David Guzik Commentary on the Bible
Ephesians 1:1-23 - GOD’S ULTIMATE PLAN
A. Introduction to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
1. The character and themes of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
a. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is different compared to many of the other New Testament letters he wrote. Like Romans, Ephesians was not written so much to address problems in a particular church; more so, it was written to explain some of the great themes and doctrines of Christianity.
i. The elevated themes of Ephesians make it highly praised and prized by commentators. Ephesians has been called “the Queen of the Epistles,” “the quintessence of Paulinism,” “the divinest composition of man” and even “the Waterloo of commentators.” Some say that Ephesians reads “like a commentary on the Pauline letters” and probably it has been best termed “the crown of Paulinism.” (Bruce)
ii. “It sums up in large measure the leading themes of the Pauline writings . . . But it does more than that; it carries the thought of the earlier letters forward to a new stage.” (Bruce)
iii. “Among the Epistles bearing the name of St. Paul there is none greater than this, nor any with a character more entirely its own . . . There is a peculiar and sustained loftiness in its teaching which has deeply impressed the greatest minds and has earned for it the title of the ‘Epistle of the Ascension.” (Salmond)
iv. “If Romans is the purest expression of the gospel (as Luther said), then Ephesians is the most sublime and majestic expression of the gospel.” (Lloyd-Jones) Lloyd-Jones also said of Ephesians: “It is difficult to speak of it in a controlled manner because of its greatness and because of its sublimity.”
v. “The Epistle to the Ephesians is a complete Body of Divinity. In the first chapter you have the doctrines of the gospel; in the next, you have the experience of the Christians; and before the Epistle is finished, you have the precepts of the Christian faith. Whosoever would see Christianity in one treatise, let him ‘read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ the Epistle to the Ephesians.” (Spurgeon)
vi. Moule quotes Chrysostom: “This Epistle is full to the brim of thoughts and doctrines sublime and momentous. For the things which scarcely anywhere else he utters, here he makes manifest.”
b. If the Letter to the Romans focuses more on God’s work in the individual Christian, Ephesians includes the great themes of God’s work in the church, the community of believers.
i. Karl Marx wrote about a new man and a new society, but he saw man and society both in almost purely economic terms, and offered only economic answers. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul also saw the new man and a new society, but he saw it all accomplished by the work of Jesus.
c. Ephesians has many similarities with Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Since Paul wrote both of them from his Roman imprisonment, his mind may have been working on the same themes when he wrote each letter.
i. “He wrote to the Colossians to meet a particular situation and danger in the church at Colossae. Then with his mind still working over the theme of the greatness and glory of Christ, but moving on to consider the place of the Church in the purpose of God, he wrote Ephesians, this time without the limitation of any polemical aims.” (Foulkes)
ii. In looking at the great, majestic themes of Ephesians, it is important remember that Paul wrote this letter from prison!
d. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 : But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. Ephesians is the fulfillment of this. It reveals the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
2. (Ephesians 1:1-2) Paul’s greeting to the Ephesians.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
a. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ: The opening of the letter is brief, without the more detailed greetings from Paul often found in his other letters.
b. To the saints who are in Ephesus: In a few ancient manuscripts there is a blank space instead of the words in Ephesus. Based partly on this, some believe that this letter was actually a circular letter written not to any one congregation, but meant to be passed on to many different congregations in different cities.
i. There is little doubt this letter was intended for Ephesus, and Ephesus was an important city to Paul. “Here was his well-known Ephesus. Here for the space of three complete years - a unique length of stationary work for him - he had lived and laboured, not as the apostolic missionary only but as the apostolic pastor. Here he had taken that critical and momentous step, the ‘separation’ of the disciples from the Synagogue to a distinct place of teaching and no doubt of worship, ‘the school of one Tyrannus,’ the lecture-hall, we may suppose, of a friendly professor in what we may call the Ephesian University. Here he had laboured, watched, and wept, for both the community and individuals.” (Moule)
ii. At the same time, we can gather that the letter was also intended in a more general sense - to circulate among Christians as a great statement of God’s eternal plan, worked out in the church and in individual Christian lives. If there is a blank space in a manuscript where others read in Ephesus, it is certainly because we are to put our city in that blank space.
c. Grace to you and peace from God our Father: This greeting is typical of Paul. The apostle knew the essential place of grace and peace from God in the life of the believer, and He knew that receiving God’s grace comes before a walk in peace with Him.
B. The work of the Triune God on behalf of the believer.
In ancient Greek (the language Paul originally wrote in), Ephesians 1:3 through 1:14 form one long sentence. As an opera has an overture, setting the tone for all the melodies that will follow, so Ephesians 1:3-14 sets the tone for the rest of Ephesians.
1. (Ephesians 1:3-6) The work of God the Father.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
a. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Paul called for a blessing upon the Father (in the sense of recognizing His glory and honor and goodness), because the Father has already blessed the believer with every spiritual blessing (who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing).
i. Moule wrote that the idea behind blessed is, “Praised with worshipping love.”
b. Who has blessed us: This blessing is ours. God’s resources are there for us always. This speaks of an attitude of certainty and assurance.
i. “We are not sitting here, and groaning, and crying, and fretting, and worrying, and questioning our own salvation. He has blessed us; and therefore we will bless him. If you think little of what God has done for you, you will do very little for him; but if you have a great notion of his great mercy to you, you will be greatly grateful to you gracious God.” (Spurgeon)
ii. The “us” includes both Jews and Gentiles in the church at Ephesus and beyond. It was important to point out that these blessings are for both Jewish and Gentile believers. First century Jews had a strong sense of being blessed, called and predestined - Paul shows that these things are now given to Christians, be they Jew or Gentile.
c. With every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: This describes both the kind of blessings and the location of those blessings. These are spiritual blessings, which are far better than material blessings. These blessings are ours in the heavenly places in Christ, they are higher, better, and more secure than earthly blessings.
i. “Our thanks are due to God for all temporal blessings; they are more than we deserve. But our thanks ought to go to God in thunders of hallelujahs for spiritual blessings. A new heart is better than a new coat. To feed on Christ is better than to have the best earthly food. To be an heir of God is better than being the heir of the greatest nobleman. To have God for our portion is blessed, infinitely more blessed than to own broad acres of land. God hath blessed us with spiritual blessings. These are the rarest, the richest, the most enduring of all blessings; they are priceless in value.” (Spurgeon)
ii. If we have no appreciation for spiritual blessing, then we live at the level of animals. Animals live only to eat, sleep, entertain themselves, and to reproduce. We are made in the image of God and He has something much higher for us, yet many choose to live at the level of animals. God wants us know every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
iii. We also note that this includes every spiritual blessing.
· This means that every blessing we receive, we receive in Christ.
· This means that God wants to bless us with every blessing available to us.
d. Just as He chose us in Him: Our possession of every spiritual blessing is as certain as our being chosen by Him, and chosen before the foundation of the world.
i. We dare not diminish what Paul writes here. Believers are chosen by God, and they are chosen before they have done anything or have been anything for God. “It is the infinite Free-Will of God, (even more sacred than the free-will of man;) a purpose and a plan older than the oceans and the skies.” (Moule) The great light of this truth casts some shadows - namely, in trying to reconcile human responsibility with divine sovereignty. But the purpose of light is not to cast shadows but to guide our steps. The light of God’s selection gives us assurance to the permanence of His plan and His love towards us.
ii. The reasons for God’s choosing are not capricious, nor are they random. Though they are past our finding out, we know that they are altogether wise and good, but the reasons are all in Him, not in us. His choosing is according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5).
iii. We are chosen in Him. “For if we are chosen in Christ, it is outside ourselves. It is not from the sight of our deserving, but because our heavenly Father has engrafted us, through the blessing of adoption, into the Body of Christ. In short, the name of Christ excludes all merit, and everything which men have of themselves.” (Calvin)
e. That we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: We are chosen not only for salvation, but also for holiness. Any understanding of God’s sovereign choosing that diminishes our personal responsibility for personal holiness and sanctification falls far short of the whole counsel of God.
i. “The words [holy and without blame] are a metaphor taken from the perfect and immaculate sacrifices which the law required the people to bring to the altar of God.” (Clarke)
ii. We cannot forget the words in love. Holiness and blamelessness are nothing without love. “But as love is the fulfilling of the law, and love the fountain whence their salvation flowed, therefore love must fill their hearts towards God and each other.” (Clarke)
f. Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself: This is the Father’s destiny for His chosen - that they would enjoy adoption as sons. God’s unfolding plan for us not only includes salvation and personal transformation, but also a warm, confident relationship with the Father.
i. In Roman law, “When the adoption was complete it was complete indeed. The person who had been adopted had all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family and completely lost all rights in his old family. In the eyes of the law he was a new person. So new was he that even all debts and obligations connected with his previous family were abolished as if they had never existed.” (Barclay)
ii. Gaebelein takes the thought even further: “Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not adopted into the family of God; they are born into the family. The Greek has only one word ‘Sonplace.’ We are placed into the position of Sons.”
iii. This high position in the family of God gives us something in Jesus that Adam never had. “When people ask us the speculative question why God went ahead with the creation when he knew that it would be followed by the fall, one answer we can tentatively give is that he destined us for a higher dignity than even creation would bestow on us.” (Stott)
g. To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved: The relational aspect is emphasized again as Paul describes the status of accepted (charito, “highly favored” or “full of grace” as in Luke 1:28) that is granted to every believer because of God’s grace.
i. Jesus was completely accepted by the Father. All His character, all His words, all His work was acceptable to God the Father. And now we are accepted in the Beloved.
ii. Paul realized this plan gave glory to the grace of God. “By the giving of the LAW, God’s justice and holiness were rendered most glorious; by the giving of the GOSPEL, his grace and mercy are made equally glorious.” (Clarke) God’s plan in the gospel is often rejected because it glorifies God and His grace, not the effort or achievement of man.
iii. “So that He may receive from His adoring creatures the ‘praise’ due to His ‘glory,’ His own manifested CHARACTER, manifested in this form of entrancing beauty, His ‘grace.’” (Moule)
iv. Bruce on the idea of being accepted by God on the standing of grace: “God’s grace has extended to his people and enfolded them: he has ‘be-graced’ them, says Paul (using a verb derived from the Greek word for ‘grace’).”
v. Chrysostom, speaking of the work by which God makes us accepted in the Beloved: “It is as if one were to take a leper and change him into a lovely youth.”
2. (Ephesians 1:7-8) The work of God the Son.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
a. In Him we have redemption through His blood: The Him is the Beloved of Ephesians 1:6. In Him we have redemption and nowhere else. There is no possible redemption outside of Jesus and His redeeming blood.
i. Redemption always implies a price being paid for the freedom that is purchased. It uses the ancient Greek word lootruo, which means, “to liberate on the receipt of a ransom.” (Gaebelein) Here the price is His blood, showing that the blessing from the Father and the Son comes not only from a divine decree, but it also comes according to His righteousness and holiness. He cannot bless in opposition to His righteousness and holiness.
ii. Jesus does not redeem us by His sinless life or His moral example, but only by His death in our place - by His blood. “Observe, it is not redemption through his power, it is through his blood. It is not redemption through his love, it is through his blood.” (Spurgeon)
iii. We should not take a superstitious or mystical view of “the blood.” It was not Jesus’ physical blood that saved anyone, but His real and total payment for the sins of man in His whole person on the cross. This is what the New Testament means when it talks about “the blood.”
b. According to the riches of His grace: The redemption and forgiveness given to us comes according to the measure of the riches of His grace. It is not a “small” redemption or forgiveness won by Jesus on the cross. It is immense.
c. Which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence: Many think it is unwise of God to lavish such redemption and forgiveness on guilty sinners. But it is in all wisdom and prudence that He has given this to us.
3. (Ephesians 1:9-12) The mystery of His will.
Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
a. Having made known to us the mystery of His will: Part of what belongs to us under the riches of His grace is the knowledge of the mystery of His will, God’s great plan and purpose which was once hidden but is now revealed to us in Jesus. Through the Apostle Paul, God calls us to consider the greatness of God’s great plan for the ages and our place in that plan.
i. “In the New Testament sense a mystery is something which is hidden to the heathen but clear to the Christian.” (Barclay)
ii. The idea behind the word dispensation also reflects a plan or a strategy. “The plan which the master of a family, or his steward, has established for the management of the family . . . it signifies, also, a plan for the management of any sort of business.” (Clarke)
b. That . . . He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; in Him: God’s ultimate plan is to bring together - to ultimately resolve - all things in Christ, either through Jesus as a Savior or Jesus as a Judge; this will happen in the fullness of the times.
i. The word for gather together has the idea of “to unite” or “to sum up.” It was used for the process of adding up a column of figures and putting the sum up at the top. Paul’s idea is that God will make all things “add up” at the end, and right now He is in the process of coming to that final sum.
ii. This shows that God wants to unify all things in our lives under Him. “It is a heresy of our times to divide life into sacred and secular.” (Foulkes)
iii. This is the great resolution and deliverance that even the creation groans for (Romans 8:18-22), the day when every wrong will be righted and every matter resolved according to God’s holy love and justice.
iv. Bruce on the fullness of the times: “When the time is ripe for the consummation of his purpose, in his providential overruling of the course of the world, that consummation will be realized.”
c. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance: For believers, Jesus is not a judge, but the One in whom we have an inheritance. Believers are predestined for this according to the counsel of His will - again, the reasons for His choosing reside in Him, not in us.
d. Being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will: We see three aspects of God’s plan working together. It begins with His purpose, then the counsel of His will, and finally results in His work. God makes His plan carefully according to an eternal purpose, taking counsel within the Godhead, and then He works with all wisdom.
i. “Our God is a God who not only wills; He works; and He works according to His will . . . The word counsel stands for deliberate planning and arranging, in which the ways and means of carrying out the will are considered and provided for.” (Morgan)
ii. By the counsel of His will: “God doth all by counsel, and ever hath a reason of his will, which though we see not for present, we shall at last day. Meanwhile submit.” (Trapp)
e. That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory: God’s purpose in all this is so that those who have trusted Christ will exist to the praise of His glory. The goal of God’s ultimate plan is to glorify Him.
f. We who first trusted in Christ: This speaks of Jewish believers. The words you also in Ephesians 1:13 speak of Gentile believers. God’s great plan has a place for both Jew and Gentile, and brings them both together in Jesus.
4. (Ephesians 1:13-14) The work of the Holy Spirit.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
a. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth: God’s sovereign choice works, but it does not exclude human cooperation. These ones who were so sovereignly chosen were also the ones who trusted, heard the word of truth, and believed.
b. You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise: Also essential in God’s work is the sealing work of the Holy Spirit. His presence in our lives acts as a seal which indicates ownership, and which is a guarantee of our inheritance.
i. “The seal is therefore the Holy Spirit Himself, and His presence in the believer denotes ownership and security. The sealing with the Spirit is not an emotional feeling or some mysterious inward experience.” (Gaebelein)
ii. The word guarantee (“down payment”) is used only in the New Testament of the Holy Spirit. He is our only down payment of coming glory; nothing else is provided - or needed.
c. Having believed, you were sealed: The sealing does not come before we believe, and those who demand some assurance from God before they will believe treat God as if His word could not be trusted.
i. “For sealing there are needed the softened wax; the imprint of the beloved face; the steady pressure. Would that the Spirit might impress the face of our dear Lord on our softened hearts, that they may keep it for evermore!” (Meyer)
d. Until the redemption of the purchased possession: We have this guarantee until we are “completely purchased” by God through resurrection and glorification - again, all to the praise of His glory.
C. Paul prays in light of God’s ultimate plan and the work of the Triune God.
1. (Ephesians 1:15-16) Paul’s statement of prayer and declaration of thanksgiving.
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
a. After I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints: When Paul heard of the faith and love of the Ephesians, he could do nothing else but give thanks for them. This was because their faith and love were evidence of their participation in this great work of God.
i. Faith and love do not earn us participation in this great work of God. They are evidence of our participation in God’s plan.
b. Love for all the saints: Significantly, Paul gave thanks not for their love for God, but for their love for all the saints. The real evidence of God’s work in us is not the love we claim to have for Him, but our love for His people that others can see (1 John 4:20, John 13:14 and John 13:34-35).
c. Making mention of you in my prayers: Paul not only gave thanks for God’s work among the Ephesians; he also prayed that it would continue with greater strength, as the prayer in Ephesians 1:17-23 makes clear.
i. Paul shows us here that preachers must do more than preach to their audience - they must also pray for them. “Whether a minister shall do more good to others by his prayers or preaching, I will not determine, but he shall certainly by his prayers reap more comfort to himself.” (Trapp)
ii. Paul often prayed making mention of others in prayer. When he prayed he mentioned the Christians in Rome (Romans 1:9), the Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:2), and Philemon (Philemon 1:4).
2. (Ephesians 1:17) Paul prays that they would know God.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
a. May give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation: Paul prayed that the Father would grant the Ephesians the spirit of wisdom and that He would give them revelation. But these are not so they may see into the lives of others, have the ability to predict events, or do what we commonly think of as “prophet stuff.” He wanted them to have the spirit of wisdom and revelation simply so that they would have a better knowledge of Him (God).
b. In the knowledge of Him: Our Christian life must be centered around this purpose - to know God as He is in truth, as revealed by His Word; and to correct our false, idolatrous ideas of who God is.
c. The knowledge of Him: It is important for us to have an accurate knowledge and understanding of who we are. Yet it is far more important (and beneficial) for us to know and understand who God is.
i. A famous writer named Alexander Pope wrote, “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man.” Charles Spurgeon responded to this famous statement: “It has been said by someone that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”
ii. “For philosophy comes to man with the message, Know thyself; the Gospel meets him with the far more glorious and fruitful watchword, Know thy God.” (Alford)
3. (Ephesians 1:18-19 a) Paul prays that they would understand everything God gave them in Jesus Christ.
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe,
a. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened: If the Ephesians will know all God has given them in Jesus, it will take a supernatural work. It will require that the eyes of your understanding be enlightened by God.
i. Paul uses a great expression when he speaks of the eyes of your heart (heart is more literal than understanding). Too many Christian hearts have no eyes (places where they gain real knowledge and understanding), and too many Christian eyes have no heart - God wants both to be combined in us.
ii. “The word ‘heart’ in Scripture signifies the very core and centre of life, where the intelligence has its post of observation, where the stores of experience are laid up, and the thoughts have their fountain.” (Alford)
b. What is the he hope of His calling: Paul wanted them to know this. Few things give us a more secure and enduring hope in life than simply knowing that God has called us and has a specific calling for us to fulfill.
i. The hope of His calling has its perspective on the future. The believer has a glorious future of resurrection, eternal life, freedom from sin, perfected justification, glorious elevation above the angels themselves.
c. What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints: Paul wanted them to know the greatness of God’s inheritance in His people. We usually think only of our inheritance in God, but Paul wanted the Ephesians to understand that they are so precious to God that He considered them His own inheritance.
i. Several commentators believe that Paul also spoke of God’s inheritance in His people back in Ephesians 1:11. But that is certainly his idea here, with Paul probably drawing his idea from Deuteronomy 32:8-9 : When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance.
ii. Knowing our spiritual poverty, we wonder how can God find any inheritance in the saints. Yet God can make riches out of poor men and women because He invests so much in them. He has invests riches of love, riches of wisdom, riches of suffering, riches of glory. These things accrue to a rich inheritance in the saints.
d. The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe: Paul wanted them to know how great the power of God is towards us who believe. Christians should know they serve and love a God of living power who shows His strength on behalf of His people.
i. Many Christians do not know this power - or they only know it from a distance. God wants resurrection life to be real in the life of the believer. “The very same power which raised Christ is waiting to raise the drunkard from his drunkenness, to raise the thief from his dishonesty, to raise the Pharisee from his self-righteousness, to raise the Sadducee from his unbelief.” (Spurgeon)
ii. This ends the “request” portion of Paul’s prayer. The following section explains more of this mighty power and what it did. Paul asked these things because they were important to ask for. We could say that the prayer of Ephesians 1:17-19 is essentially a request that the promises of Ephesians 1:3-14 be found as real in the lives of the Ephesian Christians.
iii. “Perhaps the first and best response is the Amen of holy silence . . . These sentences were written first and supremely to be believed, received, and - in a worshipping and serving life - lived out.” (Moule)
iv. In the same way, your prayers for the spiritual growth and enlightenment of others are important. If Paul believed it was important to pray these things for the Ephesian Christians, it is important for us to pray them for others - and ourselves.
4. (Ephesians 1:19-21) A description of the great power of God that Paul wants the Ephesians to know.
According to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
a. According to the working of His mighty power: The power that works in us is the mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead. With this mighty power available to us, there never needs to be a “power shortage” in the Christian life.
i. “If the death of Christ is the supreme demonstration of the love of God . . . the resurrection of Christ is the supreme demonstration of his power.” (Bruce)
b. And seated Him at His right hand: It is the mighty power that raised Jesus to heaven after His resurrection, raising Him above all demonic foes and every potential enemy of all time - this same power is at work in Christians.
i. “The right hand is the place of friendship, honour, confidence, and authority.” (Clarke)
c. Far above all principality and power and might and dominion: From other passages in Ephesians (Ephesians 3:10 and Ephesians 6:12) we know that this refers to angelic beings, both loyal and lethal. We don’t completely understand the ranks of the angelic realm, but we do know that Jesus is raised above them. “We know that the king is above all, though we cannot name all the officers of his court. So we know that Christ is above all, though we are not able to name all His subjects.” (Alford)
i. “Think of the paradox. The Apostle is speaking of a Personage of history, of recent, almost contemporary, history . . . He had worked with His hands, He had walked from place to place like other men, and man could no doubt accurately describe His look and manner when He talked . . . He is now ‘seated at the right hand of’ Almighty God, on His very throne.” (Moule)
5. (Ephesians 1:22-23) Where this great power has placed Jesus.
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
a. He put all things under His feet: This great resurrection power placed Jesus above all things. Now all things are under His feet. It set Jesus as the head over all things, including the church.
i. “He says that Christ in his exaltation over the universe is God’s gift to the church.” (Wood)
b. The church, which is His body: If Jesus is the head, then the community of Christians make up His body. The idea of the fullness of Him here is probably connected to the manner in which Jesus fills His church with His presence and blessings.
i. “Yes, this is here given as the final glory of the infinitely exalted Christ. Angels and archangels are subject to Him. But believing men are joined to Him, with a union such that He and they, by this same messenger of His, are called elsewhere (1 Corinthians 12:12) one ‘Christ.’” (Moule)
ii. “That is, of Christ, who having voluntarily subjected himself to be our Head, accounts not himself complete without his members. In which respect we have the honour of making Christ perfect as the members do the body.” (Trapp)
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