, and limited continuance. This course of a world which is evil is itself evil, and to live in accordance with it is to live in trespasses and sins.— κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος: according to the prince of the power of the air. A yet darker colour is now given to the description of the former heathen walk of those addressed. Their life was determined and shaped by the master of all evil, the supreme ruler of all the powers of wickedness. The terms obviously designate Satan, but their precise sense is somewhat difficult to decide. Three different shades of meaning are suggested for ἐξουσία here, viz., (a) supreme right or power, in which case the idea would be the prince to whom belongs the authority of the air; (b) the domain or sphere of authority, as possibly in Colossians 1:13 (Chrys., Theod., Hofm., Oltr.); (c) authority in the collective sense, the totality of evil powers, all that is known as evil authority. The third sense is supported in some measure by Romans 13:1-2, and is preferred by most. The idea thus becomes “the prince who rules over all that is called authority”. The ἀέρος then is best taken as the gen. of place, denoting the seat of this overlordship of evil. The word ἀήρ cannot be taken as equivalent to mundus (Aquin.) or οὐρανός (Olsh.) or σκότος (Kl.) or πνεῦμα (Hofm.); neither can it express the quality of these evil powers—their incorporeal or aeriform nature (Hahn). In all its other NT occurrences (Acts 22:23; 1 Corinthians 9:26; 1 Corinthians 14:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 9:2; Revelation 16:17) it has the literal sense. It has it here, and it describes these demonic powers as between earth and heaven, in that “supra-terrestrial but subcelestial region ( ὁ ὑπουράνιος τόπος, Chrys.) which seems to be, if not the abode, yet the haunt of evil spirits” (Ell.). Thus the prince of evil is described as the Lord-Paramount over all the demonic powers; and these demonic powers, as having their seat in the air, are distinguished from the angels whose abode is in heaven ( ἄγγελοι τῶν οὐρανῶν, Matthew 24:36). The Rabbinical literature has many extraordinary and grotesque speculations about the demons as being winged (Talmud, Chagig., 2), as dwelling in the air (R. Bechai, Pent., f. 139, 4), about the souls of devils as dwelling in a firmament under the sphere of the moon (Tuf haarez, f. 9, 2), etc. Such fancies were also entertained by the Greek philosophers, e.g., the Pythagoreans (Diog. Laert., viii. 2). But these have little or no relation to the present passage. In Philo and in the Jewish Pseudepigraphic writings things more akin to it are found. There is, e.g., the description of Beliar as the ἀέριον πνεῦμα (Test. xii. Patr. p. 729); of the “prince of this world” as dwelling in the firmament (Ascens. Isaiah , 10); of the “air” as peopled by souls (Philo, Gig., i. 263). But even these form very partial analogies, and the passages in the Book of Enoch (ch. xv., 10, 11, 12; xvi., 1), which have been taken to refer to the subject, are of uncertain interpretation (cf. Charles, Book of Enoch, p. 84). We have no definite knowledge, therefore, of the origin of this idea. But it seems to have been familiar enough to the readers to require no explanation.— τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ νῦν ἐνεργοῦνστος ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας: of the spirit that worketh now in the sons of disobedience. How is the gen. τοῦ πνεύματος to be construed? It naturally suggests itself to regard the “spirit” now mentioned as in apposition to the “prince” just described. But to understand the gen. here as continuing the acc. ἄρχοντα (Rück., De Wette, Bleek, etc.) is to take too violent a liberty with grammar. The τοῦ πνεύματος is under the regimen of the ἄρχοντα as the ἐξουσίας is, and it adds something to the idea. The ruler over all that is called authority is also the ruler over this particular spirit. It is objected that the designation of a ruler over a spirit is an anomaly. But we have a parallel in the Pauline description of Christ as κυρίου πνεύματος (2 Corinthians 3:18). The πνεῦμα here is not the spirit or mind of man (which would be inconsistent with the force of the ἐξουσίας), nor is it a collective term equivalent to the ἐξουσία (for its form is against that, as is also the statement of its operation). It is either (a) the evil principle or power that comes into men from Satan, cf. τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου, 1 Corinthians 2:12; τὸ τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου, 1 John 4:3; ἕτερον πνεῦμα λαμβάνειν, Ephesians 4:23; or (b) the personal Spirit—that particular Spirit whose domain and work are in evil men. The latter is perhaps to be preferred, as in more definite accordance with the contrast with the Holy Spirit of God which seems to be in view. By ἀπειθεία is meant not merely unbelief but disobedience. Its stated sense in the NT is that of “obstinate opposition to the Divine will” (Thay.-Grimm, sub voce). The term υἱός in its topical sense and followed by the gen. of a thing, expresses what is in intimate relation to the thing, what belongs to it and has it as its innate quality. “Sons of disobedience” are those to whom disobedience is their very nature and essential character, who belong wholly to it. It is a well-known Hebrew idiom, occurring often in the NT, especially in the case of Hebraisms of translation. But the same or similar forms are found now and again in profane Greek, especially in inscriptions and in dignified speech (cf. Plato’s use of ἔκγονος, Phacdr., p. 275 D), the υἱὸς τύχης of the Tragedians, etc.; see Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 161–166. The νῦν does not refer to the present in contrast with the future of the Parousia (Olsh.), nor with any other future; nor again is it = “Even now,” which would have been καὶ νῦν. It looks back upon the previous πότε, and contrasts the present working of the πνεῦμα with the past. Once that spirit worked in all those addressed; now it works not in them indeed, but in those given over to disobedience to God’s will. So the lordship belonging to the Prince of evil extends not only over all those malign powers whose seat is in the air, but also and more particularly over that Spirit who operates as an energy of wickedness in the hearts of men opposed to God.
Ephesians 2:3. ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε: among whom also we all had our life and walk aforetime. The AV gives “also we all”; Tynd., Cov., Gen., “we also had”; Bish., “we all had”; RV, “we also all”. The ἐν οἷς cannot mean “in which trespasses” (so Syr., Jer., Beng., etc.); for the ὑμῶν of Ephesians 2:1 is against that, and the form would have been ἐν αἷς as ruled by the nearest noun ἁμαρτίαις. It can only refer to the υἱοὶ τῆς ἀπειθείας. The καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες is in contrast with the καὶ ὑμᾶς of Ephesians 2:1 and the περιεπατήσατε of Ephesians 2:2. Paul had begun by speaking of the moral condition of these Gentiles before their conversion. He now adds that these Gentiles were in no exceptional position in that respect, but that all, Jews as well as Greeks, Jewish-Christians like himself no less than Gentile Christians like his readers, had been among those who once lived in obstinate disobedience to God. Paul seldom misses the opportunity of declaring the universal sinfulness of men, the dire level of corruptness on which all, however they differed in race or privilege, stood. So here the ἡμεῖς πάντες is best taken in its utmost breadth—not merely “all the Jewish-Christians” (Mey.), but = the whole body of us Christians, Jewish and Gentile alike included. For the περιεπατήσατε of Ephesians 2:2 we have now ἀνεστράφημεν, “had our conversation” (AV), “conversed” (Rhem.), “lived” (RV). Like the Heb. חָלַךְ it denotes one’s walk, his active, open life, his way of conducting himself.— ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν: in the lusts of our flesh. Definition of the domain or element in which their life once was spent. It kept within the confines of the appetites and impulses proper to fallen human nature or springing from it. The noun ἐπιθυμία has its usual sense of craving, the craving in particular of what is forbidden; σάρξ in like manner has its large, theological sense, human nature as such, in its physical, mental and moral entirety, considered as apart from God and under the dominion of sin.— ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν: doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts. The ποιοῦντες is sufficiently represented by the “doing” of Wycl., Cov., Rhem., RV. The AV and other Versions give “fulfilling”. The word θέλημα is of very rare occurrence, except in biblical and ecclesiastical Greek. It denotes properly the thing willed, but is used also of the Divine purpose (e.g., Ephesians 1:9), or command (e.g., Ephesians 5:17), etc. Here, as also in John 1:13, it denotes inclination or desire. The pl. διανοιῶν is best rendered “thoughts,” with Wycl., Cov., Rhem. and RV margin; RV text, following the AV and other Versions, gives “mind”. In the LXX the singular represents the OT לֵב, and denotes the mind in the large sense, inclusive of understanding, feeling and desiring. It is only the context that gives it the sense of wicked thoughts. Two sources of evil desire and impulse, therefore, are indicated here, viz., our fallen nature in general and the laboratory of perverted thoughts, impressions, imaginations, volitions, in particular.— καὶ ἦμεν τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς: and were children by nature of wrath. “Children,” rather than “the children,” as it is given by AV and all the other old English Versions (except Wycl., who has “the sons”). From what he and his fellow-Christians did in their pre-Christian life, Paul turns now to what they were then. The statement is so constructed as to throw the chief emphasis on the ἧμεν and the ὀργῆς. For ἦμεν the better attested form is ἤμεθα. Some good MSS. and Versions ((133) (134) (135) (136) (137), Syr.-Harcl., Vulg.) read φύσει τέκνα, and that order is accepted by Lachmann, while a place is given it in the margin by Tregelles. The order τέκνα φύσει, however, which is that of (138) (139) (140), Chrys., etc., and both the TR and the RV, is to be preferred. The ἧμεν makes it clear that it is no longer doing ( ποιοῦντες) simply that is in view, but being, condition. The τέκνα is the same kind of idiomatic phrase as the former υἱοί, only, if possible, stronger and more significant. It describes those in view as not only worthy of the ὀργή, but actually subject to it, definitely under it. But what is this ὀργή itself? It is not to be identified with punitive righteousness ( τιμωρία), punishment ( κόλασις), future judgment, or the effect of God’s present judgment of men, but denotes the quality or affectus of wrath. But is it man’s wrath or God’s? The word is certainly used of the passion of wrath in us (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; James 1:19, etc.), and so the whole phrase is understood by some to mean nothing more than that those referred to were given to violent anger or ungovernable impulse (e.g., Maurice, Unity, p. 538). But this would add little or nothing to what was said of the lusts of the flesh and thoughts, and would strip the whole statement of its point, its solemnity, and its universality. It is the Divine wrath that is in view here; as it is, indeed, in thirteen out of twenty occurrences in the Pauline writings, and that, too, whether with or without the definite article or the defining θεοῦ (cf. Moule, in loc). This holy displeasure of God with sin is not inconsistent with His love, but is the reaction of that love against the denial of its sovereign rights of responsive love. The term φύσις, though it may occasionally be applied to what is habitual or to character as developed, means properly what is innate, implanted, in one by nature, and this with different shades of meaning (cf., e.g., Romans 2:14; Galatians 2:15; Galatians 4:8, etc.). The clause means, therefore, that in their pre-Christian life those meant by the ἡμεῖς πάντες were in the condition of subjection to the Divine wrath; and that they were so not by deed merely, nor by circumstance, nor by passing into it, but by nature. Their universal sin has been already affirmed. This universal sin is now described as sin by nature. Beyond this Paul does not go in the present passage. But the one is the explanation of the other. Universal sin implies a law of sinning, a sin that is of the nature; and this, again, is the explanation of the fact that all are under the Divine wrath. For the Divine wrath operates only where sin is. Here is the essential meaning of the doctrine of original sin. That it finds any justification here is denied, indeed, by some; even by Meyer, who admits, however, that elsewhere (e.g., in Romans 6) Paul teaches that there is a principle of sin in man by nature, and that man sins actually because of that innate principle. But he argues that it is in virtue not of the principle itself, but of the acts of sin by which that principle expresses itself, that we are in a state of subjection to the Divine wrath. This, however, is to make a nature which originates sinful acts and which does that in the case of all men without exception, itself a neutral thing.
Ephesians 2:4. ὁ δὲ θεὸς, πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει: but God (or, God, however), being rich in mercy. A return is now made to the statement which was interrupted at Ephesians 2:2. The resumption might have been made by οὖν. The adversative δέ, however, is the more appropriate, as the other side of our case is now to be set forth—the Divine grace which meets the sinful, condemned condition, and which stands over the dark background of our death by sin and our subjection by nature to the Divine wrath. God who is wroth with sin, is a God of grace. His disposition towards those who are dead by trespasses and sins is one of mercy, and this no stinted mercy, but a mercy that is rich, exhaustless (for πλούσιος, πλουτίζειν, etc., cf. 1 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 9:11; 1 Timothy 6:17-18; James 2:5).— διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς: by reason of His great love wherewith He loved us. The use of the cogn. acc. ἣν adds to the force of the idea; cf. the use of the same phrase by our Lord Himself with reference to His Father’s love, John 17:26. If mercy is God’s attitude to sinful men, love is His motive in all that He does with them; and as the mercy is “rich” so the love is “great”. With this great love God loved us when He chose us, and it is on account of that love (not “through” it, as Luther puts it) that He acts with us as He does. The ἡμᾶς has the widest sense here—all of us, whether Jew or Gentile.
Ephesians 2:5. καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν: even when we were dead by our trespasses. The condition of death in which we are by nature is now reaffirmed, and in a still more emphatic way than in Ephesians 2:1. The καί is not the copula, simply attaching one statement to another (Mey.), nor a mere repetition of the καί of the opening verse, nor = “also,” “also us” collectively (which would require καί ἡμᾶς), but the ascensive καί = even (Syr.-Phil., AV, RV, Ell., etc.). It qualifies the ὄντας (while the νεκροὺς is thrown emphatically forward), and heightens the sense of the greatness of the Divine power—as a power operating on us when we were yet held fast in the state of inexorable death. The τοῖς defines the trespasses as those already mentioned in connection with that state of death, and so has much the sense of “our”.— συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ χριστῷ: quickened us together with the Christ. Some authorities (including B 17, Arm.) insert ἐν before τῷ χριστῷ; which is favoured so far by Lachm. and gets a place in the margin with WH and RV. But the mass of authorities omit it. The συν-, therefore, of the compound verb refers to the χριστῷ, and the idea expressed is that of fellowship with Him, not the fellowship or comprehension of Jew and Gentile alike in the Divine act of quickening (Beza). Here again the article probably designates Christ in His official relation to us. The quickening here in view is understood by some (including Meyer) to refer to the first act in the raising of the dead at the great day; the following verbs συνήγειρεν, συνεκάθισεν being similarly understood in the literal sense, as referring proleptically to events that belong to the ultimate future. Thus the standing rather than the moral condition is supposed to be primarily in view, the idea being that when Christ was raised from the dead we also as members of His body were raised in principle with Him, so that the resurrection of the future which we await will be simply the application to the individual of what was accomplished once for all for the whole of His members then. It must be admitted that the analogous passage in Colossians 2:12-13, which associates the quickening with the forgiveness of trespasses and the blotting out of the hand-writing of ordinances, on the whole favours that interpretation. Looking, however, to the express and particular description of the worldly walk and the conversation in the lusts of the flesh, which is given in Ephesians 2:2-3, and which seems to explain what is said in Ephesians 2:1 of the state of being “dead by trespasses and sins”; and having regard also to the application to the moral life which is made in the second half of the Epistle, most interpreters understand the quickening here affirmed to be that of regeneration—the communication of spiritual life.— χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι: by grace have ye been saved. So the RV, while the AV is content with “are ye saved”. The idea is that they were saved and continued to be so. The χάριτι is put emphatically first—“by grace it is that ye have been saved”. The parenthetical mention of grace is in place. Nothing else than grace could give life to the dead, but grace could indeed do even that.
Ephesians 2:6. καὶ συνήγειρεν: and raised us with Him. That is, to life now, in a present spiritual renewal. The συνήγειρεν expresses the definite idea of resurrection, and primarily that of the physical resurrection. The introduction of this term and the following makes it not improbable that both ideas, that of the present moral resurrection and that of the future bodily resurrection, were in Paul’s mind, and that he did not sharply distinguish between them, but thought of them as one great gift of life.— καὶ συνεκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις: and seated us (or, enthroned us) with Him in the heavenlies. Made us sharers with Him in dignity and dominion, so that even now, and in foretaste of our future exaltation, our life and thought are raised to the heavenlies where He reigns. But as Bengel notices, Paul pauses here and does not add the ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ which is said of Christ in Ephesians 1:20— ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ: in Christ Jesus. Not the συνεκάθισεν only, but the whole statement is qualified by this. This quickening, this resurrection, this seating of us with Him take effect in so far as we are in Him as our Representative, having our life and our completeness in our Head.
Ephesians 2:7. ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις τὸν ὑπερβάλλοντα πλοῦτον τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ: that He might shew forth in the ages that are coming the exceeding riches of His grace. For the τὸν ὑπερβάλλοντα πλοῦτον of the TR the neuter form τὸ ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος is preferred by most editors (LTTrWHRV). The satisfaction of His love was God’s motive in quickening and raising them. The manifestation of His glory in its surpassing wealth is His final purpose in the same. The verb ἐνδείκνυσθαι occurs eleven times in the Pauline Epistles and Hebrews, and nowhere else in the NT. The active is very rare even in the classics, and is never found in the NT. Hence the ἐνδείξηται is to be taken as a simple active (not as = shew forth for Himself), all the more by reason of the αὐτοῦ. What is meant by the τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις? Some give it the widest possible sense, e.g., per omne vestrum tempus reliquum quum in hac vita tum in futura quoque (Morus), “the successively arriving ages and generations from that time to the second coming of Christ” (Ell.). But it is rather another form of the αἰὼν ὁ μέλλων (Harl., Olsh., Mey., Haupt, etc.), the part. ἐπερχόμενος being used of the future (e.g., Jer. 47:11; Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 41:22-23; Isaiah 42:23; Luke 21:26; James 5:1, etc.), and the future being conceived of as made up of an undefined series of periods. In other cases reduplicated expressions, αἰῶνες τῶν αἰώνων, etc., are used to express the idea of eternity. God’s purpose, therefore, is that in the eternal future, the future which opens with Christ’s Parousia, and in all the continuing length of that future, the grace of His ways with those once dead in sins should be declared and understood in all the grandeur of its exceeding riches.— ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς: in kindness toward us. The ἐν is taken by some (Mey., etc.) as the instrumental ἐν, “by means of kindness”. It is more natural to give it the proper force of “in,” as defining the way in which the grace showed itself in its surpassing riches. It was in the form of kindness directed towards us. The χρηστότης, which means moral goodness in Romans 3:12, has here the more usual sense of benignity (cf. Romans 2:4; Romans 11:12; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:12; Titus 3:4).— ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ: in Christ Jesus. Again is Paul careful to remind his readers that all this grace and the manifestation of it in its riches have their ground and reason in Christ.
Ephesians 2:8. τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι: for by grace have ye been saved. More exactly “by the grace,” i.e., by this grace, the grace already mentioned. Grace is the explanation of their own salvation, and how surpassingly rich the grace must be that could effect that!— διὰ τῆς πίστεως: through faith. That is, by faith as the instrument or means. Paul never says διὰ τὴν πίστιν, as if the faith were the ground or procuring cause of the salvation. It is the χάριτι, not the explanatory πίστεως that has the first place in Paul’s thoughts here.— καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ἡμῶν: and that not of yourselves. That is, not as proceeding from yourselves or of your own performance. The sentence thus beginning with καὶ τοῦτο (cf. Romans 13:11) is not parenthetical, but an integral part of the statement. But to what does the τοῦτο refer? To the πίστεως say some (Chrys., Theod., Jer., Bez., Beng., Bisp., Moule, etc.). The neut. τοῦτο would not be irreconcilable with that. The formula καὶ τοῦτο indeed might rather favour it, as it often adds to the idea to which it is attached. It may also be granted that a peculiarly suitable idea results—the opportune reminder that even their faith, in which at least they might think there was something of their own, has its origin in God’s grace, not in their own effort. But on the other hand the salvation is the main idea in the preceding statement, and it seems best to understand the καὶ τοῦτο as referring to that salvation in its entire compass, and not merely to the one element in it, its instrumental cause, appended by way of explanation. θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον; it is the gift of God. Or, perhaps, “God’s gift it is”. The salvation is not an achievement but a gift, and a gift from none other than God. This declaration of the free, unmerited, conferred nature of the salvation is made the stronger not only by the contrast with the ἐξ ὑμῶν, but by the dropping of any connecting particle.
Ephesians 2:9. οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται: not of works, that no one should glory. The OT protest against glorying in any but the Lord and the prophet’s jealousy for the honour of God (Jeremiah 9:23-24; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 42:14, etc.) burn with a yet intenser flame in Paul, most of all when he touches the great theme of man’s salvation. That the glory of that salvation belongs wholly to God and in no degree to man, and that it has been so planned and so effected as to take from us all ground for boasting, is enforced on Paul’s hearers again and again, in different connections, with anxious concern and utmost plainness of expression (cf. Romans 3:17; 1 Corinthians 1:29; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Galatians 6:14; Philippians 3:3, etc.).
Ephesians 2:10. αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα: for we are His workmanship (or, handiwork). The αὐτοῦ is emphatic—“His handiwork are we”. The word ποίημα occurs only once again in the NT (Romans 1:20, with reference to the works of nature). Here, as the following clause shows, it expresses not appointment to something, but an actual making. The clause gives the reason for the statement that our salvation is not of works. We ourselves are a work, the handiwork of God, made anew by Him, and our salvation, therefore, is due to Him, not to ourselves.— κτισθέντες ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς: created in Christ Jesus for good works. Further definition of the ποίημα αὐτοῦ. We are God’s spiritual handiwork, in the sense that we were created by Him, made a new spiritual creature by Him when His grace made us Christians. This new creation was in Christ, so that except by union between Him and us it could not have taken place (Ephesians 2:15; Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 3:10). Also it was with a view to good works, ἐπί being used here (much as in Galatians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:14) to express object; cf. Win.-Moult., p. 492. We ourselves then having been created anew by God, and good works being the object to which that new creation looked, not the cause that led to it, all must be of grace not of deeds ( ἔργων), and there can be no room for boasting.— οἶς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεὸς: which God afore prepared. The οἶς cannot with any propriety be construed as a masc., “for whom He before appointed” (Erasm.); nor can it well be taken as the dat. of destination, “unto which God prepared us” (Luth., Schenkel, etc.); for that would require the insertion of a ἡμᾶς. Nor, again, can it be taken in the intrans. sense, so as to give the idea “for which God made previous preparation” (Stier); for while ἑτοιμάζειν may be used intransitively (Luke 9:52), the compound verb does not appear to be so used. It is best taken (with the Syr., Goth. and Vulg. Versions and the best exegetes) as a case of attraction— οἵς for ἅ. The προετοιμάζειν is not quite the same as προορίζειν. It means to prepare or place in readiness before, not specifically to foreordain (Aug., Harl.). The προ- describes the preparation as prior to the creation ( κτισθέντες). The subjects of the preparation also are the good works themselves, not the ways in which they are to be done. In relation to the question of human merit or glorying, therefore, good works are viewed in two distinct aspects. They are the goal to which God’s new creation of us looked; they are also in God’s eternal plan. Before He created us in Christ by our conversion He had destined these good works and made them ready for us in His purpose and decree. There is the unseen source from which they spring, and there is their final explanation.— ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν: that we should walk in them. God’s purpose in the place which He gave to good works in His decree was that they should actually and habitually be done by us. His final object was to make good works the very element of our life, the domain in which our action should move. That this should be the nature of our walk is implied in our being His handiwork, made anew by Him in Christ; that the good works which form the Divine aim of our life shall be realised is implied in their being designed and made ready for us in God’s decree; and that they are of God’s originating, and not of our own action and merit, is implied in the fact that we had ourselves to be made a new creation in Christ with a view to them.
Ephesians 2:11. διὸ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ὑμεῖς ποτὲ: Wherefore remember that aforetime ye. The order of the TR, ὑμεῖς ποτέ, is supported by such authorities as (141)3(142)3(143) (with οἱ before ποτέ), Syr.-Harcl., etc. Some authorities place the ποτέ after the ἔθνη (Syr.-P., Boh.). But ποτὲ ὑμεῖς is the order of the best and oldest MSS. ((144) (145) (146) (147) (148)*), the Vulg., etc., and is adopted by most (LTTrWHRV). As διὸ indicates, what follows is a personal, ethical application of what has been said; and the application is drawn not from the immediately preceding sentence, but from the contents of the prior paragraph as a whole. The great things done for them by God’s grace should incline them to think of the past from which they have been delivered. The remembrance of that past will make them more thankful for their present privilege, and more careful to walk in the good works which God has in view for them. The sentence is interrupted by descriptive clauses, but is taken up again in the next verse; where a second ὅτι and the words τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ are introduced, resuming the ὅτι and the ποτέ of Ephesians 2:11. There is no need, therefore, to supply either ὄντες or ἦτε at this point. τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί: Gentiles in the flesh. The article is given to the ἔθνη, the class to which the readers belong being in view (Win.-Moult., pp. 132, 217). It is not repeated before the σαρκί, as the ἐν σαρκί makes one idea with the τὰ ἔθνη (Win.-Moult., p. 169). The term σάρξ also is to be taken literally, not as referring to the former unregenerate life, but (as the subsequent sentences show) in the sense of the flesh to which circumcision is applicable. They are reminded that they belonged to the class of the Gentiles, their bodies proclaiming their heathen character.— οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία: who are called Uncircumcision. A further definition of what they were as ἔθνη, suggestive of the low regard in which they were held as members of that class. The name Uncircumcision!—a name of contempt, was flung at them. The term ἀκροβυστία, which is unknown to profane Greek but is used in the LXX, is taken to be an Alexandrian corruption of ἀκροποσθία.— ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιήτου: by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hand. So the RV. Better perhaps “by the so-called Circumcision, performed by hand in the flesh” (Ell.). Wicl. gives “made by hand in flesh”. A description of the Jew, given in a tone of depreciation. Hence probably the change from οἱ λεγόμενοι to τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς. This sentence also is introduced with reference to the poverty of the previous condition of these Godless, Christless Gentiles. The point seems to be that the inferiority in which they were held, and which was expressed by the contemptuous name Uncircumcision, meant all the more as it was fastened on them by those to whom, while proudly calling themselves the Circumcision, the distinction was nothing more than an outward manual act performed on their bodies. The rite when its spiritual significance and use are in view, is spoken of with honour by Paul (Romans 4:11). As a mere performance, a barrier between Jew and Gentile, a yoke imposed by the former on the latter, a thing made essential to salvation, he spoke of it in terms of scorn and repudiation.
Ephesians 2:11-22. The second half of this chapter makes a paragraph by itself. Its subject is the case of those Gentile believers whom Paul has immediately in view—their heathen past and their Christian present. They are reminded of what they once were—outside Christ, outside the special privilege of Israel, without hope, and without God; and of what they have come to be by the power of Christ’s death—placed on an equality with the chosen people, brought nigh to the Father, made part of the household of God and the living temple of the Lord.
Ephesians 2:12. ὅτι ἧτε ἐν τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς χριστοῦ: that ye were at that time apart from Christ. The sentence interrupted by the description of those addressed as τὰ ἔθνη κ. τ. λ. is now resumed—Remember, I say, that ye were. The τῷ καιρῷ, corresponding to the previous ποτέ, refers to their pre-Christian days. In such phrases it is usual to insert ἐν (Donald., Greek Gram., p. 487), and it is inserted by the TR (following (149) (150) (151) (152), etc.). But time when is also often enough expressed by the simple dat. (Win.-Moult., pp. 273, 274), and the balance of evidence is largely against the presence of the prep. here. The χωρὶς χριστοῦ is the predicate to ἦτε, and is not a defining clause = “being at that time without Christ” (De Wette, Bleek). It describes their former condition as one in which they had no connection with Christ; in which respect they were in a position sadly inferior to that of the Jews whose attitude was one of hoping and waiting for Christ, the Messiah. Their apartness from Christ, their lack of all relation to Him—this is the first stroke in the dark picture of their former heathen life, and the four to which the eye is directed in the subsequent clauses all follow from that.— ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ ἰσραήλ: alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. The alienation is expressed by ἀπαλλοτριοῦσθαι, a strong verb, common enough in classical Greek (at least from Plato’s time), corresponding to the OT זוּר (cf. Psalms 58:4), and used again in Ephesians 4:18; Colossians 1:21. It does not necessarily imply a lapse from a former condition of attachment or fellowship, but expresses generally the idea of being a stranger as contrasted with one who is at home with a person or an object. The term πολιτεία has two main senses—a state or commonwealth (e.g., 2 Maccabees 4:11; 2 Maccabees 8:17), and citizenship or the rights of a citizen (Acts 22:28). The first of these is most in harmony with the theocratic term τοῦ ἰσραήλ, and so it is understood by most. These Ephesians, therefore, had no part in the theocracy, the OT constitution under which God made Himself known to the Jew and entered into relation with him.— καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας: and strangers from the covenants of the Promise. The τῶν διαθηκῶν is probably the gen. of separation or removal. That idea is usually expressed by a prep., but with verbs like ὑποχωρεῖν, διαφέρειν, ἀποστερεῖσθαι, and with some adjectives, it is also expressed by the simple gen. (Win.-Moult., pp. 243, 244). The word ξένος, which has the particular meaning of one who is not a member of a state or city, is used here in the general sense of foreign to a thing, having no share in it. The διαθῆκαι are the covenants with Abraham and the patriarchs (cf. Wisdom of Solomon 18:22; 2 Maccabees 8:15). It is obviously the covenants of Messianic significance that are in view. That the Mosaic Law or the Sinaitic Covenant is not in view seems to follow from the mention of the ἐπαγγελία; for that Covenant was not distinctively of the Promise, but is described by Paul as coming in after it and provisionally (Galatians 3:17-19). The ἐπαγγελία is the Promise, the one distinctively so called, the great Messianic Promise given to the fathers of the Hebrew people (Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:8, etc.). The defining τῆς ἐπαγγελίας is attached by some (Rosenmüller, etc.) to the following ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες. But the covenants and the promise are kindred ideas, and make one thought here.— ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες: having no hope. With participles the subjective negative is much more frequently used than οὐ. In cases like the present, where the participle does not belong to the class of those expressing command, purpose, condition or the like, the use of μή is due to the aspect in which the matter in question presents itself to the writer—to the fact, e.g., that he has a genus, not the individual, in view; cf. Ell. on 1 Thessalonians 2:15, and Win.-Moult., p. 606. The statement here is absolute— ἐλπίδα, not τὴν ἐλπίδα. It is not only that they had not the hope, the Messianic hope which was one of the distinctions of the Israelite, but that they were utterly without hope. Ignorant of the Divine salvation and of Christ in whom it was found, they had nothing to hope for beyond this world.— καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ: and without God in the world. The last element in the darkness and misery of their former life. The adj. ἄθεος, which is never found in the LXX or in the Apocrypha, and only this once in the NT, in classical Greek means impious in the sense of denying or neglecting the gods of the State; but it is also used occasionally in the sense of knowing or worshipping no God (Æl., V. h., 2, 31), or in that of abandoned by God (Soph., Œd. R., 633). Three renderings are possible here—ignorant of God, denying God, forsaken of God. The third is preferred by many (Mey., Ell., etc.), who think that the darkest colour is given to the picture of their old heathen condition by this mention of the fact that they were without the help and protection of God. The first of the three senses, however, seems even more in harmony with the preceding negations. As they were without Christ, and without hope, so were they without God—without the knowledge of the one true and living and thus destitute of any God. So in Galatians 4:8 Paul speaks of Gentiles like these as knowing not God and doing service unto them which by nature are no gods. The clause ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ is connected by some with the whole preceding description (Koppe, etc.); by others with the two last sentences in the description—the ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες and the ἄθεοι (Abb.). But it rather makes one idea with the immediately preceding term ἄθεοι. It is difficult to say in what particular sense the κόσμος is used here—whether in the simple, non-ethical sense, or in the deeper sense which it has in John and also at times in some degree in Paul (1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 11:32; 2 Corinthians 7:10). Whichever is preferred—whether “without God in the world of men,” or “without God in this evil world”—an appropriate idea results. But the implied contrast with the previous πολιτεία τοῦ ἰσραὴλ leads most to decide for the latter. The domain of their life was this present evil world, and in it, alienated as it was from God, they had no God.
Ephesians 2:13. νυνὶ δὲ ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν ἐγγὺς ἐγενηθητε: but now in Christ Jesus ye that aforetime were far off are become nigh. In classical Greek νυνί is used only of time, mostly with present tenses, rarely with the future, and means at this very moment. In the NT it is used mostly of time, but also as a logical particle, bringing a statement to a conclusion, = rebus sic stantibus, as the case stands (Romans 7:17; 1 Corinthians 15:20, etc.). Here it has the usual temporal meaning—now as contrasted with the previous period, the καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ. The ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ is put emphatically first and is to be connected with the νυνί (Ell., etc.) rather than with the ἐγενήθητε, the point being this—then ye were separate from Christ, but now ye are in Him, united with Him, and so are become nigh. It is difficult, if not impracticable, to discover in each case a reason for the use of χριστὸς ἰησοῦς instead of the simple χριστὸς; and the ἰησοῦ indeed is dropped by some ancient authorities (L., Iren., Orig., Tert., etc.). But the double designation is appropriate here—then they were without Christ, having no part in the Messiah in whom the Jew had hope; now they are in living, present, personal fellowship with the Saviour known among men as Christ Jesus. The μακράν repeats the idea of distance and separation previously expressed by ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι and ξένοι. The expression ἐγγὺς γίνεσθαι, to come or become near, which is common enough in profane Greek, occurs only here in the NT. The order of the TR, ἐγγὺς ἐγενήθητε, is supported by (153) (154) (155) (156), etc.; but ἐγενήθητε ἐγγύς is the reading of (157) (158) (159), 17, Vulg., Goth., etc., and is adopted by most (LTTrWHRV). For the designation of the Gentiles as “far off” and the use of the phrase “bring nigh” in the sense of making them members of the theocracy, cf. Isaiah 57:19; Daniel 9:7; and for examples in Jewish literature, see Wetst., in loc.; Schöttg., Horæ Hebr., i., 76. The verses which immediately follow refer to the removal of the ancient barrier between Jew and Gentile. The ἐγενήθητε ἐγγύς, however, need not be restricted to that. It is in contrast with the whole previous condition of separation from Christ, with all that that meant with regard to the commonwealth of Israel, the covenants, hope, and God. It is probably to be taken, therefore, in the large sense of being brought into the Kingdom of God, made near to God Himself and so brought to hope and privilege.— ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ χριστοῦ: in (or, by) the blood of Christ. On the import of the phrase “the blood of Christ” see under Ephesians 1:7 above. The ἐν here has much the same sense as the διὰ there. They both express instrumentality. If there is any difference between them it is that διὰ expresses simple, objective, instrumentality, while ἐν denotes what Ell. calls immanent instrumentality, the action of the verb being regarded as existing in the means. See Ell. on the present passage and on 1 Thessalonians 4:18. There is little to be gained, however, by attempting much finesse in such matters.
Ephesians 2:14. αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν: for He is our Peace. As most commentators notice, the emphasis is on the αὐτός—“He and no other”. But there is probably more in it than that. The selection of the abstract εἰρήνη, instead of the simple εἰρηνοποιός, suggests that the point of the αὐτός is not only “He alone,” but “He in His own person”. It is not only that the peace was made by Christ and ranks as His achievement, but that it is so identified with Him that were He away it would also fail,—so dependent on Him that apart from Him we cannot have it. And He is thus for us “the Peace” ( ἡ εἰρήνη), Peace in the absolute sense to the exclusion of all other. Peace, the peace of the Messianic age, the peace that is to come by Messiah, is a frequent note in OT prophecy (Isaiah 9:5-6; Isaiah 52:7; Isaiah 53:5; Isaiah 57:19; Micah 5:5; Haggai 2:9; Zechariah 9:10). Here, as the next sentence shows, the peace especially in view is that between Jew and Gentile,— ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἕν: who made both one. Not “hath made,” but “made,” with reference to the definite act of His death, as suggested by the ἐν τῷ αἵματι. The ἀμφότερα is the abstract neuter—the two parties or classes. The sing. neut. ἕν (= one thing, one organism) expresses the idea of the unity, the new unity which the two long separate and antagonistic parties became; cf. the ἕν used even of the relation between Christ and God in John 10:16, and for the unity here in view, cf. Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11.— καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας: and broke down the middle wall of the partition. The former clause began the explanation of how Christ became our Peace. That explanation is continued in this clause and in the following. The καί, therefore, is epexegetic = to wit, or in that (cf. Win.-Moult., p. 545). The gen. φραγμοῦ is not a mere equivalent to an adject. or a partic., as if = τὸ μεσότοιχον διαφράσσον (Grot., Rosenm., etc.), nor is it the gen. of quality, = “the middle wall whose character it is to divide”; but either (a) the appos. gen. or gen. of identity, = “the middle wall that is (or, consists in) the partition,” or (b) the posses. gen., = “the wall pertaining to the partition”. On the latter view of the gen. the μεσότοιχον (a word found only this once in the NT and of rare occurrence elsewhere) becomes the more definite and specific term, the φραγμός the more general, the former being, indeed, a part of the latter. That is to say, the φραγμός is the whole system of things that kept Jew and Gentile apart, and the μεσότοιχον is the thing in the system that most conspicuously divided them, and that constituted the “enmity,” viz., the Law. It is best, however, to take the terms μεσότοιχον and φραγμός in the simple, literal sense of division and separation, which are not explained to be the Law till the νόμος is actually introduced in the subsequent clause; and, therefore, the former view of the gen. appears to be preferable. It is suggested that what Paul really expresses then is the fact that the legal system, which was meant primarily to protect the Jewish people against the corruption of heathen idolatry, became the bitter root of Jewish exclusiveness in relation to the Gentiles. This is to give the φραγμός here the sense of something that fences in or encloses, which it occasionally has (Soph., Œd. Tyr., 1387). But that is a rare sense, and the idea seems to be simpler. It is doubtful, too, whether Paul had in view here any material partition with which he was familiar. It could scarcely be the veil of the Temple that was rent at the Crucifixion; for that veil did not serve to separate the Gentile from the Jew. It might rather be (as Anselm, Bengel, and many more have thought) the wall or screen that divided the court of the Gentiles from the sanctuary proper, and of which Josephus tells us that it bore an inscription forbidding any Gentile from penetrating further (Jew. Wars, v., 5, 2; vi., 2, 4; Antiq., viii., 3, 2; xv., 11, 5). But even this is questionable, and all the more so as the wall was still standing at the time when this was written. For the use of λύσας cf. John 2:19.
Ephesians 2:15. τὴν ἔχθραν: to wit the enmity. Many (Luth., Calv., De Wette, etc.) take this to be a figure for the Mosaic Law. But the ἔχθρα is in antithesis to the εἰρήνη of Ephesians 2:14, and the specification of the Law comes in later. It is better, therefore, to take the ἔχθρα here in the abstract sense of hostile, separating feeling. But is it the enmity of Jew and Gentile to God (Chrys., Harl., etc.) or the enmity between Jew and Gentile? The statement of the μεσότοιχον as a mid-wall between τὰ ἀμφότερα decides for the latter. The argument in favour of this view is stronger still when the former view is connected with the idea that the ἔχθρα is the Mosaic Law. For the Mosaic Law could not be said to have been the cause of hostile feeling on the part of Gentiles to God.— ἐν τῇ σαρκί αὐτοῦ: in His flesh. The term σάρξ is taken by some (Stier, etc.) in a sense wide enough to cover Christ’s incarnation and His entire incarnate life. But, apart from other difficulties, this is inconsistent with the definite mention of His blood and His cross. The term refers, therefore, to His death, and means His crucified flesh (cf. Colossians 1:22). The great difficulty here, however, is the connection. Some attach the phrase immediately to τὴν ἔχθραν (Chrys., etc.), “the enmity which was in His flesh,” as if the idea were “the hatred in the human race generally” or “the national hatred,” the hatred in the Jewish people. But this would require τήν before ἐν σαρκί, and furnishes at best a forced meaning. Most commentators connect it with καταργήσας, supposing it to be put emphatically first. So it is taken, e.g., by Meyer, who makes ἐν σαρκί begin the new clause. The RV takes the same view, but brings the ἔχθραν under the regimen of the καταργήσας—“having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law”. There is much to say in support of this, especially in view of the Pauline statements in Romans 3:21; Romans 10:14; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 2:14, etc. On the other hand there is an awkwardness in bringing in the predication before the verb, and the parallelism is broken (cf. Alf.). It is best, therefore, to attach the ἐν σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ to the λύσας (Calv., Rück., Alf., etc.). The form of the sentence is better kept in this way. The appropriateness of the use of λύσας is then seen; for the verb λύειν (= subvert, dissolve), is equally applicable to the μεσότοιχον and to the ἔχθραν, the phrase λύειν ἔχθραν being common in ordinary Greek. On the other hand καταργεῖν is much less applicable to ἔχθραν. So the sense is—“who in His crucified flesh (i.e., by His death on the cross) broke down the middle-wall of the partition, to wit the enmity” (i.e., the hostile feeling between Jew and Gentile).— τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας: having abolished (or, in that He abolished) the law of commandments (expressed) in ordinances. Further statement of the way in which Christ by His death on the cross removed the separation and the hostile feeling between Jew and Gentile viz., by abrogating the dividing Law itself. The Law is now introduced, and the term ὁ νόμος is to be taken in its full sense, not the ceremonial law only, but the Mosaic Law as a whole, according to the stated use of the phrase. This Law is abolished in the sense of being rendered inoperative (as καταργεῖν means), and it is defined as the Law τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν. What is the point of the definition? The article, which is in place with the ἐντολῶν, is omitted before the δόγμασιν, as the latter makes one idea with the former and further is under the regimen of a prep. (cf. Win.-Moult., pp. 139, 149, 151, 158). The Law is one of “commandments-in-decrees”. What is in view is its character as mandatory, and consisting in a multitude of prescriptions or statutes. It enjoined, and it expressed its injunctions in so many decrees, but it did not enable. The Law was made up of ἐντολαί and these ἐντολαί expressed themselves and operated in the form of δόγματα, ordinances. The word δόγμα in the NT never means anything else than statute, decree, ordinance (cf. Luke 2:1; Acts 16:4; Acts 17:7; Colossians 2:14; in Hebrews 11:23 it is a variant for διάταγμα). Hence it cannot have any such sense here as doctrines, evangelical teaching (Theod.), evangelical precepts (Fritz.), the faith (Chrys.). Some taking the ἐν as the instrumental ἐν make it = “having abolished the law by injunctions” (Syr., Vulg., Arab., Grot., Beng., etc.). But the NT uniformly speaks of the abrogation of the condemning law as being effected by Christ’s death, never by His teaching, or by evangelical precepts. Another turn is given to the sentence by taking ἐν in the sense of “in respect of,” “on the side of” (Harl.), as if the idea were that the abrogation of the Law was limited to its mandatory side,—to the orders contained in it. But this would require τοῖς before the δόγμασιν; nor is it the way of the NT to speak of the Mosaic Law as done away by Christ only on one side.— ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν ἑαυτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον: that He might create in Himself the two into one new man. Statement of the object of the καταργεῖν. The masc. δύο is introduced now, instead of the ἀμφότερα, with a view to the ἄνθρωπον. One man was to be made out of the two men. The κτίσῃ is better rendered create with the RV than make with the AV. A new creation is in view. For ἐν ἑαυτῷ of the TR (with (160) (161) (162) (163), etc.) αὐτῷ is to be preferred as the reading of (164) (165) (166) (167), etc. (LTTrRV); WH gives αὑτῷ. In either case the sense is “in Himself”; not “by it” (Grot.) as if the reference were to Christ’s doctrine, nor “through Himself” as if it were διʼ αὐτοῦ. The new creation and the new union have their ground and principle in Christ. What was contemplated, too, was not simply the making of one man ( ἕνα ἄνθρωπον) where formerly there were two, but the making of one new ( καινὸν) man. The result was not that, though the separation between them was removed, the Jew still remained Jew and the Gentile still Gentile. It was something new, the old distinctions between Jew and Gentile being lost in a third order of “man”—the Christian man.— ποιῶν εἰρήνην: making peace. The εἰρήνη is still peace between the estranged Jew and Gentile, and the ποιῶν (pres., not aor.) belongs to the object expressed by the ἵνα. In carrying out that purpose He was to make peace the one with the other.
Ephesians 2:16. καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους: and that He might reconcile them both. Further statement of object, the καί continuing and extending it. Only at this point is the prior and larger idea of the reconciliation to God introduced, and even now it is in connection with the idea of the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile. For τοὺς δύο we now have τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους, not “the two” but “both of them together,” unity being the aspect in which they are now presented. The ἀπο- in such compounds has sometimes simply an intensive meaning ( ἀποθαρρεῖν, ἀποθαυμάζειν, ἀποκαραδοκεῖν, ἀπεκδέχεσθαι, etc.); sometimes, though less frequently, the sense of again ( ἀποδίδωμι, ἀποκαθίστημι, ἀποκατορθόω, ἀποκαταλαμβάνω). It is doubtful which is the force of the ἀπο- here. In the context, it is true, so far as the relations of Jew and Gentile to each other are dealt with, we have simply the idea of a state of separation into two hostile camps giving place to a state of unity. But in the present clause the larger truth of a reconciliation to God is in view, and this favours the idea of a restoration to a condition which had been lost. The form ἀποκαταλλάσσειν occurs in the NT only here and in Colossians 1:20-21. In the LXX and once in the NT (Matthew 5:24) we have also διαλλάττεσθαι. But the two appear to be practically indistinguishable. As derivatives of ἀλλάσσειν they both convey the idea of a change, not primarily in feeling (which is expressed by ἱλάσκεσθαι and its compounds), but in relation, and in mutual relation, on the side of God to man and on the side of man to God (cf. Romans 5:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).— ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ; in one body through the cross. This cannot refer to Christ’s body (Chrys., Beng., Harl., Hofm.), as if the point were either the reconciliation of two parties by one body, or the one offering of Christ that needed no repetition (Hebrews 7:27, etc.), or, again, the one sacrifice as contrasted with the multitude of the Levitical oblations. These are ideas alien to the context, and they are the less appropriate because Christ Himself is the subject of the ἀποκαταλλάξῃ. The reference is to the Jews and Gentiles now making one body; cf. the ἒν σῶμα in 1 Corinthians 10:17; Ephesians 4:4; and especially in Colossians 3:15. His object was to bring the two long-sundered and antagonistic parties as one whole, one great body, into right relation to God by His cross. The διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ belongs rather to the ἀποκαταλλάξῃ than to the following ἀποκτείνας (von Soden).— ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν αὐτῷ: having slain the enmity thereby. For ἐν αὐτῷ there is a variant reading ἐν ἑαυτῷ, slenderly supported (F 115, etc.); and some propose ἐν αὑτῷ (von Soden). But this ἐν αὐτῷ refers to the σταυροῦ, and the idea is not that Christ slew the enmity in Himself, but that He did it “by the cross,” or, as some take it (Alf., etc.), “on the cross”. The ἔχθρα here, again, is not the Law itself, nor the enmity of Jew and Gentile to God (though most take it so), but rather the ἔχθρα previously mentioned—the enmity between Jew and Gentile. Further, the ἀποκτείνας which might denote an action coincident with that denoted by the main verb, or might define the way in which the latter was made good, seems to have its proper sense of priority—“after He had killed”. He had first to kill this enmity between the two before He could bring them both into right relations to God in the way indicated, viz., in one body, as one great, united whole.
Ephesians 2:17. καὶ ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο εἰρήνην ὑμῖν τοῖς μακρὰν καὶ εἰρήνην τοῖς ἐγγύς: and He came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh. The TR reads simply καὶ τοῖς ἐγγύς (with (168) (169), the mass of cursives, the Syr., etc.). The primary uncials and other important authorities ((170) (171) (172) (173) 17, Vulg., etc.) insert εἰρήνην (so LTTrWHRV). The repetition has rhetorical force. The καί, again, does not merely connect this statement with the former. It adds to the thought. Not only did Christ effect the reconciliation, but He also came and preached the glad tidings of it, and that not to one class but to both. The aor. partic. has probably its proper force of priority in relation to the def. aor. εὐηγγελίσατο. The coming in question preceded the preaching. The best rendering, therefore, will be neither “coming” (Eadie), nor “came and preached” (AV and RV), but “having come” (Mey., Ell., etc.). But to what coming does the ἐλθών refer? Not to the incarnation (Chrys., Anselm, Harl., etc.); for the preceding sentences, which speak of His blood and of the peace effected through His cross, make it clear that the time in view is not before the crucifixion but after it. Nor can the reference well be to the event of His Resurrection, nor even to His own direct teaching during the forty days (Beng.). What is in view is rather His coming in His Spirit (cf. John 14:18; Acts 26:23, etc.). That the idea of His spiritual Advent in the Holy Ghost which is prominent in the Fourth Gospel is not a Johannine idea only, but one entirely consistent with Paul’s teaching, appears from the Pauline doctrine of the dwelling of Christ Himself or His Spirit in the believer (Romans 8:9-10; 2 Corinthians 12:17; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:20); as also from the relation of the Holy Ghost to the Apostle’s preaching (Romans 15:18), etc. The preaching meant by the εὐηγγελίσατο, therefore, is Christ’s mediate preaching through His Apostles and others, especially that declaration of His truth which made these Gentiles Christians. Those “afar off” are mentioned first, as the Gentiles in the persons of these Ephesians and other Asiatics were the writer’s immediate concern.
Ephesians 2:18. ὅτι διʼ αὐτοῦ ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν οἱ ἀμφότεροι ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα: for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. Some take ὅτι as = that, the mention of the common access being taken as the contents of the εὐηγγελίσατο. But the subject of the preaching has already been given, viz., εἰρήνη. Hence ὅτι=for, and the verse is a confirmation of the previous statement in the form of an appeal to the experience of those addressed. The fact that we, both of us, are now brought to God through Him is a witness to the truth of what I have just said, viz., that Christ came and preached peace to both. The privilege referred to is a present and continuing privilege ( ἔχομεν, not ἐσχήκαμεν as in Romans 5:2)—one to which effect is being given now, viz., τὴν προσαγωγήν, “the introduction,” or “our introduction”. This noun denotes, properly speaking, the act of bringing to one, and then the approach or access (Herod., ii., 58; Xen., Cyr., vii., 5, 45). It is urged by some (Mey., Ell., etc.) that both here and in Romans 5:2 it has the primary trans. sense, and denotes the privilege of being brought to God or introduced to Him. Christ would thus be presented in the character of “Bringer,” perhaps with some allusion to the office of the προσαγωγεύς through whom in Oriental courts one was brought into the royal presence. But the difference in idea between access ( πρόσοδος) and “admission” (Ell.) or “bringing” ( προσαγωγή) is slight, and there seems sufficient justification for the intrans. sense. The ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι, which is strangely taken by some (Anselm, Rosenm.) as = ὁμοθυμαδόν, “with one mind,” obviously refers to the Holy Ghost. That is made clear both by the mention of the coming and preaching in the Spirit, and by the reference both to Christ and to the Father. The ἐν is not = by, but in, with reference to the element in which alone we have the access. As that right is ours only through Christ ( διʼ αὐτοῦ), so it is made ours in actual experience only in the Spirit, and Jew and Gentile have it alike because it is one and the same Spirit that works in both. So both have continuous access to God from whom once they were far removed, to Him, too, in the benign character of the Father ( τὸν πατέρα) whom they can approach without fear.
Ephesians 2:19. ἄρα οὖν οὐκέτι ἐστὲ ξένοι καὶ πάροικο: So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners. At this point Paul brings to their conclusion the statements made in Ephesians 2:14-18, and draws from them the natural, comforting inference. The conclusive ἄρα is one of Paul’s favourable particles. In his writings and in the NT generally it is sometimes placed second in the sentence, and sometimes (contrary to classical use) first. The combination ἄρα οὖν is peculiar to Paul, and takes the first place in the sentence. In this form it has less of the ratiocinative force and more of the collective; cf. Buttm., Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 371; Blass, Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 273. ξένοι καὶ πάροικοι, a comprehensive expression, including “all who, whether by natural and territorial demarcation, or by the absence of civic privileges, were not citizens” (Ell.). The term πάροικος in ordinary Greek means a neighbour. In the LXX it represents תּוֹשָׁב (nine times) or גֵּר (eleven times). Here it stands for the classical μέτοικος, which never occurs in the NT, is found only once in the LXX (Jeremiah 20:3) and means one who comes from one country or city and settles in another, but does not rank as a πολίτης or ἀστός having the right of citizenship (cf. Acts 7:6; Acts 7:29; 1 Peter 2:11). There is no reference to proselytes in particular (Baumg.).— ἀλλὰ συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων: but fellow-citizens with the saints. Most critical editors (LTTrWHRV) insert ἐστέ after ἀλλά, on the authority of (174) (175) (176) (177) (178), etc. The form συνπολῖται is preferred by Tisch., WH, Ell., Alf., etc. The word belongs mostly to late Greek. The ἁγίων is not to be restricted to Jews, the patriarchs, or OT believers, but is a comprehensive name for Christians, the whole community of believers in Christ without distinction of Jew and Gentile. The Jewish people were once “the saints” of God, and Gentiles stood outside having no part in their πολιτεία. Now all Gentile believers, like these Ephesians, form part of that greater “Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) which consists of all Christians, and share in all the rights of such.— καὶ οἰκεῖοι τοῦ θεοῦ: and of the household of God. So in Galatians 6:10, πρὸς τοὺς οἰκείους τῆς πίστεως. In Greek writers of the later period οἰκεῖος is used frequently with the gens, of abstract nouns ( οἰκεῖοι φιλοσοφίας, ὀλιγαρχίας, etc.) in the general sense of one closely connected with philosophy, etc., but without any specific reference either to the house of God, or to the οἰκεῖοι as forming one family. With the present case, however, it is different. The phrase οἰκεῖοι θεοῦ naturally suggests the idea of members of God’s household or family (Mey.); cf. 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5-6; Hebrews 10:21; 1 Peter 4:17.
Ephesians 2:20. ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ: being built upon the foundation. From the idea of the house or household of God contained in the οἰκεῖοι Paul passes by an easy transition to that of the building of the spiritual οἶκος. The ἐπι- in the comp. verb probably expresses the notion of building up; the second ἐπί with the dative θεμελίῳ, that of resting on the foundation—which also might have been expressed by the gen. The forms ὁ θεμέλιος and τὸ θεμέλιον both occur, the former much more frequently than the latter in Greek literature generally. The latter, however, is found frequently in the LXX, and at least once quite unmistakably in the NT (Acts 16:26).— τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν: of the Apostles and Prophets. The omission of τῶν before προφητῶν does not necessarily identify the Apostles and Prophets as one and the same persons (Harl.); cf. Win.-Moult., p. 162. It indicates, however, that they both belong to the same class. The gen. is variously understood as (1) the gen. of apposition = the foundation which is or consists in the Apostles; (2) the gen. of originating cause = the foundation laid by them; (3) the possess. gen. = “the Apostles’ foundation”—in the sense of that on which they built (Anselm, Beza, etc.), or as = that on which they also were built (Alf.). The choice seems to be between (1) and (2). The former has been the view of many from Chrys. down to Von Soden and Abbott, and is favoured so far by Revelation 21:14. But the second has the suffrages of the majority of modern exegetes (Rück., Harl., Bleek, Mey., Ell., etc.). It is more in accordance with 1 Corinthians 3:10 (although it is the worth of teachers that is immediately in view there), and more especially with Romans 15:20, where the Gospel as preached by Paul appears to be the “foundation”. Here, therefore, it seems best on the whole to understand the Gospel of Christ as preached by the Apostles to be the “foundation” on which their converts were built up into the spiritual house. But who are these προφῆται? The OT prophets, say many (Chrys., Theod., Jer., Calv., Rück., etc.)—a view certainly favoured by the use made of the writings of these prophets in the NT, and by the view given of them as “evangelists before the time” (Moule); cf. Luke 24:25; Acts 3:18; Acts 3:21; Acts 3:24; Acts 10:43; Romans 16:26. But the natural order in that case would have been “Prophets and Apostles,” and the previous statements referred clearly to Christian times—to the preaching after Christ’s death. Hence the προφῆται are to be understood as the Christian prophets, of whom large mention is made in the Book of Acts and the Epistles—the NT prophets who in this same Epistle (Ephesians 3:5) are designated as Christ’s prophets and are named (Ephesians 4:11) among the gifts of the ascended Lord to His Church. The frequency with which they are referred to (Acts 11:28; Acts 15:32; 1 Corinthians 14, etc.) and the place assigned to them next to the Apostles (Ephesians 4:11) show the prominent position they had in the primitive Church. The statements made regarding them in the early non-canonical literature (The Teaching of the Twelve, Clem. Alex., Strom., the Shepherd of Hermas, etc.) show how they continued to exist and work beyond the Apostolic Age, and help us to distinguish their ministry as that essentially of teachers and exhorters, whether itinerant or resident, from the essentially missionary ministry of the Apostles. Further the association of these prophets with the Apostles suggests that the latter term is not to be restricted here to the Twelve, but is to be taken as including all those to whom the name “Apostle” is given in the NT.— ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ: Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. A few documents, including (179), omit ἰησοῦ. The ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ of the TR is supported by such authorities as (180) (181) (182) (183) (184). The best reading, however, is χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ, “Christ Jesus,” which is found in (185) (186) (187)-corr., 17, Vulg., Copt., Goth., etc., and is adopted by LTTrWHRV. The word ἀκρογωνιαῖος (cf. the אֶבֶן בִּנָּה of Isaiah 28:16) is peculiar to biblical and ecclesiastical Greek, and is applied to Christ also in 1 Peter 2:6. It denotes the stone placed at the extreme corner, so as to bind the other stones in the building together—the most important stone in the structure, the one on which its stability depended. The αὐτοῦ refers to χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ, not to the ἀκρογωνιαίου, nor to the θεμελίῳ (Beng.), the point being that to Christ Himself and none other the building owes its existence, its strength and its increase. He Himself, and neither Apostle nor Prophet, is at once the ultimate foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the Head-stone of the Corner. Some have supposed that, the ἀκρογωνιαῖος being the stone inserted between two others to give strength and cohesion to the whole, there is a reference in the phrase to the union of Jew and Gentile. But this is to push the figure too far.
Ephesians 2:21. ἐν ᾧ πᾶσα ἡ οἰκοδομὴ συναρμολογουμένη αὔξει εἰς ναὸν ἅγιον ἐν κυρίῳ: in whom each several building (RV text; “every building,” RV marg.), fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord. The relative refers naturally to the nearest subject, what is also the leading subject, χριστῷ ἰησοῦ, not to the ἀκρογωνιαίου, far less to the remoter θεμελίῳ; the ἐν also has its full sense of in, not by or on. That is to say, it is in Christ Jesus, and only by connection with Him, that the οἰκοδομή is what it is here declared to be. The word οἰκοδομή appears to be confined to late Greek, no certain instance of it having been found in classical Greek. It occurs in Diod., Philo, Plut., Joseph., the LXX, Macc., etc. It is used both for οἰκοδόμησις and οἰκοδόμημα. In the NT it has sometimes the literal sense of οἰκοδόμημα (e.g., Matthew 24:1; Mark 13:1; 2 Corinthians 5:1); and sometimes the figurative sense of edification (Romans 14:19; Romans 15:2; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Ephesians 4:20), or, as here, that of a body of Christian believers. The question of the text here is important. There is considerable support for πᾶσα ἡ οἰκοδομή ((188) (189) (190), Arm., etc.), and it is conceivable that itacism might have caused the omission of the ἡ. But diplomatic evidence is decidedly in favour of πᾶσα οἰκοδομή ((191) (192) (193) (194) (195) (196) (197), etc.). Adopting this reading (with LTTrWHRV) we have to ask whether the phrase is to be rendered the whole building or every building. The former rendering is certainly the one that first suggests itself, while the latter seems at first difficult to relate to the context. The former is defended as legitimate by some weighty authorities; e.g., Winer, on the ground that the subject is “the Church of Christ as a whole,” and Ellicott, who takes it to be a case of grammatical laxity. But the distinction between πᾶς with the article and πᾶς without it is so well maintained in the NT that only an absolutely intolerable sense can justify us in departing from it. The only exceptions to the general rule appear to be those that hold good also for ordinary Greek—in general and unqualified statements, with proper names, and with nouns which have acquired so stated a meaning that they can drop the article, etc. (cf. Win.-Moult., p. 138, and especially Buttm., Gram. of N. T. Greek, pp. 119, 120; Blass, Gram. of N. T. Greek, pp. 161, 162). The present instance does not come within the scope of these exceptions. It is not like πᾶς οἶκος ἰσραήλ (Acts 2:36), nor is it really analogous even to such cases as the πᾶσα γῆ of Thucyd., ii., 43, or the πᾶσα ἐπιστολή of Ignat., Eph., 12. Hence the rendering here must be “every building” or “every several building”. The present participle συναρμολογουμένη (the verb occurs in the NT only here and in Ephesians 4:16, and corresponds to the classical συναρμόζειν) describes the joining together as a process now going on. The pres. αὔξει (a form occurring in the NT only here and in Colossians 2:19, but common in Soph., Thucyd., Pind., etc.) in like manner expresses what is happening now, or, it may be, what is normal. The phrase νάον ἅγιον is sufficiently rendered “a holy temple” or “sanctuary”. Some (e.g., Mey.), supposing that Paul has the Jewish temple in view and means to say that the Christian Church is now the true Temple of God, the house made His own sanctuary by His dwelling in it, would render it “the holy temple”. The ἐν κυρίῳ is connected by some (Harl., etc.) immediately with ἅγιον, = a temple that is holy as being in the Lord; by others with ναὸν ἅγιον (Ell.); by others with αὔξει (Mey.). But it really qualifies the whole statement of the joining and growing. All this is in the Lord, i.e., in Christ, as both the context and the general NT application of κύριος show. The sense of the whole, therefore, is this—in Christ the Lord every several building that goes to make up the ideal Temple of God, every Christian community, the one now addressed not less than others, is at present being surely framed and fitted together, and is growing and harmoniously developing so that it may form part of the great mystical Body of Christ, the vast spiritual fellowship of believers which is God’s true Temple.
Ephesians 2:22. ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς συνοικοδομεῖσθε εἰς κατοικητήριον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πνεύματι: in whom ye also are being built together into a habitation of God in the Spirit. The relative refers again, as in Ephesians 2:21, to Christ, the κυρίῳ just named, not to the ναόν. The καί (= also, not even) points to the dignity of the present position—“the exalted nature of the association in which the Ephesians shared” (Ell.). The συνοικοδομεῖσθε is not imper. (Calv.), but indic., the burden of the whole section being what was done for the readers and what was made of them. The συν- in the comp. verb might convey the idea of being built together with others; but, in view of the force of the συναρμολογουμένη it is rather to be understood as denoting the compact connection of one part with another, the orderly conjunction and co-ordination of all the various parts of the οἰκοδομή (Mey., Ell.); cf. the συνέκλεισεν in Galatians 3:2. κατοικητήριον is best translated “habitation”. Some draw a distinction between the ναόν as the whole Church and the κατοικητήριον as the individual Christians (Harl.). But the latter phrase simply expresses in another form the same idea as the former. The κατοικητήριον being that of God ( τοῦ θεοῦ), belonging to Him, inhabited by Him, is the same as the ναός. The ἐν πνεύματι is not to be taken as = “in a spiritual manner,” as if in contrast with ἐν σαρκί; nor as making with the noun the idea of “a spiritual house”; but as = in the Holy Spirit, the anarthrous πνεῦμα having often that sense and the similar ἐν κυρίῳ suggesting it. Nor should the ἐν be rendered “through” (AV) or “by” (Mey.). It is true that the instrumental use of ἐν gives a thoroughly good sense, viz., that we are built together in Christ by the agency of the Holy Spirit—in respect of His dwelling and operating in us. But the idea is rather that of in the Spirit as the element of the life or the condition of the process. The phrase may be connected immediately with the κατοικητήριον as if = “a habitation of God realised in the Spirit,” or it may be construed as a tertiary predication (Ell.) = “and it is in the Spirit”. But it is best taken to qualify the whole statement of the συνοικοδομεῖσθε, = “in Christ as the ground and principle of all ye too are being built together into a habitation of God, and it is by your being in the Spirit that this is taking effect”. Union with Christ, life in the Spirit—this explained what they were; this meant that they, as well as other Christian bodies, were being built up so as to be a habitation of God.
Sunday, March 26th, 2017
the Fourth Sunday of Lent
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